22 Jan 2011

An indoors day. Watching several episodes of Everest: Beyond The Limits. Why is it the only thing climbers think to say is: “There’s no one higher than me in the world!” “Top of the world, baby!” Such long queues going up and down, with gridlock at the Hilary Step, the last technical climb before the summit. People are leaving earlier and earlier to get ahead of the crowds. In Into Thin Air, they were leaving around midnight, and now some climbers leave around 21:00, meaning its still dark when they summit. Ummmm, a bit daft really.

The afternoon, researching tents with Caroline. I have a The North Face tadpole, a little green 1-2 man which isn’t so comfortable for two-man car-camping. On other trips we’ve borrowed one of the school’s, but we wanted one of our own. After looking around, fixing a price and checking reviews, we went for an Outwell Nevada M. This is a family tent, so loads of space. We got a deal that included a footprint groundsheet, floor blanket and front extension. As soon as it gets a bit warmer we’ll try it out, maybe on the Isle of Wight. It’s kind of both our birthday presents.

Otherwise, apart from the daily yoga, some browsing of the horror and the humour…

How not to streak:

The possible use of synthetic biology to clean up the Gulf oil disaster:


Toxic crude oil and gas can be changed, altered, or eliminated by microbes. Natural microorganisms in all the oceans, such as bacteria, have been known to do this over time, usually lasting decades and beyond. It’s a slow natural process. Yes, natural biology can do the job, but under continual flow conditions there is no possible way all the hydrocarbon-hungry microbes in the entire world can eliminate that much oil and gas fast enough. Time is the critical factor.

For the past decade, synthetic biology has been the new science realm. We now have engineered genetic biology that synthetically creates RNA and DNA sequences for both viruses and bacteria.

In the 1980’s, the fad was designer jeans. Now, we have designer genes.

Soon after the Deepwater Horizon inferno, U.S. government scientists – with grant funds supplied by British Petroleum – started giving us solid clues as to what they were doing with all that crude oil and gas. In May 2010, National Geographic quoted Dr. Terry Hazen from the U.S. government’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who said,

“…we could introduce a genetic material into indigenous bugs via a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria – to give local microbes DNA that would allow them to break down oil. Either that, he said, or a lab could create a completely new organism that thrives in the ocean, eats oil, and needs a certain stimulant to live…”

The robots to replace you:

Between the global economic downturn and stubborn unemployment, the last few years have not been kind to the workforce. Now a new menace looms. At just five feet tall and 86 pounds, the HRP-4 may be the office grunt of tomorrow. The humanoid robot, developed by Tokyo-based Kawada Industries and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Sciences and Technology, is programmed to deliver mail, pour coffee, and recognize its co-workers’ faces. On Jan. 28, Kawada will begin selling it to research institutions and universities around the world for about $350,000. While that price may seem steep, consider that the HRP-4 doesn’t goof around on Facebook, spend hours tweaking its fantasy football roster, or require a lunch break. Noriyuki Kanehira, the robotic systems manager at Kawada, believes the HRP-4 could easily take on a “secretarial role…in the near future.” Sooner or later, he says, “humanoid robots can move [into] the office field.”

Incredible night time LED-lit surfing:

Mark Visser Rides JAWS at Night! from Fortrus Sports on Vimeo.

Chase No Face the mutant kitteh.

And, the funniest expression as this Weimaraner sniffs a fart:


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