30 April 2008
- The Age
- New Zealand Herald
- ABC News and again
Naturally, our main veterans organisation in Australia, the Returned and Services League (RSL) is very upset. Only those who have earned such medals by their courage, bravery and sacrifice are entitled to wear them. Using them as a fashion statement trivialises such awards.
Even teenagers wear khaki, dog tags etc as a fashion statement, romanticising the military and no doubt wanting to enlist when they are older. From what I have seen of them, there is no chance that they would be accepted for enlistment.
When I finished my period of service many years ago, I returned my uniforms, boots, shoes etc, but kept my slouch hat and beret. I also had a few green t-shirts with the Australian Army logo on it. I got rid of those. Certainly not a fashion item, but part of our uniform, worn during physical training (PT).
Emily came around for dinner and I made a simple pasta of beetroot and spinach tagliatelle dressed with cherry tomatoes, basil and proscuitto.
29 April 2008
'Free Tibet' flags made in China
Made in China? Police believe some flags may have already been shipped
Police in southern China have discovered a factory manufacturing Free Tibet flags, media reports say.
The factory in Guangdong had been completing overseas orders for the flag of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Workers said they thought they were just making colourful flags and did not realise their meaning.
But then some of them saw TV images of protesters holding the emblem and they alerted the authorities, according to Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper.
The factory owner reportedly told police the emblems had been ordered from outside China, and he did not know that they stood for an independent Tibet.
Workers who had grown suspicious checked the meaning of the flag by going online.
Thousands of flags had already been packed for shipping.
Police believe that some may already have been sent overseas, and could appear in Hong Kong during the Olympic torch relay there this week.
The authorities have now stepped up the inspection of cars heading to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and onwards to Hong Kong.
Known as the Snow Lion FlagIntroduced in 1912Banned in mainland China
The Olympic torch is due to tour Hong Kong on Friday. It will then travel to a series of cities in mainland China before reaching Beijing for the start of the Olympic Games in August.
There is something quite poetic, though ironic about this.
This week is another slow one.
28 April 2008
Author pens Shakespeare, 'Innit'
Author Martin Baum's book has 15 abridged versions of Shakespeare
A Dorset author has rewritten some of the works of William Shakespeare entirely in so-called "yoof speak".
Satirist Martin Baum said his book, To Be or Not To Be, Innit, was a way of combining text speak and street slang with the Bard's classics.
The book includes Macbeff and Two Geezas of Verona, among 15 abridged versions of Shakespeare's work.
Mr Baum, 48, said "text speak and street slang" was becoming normal for a lot of young people.
He added: "The inspiration came from the fact that while people of my generation were brought up with and educated in the classics, I have found through my son and various headlines in the national press that the youth of today are not.
"I'm a satirist, and I've also been aware through material I've written that text speak and street slang is becoming the norm for a lot of the younger generation.
"It struck me that there had to be a way to bring the two together.
"[The book] was merely intended initially to cause a few ripples and provide entertainment around the time of Shakespeare's birthday.
"Traditionalists are very protective - understandably - but they don't have an exclusivity on the classics."
Other titles include Much Ado About Sod All and All's Sweet That Ends Sweet, Innit.
"Shakespeare created so many new words, so we won't be precious about it
Jacqui O'Hanlon, RSC
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) - which is running a campaign to introduce more people to the Bard, entitled Stand Up for Shakespeare - broadly welcomed the book.
Jacqui O'Hanlon, the RSC's director of education, said: "We know that when young people are introduced to Shakespeare in a positive way, they find a real relevance.
"Shakespeare is much more than a masterful story teller, it's the way he uses his stories and the language he uses.
"Shakespeare created so many new words, so we won't be precious about it.
"We want people to have a lifelong association with Shakespeare, so this may help."
Mr Baum, from Verwood, is planning to write his next book based on the work of Charles Dickens.
Shakespeare wrote for the masses and ordinary folk, so it is good that his works can again have wider appeal.
It is unfortunate that the new readership won't be able to appreciate the original language of Shakespeare. It is one of the reasons for reading his works in the first place.
It was quite cold today. Thankfully it was sunny.
27 April 2008
Reported in The Age about one family:
Lamb cutlets? At over $30 per kg, they have always been a luxury. Silly woman, she needs to shop smarter. If she was buying lamb cutlets and now talking about mince meat, I have no sympathy for her.
Rebecca Avery, 43, and her family have felt the impact of the rising cost of living. As Ms Avery, a single mother, struggles with a mortgage, rising food and petrol prices have taken their toll on her fortnightly budget.
For Ms Avery and her two daughters, Georgia, 14, and Kaitlin, 12, eating at restaurants and getting take-away food has become a luxury.
At the supermarket, she said, lamb cutlets have been replaced by mince meat. "It's the petrol that's so expensive, food and vegetables and meat are also ridiculous," Ms Avery said.
Firstly, mince meat is around $10 per kg. If she knew how to shop smarter, she would know that corned silverside can be bought for as little as $5 per kg. Instead of lamb cutlets, she can buy lamb forequarter chops on special for under $6 per kg.
I have as much sympathy for someone complaining that they can no longer afford lamb cutlets as someone who can no longer afford lobster.
Eating at restaurants and getting take-away (take-out)? I grew up in a working class household. We were lucky to have take-out. Restaurants were out of the question and only for really special occasions (I can only remember twice as a child/teenager).
It seems that too many people want more than they can afford these days.
A quiet day today, although I was out in the afternoon to watch a football game not shown on free-to-air TV, at a club. I spent the rest of the time watching the latest episodes of Smallville, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica online. My addictions.
I put the washing out in the morning and it rained.
Brisbane 3.6 10.13 15.17 19.23 (137)
Melbourne 2.1 5.2 8.3 13.7 (85)
Brisbane: Bradshaw 6, Hooper 4, Corrie 3, Johnstone 2, Brown 2, Adcock, Rischitelli
Melbourne: Jones 4, Wonaeamirri 3, Miller 2, Sylvia 2, Green, Robertson
Brisbane: Black, Power, Corrie, Macdonald, Brennan, Hooper
Melbourne: Jones, Green, Moloney, Bruce, Wonaeamirri, Jamar
Brisbane: to be advised
Melbourne: Sylvia (shoulder)
Umpires: Nicholls, Head, Armstrong
Official Crowd: 22,878 at GabbaI went to the Ainslie Football Club to watch the game this afternoon, joining our small group of Brisbane Lions supporters. A great match (see report), although the winning margin could have been greater if the behinds (missed goals) had hit the target.
Travis played against his former team mates
Charmo in the ruck
Blacky, one of the very best
Shermo shermanated Aaron Davey
26 April 2008
I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Perhaps they are taking the piss.
Today was a busy day. Sue D came around at 7.30am and we went to the farmers' market. I was very restrained, knowing beforehand that there wasn't much space in the fridge. I had to walk past the bakery stalls. It was more the opportunity to catch up with Sue than anything.
Devi came over this evening and we went for a walk with Kane. I made a roast pork belly, rost vegetables (potato, beetroot and carrot) and blanched brussels sprout for dinner. We watched Jeepers Creepers, which was scary. Boo!
25 April 2008
A dog that's not for life
By Megan Lane
BBC News Magazine
Gucci, an 18-month-old pomeranian, is a fluffy ball of fun who loves walks in the park. And he can be your dog - for a price - as part of a new service renting out canine companions.
Gucci can be yours - temporarily
Living in London, with a garden not much bigger than a picnic blanket and a working day lengthened by a long commute, it seems unfair to own a dog. But wouldn't it be nice to have a furry friend to take for walkies?
To the average British animal lover, the idea of canine timeshare might jar a little. A dog is famously for life, not just for Christmas. Shelters are full of forlorn dogs, surrendered by owners who found themselves without the time or effort to look after an animal.
So perhaps there is sense in the dog hire company Flexpetz opening a branch in London, its first outside the US. There the business is well established, with dogs-for-hire in New York, San Diego and Los Angeles.
To borrow a dog for four days a month costs a tail-drooping monthly fee of £279 in the UK (in the US, it's $279.95) - plus extra for drop-off and collection, if needed. The company says the high cost of maintaining and paying for vets' bill explains the disparity. The target clientele in London will be much like those who have signed up in Los Angeles and New York - urbanites whose busy lives make full-time pet ownership difficult. So far it says 100 have pre-registered in London.
Gucci is the first and only canine recruit to London's Flexpetz, but more will be available soon, says Pippa Woolard, the company's UK representative, who will run orientation sessions and arrange the pomeranian's movements around the capital. The New York branch usually has five dogs.
Families with young children are among the target clientele
Most Flexpetz dogs in the US have been given up by their owners, who no longer have time to spend with their pets. Others are ex-show dogs or breeders.
Chelsea McNabb is a Los Angeles-based actress and Flexpetz customer with an extremely varied schedule, but who aspires to eventually looking after an animal full time.
"I had considered adopting a dog a few years back, but decided against it because the idea of first-time-dog-ownership was a bit intimidating.
"Typically I spend time with this beautiful coonhound named Sasha. She is very, very, smart. We regularly hike together at many trails adjacent to Hollywood/ Santa Monica mountains. Once I took a Cocker Spaniel named Stevie, who I liked a lot too. But Sasha fits my lifestyle better with the hiking so now I only spend time with Sasha."
Once she has a house with a garden, she hopes to take full ownership of a dog like Sasha. And this is something that is encouraged by the firm.
"The hope is that a member will fall in love and adopt it, once they've seen if a dog will fit into their lifestyle," says Ms Woolard. All of the dogs are available for adoption, at a price subject to negotiation, if a customer finds that a permanent dog does fit into their lifestyle.
It only takes an hour in Gucci's company for my three-year-old to regard him as her dog. And vice versa. "He takes everyone he meets into his pack," says Ms Woolard, as small dog and small girl nuzzle noses.
As thunderclouds gather over London's Green Park to curtail our dog walking, she is reluctant to relinquish control of the lead. A bottom lip trembles. "But I don't want to give him back. I love him."
Also keen to shower Gucci with love and puppy treats is Huwgh Taylor, a wine buyer who lives in a Chelsea flat, who plans long walks in London's parks to get fit. He heard about the scheme from a friend who travels to New York on business.
Most dogs need the security of a proper routine with one owner
RSPCA's David McDowell
"I saw they were hoping to open in London and put my name down for pre-registration. I work long and unsocial hours, which would make it incredibly unfair on any animal, especially a dog.
"When I was growing up I had a German shepherd collie cross. This scheme means I can have the companionship of a dog without having to leave it alone while I am at work."
And the whole idea of renting a pet fits into modern lifestyle trends. The US economist Jeremy Rifkin suggests in his book the Age of Access that the world was moving away from an emphasis on owning things to renting being the norm.
It may be hard to see how you might get true companionship from a pet that you only see for four days a month.
And animal behaviour experts worry that shunting a dog between multiple owners will cause it distress. The RSPCA's man groans on hearing that the London branch is about to open.
"There will almost certainly be an emotional impact for the dogs as they are moved from owner to owner, from home to home, and then back again until someone decides they want them again," says veterinary adviser David McDowell.
Learning to hold Gucci's lead
"Most dogs need the security of a proper routine with one owner and without this they could become stressed and unhappy."
Instead of renting a pet, he advises that anyone desperate to spend time with a dog could volunteer for their local RSPCA branch or animal centre.
Flexpetz's founder Marlena Cervantes says only dogs with temperaments suited to the upheaval are chosen.
"Our ideal dogs are extremely social, not owner dependent, good with children and other animals. We carefully screen our dogs for temperament and social ability."
A former behaviour therapist for children with autism, she came up with the rent-a-dog concept after taking her Labrador along to several therapy sessions and seeing how enthusiastically her clients took to the dog.
"And I had many years experience sharing a pitbull/boxer mix named Valencia with my ex-boyfriend. It worked out for my dog to have two loving homes, and she was never left unattended."
Gucci, when not rented out mainly at weekends, will live with a carer. But not Ms Woolard. She is a cat person.
If people don't have time to care for a dog, then they don't have time. If they want to walk a dog they can go to a shelter, which desperately needs volunteers.
I want to know how people propose to control a dog with whom they are not bonded in unforeseen circumstances. It takes longer than a couple of hours to understand a particular canine's behaviour.
I had a do nothing day today, apart from cleaning the floor.
24 April 2008
I've casted my (five) votes. From the shortlist of 100 provided, I only knew of those from Australia, the United States, Britain and a few other countries. Obviously, I need to read more widely and globally.
- Foreign Policy
Thank goodness we have a day off tomorrow (Anzac Day). I am looking forward to some relaxation.
Sue B came over with me after work for a quick visit. After the walk with Kane, we had some wine.
23 April 2008
I found this opinion by Sev Ozdowski reported in the Sydney Morning Herald quite interesting:
The controversy over security for the torch came as a former Australian human rights commissioner accused China of using the Beijing Games as a propaganda tool, in the same way Nazi Germany did in Berlin in 1936.Hmmm...
University of Sydney adjunct professor Sev Ozdowski said the forced removal of people living in Beijing to make way for the Games; the likely exclusion of Falun Gong and other dissidents from the Olympics; and China's attempt to use the Games to present itself as a new world power all echoed Nazi behaviour.
Dr Ozdowski — who as human rights commissioner wrote an influential report on the mandatory detention of children in immigration — said Chinese authorities were trying to use the Olympics to enhance China's status as a world power and economic success. He likened the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners to the exclusions of Jews from the 1936 Olympics.
He said the Olympic flame had come to represent civil liberties and freedoms and the fact it was being guarded by Chinese authorities and hidden away from the public was symbolic of the way civil liberties were being treated in China.
Dr Ozdowski said it was a "big problem" if allegations that the Chinese embassy in Australia was helping organise pro-Beijing demonstrations were true.
Thank goodness there is one more work day this week, tomorrow. I am looking forward to the long weekend.
Emily came around for dinner tonight. I made a simple roast pork with roast vegetables.
22 April 2008
1 El Bulli (Spain) and World's Best Restaurant and Best in Europe
2 The Fat Duck (UK) and Chefs Choice
3 Pierre Gagnaire (France)
4 Mugaritz (Spain) and Chefs Choice
5 The French Laundry (USA) and Best Restaurant in Americas
slipping from 5th to 9th spot was Tetsuya's
9 Tetsuya's (Austraila) and Best Restaurant in Australa
Tetsuya Wakuda 2003 (photo by Quentin Jones)
The other Australian restaurant in the top 50 had slipped from 33
There was also one other Australian restaurant in the top 100
76 Vue de Monde (down from 71)
It seems such a long time now since I had dinner (once) at Tetsuya's. Expensive but worth every cent.
Tuesday. It is still going to be a long week.
21 April 2008
20 April 2008
The collective IQ in Canberra went up a few notches. It was a good opportunity to leave town in order to maintain the intelligence equilibrium.
(totally deadpan tongue in cheek)
I had a fantastic weekend in Brisbane, even though it was only 24 hours there. Literally.
I met up with a few friends (Wazza, Andrew, Lisa and Cozi) at The Den before the game. The game itself was one of the best I've seen, even though my team lost. I had arranged seats for three of us (Leigh and Tim) right up the front just behind the fence and next to the interchange bench and dugout. As it was a dry (alcohol free) part, the other two spent much of the time standing behind so they could drink. Sippers! They haven't learnt to gulp beer yet! It was a great night though.
This morning I went into the city to look for a new pair of jeans and ended up with more 'bargains'. Later on, I caught up with Leigh for lunch in his neighbourhood before he drove me to the airport.
It was good to return home to Kane.
BRISBANE LIONS 5.3 9.7 14.11 17.16 (118)
Hawthorn: Franklin 8, Rioli 2, Williams 2, Mitchell, Sewell, Hodge, Osborne, Young, Ellis, Roughead
Brisbane Lions: Bradshaw 7, Johnstone 2, McGrath 2, Adcock, Corrie, Hooper, Charman, Begley, Leuenberger
Hawthorn: Franklin, Croad, Mitchell, Sewell, Crawford, Burchill
Brisbane Lions: Black, Bradshaw, Power, Johnstone, Sherman, Rischitelli
Brisbane Lions: N Lappin (Achilles) replaced in selected side by R Copeland.
Reports: J Brown (Brisbane Lions) by umpire L Farmer for charging S Mitchell (Hawthorn) in second quarter.
Umpires: Farmer, Chamberlain, McInerney
Official crowd: 30,019 at the Gabba
What a game! Shame my team lost, for Luke Power's 200th game.
I sat near the dugout right up the front and it was fascinating watching what happens behind the game. It meant I didn't focus entirely on the game, but I did take lots of good photos though.
18 April 2008
A study last year showed that even tail wagging is directional depending on mood. Italian researchers reported in Current Biology (Vol 17, R199-R201, 20 March 2007) that the happier dog wags to the right.
I'll have to be more observant. Most dogs saying hello to Kane tend to wag their tails widely, both to the right and left.
Dogs who aren't wagging their tail and who step back we tend to avoid.
So glad the week is over.
17 April 2008
After I posted the article about the 13 year old correcting NASA's calculations, I received a message from Daniel Fischer
The story is complete nonsense as a little research easily shows. Too bad so many blogger, let alone lazy journalists, have fallen for it ...The lesson is never trust a wire source which quotes a newspaper rather than checking their facts. They should have checked with NASA. From New Scientist, a much more reputable source:
What a relief. Nice try from Nico Marquardt. He will have learnt that credibility is important in the scientific profession.
No truth to claims that 13-year-old found NASA error00:05 17 April 2008
NewScientist.com news service
The asteroid Apophis still has only a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2036, NASA says, despite recent news reports suggesting a 13-year-old German boy had discovered a mistake in the space agency's analysis. The reports suggested the risk of an impact was actually 100 times as great as NASA's estimate.
The 250-metre-wide Apophis is on a trajectory that will take it near Earth in 2029. If Apophis passes through a "keyhole" in space just 600 metres or so across at that time, it will return to hit Earth in 2036.
NASA estimates the risk of this to be small – just 1 in 45,000. But a report on Tuesday by the Agence France Presse news agency, citing a report in a German newspaper called Bild, said a 13-year-old German boy had found that the real risk was higher.
According to the AFP story, the boy calculated the risk to be 1 in 450, based on the supposed possibility that the asteroid's path could be altered by a collision with a satellite when Apophis passes within about 38,000 kilometres of Earth in 2029.
But Steven Chesley, a scientist at NASA's Near-Earth Object Program in Pasadena, California, US, says Apophis will not pass near any satellites.
There are geosynchronous satellites orbiting Earth at a distance of 42,000 kilometres, but these orbit in a ring around Earth's equator, he says. Apophis's closest approach to Earth will occur at higher latitudes, however, far from the equator.
Apophis will pass over the equator about 90 minutes before its closest approach, at a distance of 52,000 kilometres, which is much too far to hit any geosynchronous satellites, he adds. The uncertainty in its path in 2029 is 1650 km - too small to allow for a satellite impact.
"The idea that we've somehow been corrected is absolutely untrue," Chesley told New Scientist. "We stand by our calculations."
A statement on NASA's website by Donald Yeomans, who heads NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office, confirms that NASA has not changed its estimate of 1 in 45,000 for Apophis's impact risk.
The AFP story claimed NASA had told the European Space Agency that the boy's calculations were correct. But Yeomans's statement on the NASA website says this is not true.
"Contrary to recent press reports, NASA offices involved in near-Earth object research were not contacted and have had no correspondence with a young German student, who claims the Apophis impact probability is far higher than the current estimate," it says.
Chesley points out that NASA's calculations have been independently confirmed by a group of scientists at the University of Pisa, who report their results on a website called NeoDys. The NeoDys entry on Apophis puts its impact risk at 0.00207%, or about 1 in 48,000.
"We're constantly cross-checking each other's independently arrived at results," he says. "In the case of Apophis, we have good agreement."
Aldo Vitagliano of Italy's Universita di Napoli Federico II, who does his own independent calculations of asteroid trajectories and impact risks, agrees that the purported correction is wrong.
"The news is definitely a canard," he told New Scientist. "My results agree with those reported by JPL and NeoDys."
The asteroid currently appears too close to the Sun in the sky to observe, but new observations should be possible for a period of several years starting in about 2011, Chesley says. Those observations will help scientists to reduce the uncertainty in the asteroid's trajectory: "There's a 95 plus percent chance that we'll be sounding the all-clear by 2014."
I returned to work today. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday.
16 April 2008
German schoolboy, 13, corrects NASA's asteroid figures: paperThe reporting in German is much more interesting...
BERLIN (AFP) — A 13-year-old German schoolboy corrected NASA's estimates on the chances of an asteroid colliding with Earth, a German newspaper reported Tuesday, after spotting the boffins had miscalculated.
Nico Marquardt used telescopic findings from the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) to calculate that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth, the Potsdamer Neuester Nachrichten reported.
NASA had previously estimated the chances at only 1 in 45,000 but told its sister organisation, the European Space Agency (ESA), that the young whizzkid had got it right.
The schoolboy took into consideration the risk of Apophis running into one or more of the 40,000 satellites orbiting Earth during its path close to the planet on April 13 2029.
Those satellites travel at 3.07 kilometres a second (1.9 miles), at up to 35,880 kilometres above earth -- and the Apophis asteroid will pass by earth at a distance of 32,500 kilometres.
If the asteroid strikes a satellite in 2029, that will change its trajectory making it hit earth on its next orbit in 2036.
Both NASA and Marquardt agree that if the asteroid does collide with earth, it will create a ball of iron and iridium 320 metres (1049 feet) wide and weighing 200 billion tonnes, which will crash into the Atlantic Ocean.
The shockwaves from that would create huge tsunami waves, destroying both coastlines and inland areas, whilst creating a thick cloud of dust that would darken the skies indefinitely.
The 13-year old made his discovery as part of a regional science competition for which he submitted a project entitled: "Apophis -- The Killer Astroid."
From the original report in Potsdamer Neuester Nachrichten
From Der Tagesspiegel (13 April)
Apophis im AnflugBestätigung durch die NASA: Der Potsdamer Schüler Nico Marquardt berechnete die Aufschlagswahrscheinlichkeit eines Asteroiden auf die Erde neu (12 April)
„Es könnte knapp werden“, sagt Nico Marquardt. Und wirklich, nur ein paar Zentimeter mehr und das tonnenschwere 70-Zentimeter-Teleskop hätte die kleine mobile Holztreppe gestreift. Das meterlange Fernrohr wird durch die spanische Doktorandin Ada Nebot aus der Ruheposition zur Kuppelöffnung gedreht. Für das Fotoshooting mit dem 13-jährigen Astronomie-Genie aus Potsdam soll es in die Richtung zeigen, aus der die Gefahr kommt. Nach oben.
Es ist das Instrument des Astrophysikalischen Institutes Potsdam (AIP) in Babelsberg, mit dem der Potsdamer Schüler selbst Aufnahmen machte von jenem Brocken im All, von dem die US-Weltraumbehörde NASA kurzzeitig sogar annahm, er werde im Jahr 2036 mit einer Wahrscheinlichkeit von ein zu 37 auf die Erde aufschlagen. Zum Vergleich: Bei Russisch-Roulette mit einem Revolver knallt es mit einer Wahrscheinlichkeit von eins zu sechs.
Mit der genaueren Beobachtung des erst 2004 entdeckten Asteroiden Apophis aber senkten die hochbezahlten US-Astronomen die Impact-Wahrscheinlichkeit auf eins zu 45000. Apophis war fortan nicht mehr der Star am Firmament, für den ihn viele Hobby-Astronomen und vor allem Apokalyptiker hielten.
Doch dann betrat Nico Marquardt vom Potsdamer Humboldt-Gymnasium die Weltbühne der Astro-Zunft – und mit ihm kommt nun das Comeback von Apophis als sehr ernstzunehmenden Erdbahnkreuzer. Der Gymnasiast kam, sah durchs Fernrohr, rechnete mit einem Faktor, den die NASA-Spezialisten nicht auf dem Schirm hatten – und siegte. Bei seinen Berechnungen kam er auf eine Einschlagswahrscheinlichkeit von eins zu 450 – und die NASA ließ der Europäischen Raumfahrt-Agentur ESA ausrichten, der Junge aus Potsdam habe recht. Beim Regionalausscheid von „Jugend forscht“ erhielt er mit seinem Thema „Der Killerasteroid Apophis“ einen Sonderpreis und gewann auch gleich den Wettbewerb im Fachgebiet Physik.
Der vielleicht „spannendste Moment der Menschheitsgeschichte“, wie Nico Marquardt verspricht, vollzieht sich ausgerechnet am Freitag, den 13. April 2029 um 22.45 Uhr Mitteleuropäische Zeit. Dann fliegt die aus Eisen und Iridium bestehende Weltraum-Kartoffel, 320 Meter im Durchmesser und 200 Milliarden Tonnen schwer, in lediglich 32 500 Kilometer an der Erde vorbei. In kosmischen Dimensionen ist das nichts, selbst der Mond ist zehn Mal weiter weg. Durch die hohe Geschwindigkeit von 50 000 Kilometer pro Stunde wird Apophis, aufgeheizt durch Atmosphäre-Teilchen der Erde, hell aufglühen und zehn- bis zwölf Mal größer erscheinen als der Mond.
Doch kaum ist Apophis durch, beginnt das große Zittern: Nico Marquardt glaubt, dass die großen Institute etwa zwei Stunden für die Berechnungen brauchen. Dann werden Professoren und Direktoren vor Kameras und Mikrofone treten – und die Weltbevölkerung wird den Atem anhalten. Steht die Menschheit im Schach – oder geht der Kelch an ihr vorüber?
Denn nach weiteren sieben Jahren – wieder so eine Schicksalszahl – kehrt Apophis, der in 323 Tagen die Sonne umkreist, zur Erde zurück, wieder an einem 13. April. Die Wissenschaftler werden anhand der dann möglichen genauen Flugbahnberechnungen sagen können, ob er am 13. April 2036 den blauen Planeten treffen wird oder nicht. Ein Aufschlag wäre verbunden mit einer Katastrophe biblischen Ausmaßes. Die freigesetzte Energie entspräche der von 65 000 Hiroshima-Bomben. Die NASA – und auch Nico Marquardt – glauben, dass Apophis, bezeichnet nach dem ägyptischen Gott der Auflösung, Finsternis und Chaos, im Atlantischen Ozean aufschlagen wird. Riesige Tsunami-Wellen wären die Folge und selbst der Aufschlag im Meer könnte nicht verhindern, dass große Staubmassen in die Atmosphäre gelangen und den Himmel für Jahre verdunkeln.
Doch was beachtete der Schüler des Humboldt-Gymnasiums, was die NASA übersah? Er erkannte die Gefahr der Kollision eines der etwa 40 000 geostationären Satelliten mit Apophis bei dessen Erd-Passage im Jahr 2029. Diese Kommunikations- und Wettersatelliten umkreisen in 35 880 Kilometer die Erde mit einer Geschwindigkeit von 3,07 Kilometer pro Sekunde. Kollidiert einer der Satelliten mit dem Asteroiden, könnte das der entscheidende Schubs sein. Der Klumpen könnte genau so abgelenkt werden, dass er sieben Jahre später die Erde trifft.
Später will Nico Marquardt Astrophysik studieren und – wenn sie ihn nehmen – bei der NASA arbeiten. Seine erste Bewerbung war schon vielversprechend.
Nico und der WeltuntergangA photo from Bild:
Ein Potsdamer Schüler hat die Gefahr eines Asteroideneinschlags richtig berechnet und damit die Nasa blamiert. Was der 13-Jährige für das Jahr 2036 voraussagt, ist alles andere als beruhigend.
Der 13-jährige Nico Marquardt aus Potsdam. - Foto: Klaer
„Es könnte knapp werden“, sagt Nico Marquardt. Und wirklich, nur ein paar Zentimeter mehr und das tonnenschwere 70-Zentimeter-Teleskop hätte die kleine mobile Holztreppe gestreift. Das meterlange Fernrohr wird durch die spanische Doktorandin Ada Nebot aus der Ruheposition zur Kuppelöffnung gedreht. Für das Fotoshooting mit dem 13-jährigen Astronomiegenie aus Potsdam soll es in die Richtung zeigen, aus der die Gefahr kommt. Nach oben. Es ist das Instrument des Astrophysikalischen Institutes Potsdam (AIP) in Babelsberg, mit dem der Potsdamer Schüler selbst Aufnahmen machte von jenem Brocken im All, von dem die US-Weltraumbehörde NASA kurzzeitig sogar annahm, er werde im Jahr 2036 mit einer Wahrscheinlichkeit von eins zu 37 auf die Erde aufschlagen. Zum Vergleich: Bei Russisch-Roulette mit einem Revolver knallt es mit einer Wahrscheinlichkeit von eins zu fünf.
Mit der genaueren Beobachtung des erst 2004 entdeckten Asteroiden Apophis aber senkten die hochbezahlten US-Astronomen die Impact-Wahrscheinlichkeit auf eins zu 45 000. Apophis war fortan nicht mehr der Star am Firmament, für den ihn viele Hobby-Astronomen und vor allem Apokalyptiker hielten.
Doch dann betrat Nico Marquardt vom Potsdamer Humboldt-Gymnasium die Weltbühne der Astro-Zunft – und mit ihm kommt nun das Comeback von Apophis als sehr ernstzunehmenden Erdbahnkreuzer. Der Gymnasiast kam, sah durchs Fernrohr, rechnete mit einem Faktor, den die Nasa-Spezialisten nicht auf dem Schirm hatten - und siegte. Bei seinen Berechnungen kam er auf eine Einschlagswahrscheinlichkeit von eins zu 450.
Eine Sensation: Die Nasa ließ der Europäischen Raumfahrt-Agentur ESA ausrichten, der Junge aus Potsdam habe recht. Beim Regionalausscheid von „Jugend forscht“ erhielt er mit seinem Thema „Der Killerasteroid Apophis“ einen Sonderpreis und gewann auch gleich den Wettbewerb im Fachgebiet Physik.
Der vielleicht „spannendste Moment der Menschheitsgeschichte“, wie Nico Marquardt verspricht, vollzieht sich ausgerechnet am Freitag, den 13. April 2029 um 22 Uhr 45 mitteleuropäischer Zeit. Dann fliegt die aus Eisen und Iridium bestehende Weltraum-Kartoffel, 320 Meter im Durchmesser und 200 Milliarden Tonnen schwer, in lediglich 32 500 Kilometer Entfernung an der Erde vorbei. In kosmischen Dimensionen ist das nichts, selbst der nahegelegene Mond ist zehn Mal weiter weg. Durch die hohe Geschwindigkeit von 50 000 Kilometer pro Stunde wird Apophis, aufgeheizt durch Atmosphäreteilchen der Erde, hell aufglühen und zehn bis zwölf Mal größer erscheinen als der Mond.
Doch kaum ist Apophis durch, beginnt das große Zittern: Nico Marquardt glaubt, dass die großen Institute etwa zwei Stunden für die Berechnungen brauchen. Dann werden Professoren und Direktoren vor Kameras und Mikrofone treten – und die Weltbevölkerung wird den Atem anhalten. Steht die Menschheit im Schach – oder geht der Kelch an ihr vorüber?
Denn nach weiteren sieben Jahren kehrt Apophis, der in 323 Tagen die Sonne umkreist, zur Erde zurück, wieder an einem 13. April. Die Wissenschaftler werden anhand der dann möglichen genauen Flugbahnberechnungen sagen können, ob er am 13. April 2036 die Erde treffen wird oder nicht. Ein Aufschlag wäre verbunden mit einer Katastrophe biblischen Ausmaßes. Die freigesetzte Energie entspräche der von 65 000 Hiroshima-Bomben. Die Experten glauben, dass Apophis, bezeichnet nach dem ägyptischen Gott der Auflösung und der Finsternis, im Falle einer Kollision im Atlantischen Ozean aufschlagen könnte. Riesige Tsunami-Wellen wären die Folge und selbst der Aufschlag im Meer könnte nicht verhindern, dass große Staubmassen den Himmel für Jahre verdunkeln.
Doch was beachtete der Schüler des Humboldt-Gymnasiums, was die Nasa übersehen hatte? Er erkannte die Gefahr der Kollision eines der etwa 40 000 geostationären Satelliten mit Apophis bei dessen Erdpassage im Jahr 2029. Diese Kommunikations- und Wettersatelliten umkreisen in 35 880 Kilometer die Erde mit einer Geschwindigkeit von 3,07 Kilometer pro Sekunde. Kollidiert einer der Satelliten mit dem Asteroiden, könnte das der entscheidende Schubs sein. Der Klumpen könnte genau so abgelenkt werden, dass er sieben Jahre später die Erde trifft.
Später will Nico Marquardt Astrophysik studieren und bei der Nasa arbeiten.
Wenn sie ihn nehmen.
(Erschienen im gedruckten Tagesspiegel vom 13.04.2008)
Gymnasiast Nico Marquardt (13) aus Potsdam hält einen Eisenklumpen in der Hand. Im Hintergrund die „3-Körper-Formel“, mit der er die Annäherung des Asteroiden
an die Erde errechnete
NASA should pay him and give him a scholarship.
I had a day at home today to try and shake off a mild case of the virus going around. In hindsight, an outing to the markets in the afternoon was probably not a good idea, more in terms of bumping into people from work. It did happen with a remark of "I thought you were sick and not at work today" to which I replied "I still have to get food for the dog". Hehehe...
15 April 2008
This part I found quite disturbing:
Rising Food Prices Spell Hunger for Millions Across AfricaWorld Bank urges action for fighting the hunger epidemic
April 12, 2008 — A global surge in food prices is causing havoc across the developing world, and thousands of poor people are caught in a widening arc of hunger stretching from Egypt to Cameroon, to Zimbabwe.
The numbers are stark. In one month, U.S. wheat export prices shot up from $375 to $425 per ton, and prices for Thai rice rose from $365 to $475 per ton. Both countries are major cereal exporters. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, of the 36 countries in the grip of a food security crisis, 21 are in Africa.
According to the latest report, “Rising Food Prices: Policy Options and World Bank Response,” increases in global wheat prices reached 181 percent over the 36 months leading up to February 2008, and overall global food prices increased by 83 percent.
On average, poor people spend between 50 and 75 percent of their income on food purchases.
“The major price shocks we are witnessing in the world’s poorer economies are hitting poor people the hardest,” said Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. “While the World Bank is committed to doing its part to help mitigate the crisis, reversing this worrisome trend will require concerted actions by governments and a broad range of partners.”
Price hikes in food have already sparked riots in several African capitals, rattling treasuries, and stoking unprecedented Malthusian scares.
A complex set of causative factors is at work, the effects of which are bleaker than the theory voiced by Thomas R. Malthus, the famous 18 th century British economist who warned of the dangers of exploding population growth rates being out of sync with the capacity to produce food.
Oil, trading at $105 and more per barrel, is a major factor impacting a large part of the farm economy by increasing prices on the entire food production and distribution chain. Equally problematic is the agriculture-led push toward biofuels where corn and sugarcane are being used to create ethanol, and oil crops are being used to create biodiesel.
The 2008 World Development Report “Agriculture for Development” provides a compelling example of the food-for-fuel debate: over 240 kilograms (or 528 pounds) of corn – enough to feed one person for a whole year – is required to produce the 26 gallons, or 100 liters of ethanol needed to fill the gas tank of a modern sports utility vehicle.
In addition, withering drought has decimated harvests in major wheat-producing countries as far apart as Australia and Kazakhstan, crimping supplies, and creating scarcity. Furthermore, a legion of plant breeders, agronomists, and pathologists are concerned about when and where the next disease epidemic will strike, and threaten farm yields in the world’s major granaries. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just announced a $25 million grant to Cornell University to fight stem rust, a deadly wheat disease.
Food-related Fast Facts:
- Seventy-five percent of the world’s poor people live in rural areas: an estimated 900 million people at the $1-a-day poverty level. A majority are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
- Most of the world’s poor people depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods
- In Africa, demand for food is expected to reach $100 billion by 2015, double its level of 2000
- Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where yields of food crops have declined, and farmers get only one-third of the yields achieved by Asian farmers.
- A majority of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are women.
Meeting the challenge
Food crop prices are expected to remain high in 2008 and 2009 and then begin to decline, but they are likely to remain well above the 2004 levels through 2015 for most food crops.
The World Bank Group is helping countries to meet the challenges of high food prices by:
- Calling on the international community to make up the $500 million food gap required by the United Nations World Food Program to meet emergency food needs, a large portion of which is directed to Sub-Saharan Africa
- Making agriculture a priority. The Bank has announced it will double agriculture lending in Africa in 2009: from $450 million to $800 million
- Increasing financial support for short-term needs (restructuring existing projects and increasing the size of upcoming grants and loans when needed)
- Expanding and improving access to safety net programs, such as cash transfers, and risk management instruments to protect the poor
- Informing the discussion on biofuels
- Providing advocacy and highlighting the negative impacts of policies such as export bans which create price spikes in importing countries, and the high levels of trade tariffs and subsidies in the developed world.
Going forward, the World Bank is strengthening its cooperation with partners such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and its four pillars: increasing food supply, market access, an area under sustainable land management, including the TerrAfrica initiative, and improving agricultural research to disseminate new technologies for farmers.
The 2008 World Development Report “Agriculture for Development” provides a compelling example of the food-for-fuel debate: over 240 kilograms (or 528 pounds) of corn – enough to feed one person for a whole year – is required to produce the 26 gallons, or 100 liters of ethanol needed to fill the gas tank of a modern sports utility vehicle.How about not filling up the gas tank of the SUV for a week, taking public transport (which is more effective in tackling global warming) so that corn can still be grown to feed people?
Work was so so. I'm trying to shake a mild case of the virus going around at the moment. I might stay home tomorrow if I'm not up to it.
14 April 2008
Enough With the Skinny Ties
What began as an inspired trend has officially been done to death.
-By Katherine Wheelock
-Photograph courtesy of Landov.
It's not like it wasn't time for an adjustment. As recently as a couple of years ago, the standard American tie was essentially the wide, straight-cut variety that your algebra teacher wore. That model's slim-down began on the runways, driven by nostalgia for a time when men dressed better (for those not steeped in fashion-industry rhetoric, that time was the fifties). From there, it clambered to greater visibility on the necks of spindly rockers: Pete Doherty. Fabrizio Moretti. Ryan Adams. Then, like any epidemic, it spread—to Jude Law. Orlando Bloom. Zac Efron. Even Daniel Craig wasn't immune. At a recent movie premiere, Josh Hartnett had on a tie so borderline-bolo it looked like he was wearing an avant-garde collared shirt with a stripe down the front. The celebrities were followed by packs of knee-jerk adopters—mostly media types. And that's when things went very wrong.
"People like Thom Browne helped our eyes adjust to the smaller lapel, the tighter suit, and the skinny tie," says Tommy Fazio, men's fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman. "But I see some guys on the street now and it's like, 'He's wearing a shoestring!'"
"At some point, you have to figure out what works for you," says Band of Outsiders founder Scott Sternberg. "You have to say, 'This makes me look like a human pear' or 'This thing on my neck makes it look like my head's about to explode.' When my dad's friends request ties, they're getting three-inch tips.
I don't want them rocking skinny ties in Dayton, Ohio."
To be fair, it's not just middle-aged Midwesterners who can't pull off the anorexic tie. Contrary to what its ubiquity suggests, it doesn't look that good on most men.
"The guys wearing it in the beginning were the canaries in the coal mine," designer Michael Bastian says. "But then it just became 'The skinny tie equals cool.' If you've got the whole Joey Ramone thing going on, that's one thing, but if you have on a going-to-work suit, it doesn't work. You have to follow through on your swing."
Besides, anything taken to extremes eventually becomes unseemly. The chunky tie of a decade ago needed a sensible Weight Watchers plan, not an ephedrine-laced diet drug.
"It's really about proportion," Bastian notes. "The guys with the enormous lapels and the super-skinny ties—they didn't get the memo." And those are the guys you can blame when, inevitably, the fashion Tilt-A-Whirl tips and ties get fat again—faster than a no-carb fanatic on an Entenmann's binge—and the only ties you can find are nipple-spanning numbers in oversize plaid.April 04, 2008
This week is going to be a slow one. There is some virus going around at work with people away sick.
13 April 2008
Meet Australia's tightest manKind of defeats the purpose of actually having money.
April 13, 2008 12:00am
FEW would readily admit to it, but Paul Squires is proud to be one of Australia's tightest men.
The penny-pincher has dedicated himself and his family to a life of avoiding spending at all costs.
He advocates money-saving choices like avoiding family gatherings, limiting your friends and ignoring Mother's Day.
"I'm tight, but I'd like to think there are people out there much tighter," Squires, 43, said.
"There are times when my wife is even tighter than I am."
The father-of-two from Melbourne believes the average Australian can put as much as $50,000 back into their own pockets within five years by making "astute" fiscal choices.
He believes many Australians are living beyond their means, and there is a "river of money slipping through people's fingers every day".
He says by changing spending habits, Australians could pay off debts faster and better understand financial fine print that often leads to hidden and costly traps.
Among his strategies for a financial makeover, as outlined in his new book Wealthier Than You Think, Mr Squires suggests a weekly blackout night, where no electricity is used.
"It not only saves on the power bill but also gives people 'time out' to reflect," he said.
The multimillionaire also recommends avoiding family get-togethers, particularly Christmas and Easter.
"There's nothing but heavy stress, heavy drinking and, among some families, some deep-seated issues come up," he said.
"You spend a lot of money to partake in it and seriously, without being too negative, people come out mentally scarred. The reality is, why do it?"
As for friends, Squires believes people need to limit the number of mates they have, and reduce the amount of time spent with them.
"Invariably, catching up with friends involves spending money and some of the people you socialise with don't like you that much, anyway," he said.
Squires, a real estate agent, rejects any suggestion that his methods and advice are "extreme" and says much of it is based on doing a little bit of financial homework and research and reverting to common sense rather than greed.
He concedes that some members of his extended family "don't understand what we are doing".
Luckily, Squires' accountant wife of 16 years, Krystina, has bought into the frugal life.
Squires believes his book is particularly relevant in today's climate of rising interest rates and spiralling debt levels.
"The driving force (behind the book) was seeing the level of debt and the amount of consumption out there," he said.
"It just wasn't logical."
Kane and I had a big adventure this morning, which you can read about in Kane's blog.
I spent most of today doing nothing, apart from catching up on the latest season of Battlestar Galactica. I've given up waiting for it to screen on TV.
The house is still untidy.
PORT ADELAIDE 6.3 10.5 15.7 16.8 (104)
Brisbane: D Bradshaw 5 J Brown 4 A Corrie R Hooper T Johnstone J Adcock T Notting S Black W Mills C Stiller M Rischitelli.
Port Adelaide: W Tredrea 2 D Rodan 2 C Cornes 2 J Surjan 2 S Burgoyne B Ebert S Salopek D Pearce K Cornes D Brogan D Cassisi J Westhoff.
Brisbane: D Bradshaw J Brown T Johnstone S Black A Corrie J McDonald L Power.
Port Adelaide: D Rodan C Cornes B Lade S Salopek J Surjan.
Umpires: D Margetts H Ryan S Ryan.
Official crowd: 25,205 at AAMI Stadium.
What a win last night. From a losing margin of 47 points at the end of the third quarter to winning by 20 points, after a down pour of rain!
Leuey rucking against Brogan
A BLINDING nine goals to one final quarter has helped the Brisbane Lions overturn a 47-point deficit deep into the third quarter and snatch a sensational 20-point win over Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.
The Lions won 18.16 (124) to 16.8 (104) in front of 25,205 people in a match that was turned on its head after a torrential third-quarter downpour.
Port led by 47 points when the rain hit 23 minutes into the third quarter – and were then drowned in a Lions goal avalanche, with the visitors embarking on an astounding 11 goals to one run from that point.
Daniel Bradshaw kicked five goals for the Lions and Jonathan Brown four.
Simon Black (32 possessions) and Travis Johnstone (24 possessions –18 of them in the second half) were outstanding for the Lions in the comeback.
Port were tracking for a 500-possession game at half-time as they at times flipped the ball around like the Harlem Globetrotters – with the Lions reduced to the role of spectators – but that all changed when the rain came.
The match started with Port flying out of the blocks, with three goals on the board in the first five minutes.
David Rodan (12 touches for the quarter) and Chad Cornes (nine) were everywhere, as the Lions simply could not get their hands on the ball.
When Port added an unaswered fourth goal Jonathan Brown moved into the centre to try to stem the tide. The shift served its purpose momentarily, with the Lions managing two of the next three goals – despite not seeming to be in the game at all – to hold up the Power momentum.
Anthony Corrie was the shining light for the visitors in this period, setting up Bradshaw for the Lions’ first and then opportunistically snapping the second following an error in the goal square from Michael Pettigrew.
The second term followed much the same pattern, with Port dominating possession and opening with the first goal (to the rampant Rodan), before the Lions answered through Brown, who was set up by Black.
The teams then traded goals over a 10-minute period – Rodan again for Port and Wayde Mills a floater for the Lions – before the Power grabbed a 35-point half time break with the last two goals of the term from an uncontested goal square mark to Justin Westhoff and a 50-metre Daniel Pearce set shot after the siren.
The third quarter really opened up, with the teams again trading goals through the first half of the term, the highlight a solo effort from Black which saw him win the ball out of the centre and follow up to bag one on the run from 50 out.
A string of three goals to Port, two to half-back Jacob Surjan, then saw the Power out to a 47-point lead 23 minutes into the quarter.
From that point the rain came and it all changed.
The Lions slowly started to drag their way back with the last two goals of the quarter – seemingly consolation goals at the time – but then the momentum shifted.
Goals to Tim Notting and Johnstone set the Lions on their way, and then another from Bradshaw put a real scare into the Power.
Far from responding though, Port wilted, and the Lions went on a goal rampage, with Cheynee Stiller and Rhan Hooper chiming in and then Bradshaw and Brown finishing the job with the last four goals of the game.
The win was even more meritorious given that ruckman Jamie Charman withdrew before the match with a calf injury, leaving Matthew Leuenberger to fight against Dean Brogan and Brendan Lade.
Possum being tackled by Westhoff
playing in the rain
Shermo being tackled by Salopek
on ya Shermanator
the sweet song of success
highlights of the greatest comeback
12 April 2008
Don't you hate it when the spoon handle falls into your food? This clever landing pad prevents such accidents and keeps used spoons off counters and tabletops. Multi-functional and stackable. Includes spoon. Designed by Elan Falvai and handmade at Flavour Design in Southern California. Available in black bean, tofu (white) and pacific (blue). Sold as a set of one bowl and one spoon.Duh! Just make the spoons longer!
Today was a do nothing day, apart from a walk to the shops. I've now watched all of season 2 of Torchwood. Brilliant.
I went to the city to watch the football game at a club. Unfortunately, the club was full of patrons who watch rugby league instead, even though I had made arrangements with the manager beforehand.
I left a note for other supporters whom I had arranged to meet, to go to another club out of the city. I went home instead. I could have walked to the local club but just couldn't be bothered. But what a great game I missed (following scoring on the internet and listening to the radio feed didn't have the same impact).