Give your pet dog it’s freedom and it’ll just sit on your doorstep looking miserable. Release it into the wild and it will become a pretty effective predator, but it will take generations for it to physically adapt to it’s new environment. The Dingo was introduced to Australia about 3500 years ago. It’s about as wild as a dog gets, but it doesn’t look all that different to my brother’s dog Sam… …and that’s pretty common for most animals. In their wild (or rather, feral) state, they’re just a thinner,…read more
Eat spaghetti or penne for the first time in Italy and you’ll be struck by the difference in the pasta’s texture compared to the soggy, overcooked shapes that haunted the dinner plates of your childhood (sorry Mum…). But stay long enough to look past the surprising bite of the pasta itself and you’ll notice there’s something else going on that’s going to make recreating this bowl of heaven pretty difficult when you get home. The sensation is the creamy, buttery, sensual pleasure that seems consistent present from the egg-based Carbonara,…read more
Donald Currey had always dreamed of being a botanist and in 1964 he was a post graduate studying the effects of the The Little Ice Age on vegetation at the University of Carolina. The evidence he needed was to be found in the rings inside old trees which indirectly record the weather each year of the tree’s life. Armed with a special core drill from Sweden, Currey explored the forest of Nevada’s Great Basin National Park and randomly chose a tree to sample. He climbed it’s lower branches, positioned his…read more
In Part 1 I briefly explained that the urge to breathe is regulated by a build up of CO2 sensed by the body, rather than an actual lack of oxygen (that the body cannot directly determine). In this post I look at an example of the complex interactions that occur within the body during apnea and what happens if you try to disturb the balance. One of the ways in which a freediver is able to hold his breath for an apparently impossible time (the current record is over 10…read more
A particularly nice graphic that explains (at an extremely high level) what causes traffic jams. The root cause is a combination of saturation and what’s called a Backwards Travelling Wave. A simple event such as a lane change causes cars behind to slow slightly and every subsequent line to slow further in order to maintain safe distance. The further away from the original event a car is, the slower it will have to go to avoid hitting the cars in front.
Hal Needham is a hell of a guy. He started as a stuntman and double for Burt Reynolds, but went on to direct films like Smokey and the Bandit, run a NASCAR team and break the land speed record and the sound barrier in his Budweiser Rocket car in 1979. Apparently the 48,000 horsepower developed by the rocket was only enough to reach 714 mph and so Needham bought 6 Sidewinder rockets from the Navy and fired them at crucial points during the run to boost the car’s speed To…read more
I recently heard Hal Needham describe the way in which horses are made to fall on film. Now the animal protection society insists that it is done through training, but back in the day the technique was quite horrific : 1. Drill a hole in each of the horses front hooves 2. Pass a cable through each hole and attach the end to a fixed point 3. Run the horse away from the fixed point until the cable goes tight and it’s front legs are stopped dead Apparently they killed…read more
Well, I’m getting pretty good mileage out of this book! OK, here’s a nugget that I’m likely to forget if I don’t write it down : When scientists measured the average speed of runners in the New York Marathon, they discovered that times improved from 19 years old through to a peak at 27. So far so good. What’s surprising is that it’s not until 64 years old that performance drops back to the same as it was at 19.
Inspired by my recent reading into running I will join my friend Paolo on the annual Villa Gentile – Monte Fasce race in 2 weeks time. The distance is only 7.31km, but the change in elevation is 795m, which makes it a vertical slog for which I’m little prepared. Deciding for the baptism of fire approach to training I kicked off my campaign yesterday with a half marathon at 2000m : It was a roundtrip with several hills, but this was the biggest climb : The result is predictably that…read more
In an age where everything is synthesized, I was touched to discover that snake bite anti-venoms are not made in a lab but in a HORSE. Yes, if you’re off for a stroll in the desert, you’ll need the following ingredients : The snake that bit you A horse A syringe A decorative jar Optional : a fridge Instructions : Milk the snake Inject the resulting venom into the horse Wait for the horse’s immune response to kick in Extract blood from the horse Separate out the hemoglobin and put…read more