Wednesday, 16 January 2013

What I did on my Holidays

On my travels I’ve certainly seen some different parts of the world and this past Christmas, Paulette and I were in a place that neither of us had ever spent a festive season in before. If I was to tell you that in that particular part of the world you can walk down the street cast your eye to one side and see a very non-descript parking lot with a sign affixed to a broken down brick wall which says ‘parking lot available for film hire’ with a phone contact number, I guess you could probably figure out what part of the world we were in. Yes, only in LA.

We had a good time and we happened to be there at a rather interesting time because the end of the world was supposed to be happening  according to some people given the complete
misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar which a number of people had
decided to take upon themselves. On the particular day in question we were actually at the Griffiths Observatory which is a wonderful observatory that also has a newly re-conditioned beautiful planetarium. When you walk in the observatory main doors there was a great big design above the doors about the Mayan calendar saying that the end of the world was not happening and that the show inside the planetarium consisted initially of the apparent end of the world. Somebody then says ‘Stop, hold it all!’ and walks down and begins to say ‘no it isn’t ending’. It was a splendid show and we got down to some real science. By the way, the thing about the Mayan calendar, which I find so fascinating, is that it is very striking to me how people often are of an apocalyptic disposition and have a very linear mind set in that it is always going to be a complete end. There is no conception of a cyclical process because of course the Mayan calendar is just going through a process of ratcheting up numbers to come to the end of a cycle; very much as a milometer does on a clock where it gets to 999 and then goes to 000 which of course does not mean the car no longer exists.

I had a very pleasant opportunity while I was there to kick back with Albert Einstein, unfortunately he was only there in brass form but nevertheless a memorable meeting. We then went on to a very extraordinary part of the world, the La Brea tar pits which are quite remarkable. They are pits which are in the land close to the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art and they have an amazing number of animal specimens, about three and a half million in fact at the last count and there are far more than that now. They are the result of fossil fuels that have become liquefied and bubbled up because of the extraordinary environment that is part of the fault in LA, faults that are in the earth. They were absolute death traps for animals who got stuck in them rather like you would in tar and have produced amazing fossil remains that go back 10 to 30 thousand years. You can actually see the excavation taking place, all of this with traffic going by on the highway nearby. So, a very interesting experience and they also have some animals that you can be photographed with if you wish.
A different kind of Christmas which was absolutely in order. I recommend it , getting away and being somewhere different in another world. We had a great time but I am now back and looking forward to a different kind of year as we are moving in to new opportunities. We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of ITS by preparing for new ventures some of which we will be talking about very soon on the celebration day. You will hear about them I’m sure, if you’re interested, because the world of neuroscience beckons making it something approachable, useable and understandable in a practical way. That’s where we’re going next, tell you all about that soon. Until the next time. 

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