Matthew Wright

It was one of those awful coincidences. Last Friday evening I was having a few beers with a friend, in a local pub. He was calculating the likely impact energy if 2012 DA14 – due to make a close pass over Indonesia – were to ever hit us.

There are websites with Java script that do this, but it’s easy yourself if you have figures for velocity and mass –  a function of volume and density – plus the formula and a calculator. (Yes, I know it had been published, but it’s fun to do the math. I’m a geek and so are my friends. Remember…geeks won….)

Nobody realised another object was about to explode over Chelyabinsk – ‘Tankograd’ of Second World War fame.

The 1200 injured from flying glass is the largest human toll recorded from a meteor strike. The cost to Russia will be in the millions of…

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The Food and Wine Hedonist

In every issue, Bon Appétit magazine features a Q&A with a celebrity asking about his or her quirky food habits and favorite things to eat. Until a few years ago, it had always included this question: “What three things are always in your refrigerator?” I was intrigued by that question and was bummed when they stopped asking it.  The decision may have been made because celebrity refrigerators sometimes aren’t very interesting—I remember several saying the one thing that’s always in their refrigerator is a bottle of champagne. Bor-ing. (Next to the leftover smoked salmon pizza from Spago, right?)

I still think it’s a cool question, as it lends interesting insight into a person’s tastes and cooking styles. If I were to answer, I’d say things like good European cheeses, lemons, and fresh herbs including thyme, cilantro, and basil. Still, I realize those answers aren’t particularly exciting and are a little…

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Forward Walking

I’m the youngest of six kids. I have two brothers–the oldest is David and the other is Sean.

Sean and I didn’t get along when we were younger.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nothing serious. More of a personality difference. I liked Sci-Fi, he liked sports. I wanted to watch cartoons, he wanted to push me over and watch Rocky. As for sentimentality, Sean’s got a big heart but pretends to be a bit rough around the edges—like a Teddy bear dipped in cement.

One day when I was six, Sean completely reversed his role of a “big bully” brother by doing something that I’ve never forgotten—he saved my life. I was playing with some water toys at a pool, and went too far into the deep end. Not knowing how to swim, I panicked and started to splash around, crying out for help. I went under the water…

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Manic Muses

BrainDuring his last State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama briefly touched on the idea of the US Federal Government funding a program for a Brain Activity Map (BAM).  Basically, signals sent by every brain cell would be recorded so we can better understand the circuitry of human thoughts, feelings and emotions. (1)  The implications of successfully completing a project like this are enormous – from advances in everything from medicine to artificial intelligence (AI). The project is, supposedly, the next logical scientific progression for the US after the strides we made in cancer research in the 70’s and the human genome project of the 90’s.

Of course, instead of the President selling this program with examples of potential benefits to mankind, the message immediately became about the positive economic impact a program of BAM’s magnitude could have.  For example, for every dollar spent on the human genome project (on…

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Brian Fanelli

The New York Times has a great article today about the politics of the under 30 generation. The overall thesis is that the politics of young people reflects a belief that government can solve problems and we do indeed need to continue funding programs like Medicare and Social Security. This is the anthesis of the conservation revolution of the 1980s that helped elect Ronald Reagan twice, followed by George Bush I and later George Bush II. It is also very much possible that this generation, much like the younger generation that supported Reagan, could reshape American politics in profound ways for years to come. Essentially, after seeing President Obama get re-elected twice and Democrats winning five out of the last six federal elections, we could be seeing the unraveling of the Reagan revolution and trickle down economics.

The article, titled “Young, Liberal and Open to Big Government,” focuses on college students in Montana…

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Dancers on a Plane by Jasper Johns

Once again, I feel compelled to address some claims made by the art critic Jonathan Jones at The Guardian.  This time, Jones has written a piece attacking Banksy.  This in itself is not the problem.  The problem is that the attack makes very little sense under close examination.

Here is the crux of Jones’s argument:

Some art can exist just as well in silence and obscurity as on the pages of newspapers. The Mona Lisa is always being talked about, but even if no one ever again concocted a headline about this roughly 510-year-old painting it would still be as great. The same is true of real modern art. A Jasper Johns painting of a network of diagonal marks surrounded by cutlery stuck to the frame, called Dancers On a Plane – currently in an exhibition at the Barbican – was just as real, vital and profound when…

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