Understanding the Large Hadron Collider (through rap)

May 5, 2009

If you’d like to understand just what exactly those CERN physicists are planning with the Large Hadron Collider but are having trouble making sense of it, this wonderful 5 minute Large Hadron Rap by Alpinekat will explain it to you with a funky beat. Long live geek rap!

I came across this in the comments of a post on Bad Astronomy about a great segment on the Daily Show about the LHC and the nutjob who is claiming it could cause a black hole (the man actually claims there is a 50/50 chance of a black hole forming because it will either happen or it won’t).

A busy week

January 21, 2009

On Monday night I went to Skeptics in the Pub where I heard a talk by Rebecca Watson (from Skepchick and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe) on Women’s Intuition and Other Fairytales. It was really good.

Last night I had a dinner with work people. At least I got free food!

Tomorrow night I’m going to a talk by Virginie Despentes called Exploding the Myth of Femininity. Virginie Despentes wrote the novel and film Baise-Moi (currently banned in Australia, I believe), a violent, rape-revenge fantasy that contains ‘actual sex’, OMG! I am planning on watching the film tonight so I’ve seen it before seeing her talk. She is actually talking about her new book on feminism called King Kong Theory.

On Saturday there’s a Zinefest at the Women’s Library which sounds quite fun. The Women’s Library currently has the exhibition Between the Covers: Women’s Magazines and their Readers (Until Wednesday 1 April 2009, entrance free), and as part of the Zinefest on Saturday, there is a comics exhibition and stallholders selling zines and comics (and other DIY media, I imagine) and workshops.

The Women’s Library
25 Old Castle Street
(Aldgate and Aldgate East tube stations)
Saturday, 24 January, 2009
12- 4pm

12-1.30pm Self-publishing 101 (seminar room)
12- 2.15pm Screen Your World -Printing Desire (activities room) I believe the screen-printing workshop is booked out now.
1.30-2pm and 2-2.30pm Zine Tour (meet at reception)
2.30-4pm Radical Publishing Panel (seminar room)
12-4pm Comic Exhibition (cafe space)
12-4pm Stalls (mezzanine)

Check them out on myspace and We Make Zines on ning.

I don’t really make zines anymore and hardly read them, so I’m looking forward to picking some up on the weekend. I want to get back into making zines this year, so hopefully this will help kick-start it.

Things to do in London

June 25, 2008

While I will often complain about London and its bad weather, dirty city (from pollution and people throwing their rubbish on the ground! Yes, I have witnessed this many times), terrible service (in cafes, restaurants, shops, post offices, government departments, you-name-it), there is soooo much to do here that I love doing. Last night I went to the ICA where I got to hear the french feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray talk about her latest book, Sharing the World. While I didn’t really understand much of it, I did get to buy discount tickets for the four of us who went, as I’m a member of the ICA! I think I’m going to give up on Luce Irigaray. This type of philosophy is not for me (Paul and Jess really enjoyed it, Helen and I didn’t really get it).

There are lots of places I am yet to visit in London but want to:
The Chelsea Physic Garden (I have been listening to some podcasts of lectures to the Royal Society which is how I found out about the Chelsea Physic Garden) (official site)
The Sir John Soane’s Museum (official site)
The Museum of London
The Royal Academy of the Arts and their Summer Exhibition
The Museum in Docklands and their Jack the Ripper and the East End exhibition
Gresham College

For the next month there are lots of events for the London Festival of Architecture.

Helen told me about a feminist theory reading group which I am quite excited about (if they read theory I understand).

Helen and Jess are keen to go with me to see the film Her Name is Sabine at the ICA. It is a documentary by a French actor about her sister who has autism. It sounds really good.

And my friend Jen is coming to town next week which is exciting (she lives in Edinburgh). It will be nice to see and her partner and their two kids.

New Amazon purchases and cool sites

June 10, 2008

I am currently enjoying a couple of albums I bought from Amazon last week: Ta-Dah by the Scissor Sisters and Saul Williams by Saul Williams. They are both really good.

I’m also two-thirds through Spud by John van de Ruit, which is about a boy at an elite, all-boy private school in South Africa in 1990 (the year Nelson Mandela was released from prison). It’s quite funny. We’re discussing it at the next bookclub in July. When I’ve finished I will get onto my two recent purchases of Luce Irigaray books: An Ethics of Sexual Difference and the Way of Love.

This morning I read about an amateur astronomer in Australia who has been contacted by NASA to work with them on a Saturn project. The guy has taken a very cool photo of Saturn.

Nasa have a very cool picture of the Earth and the Moon from Mars. What struck me about the photo was that I thought the moon was much closer to the Earth!

Check out HM Revenue and Customs page on what to do if you suspect or discover fraud with National Insurance Numbers.
The page looks a little something like this:

(This text has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

(This text has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

(This text has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Platypus genome decoded

May 8, 2008

I just read on ABC News Online that scientists have decoded the genetic make-up of the platypus. Very cool!

According to the study released this morning in the journal Nature, the semi-aquatic animal is a genetic potpourri – part bird, part reptile and part lactating mammal.

The task of laying bare the platypus genome of 2.2 billion base pairs spread across 18,500 genes has taken several years, but will do far more than satisfy the curiosity of just biologists, say the researchers.


The platypus is classified as a mammal because it produces milk and is covered in coat of thick fur, once prized by hunters.

Lacking teats, the female nurses pups through the skin covering its abdomen.

There are reptile-like attributes too; females lay eggs, and males can stab aggressors with a snake-like venom that flows from a spur tucked under its hind feet.

The bird-like qualities implied by its Latin name, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, include webbed feet, a flat bill similar to a duck’s, and the gene sequences that determine sex. Whereas humans have two sex chromosomes, platypuses have 10, the study showed.

There is an article on it in Nature and the code is available at Genbank which is the NIH genetic sequence database, an annotated collection of all publicly available DNA sequences.

Charles Darwin papers now available online

April 18, 2008

If you go check out the complete works of Charles Darwin online, you can now browse through copies of his personal papers as well. Cool.

Boomerang returns, even in space

March 23, 2008

From ABC News Online:

In an unprecedented experiment, a Japanese astronaut has thrown a boomerang in space and confirmed it flies back, much like on Earth.

Creationism Vs Evolution in the US

March 6, 2008

I’ve just watched a really fantastic documentary called Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial about a court case in the US where a bunch of parents took their local school board to court for trying to force the intelligent design theory to be taught in biology classes. Luckily, the parents won. There were two points they had to prove: 1. intelligent design is not a scientific theory; and 2. the school board were motivated by religion or trying to promote religion. The judge found both of these to be the case. The program (which can be easily watched off the PBS website) covers the trial and the scientific theories that are covered and explained in the trial. It was really interesting to hear about Darwin‘s theory of evolution and its position in modern-day science, its attack from religious fundamentalists in the US and the history of the teaching of evolution in the US.

I heard about this show from the podcast The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe (currently my favourite podcast).

Richard Dawkins reading from the God Delusion

February 23, 2008

Richard Dawkins reading from his book the God Delusion. I love listening to this man talk. He is so interesting and intelligent and rational (and quite amusing sometimes too).

View the video on youtube here.
Read the rest of this entry »

Yay for podcasts

February 20, 2008

Since getting an ipod for Christmas (thanks Paul!) I have been downloading and listening to podcasts – lots about poetry, some about science and news and politics and art. Lately I’ve been listening to the Skeptics Guide to the Universe and some podcasts about avant garde poetry from UbuWeb. They’re really interesting and informative. I’ve listened to interviews with authors (Jeanette Winterson, Philip Pullman) and a debate between Richard Dawkins and some Christian guy – I definitely sided with Richard Dawkins. So instead of reading books, to and from work on the tube, lately I’ve also been listening to/watching podcasts. It’s pretty cool.

I also wanted to include a picture of Patrick Wolf and his sexy unicorn tattoo. Patrick makes lovely music (like the Magic Position) and looks quite lovely and I like his tattoo (not sure if it’s real – I think it looks real).