The Register has published my article on a visit to the Spaceguard Centre, near Knighton in Powys. This privately-run observatory is Britain’s only facility dedicated to monitoring Near Earth Objects (NEOs), large Earth-bound asteroids and comets that could do anything from blow out thousands of windows (as happened in Chelyabinsk in 2013) to taking us the way of the dinosaurs.
The good news, according to Spaceguard founder Jay Tate, is that unlike the dinosaurs we have a space programme, and are perfectly capable of spotting and moving any rogue NEOs before they hit. Best not to nuke them like Bruce Willis – turns out you can simply nudge them on to a different course.
We do need to get better at the spotting part than at present, which is where Tate and the Centre come in, through educating visitors and using the entrance fees, donations and gift shop receipts to fund more spotting.
It would be interesting to see all of these topics into a single article, but this is to cover two recent articles. The first, for Beacon, looks at the two big gambles for David Cameron’s government over the next five years: Britain’s place in Europe or Scotland’s place in Britain.
My guess is that Mr Cameron is more likely to win than lose on both (in the case of Scotland, through avoiding another referendum) by the time he stands down, but neither are anywhere near a safe bet. Continue reading
I have just completed Kindle and CreateSpace production of a new book by journalist Stanley Slaughter on Colonel Thomas Rainborowe (often spelt Thomas Rainsborough).
He was a celebrated member of Parliament’s New Model Army, but then became a radical politician. In 1647, he called for one man one vote; a year later, he was dead. One man one vote would not come about in Britain until 1918 (and for women, it would take a further decade). Continue reading
Following the SNP’s remarkable general election night, I have taken a close look at its manifesto for The Register. Although the SNP has ended up in opposition in Westminster, it looks likely that some of its proposals may well come about through further devolution to Scotland, particularly the fiscal ones on taxation, grants and the like. Continue reading
To mark May 1, which is Dogs Get Banned From Beaches day including at Whitley Bay in North Tyneside (below), I have written for Beacon about the British seaside.
On Tyneside as elsewhere, visitors have shifted inland from the once-mass market seaside resort of Whitley Bay – with its Spanish City complex, once visited by 11,000 people a day – to ‘NewcastleGateshead’, the renovated city centre, as well as to arty Tynemouth. Continue reading