Skip to main content

The Pipwick Papers


I've been absent the last couple of weeks – one sickness and one work trip that took over my week leaving no time for reading outside gaming. Sorry about that. I'm looking at ways to make this a regular thing without it being so affected by external factors and simultaneously not affecting regular work!

Here's an accidentally science-themed compendium for you to peruse.

This is not the Sunday Papers:

  • Robotics operated by a surgeon making a grape all better (it's called the Da Vinci Surgical System and it's designed to help with delicate surgeries):
  • Watch on YouTube

  • The opah, or moonfish, is the first fully warm-blooded fish that we know about. Discovery News has more. We're not talking about the sort of warmth you might snuggle up to on a chilly night more just warm compared with the ambient temperature of the ocean.
  • Slate has these minimalist posters by Mick Watson to explain complex words – some I think work far better than others but I really like Contrarian, Apostasy and Obfuscatory.
  • So you want to know what it's like to freeze people's brains for a living… Hopes & Fears have you covered with this interview. There was also an interview a few months back in the weekend FT about a man who drives a cryonics ambulance which was really interesting too.
  • At some point, we remove the head usually because we don’t need the rest of the body. That’s not where the brain is. Sometimes we remove the brain also before we start the sub-zero cooling so it kind of depends on the patient. Then we take them down to -196 Celsius and immerse them in liquid nitrogen, and there they’ll sit.

    It’s not really a medical issue as much as a social issue. If the family is against Cryonics, sometimes you have to negotiate with them to just take the brain so they can have the rest of the body. Maybe they object to removing the head, so taking the brain makes it easier for them emotionally. Just keeping the brain in storage costs us a lot less, and we charge a lot less for storage, so sometimes it’s a financial issue. Sometimes it’s a transportation issue: it’s a lot easier to transport a smaller item. You can carry a brain on an airline and nobody would even know the difference. People don’t realize how small brains really are but we’re probably talking maybe five-times smaller than an entire head.

  • Raymond Bonner over on Politico has an in-depth look at Robert White in "The Diplomat Who Wouldn't Lie"
  • White was a rarity among diplomats. He not only spoke his mind, he spoke it on the record. During one briefing at the American embassy, after White, dressed in his diplomatic pin stripes, took his seat behind the microphones, the press officer explained the ground rules. “This is for background,” he began. White interrupted, “Hell, no—what I have to say is on the record! You can attribute to me.”

  • This New York Times piece about tagging animals to track their migration concludes with a story about how it caused a stork to be imprisoned as a spy..
  • Read this next