A Clown Fish receiving massage by a sea anemone. Photo: Nick Hobgood.

TED Talk. Paul Greenberg: The four fish we are overeating

15.09.2019

“Grinding Nemo”

Overfishing is only half of the story, says Paul Greenberg in his talk. The other half is about the boom in fish farming and aquaculture, which – over the past year or two – has started to exceed the amount of wild fish produced. In America and a great part of the Western World, shrimp is by far the most consumed seafood. 5, 10, 15 pounds of wild fish – deemed trash fish by the fishing industry – are killed to bring one pound of shrimp to the market. Filmmaker Mark Benjamin called the phenomenon “Grinding Nemo“: Shrimp dredgers vacuum up a huge amount of bycatch that is then minced and turned into shrimp feed. An „ecosystem literally eating itself and spitting out shrimp“. A recent study has found that dredging for shrimp represents one of the most carbon-intensive ways of fishing there is.

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Reading time: about 1 minute
The Oktoberfest in Munich

Oktoberfest Munich: O’zapft is’!

12.09.2019

On Saturday, September 21st, 2019 at high noon sharp Munich’s Chief Mayor – the Lord Mayor – will once again ceremonially exclaim: ‘It’s tapped!’ The Oktoberfest, a festival recurring for the 185th time, has been exerting its magnetism on the crowds since 1810. It means huge fun for regular folks, works as an illustrious place-to-be-seen for celebrities of all shapes and sizes and could even enhance or jog a career of one trade or another. And it serves as a welcome runway for the presentation of suitably traditional garb (such as Dirndl, Lederhosn or Lodenjanker) – or for a rare species of couture whose daring cross-over creations are at times hard to swallow for the more conservative. Read article

Reading time: about 9 minutes
Scottish Ceilidh dancers at the height of their frolicsome performance.

Scotch Whisky: Sharing with Angels

10.09.2019

Proper spelling first: Scotch whisky has no e between the k and the y! But if there is an e wedged between the k and the y, the respective whiskey variety usually originates from Ireland, the United States or even from far-away Japan. Whereas wiskey or wisky clearly derive from nowhere, except perhaps from the brains of committed non-whisky-drinkers or those battling with the effects of over-indulgence. The popular spirit’s name, by the way, was simplified in the course of history from the Gaelic Uisge Beatha – meaning water of life – to Whiskybae and finally to Whisky.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes
Gadgets

Gadgets: Synthesising the sound of bananas

11.08.2019

Assumedly, the main purpose of a banana (cucumber, zucchini, etc) is to be relished at some stage. Yet, young American inventors Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have contrived a new means of putting them to use: by eliciting from them authentic musical sounds, like for instance, those of a piano.

A dollop of wobbly jello does work as well and a great number of other materials also prove to be conductive: most fruits and vegetables, shrimp or pizza pie (although some may consider that a bit yucky). Plants will do fine and play-doh (given a certain degree of moisture) and metal objects such as foil, cutlery or pots. Even simple thick lines drawn on a smooth surface with a soft graphite pencil can do the trick – so can live people. What in God’s name are we talking about? A kit called MaKey MaKey.

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Reading time: about 2 minutes
Black-and-white: Astronauts resting during a training at the Askja Crater in Iceland.

Astronauts: Fly me to the Moon – but fly me to Iceland first

19.07.2019

The vast and diverse landscape of the United States of America is not only the stuff an authentic Hollywood backdrop is made of. In parts, it also offers the essentials a training ground for missions of national and international gravity requires: a moonlike scenery with lots of rubble bearing geological secrets to be lifted, in preparation for lunar missions by NASA, for instance.

Yet, when it comes to „moonlike“, no place on earth is more suitable to simulate an extraterrestrial situation better than Iceland can thanks to its volcanic origin. In 1965 and 1967, two groups of Apollo astronauts accompanied by geologists travelled to the destination for geological studies in preparation for their journey to the Moon. Among the 1967-group was Neil Armstrong, whose Apollo-11-mission was the component vital for the US Space Race to be won over the USSR. It made John F. Kennedy’s challenge, pronounced in 1961, come true: to “land a man on the Moon, and return him safely to the Earth”, before the end of the decade. On the 20th of July, 1969 at 20:17 UTC, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and Neil Armstrong became the first human ever to leave his footprints on the powdery lunar surface.

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Reading time: about 4 minutes