William Whiston and the Deluge

 Autobiographical notes appear here: William Whiston 1667- 1752

The Deluge (1805) by J M W Turner
The Deluge (1805) by J M W Turner

The years 1680 and 1682 were years of unusually bright comets. Many pamphlets were printed, especially in Germany, on the imminent end of the world; at the very least, great catastrophes were expected. This was nothing new. In earlier centuries and also earlier in the seventeenth century, comets were regarded with awe and every possible evil effect was ascribed to them.

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All the Refuse of the World

Dr. MercolaDr. Mercola is the founder of the world’s most visited natural health web site,www.Mercola.com. You can learn the hazardous side effects of ‘over the counter’ remedies by getting a FREE copy of his latest special report The Dangers of Over the Counter Remedies by going to his Report Page


While you may not directly feel the impact of refuse while going about your day to day life, it’s quite literally choking the life out of our ecosystem, and the situation is getting worse with each passing day. Eventually, we will all suffer the very real consequences as the world dies around us. As stated in the documentary, Inside the Garbage of the World ,”we’re going to create an environmental catastrophe that we may not be able to recover from.”

Many take for granted that their refuse “magically disappears” once it’s picked up by the disposal truck, but nothing could be further from the truth. Most refuse does not disappear. It’s simply relocated to a landfill or a recycling centre. Trash also makes its way down storm drains and into nearby waterways.

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Jonathan Swift and the moons of Mars

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others”. “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him”. [Jonathan Swift]

Born on November 30, 1667, Irish author, clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift  grew up fatherless. Under the care of his uncle, he received a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College and then worked as a statesman’s assistant. Eventually, he became dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Most of his writings were published under pseudonyms. He is best remembered for  Gulliver’s Travels. He died on October 19, 1745. Although not a scientist, he had friends and acquaintances that were, and was familiar with the work of astronomers such as Johannes Kepler.

Jonathan Swift 1667- 1745
Jonathan Swift 1667- 1745

Gulliver’s Travels was published on October 28th 1726. It is regarded as his masterpiece. As with his other writings, he had the Travels published under a pseudonym, the fictional Lemuel Gulliver, a ship’s surgeon and later a sea captain. Though it has often been mistakenly thought of and published in abridged form as a children’s book, it is a great and sophisticated satire of human nature based on Swift’s experience of his times. Gulliver’s Travels is an anatomy of human nature, a sardonic looking-glass, often criticised for its apparent misanthropy (a generalized hatred for mankind). It asks its readers to refute it, to deny that it has adequately characterised human nature and society. Each of the four books—recounting four voyages to mostly fictional exotic lands—has a different theme, but all are attempts to deflate human pride. Critics hail the work as a satiric reflection on the shortcomings of the then current Enlightenment thought.
In the third chapter of ‘Voyage to Laputa’ we read:  ‘They (the Laputans) have likewise discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve about Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the centre of the primary planet exactly three of his diameters, and the outermost five; the former revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty-one and a half; so that the squares of their periodical times are very near in the same proportion with the cubes of their distance from the centre of Mars, which evidently shows them to be governed by the same law of gravitation that influences the other heavenly bodies’.

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The threatened California Redwood with a difference

cotati redwood

Along with a colleague, I would welcome wider planting and practical use of timbers such as the California Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in the United Kingdom. The more we learn of these trees the more amazing they are to us.

For decades, a lone redwood has grown near the railroad tracks that run through the small city of Cotati, California. It was little noticed by most people—until officials announced that the tree had to be cut down to make way for a new transit system. Now arborists, researchers, and historians have banded together to save it.

The tree is a rarity called a chimeric albino redwood. Mixed among its normal green needles are ghostly patches of yellowish white needles. Albino redwoods have been documented since at least 1866, but they are very unusual. Amador County arborist Tom Stapleton and Colorado State University botany student Zane Moore have documented only 230 of the trees in California. Continue reading The threatened California Redwood with a difference

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) linked to gluten disorders

GM Wheat

In recent years, GM companies, trade bodies and associated scientists have issued a deluge of propaganda suggesting biotech crops are the key to feeding the Third World.
Now evidence is building that genetically modified foods such as soy and corn may be responsible for a number of gluten-related maladies such as the intestinal disorders now plaguing 18 million Americans, according to a new report released on 25th November.

The report, “Genetically Modified Foods Proposed as Trigger for Gluten Sensitivity” was released by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), and cites authoritative data from the US Department of Agriculture, US Environmental Protection Agency records, medical journal reviews as well as  international research.

“Gluten sensitivity can range in severity from mild discomfort, such as gas and bloating, to coeliac disease, a serious autoimmune condition that can, if undiagnosed, result in a 4-fold (likelihood of) death,” said  Jeffrey M. Smith, executive director of IRT in a statement released on their website (www.responsibletechnology.org/).

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Black Beauty

Black Beauty The Autobiography of a Horse (1877) by Anna Sewell

“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words”.  

Black Beauty

We have all heard of this classic novel, but how familiar are you with the book’s impact on animal welfare?

A century after first publication, in 1977, it was rated the favourite book read by ten year olds. Although its popularity is waning, its classic status remains unshaken. The strength of the novel lies in the sincerity and passion with which Anna wrote it, with its good hearted, hard-working hero who makes it against all odds, and incidentally, is a horse..

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Dragons or Dinosaurs?

What is behind the history of dragons? Ancient peoples from all over the world spoke about unusual, reptile-like creatures (large and small) that once roamed the earth. Europeans called them “dragons,” originally from the Greek drakon   apparently from drak-, strong aorist stem of derkesthai.” Perhaps the literal sense is “the one with (deadly) sight.” Scientists agree that legends are often based on facts, not just imagination. Dragon pictures are found in Africa, India, Europe, the Middle East, the Orient and every other part of the world. Dragon history is universal throughout the world’s ancient cultures. Where did this global concept originate? How did societies throughout the world describe, record, draw, etch, sew and carve such creatures in consistently similar ways?

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The Last Wild Horse

A Sensational Discovery
Przewalski’s ( PREZ- val- ski’s) Horse has been known to the world of science since 1881, when it was described by I. S. Poliakov, based on a skull and hide imported from Central Asia by Colonel Nicolai M. Przhevalsky in 1879. Poliakov named the newly discovered species ‘Przewalski’s Horse’ in honor of the explorer. However, the wild horses were known to local inhabitants a long time before that. The Mongols called them takhi, the Chinese jie-ma. The expression kertag is also used, originating from the Kirghiz kher takhi.
Characteristic Features
The Przewalski‘s Horse is a smallish, stocky animal with a powerful, low-set head. The coat is sandy brown to yellowish in color, with a white belly and a short, dark brown, erect mane and brown tail. There is a dark, dorsal stripe running along the middle of the back. The coat is also dark above the hooves. Some horses have dark legs up to their knees and there can also be dark stripes on the legs. The muzzle is often white (the so-called flour nose), although dark nosed individuals have also been recorded. The winter coat is long and thick and it protects the horse from the cold conditions and icy winds of its native habitat.
In contrast to domesticated horses, where the hair grows out of the root of the tail in long continuous strands, the root of the wild horse’s tail is covered in shorter hairs. Continue reading The Last Wild Horse

Moby Duck

Moby-Duck (2011) by Donovan Hohn

They were toys destined only to bob up and down in nothing larger than a child’s bath – but so far they have floated halfway around the world.

The ducks began life in a Chinese factory and were being shipped to the US from Hong Kong when three 40ft containers fell into the Pacific during a storm on January 29th 1992. Two thirds of them floated south through the tropics, landing months later on the shores of Indonesia, Australia and South America. But 10,000 headed north and by the end of the year were off Alaska and heading back westwards. It took three years for the ducks to circle east to Japan, past the original drop site and then back to Alaska on a current known as the North Pacific Gyre, before continuing north towards the Arctic.

Since then they have travelled 17,000 miles, floating over the site where the Titanic sank, landing in Hawaii and even spending years frozen in an Arctic ice pack.

Heading for Britain, they were soon to be spotted on beaches in South-West England.

The toys have helped researchers to chart the great ocean currents because when they are spotted on the shore they are much more likely to be reported to the authorities than the floats which scientists normally use. There is still much to be learnt about ocean currents.

Because the toys are made of durable plastic and are sealed watertight, they have been able to survive years adrift at the mercy of wind and current..

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