Category Archives: Listener science

A different kind of cold

They say for every 10°C drop in temperature, it’s a “different kind of cold”. The -20°C I experienced camping at Friis Hills in Antarctica was certainly new for me, but the geologists I was with seemed unconcerned: their minds were … Continue reading

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Scott’s Hut: revisited

Few people conjuring up the “most comfortable dwelling place imaginable” are likely to picture a wooden shelter on an island off the coldest continent on Earth. But that’s how Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott described the hut at Cape Evans … Continue reading

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Breathless in Antarctica

Camping in Antarctica last December, I noticed that even though it was extremely cold, -10°C to -20°C, our exhalations didn’t make visible clouds. When the helicopter landed to pick us up, though, our breath appeared as dense white clouds. Why … Continue reading

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A tribute to my father: Nigel Priestley (1943-2014)

First published in the Listener, issue 3898, 22 January 2015. One day, shortly before I started school, my father took me to his work at the Ministry of Works’ central laboratories, where he was head of structures. When his colleagues … Continue reading

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The dawning of the age of Anthopocene

This article first appeared in The Listener, issue 3716, 30 July 2011 As a geology student in the late 1980s, I learnt a mnemonic to remember the various geological periods, epochs and ages that make up Earth’s history. It started … Continue reading

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