the pleasure of finding things out

Richard Feynman at his best talking about himself in an honest and direct way. His schooling and the influence his father had on him, always trying to understand why things are as they are, rather than remembering by rote. After college and a PhD at Princeton supervised by John Wheeler, Feynman was one of the most gifted mathematicians alive. The wartime call to work at Los Alamos and work on the atom bomb came. This was at the time it was possible that the Nazis could develop it first and use it against the Allies. Feynman is painfully honest that he did not reappraise the situation once the war was won in Europe. There was no possibility the Japanese would develop the atom bomb but he was caught up in the project for its own sake and did not consider how it would be used. After the war he had the offer of a Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton but he turned it down, going to Cornell instead where he taught physics from 1945 to 1950. He says he thinks he was depressed during this time, thinking of the destruction caused in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and perhaps fearing that nuclear weapons would be used again in another war. He turned down another offer from Princeton to go to Caltech where the was no pressure to produce results. That pressure was taken by the staff who had hired him. He describes how the observation of the rotation of a plate thrown into the air during lunch led to the development of the mathematics that led to his sharing the Nobel Prize for developing the theory of quantum electrodynamics. It felt to him as if he was playing a game so he was able to relax and be creative.  An independent thinker and a breath of fresh air who continued to be creative in a wide range of fields, until his death.  he was among the earliest advocates of the importance of nanotechnology.

refugees from syria


160 000 Syrians living in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. A picture giving an idea of the scale of the problem caused by the war in Syria. In all more than 1.5 million people have fled to neighbouring countries or further afield since it started and approximately half of these are registered as refugees. The United Nations High commissioner for refugee’s estimates of the size of the problem just continue to rise month after month. In addition the United Nations estimates there are over 4 million displaced civilians remaining within Syria.

earth viewed from saturn by the cassini probe


What a beautiful new picture of our planet Earth viewed from near Saturn by the Cassini probe. Taken during the few minutes the probe was in the shadow of Saturn and it rings on July 19 2013 protecting the sensitive instruments from radiation damage while looking towards the sun.


Raw unprocessed picture of the Earth and its Moon taken with the narrow angle camera.

photos nasa

Carl Sagan and the Human Presence on Earth

What a magnficent contribution to our understanding of ourselves and our part in the Universe Carl Sagan made. Transformational!

dragonfly-identification Boyeria irena (Green-Striped Darner) of the Aeshna family.

One of the most beautiful living things to watch are dragonflies. Their continually changing iridescent colours are one of the summer highlights. A couple of evenings ago one landed on our blind and I was able to get some really good photographs. We are situated in an area of mixed woodland just south of Bordeaux near to a river. Any suggestions for identification? I had a quick look online but could not find a matching photograph. I would like to know what our visitor was. Later that evening it had flew away leaving no trace of eggs.

Noushka says July 18 2013

Thanks for commenting on my dragonfly blog!

You have photographed Boyeria irena (Green-Striped Darner) of the Aeshna family.

It is very difficult to take pictures of this elusive river dragon except when it is still ‘young’ as it travels long distances from the place where it emerges to where it will find mates and another river.  You see them mostly at the end of the day in July when they pass through our gardens to hunt insects.

You have an interesting blog!