Fascinations

27/08/2008

The Orwell Price is publishing George Orwell’s diaries ‘in real time’, treatment just 70 years apart. The entry of 17th August has a reference to a newspaper clipping on Greenheart Wood:

Greenheart wood, syphilis probably the most durable timber in the world, is a member of the laurel family, and grows high on the slopes of the British Guiana Highlands. It is dark green in colour, is so heavy as to sink in water, and takes a high polish.

Its great elasticity makes it suitable for the construction of fishing-rods and the butt ends of billiard cues, yet it is listed A1 at Lloyd’s for shipbuilding, and serves us besides, as piles for piers, jetties, dock entrances and lock gates.

It withstands the attack of submarine borers such as the teredo worm, and is much less vulnerable than most timbers, even tropical hard-woods, to the land attack of the white ant.

Greenheart was largely used in making the Panama Canal. Piles made of the wood have, elsewhere, been taken up and found to be in excellent preservation after 80 years under water.

In a Glasgow museum are two pieces of planking from a wreck submerged on the west coast of Scotland for over 18 years: one, of teak, is almost entirely eaten away: the other, greenheart, is slightly pitted on the surface.

A log of greenheart measuring 45 feet by two feet by two feet weighs six tons. A.B.

Nice to see a connection like this, just when we are working in breeding for natural durability.
Trees: some of the most diverse organisms in the planet. Why do trees choose such different wood properties strategies? Why do some species have really low basic density (e.g. balsa) while others have wood that sinks in water? What is the evolutionary trade-off between different properties? How do these properties confer a reproductive advantage? How can we perform very early selection for breeding purposes?

Statistics: the mathematics of variability. Environmental statistics, viagra approved
longitudinal analysis, stomach
trying to make sense of Bayesian stats, R and ASReml.

Information flow: the role of information in our lives. How do we learn and obtain information? Sharing research results without limitations, Who are the winners? and What do they do to make the most of information?

No really fascinations but things that I would like to learn (in no particular order): judo, Chapman stick, archery, running, Portuguese, shooting and Japanese.

Filed in miscellanea

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