Fantastic lightweight introduction to bacteriophages and how they can potentially be our next best weapon against infection as we approach the post-antibiotic age. Plus an interesting look at the history and the discovery of bacteriophages!
I love to discover people who are hugely and deeply passionate about things that seem inconsequential to the rest of the world. Especially when they’re especially able to express that passion and how exciting their special-thing is, to them. This video (and to a lesser extent the others in the Small Thing Big Idea series) really embodies that; man, this woman really likes pencils.
Do you remember The Expert, that video from 2014 that had engineers around the world laughing and crying in equal measure? Turns out that, earlier this year, a trio of sequels were made! This is the first of them.
Fundamentally, people haven’t changed much in tens of thousands of years. If ancient Egyptians had smartphones, you know full well that they’d have been posting cat pictures too. What can we learn from this and how should we look at our role when developing front-end Web experiences?
From now on, when I try to engage junior programmers with the notion that they should make use of their general-purpose computers to answer questions for them… no matter how silly the question?… I’ll show them this video. It’s a moderately-concise explanation of the thought processes and programming practice involved in solving a simple, theoretical problem, and it does a great job at it.
I’d originally planned on heading to 2018-08-23 51 -1 because I anticipated that it’d be on or near my route travelling South along almost the entire length of the 51 -1 graticule, but I didn’t bargain on such a Northerly hashpoint so I’ve changed plans and am now aiming to get to this one some time in the morning (I’m hoping to be in Winchester by lunch).
Wasn’t originally planning to come to this graticule but instead was going to go to the 51 -1 graticule where I live ([2018-08-23 51 -1 see here]): I was going to be driving almost the entire length of 51 -1 on a journey from Oxford to Winchester anyway, so I figured it’d be easy to divert to any hashpoint. But when the Dow numbers came out, it turned out that the hashpoints in this quadrant of the Earth are all in the North-East corner, and so my journey would be in the opposite direction. Oh no! So instead I decided to “overshoot” and go for this graticule instead, and thus (if successful) expand my Minesweeper Achievement level.
Hashpoint deep in woodland in the beautiful South Downs National Park. Parked at The Sustainability Centre (and later made a donation via their website in thanks for the use of their car park despite not using their other facilities) and walked initially through woodland they manage and use for natural burials: this was really cool – I’ve always been a fan of body disposal in a low-environmental-impact, no-permanent-markers kind-of way, so I’m going to look more into what they offer. I was really interested to see that many families had left “named” bird nesting boxes in memory of their loved ones, which is awesome too.
Found geocache GC2X5BJ just outside the burial area and close to a point that gave me a great view across a valley towards the woods in which I believed I’d find the hashpoint.
Had to go some way off track to get to the hashpoint, but discovered a network of old, overgrown, long-abandoned (and not on any map I can find) trails in-between the thicket. In fact, the hashpoint eventually turned out to be on the edge of such a track, which I was able to follow to help me find my way back to a road.
Found a sign pointing to “Droxford”. Oxford is so-named because its location coincides with the most-downstream point on the Thames at which it’s possible to ford the river while driving cattle (i.e. “ox ford”) – incidentally, I’m told, the ford was at the point that Folly Bridge now stands. But what’s the etymology of Droxford, I wonder. What the hell is a drox???
On the way back, diverted by geocache GC5P5KN and found it: this was a great cache with the best-made variant of the particular kind of container it used that I’ve ever seen.
Update: A little research later, it seems that the “ox” in each of Oxford and Droxford have completely different etymological roots! Droxford is derived from an ancient name for the area from some time prior to the Middle Ages: Drocenesforda. “Drocen” means “dry”: the name means “dry ford”. The River Meon, which flows through the area, flows shallow over a chalky bed and is easily forded in many places, as these motorcyclists show. The things you learn!
I’m keen to get to level 2 of the Minesweeper Geohash achievement, and this far-South-of-graticule hashpoint represents an opportunity to achieve that. I’ll be at work during the day, but – energy levels permitting after what’ll have been a long day! – I’ll find a way to get up here and see if I can get to the hashpoint, aiming to arrive probably around 18:30.
It had been a long day at work, but it looked to be a beautiful evening and I promised myself a pub dinner if I made it to the hashpoint, so I set out by car and by foot to East Adderbury, the village nearest to the hashpoint. The village itself is stunning: lots of old stone buildings, a very traditional bridge, and beautiful green spaces. I spotted not one but two candidate pubs (The Red Lion and The Coach & Horses) as I passed through the village, which was a reassuring start, and then pressed on down a lane which quickly became a narrow trail, waving to some cows along the way (why do I always seem to meet cattle on my hashing adventures?).
The trail was full of blackberries so I wasn’t short of a snack, but it soon became clear that it wouldn’t get me any closer than 35m to the hashpoint. I returned to the entrance to the cows’ field and, hopping a stile, crossed it. The cows looked puzzled as I paced around, getting to ground zero, but didn’t object. After shooting the traditional silly grin, I turned tail and headed back into the village and to the Coach & Horses, which proved to be the very essence of a British village pub: a husband and wife couple running it, dogs everywhere, a jar of pickled onions behind the bar, and more beers than you can shake a stick at.
I did enjoy a rather unusual conversation at the bar, though –
Me: Can I get a ham, egg, and chips please. And a pint of bitter shandy.
Barman: One egg or two?
Me: Oh! Two, please.
Barman:(Pause) We haven't got any eggs.
Me: Uhh. Okay; no eggs then.
Barman's wife: We've got one egg.
Barman: We've got one egg.
Me: I'll have one egg, then.
(I go and sit outside; after a while, my meal arrives. There are two eggs.)Barman's wife: I found another egg.
My meeting this afternoon got cancelled and my nearest hashpoint is only 6.5km (4 miles) away from my office. I can get this!
After a productive morning’s work, I was genuinely slightly disappointed that a meeting I was scheduled to have this afternoon had to be rescheduled. But on the other hand… that meant that I could get away with extending my lunch break slightly and getting out to the hashpoint! I’d initially worried that it’d be inaccessibly buried on private land when Google Maps and satellite photography showed it to be deep in a block of cornfields, but OpenStreetMap came to the rescue and showed a public footpath somewhere in the very close vicinity of the target coordinates. And so, jumping aboard my bike, I set out!
600m from the coordinates I ran out of road and switched to the footpath, which I was pleased to discover was in reasonably-good condition: many underused local footpaths are not being very well-maintained at the moment and are often overgrown, but I was even able to bring my bike along this one and into the first field, although I had to push it rather than ride and I soon learned the error of my ways when the terrain got even rougher and I reached a narrow bridge – too narrow for my bike – spanning a dyke and entering the second field. Both fields had recently been cleared of corn, and whatever route the official footpath was supposed to take became rapidly unclear, but that’s probably for the best because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t on it by the time I reached the edge of the next field.
The hashpoint seemed to be along the fence somewhere so I followed it along – waving to some nearby cows – until my phone told me that I was under 3m from the spot. Hurrah! I snapped a panorama photo and started heading back, pausing a few times when I realised that I really, really couldn’t find where I’d left my bike. On the cycle home I passed a Gasometer which, because I’m told they’re super-rare in the USA, I thought I’d snap a picture of for those of you who ‘hash on the other side of the pond to oggle at.
I actually remembered to shoot video of this expedition (well, all within a kilometre of the hashpoint and mostly within the last 350 metres!). It’s mostly just me rambling as I ramble, although there’s (brief) explanation of the Surprise Gasometer for those of you who live in countries where you don’t routinely see these interesting structures: