Category Archives: Science

Antibiotics are in critical condition: An open culture will help us find alternatives

Here’s a Halloween horror story for you. One of America’s top experts on disease control has just announced that we are now in the post-antibiotic era. Continue reading

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Filed under History, Innovation, Science, Technology

Steampunk Economics and the future of leisure

There’s something repellent about the Conservative Party’s new slogan “For Hardworking People”. I can’t agree with those critics who think it is an empty promise. It reflects the values in which David Cameron believes. It suits the social incentives he is seeking to construct. But while encouraging people to work for their own betterment is unquestionably good, when it comes from the mouth of government it is impossible not to scent cynicism. For hard work is not an end in itself for people – only for a state keen to live off their backs. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, History, Human nature, Liberal education, Politics, Science, Technology

Brief can be beautiful when you’re trying to make your first billion – here’s why

Size isn’t everything. Some of the best ideas are short. But formal publication, beyond social media’s throwaway pithiness, is hopelessly garrulous. There should be more to judging the intellectual pastry than seeing how thin it can be rolled. Yet to be taken seriously, it seems thoughts today must first be eked out into essays and papers, then stretched again into books. Continue reading

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Filed under Human nature, Innovation, Science

UK leadership of the international space race isn’t entirely out-of-this-world

Who says the sky has to be the limit? Britain’s space industry has ambitions to become a global leader. The sector’s new growth plan, announced this week, includes establishing a British spaceport within five years. It wants our 6.5 per cent share of the global space market in 2010 to be 8 per cent by 2020. The latter would mean an annual turnover of £19bn in today’s terms, rising to 10 per cent of the anticipated £400bn market by 2030, creating 100,000 new jobs. Continue reading

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Filed under Politics, Science, Technology

All hail the boffin burger: The next step in human nutrition

It would be easy to dismiss the serving of the first lab-grown burger as classic silly season fodder. Yet this is one photo opportunity that really may mark a historic moment, even if most seem to be missing its exact importance. In vitro meat is significant not because it increases menu options for a few Western vegetarians but because it may represent the next great step upwards in global nutrition. Continue reading

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Filed under History, Innovation, Science, Technology

Kickstarting a new relationship between art and business

WHO WANTS to come into space with me? Thanks to Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform, that is not a rhetorical question. I’m backing the Arkyd project, which is seeking $1m to launch a small space telescope into orbit. It has already raised more than $890,000, putting it on course to be fully-funded by its deadline on 30 June. If it hits its target, some time in August 2015 I will upload a digital photo to the Arkyd’s screen, where my image will hang against the backdrop of space as the moment is photographed for posterity. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Business, Innovation, Science, Technology

Five reasons to raise a glass in Thanksgiving for our commercial society

BLESSED with a wife born in America, Thanksgiving is a festival I am learning to celebrate. In grim economic times, it is easy to focus only the negative. But we still enjoy the rare good fortune to live, for the most part, in peace and under liberty. Freedoms of association, speech, trade, and faith enrich our lives every day. Albeit a day late, tonight I will be raising a thankful glass with my friends to these five blessings of our commercial society: Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Business, Economics, Freedom, History, Innovation, Literature, Science, Technology

Don’t let retrospective rules put out the lights

THE laws of physics have apparently been reinstated. The suggestion from Cern at the end of last year that neutrinos could travel faster than light sent our models of the universe atremble – but Cern, having turned everything off and on again, now puts the effect down to some faulty wiring. Continue reading

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Filed under History, Science

Free trade and property rights come naturally

THOSE who dislike the idea of individual freedom often accuse its proponents of dishing up just as artificial a plan for the human race as that offered by social planners. “There’s no such thing as a free market,” they say. “It’s all culturally determined.” Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, Human nature, Science

Innovation alarm bells should not be ignored

THERE has been a running controversy in the Forum this week about the rate of technological innovation. After an article by Norman Lewis argued that too much praise for Steve Jobs was a distraction from the importance of truly revolutionary scientific discoveries and world-shaping technological breakthoughs, readers have enthusiastically joined the debate, arguing both sides. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, History, Human nature, Innovation, Science, Technology