Eurovision 2015: Australia votes

It was Eurovision again on the weekend. This time, Australia competed. And voted – twice. Officially, during the contest; and in the Australian evening, unofficially, at

I have no time for the kind of analyses I did last year but, as the graph below shows, the unofficial Australian percentage ratings tracked the official Eurovision scores reasonably well (with substantial random variation), except for the huge vote for home:

The spectrum of history

I have previously blogged about carbon dating, a method which can be used to date organic items up to about 50,000 years old. Tests of carbon-dating have used tree-ring data back to around 10,000 BC.

The timeline above shows some highlights of the past 30,000 years, including one of the oldest cities, the oldest living tree, the oldest pyramid, and a Babylonian clay tablet I blogged about two years ago. The two caves in France are definitely on my “bucket list.”

Some beautiful photographs

Today, some pretty pictures from recent photographic competitions. First, the European Geosciences Union Photo Contest 2014. “Erosion Spider” by John Clemens was one of the winning entries:

Second, the BioMedCentral Ecology Image Competition. “A sticky snack for mice” by Petra Wester was the overall winner:

Finally, the Neuro Bureau Brain Art Competition 2014. “Heart of the Brain” by Chris Steele (MPI Leipzig) won the Best Visualization of Probabilistic Connectivity category:

All images used under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND, CC BY, and CC BY-NC-SA respectively). Click images to zoom and/or read more about the photographs.

Dawn/New Horizons Update

The Dawn spaceprobe, now orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres, took the lovely photograph above a few days ago (image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA). Click the image to zoom.

And here is a NASA/JPL-Caltech artist’s concept of Dawn’s ion thrusters in action. The xenon ions glow blue:

Meanwhile, the New Horizons spaceprobe is getting closer and closer to Pluto:

This means the pictures are getting better. As New Horizons looks towards Pluto and Charon, we are starting to see hints of surface features:

We can even see colours, although the pictures are still very fuzzy:

The Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

Museum exterior (Old Ashmolean Building)

The Museum of the History of Science in Oxford holds a spectacular collection of thousands of early scientific instruments, such as the microscope below. The Museum can be visited on afternoons (except Mondays) for those fortunate enough to be in Oxford, but there is an excellent virtual tour, so that people from around the world can explore what the Museum has to offer. There are also many online exhibits and several YouTube videos. Few museums have an online presence this good. Even the shop is online!

Microscope and accessories (photo by Mark Harding)

For more information, see the museum website or the Wikipedia article.