Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guillaume Paque

Continuing the theme of obscure composers, the young cellist recently played Souvenir de Curis, a piece for four cellos by the Belgian cellist and composer Guillaume Paque.

Here are four blokes playing it (but if you prefer to see four girls playing it give me a shout and I'll send the private link):

The information I could find about him reads, in its entirety (and the years / ages don't add up):

"GUILLAUME PAQUE must be mentioned, born at Brussels on July 24, 1825. At ten years of age he became a pupil of the Conservatoire, where, during a course of six years, he received his entire artistic training. Dismissed from the institution with the first prize, he entered the orchestra of the Royal Theatre in his native town. After he had belonged to it for some years, he took up his abode in Paris, with the intention of permanently settling there. But an offer which he received in 1840, of entering, as solo cellist, the Italian Opera at Barcelona, induced him to leave the French capital. Scarcely had he arrived at Barcelona, when the Professorship of the Musical School was committed to him. In 1849 he played before the Queen of Spain in Madrid, and in 1850 he travelled in the South of France giving concerts. In the same year he fixed his residence in London, where he gained popularity as a chamber music player. He found his particular sphere of work as solo cellist at the Royal Italian Opera, as well as teacher at the London Academy of Music, until his death on March 3, 1876. Amongst his compositions he published several "Fantasias," Variations, and Drawing- room pieces."


Friday, September 26, 2014


The Sicilienne by Gabriel Fauré is a popular repertoire piece for both flautists and cellists, but here comes the version for cello and (a somewhat less competent) flute, arranged by the young cellist in the family.

PS (9.2.2015) We've performed that at the Oxford Music Festival (family class) now, so the version now on noteflight is the final one as we will move on to fresh challenges.

Monday, September 22, 2014

melancholic minds

Today's issue of Current Biology has a special section on applied neuroscience, and my contribution to that is a feature on depression:

Silver linings for patients with depression?
Current Biology Volume 24, Issue 18, pR851–R854, 22 September 2014
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.08.059

Free access to full text and PDF file.
(May be withdrawn after two weeks, but will come back in a year.)

The artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944) suffered from severe anxiety and has in his work depicted various states of emotional distress, including depression. This work is called Evening. Melancholy I. (1896). (Image: Wikipedia.)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Calvelli at Braunschweig

I've been following the work of industry painter Alexander Calvelli for many years now (I happen to know him as he's the son of my PhD supervisor) and wrote a feature about him in Chemie in unserer Zeit back in 2002.

His latest exhibition is now on at the Jakobs-Kemenate Braunschweig (Brunswick) and shows his perspective on a range of industries found in and around that city, producing useful stuff from sugar to pianos:

Alexander Calvelli
"Zwischen Zucker und Zink - Gemälde einer unzugänglichen Welt"
18. September bis 9. November 2014

His work isn't very well represented on the web, but I pinched this postage-stamp sized reproduction of one of his new works from the exhibition website:

Braunschweig Hafen (source)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

who let the raccoons out?

My latest book in German is officially released today:

Invasion der Waschbären und andere Expeditionen in die wilde Natur
Wiley-VCH 17. Sept. 2014
pp. 255, ISBN: 978-3527-33668-5,
€ 24.90, £ 22.50

Under a broad theme of "understanding what makes living beings tick", it covers lots of recent developments in ecology and functional biology, including the orientation of ants, the intelligence of corvids, the effectiveness of protected areas, and the ecology of species invasion. The raccoon of the title is an invasive species in Europe, and I love this story in particular as it is a case where a big biological problem can be traced back to a single act of stupidity, the release of a couple of raccoons in Germany, rubber-stamped with the permission of local authorities and meant to "enrich the local fauna". Plus, of course, we need a cute animal for the cover.

Here comes the German blurb, plus some links where you can order it:

Bald leben mehr als eine Million (!) Waschbären in unseren Wäldern und nicht nur da - sie kommen uns auch in den Städten »besuchen«. Die putzigen Kerlchen können nichts dafür, denn wir sind an ihrer Verbreitung Schuld, da wir das ökologische Gleichgewicht der Natur gestört haben. Doch was genau ist eigentlich Ökologie jenseits von Ökostrom und Ökolabel?

HIGHTECH-AMEISEN, HOCHINTELLIGENTE KRÄHEN UND DER URZEIT-GINKGO Alles hängt mit allem zusammen: Gerät ein ökologisches Teilsystem aus dem Gleichgewicht, löst das oft eine Kettenreaktion aus. In dem Teil >Zusammen leben< fragt Michael Groß u. a., ob Schutzgebiete wirklich die bedrohten Arten schützen, erzählt über die Wanderschaft von Pflanzenschädlingen, die sich durch weltweite Handelsnetze auch global verbreiten, oder stellt einen Überlebenden der Dinosaurierzeit vor: den Ginkgo. Warum überlebte er damals das Massensterben der Arten?

Kohlendioxidschwaden, Vibrationen, Magnetismus, Pedometer und noch vieles mehr: All das besitzt z. B. ein sehr kleines Lebewesen - die Ameise. Sie findet mit dieser »Ausstattung« sogar in der Wüste wieder zu ihrem Nest zurück. Im Teil >Aktiv leben< stellt uns Groß diese kleinen tierischen Wunderwerke vor, berichtet aber auch von den hochintelligenten Krähen oder erzählt, wie das Krokodil seine Zähne bekam. Im Abschnitt >Weiter leben< gibt er einen Ausblick auf die »Verschmelzung von Biologie und Technologie«.




amazon.de (hardback and kindle)
amazon.fr (hardback and kindle)
amazon.co.uk (hardback and kindle)
amazon.co.jp (hardback and kindle)
amazon.com (only kindle version so far)

e-book formats available from the publishers

Friday, September 12, 2014

from graphene to stanene

Graphene - a single layer of graphitic carbon - has caused some excitement in recent years, but there's always the slight inconvenience that it is an "always-on" conductor rather than a switchable material of the semiconductor type. This problem has motivated a lot of research into graphene analogues and derivatives, both on a carbon basis and on the basis of elements that share some of its properties due to being near carbon in the periodic table.

In my latest feature I have looked at graphene analogues using other elements, including carbon's neighbours boron and nitrogen, as well as its fellow group IV elements silicon, germanium, and tin (whose honeycomb layers are known as silicene, germanene and stanene, respectively). The feature appears in the September issue of Chemistry & Industry:

Stanene, the next miracle material?

Chemistry & Industry issue 9, pp 24-27.

I'm afraid it's premium content, but give me a shout if you want a PDF "reprint".

On page 51 of the same issue, there is also my review of the "Handbook of cellulosic ethanol", ditto.

A model of graphene. Image source.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

building molecules made easy

Let's have a news story for a change, here's one that just appeared in Chemistry World online, on a new combinatorial approach that is apparently so simple everybody could create new molecules. Just mix the building blocks and test if any of the resulting combinations has the properties you're looking for.

Bringing chemical synthesis to the masses

Chemistry World online 7.9.2014

Free access

Those lucky enough to get the print edition of Chemistry World can find the piece on page 21 of the October issue.

By the way, I may have forgotten to mention one or two other CW news stories in the last couple of years, such as this one:

Speeding up the experiment to fit the simulation

Thankfully, the CW website keeps track of my contributions here.

Monday, September 08, 2014

deviant desires

My latest feature in Current Biology, partially inspired by the recent book Perv – the sexual deviant in all of us, by Jesse Bering, covers the biological diversity of sexual orientations in humans (and some animals) and our society's inability to deal with this serious problem in a rational manner.

Paraphilia or perversion?

Current Biology Volume 24, Issue 17, pR777–R780, 8 September 2014
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.07.047

OPEN access to full text and PDF

Leda and the Swan, a 16th-century copy by Peter Paul Rubens, after a lost painting by Michelangelo (National Gallery, London)