Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pac-man, Oil Leaks And Sinkholes

Okay, we've had a couple of days last week that were 25+ which is welcome. It still seems like that cold winter wasn't all that long ago, so it's good to finally walk in the sun!

Following another visit to Tokyo at the beginning of last month, it's been quiet again on here, so it's time to update with the news I've been gathering.

The big news at the moment (aside from the start of the World cup in South Africa), is the capping of the leaking oil pipe in the Gulf of Mexico caused by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. This article from the BBC came about a week after the accident happened and BP have only just managed to arrange a cap so that some of the oil can be tapped off, after their top-kill method failed. The hole still isn't fully plugged and revised estimates of the amount of oil leaking before the cap at 20-40K barrels per day. Needless to say Obama has been applying pressure on BP to fix things as soon as possible, what with this being the largest environmental disaster in US history. Meanwhile Sir David King points out that accessing oil in increasingly remote locations such as deep sea should be a warning that it's high time we reduced our fossil fuel dependence.

Pac-man turned 30 last month and it turns out that the shape of our munching friend is in fact based on a Pizza. This article from describes how the idea was to create a game including cake and sweets to try to get more women into amusement arcades. To celebrate the birthday, Google added a version of the game to the company's logo, which according to the BBC cost $120m in lost productivity.

And there's good news for gamers. Two hours of adrenaline pumping gaming action is equivalent to the same high as a line of coke. reports on British therapist Steve Pope's explanation as to why some teenagers play truant. And if the adrenaline becomes too much, in this busy world of always online, mobile communications, a moment for reflection could actually be healthy.

On the subject of gaming, I've only come across mole-rats as mutant creatures in Fallout 3. Apparently the real-deal have a social behaviour more characteristic of ants than mammals. They look like one of nature's freak experiments, not unlike the duck-billed platypus.

Not only Pac-man, but also the VW camper which celebrates 60 years since it first went into production. Made famous during the hippie years, it is also popular with a some well-known celebrities.

You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off. A botched raid by a group of German robbers left a bank building in tatters and the ATM intact.

Don't mess with comic book heroes. The owner of a comic book store who dressed as Spiderman for a promotional event in Adelaide, caught a thief red handed - way to go Spidy!

In yet more proof that the human face aren't that far removed from our primate cousins, this report from the BBC describes how observation of Bonobo chimps shows them sahking their heads in a disapproving "no" gesture.

Newcastle Brown Ale is no longer brewed in the Newcastle area. The BBC reports on how production has now moved to Yorkshire with over 50 jobs losses. Furthermore there is more sold in the US than there is in the UK. A sad day indeed.

Google are expected to be releasing ChromeOS in the not too distant future, though the Financial Times report they have apparently ditched using Windows in the lap citing security issues.

Lot's of news that makes science fiction become reality. As if we haven't screwed up the balance of nature enough, Nature News reports how lasers could be used to stimulate condensation in the air producing showers on demand. Reminds me of Kate Bush's Cloudbusting. Next up, like something from a science fiction move, the BBC reports on a zombie satellite that required a complex space manoeuvre to avoid a collision.

French scientists have harnessed the power of photosynthesis to create electricity. This article from Science Daily desceribes how a catcus was used as a bio fuel cell to create an alternative source of solar energy. One of the short-term applications would be to add such a cell under the skin of patients relying on biomedical devices.

The Mars500 project has begun, with 6 volunteers being locked into a module with nothing more than a slowly degrading email connection to the outside world, while they perform simulated planet surface missions.

Like something from Fringe, a British scientist has implanted himself with a chip, not unlike those used to chip pets, and successfully infected external systems. Considering the potential for RFID ships in the future this is a wonderful proof of concept. Another surreal incident that could just as easily have come from the same show. a sink hole caused by recent floods in Guatemala left a perfectly round 60 metre shaft where a road juntion and buildings once stood.

Finishing on a sci-fi note, June is the month that Star Trek fans visit Vulcan...Canada, and this year is a bit special as the BBC reports, because the legendary Leonard Nimoy has visited the small town personally to put it firmly on the map and show appreciation for support of the franchise after all these years.