Why are the super rich investing in Mining the Moon?

I have seen on TV a few pieces about the founders of Google and film makers James Cameron investing in a project that aims to mine the moon.   Most TV programs have simply said that the project hopes to find gold and other precious metals. Similarly the techy blogs I read also point to this mining of the moon for precious metals.

To me though it never added up, why would some of the richest people in the world suddenly want to change tack and become ore miners on another planet. It simply doesn’t reflect the type of people these genius’ are. Similarly they probably already puke more money a day then most people make in a year.

Given that most tech companies are trying to become more environmentally friendly, and philantropy is reasonably well established in the industry. Like Bill Gates global fight against milaria. Tearing up the moon for some gold is a somewhat short sighted aim, that most media channels seem to think of as the only reason to mine the moon.

From a reasonably quick search of the internet we have brought back around 300kg from the moon, mainly by the 6 successful NASA apollo missions, although the Russians have also managed to bring back couple of hundred ‘grams’! So to certain extent we know that bringing rock back is possible.

It still doesn’t answer the question of why bring it back at all. If it was gold for instance there is a great fact or urban myth? That ton for ton there is more gold and precious metals in disgarded mobile phones and other electronic equipment that what we can find by digging up the raw ore. So surely refining/recycling these would be a better idea.

However there is one thing that moon rocks have that the earth does not. Protected by our atmosphere, the earth is inpregnable to an isotope of Helium called Helium-3. As such helium-3 is extremely rare on planet earth, but the lack of atmosphere means that many scientists beleive that there is an abundance of this Helium-3 in the surface layer of the moon, due to its build up over billions of years.

Why then are the worlds richest people wanting to get hold of Helium-3? Helium-3 is sort after for the research of nuclear fusion. As such it could be the new energy source. Yeilding much more energy than the nuclear fission we currently use, and potentially having fewer side effects like a legacy of nuclear waste that will haunt us for years to come.

My guess is that these rich guys aren’t trying to get richer, but use their wealth to fund a programme to attempt to make fusion possible. I am sure if it works they’ll also become even richer, but for now the money they are pumping into this embryonic project in a hope that they can help move us on from a reliance on fossil fuels.

In the words of a Ford car executive, ‘The stone age didn’t end because they ran out of stones!’

Oh, and sorry for the geeky nature and the only apparent link to climbing being ‘moon rocks’!

More Nav, No Blizzards

I spent a lovely day out on the hill, made even better by the appearance of that big shiny warm thing in the sky. That I haven’t seen for a while now. I choose to head up and around the Llanberis Path. Heading up left onto the ridge and picking points off as we traversed before contouring across to below Cloggy, for lunch in one of the ruined huts.

We headed off and focus on a few nav points using bearings before picking on the Llanberis Path, and traversing across to Telegraph Valley, to show Tomny where the path that he’s planning on walking comes down from.

Anyway lovely end to a few days at the grindstone.

Blizzard’s and its nearly May!

Apparently the jetsream is out of place. Hence we are getting such awful weather. So awful that today I awoke to see the BBC and Met Office forecasts for snowdonia that included 70-80 mph gusts and snow falling down to 300m. A lovely day for teaching navigation then!

I met up with the group from various BMC clubs and Peak Mountaineering at 9am. We came up with a plan to get out there and get stuck in. No sooner had we left the hut, the snow started to pound us. The plan was to circumnavigate Tryfan, as there is some good navigation up to Blwch Tryfan, and then we’d see how we were doing.

Teaching is such weather is always interesting, as most people can cope up to a point, the trick is to decide when that point is reached. The group did really well. I didn’t envy Dan from PYB, who was going all the way over the tops back to the centre with his group. Head to wind, blizzards and driving rain, it was going to be a very ‘Scottish’ traverse for them!

We got the group to pick up points off the main path on the approach to the bwlch. By which time the snow had turned into a mini Blizzard, and the wind was starting to knock us about. As we headed up to the Bwlch, my mind was made up, as some of the group were switching off to the navigation, and focusing more on survival. So I made a call to head down early.

I always find these calls tough ones to make, but given the the weather had well and truly lived up to the forecast. After we walked back to the hut and had a brew, I offered to suit up for round two, yet somehow the group’s spirit had been dampened, I can’t think of what did that.

Anyway, the group covered a lot, and after yesterdays day nav, I met them at 9pm for a short night nav session. Where they all proved that they can take and walk on a bearing, as well as pace and use contours. I even managed to get them down for last orders in the Pen Y Gwryd, they were on holiday after all.

Navigation Skills for BMC club members

Well, I have had a fantastic day out with Peak Mountaineering, with a group who have signed up on a BMC climbign clubs Navigation course. We went over Crimpau, and did loads of micro nav today, the group did really well, and I am rapidally eating dinner ready to head back out for some night nav.

I think we’ll try and do a more mountain journey tomorrow, weather permitting.

If you’d like a navigation skills course then you can either find a course through Peak Mountaineering above, or visit my site Snowdonia Mountain Guides for a nav course.

Rope Rescue Course for Climber

Rope Rescue for Climbers

I was out yesterday at Holyhead mountain working on a rope rescue course for climber for Skylark Mountain Adventures. The weather was fairly awful, but we managed to find shelter in teh Alcove, and I got my vlients John and Andy to go through the skills they had learnt indoor the previous day, but in more contextual and realistic setting.

We started with a simple hoist each, John went for and assited hoist and andy for the unassisted hoist. After that we looked at the escaping the system, and adding a abseil down to retrieve the injured climber. We did a dry run on the ground before we headed to the top of teh cliff and went through the whole process once each.

It sounds incredible,  but that was when we ran out of time, so we head to South Stack Cafe for a debrief. Great day out, and the guys seemed to have got a lot out of their couple of days.

If you are keen for a Rope rescue course then I am sure Skylark are running another. Or of course you can go through Snowdonia Moutnain Guides, we have some dates in our diary or download our catalogue (Large PDF file). Alternatively if there are two or more of you, then we can run courses to order.

12th – 13th May 2012 Rope Rescue

21st – 22nd July 2012 Rope Rescue

The Calm before the Storm

Yesterday evening, I headed over to Castell Helen with Llion and Katie. It was a fantastic session. The rock was warm and the setting as spectacular as ever. We climbign literally until the sun set. As such some of the photos of us on the Gridle Ledge I think really capture the magic light of those precious few minutes as the sun disapears for the day.

Sunset from Castell Helen, South Stack Lighthouse
Sunset Across the Irish Sea with South Stack Lighthouse siloetted against the approaching storm
Katie about to lead us out from the Girdle Ledge Castell Helen
Rap Pel Castell Helen Gogarth
Llion on Rap/Pel combo from the niche on Castell Helen
Mark Reeves North West Passage Castell Helen Gogarth
Mark Reeves on North West Passage
Mark Reeves castell helen gogarth north west passage
Mark Reeves climbing the amazing top pitch of North West Passage Castell Helen, Gogarth
The amazing light and setting of Castell Helen. Llion belays as the sunsets
The dramatic Seascape brought to life with teh setting sun.

Hidden Talent

I was out last night enjoying the delights of Castell Helen, and only caught the backend of the Hidden Talent show, so watched it on 4oD this morning. I have to say that it was an interesting watch, although we saw less of the psychological side than I was expecting. I did have a look at the forums on UKC, and there were at least three threads, among which were the usual UKC comments.

Inparticular, people noticed that Tryfan has seen another reassessment of its height to 3000m, and the Old Man of Stoer was now one of the toughest rock climbs in the UK. I guess if we want to see climbing in the mainstream media then we have to allow the producers ‘artistic’ licence, as editors and media types probably don’t know the difference between feet and metres. Similarly the amount of threads on UKC about the UK grading systems shows that most climbers don’t understand our grading system, so why should a non climbing TV type! At least the climbing on this program was more ‘real’ than that Bear Grylls advert that is doing the rounds on the internet.

What this program really captured for me is both Maggie’s ability to remain calm, something which I imagine working as a nurse she has developed over time organically. Similarly her almost instant appreciatation of climbing made for interesting watching. Knowing that she now enjoys our sport is something of a testiment to both her and the coaches that have worked with her.

Inparticular Martin Chester, although she did a few courses with different instructors over the duration of her training. If you watched the program then for me the finale really captured something that as a coach I find the most rewarding thing. The vicarious joy of seeing a student you have nurture succeed at something that both you and they have been working towards.

What it shows I think isn’t neccessarily Natural Talent though, but the right attitude. Maggie entered into the process open and enthusiastic, and immersed herself in the activity. As a result she was rewarded with reaching the summit of the Old Man of Stoer. What I am about to say should take nothing away from her achievements, she was fantastic, and showed true climbing grit for someone with only a few weeks training.

The but though echos the thoughts from my last post of nature versus nurture. A nobel prise winner came up with the 10 years or 10000 hour rule of becoming the best in any thing, from sport to business. He also talked about those years or hours being full of deliberate practice, and thats where the coaching comes in. Rock climbing coaches are great at helping you develop that deliberate practice, and can accellerate the learning.

Now being both a coach and someone who has climbed the Old Man of Stoer, I think that there are many people who could achieve a similar end result in the same time frame. I can think of several examples from my coaching, who if they had the same mentoring as Maggie would have been able to climb the Old Man of Stoer. Why? Well at VS the route has one very hard section (We see Martin lead this first bit and Maggie struggle a bit in the rain), and the rest is considerably tamer, albeit totally wild position.

We have to remember though this was a form of light entertainment, and the producers had to tell a story. Albeit hammed up by interesting sound bites. If you are interested you can take the appitude test on the Hidden Talent website. If you’d like to get into climbing, and want someone to mentor you through your learning then you can find out more about my rock climbing coaching courses here. I have and apparently I do have an apptitude for rock climbing, but not for finding liars. Although I recognise a few of teh questions from various psychometric inventories, so maybe I skewed the results!

Hidden Talent: Channel 4 Tonight

About two years ago I was phoned by a TV company who were in the planning phases of a TV show, about unearthing natural yet Hidden Talent. Unfortunately I was about to head to South America working, so after a long conversation, I handed them onto one of my MSc tutors, who specialises in the reasons why we participate in high risk sports, and thought no more of it.

Then last Autumn I got a days work through PYB to keep a camera crew safe whilst they filmed a secret individual who had been selected from the original group of people. She was being filmed on her first lead climb, and I got talking to the producer about the tests they employed.

Before I go onto the test for climbing attributes, I have seen Richard Bacon doing the rounds of the TV show promoting the series, and whilst the climbing element will be of interest to the us climbers. Far more uplifting is one story of a guy who was living in a homeless shelter who showed an apptitude for languages.

After nineteen weeks training they managed to get him to read, write and talk arabic fluently. Which is totally amazing, more importantly, they appear to have given this guy something more to live for, and a career as a translator. He was tested by the military who apparently have an interest in teaching people arabic, so they have devised tests to see which of there serving soldiers have that aptitude.

In climbing there are no such tests. However Tim Woodman has researched the personality types that are linked with risk taking behaviour. As such by reversing the proceedure, could you find who fitted the personality profile. If you’d like to find out a little of the psychology behind why you climb, I am sure there will be insights into this. You may even find out what Alexithymia is, and how that too can effect why you take risks. I have been using a lot of Tim research in a chapter of my forthcoming book, this chapter explores the science and psychology of climbing, in an attempt to poo-poo the idea that ‘because its there’, is a rediculous reason, although there are elements hidden in the curiosity of this statement by Mallory.

One of the other experiment they called upon when testing the group to find out if they have a hidden talent for climbing was used in a study to assess how anxiety effects performances. It is the basis of one of the theories behind performance catastrophes, or why some athletes ‘choke’ under pressure or a golfer who gets the ‘yips’.

I don’t know when the climbing will feature, but I am sure the first programme in the series will feature all the Hidden Talents they are covering. What this programme will show is some of the psychology of climbing and other sports and activities. I am quite looking forward to seeing it.

My one problem with the climbing part of the program, is that I can see most climber through self-selection to the sport have the attributes they cover.  In that to choosing to climb you probably already have a reasonable fit to one of the broad categories of why people climb. However what is interesting is that this talent, trait or whatever you want to call it was hidden from the the people who eventually go onto develop and nurture that talent.

It is this nurturing part though that is most pogniant to the premise of the program. In that could any of us given 19 weeks ‘intensive’ training reach the same levels as the people featured in this program. The programme takes just one person using scientifically assessed criteria to match them to an activity, and present us through the magic of television, with a case that they have shown they have a ‘hidden talent’. Science though relies on double blind trials so how much is natural talent and how much is nurturing through training is going to be impossible to tell with this program, and I personally will be watching for how they frame the claims that they do.

The reason is I believe that especially with climbing, if someone wants to learn. Then you can certainly mould them through coaching to become a rock climber. As a climbing coach I would say that. It looks like being great entertainment and possibly informative show though, and thought you all might be interested. Its on at 9pm 24th April – TONIGHT!

North Wales Rock for Andriod Phone User

Well, having put my little North Wales Rock site together, I sent it over to Steve at theSend, and he mentioned that I needed to change the information about the North Wales Rock App for Andriod. As the team that have been developing it have gone full speed ahead, and are in the final furlong with regards its development.

It sounds like it will be with the Google Play, the andriod version of the App Store wiht the next few weeks. I will of course post here when it finally makes it there.

Inspired by a bit of Coding

Well, after sorting out the iCoach problem, I was inspired to try another bit of coding, so decided to try and code up a small page for another domain I have. The northwalesrock.com domain. I took down all the topos after releasing the iPhone guidebook app. So yesterday I tried to rapidally develop another site.

As you can see if looks nice, however I also wanted to code up an ethical RSS scrapper. So I used simplepie to process the feed, take out the information from the XML file I wanted, add a bit of code to limit the data to just the first 100 words of text, and allow people to travel across to the original blog post/news item.

As a blog writer I appreciate that many people ‘re-use’ feed to create/rip off content. Which is why I wanted the news section to only take a ‘excerpt’ and require anyone wanting to read the news to visit the site where the news item came from. Hopefully it will help bring a few random north wales climbing news sources together in one place, and allow the reader to easily choose what to read. If you’d like your feed featured, and it fits in with North Wales new. Please fire me an email or comment.

Boring I know for no techies, but the rain is just too aweful for climbing at the moment.