Here are my recent posts! Or, you may navigate via the menu bar to other contents?

How likely do you drink Julius Caesar’s last water?


Picture of Julius Caesar holding a glass of water, based on Vincenzo Camuccini work

A little chemistry problem.

What is the likelihood that the next drink you are going to have contains some of the water molecules drunk by Julius Caesar on the day he was assassinated?

Here I give an answer in this extended and fairly thorough article, where all potentially significant factors are considered.


Southern England rock-climbing trip 2019 August

Wed, 2019-08-21 09:52 - Simon climbing P3 of Skeleton RidgeSimon climbing P3 of Skeleton Ridge

Record of our brilliant trad-climbing trip to Southern England in August 2019, where we climbed 8 days out of 10 days in 10 crags mostly under blue sky from Isle of Wight, Dorset to Cornwall. The highlight is chalk-cliff climbing of Skeleton Ridge on The Needles of Isle of Wight (including some drone footage). Other climbs were also wonderful.


My friends Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry

As reported widely, two great climbers recently lost their lives in Ben Hope, Northern Highlands during climbing. They were Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry — both happen to be my good friends, to my greatest horror and sorrow.

Here I am writing about what my dear friends Andy and Steve were from my personal perspective. Their being may have perished, but their legacy will live for ever in me, their families, present and future climbers, and wider field.


Terror or Beauty? Wadi Rum rock climbing in 2017 November

Sat, 2017-11-11 15:32 - Wadi Rum from high on Jebel RumWadi Rum from high on Jebel Rum
I had the most memorable trip to Wadi Rum, Jordan for desert-rock trad climbing in 2017 November. We were lucky to stay in Bedouin's place, and had a great cultural experience. Climbing was interesting, but involved some epic and horror. Let's find out…


Don't take it or don't leave it – rubbish and tissue in the mountain

Can we leave "bio-degradable" rubbish in the mountain? How about used tissue?
My short answer is no. Here I am looking at the issue and argue why.
If you love outdoors (I presume you do like I do, as you are reading this!), please think of respecting the environment, leaving it as rubbish-free and unpolluted as you would like to find and enjoy!


Peru/Andes 2018 Expedition

At 2:30am. On Alpamayo. At the lonely and marginal belay with our last and only snow stake, to which I had just climbed down 60 metres with no gear in between after an attempted lead.

“No, I couldn’t find any in-situ gear at all, there is no ice but just soft snow…”
“How could we get down then?”
“…climbing down? That is the only way, unfortunately… There is absolutely no gear.”
“We can’t proceed, can we?”
“Why? Why! What’s wrong? We were in really good pace! Why does this happen?!” (almost weeping)

An international team of friends of five of us went to Cordillera Blanca of the Andes, Peru in July 2018 for 4 weeks of expedition. We climbed mountains up to 6000m via technical routes. It was a fantastic experience, even though we had many failures and it was a hard work. This is the record of our expedition.


Review of 40-50L rucksacks for alpine climbing 2018

Rucksacks are in a way the most troubling gear to choose, not because there are so few to choose from, unlike most other climbing gear, but because there are so many! Yet not a single one would be perfect. It is partly because the use varies so much, and different sort of activities demand different types of rucksacks, and partly because some demands are inherently contradictory, such as durability and (light-)weight.

After all a rucksack is just a bag on your back, and so you may argue you could manage whatever you have, as long as its volume is adequate for your use. It is true to some extent, but it is the same as claiming top climbers could climb an E1 with wellies. Yes, they could, but will they if they have a choice? No. Can they climb an E8 with wellies? No.

Rucksacks are arguably the second most important gear after boots or shoes in (alpine) climbing or mountaineering, as you use one all the time on your back often for hours continuously. That means the difference in rucksacks determines whether you can enjoy every moment or you suffer every second. Given you do climbing for fun ultimately (if type-II) and not for the sake of pain, to get a right sack is very important.

Also, with a wrong rucksack, your climbing ability and hence safety in mountains are marginalised, too, compared with otherwise.

Let’s get it right.


Story of gravitational waves — how it is propagated


Artist's impression of merging neutron stars by ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser (CC BY 4.0)

The last two years have presented one of the most significant events in physics in my lifetime, that is, direct detections of gravitational waves and solid observational proof of the source in the most recent event. They are, as far as I am concerned, rather unexpected, and are very exciting to any one. Immediately before the most recent discovery, it seemed a strict embargo was in place for one of my friends, an astronomer. An institution-wide embargo is rather unusual, and it implies how exciting the news would be, and it was, as it turned shortly afterwards.

Here is my bold attempt to make a summary of the story of gravitational waves — what is significant and what is the implication?



Subscribe to Front page feed