Friday, 12 October 2007

It almost makes me feel homesick

In today's ScienceExpress (the online first service of Science):

Widespread Morning Drizzle on Titan

Máté Ádámkovics, Michael H. Wong, Conor Laver, Imke de Pater

Evidently the first man (or woman!) onto Titan should be English. The bad news, though, is that the rain is of methane not water. I haven't tried, but I'm guessing the tea won't taste as nice.

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Tuesday, 9 October 2007

An epic struggle

The reinforcements have started their action.

At first, the beast didn't know what was coming

"What are you cheering for? Is something going on?"

"OK, that's another round of shredded sofa later."

"*sigh*. I suppose I'll have to wait for the two of you to finish before starting on the carpet."

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Monday, 8 October 2007


Whilst going through my backlog of email, I went through the Science table of contents. It included a paper with this title:

Major Australian-Antarctic Plate Reorganization at Hawaiian-Emperor Bend Time

OK, I recognise every word, but don't expect to see them in that order.

On reflection, I think it makes more sense if we assume there's a typo, and "Bend" is actually "Bed". Quite why antipodeans would want to reorganise their china at that time of day I'll let someone else explain. Or if anyone has a better (if not more accurate) interpretation, please tell! Bonus marks if it involves hedgehog pathways.

Reference (for those who care): Whittaker et al. (2007) Science 318: 83-86 DOI: 10.1126/science.1143769

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Back again

I've been away for a few days on a course in Estonia, on management and supervision of academic research. This has spawned a few random thoughts:

1. If you take your laptop, remember the power cord. It's more important than the mouse.
2. As I might have expected, some of what we were told I had already worked out, but some I hadn't. It's nice to know which is which. There were also a few ideas that I hadn't thought about.
3. Sharing a room with someone who snores is not a good idea. And going down with 'flu isn't sufficient for revenge.
4. Management theory can actually be useful - obviously there is a lot that is common sense, but having it organised does help. In particular, there was a discussion about project management. In classical project management, one sets out the stages that are needed to complete the task (say, build a bridge), and set out the schedule by working backwards from completion, to decide when each task should be scheduled. I guess this is used all over the place, and is one of the reasons western society works (shocking, isn't it?). Working out how to take an organised approach to this sort of task, and then how to teach this to managers is actually a good thing. IOW, MBAs are not necessarily useless.
5. Thanks to one of the speakers, I'm now reading text with a Welsh/Swedish accent. Should I seek medical help?
6. I hope my students don't mind doing a lot of writing.
7. If you find yourself on the M/S Star between Helsinki and Tallinn, don't try the pizza from the fast food place. It's awful (and remember, I'm English, so I know bad food) - a slab of congealed artificial cheese with chicken and battery-farmed pineapple. It was called Hawaij, presumably because they feared a law suite for defamation from the good people of Hawaii. The people of Four Seasons do not seem to have as much of a reputation for litigation.
8. I don't know what happened in the rugby World Cup on Saturday. I think the media must be lying to us. Ah well, an England-France semifinal, just like last time.

Remind me, who were in the other semifinal in 2003?
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