Friday 14th December 2018,
Frontiers Magazine

Browsing the "Column" Category



Low cloud is quite frequent in Orkney, especially in the winter. Coming from the West, it rolls in across the central part of the mainland, over Stenness and Harray, then funnels slowly through the narrow gap at Binscarth to spread out into Firth and Rendall. Low cloud can then sit for days like a grey [...]

June 10, 2018 Alastair MacLeod Column Comments Off

Deploy the drones

We are now all familiar with how the ROV, the remotely operated vehicle as it is called, is deployed under water. Attached to the mother vessel by its power and communications umbilical, it can survey the sea bed and effect repairs and assembly of seabed structures. It is particularly important when depth is an issue [...]

June 10, 2018 Alastair MacLeod Column Comments Off

A Thinker for Today

He was born exactly 100 years ago today, and even in his own profession of physics he is not as well known as he should be. But his vision was global, and what it has to say to the world today is as fresh as this morning’s newspaper headlines. In fact, it’s even fresher than [...]

December 19, 2017 Howie Firth Column Comments Off

The Ram on the Rock

Like a Nordic port of old, the Faroese capital of Torshavn smells evocatively of salt and tar. As we disembark the ferry, the harbour waters lap beneath the modest parliament building with its turf roof and oxblood weatherboarding. Skiffs and speedboats rock together alongside the many piers. Fresh cod gasp in plastic fishboxes on the [...]

July 17, 2016 Simon W. Hall Column Comments Off

Riches from the sea

A mile or so up the coast from the farm, a whale corpse is decomposing in a ‘geo’ (the Orcadian word for a narrow inlet of water in the cliffs) and I scramble down the rocks to investigate. Colossal internal organs are scattered among the seaweed and driftwood, and the skin is spread out like [...]

August 20, 2015 Amy Liptrot Column Comments Off
This image of the moon, along with the others here, was produced by Bill Leslie

Der Mond

I’ve been getting text messages from the moon. A note pops up on my phone asking if the moon can track my location and I consent. A few months ago, I moved from Orkney to Berlin but the moon is following me around. It texts to tell me when it will be out. Through the [...]

March 9, 2015 Amy Liptrot Column Comments Off

Green Flash

In the light of evening the low sun began to illuminate the wall of the croft with a soft amber glow. The days had gradually stretched out and out until now it was that, at nearly midnight, the sun still shone. It was a clear night, the sky cloudless. Behind the croft, to the east [...]

March 9, 2015 Alastair MacLeod Column Comments Off
findhorn foundation

Orkney housing in the 21st century?

(The John D. Mackay Memorial Lecture in the 2014 Orkney International Science Festival looked at the challenge of housing, to see what new ideas might be brought forward on technology and design, from Scandinavia in particular. Here Alastair MacLeod sets the scene and highlights some of the issues.) It is fitting to have a discussion [...]

June 7, 2014 Alastair MacLeod Column Comments Off


One of the exciting things about Orkney is that it is truly oceanic. We are seventy islands in the sea – none so big as to create a land climate: the sea climate dominates. Atlantic depressions catch us afloat, the rain curtains traversing the ocean sweep over land and sea alike, bringing showers and storms; [...]

May 21, 2014 Alastair MacLeod Column Comments Off


A sudden dip in temperature reminds us that, here in Orkney, we are closer to the Arctic than we think. The sea makes us complacent – water from the Caribbean streams north through our islands bringing summer visitors, leatherback turtles and jellyfish, but on a clear November night the stars fill the dark dome above [...]

February 17, 2014 Alastair MacLeod Column Comments Off