Cryogenic Studies Treading on Thin Ice
The resurgence of Matt Groening’s popular side project Futurama, given the green light for another three series after an eight year hiatus, reminds us all of a science which is rarely given the virtue of credibility it deserves: Cryogenic freezing. Regular readers will know that this topic is almost taboo in the scientific realm.
Whilst Futurama does well to simplify such an incongruous scientific field for the sake of comedy, as has Sylvester Stallone’s action thriller Demolition Man and Mike Myers spy comedy Austin Powers, few people realise that the notion of freezing a human being cryogenically is something that has been extensively looked into since the early 1960’s.
The notion of cryogenics was first conceived in late 1964 by Robert Ettinger, a college physicist after fighting in World War Two for the USA. He wrote a self published book titled, The Prospect of Immortality, outlining the rationale and methods of cryonics. He sent it to over 200 people who featured on a ‘Who’s Who in America’ list at the time in order to get publicity. Isaac Asimov, a highly regarded physicist at the time, gave Ettinger’s book credibility by stating that his theories were feasible and well backed up.
Shortly after Ettinger’s non-fiction book, Evan Cooper founded the world’s first cryogenic society, the Life Extension Society (LES), in 1963 which still runs today. However Cooper himself quit the field in 1970, stating he became jaded by a study which reaped no rewards in terms of advancement.
So why, after 50 years, are we still unsure of the process of cryogenics?
The scientific study of cryonics has been met with much criticism, legal issues, court reforms and bad press since its conception. Robert Nelson established the Cryonics society of California in the mid 60’s in the city of Chatsworth. He took on anyone who was willing to be frozen and kept them hidden in a crypt whilst he sought to pioneer the technology to successfully thaw them alive. He could not maintain the cryopreservation due to poor revenue and so his crypt was uncovered to the public. His patients had to be thawed which led to their deaths. This led to the common phrase in cryogenic circles, ‘The Chatsworth Disaster’. Due to the fact that studies yield no concrete evidence that suggest it can be done, whilst maintaining a financial foothold, the majority of the scientific community dropped studying cryogenics.
It was the Chatsworth disaster that instigated a split in the late 1970’s, as the ‘The Society for Cryobiology’ sought to disassociate cryobiology (study of animals at low temperatures) and cryonics (study of unsustainable humans at low temperatures), condemning any scientist’s efforts to conjoin the two. Mainstream media also played a part in halting the progress of cryonics as scientists began to view the idea as pure fantasy: cue Matt Groening.
Who knows what the future holds for Cryopreservation. At present only five companies in the world openly operate as a cryogenic facility – only one resides outside of the US (Russia). The nature of the field is such that it could be another year before we establish technology to freeze and thaw humans, or it could take another century.
Would you like to be Cryogenically frozen?
James Bond’s First Mission as 007
Given the impressive release of Skyfall (2012), the 23rd Eon produced James Bond film; Daniel Craig’s 3rd outing as the British spy, and the 50th anniversary of the franchise, I decided to start reading the books to get a feel for who the real Fleming-inspired James Bond really is.
A common misconception is that Dr No is Bond’s first mission due to the first screen adaptation with Sean Connery. However, Fleming’s first book in the spy series in Casino Royale is referenced throughout the story as Bond’s first mission as a British Secret Service agent.
After working as Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence during the Second World War, Fleming set out to write the spy stories to beat all spy stories. Living in his Jamaican home, which he built and named ‘Goldeneye’, Fleming wrote Casino Royale in two months.
Upon its publication in 1954, the book had sold out its print runs in the first, second and third months of its release. Whilst sales in the US were very slow, the UK couldn’t get enough of its new Cold War era hero.
In his first mission as a double-O, Bond is tasked with bankrupting Le Chiffre at the casino in Royale-Les-Eaux, who is bankrolling the Russian counter-intelligence organisation SMERSH (literal meaning in Russian as Death to Spies). M., the head of British Intelligence, sends Vesper Lynd to assist Bond in his mission, as well as Rene Mathis from French Intelligence and Felix Leiter from the C.I.A.
The story is well known to contemporary Bond fans, thanks to Daniel Craig’s first film, so I was keen to see if there were many different aspects to the book than the film, as there often are.
In short, there isn’t. The film stayed pretty close to the core of the story. The main deviations were in there openings, as Fleming chose to start with Bond playing in the casino rather than perform a vast array of stunts, jumps and chases. Dr No started very similarly to Casino Royale where the first image of Sean Connery as Bond was playing the winning card in a game of Baccarat whilst smoking a cigar.
After just three chapters, it was clear that Fleming nailed the art of keeping the readers interest for the duration. Every chapter finished with a major event which moved the story forward dramatically, maintaining a fast pace to the narrative.
A marked difference in Bond’s character is his attitude towards women. When he first hears of Vesper’s assistance he immediately frowns and says that women have no place on a mission of such importance and that she should be in the kitchen where a woman belongs!
The finest part of the book is when Vesper is kidnapped and Bond chases after her. He gets caught himself in the process – this is his first mission after all – he gets tortured and blacks out.
From here Fleming gets very philosophical and creates a moral quandary in Bond’s head – is he a good man doing an immoral job or a bad man doing whats right for his country?
This very theme is what drives Daniel Craig’s Bond in Skyfall, and leaves the audience feeling torn as to whether he is the conventional hero we’ve come to expect.
What do you think? Is James Bond a good or bad guy?
I started watching this American sitcom over the summer, after seeing seven seasons available on Netflix, and found It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia compulsively hilarious viewing. As a result, I thought I’d write a quick post to spread the word of this comedy gem.
The show follows Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton), Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds (Kaitlin Olsson) and Mac (Rob McElhenney) who all own ‘Paddy’s Pub’, an Irish bar in Philadelphia.
The four narcissistic, self-centred, money-grabbing pals constantly come up with ludicrous get-rich-quick schemes whilst doing the best they can to double cross each other in their deceitful and childish ways. From season two onwards, Dennis and Dee’s father Frank Reynolds (Danny De Vito) joins the gang and gives the show some status with an A-list Hollywood actor too.
One of the best things about the show is it’s dark, immoral and awkward-situation humour. Fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm will know all about these themes but Its Always Sunny takes it to a whole new level as the characters we connect with and love, don’t have any empathy, moral integrity or understanding of society outside of “The Gang”.
In the episode “The D.E.N.N.I.S System” Dennis describes his system of luring girls to have sex with, thus creating his ‘Playboy’ image he has cultivated for himself.
This snippet above represents the sheer egotistical arrogance of Dennis and his vulgar father in Frank. The video below, from the episode “The Gang Buys a Boat”, is a great example of Dennis hatching a plan thats so morbidly ridiculous to everyone else, but in its head it’s perfectly fine.
In possibly one of my favourite episodes I have seen, the gang help Frank and Charlie, who sleep together on a futon, solve the mystery of who pooped the bed. Mac and Dennis decide to do some overnight surveillance but end up falling asleep. Then in the morning…
The show is currently airing its eighth season on FX but probably won’t be shown in the U.K. for some time. If only there was some way of watching it online…
Recent films rarely possess the gift of grabbing you by the throat as soon as the opening credits finish rolling by, but who else is capable of crafting this type of beginning but the film making maestro Quentin Tarantino.
His previous creations such as Reservoir Dogs (1992), the Kill Bill’s (2003) and Pulp Fiction (1994) have all mesmerised audiences and critics with their punchy in-your-face action, lengthy scenes of clever Shakespearian dialogue, shocking blood soaked violence and zany off-the-wall characters.
Inglourious Basterds (2009) is no mould breaker for the director, setting a very high bar in terms of action, intensity and engaging dialogue in the first ten minutes. The film opens with ‘The Green Leaves of Summer’ by Nick Perito playing whilst the opening title credits roll. This has elements of The Godfather theme to it as well as making you feel like you’re in a quaint French town. Then Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Verdict (Dopo La Condanna)’, basically Fur Elise with a bit of a Mexican stand-off style rhythms played in between, cuts in whilst Perrier LaPadite (Denis Menochet), a French dairy farmer, chops wood. A car approaches the farm and Perrier orders his daughters inside immediately.
SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) steps out of the car and asks Perrier inside his home for a discussion. Sounds pretty low key and boring so far right? One of the greatest things about this scene is that the tension slowly builds, without the audience really knowing why at first. Landa’s friendly, understanding and eloquent etiquette seems very sinister for an SS soldier. That coupled with Perrier’s constant anguished complexion during their initial discussion, makes the audience feel on edge and ready for something to happen.
Tarantino seems to have turned things that would usually be so simple, and frankly boring, into something intense and suspenseful. For example, Landa asking for a glass of milk seems so harmless and arbitrary but the way the camera fixes on him taking every gulp, the irrelevance of it makes you feel like something is not quite right. When Perrier stands and walks behind Landa to get his pipe, you half expected Perrier to turn around with a machine gun and shoot Landa there and then, or pick up the axe he used to chop the wood and decapitate him. Tarantino shocked us in Jackie Brown (1997) when Samuel L. Jackson shot Robert De Niro whilst they were talking in a van, not to mention De Niro shooting Jane Fonda in a mall car park in broad daylight just before that. But all Perrier does is sit back down again, lights his pipe and politely answers Landa’s questions.
The reason for Landa’s visit is to conduct a search of Perrier’s home for a Jewish family that was known to live in the village, but has recently gone missing since the Fuhrer announced the extermination of all Jews. As Perrier answers Landa’s probing questions, the camera pans around the table where the two men are sitting and slowly lowers down to the floor, through the floorboards and finally stops at the Jewish family in question, lying directly beneath the table hands covering their mouths.
This is the moment of comprehension for the audience, as the tension that is running riot throughout the scene suddenly becomes clear. Perrier is harbouring an enemy of the state literally under the nose of an SS soldier. Violin strings pick up, straight away prompting us that something is going to happen very soon. From then on, what makes the scene so mesmerising is the engaging conversation the two men have.
Now the audience has the knowledge that Perrier is hiding a Jewish family, you are screaming at the screen for Landa to get up and walk out. But Landa offers Perrier an ultimatum, which stokes up the electricity of the scene to high voltage.
If Perrier reveals the whereabouts of the Jewish family, his own family will not be harassed by German military ever again. Perrier cannot contain his sorrow behind a cool exterior any longer. Landa notices and the look of sudden realisation on his face shows he was merely bluffing to gauge Perrier’s reaction, ‘You are sheltering enemies of this state, are you not?’ replies Landa with his articulate masquerade slipping.
The scene’s finale is an eruption of activity ending with 18 year old Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) escaping to the French countryside, after her family are slaughtered by the Germans. This entire chapter of the film embodies what the film is about; slow build in tension, the sudden realisation in tension by the audience, a jaw dropping blood stained finale. Repeat process.
Only Tarantino, you feel, can construct such a cataclysmic opening scene as this, and still maintain the audience’s interest to the end credits. He has delivered a classic World War Two film in Inglourious Basterds, though admittedly Hitler does burn to death in a collapsing theatre in the finale, but the fresh and bold approach to this war epic invigorates the genre, at a time when audiences have perhaps forgotten about it.
“The performance was outstanding, both our creativity and our movement, and there was a really good tempo and rhythm to our game. (bbc.co.uk)
The fact of the matter is that Liverpool need to be more ruthless in front of goal. They had 20 shots in the entire game and only nine were on target. Sunderland had just six shots and four on target, yet they scored the same amount of goals as Liverpool in the game.
Despite Sunderland’s excellent defensive displays and attacking threat, they have accrued only three points in four games. With Martin O’Neal at the helm though, the Black Cats should finish in a respectable position this season.
In the day’s other draw, Manchester City battled 1-1 with Tony Pulis’ Stoke side, who are undergoing a slight transformation. With Steven N’Zonzi, Michael Kightly and Charlie Adam all starting as Michael Owen was on the bench, Stoke have more variety to their play now, meaning they are far more dangerous. City gave debuts to Scott Sinclair, Maicon and Javi Garcia with the latter scoring the equaliser, but they were out of sorts in the absence of Sergio Aguero. David Silva, who has just signed a new five year deal, though suffering a dip in form, was needed for more creative spark. Peter Crouch scored a controversial goal as he fumbled his way through the City defence, seemed to control the ball with his arm a few times, before slotting home.
City are now on eight points and have failed to keep a clean sheet so far this season. Stoke are now on a ten game streak of failing to win a Premier League game. They’ll have a tough trip against Chelsea next to avoid that increasing to eleven.
Saints though, have scored in every game and it was down to a Wojciech Szczesny spill that let Danny Fox slam a consolation home. Talk of Arsenal as title contenders will either die down or boil over after their next two games; Manchester City and Chelsea away. Southampton have scored against teams who finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Premier League last season which should be an ounce of encouragement for the coming games.
Manchester United dispelled any hint that they would struggle without Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie when they trounced a woeful Wigan side 4-0. Alexander Buttner produced a dominating debut as he scored from a marauding run into the box and set up Hernandez for United’s second goal. The imperious Paul Scholes scored on his 700th appearance for United and Sir Alex Ferguson won on his 500th home league game in charge of United.
Wigan were dreadful at Old Trafford and have lost all seven league matches at United, conceding 24 goals, since promoted in 2006. The Latics back four continuously struggled to cope with Nani’s trickery, Welbeck’s runs, Scholes’ passing and Buttner’s weaving runs. If they don’t address their defensive problems soon, this may be their season to go down.
Arsenal 6 1 Southampton
Aston Villa 2 0 Swansea
Fulham 3 0 West Brom
Man U 4 0 Wigan
QPR 0 0 Chelsea
Stoke 1 1 Man City
Sunderland 1 1 Liverpool
Reading 1 3 Tottenham
Everton – Newcastle (Kick-off Monday evening)
- The Power of Equality
- If You Have to Ask
- Breaking the Girl
- Funk Monks
- Suck My Kiss
- I Could Have Lied
- Mellowship Slinky in B Major
- Righteous and the Wicked, The
- Give it Away
- Blood Sugar Sex Magik
- Under the Bridge
- Naked in the Rain
- Apache Rose Peacock
- The Greeting Song
- My Lovely Man
- Sir Psycho Sexy
- They’re Red Hot
[Frusciante] was experimenting the way he would have if we’d been rehearsing the tune. Well we weren’t. We were on live TV in front of millions of people and it was torture. I started singing in what I thought was the key he was playing in. I felt like I was getting stabbed in the back and hung out to dry in front of all of America while this guy was off in a corner in the shadow, playing some dissonant out-of-tune experiment (source)
- The Changeling
- Love Her Madly
- Been Down So Long
- Cars Hiss By My Window
- LA Woman
- Hyacinth House
- Crawling King Snake
- The Wasp
- Riders On The Storm