About two weeks ago I was involved in a public outreach programme, the Lange Nacht der Forschung (Long Night of Research). This was a series of events around Austria that had scientific organisations sharing their research with the public. I was one of the volunteers at the Gregor Mendel Institute‘s display at the Heldenplatz in Vienna. According to the head of public relations from the Austrian Academy of Science, about 12 000 people passed through the display tent!
The Best Original Story Oscar existed between 1928 and 1956 to honor the writers who came up with the idea or treatment for a film but may or may not have actually written the script. This year’s award goes to Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen for Inside Out, which featured one of the most original narratives in recent memory.
By this point, it’s probably fairly obvious that this blog is on hiatus. I’m afraid I just don’t have the time to create new posts at the moment. It’s not a shortage of ideas – as I have had several, some which would’ve been really cool to put together – but just a question of what I can manage at the moment. I don’t want to just leave it hanging empty, so, this post will serve as a thank you to everyone that has read my blog and a promise to bring back to life when I have the time available.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted but that’s been due a particular busy time with me returning to Vienna, needing to find a place to live, starting the PhD course and, with terrible timing, falling sick. All that has left little time or energy to blog but I’ve had a breather today and will toss out a couple of links.
One of the biggest stories while I’ve been inactive was the Charlie Hebdo attack and later supermarket hostage drama. To do something different I’ve decided to post two links about positive Muslim activities regarding the attacks. Malian Muslim Lassana Bathily, who worked at the Jewish supermarket that was attacked, hid six people in the freezers during the hostage situation as well as escaping the building to inform police what was happening inside. Last I heard there was talk of awarding him French citizenship for his bravery. On imgur there is a collection of heartening cartoons from Arab newspapers expressing support for Charlie Hebdo.
In less heartening news there is an example of sexism from a Jewish newspaper that Photoshopped all the women out of a Charlie Hebdo rally photo. In Ireland we have the simultaneously depressing and funny “Sounds of Sodomy” sitation.
And, just so we don’t end on a low note, here is a collection of animals that are benefiting from prosthetics.
Here’s a rather nice story about a dog who was born with deformed legs that can now run on 3D-printed legs. I can see all sorts of great things from that technology in the future.
While the US recently declared that a chimpanzee can not be considered a legal person and so not gain various rights that would come with, a court in Argentina has declared that an orangutan can have a legal right to freedom. This is similar to India’s decision last year to recognise dolphins as non-human persons.
A recent poll in the US confirmed an earlier poll result the more religious a person is, the more likely they are to support torture. Those with no religion was the only group where more than half of respondents were opposed to the CIA’s use of torture. Interesting when considering whether religion is a source of morality or not.
As I’ve been jumping from place to place as part of the beginning of my PhD, I’ve had little time to post. That’s probably not going to change much in the near future so this blog may go fairly quiet. To keep things going, I will share an older video that shows the history of humanity in two minutes and which always gives me the shivers. Hopefully everyone can recognise the majority of the events and concepts that are shown as many are iconic in their own right.
I used to watch the X-Files when I was a little kid but I can only actually recall two scenes from the show. One is from an episode where they find an area that causes everything inside it to age more rapidly and the other, more disturbing scene, showed cockroaches crawling under a person’s skin. Thanks to a simple internet search, I now know that that episode was War of the Coprophages, although nothing in the summary triggered any other recollections.
One unfortunate holidaymaker in Bali had a similar, real-life experience. He woke up one morning to find a red trail along his belly. It didn’t respond to creams and continued to lengthen. After the weekend, he went to see a dermatologist who examined the trail and extracted a small spider which had burrowed under his skin through his appendectomy scar!
Keeping with that theme, in India, a man went to the doctor because of a strange itch in his ear. The doctor looked inside and found something strange. Upon extraction it turned out to be a cricket that had crawled into the man’s ear. It was still alive and a lot larger than one would expect. I’ve embedded the video below and there are more details in the video description and earlier link.
The invention and widespread use of computers has had a massive impact on how things are done. I grew up with computers and it can be quite amusing to hear about the way my father used to do things and how much more difficult it was back then. For example, when I did a literature review, all I had to do was go online, search for some keywords and download the relevant papers. He spoke about books with lists of article titles that used to be mailed to universities. He had to find the relevant titles, order them and wait for the copies to be delivered before he could see if they really were relevant. When I did referencing I just put everything into a reference manager which then inserted, formatted and arranged the reference list as required. Before computers it all had to be done manually. Continue reading