Film special effects without computers

We are so used to computer-generated special effects in films that we have become blasé about them. While producing these effects takes a lot of skill and tedious hard work, there is something about it being done on a computer that makes it seem to be not as clever somehow, though that does an injustice to all the programmers and artists who work so hard to produce these magical effects. We also know that the actors are not in any real danger, that they are safely on some sound stage in front of a green screen and that the dangerous effects are being produced in a studio.
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Dutch electric trains now run entirely by wind energy

The smaller nations of Europe seem to be in the vanguard of using wind energy. Some time ago, I wrote about the day when Denmark managed to power the entire national grid using just wind energy. It was on a Sunday when energy consumption is lower but it was still a remarkable feat. Then this week had this news item that said that all the electric trains in the Netherlands are now powered by wind energy.
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‘Proving’ a negative

There has been an interesting discussion in the comments on my post When can we conclude that dark matter does not exist? with commenter Establishment Liberal taking strong exception to my statement that one cannot prove the non-existence of entities. I started posting my response in the comments but it got rather long and I thought, what the hell, why not make it into a separate post? All these are things that I go into in some detail in my forthcoming book The Paradox of Science but I will sketch out my response here.
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Is twice-boiled water bad for tea?

The lively discussion that followed my post on how the British really cared about their tea reminded me of an issue that I had idly thought about some time ago when I visited relatives in New Zealand. They are Sri Lankan and thus, like the British, take their tea seriously so that they make sure that the ‘tea things’ (tea kettle, tea pot, tea, sugar, milk, cups, strainer, and spoons) are located in prominent and easily accessible places in the kitchen so that no one dies due to tea-deprivation. Their tea kettle is a powerful electric one that heats water very quickly, not the wimpy one that I have that you heat on the stove.
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Why parents kill their children

The daily reports of murders are bad enough but I think that people are struck with a particular horror when they read of parents killing their own children, especially when the children are young, before killing themselves. It has the effect of infuriating me and making me wonder why, if they think that their lives are so bad, such people not simply kill themselves without taking innocent children with them. Of course, people who commit such horrendous acts are clearly in a highly disturbed state of mind and are not thinking rationally in the first place so we should not expect them to think like others would. But still, there must be some reason that drives them to do something so awful.
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Solar energy is now becoming cheaper than coal

According to this report in Bloomberg News, solar-energy is now becoming the cheapest form of new energy.

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity.

This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
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THE PARADOX OF SCIENCE: The surprising success of science

The book with the above tentative title that I have been working hard on for the past year is finally done! Well, not really. As has been said, “A book is never finished, it is merely abandoned by its author.” No book (or article or painting or any other form of free composition) is ever really completed because one can always keep refining it, seeking to make it better. On each review, I find things I want to change and it is only when I find that I am changing the same things back and forth that I realize that it is time to end the process.
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The burden of proof when making charges

There was an interesting discussion in the comments about my dismissal as an ‘absurd’ claim the story that Hillary Clinton and key members of her Democratic party campaign were running some sort of child prostitution and sex trafficking ring out of a pizza shop, triggered by one commenter suggesting that I was dismissing the charge because I “liked” her, a claim that will cause some raised eyebrows among regular readers, some of whom have vigorously defended her from my attacks on her history and her qualities to be a president.
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