Monthly Archives: September 2012

Facts may be slippery but the most important human qualities remain true

FACTS aren’t what they used to be. When I started school, Pluto was a planet and carbon came in just three flavours: diamond, soot and graphite. By the time I left for university, a fourth kind of carbon had been announced, football-shaped buckminsterfullerene. And, thanks to Pluto’s reclassification six years ago, there are now just eight planets in our solar system, not nine. It’s hard to keep hold of truth when it’s become this slippery. Continue reading

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Filed under Human nature, Liberal education

Economic malaise reveals itself behind a global surge in nationalist violence

ONE of the most extraordinary images of the week was a display of militarised toothpaste tubes at a Nanjing supermarket. Beneath the Chinese flag, the green boxes were artfully arranged into the shape of an artillery gun, with an uncompromising slogan – “The Daioyu islands belong to China!” – between its wheels. The combination of everyday setting and violent sentiment did not seem rare, as the dispute over the islands, also known as Senkaku, swelled in China. Smiling employees at a car dealership held up a banner saying: “We will kill every Japanese person even if it means deaths for our own.” Japanese shops were attacked, Japanese cars were burned on the streets and major firms, including Canon and Panasonic, were forced to suspend operations on the Chinese mainland. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Politics

The Paralympics should remind us that technology liberates human potential

OSCAR Pistorius’s comments after losing the final of the 200m were a reminder that the elite athletes competing in the Paralympics don’t just have keep themselves in peak physical condition, but also watch that their rivals don’t run away with any technological edge. It is the skill and speed of athletes like Pistorius, and now Alan Oliviera, that captivates the crowds, but it’s a thrill that rests too on ingenuity and excellence in engineering: the latest materials in the smartest combinations. Continue reading

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Filed under Innovation, Olympics, Technology