Monday, September 29, 2008

Back in the USA

MD looking more crazed than usual

Despite the best efforts of Kenya Airlines (remember you get what you pay for) I'm now safely back in Seattle having survived all manner nasties over the past three weeks.

Essays on the subject of "What I did on my Holidays" will be forthcoming over the next few days when I get over the jetlag.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On Me Hols

Now I really am On the Road to Zanzibar. Yay!

In the unlikely that my accommodations have wireless internet, blogging will be non existent for the next two weeks. Fingers crossed I don't get Dengue Fever, Malaria or some other tropical nasty. And that the jellyfish and Kraken leave me alone.

Back in two weeks...

14th September 1918

The late Major A.W. Morrow, MA, Royal Army Medical Corps with Mad Pup, c1951
This is an early post as tomorrow I'll be on the road (or in the air) but I couldn't let this milestone go by without comment. September 14 is my late Father's birthday. He would have been 90. It's hard to believe that so many years have gone by without him. He was a gentleman, scholar, athlete, scientist and warrior. He had the patience of Job and the highest standards of integrity. Truly a lovely man and great role model. Happy Birthday, Dad, -I miss you and think of you everyday.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Snake Oil Salesman

Royal Holloway College
Royal Holloway College, University of London

I'm currently attending a conference here. It's one of the most astonishingly gorgeous Victorian buildings I know. The university knows it too and apparently the local fire brigade are retained primarily to protect the place. It was built by this man:

Thomas Holloway
Thomas Holloway, 1800-1883

Thomas Holloway was a philanthropist and made his money in advertising, an industry in which he was a pioneer. He also made a pile by selling medications, notably this "general purpose ointment":

General purpose ointment
Holloway's General Purpose Ointment

Modern analysis of Holloway's medications have revealed that they contained no known efficacious ingredients. So there we have the secret to success in the pharmaceutical industry: identify a marginally effective (if at all) medicine and hype its properties to death through weasel advertising. I'm sure Mr Holloway must be laughing in his grave in the knowledge that nothing has changed since his era. But thanks for the building...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Big Bang

Big physics
Large Hadron Collider, CERN

Later today scientists at the CERN particle accelerator will try to re-create conditions in the universe immediately after the Big Bang. I'm not quite sure what they are hoping to observe but certainly they will be on the lookout for the elusive "God Particle". There is a concern that there is a finite risk of creating a black hole into which we will all fall and collapse under the weight of our own nuclei. While the latter event is unlikely I can't help thinking that this experiment is the grown up equivalent of me mixing potassium chlorate (weedkiller) and sugar together and observing what happened when I ignited the mixture. Did I destoy the garden shed? No, but I certainly singed my eyebrows...!