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HOW TO USE THIS SITE

There is/will be a lot of stuff (items ) on this site. I presume you are not an expert, will want to quickly find the item(s) you want, and then either read it here or take it away to read on your own machine at leisure. Here are some brief tips on how to do those things, and to make comments if you want, with absolutely minimum fuss.

1 All items are stored under ‘Categories’ — see ‘Search this site’ on the right of this page, though a single item ( a ‘Page’ or ‘Post’) may be stored under several Categories. To find an item click under an appropriate Category and a list of all its items (latest at the top) will appear here. It’s that easy. [‘Tags’ are a bit like Categories. If you find a Tag at he bottom of an item click on it to find other similar items.]

2 Most items will appear here as brief introductions to the subject matter followed by a ‘url’ that looks a bit like this :

https://…..

If you then click on the url the whole body of the item should appear on your own screen. You can read it there, download it if you want, etc etc…..

3 And if you want to COMMENT on an item yourself ( Please do) just come back to this item on my site and click ‘Comment’

4 NB:If you ever need to get back to this home page and directory just double click on the header at the top.

5 Good luck; it’s dead easy.

ABOUT ME

         I am an incorrigibly curious, happy old (b.1937)  fellow who managed to make a living out of his curiosity – as a professional astronomer and Space scientist.

Asking childish questions can sometimes lead to life-long obsessions,  even to totally unexpected discoveries. Here are four such of mine:

1) How could the tiny warbler that landed on our ship in mid Atlantic have flown so far?

2) Why was my first galaxy seen through a giant telescope so bloody dim; after all galaxies are colossal objects containing billions of luminous stars?

3) When I finally had my first electronic camera on a telescope and focussed on a galaxy, I wondered how I could share the spectacular image  with the rest of my  team thousands of miles away on other continents. I  needed their input and I needed it immediately.

4) Why does everybody disagree so violently about my favourite theory X? Both sides seem to have incontrovertible, but conflicting, evidence. But that was also true  of other great theories in the past – such as Evolution. What superior mental tactics did the great thinkers use to settle such disputes?

All four questions above led to fascinating explorations, multiple interactions, and eventually to surprising and even momentous outcomes. For instance:

1) The warbler led me to study bird-flight at first hand all over the globe (including from my glider) and to conclude that the Wright Brothers must have been frauds, and that we could, and absolutely should, synthesize Recyclable Oil. ( See under ‘my books’ Category ‘Pterodactyl’s Blood‘)

2) My obsession with dim galaxies forced me to become an expert on astronomical television systems, and thus eventually to become a key member of the NASA/ESA team which designed, built and then exploited the Hubble Space Telescope. What an exciting 40-year-long adventure that turned out to be. You wouldn’t believe…. That’s mainly why I wrote my quartet of four novels about the excitements of exploring the Universe between 1964 and 2014 when mankind saw it from above the atmosphere for the very first time ( See the Category ‘My Books’ in sidebar) .

3) The urgent need to quickly analyse, store and share astronomical images led to the first colour-terminal computer of the very kind on which you are reading this blog – and to the civilian internet. Who would have thought? No one at the  time, but so it quickly came to be, ( In ‘The Whispering Sky‘ and later in the quartet).

4) The last problem, about the Scientific Method, was by far the most momentous, but far too hard, as I quickly found out, for a busy scientist like me to solve. But not, as it transpired, for a retired one. After 15 years of  reading, and 11 thousand (!)  hours of thinking – the penny finally dropped. Through sheer persistence I’d apparently cracked the problem of how Common Sense actually works. We all need to know, and when we do I believe humankind will really take off. (See my book ‘Thinking for Ourselves’)

Apart from its physical infirmities – which, thanks to pensions and medical science are becoming more tolerable, the worst affliction of old age is, or rather was, increasing isolation. We humans, even mad scientists like me, are deeply social animals. So when I was forcibly retired at age 68 I lost my research assistants, my students, my ability to travel freely etc… thus most of the interactions I had so relied upon to do cutting-edge science. But then I got a proper laptop  – and zoom!  I just want to say that we computer-numerate oldies are changing, and will increasingly, change the world.  Why? Because we are becoming just as interactive as the rest of you, we naturally know a hell of a lot and, most important – we have far more time than anyone else to really Think. And that, above all, is what it takes.  Academics can’t do it any more – they’ve become far too busy (I know, I was one) – but we can. We are an entirely new breed abroad on this Earth – like visitors from interstellar Space. So don’t write us off any more. We’ll be changing your world – in ways no one can yet imagine.

I live in Wales, as fair a spot as there is on this Earth  –  as I can attest,  having visited so much of it …..with my second wife Nino. We have  two cats, one of whom  is more intelligent than me. Many animals are  – but because we don’t understand Common-sense we underestimate them. My incorrigible curiosity keeps me both entertained and very busy. My proudest achievement has been to single-parent a son whose own curiosity has led him to find a career as fascinating as mine – studying the world’s forests, both from satellites and from the ground.

As one who enjoys nothing more than a good argument, I’m  hoping this blog will stimulate a few more.

PS: Here is a drawing of me about 2016 by my colleague and friend Joe Romano. Everyone says it’s the spitting image.

Drawing of Mike Disney 2016 by his friend and colleague Joe Romano