The Gaza conflict may have only lasted 22 days but its impact was one that has had far reaching consequences around the world. Not only did it lead to the ground-breaking Goldstone Report, hailed by many as the first real international attempt to hold Israel accountable for its actions in the region, but it also inflamed passionate public emotions and discourse across the globe. A rash of protests, marches, rallies and demonstrations against the Israeli aggression could be found in countries from Spain to America, and London was no exception. Within hours of the first Israeli air strikes against the civilian Gazan population, anti-war groups and other interested parties had arranged what was to be the first of many demonstrations, vigils and protests.
Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Arabs and non-Arabs, took to the streets to voice their horror and united opposition to the Israeli bombardment of the most populated region in the world.
However, many young protesters are now beginning to pay the price for their opposition to that conflict. Yesterday and today, 29th and 30th October 2009, many of those who took part in the London demonstrations were hauled before the West London Magistrates Court in Hammersmith. This included demonstrators who protested in the events on Sunday 28th December and Monday 29th December, both outside the Israeli embassy as well as the 3rd and 10th January.
Those young people, many of whom were attending their first ever demonstration, faced very severe consequences for their roles in that December/January opposition to the Israeli offensive.
As a result of the protests, primarily of the 3rd and 10th January, in the last two days alone 69 people have been charged with criminal offences. The primary charge, which applied to 61 out of the 69 cases were for violent disorder. Of all of the arrests made, judging from the names alone, almost all were young Muslim men.
£5m Oxford Circus Diagonal Crossing
Inspired by the world famous diagonal Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, also known as the busiest crossing in the world, now Oxford Circus has its own diagonal crossing. Boris raised the meaning of “Oxford Circus” to a whole new level by striking a gong this morning to mark the opening of the diagonal crossing.
The original Shibuya diagonal crossing in Tokyo.
So, they have one diagonal, we have two, and we have Boris striking a gong. London – Tokyo, 1-0. But is it worth 5million pounds of taxpayers money? Meaning, 5million / 60million ~ 8 pence per person? Definitely! I would sure pay 8 pence to see Boris strike a gong again.
Dripless teapots: here’s my handle, here’s my superhydrophobic spout
Why do teapots dribble? French scientists say it’s all about the simple subject of surface wettability
The teapot dribble effect could be made a thing of the past, say French scientists, who it has to be said come from a country of coffee drinkers. Photograph: Graham Turner
For those who hate tea stains on their pristine linen tablecloth, succour is at hand: scientists in France have solved the perennial puzzle of the dribbling teapot. Fluids experts at the University of Lyon have produced a four-page report [pdf] that claims to offer a solution, and as often can be the case with long-unresolved problems, it is a simple one.
“Surface wettability is an unexpected key factor in controlling flow separation and dripping, the latter being completely suppressed in the limit of superhydrophobic substrates,” the report explains. “This unforeseen coupling is rationalised in terms of a novel hydro-capillary adhesion framework, which couples inertial flows to surface wettability effects. This description of flow separation successfully captures the observed dependence on the various experimental parameters – wettability, flow velocity, solid surface edge curvature. As a further illustration of this coupling, a real-time control of dripping is demonstrated using electro-wetting for contact angle actuation.”
This scientific jargon boils down to the fact that tea tends to stick to the inside of the spout as it is poured. The flow of tea then begins to stop-start, causing a dribble effect. The team, led by Cyril Duez, say the use of “superhydrophobic surfaces” – essentially water-repelling linings – on the inside of the spout can avoid dripping and “thus beat the ‘teapot effect'”.
The scientists are not the first to bend their minds towards the problem. This year the retailer Debenhams claimed to have designed a dribble-free teapot with a “multi-faceted solution” that involved a larger spout, “tea bag baffle” and redesigned lid. As far back as 1998 the British inventor Damini Kumarb was hawking her solution – the D-pot – around the BBC and other media groups. Her solution was a groove under the spout.
The latest intensive research appears to be the first to tackle the dribbling problem from an explicitly scientific perspective. The Lyon team’s verdict: marry a superhydrophobic surface with the more traditional method of using a sharp edge at the end of the spout, creating a drip- and hassle-free pot.
What about other brew-time dilemmas? In 2003 the Royal Society of Chemistry released guidance on how to make the perfect cup of tea [pdf], and in 1998 researchers from the University of Bristol published a scientific formula for dunking a biscuit.
Long may science’s dalliance with snack-based problems continue.
Maldives ministers prepare for underwater cabinet meeting
Politics in the Maldives will sink to a new low later this month, when the nation’s cabinet holds its first meeting underwater.
The country, a collection of atolls and islands in the Indian Ocean, stands less than two metres above sea level, and as climate change causes seas to rise it will probably be the first nation to sink beneath the waves.
Under the threat of that looming watery Armageddon, President Mohamed Nasheed has announced plans to hold a cabinet meeting under the sea, ahead of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen this December.
Ministers clad in wetsuits and shouldering oxygen tanks, will meet about 20ft (6m) underwater on 17 October. They will communicate through hand gestures, according to Aminath Shauna, an official from the president’s office.
“It is to send a message to the world. The intention is to draw the attention of the world leaders to the issue of global warming and highlight how serious are the threats faced by Maldives as a result,” she said. “If we can stop climate change, the lowest-lying nation on earth will be saved.” The gathering will take place off the island of Girifushi, which lies about 20 minutes’ journey by speedboat from the capital, Male. One minister has already had to pull out: scuba instructors said the education minister was not fit enough to take on the dive.
Brunel, Locke and Stephenson: the engineering giants who shaped our world
One hundred and fifty years ago today, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the greatest engineers in history, died at the age of just 53. His funeral in Kensal Green cemetery was attended by several hundred people, including Joseph Locke who, with Brunel, had opened up Britain to the railway. He was buried a year later, also in Kensal Green.
There was another mourner, that day, however: Robert Stephenson, a household name who had risen from humble origins in the Northumberland coalfield to the highest echelons of London society. Although of a similar age to Brunel, Stephenson was already very frail. His death, a few weeks later, prompted a national outpouring of grief: his body was committed to Westminster Abbey, with the cortège watched by thousands of people as it made its way through Hyde Park by express permission of Queen Victoria. Stephenson’s hometown of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, meanwhile, was plunged into mourning at the loss of its heroic son.
The passing of these three extraordinary men, so close together, robbed the country of an astonishing source of talent, energy and influence. The trio, who had done so much to accelerate the Industrial Revolution, were often portrayed by the press as rivals clambering to pursue their own agendas, but were in fact close colleagues and friends. Moreover, they were much more than engineers: they were consulted by (or sat in) Parliament and boardrooms, and advised foreign and colonial governments on railways, water supply and sanitation, dock and harbour improvements, land reclamation schemes and much more. They were titans of the Victorian age.
Dementia may have been caused by the Second World War, says scientist
[Dr Ritchie’s] claims are based on studies of French citizens forcibly expelled from Algeria in the 1950s.
Known as the ‘pieds noirs’, they had crossed the Mediterranean and many had settled in the coastal district around Montpelier, where the research was conducted.
She said: ‘They had suffered extreme stress, losing their homes, and having their lives threatened, sometimes by people who were once their neighbours.
‘The ones who had the worst symptoms (of dementia) now were those who had suffered most at the time.
‘These people needed help when they were ten or 20, not when they were 65.’
Britain’s oldest working computer, rebooted
The Harwell WITCH is a relay-based machine that used 900 Dekatron gas-filled tubes, each of which could hold a single digit in memory. It has paper tape for both data input and program storage. The computer was used in the design of Britain’s first nuclear reactors. (Read more about the computers used at Harwell in the 1940s and 1950s.)
“Its promises for reliability over speed were certainly met – it was definitely the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare fable,” says Kevin Murrell, a director and trustee of the National Museum of Computing. “In a race with a human mathematician using a mechanical calculator, the human kept pace for 30 minutes, but then had to retire exhausted as the machine carried on remorselessly. The machine once ran for ten days unattended over a Christmas and New Year holiday period.”
Prince Charles’s threat to quit National Trust in design dispute
I love it when royals do what they were made for –staying on the right side of history that is:
The National Trust was warned that the Prince of Wales might withdraw his patronage of the organisation unless designs for its new headquarters were altered to suit his architectural taste, the Guardian has learned.
A senior royal aide told the trust and its architects that the prince could not accept the design of a proposed £14.5m building in Swindon and said it should be changed or they would face the prospect of his stepping down as its president, according to a source involved in the project at the time.
The alleged intervention is fresh evidence of the Prince of Wales’s hands-on involvement in architecture and planning in Britain and follows news of his attempt to have the French architect Jean Nouvelremoved from a £500m project beside St Paul’s Cathedral. Nouvel said yesterday the prince had no right to try to persuade his client to adopt a different kind of architecture and said Charles’s preferred “pastiche design” was worse.
War protest migrants may face passport penalties
They can’t possibly be serious:
New migrants who demonstrate an “active disregard for UK values”, possibly including protesting at homecoming parades of troops from Afghanistan, could find their applications for a British passport blocked under new citizenship proposals published today.
But migrants who contribute to the “democratic life of the country” by canvassing for political parties could find the application process speeded up so that it takes one year instead of three.
The proposals unveiled by the immigration minister, Phil Woolas, set out a much tougher regime for the 150,000 people who apply for a British passport each year, using a points-based system for “earned citizenship”.