Beyond pharmacy blog
All posts from: August 2008
With the Beijing Olympics still fresh in our minds we should remember Eric Liddell, the Scottish international sporting hero who was born in China and died there. Oddly, his name has been immortalised primarily for the race he did not run (in the film “Chariots of fire”) but we should also honour the man for the uplifting way in which he lived his life.
To clad his sumptuous new palace for himself and his 320 wives, King Eyambo of Calabar in 1843 chose one of technology’s newest products — corrugated iron. Invented in the 1820s, it was the first mass-produced cladding material of the modern building industry.
[img_assist|nid=28878|title=Stinging nettle|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=180|height=258]I was out with the dog one fine evening recently and we entered a field of cattle. I am normally wary of a canine-bovine interaction but, on this occasion, valour overcame discretion and we continued on our way.
Seen the Loch Ness monster but think nobody will believe you? A cryptozoologist would be delighted to hear all about your experience.
[img_assist|nid=27994|title=Shrews that booze|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=180|height=127]Although Charles Darwin noted in ‘The descent of man’ that monkeys have a “strong taste” for “spirituous liquors” and beer, most studies carried out since have concluded that animals have no interest in alcohol or even a distinct aversion to it.
Spider webs are truly a marvel of nature. Their construction uses techniques and materials that our greatest engineering minds have never matched — until now.
Scottish mathematician John Napier first “discovered” logarithms in 1614, but a recent study published in Nature suggests this counting scheme could be innate in all humans.
[img_assist|nid=27484|title=Boosting brain power|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=225|height=159]Training is the only way to improve sporting prowess but a new study reports that mental training can increase your intelligence quotient (IQ) score. And the harder you train, the more you can gain.
In a few days we will reach the 125th anniversary of the loudest bang in history, which happened when the island of Krakatoa blew itself apart in a series of massive explosions on 26 and 27 August 1883.
The common piddock (Pholas dactylus) is a bivalve mollusc that bores into undersea clefts in the soft rocks of the south coast of England. It was farmed in ancient times because of its eating qualities, and two species of piddock were on the menu at a feast given by Caesar in Rome in 70BC.
[img_assist|nid=27011|title=Vaccinium myrtillus|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=180|height=241]The bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) grows so abundantly in high places such as mountain forests and moors that in some areas it has ousted rival plants, such as heather, to form “bilberry moors”.
Sweet, sour, bitter, salty — and umami. In 1908, Professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo University identified the material he isolated from a kelp broth as glutamic acid. He found that its salt monosodium glutamate (MSG) gave an enhanced and meaty flavour to vegetable dishes and he named the crystals umami (Japanese for savoury or meaty).
“Ahh. Oh dear. Mm. Oh dear, oh dear. Ahh, dear me. Ahh. Stone me, what a life.” This series of groans, the opening line of an episode of Hancock’s Half-Hour, was treasured by the viewing public of the late 1950s. Tony Hancock was able to clear the streets like few others, as families gathered to watch each eagerly awaited BBC programme.
[img_assist|nid=26603|title=Michelangelo|desc=Michelangelo|link=none|align=right|width=225|height=160]Five hundred years ago, Michelangelo Buonarroti was in the initial stages of his work decorating the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.
At the beginning of the 20th century, divers made a chance find of a shipwreck from the first century BC near the Greek island of Antikythera. One object they discovered among the wreckage has turned out to be perhaps the earliest example of an astronomical computer ever found.
Staff at the Natural History Museum in London recently had a surprise when they found an insect they could not identify in their own wildlife garden. The nearest they could get was Arocatus roeselii, a native of eastern Europe that lives on alder trees.
If you have just been reading the piece (New way to test a chilli’s piquancy), I know what is on your mind. You are wondering what on earth a carbon nanotube is.
Shock horror! Chilli sauce taste-testers could soon be back in the dole queue if research from the University of Oxford comes to fruition.