Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Some news items

I have conducted most of my field work before I came to Australia in South America, and most of the time there I spent in Bolivia. In total, I travelled to Bolivia three times, once for my undergraduate thesis, once for my Ph.D. project, and once as a postdoc, and always entering the country via La Paz. Although it has been several years since I was there last, I still have a soft spot in my heart for this chaotic, sprawling, high elevation metropolis, and fond memories of the Bolivian National Herbarium and its friendly staff.

Only now have I heard of the most astounding infrastructure project planned by the Bolivian government: a cable car system of three lines to connect the centre of La Paz (ca. 3,700 m.a.s.l.) with El Alto (ca. 4,000 m.a.s.l.). This is just awesome. The lines will reduce traffic pressure and pollution, and imagine the view across the city and the peaks of the Andes! The video in the linked article gives a bit of an impression, but you must have seen the city yourself to really appreciate what this means.


In news that might interest those dealing with creationists, scientists at the University of Cambridge have demonstrated that complex biochemical reactions can be catalysed by metal ions under conditions potentially similar to ancient oceans.

In the article, one researcher expresses scepticism because "the reactions observed so far only go in one direction; from complex sugars to simpler molecules like pyruvate". However, the latter reaction is still one of the core pathways used by living cells, and as one of the authors correctly points out all such reactions are in principle reversible, given the right conditions.

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