See you Monday week…

Friday, 1 August, 2014

I’ll be taking a week’s break from posting here, but will back on Monday, 11 August, 2014.

There’s quite a lot of back office work that I need to catch up on, tax stuff and the like, so I’m afraid I won’t exactly be taking it easy.

I’ll leave you with Silverchair’s grinding guitar anthem… the aptly named Anthem For The Year 2000, since I’ll be in, or at least near, Silverchair country next week.

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A tree that threatens to make orchards much smaller

Friday, 1 August, 2014

A single tree that can bear forty different types of stone fruit? The notion sounds incredible, but thanks to some complicated grafting techniques, branches from various fruit trees were attached to one, bringing forth the “Tree of 40 Fruit”.

Working with a pool of over 250 varieties of stone fruit, Van Aken developed a timeline of when each of them blossom in relationship to each other and started grafting a few onto a working tree’s root structure. Once the working tree was about two years old, Van Aken used a technique called chip grafting to add more varieties on as separate branches. This technique involves taking a sliver off a fruit tree that includes the bud, and inserting that into an incision in the working tree. It’s then taped into place, and left to sit and heal over winter. If all goes well, the branch will be pruned back to encourage it to grow as a normal branch on the working tree.

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Elevating the perception of bread, it’s been a side dish for too long

Friday, 1 August, 2014

Just as there are dining establishments that feel water is more than just water, there are those who think that the bread and butter that accompanies our meals is also worthy of a place in the spotlight, such as Jersey City restaurateur and chef Dan Richer.

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Authors are earning less, but books are getting longer, how so?

Friday, 1 August, 2014

Even though authors today are earning less than they did in the past, the length of books – in terms of number of pages – has increased. Books published last year, for instance, were, on average, more than twice the size of those written in 1904.

So what accounts for this trend? One thought is that ebooks do not impose the same cost restraints on writers, and accordingly there isn’t a great deal of difference in a book that is one hundred pages long, compared to one that is one thousand pages.

Obviously part of this experiment meant finding average book lengths for a cross-section of time long enough to mean anything. So I went 110 years back to 1904, and did some research for every 10 years. So I Googled “Best Books of… 1904… 1914… 1924… etc.” and Google’s wizardry helped me out quite a bit, because the search results display an immediate gallery of books. It ends up being a combination of prize winners, best sellers, and attention garners. Perfect.

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The birds of the future are birds of a feather indeed

Thursday, 31 July, 2014

The Silva Field Guide to Birds of a Parallel Future… one day, in the distant future perhaps, some birds may fly in a formation that creates the illusion they are one, giant, avian creature, among other possibilities that is.

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Time doesn’t fly quite so quickly when you’re powerful, apparently

Thursday, 31 July, 2014

Being powerful, and I imagine that means being possessed of some wealth, may come with at least one extra benefit, the perception that time is passing a little more slowly, something other people miss out on.

The reason powerful people feel they have an abundance of time, the study goes on to say, is that their feelings of control over many aspects of their lives spill over onto their sense of time – which jibes with previous studies that looked at the ties between power and perception.

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A totally partial eclipse of the Sun as seen on Mars

Thursday, 31 July, 2014

Phobos eclipses the Sun, image via NASA/JPL-Caltech

Even though Phobos and Deimos, the two moons – or captured objects as I think of them – of Mars, aren’t especially sizable, solar eclipses, all be they partial, seemingly, still take place. Above is a photo, taken by NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, about a year ago, of a Phobos/Sun occultation.

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The field of physics needs your help to solve these problems

Thursday, 31 July, 2014

As if there wasn’t enough to think about… there are still unsolved problems in the field of physics… here are ten of them:

Why does the universe appear to have one time and three space dimensions? “Just because” is not considered an acceptable answer. And just because people can’t imagine moving in extra directions, beyond up-and-down, left-and-right, and back-and-forth, doesn’t mean that the universe had to be designed that way. According to superstring theory, in fact, there must be six more spatial dimensions, each one curled up too tiny to detect. If the theory is right, then why did only three of them unfurl, leaving us with this comparatively claustrophobic dominion?

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Have bike in a bag, will travel

Wednesday, 30 July, 2014

While the Kit Bike remains a concept at the moment, a bicycle, consisting of just twenty one pieces, that can be dismantled and packed away into one relatively small carry bag, may become a boon for travellers who want to move about at their own pace.

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If we had to pay everything’s true cost could we afford anything?

Wednesday, 30 July, 2014

Here’s something to think about the next time you buy a hamburger. Or a cheeseburger. Or, come to that, absolutely anything else for that matter. Does the price you pay bear any relation to the actual cost of producing said commodity, considering the number of hidden – and not necessarily financial – costs?

What you pay for a cheeseburger is the price, but price isn’t cost. It isn’t the cost to the producers or the marketers and it certainly isn’t the sum of the costs to the world; those true costs are much greater than the price.

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