Browsing All Posts filed under »Anecdote«

Why is ‘science’ valuable?

February 9, 2012


[This is a short speech I presented to a group of around 300 students aged between 11 and 15 to mark ‘National Science Week’ (sometime in March 2011, I forget exactly when).] Hello. If you haven’t met me yet, my name is James Sheils and I teach in the physics department. I have been informed… [Read more…]

Teaching Astrology in a Faith School

January 26, 2012


[The image above is purported to be from a Croatian Church (unsourced). For other examples see the 'Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri' in Rome] ———————— As Richard Dawkins pointed out in his Channel 4 documentary ‘Age of Reason: Faith School Menace’[1] (aired August 2010), around one-third of all schools in Britain has a religious affiliation. In this one-hour… [Read more…]

An Inbetween Universe

January 22, 2012


What the Universe Is Like My first full-time physics teaching job was at a Church of England School in Wigan. The arrangement was mutually appealing for employer and employee: I had just taken some time off to work my second job as a piano player, after having completed a training year in some very (as… [Read more…]

God of the Mathematicians

January 21, 2012


Statistics In 1996, a survey was conducted by the Yale historian Edward Larson which asked a sample of scientists about their religious beliefs. The group’s aim was to discover whether religiosity among scientific academics has diminished, compared to results of a a similar survey from 1916.[1] The study found little change in the spread of response. You’ll be… [Read more…]

5 Step Guide to Making a Scientific Youtube Hoax

September 6, 2011


While teaching secondary school physics courses, I sometimes found occasion to show a class a Youtube video.  Each time, I would first pose the suggestion, then set my watch and wait.  And this aforementioned watch would need several significant figures in the seconds department to accurately measure the time it would take for this to occur: I wouldn’t have… [Read more…]

Imaginary Sharks

July 16, 2011


The Setup While sitting down for lunch a few weeks ago, a Christian colleague and I slowly established our inevitable, yet unscheduled, weekly argument about faith. This normally makes for rather trite lunchtime conversation, as the neighboring diners would agree.  His arguments for faith were often the same, and my replies were equally repetitive.  This is always the trouble… [Read more…]


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