Yeasts as carbon dioxide strippers. What a concept! Suddenly you are thinking of National Collection of Yeast Cultures in Norwich or the Center for Bread Flavour outside Brussels? Wrong countries. I’m thinking of Austria. But first, we’ll need to go to the UAE, Oman and Cyprus where you might be able to see rocks soaking up CO2.[Read more…] about On Yeasts and Ophiolites
Every time I open my laptop, I see a price list of Cecil Beaton’s photographs. A bare printed list of 76 pictures that I saw in an exhibition of his photographs in April, 2017. The folded paper prevents the keyboard imprinting itself on the screen.[Read more…] about Photos and Maps
We lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years, a decade before the devastating Northridge earthquakes rolled out from a huge slip on a hitherto undetected fault.
Our first home was in the foothills of the fault-bounded San Gabriel Mountains. The office was close to the Raymond Fault. Despite such proximity to future earthquake epicentres, we never experienced any severe ground shakes though the potential for them lurked large in our subconscious.[Read more…] about The Shakes
The hitchhiker on the outskirts of Ballyshannon was a large man and cleanly dressed. Tall, broad-shouldered under sun-bleached hair behind an engaging smile, he looked interesting by the standards of the day. That was once the way that drivers assessed hikers. Would they be interesting to talk with? Today we might put safety first and rarely offer a lift to a stranger.
He put his back-pack in the boot and we drove north towards Donegal Town.
Most hitchhikers I’d encountered had been continental European or Kiwi. This Joe was American and I was enjoying the cartoonish drawl of his Georgian accent. We got on well enough that I suggested a pint and a sandwich as I dropped him to wait at the bus stop for Killybegs.[Read more…] about Brief Encounters: 1976
Gamma ray bursts are flashes of gamma rays that hit our planet quite regularly. They can last for fractions of seconds or minutes. They can be detected from enormous cosmic distances.
Back in April 2010, a satellite detected a 10 second GRB burst. That’s ten seconds of gamma rays that we now know travelled 13 .7 billion years to reach us from a supernova in a galaxy that occurred about 630 million years after the Big Bang.[Read more…] about Plenty of Times II
The Lives of a Cell (1974) is a collection of science journalism essays by Lewis Thomas, a book that had a profound effect on me. One of his essays in particular stayed with me. It was about the mythological beasts that we create, that persist like the unicorns that inhabit our grandaughter’s fabulous world.