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Teleology in nature and culture

Posted March 6, 2015 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Introduction In 1859 Charles Darwin published his now famous On the Origin of Species , which provided, a well researched and reasoned naturalistic explanation of species evolution through ‘natural selection’. In introducing natural selection did Darwin enable us to dispense totally with teleological explanations for purpose and design in biology? In this essay I will […]

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How curiosity became transformed

Posted March 2, 2014 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Curiosity; seen as a hazard to society in the classical world, early Christianity condemned it as a sin, and now, in the modern world, it is seen as an essential part of human nature. Somewhere between the late 1500s and 1700s attitudes in Europe changed. The change, according to Phillip Ball in Curiosity, was gradual […]

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Long distance weather reports are now a commonality. The report for 2MASSJ22282889-431026 is somewhat unusual. It forecasts wind-driven, planet-sized clouds, with the light varying in time, brightening and dimming about every 90 minutes. The clouds on 2MASSJ22282889-431026 are composed of hot grains of sand, liquid drops of iron, and other exotic compounds. Definitely not the first […]

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Does my science look big in this? This week in science

Posted February 28, 2013 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Being responsible for picking the week’s most interesting science stories is a fun and fascinating challenge. It pushes to me to look beyond my own interests and explore what others find compelling. So I trust you find my ‘science making news’ selection of interest and delight; explore the quantum, human, off-world and mathematical highs of […]

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Joy to the world: an ode to outer space at Christmas

Posted December 24, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

  By Alice Gorman, Flinders University and Kevin Orrman-Rossiter, University of Melbourne Christmas – whether you’re religious or not – is a time when people gather their families together to reinforce the bonds that make us human. In the era of modern telecommunications, distance no longer separates people the way it once did. Whether you’re […]

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Its a wheel! its a wheel – a wheel on Mars!

Posted August 25, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

NASA’s rover Curiosity was safely on Mars.  It was a perfect landing.  The novel sky-crane method had proved its detractors wrong and its designers right.  What was needed then was signs that Curiosity was working as designed.  NASA had said that the first pictures may be anything up to 2 hours after landing.  A long […]

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The NASA rover Curiosity is expected to be landing on Mars at 3:31 am August 6, 2012 (AEST).  It’s mission, lasting one Martian-year (98 Earth weeks),  is of scientific significance and perhaps even of human significance.  Curiosity will be fulfilling the prospecting stage of a step-by-step program of exploration, reconnaissance, prospecting and mining evidence for […]

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It is the year 2023 and humans have settled on Mars

Posted June 24, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Do you wish to become a Martizen, a citizen of Mars, anytime in the near future?  If you are serious about this then Dutchman, Bas Lansdorp, CEO of Mars One, is your man. Bas Lansdorp is a person with an audacious ambition.  Through his company, Mars One, he plans to establish the first human settlement […]

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Here be Dragons

Posted May 3, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

On May 11, a Dragon will mate with the International Space station.  Rather than some mythical creature, this Dragon is of human artifice.  The Dragon’s rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station presages a new chapter in human exploration of space. The significance of this event is Dragon is a reusable spacecraft, developed, and […]

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There is no doubt in the mind of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, the future will be shaped by science technology, engineering and mathematics.  Unfortunately, he finds that at present the standing of science, as an expert authority, is being challenged.  Furthermore, Ian Chubb finds that the science message is getting lost in the […]

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Who found the water on the Moon?

Posted March 28, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

At just over two tonnes, the second stage of an Atlas V rocket makes for an unusual ‘kinetic probe’.  Nonetheless on October 9, 2009 NASA deliberately impacted a spent Centaur rocket into the lunar south polar crater Cabeus.  The target area was a permanently shadowed region within this crater.  The impact, not surprisingly, ejected a […]

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How much does antimatter weigh?

Posted March 19, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

A pulse of particles speeds into the vacuum chamber.  Positrons, 20,000,000 antimatter particles, clumped in a pulse one nanosecond deep.  Like a silent, angry swarm they are targeted into a porous silica target.  The positrons are confined by a magnetic field, increasing their interaction with the silica.  Some attract electrons and synthesize into positronium, a […]

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Chandrayaan-1, India’s lunar water finder, close to a Moon ending

Posted February 5, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

India an emerging force in space exploration Sometime in later this year it is expected that India’s first lunar spacecraft is set to crash into the Moon.  Currently the 675kg spacecraft is silently orbiting the Moon.  Silently as since August 29 2009 radio contact has been lost with the craft. Now, every 2 hours or […]

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The curious science of life in space

Posted December 31, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

“Packing for Mars: the curious science of life in space” by Mary Roach 2010 Oneworld Books, Oxford UK, ISBN 978-1-85168-823-4. Reading this book was a little like watching street opera designed by a fifteen year old male.  In street opera you get just the arias – opera with all the boring bits removed.  Or so […]

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Curiosity about life on Mars

Posted December 11, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong uttered one of the most remembered quotes of the 20th century, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind….” Millions of people heard these words as they watched, via grainy black and white television images, Neil Armstrong step from the landing pad of the Lunar Module […]

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Quantum Man: Richard Feynman

Posted November 20, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s life in science, by Lawrence M Krauss. W. W. Norton, London (2011), ISBN 978-0-393-06471-1. This book is remarkable for three reasons.  The first is the brilliance, character and originality of the physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman.  Second is the true star of the book; the incredible contribution made by Feynman […]

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Culture conflict, rationality conflict and climate change

Posted June 25, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

It is rather an interesting feeling to no sooner have posted a blog and find a research paper just published that explains why your efforts are misguided.  Having developed my rational approach to understanding climate change in my previous posting it is salutary to find that the authors of the paper “The Tragedy of Risk-Perception […]

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