He had a cameo on Star Trek:The Next Generation playing poker with Data, Einstein and Newton, but yesterday Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University Stephen Hawking had lunch at Imperial College London and was spotted by my wife. I'm not sure what was the greater thrill,meeting the greatest living physicist or adding another Star Trek star to her tally (having met and interviewed most of the main cast, and being related to one of the series' Exec-Producers).
Comedy news website NewsBiscuit is well worth checking out. A "science" story this week had me in tears...
UK fusion scientists ‘just messing about now’
"A report into the JET nuclear research project at Culham has revealed that some of the greatest minds in nuclear physics have effectively stopped any sort of productive research and are now just having ‘a bit of a laugh’.
However, without proper supervision and knowing that the whole project will shortly be moved to France, the scientists have been using the space for games of ‘nuclear football’ and have been bringing in their electric guitars to ‘check out the wicked acoustics".
Ever wondered what those amusing Canadians think aboot wildlife eh? Do you hate animal testing, if so look away now (although no spider was actually harmed in the making of this documentary and in fact some found the whole thing to be a very uplifting and mind broadening experience)
Very funny, I especially like the end. There's a lesson for us all there. Would love a go on the dope spider in a Bushtucker trial though.
There's no ambiguity there. The issue of Global Warming is being repositioned to the public as a debate, through the PR of corporations with vested interests.
Do you question that?
Yesterday, Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint attacked European attitudes to global warming, describing climate change as "way, way in the future, with a high degree of uncertainty".
"Europe seems to take a political position that some people might describe, not me of course, that some people might describe as quasi-hysterical, that the sky is falling."
"We think they should deal with it in a step-by-step, rational way and not play much Chicken Little."
BBC Online reported that Mr Jolissaint was speaking at a private breakfast at the Detroit Motor Show where the chief economists of the "Big Three" US car firms presented their forecasts for auto industry sales this year. Most of the audience - which was mainly made up of parts suppliers - apparently nodded in agreement with Mr Jolissaint.
Still question it?
ps It's Chicken Lickin Mr Jolissaint, not Chicken Little. Chicken Little doesn't rhyme. It's Henny Penny, Foxy Loxy, Cocky Locky, Turkey Lurkey, Loosey Goosey, Holey Moley and Chicken Licken.
The $100 laptop is almost ready to ship, with Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand all set to be receiving them this summer.
Since it's inception, may people have said, "I'd like a $100 laptop too", but the concept is for children in the Third World to benefit from the Linux-based machine.
However, Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) group has come up with a novel marketing plan to enable people to buy one: buy two, get one: buy two, get one - you get one, and a child in the developing world gets one. The buyer will then get the email address of the recipient child that they have effectively sponsored. Google will be providing tools to enable the children to publish on the Web.
With corporations lining up to exploit Third World countries as a new source of cheap labour, I get a kick out of the notion of an African child saying to Nike, "no thanks, I don't need your sweat-shop job, I'm a web designer".
How long has my obsession with all things Martian being going on? Well you'll have to go back to my childhood watching Saturday morning 1950's science-fiction films such as "Robinson Crusoe on Mars", and on Friday night at tea-time watching "Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars" on BBC2 - but most of all, from the age of ten I've been obsessed with an image of Carl Sagan standing next to a Viking lander craft in his seminal 1980 Cosmos TV series.
When I was a student at Bournemouth University in 1995, we had to produce two graduation films in our final year. The below video was my attempt to emulate that great series and ponder on a riddle that had always intrigued me:
In 1976 NASA sent two probes named Viking to Mars to search for life. Three experiments were carried out on the soil - and all returned positive results. NASA found alternative explanations for each of the results, which begs the question: why spend a reported billion dollars sending two probes to Mars with such lame experiments that can produce ambiguous results?
So, I took out a student loan, and ran my credit card up to its limit building a Martian studio set and a model Viking lander craft, and I persuaded my childhood hero, BBC TV's Think of a Number presenter Johnny Ball, to present a programme about the mission.
Fast-forward to 2007, and I was pleased today to read on CNN.com about Washington State University geology professor Dirk Schulze-Makuch. Prof Schulze-Makuch delivered a paper at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington this week theorising that the Viking probes may indeed have found Martian microbes - but inadvertently killed them! He believes that NASA were looking for the wrong kind of life, so they didn't recognise it.
This combined with last month's photographic evidence of signs of geological changes suggesting flowing water on Mars only further excites me when I think about my life-long love for The Red Planet.
I hope you forgive the video's naivity, but enjoy it all the same. It seems like it's more relevant now than when I made it!
"The shapes of these deposits are what you would expect to see if the material were carried by flowing water," said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. "They have finger-like branches at the downhill end and easily diverted around small obstacles."
Sadly, the Mars Global Surveyor has not communicated with Earth since November 2, suggesting that it's suffered a power failure. Both the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Opportunity Rover have been unable to contact it either.