I recently came across an article that mentioned the nuclear powered engines for rockets that NASA was developing in the 1960's and '70's. I have to admit I had no idea that had been going on, although obviously a range of space probes are nuclear powered. A bit different from the rockets that provide the lift though. What is really amazing is how much more powerful and efficient they were than the conventional chemical rockets we are using today. They would have allowed us to reach Mars in a few months and Saturn in less time than it takes to get to Mars today. If man had chosen to go down this route we would almost certainly have had a manned visit to Mars years ago. It was certainly planned.
There is a fascinating article on the Radio National website by John Gardiner of the University of Sydney about the role of plants in science, culture and medicine. A brief look at a big subject, but it elegantly describes the reasons why we should be interested in plants, rather than having "plant blindness" and the myriad ways that they have shaped everything about us. You should read it here!
I was fascinated by the seeming simplicity of plants. I soon discovered that this was an illusion. Their complexity is mind-blowing.
We're back from our big UK trip, where we visited North Wales, Sheffield, Glossop, London, Cornwall and Towcester, to see family and friends and have a little bit of extra holiday time with just us. I will eventually post a selection of the near 1200 photos I seem to have taken. This is view from our 'holiday house' at Llangollen in Wales. It was taken on our first morning in the UK from the public footpath at the entrance to the holiday cottages where we were staying. Incidentally, if you like panoramas I have this and a few old ones on line here.
There was an interesting article in the last issue of the Australian Sky and Telescope magazine on the high-resolution images that are available from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. There is a great online interface that lets you zoom in anywhere on the moon, overlay various bits of information and so on. The thing I really liked though was the 'Path Query', where you can draw a line anywhere you like and get the geographic profile. The moon looks fairly flat right? So this image is of Copernicus crater, not the largest, but one of the more interesting. It is nearly 4 km deep! Explore the moon yourself at: http://target.lroc.asu.edu/q3/
The places we have known do not belong only to the world of space on which we map them for our own convenience. They were only a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; the memory of a particular image is but a regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.
Marcel Proust: Swann's Way.
For those that are unaware, the 'Deadly' awards were set up almost 20 years ago to recognise achievement by indigenous people. It is clear that two of the many problems in respect to indigenous people in Australia are recognition of indigenous achievement by the white majority and self-worth of the indigenous minority in the face of constant belittling in much of the established media, not to mention politicians. See the comment by Abbott in the image attached. So, in this respect the generally positive (if muted) reporting on the 'Deadly' awards has been a significant benefit. One of Hockey's many cuts in the budget was to the organisation that ran the 'Deadlies' meaning that they are no more. I'm not sure if the money saved is being used to fund the new 'Knight' and 'Dame' awards that Abbott has brought back or not, but it sure isn't funding anything of benefit to the Aboriginal population has funding has been cut across the board, see a list here.
What we can do is campaign for the awards to be reinstated, sign the petition at Change.org here. Incidentally, shortly after the announcement of the funding cut, Gavin Jones, the founder of the Deadlies was found dead.
On the whole my favourite music by Bill Callahan is the later releases under his Smog moniker. However, "The Doctor Came at Dawn", from 1996 is an incredible record. Almost all the tracks are great, but one of my favourites is this one, "You Moved In". Hope you enjoy it too.
So. Rather than leave everything to Facebook and all the anoyances that entails I have ditched my account and turned my old site into a blog. There are some rather old overviews of my past work, a few random pages on my interests and, by default, whatever random stuff I've felt like posting.