Saturday, June 27, 2009

RIP: Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett

World headline 26 June 2009; Michael Jackson dies in LA aged 50. I first read about this in the free paper on the way to work. I wonder if people will ask whether you remember what you were doing when you first heard the news, like they did with Elvis and JFK?
Unfortunately this news overshadows the death of Charlie´s Angels star Farah Fawcett who died aged 62 after more than a year fighting bowel cancer. Long-time boyfriend Ryan O´Neal had announced that the two were to exchange wedding vows, not unlike Jade Goody did earlier this year before dying of cancer.
RIP Michael and Farah; thanks for what you gave us.

NASA To Bomb The Moon In October

NASA have launched a mission to the moon which will fire a rocket into the south pole as part of a search for water. This is a prelude to the plans to create moon base some time in this half of the 21st century. The Japanese Kaguya probe has already performed a kamikaze stunt on the moon after completing its mapping and observation mission, its final moments recorded here. Scientific American reports on the launch of NASA´s lunar bombing run here.

Solar Plane

Dr. Bertrand Piccard, who flew non-stop round the world in a balloon in 1999 has revealed plans for a round the world flight in a solar powered plane. A prototype the Solar Impulse HB-SIA has been unveiled in Zurich according to the BBC, which will be used to test the capabilities of the plane flying at night. A test flight across the Atlantic in 2012 is planned once the final version of the plane is complete, which will then be used to fly around the globe.

Indian Hot Chilli Grenades

India plan to use hot chilli in grenades to disable rather than kill rioters and terrorists. The BBC reports on how the Bhut Jolokia chilli will also be used as a food additive for soldiers in cold climates and as powder to keep out animals out of military bases.

Wallabies High On Opium Create Crop Circles

Poppy fields that animals use for feeding result in them getting high and running round in circles. The BBC reports on medicinal opium being grown in Tasmania, which is eaten by the local wallabies. They have a tendency to run round in circles and as a result flatten crops and create crop circles. Similar behaviour has also been seen on sheep.

Use Your Right Ear

People use their right ears more for listening than their left, even they are left handed. The BBC reports on a study in the journal Naturwissenschaften which indicates that people are more likely to use their right ear if they have not heard something properly or on the phone, probably because the left half of the brain (which the right ear is most likely connected to) is used for language processing.


Kodak have ceased production of KODACHROME film. A favourite with photographers because of its excellent colour reproduction, some are sad to see it go. The digital revolution is partly to blame of course, as well as the limited number of processing labs in the world that are still able to process the 74 year old film. Kodak have a memorial site here.

US Nuke Still Missing After 50 Years

A US nuke that had to be ditched off the US coast 50 years ago following a mid-air collision has still not been found. The BBC reports on how the pilot was able to safely land his B-47 bomber following the collision during a training flight on 5 February 1958. The bomb was not fitted with a detonator so the chance of an explosion were remote. There are concerns about what a rusting bit of radioactive cold-war hardware could do to the environment and even if terrorists may already have found it.

Mmm, Crumble: Eating Away Recession Woes

The BBC reports on how this recession, just like previous ones on record, illustrate that although people generally have to tighten their belts in hard times, eating habits don´t suffer. The supermarkets in the UK are apparently still doing a roaring trade. One of the reasons is that the amount of disposable income has increased through the years and so proportionally less is spent on food and basics. Although this means that spending on food is likely to remain relatively stable in the long term, since the amount of disposable income and thus the amount spent on luxuries increases, when times do become hard, this could lead to bigger dips in spending and deeper economic woes.

Putin Tells Them How It´s Done

The BBC reports on how Russian PM Vladimir Putin told an artist how he could improve his work. I would imagine its´s nerve racking enough when a head of state comes to visit, but they when they start telling how it´s done when they very often will probably have no idea about the specific details of the job in hand, must be terrible. Seems though that Putin also forced a Russian oligarch to get his act together while the cameras were rolling which is a good thing.

Tim Berners Lee To Open Up UK Gov´t Data

Tim Berners Lee, the father of the WWW has been appointed by current UK PM Gordon Brown to lead the way in opening up government data to the public. According to the article in the BBC this is not related to the Labour Party but covers all government and cross-party politics. There has been an increased request for government transparency and availability of information recently. How much this has been accelerated by the recent scandal surrounding expenses claims I wonder?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Record Visitors

The BBC reports that over 35,000 people turned out to witness sunrise at Stonehenge today, the 21 June and the summer solstice. For years there was an exclusion zone around Stonehenge after damage to the English Heritage site. Now that the ban has been lifted there have been steadily growing numbers arriving to witness the celestial event, with a record number this year.