iFive: Another Rig Explosion, NASA’s Mine Solutions, Impossible Soccer Goals, China’s Great Jam, Korean Cash

Innovation doesn’t sleep, even though you do: But it might get stuck in huge Chinese traffic jams

While you were sleeping, the innovating world spun on: Now next time your boss asks you to make a quick Skype call to the team before you head to work, you might be greeted by the sight of nine of your colleagues in their PJs.


1. Another oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico goes boom, but up to the minute reports suggest it’s not one billionth as much an environmental problem as the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster was. Vermillion Block 380, a Mariner Energy platform, exploded early yesterday with all 13 crew escaping successfully into the ocean–they’re all safe and sound now. The Coast Guard then reported a mile-long, 100-foot-wide sheen was spreading from the site across nearby ocean waters, but that’s now been disproved. BP, on the other hand, hasn’t got such good news, as it’s estimating the costs of its disaster have risen to $8 billion. And here’s a problem: New drilling permit restrictions may mean it couldn’t afford to pay off local fishermen, or even clean up as much of the mess. Ouch.

2. NASA readies its solutions for Chile’s trapped miners, after working feverishly since Wednesday on ideas to help. Tonight they’ll be presenting its suggestions, which will center around the sled-like cage that’ll be lowered down a fresh-dug shaft into the shelter where the 33 men are waiting for rescue. It could take well over an hour to get each man out, even after the rescue shaft has been dug, so one option may be to blindfold or sedate each man to reduce the stress of the extraction–something fun for them to look forward to. Meanwhile at least five of the men have something less fun to look forward to: Sorting out the fuss between their newly revealed mistresses and their wives.

3. Scientists proved an “impossible” soccer goal wasn’t, um, impossible. It’s taken 13 years (who needs goal line tech?), but a team of French scientists have swallowed their damaged Gallic pride, and proved the science behind an astonishing free-kick goal against France by Brazil’s Roberto Carlos. The kick’s been described as a fluke or even “impossible,” but some clever experiments and math have demonstrated that anyone–well, anyone with a phenomenally powerful and accurate kick–could reproduce the fantastically curved shot that left the French goalie Barthez immobile and stunned back in 1997.

4. China’s got a new landscape feature: A great line of cars–120km long. It’s not an art stunt, a sales PR event, or a natural disaster: It’s a traffic jam. Over 10,000 vehicles are stuck in it, it’s been going on since Tuesday, and it’s on the Beijing to Tibet motorway. It’s also not our fault: Though China’s high tech factories are making gadgets for us by the million, the jam is caused by coal trucks and roadworks rather than container trucks full of iPads or smartphones. Unlike the Great Wall, you can’t see it from space, we suspect, so it’s no real “Great Jam.” But the Chinese would probably name it differently anyway, as they’ve just published the official Chinese names for close to 500 features on the moon, to aid its exploration plans, irrespective of the 9,000-plus names the International Astronomical Union has already chosen.

5. While parts of the world are still nervous about their fiscal future, South Korean is doing pretty well: It’s just reported its economy grew at an annual rate of 7.2% for the last quarter, putting it in line with hopes for the complete year’s performance as economic recovery arrives. Is it the sales of lots of Samsung goodies, targeting Apple’s million-sellers, we wonder?

To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.


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