E-tales: LHC and pizza2go

Weta Workshops' CGI wizard judging this year's World of Wearable Art Awards

WOW — art meets science

Art and science don’t always make for happy bedfellows, but in the world of film they come together beautifully, perhaps nowhere more so today than in the world of CGI — computer-generated graphics. So, it’s fitting that Weta Workshops’ CGI wizard, Richard Taylor, should be judging one of the sections in this year’s World of Wearable Art Awards, currently being showcased in Wellington. Last year’s winner was the Alaskan Prehistoric Princess.

Mind you, art meets science rather beautifully in Apple’s products. The pricing is a bit rich, but the artistic appeal in undeniable. Shows what you can do with a bit of arts+science — ie Renaissance thinking.

Manufacturing — the new sexy?

High-tech manufacturer 4RF has as its chairman hard-man ex-Telecom boss Peter Troughton. He has a reputation for being tough — he’s something of an English rough diamond who combined a tough background with academic prowess (he has a doctorate). But what has caught E-tales’ eye is the news that 4RF is not only that rare beast, a Wellington manufacturer that continues to survive, but the microwave-radio maker is apparently thriving too. Last year it posted a half-million dollar profit and it’s even developing a new product.

With the sub-prime fallout devastating Wall Street and talk in the UK of a revival of investment in manufacturing, maybe we’ll see some local investment in real products too —rather than the market money-go-round and real estate circus that has come to pass for investment.

You never know, actually making things could be about to become the new business sexy.

Sewer broadband — rats!

As we ride into a national election, with billion-dollar promises of broadband investment being bandied about, the UK government is sounding a warning note, saying the £5 billion-£28 billion cost of installing its superfast broadband network needs to be re-thought. It’s looking at the cheaper options of running cables both overhead and underground — in the sewers — as well as the traditional, very expensive, digging-holes-in-the-ground option.

Trouble is those rats. Remember a few years back, we had problems with rats chewing through telecomms cables?

Imagine what a feast they could have should all that cable run through their home territory. E-tales favours the double-up electricity-cable route to a faster service.

Dead on — or maybe not

Computerworld’s editor has been catching up on the goss at the Oracle OpenWorld conference. He tells us that the buzz among the social networking elite in San Francisco right now is “what do you do with your friends when they’re dead”?

So, you’ve been socially networking, maybe for a few years, and you have hundreds of friends on Facebook or Twitter. But some of them are no longer with us. Do you cancel them? Isn’t that a bit disrespectful just erasing them like that?

Even worse, what happens when someone reactivates one of your dead friend’s accounts?

Well, as usual in the world’s tech hub, someone has come up with the answer, says our editor. It’s called Footnote: a social networking site for dead people and their friends.

Reporting on the phenomenon, TechCrunch says: “The site also offers a database of 43 million images, birth and death records, and newspapers, which users can search through to annotate each profile (there’s even a Facebook-esque tagging feature for photos).

“At launch, the site features 80 million profiles automatically generated for the deceased using publicly available death records.

This disturbed some of the judges, but Footnote says that the information is available to the public anyway.”

E-tales is still digesting all this. It could be a nice memorial, but our Aboriginal cousins across the Big Ditch have a taboo on publicly showing images of the dead — with good reason; some relatives find such deeply upsetting.

LHC and pizza2go

E-tales is a big fan of the Large Hadron Collider — if big science can bring us the Teflon frying pan and all things electronic, what tech joys await us as a result of the LHC’s discoveries? So, we were disappointed to learn that a helium leak has shut the LHC down for two months. However, in the meantime, here’s an interesting question, courtesy of the folk at Scientific American: how long would it take the LHC to defrost a pizza?

Based on the rate and energy of particle collisions, it would take a mere 30 nanoseconds (billionths of a second), the SA folk think. Rather quicker than the microwave’s six minutes, but getting it out in time would be a challenge. Still, the SA chaps and chappesses are obviously thinking of all those LHC boffins hunkered down in Switzerland, hard at work, pizza slice in one hand, healthy soft drink in the other.

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