Thursday, December 30, 2010

Edzard Ernst and Herbal Remedies

In today’s Independent there is an opinion piece by Edzard Ernst, on the need for less opinion, at least as far as herbal remedies are concerned, specifically “Edzard Ernst: We need less opinion and more scientific research” on Thursday, 30 December 2010 (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/edzard-ernst-we-need-less-opinion-and-more-scientific-research-2171782.html).

Having read a great deal of Ernst’s work and writings, I came to the conclusion, some time ago, that in much of his field of supposed expertise, he is, more or less, completely clueless.

The comment I contributed to the discussion in the Independent is as follows:

Edzard Ernst is, regularly, ready to give his opinion, sometimes based on “science” from his point of view, even though much of that science is seriously flawed.

The description of my own Healing modality in “Trick or Treatment?”, the book he wrote with Simon Singh, contains double figures of errors on a single page. When I questioned Edzard Ernst about such matters on his own Blog on the “Pulse” website, he, essentially, ran away. As a so-called Professor of Complementary Medicine who professes to know about my modality, has supposedly researched it and pontificates on it, he turns and runs when asked questions by someone who knows the subject, has years of experience of it, plus half a century of involvement with science; a combination that is clearly too much for him.

I do not claim to know other parts of the CAM field in depth, unlike Edzard Ernst and the semi-instant expertise of Simon Singh who went from zero to an “expert” in about two years. In practice Singh has not a clue what he is talking about and Ernst is little better.

Unlike Ernst, Singh and many others, I do at least have an appreciation of the history, principles and thinking behind many CAM modalities as well as a strong science background. Applying science to them would be advantages in several ways. Unfortunately the science usually applied is often rubbish. Because he understands so little that even my non-scientific Healer colleagues could, immediately, see the flaws in his research. The supposed mechanism of placebo is related to the self healing abilities which are natural too us. Many non-mainstream methodologies, including spiritual healing, specifically encourage, apply, “set in motion” an individual’s self healing abilities. Hence, Edzard Ernst essentially proved that Spiritual Healing did not work because Spiritual Healing was not better than Spiritual Healing, or placebo did not work because placebo was not better than placebo. Ernst made the basic error of assuming that the procedure he chose to act as a placebo really was a placebo.

From what I have read of Ernst’s work, which is fairly extensive, I doubt that his expertise is much better in other areas, including that of herbal medicine.

How many other professors are utterly clueless about a significant subject in the field they claim to profess, particularly one on which they have pontificated and given strong opinions?

There are many fields of endeavour that depend heavily on experience, both on a personal basis and the “handed down” variety. That is certainly true of my own profession of engineering, which is less than 20% science in content. If we applied the evidence based approach in purely the science sense, as opposed to the generality of evidence, the world as we know it would not exist. There many are areas of engineering where “evidence based” in either the straight scientific sense, or “randomly controlled trial” sense is impractical, ridiculously expensive, or simply not there, not available, unattainable. That is the difference between living in the real world and inhabiting the amateurish theoretical scientific world of Edzard Ernst and his acolytes.

Similarly, there are many other matters in which handed down experience, group and/or society experience is valuable, including herbal traditions.

Besides, how come that from a health point of view, herbal remedies are to be considered not safe unless proven to be safe, whereas mobile ‘phones and similar are to be considered safe unless proven unsafe? Such inversions of the proof of safety are very common in our society and seem to have a strong correlation with vested interests.

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Engineer and a soar point with Pterosaurs

Colin Palmer, an engineer engaged in research on the aerodynamics of pterosaurs at the University of Bristol, has shown that the creatures were predominantly adapted to slow speed flight; too slow and flexible to use, or survive in, the stormy winds of some oceans, such as the albatross does in the southern oceans

Pterosaur wings had variable geometry and that, combined with their slow flight enabled them to land very gently, reducing the chance of damage to their thin bones. This goes a long way to explaining how pterosaurs became the largest flying creatures ever known, with a wingspan up to 10m across.

Colin Palmer said: “Pterosaur wings were adapted to a low-speed flight regime that minimizes sink rate. This regime is unsuited to marine style dynamic soaring adopted by many seabirds which requires high flight speed coupled with high aerodynamic efficiency, but is well suited to thermal/slope soaring. The low sink rate would have allowed pterosaurs to use the relatively weak thermal lift found over the sea.


“Since the bones of pterosaurs were thin-walled and thus highly susceptible to impact damage, the low-speed landing capability would have made an important contribution to avoiding injury and so helped to enable pterosaurs to attain much larger sizes than extant birds. The trade-off would have been an extreme vulnerability to strong winds and turbulence, both in flight and on the ground, like that experienced by modern-day paragliders.”

Palmer constructed models of pterosaur wing sections from thin curved sheets of epoxy resin/ carbon fibre composite, those sections then being tested in a wind tunnel. From those test the two dimensional characteristics of pterosaur wings were characterised fort he first time. This showed that the creatures were considerably less aerodynamically efficient and were capable of flying at lower speeds than previously thought.

Colin Palmer, trained as an engineer, originally in ship science and has over forty years of industrial experience. His interest in the propulsion of sailing vessels led to a study of the performance of thin aerofoil’s and low speed aerodynamics. He is now applying that knowledge and experience to the analysis of vertebrate flight, focusing on large pterosaurs for his PhD. His approach uses a combination of wind tunnel and vortex-lattice theoretical modeling to understand how pterosaur wings performed. More sophisticated aerodynamic analysis, using computational fluid dynamics, is to follow with the intention of providing enough information to create a free-flying model of a pterosaur.

The story reminds me of that of a particular type of dinosaur that was thought to live in marshes so that its body partially floated, due to its body structure, particularly its legs, being unable to bear its full weight. Sometime in the 1960s, or 1970s, an engineer carried out structural calculations to show that the creature’s skeletal structure was indeed capable of bearing its weight. Oddly, as I recall, the person concerned was an electrical engineer at the University of Reading. In a sense, not so odd as engineers have a good understanding of each other’s disciplines; my first year at Brunel University was a common one for all engineers; mechanical, electrical and production engineering. Either way both stories are a good example of why such matters should be investigated by other than just scientists.

Colin Palmer’s paper “Flight in slow motion: aerodynamics of the pterosaur wing” is in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B at rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/12/01/rspb.2009.1899.abstract.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God

Stephen Hawking has, apparently, come to the conclusion that the universe had no creator, though that notion, is, of course, based on physics; “Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God”, The Guardian, 2nd September 2010 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/02/stephen-hawking-big-bang-creator)

In his 1988 book “A Brief history of Time”, there was at least an indication that Hawking’s understanding might not be limited to just the physical, particularly when he wrote, “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we should know the mind of God”

That Hawking’s understanding does not go beyond the physical is apparent from the article, as well as elsewhere. The Guardian article quotes Hawking as saying, "The fact that we human beings – who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature – have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph."

Many of us are well aware that we are far more than “mere collections of fundamental particles of nature”, as is the rest of the physical universe for that matter; we are not limited to just our physical senses, which gives us a distinct advantage over almost all mainstream scientists, including Stephen Hawking.

As Hawking’s knowledge and understanding is limited to the physical, so must be his conclusions. Eminent though his work is, it is based on partial knowledge.

However, even with physical world limitations in understanding, there is still the matter of logic in that the so-called “laws” of physics are based on physical observation and have no particular bearing on what there was before the physical, putting aside the slight matter of time being as illusory as the physical world itself. Although the idea that the “Origin” of everything we know is all there is, time dose not exist and physical reality is complete illusion is difficult to grasp, it seems less so than the notion that the whole of the “real” physical universe suddenly appeared, totally spontaneously out of absolutely nothing. Once the knowledge and some experience of the vastness of creation, of which only the physical is a very small part, such understandings become easier to accept.

The other aspect is the matter of design. The title of Stephen Hawking's new book, co-written with Caltech Physicist Leonard Mlodinow, is “The Grand Design”.

Design is part of engineering, as is science, when the engineer deems science to be useful. Design is not science and is not a rational subject, it is art and irrational. Scientists may endeavour to investigate design, with their limited tools and limited understanding; they may have their own opinions on it. However, they do not, in general, have either the expertise, or qualifications, to pass any meaningful comment on design, other than from the very limited scientific perspective. Therefore, from the design point of view, the opinions of Stephen Hawking and his co-author are irrelevant, at a minimum mostly so.

These days it is not easy to find somewhere away from the light pollution of towns and cities to see a clear night sky. I remember a night, back in the 1960s, at a firework party on the beach at Holland-on-sea in Essex, adjacent to Clacton-on Sea where we lived. At one stage during the evening, I lay on the beach, below the cliff, looking out to sea, up at a clear, cloudless sky. Even what could be seen with just the naked eye more or less, screamed “Design?” In latter years I learned far more about design and began to see far more than the physical. Scientists in general, let alone physicists, often have no idea just how little they know, or, pursuing their current paths, will ever know.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Of web sites, computer gremlins and a dud Acer laptop

Towards the end of a couple of weeks in which I finally obtained a refund on the failed Acer computer bought from “At your Fingertips in Leigh Park, I had problems connecting to my web sites to update them after something of a lull in activity.

Obtaining the refund was a relief, though had taken several weeks, several E-mails and a letter, a few consultations with trading Standards, plus Jo having her say, in no uncertain terms, while we were in the shop. Oddly, not much more than a minute after we got there, Cecilia Harding took a ‘phone call that turned out to be, apparently, from Anthony, her supplier, it being, for some reason, crucial that he agreed to supply a replacement computer to sell, as new, so that she would not lose out financially, not up to her to settle with me, a customer, and take it up with her supplier afterwards; completely at odds with Trading Standards interpretation of the Law in which they specialise; odd. Even odder was Anthony phoning a minute or two after Jo and I arrived, unannounced at het shop. My comment at the time was
“Your computer supplier must be more psychic than I am!”

After a further exchange of E-mails I was able to recover my £485 a few days later, on the following Wednesday, travelling over there with Fedor, to return the loan computer, which I had long before stopped using for fear that would give out as well.

The Hewlett Packard laptop I had already purchased from Currys, in Havant, was, at £400, cheaper, of a higher specification than the Acer computer, plus being a new one, compared suspicions on the vintage of the Acer computer after we looked it up online.

Over the weekend and early this week I went back to updating my web sites then came across a linking problem, again. The home version of the FTP programme I had used for many months refused to set up and link, as did my backup one, initially. Finally I managed to update several diary pages as well as the ones on the Second Hayling Island Bridge following an article a couple of weeks ago by Elise Brewerton in “The News” (Portsmouth), “Campaigners are hoping to get funding for a second Hayling bridge to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to cross to the island”.

On top of that I had “borrowed” a photo of the Aberfeldy bridge, with an acknowledgement of the source, which the Haying Island one would have followed on from if Havant Borough Council had been co-operative, only to realise that it would not appear on the Hayling Island Second Bridge page of my RLK Associates web site because it was a GIF image rather than JPEG image. That is something I have to sort out quickly in order to have it ready before sending a large circulation E-mail about the bridge that could have been had Havant Borough Council not ignored, obstructed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Sushi, the Stew and the Failed Computer

Last Sunday, Mother’s Day, we went to our daughter’s house in Chichester, as we had the previous Sunday, the weekend when they moved into the house. On both occasions we had a very pleasant day. I had been over on the first Saturday, when they moved in; Fedor had come with me to the “At You Fingertips” shop in the Greywell Centre, Leigh Park, to try to help me retrieve my money for the failed Acer Extensa laptop computer.

On the first of those two Sundays, while Emma and I went to fetch bed from a friend’s house, Fedor had put together a meal of sushi, his favourite and well deserved after all his efforts during the house moving. Unfortunately, somehow, it was knocked off of the table, the plate breaking on the stone floor and the sushi ruined by shards of crockery.

The following day I had returned home, after visiting clients, to find Jo ad made one of her very good stews. With my plate of stew on the worktop in the kitchen, I open a cupboard to get a wineglass, there being some wine left over from the weekend. Somehow, I contrived to knock the glass against the cupboard, or somehow otherwise drop it, for the glass to bounce on the worktop and break on the floor. Clearing up quickly and pouring wine into another glass, I took the meal into another room and sat down to eat. I had only taken one mouthful when I saw two pieces of glass ion the edge of the pallet. Obviously, the glass had started to break when it hit the worktop, before landing on the floor. So, my meal was ruined by shards of glass in it, at least potentially and not worth the risk, though Jo had made plenty, enough for two days, so all was not lost.

It was peculiar to have two such similar incidents twenty-four hours apart, the only connection being that Fedor, being a computer consultant, had offered to come with me to a shop where I had bought a laptop computer, sometime previously, the computer had failed, so had the first repair, and I was having problems getting my money back.

The computer was purchased from At Your Fingertips, in Greywell Precinct, Leigh Park at the end of September 2009. It began to show signs of instability during November and failed completely by the end of the month; it kept going blue screen, “crash dump to disc”.

I agreed to the computer being repaired, though there was additional delay due to the shop owner, Cecilia Harding, being away due to illness. The computer came back from Acer, with, apparently, a new motherboard and a clean bill of health, though, when I started it, in the shop, it went blue screen, “crash dump to disc”. Cecilia Harding suggested I take it home for Christmas and try it, see if it settled down, otherwise bring it back afterwards.

The computer was no better after Christmas, Fedor said from what I told him about it, that it was a memory problem, and wondered whether the computer was an up to date model. After Christmas I accept the offer of a loan computer while we waited for a response from Acer about the supposed repair, matters being delayed due to Acers laggardly, to put it mildly, response and Cecelia Harding going on holiday.

There turned out to be additional complications and Emma suggested the obvious, ask for my money back, which was not refused but starting to get somewhat involved. I came across a Hampshire County Council trading Standards Officer at a Havant Borough 50+ Forum Coffee morning, when I called in at the Beacon Centre, in the Meridian Centre, Havant, early in February. She confirmed that Trading Standards Law was that, if a product failed in the first six months, it was deemed to be a failure at time of manufacture and a refund was due. When I, later, ‘phoned the number she advised me to contact, Consumer Direct on 08454 040506, the adviser who answered the call was of precisely the same view.

I had already begun to wonder about the stability and reliability of the loan computer, particularly being the same make and model, so I bought a Hewlett Packard laptop computer, from Currys in Havant. I had been to a PC World Store in Sussex immediately beforehand but, whichever PC World I went to Currys was closer and owned by the same holding company. Ironically, we had problems with Curry’s relating to both a fridge and a freezer during the previous several weeks but it was always down to their delivery people, those in the shop being very helpful; as was the case with Rick when I went in for the computer. The choice of the Hewlett Packard was decided by the specification and the offer price.

The loan computer was stripped of my files and software, though most of my files were on an external hard disc anyway, and returned to its box to await resolution of the situation with “At Your Fingertips”.

When he next visited us, Fedor pronounced the Hewlett Packard computer to be a good purchase, an up to date model with a good specification. He carried out an online search for the Extensa model of computer with which I had problems but could find out little about it in regard to the U.K. though did so on Eastern European websites, apparently known for memory problems, which fitted with his original diagnosis of the problem with the one I had purchased.

A couple of weeks ago I read an article in the Daily mail, about a couple who had purchased a laptop computer from a Comet Store, only to have it fail and Comet to decline a refund, at least until they essentially “camped” outside the store with a placard. In a way I can understand such reluctance but it is not good business, certainly in the long run.

When we went to “At Your Fingertips” in Leigh Park last Saturday, the shop was closed, though I was certain it did open on Saturdays; presumably that is a new development. The next time I go there the number of visits will definitely enter double figures, all in regard to one computer.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Great Big Business Debate, The Rose Bowl, Eastleigh, Hampshire

While talking to the people on the Business Link Hampshire stand at the Chamber of Commerce meeting at the end of January, I saw some leaflets for free seminars at the Rose Bowl, Hampshire County Cricket Ground, on 3rd and 4th March. I went to those events, which were free, expecting it to consist of seminars with a few exhibitors present; it turned out to be somewhat the reverse, mainly exhibitors with the seminars tucked away in rooms under the main stand.

I did not go to all of the seminars, just a couple over the two days, though found some of the exhibitors useful.

What also transpired was that Business Link Hampshire is being taking over by SERCO, or, at least, that is the company that has been awarded the new contract, there begin dissatisfaction with the performance of Business Link Hampshire in recent years.

When I went to ask someone on the Business Link Hampshire Stand about the potential new circumstances under SERCO the person I approached turned out, from his name badge, to be Chas Morrison. I had heard of him many years before, when David Bartlett had encouraged me back to Hampshire from Business Link Sussex in 2004. I had heard Chas Morrison might be helpful from my point of view though was never allowed to meet him or anyone else.

Although I mentioned that recommendation to Chas, he did not seem to think he could have helped, then added that I should have received a letter from Business Link Hampshire about my circumstances with them, probably from Jonathan Morris, the Director. I said I had never received a letter and that it may well have gone the same way as the E-mail I was supposed to have received from Sarah Anderson that I had never been able to find on my Email program, no matter what I searched under. Chas asked for my address in case it had been sent to the wrong one and made a note. The conversation went not much further than that.

No letter ever came, though I did not expect it to; the whole of Business Link Wessex is being taken over in April and, presumably, revamped; it certainly needs to be.

In contrast I had some potentially useful conversations with other people and have heard from a few of them since.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Business in Havant, in Hampshire, and David Willetts’ book “The Pinch”

On the Monday afternoon, I spent a while at the Havant Borough 50+ Forum at Havant Civic Offices. Among the subjects that came up, one involved problems with obtaining replies to letters written to Havant Borough Councillors and Hampshire County Councillors, as well as to Council Officers. None of that was any great surprise; I was well used to problems of that type, particularly with Havant Borough Council, to the extent that I routinely published all correspondence with Havant Borough Council, whether by letter of E-mail, on the Internet. I mentioned some of my problems with Business Link Hampshire, saying that I had found public funded bodies in general, including the Councils, well out of reach as far as obtaining any redress are concerned. We pay those who use public funds but most seem beyond any control other than that they choose to exercise themselves.

While in Havant, on the Tuesday, I tried to find Julie Gallagher, of Hampshire Trading Standards, with whom I had a conversation at the Havant Borough 50+ Forum coffee morning in February, principally about the faulty computer I had bought at a small shop in Havant. It was at the same meeting that I had appraised County Councillor Ann Buckley, of the Liberal Democrats, about my problems with Business Link Hampshire discriminating against me, the County Councillor being somewhat taken aback by that, let alone my views on the atrocious level of business support in Hampshire; effectively, if anyone decides to come to Hampshire with their business, or develop one in the County, they should ensure that they keep all of their out of Hampshire, lines of communication, advice, finance and publicity open, join the Chambers of Commerce and smaller organisation such as Southern entrepreneurs but assume that all other organisations are useless, or hostile.

Julie Gallagher was not there but I had a very useful conversation with other representatives of Hampshire County Council, including, Trading Standards, who had some tables set up in the Meridian Centre. Mostly, the conversations I had were about the problems I was having with the shop where I had bought the faulty computer. However, I took the opportunity to confirm what I suspected, that organisation like Business Link Hampshire were outside the jurisdiction of trading Standards and similar, as problems with them were a business and civil matter rather than a criminal matter. On the other hand, I did find out something about the Havant Borough Council employee who had claimed to be a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, as it was then, by including MIEE on his business card, though that membership, it transpired had lapsed some twenty years earlier; nowadays that is definitely a criminal offence and likely was then, though will need some double checking. However, none of the several people I informed about that deception knew that, apparently, including Councillors, Council Officers, or members of the supervising Board of the Borough Partnership, such as a College Principal and the Business Link representative.

It was suggested that I speak to people in the Economic Development Office of Hampshire County Council, particularly about the situation with Business Link Hampshire. It was more likely that I would need to find alternative avenues to business development.

What was particularly amusing, at least in the black humour sense, so do, if you are a budding entrepreneur coming to Hampshire, do remember to bring that brand of humour with you, was that David Willetts, Member of parliament for Havant, had just brought out a book, entitled “The Pinch”, Atlantic Books; it is about the “baby-boomer” generation, of which I am one, making money out of the younger generations but not doing much to give, put, any back. The irony is that, since the 1990s, I have been trying to do just that but Havant Borough Council wrecked my project and five years work, David Willetts, who had never helped anyway, said that it was a dispute between Havant Borough Council and myself, and that he could, therefore, not intervene; I still have the letter. So Havant Council prevented me contributing to local business, putting anything back from my generation and David Willetts could do nothing about it, yet David Willetts’ book criticises my generation for not contributing.

There was irony on Tuesday in the form of Mac’s Cartoon in the Daily Mail. The cartoon involved two men, hanging by chains, being whipped by a mostly naked woman in boots. Above and on the door was “Madam Whiplash (Sado-Masochist) Specialist in Prolonged Torture. Impaled on a bed of nails was a newspaper with the headline, “Opinion Poll Shock”, a reference to news stories about the apparent collapse in support for the Conservative Party as we approach a General Election. Well, if Mac regards life under the current labour Government as torture, with which I do not necessarily violently disagree, he should try life in Hampshire in general and Havant in particular, especially business life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Business Link Hampshire – Beyond Prediction Confirmed – The Call That Never Came

Business Link Hampshire – Beyond Prediction Confirmed – The Call That Never Came

In preparation for the expected ‘phone call, from Nick Keogh, at 10.30 a.m., I collected together the material I had researched on the Internet the previous evening, computer diary notes I had printed off, an A4 pad and my telephone notebook. The A4 sheets were put in a ring binder and all were taken upstairs to my large desk with the old computer and telephone.

One of the documents that I downloaded and printed off was a Candidate Brief for applicants for the post of Managing Director of WSX Enterprise. It was of interest because it laid out the business Link Philosophy, which just happened to be the way it had been conveyed to me by others, was as I understood it but was not as practiced by Business Link Hampshire, at least not as far as I was concerned, or some other people I have met over the years, though those were before Jonathan Morris’ tenure as Managing Director of Business Link Hampshire.

For example, the note contained the following:

“Today’s business Link service is provided through three key elements:

I – Information
D – Diagnosis
B – Brokerage

Information is available primarily through telephone and web based support together with events. Diagnosis may be undertaken through those same points of contact but often requires a face to face intervention from a Business Link Adviser at a clinic or at the business premises.”

It was relevant to my forthcoming telephone conversation as telephone support was not particularly appropriate; there was relevant material I actually needed to show Nick Keogh, or whoever else I spoke to. The situation was also a far cry from the supposed up to four face to face, one to one, meetings a year to which I was supposed to be entitled, along with other Business Link customers, of course.

By 10.35 p.m. I was ready and busied myself on the computer, which is the one I use for E-mails at present, while I waited. Time passed and nothing happened, no ‘phone call, not by 11 o’clock, or anytime afterwards. Jo returned from her hair appointment just before 11.30 a.m. and I had still not received the promised ‘phone call.

Jo has a Membership Card for Havant Garden Centre, Wyvale in Bartons Road, Havant, and had received a two for one meal offer in the Garden Centre Restaurant. As out granddaughter was coming the following day and I was otherwise occupied in the later part of the week, today was our last day to use it, so we decided to do just that.

I ‘phoned business Link Hampshire, at 11.40 a.m., intending to ask for Sarah Anderson and query the missed telephone call from Nick Keogh. All I got was an answering service with the usual “You call is very important to us”; you need a wry, to black, sense of humour if you ever bring your business to Hampshire, though that is not just down to the local Business Link but most of the publicly funded business support in Hampshire as a whole. The glaring exceptions who are friendly and helpful are the Chambers of Commerce and Southern Entrepreneurs, plus their friends, of course.

I left a message to say that I had not received a call from nick Keogh, as promised, plus, of course, my phone number.

Jo and I went to Wyvale Garden Centre and had a pleasant enough lunch, though, unfortunately, they were not really geared up for the number of people who responded their meal offer, so, it was quite a long wait. Of the meals on offer, I opted for fish and chips, with mushy peas, though I prefer garden peas. At least it was better than I have had at Fuller’s pubs where the portion mushy peas is smaller than the dollop of tartar sauce and the chips are of the chunky variety. Wyvale would have been preferable to Fuller’s at the normal price; at the offer price they easily beat Fuller’s.

One of the other diners thought the Garden centre was not as good as it was, though job and I were of a different opinion. The restaurant is not quite as good as it used to be, the relatively high prices not helping, at least for several items; £3-50 to £4-00 for a slice of cake is a bit much to say the least. However, the surroundings are pleasant and the revamp, restocking of the Garden Centre has gone well.

On returning home I, immediately, checked the answering machine. There was nothing from Business Link, nor for the rest of the day.

During the afternoon, while job was out at afternoon tea with her friends, I got on with some research and writing. During that time I checked the statistics on my BlogSpot Blog. I was fascinated to notice a surge of visitors from Fareham, where Business Link Hampshire has its main Office; no coincidence, there had been visits from Business Link Hampshire. Those statistics were for the were only for yesterday and the Blog Post I put up last Sunday, 21st February, unless they caught my Monday evening Post early this morning.

I presumed that had something to do with me not receiving the promised ‘phone call from Nick Keogh, though they might have had the courtesy to ‘phone me and tell me it was off, postponed, or whatever, and given some sort of reason.

In the mid to late 1990s, before I was “blanked” by Business Link Hampshire, I had an advisor come to my house. He was on time to the minute. He took a pride in being on time and told me he had arrived ten minutes earlier and been waiting in his car over the road until the appointed time. How things change. If Business Link Hampshire was as in those days, as I found Business Link Sussex was and with whom I should have stayed, I would have brought a considerable amount of engineering business to the area, let alone the tourism side that my advisers are sure is worth so much, as were Business Link Sussex.

On the basis of the figures we have worked on, Hampshire and part of Sussex has lost £800m to £1bn pounds worth of business, over the last decade, compared with what would have been; it could be a little les, it could be a great deal more but should never have been lost at all.

The logic of the above is that, as long as I am blocked, Hampshire loses of the order of £100m per year in tourism income.

Why do public funded organisations, decline, year after year, to assist in bringing that level of business to their own region?

Do you really want to bring your business to Hampshire?!

Apart from other matters, on which I am working, I really will have to finalise the last fraction of a percent of the manuscript of “Remembering Lorelei” and let it go. I have been apprehensive about riding two publicity eruptions at once, one from the contest of the book, the other due to other matter, the Hampshire Business Link matter only being on the periphery of that. I am getting over the apprehension to the extent that I am increasing my presence on the Internet.

That is something else to bear in mind about Hampshire, you will need to use the Internet, or have connections outside the County if you wish to make sure that your voice is heard; the usual channels are poor to blocked, or, at lest, severely compromised.

My Web Sites are abroad anyway, or were last time I checked (a very appropriate current under the circumstances), though having a very good computer consultant as a son-in-law, who happens to be Russian, with family in the Baltic States and Russia, means that I could have them moved further afield if absolutely necessary; courage in the upper echelons of Hampshire is not very great as it is, let alone, perhaps, needing to contemplate falling foul of Russian Oligarchs, along with the possibility of polonium in their cups of tea.

The Structure of Water and Other Liquids

I recently came across a review paper that shows a considerable amount, of progress in the last decade or so, in the understanding of the structure of liquids. That paper “The Structure of Liquid Water; Novel Insights from Materials Research; Potential Relevance to Homeopathy” constitutes a comprehensive review of work in the field. The authors, Rustum Roy, W.A. Tiller, Iris Bell and M.R. Hoover, are not lightweights in the science field, though many mainstreamers are likely to find fault, not least because the thrust of the paper and the evidence contained, referred to, therein, is diametrically opposite to what the mainstream wish to hear.

As the authors point out, the term structure is used in the materials science sense, to designate the three dimensional arrangement of atoms, or molecules, not the structure of s single molecule, or oligomer, as used in chemistry.

The structure of water is due not to just the well known hydrogen bonds but van der Waals bonds between and among the various oligomeric (cluster) structural units.

X-ray diffraction (XRD) is extremely useful for crystal structures but of no use for liquids. Currently, the only effective investigative tool for non-crystalline solids, such as glass structures, directly but only partially, is transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and this cannot be used easily, directly, on liquid structures. These difficulties have lead many scientists to hold the naïve view that all liquids, like most crystalline matter, are, broadly, completely homogenous structures down to the unit cell, atomic, or crystalline level and that they exhibit structural characteristics in line with the random network model, one of the two models developed in the 1930s for glasses.

Zachariasen’s 1932 model for the structure of glass was arrived at by model fitting to X-ray scattering but is based on no direct data from other methods. Even so it has dominated thinking in physics and chemistry ever since. I recall such diagrams from the time of my Master of Technology Degree, in Non-Metallic Materials, at Brunel University during the 1970s.

Opposed to Zachariasen’s model of a homogonous structure, was the early “crystallite” theory, which also brings back memories. That model posited that small 5-50 Ao fragments of various crystalline structures floated in a “monomeric sea”.

Between the 1930 and 1980s the concept of a homogeneous (random-network), or heterogeneous (crystallite) structure for glass (frozen liquids) was reconsidered at various times. Transition electron microscopy (TEM) rather than X-ray diffraction (XRD) produced definitive relevant data in common boro- and alumino-silicate glasses, which showed a heterogeneous nano-structure of very many transparent glasses which have even 2 or 4 separate phases; a phase is defined as a region of characteristic structure, or composition separated by a surface.

The whole of the glass-ceramic industry depends on this incipient nanoheterogeneity, or actual phase separation in glass, for its existence. The existence and the high probability of nano-heterogeneity in most strongly bonded glass and liquid structures are now established as the “standard model”.

After surveying experimental data and the resulting thinking about glass and liquid structures over the last several deacedes, Roy, et al, conclude that the actual expereiental data on the structrue of many glasses and liquids can be summarised as follows:

a) The ubiquity of nanoscale heterogeneity in the structure of many covalently bonded liquids

b) That such heterogeneity on the nanometer scale is the rule rather than the exception for the structure of all strongly bonded liquids (i.e. principally excepting ionic and metallic melts)



The Structure of Water

Roy, et al, wrote their paper in the “language” of materials science. However, they found that, via some 17 million hits on Google for “structure of water”, materials scientists have rarely studied what is an extremely common material. The vast majority of papers on the “structure of water”, in the chemical and biomedical literature, started and, most often, ended with statements and claims about what molecules exist in water on the basis of particular, increasingly specialised tools, with the prominence of hydrogen bonding in the molecules rarely being commented on.

Roy, et al, cite a prodigious work, a website by Martin Chaplin of South Bank University, London. As they say, it is an enormous, complex and well organised review of the entire field of water structure and related fields, like homeopathy, the treatment of the latter being unusual in that it is scientific, balanced and fair minded. The ambiguity in the chemical literature on the structure of water is well illustrated by the collected illustrations of that structure, as conceived, proposed, deduced.

What comes out of all of this is that water, along with other liquids, has a structure, in the materials science sense, that can store information and have information impressed in it by means of epitaxy (shape), pressure generation, electrically, magnetically, etc., and that information can be retained.


In their conclusion, Roy, et al, point out the key role of the nano-heterogeneity of liquid water and the resulting ease of change of structure. They go on to say that the understanding and mental images of the structure of water have been radically distorted in the minds of most scientists and, thence, the medical community. Liquid water (OH2) like its remarkably similar analogue SiO2, is not a homogenous structure at the molecular level. It is a dynamic equilibrium among changing percentages of assemblages of different oligomers. The structure, architecture, and these assemblages, or units, themselves are dependent on temperature, hence it’s many anomalous property temperature relationships, as well as on pressure and on composition. As a result the structure is more responsive to composition of low level solutes, to magnetic fields and to “subtle energies”.

There is an extreme structural flexibility that predisposes the water to change by both epitaxy and succussion, the latter introducing the possibility of a stable nano-air bubble colloid.

The latter factors provide a theoretical feasibility for, as the authors put it, “the robust outcomes data of dozens of researchers in the homeopathic field, who have reached more or less similar conclusion by other routes”.

To quote the following paragraph directly:

“The connection of the imprinting, via succussion and possible epitaxy, of the different specific homeopathic remedies on the structure of water eliminates the primitive criticism of homeopathy being untenable due to the absence of any remnant of the molecules. Structures change properties vastly more easily and dramatically than chemistry changes them. Beyond the homeopathic field, such an enormous structural pliability also provides a plausible framework for the claims of the most reliable workers in the field of “subtle energies” to be able to change the structure and properties of water.”

Also, in the words of the paper, relating to homeopathy, with which I have to agree:

“The central thrust of this paper, which has presented an argument which nullifies the simpleminded argument of ‘zero concentration of solute, hence no possible effect,’ is that it is structure NOT composition which ahs the effect.”

As Roy, et al, say, their paper outlines testable hypotheses about the ability to alter the structure of water in the ultra-dilute regime, though epitaxy, coupled with succussion (vigorous shaking) generating pressure and nano-bubbles leading to properties markedly different than those of untreated water.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Business Link Hampshire – Prediction Confirmed, Business Assistance and Advice Limited and Difficult to Obtain

Just before going out I ‘phoned Sarah at Business Link Hampshire about my appointment, with Jenny Oakley, at 10.45 a.m. on Tuesday 23rd February at the Emsworth Pastoral Centre, as I had not received an E-mail giving the location of the Pastoral centre, as promised, or confirming the appointment, though I had already realised, discovered, that the Pastoral Centre was at a church in the Centre of Emsworth. Someone by the name of Mark answered and said that Sarah had just picked up the ‘phone to speak to someone else.

I used the opportunity to double check on surnames, partly in order to have a closer look at my E-mails to see if I had missed anything. Mark advised me that Sarah’s surname was Anderson and it transpired that his was Bartlett. I asked if he was any relation, meaning to David Bartlett, Business director of Business Link Hampshire, but Mark said he was not any relation, though commented that “everybody asks that”, which was not really surprising..

I had known David Bartlett since the late 1990s, when he was at many meetings I attended, in Hampshire, while setting up my Technology Diversification Centre project as well as many meetings to do with the project, to which he was invited, also a member of the Board of Havant Borough Partnership to which my project was given, only for Havant Borough partnership to wreck it and the cover-up to ensue; the people of Havant are still unaware of having had their money (up to £1m at today’s prices, quite possibly more) used to pay back the money defrauded from Europe via the Government Office, though that was not just my project that was used to do that, as confirmed by the Well-Wisher, the former senior Havant Borough Council Officer, after retirement, though I had been aware of for other reasons, including “non-charge invoices”, to claims for matched funding, being requested at meetings, by the people to whom my project was given.

In the early 2000s I was “blanked” by Business Link Hampshire; it was as a Business Banker who used the term, though at the same meeting conceded that my non engineering interest were definitely viable as a business, a view which was later confirmed by others but never received any support from Business Link Hampshire. In 2004 I approached Business Link Sussex for help and they agreed my non-engineering interest were worth a very great deal, more than my engineering career. While Business Link Sussex were being very helpful, David Bartlett contacted me to suggest that I come back to Hampshire. I made the mistake of doing so; it saved me a great deal of travelling but my time and resources were simply wasted; I was only allowed to meet with David Bartlett, none of the more knowledgeable, appropriate, people with whom I requested to have discussions, ostensibly because his time was free and other peoples’ time would be expensive, and I progressed absolutely nowhere. So it remained for many years.

Just before I was due to leave for my appointment, the ‘phone rang; it was Sarah Anderson, of Business Link Hampshire, calling me back after my conversation with Mark Bartlett.

Sarah told me that my appointment with Jenney Oakley at Emsworth Pastoral Centre on 23rd February had been cancelled. They had, obviously, caught up with the fact that I had met Jenny Oakley before, in 2008 and, it seems, that I had problems with Business Link Hampshire before. According to my contemporaneous notes, which I usually try to make during such telephone conversations, it was said, had been said, that I had made a formal complaint against Jenny Oakley, which incensed me, somewhat, as it was totally untrue, though someone with Business Link Hampshire seems to have been putting several untruths about in relation to myself and Business Link Hampshire, in relation to other matters, so why not a supposed, manufactured, complaint as well.

Apparently, Jenny Oakley had said our previous meeting did not go well. That is entirely true, it amounted to a wasted one and a half hours. I had been invited to a one-to-one meeting and had accepted, primarily out of curiosity.

While I was at a networking meeting, arranged by Southern Entrepreneurs, some time before the meeting with Jenny Oakley, I mentioned the coming meeting to an experienced Hampshire businesswoman, who I had previously met. Her reaction was simply to look downwards and shake her head. That had nothing to do with Jenny Oakley, simply the appalling reputation that Business Link Hampshire had at the time, as well as for many years previously and, as yet, it does not seem to have improved. I had expected the meeting to be a waste of time, as someone within Business Link Hampshire has been working against me for years, though is far to cowardly to come out into the open. I fully expected the meeting to be a complete waste of time, as it was, though also recognised that Jenny Oakley was in a totally invidious position and that, left to her own devices, the outcome would have been different, quite possibly very different. I have more than enough experience of the machinations within industry and business not to be aware of such circumstances.

The 2008 meeting “not going well” was no reason, or excuse, for Jenny Oakley not to get back to me, in some form at least, though, as I have written, I fully recognise the difficulty of her position; hence my reaction to the suggestion that I had made a formal complaint against Jenny Oakley. As the underlying situation was none of her doing that would have been totally unfair. Similarly, the “block” and machinations being at a higher level than her would also have made it unfair. Besides, I made a formal complaint against Business Link Hampshire back in the early 2000s, probably during the years it was known as Business Link Wessex, as I recall. (I may have time to check and come back to edit this later.)

The complaint, against Business Link Hampshire/Wessex, was to Glen Atherfold, then of the Small Business Service. That was when I learned that a formal investigation into a Business Link amounts to, essentially, approaching the Business Link concerned on the basis, “Have you done anything wrong?”, “No?”, “Good, that’s all right then,” investigation over, case closed. Like other Public Bodies and Publically funded bodies, including Local Government, Business Links are a law unto themselves, though, probably, not, unlike at least some Local Government, above the law.

In the event, I told Sarah that I would like to see the complaint that I was supposed to have made against Jenny Oakley. I mentioned the letter I had received from Jonathan Morris, the Chief Executive of Business Link Hampshire, principally about moving information to SEEDA, the South east England Development Agency, under which the local business Links now come, and, in passing, mentioning my request never to be contacted by Business Link Hampshire again, something I had never done and something clearly generated within Business Link Hampshire itself.

As far as the latest foray is concerned, I came across the Business Link people, Susan Obbard and Madeleine Morton, at the Chamber of Commerce Meeting, as described in my previous Blog entry (Business Link Hampshire – A Prediction) and on the January 2010 page of my Journal Web Site. That is also why I was so careful to spend time talking to them, ask questions and make notes of exactly what I was entitled to receive in terms of business advice and support from Business Link Hampshire. The intention was to go along with it as far as the person near the top controlling these matters would allow, once they, or someone close to them, found out and to chronicle developments and my experiences on the Internet. What I had intended to do was to write the detail of the encounters in, more or less, inverse proportion to the how positive my encounters with Business Link Hampshire turned out to be and the amount of help received. If it developed well, what I wrote would be in generalities, if it went poorly, there would be more detail. In part that would be because, if it went well, I would be more occupied in following up Business Link Hampshire’s leads, as well as seeing no great sense in publicising details for those involved with the cover up and trying to prevent me getting into the public domain to come across.

At some stage Sarah Anderson suggested that I might like to talk to Debra Wyatt, who, when I asked about her position within Business Link Hampshire, was advised that she occupied the position of Director of Operations. It is strange that I am never directed to the person pulling the negative strings, the coward hiding in the background.

Sarah said it had been decided that a telephone consultation would be better; never mind what the customer wants, though this is a publicly funded organisation after all, the raison d’être is the customer in theory, though not in practice.

I decided I would go along with the suggestion and see what happened, though, having already discussed the Business Link Hampshire block on me, discrimination against me at Borough Councillor and County Councillor level, as well as with Business Link South East (outside Hampshire) and others, I would be letting them know how I was getting on, as well as blogging events.

The conversation with Sarah Anderson made me a little late for an appointment, though I arrived to find out that it had been cancelled anyway, due to illness, though no-one had called me to say so. As a result, I returned home, earlier than expected and, soon afterwards, went through my E-mails trying to find the E-mail Sarah said she sent me on 4th February. I could find nothing under Business Link Hampshire, either in the main folder, the Business Link Hampshire folder, the old Business Link Wessex folder, or the Junk E-mail folder, under either “Business Link”, “Sarah”, or “Anderson”.

As with many other organisations, I have no doubt that the majority of people at Business Link Hampshire are decent, helpful, capable people; the problem, as ever, comes when there is a senior person, or two, or three, or, very occasionally, more, with their own agenda.

That does not detract from the fact that Business Link Hampshire have contributed mightily to preventing me bringing tens of millions of Pounds worth of engineering business to Hampshire as well as tens to hundreds of millions of Pounds worth of tourism business to Hampshire, Sussex, Essex, etc. I am quite prepared to discuss that in even more public venus than this Blog; the person hiding within Business Link Hampshire would not be so prepared, though that person is not alone.

On Tuesday 23rd February, I am due to receive a ‘phone call from Nick Keogh, of Business Link Hampshire. We shall just have to see holding my breath. That has nothing to do with Nick Keogh, though has everything to do with the person manipulating matters behind the scenes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Business Link Hampshire – A Prediction

On Tuesday 24th January 2010, I attended the Chamber of Commerce Meeting at 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour, Portsmouth, the former IBM Building, happening to arrive, in the car park, at about the same time as Maureen Frost, Chief Executive of Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

The Meeting was on one of the upper floors of the building and well attended, as usual, plus numerous people and organisations with stands.

One of the stands was, inevitably, occupied by Business Link Hampshire Stand. The two representatives of Business Link Hampshire, to whom I spoke were Susan Obbard and Madeleine Morton, though, principally, principally Susan Obbard. I had met Susan Obbard before, during a similar Chamber of Commerce meeting held at Fratton Park, home of Portsmouth Football Club. On that occasion I had asked for business assistance and gave Susan Obbard my business card but heard nothing thereafter. I wondered if she would remember, half thought of using another name, but then decided to go ahead, using my own name, see what happened, then chronicle everything on the Internet as well as advising others I had spoken to at Business Link South East (outside Hampshire), County Councillors and others.

It was during that conversation that Madeleine Morton said she thought she had met me before, at a Business Breakfast at Cams hall Golf Club. That had been a long time before, though I also remembered Madeleine from an East Hampshire Chamber of Commerce meeting at the east Hampshire Council Offices in Petersfield.

What I learned from Susan Obbard was what I had always thought about Business links and the helped that they should offer.

Like anyone else, I was entitled to on-to-one business counselling and support, up to four meetings per year, each of one hour to an hour and a half duration.

At such a meeting, certainly the first one, the topics that would be gone over were:

Strategy
Customers
Operations
People and skills
Finance
Information Technology

There would be telephone support and support on the Business Link website.

There would be one-to-one support with advisors.

Susan Obbard said that Jenny Oakley was very good at her job.

I asked Susan Obbard if there should be feedback from each of the on-to-one meetings and she confirmed that was the case. Similar, I checked my understanding, from what she had said and what I had understood from other sources

When I asked her how long it might be before I heard from them she said that Business Link Hampshire’s turnaround time was within twenty-four hours and that I should hear from them on the following day, Wednesday.

The above is what I understood Business Links should provide in terms of help. Watch these pages and my Blogs to see if it transpires, this time. My easy prediction is that it will not and business Link Hampshire will continue to discriminate against me and that will be at the behest of a senior manager without he courage to come out in the open,


I did not hear from Business Link Hampshire on the Wednesday but that would have been a ratherrapid reaction, so left ti to see what would transpire.

On Friday 27th January I had a dental appointment early in the morning, in Havant. Everything turned out to be alright and no treatment was needed.

When I arrived home I learned there had been a ‘phone call for me from Sarah at Business Link Hampshire.

I ‘phoned Sarah back, at 12.34 p.m., at Business Link Hampshire, before leaving for my afternoon business appointed. Sarah thanked me for calling back and set about arranging an appointment for me to see the Business Link Advisor, Jenny Oakley.

There were possible appointments on Monday 15th January in Havant, or Tuesday 23rd January in Emsworth, with a third possibility being on Tuesday 9th February at Brambles Farm Business Centre, Waterlooville. Some of the available times clashed with my already arranged appointments.

The appointment in Havant would have been at the Civic Offices in Havant, Havant Borough Council Offices, where I had met Jenny Oakley in June 2008 and got absolutely nowhere; I gained nothing from the meeting and never heard from her again, let alone being provided with another three meetings over the following twelve months, all with assistance to develop my business, etc. I had no doubt, then, that Jenny Oakley was under instruction not to help me and that is what transpired; hence asking detailed questions of Susan Obbard at the Chamber of Commerce Meeting to make doubly sure that I was entirely correct in what I understood business Link assistance should actually be.

Of course, I mentioned none of the foregoing to Sarah, during our telephone conversation, simply making the appointment to see what would happen, though, this time, intending to follow through and put everything on the Internet.

Similarly, I mentioned nothing of the letter from Jonathan Morris, the Chief Executive of Business Link Hampshire, which, in passing, alluded to my supposed request, never to contacted by Business Link Hampshire again, a request I had never made, having only asked them for assistance, many times, over several years but never received any.

In the end, the appointment was made for a meeting with Jenny Oakley at 10.45 a.m. at the Pastoral Centre, Emsworth (http://www.findachurch.co.uk/churches/su/su70/emsworthmc/). I told Sarah that I was not sure where the Pastoral Centre was, not being able to place it at the time. Sarah said that she would provide details of the location of the Pastoral Centre in the E-mail she would send me. I wondered I that would happen, or whether someone would catch up with my request for the meeting and block it, the E-mail from Sarah not then being sent; that was later to transpire, the E-mail never arrived.



The prediction, based on previous experience, is, of course, that Business Link Hampshire will continue to discriminate against me. Developments, in whatever direction, will be published on the Internet, as will reactions from other people I contact, including County Councillors, Borough Councillors, people I have spoken to within Business Link South East, though outside of Hampshire, etc., though not necessarily with their names.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Recently, I came across an article in “The Times”, “Why non-scientists are a pain in the arts” by Ben Miller, presumably the physicist turned comedian, going back to his science roots, which explains a lot. The title of the piece derives from an art graduate who thinks the moon landings were a fake.

After berating the media for being arts dominated Miller goes on to write:

“This is how we end up in the ludicrous situation we find ourselves in with the Large Hadron Collider. Ten thousand of the world’s top scientists spend 20 years building the ultimate in particle accelerators at a cost of £4.4 billion and the only story that makes the headlines is the one about some nutter in Hawaii who thinks it’s going to cause a black hole that devours the Universe. This is somehow conflated into a story that when the machine gets switched on, scientists believe we are all toast. And when the ruddy thing was finally powered up, everyone shakes their heads in bemusement at the endless folly of scientists. Haven’t they got any common sense? Can’t they see that turning that thing on was never going to herald the Apocalypse? And E=mc2 or not, what kind of barmcake doesn’t wear socks?”

That, of course, is totally wrong. The large Hadron Collider was built by engineers. Wanting something, wishing for something, is one thing, realizing it is quite another. I doubt if scientists would know were to begin, after all, science is only a small part of engineering, less than 20%, so scientists would well short of the required knowledge, let alone expertise and judgment; besides, engineering requires art, among many others things, as well as science, when appropriate.

Miller later writes:

“The problem is, of course, that success in the arts depends on having — how can I put this charitably? — interesting opinions, whereas success in the sciences depends on one thing alone: maths.”
Mathematics, like science, is only a tool, useful at times, though not always. Besides, I would rather listen to interesting arts opinions than the overbearing arrogance that pervades much of science these days, as well as it being full of errors that many scientists and their acolytes are too blind to see.

Success depends on maths?

There was a time when bridges were safe, according to the mathematics; just one problem, at least until other problems came along, the mathematics of aerodynamics, or lack of it. So, before the aerodynamics came in, there was a large element of over design; following the Tay Bridge disaster, when it was brought down by a storm, came, on a never again, like the Tay Bridge, basis, the Forth Bridge; massively over designed but safe, still standing after 130 years and a magnificent piece of art as well.

Then there was the situation of aircraft being safe, according to the mathematics, apart from a small matter of stress fracture, as in the Comet aircraft of the 1950s.

One of the many examples on a personal experience level was during my time in the aircraft industry, specifically the early 1980s when I was responsible for the stress analysis and some of the design of the fuselage tanks and floor structure of the VC10 air-to-air refueling tankers and still in service, it seems. For peculiar reasons it was specified that the tanks had to be flat ended, despite being required to take internal and external pressure, and had to be mounted on the seat rails, rather than a special purpose raft, an extra structure. In the crash case, according to the structural analysis and the mathematics, the tanks would go through the aircraft floor. Ron Boxer, the Deputy Chief Stressman, with whom I was working, suggested recalculating assuming the floor beams nearest the tank supports deformed plastically but the tanks still went through the floor; try the next two as well, still structural failure; try the next two as well, reserve factor of 1.01. After a few seconds thought Ron decided that would do. The mathematics, combined with structural theory, took us only so far; thereafter it was down to engineering judgement based on over thirty years experience of aircraft structures.

Mathematics is useful but there is no substitute for experience and judgment, especially engineering experience and judgement in practical situations; the same applies to science.

Mathematics provided no proof in the case of the black hole scare story, connected with the Large Hadron Collider, being wrong, it was, still is, only a tool for assisting in an assessment.

Overall, Ben Miller’s writing and reasoning reads more like a script for the Armstrong and Miller Show, which I have found very occasionally amusing, never particularly funny.

Ben Miller’s piece is subtitled, “Were the moon landings faked? Yes or know, I for one would never trust the irrational opinion of a mere arts graduate.”

Well, apart from accepting that the moon landings were real, after all it was we engineers who made it possible, I for one, would never trust the often, arrogant, not always entirely rational, opinion of a mere science graduate; I know more than enough about science, as well as other matters, to be quite capable of making up my own mind.