The Shroud of Turin: forgery or divine? A scientist writes

A week or two ago I wrote about the Shroud of Turin, after a new study by Italian scientists was trumpeted in the media as apparently showing it really was the burial cloth of Christ. Naturally, it did no such thing: it showed that marks similar to those on the Shroud could be made using…

In praise of Jesus Christ

Some time around 2,015 years ago, a man called Jesus was born in what was then Palestine. He died, crucified by the Roman government, between 28 and 30AD. In between, he was baptised, gathered around him followers, spread a powerful message of morality, love and peacefulness, and proceeded to change the world. Christians and non-Christians…

Aidan Burley is a prat. But there’s no need to jail him

I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, that Aidan Burley is a massive chump. Or, at least, he associates with chumps, and if you judge a man by the company he keeps then it does not look good for him. Mr Burley, MP for Cannock Chase and a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Justine…

North Koreans are victims of the cult of Kim Jong-il

[ooyala id=”42dGI1MzqRjZFsxJrCtoW-w24LIRE37U” /] The outpourings of wild-eyed, shaking grief which have swept across North Korea seem baffling to Western eyes. However powerful and long-serving a ruler, we would not expect a nation to cry so bitterly at their death; Pathé newsreels from 1952 show crowds in London standing calmly following the passing of King George…

The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it

First things first. The “authenticity” or otherwise of the Shroud of Turin does not have any implications for whether or not Christ was real, or whether He was divine. If it was a medieval forgery, it doesn’t mean the stories aren’t true; if it really was made in the first century AD, it doesn’t mean…

Christopher Hitchens, an atheist in a foxhole

There are no atheists in foxholes, goes the old saw. Well, it’s not true, as Christopher Hitchens – a man of principle to the last – demonstrated. Many of his adversaries – and there were many; he was not one for pacifying platitudes – had expressed a hope or an expectation that this most trenchant…

An unconfirmed sighting of the elusive Higgs boson

So has the Large Hadron Collider found the Higgs? Well: no. Has it found where the Higgs might be hiding? Sort of. Possibly. In a press conference earlier – a rather tricky-to-follow press conference, because the live internet stream kept cutting out; for those of us not in Geneva, it was like watching football on…

How the ‘God particle’ got its name

We’re expecting interesting news in the world of physics in the next few minutes. Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider are to make an announcement at 1pm GMT. We know it’s not a “discovery” of the Higgs boson, per se – the conventional threshold for discovery is five standard deviations, a so-called “five-sigma result”. That…

Darwin censored by the Turkish government’s porn filter

Worrying news from Turkey, where a government body has moved to block sites that mention evolution or Charles Darwin. The Council of Information Technology and Communications (BTK) released the “Secure Internet” filtering system on 22 November. Sites that includes the words “evolution” or “Darwin” are filtered if parents select the child-friendly settings on the filter,…

Cameron, Sarkozy and the Great Handshake Snub that never was

Various newspapers are reporting that David Cameron has snubbed Nicolas Sarkozy during the meeting of EU leaders this morning. A sequence of screengrabs shows the pair walk past each other, Sarko with his hand out, and Cameron glides past him. It’s brilliant: a tiny vignette of personal hurt and rivalry within the great game of…