January 2012

Cusco, Arequipa, Iquitos, Callao, Trujillo and Lima have been announced as nominees for the New 7 Wonders Cities campaign.








The six Peruvian cities were nominated along 1,200 cities from 220 countries.

The next stage of voting ends on March 7, and 300 cities will go on to the next round.

Voting will carry on throughout 2012 and 2013 and the 7 New Wonders Cities will be announced on December 7 2013.

New 7 Wonders Cities is the third campaign organized by New7Wonders, following the man-made New 7 Wonders of the World and the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

The Amazon Rainforest was named as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature of the World, on November 11.

The other 6 natural wonders are: Halong Bay, Vietnam; Iguazu Falls, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay; Jeju Island, Korea; Komodo, Indonesia; Puerto Princesa, Philippines; and Table Mountain, South Africa.

Peru is expected to receive over a million and a half visitors the final stages of the Dakar Rally, which is being held in the country.

“Just to give you an idea: in Argentina almost 3 and a half million people attended the 2011 Dakar Rally; in Chile, just over 1 million. And Peru is expected to host more than 1 million and a half supporters,” said Rosemary Hernandez, project manager at PromPeru.

2012 is the fourth year the Dakar Rally will travel to South America, and the first time it will run through Peru. The race will begin in Mar del Plata, Argentina, cross Chile, and end in Lima.

“Promperú and other institutions have done a pretty arduous works, but we are very happy. We are in charge of all promotional activities before and during the race. You can already feel Peruvian’s expectation, ” she said to Andina.

The Rally will consist of fourteen stages and will cover a total of 9,500 kilometers.

The Huacachina oasis is hot, day and night

The Huacachina oasis (Photo: Carlos Salas/PromPerú)

It is a bit like a dream, standing on the shores of the beautiful Huacachina oasis, contemplating the blue-green water and the immense sand mountains surrounding it all. There is no doubt that it is beautiful, and for that reason it attracts young crowds of both tourists and locals for prolonged weekend stays.

I did not enjoy the 5 hour bus ride with Cruz del Sur from Lima to Ica very much, however. It seems to me that Cruz del Sur doesn’t represent the good deal which it once did. The comfort just is not there, partly due to seat comfort- if the person in front of you leans back his seat, you will virtually get crushed- but in particular because of the never-ending show of videos with high volume thundering from the central speakers. This simply destroys the amazing scenery traveling along the southern Peruvian coast from Lima to Ica. On the way back, I traveled on Soyuz; it wasn’t any better, but at least it was cheaper.

When you arrive to Ica, the change of transportation to a taxi is very smooth, allowing you to arrive to Huacachina within 15 minutes for around S/. 6. Huacachina has an abundance of hostels and guest houses, and they practically all offer the same traditional sand buggy rides and sandboarding. I stayed at Carola del Sur, a sister hostel to Casa de Arena with the same owner, without the lush swimming pool and nightclub of Casa de Arena, but also without the noise.

The Carola del Sur. Photo by author.

Carola del Sur also offers great, spacious and clean rooms at very reasonable prices. The staff is very friendly and easy-going, and is at the same time well organized and secure. 
Before going out on the sand dune tours, I went on a classic city tour to Ica, visiting the main square of Ica and a pisco bodega, which gave a nice impression of this colonial town as well as some basic knowledge of the pisco distillation process. And of course, I got to taste some different piscos, with the opportunity to buy special and original Ica pisco, a good way of ensuring quality.

Sandboarding. Photo by author.

In the afternoon, I went on an awesome roller coaster ride in the buggies, bumping up and down in incredible sand dunes for a couple of hours. It is a thrilling and fun experience, which is a must do, as is the sandboarding which is a very cool and unique activity in Peru. However, it takes some practice to get the most of out it, and be careful – even though sand sounds like a soft surface, it is not so soft when you fall of a board in high speed descending a tall sand dune. But these buggies are just amazing, and it is absolute mandatory to go for such a thrilling ride.

A dune buggy. Photo by author.

I spent the entire evening at Casa de Arena, where I joined a barbecue buffet and free drinks for only S/. 50, a heck of a bargain, which you won’t find at many places. The food was great, and there was plenty of it. Later the nightclub opened, and this remodeled meeting place, combining rustic and modern design, is a spectacular spot for everybody (but in particular young people) in and around Ica.

The grounds of the Casa de Arena. Photo by author.

The place is huge, and there is room for many hundreds of people, and in fact it almost fills up on the weekends. The ground floor is an impressive large dance floor with two bars, and a big stage separates this floor from the VIP zone on the second floor.

The nightclub at Casa de Arena. Photo by author.

You can choose to sit down and talk, to go dancing to reggaeton rhythms, or simply hang around enjoying the environment from a distance – each level has the feeling of an exciting meeting place, as the place to be on a Saturday night. The place opens around 11pm, and fills in around 1am, and continues until the early morning, around 5am. This is indeed the place to be on a Saturday evening in Huacachina.

I had a fantastic prolonged weekend stay in Ica and Huacachina, and 3 days is just exactly enough to get something out of the trip, considering the almost 5 hour bus drive back and forth.
By Morten Bruun Jensen , January 2, 2012

 Morten Bruun is the co-founder and Chief Operations Manager for the Peru Experience travel agency.

All the cool kids seem to be doing it so I figured I’d compile a year-end list of my own favorite posts from this past Year of Blogging Shamelessly.

I Like Coffee, I Like Tea. All about interactive coasters, the physics of coffee rings, how to make siphon coffee (basically using pressure to create a vacuum during the brewing process), and how Fick’s laws of diffusion apply to brewing the perfect cup of tea.

Dueling Dualities. We tend to think of dualities as two different polar opposites, but in theoretical physics, it represents the notion that two seemingly different things might just be two different ways of looking at something. I was responding to Amanda Gefter’s wonderful Edge essay responding to the question, “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” As she wrote,

Embracing the physicist’s meaning of duality… can provide us with a powerful new metaphor, a one-stop shorthand for the idea that two very different things might be equally true. As our cultural discourse is becoming increasingly polarized, the notion of duality is both more foreign and more necessary than ever. If accessible in our daily cognitive toolkit, it could serve as a potent antidote to our typically Boolean, two-valued, zero-sum thinking — where statements are either true or false, answers are yes or no, and if I’m right, then you are wrong. With duality, there’s a third option. Perhaps my argument is right and yours is wrong; perhaps your argument is right and mine is wrong; or, just maybe, our opposing arguments are dual to one another.

Ticket to Ride. All about the “Euthanasia Coaster” invented by Julijonas Urbonas, a designer, artist, engineer and PhD student specializing in “gravitational aesthetics.” Yes, a coaster designed in such a way probably could kill you.

And the Oscar Goes To…. A fond look back at some of the best nods to physics in the films of 2010.

Driven to Diffraction. The physics of diffraction gratings, or why your DVDs work.

Babble-Onia. How nifty new speech recognition algorithms might one day solve “the cocktail party problem.”

Rubber Band Man. The physics of “shrinkage” in rubber, whether it be dildos or space shuttle o-rings. Special video appearances by the late Richard Feynman, and the very present Brian Cox giggling at a tabletop LHC model built entirely out of adult “toys.” [Mildly NSFW]

Bring Back Your Dead. The physics of cryogenics, and why it’s the unthawing process that’s the real killer when it comes to reviving cryogenically frozen folks.

Thrown for a Curve. Responding to a terrific post at Wired by my pal David Dobbs, I explore the physics of the curve ball, including the seminal experiments conducted at NIST by a man named Lyman Briggs.

So You Want to Be a Science Consultant. Advice for scientists with stars in their eyes about consulting on Hollywood movies and TV series. tl;dr: Don’t quit your day job.

Drunken Masters of Lingua Franca. At an acoustics conference in June, Abby Kaplan, who works in the linguistics department at the University of Utah, had some interesting things to say about drunken speech patterns — namely, whether it’s harder to pronounce certain sounds or words when intoxicated. I’m betting she had a lot of volunteers for the drunken group. Bonus: why it’s harder to understand foreign accents, and a bit of drunken boxing, courtesy of Jackie Chan.

What Woody Woodpecker Can Teach Us About Football. The high incidence of concussion and long-term brain damage in professional football has scientists lining helmets with high-tech sensors to better understand the forces at work in producing such injuries. They’re also looking into new materials to reduce the impact of those forces, and drawing inspiration from Mother Nature — specifically the humble woodpecker and why it never gets a headache.

Yodel All the Way. Why yes, there’s a science as well as art to yodeling. Features “Lonelly Goatherd” plus a video duet of “Nessun Dorma” between a human tenor and an operatic robot called Pavorobotti.

Flushed With Pride. The sound of one toilet flushing can be very loud indeed. That’s why acoustics researchers study how to reduce toilet flushing noise in adjacent offices. It’s science!

I also blog about the latest space, astrophysics and particle physics research over at Discovery News. Here’s a few of my favorite posts from the past year in that venue.

Solving the Mystery of Frankenstein’s Moon. An astrophysicist and “forensic astronomer” at Texas State University named Donald Olson has concluded that there is no good reason to doubt Mary Shelley’s account of being inspired after experiencing a “waking dream” as moonlight streamed through her bedroom window.

Physicists Bid Farewell to the Tevatron. After a spectacular 28-year run, Fermilab’s Tevatron is shut down, signaling the end of an era in particle physics.

Reality Check: What are Those Naughty Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos Really Up To? “I’m sorry to report that, for all the hoopla, the general consensus that has emerged over the last couple of days is that (a) it’s a really interesting, potentially exciting result, but (b) it probably won’t hold up over time.”

Einstein’s Anti-Gravity Underwear and Other Weighty Matters. An 1879 issue of The London Punch credited Thomas Edison with the invention of antigravity undergarments. It was satire, of course, but prompted a blog post looking at some of the most infamous anti-gravity schemes in recent history.

Higgs Field Makes a Cameo on SyFy’s Eureka. One of my favorite sci-fi series on TV had a bit of fun with anti-gravity, too, thanks to a fictional “Higgs field disruptor” that causes various objects in Eureka start to lose mass and float away. I indulge in a bit of nerd-gassing and examine the underlying science.

Oh Pioneer! Mysterious Anomaly May Finally Be Solved. A flurry of recent papers could lay to rest once and for all a longstanding mystery in astrophysics: the so-called “Pioneer anomaly,” an as-yet-unexplained deceleration of NASA’s Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecraft in their wanderings beyond our solar system. A follow-up postoffered further evidence that the culprit is more likely to be heat than something more exotic (like modified gravity).

Physicists Observe Neutrino “Quick Change” in Japan. In June, the Japanese T2K (Tokai to Kamioka) experiment announced the first evidence (PDF) of a rare form of neutrino oscillation, whereby muon neutrinos turn into electron neutrinos. And this, in turn, gives physicist a potential clue to a critical mystery in cosmology: why there is something in the universe, rather than nothing. Fermilab’s MINOS experimentconfirmed the observation the next month.

The Soviet Particle Accelerator that Time Forgot. Back in the late 1980s, the USSR started building what would have been the largest particle accelerator in the world in a town called Protvino. And an enterprising group of urban spelunkers rediscovered it and took some pretty impressive photographs.

Fermilab’s Bump Hunters See Hints of New Particle. Okay, it wasn’t the Higgs boson, but in June there was a flurry of excitement over a slight bump in the data from Fermilab’s CDF experiment that offered compelling evidence for a possible new particle. Alas, the sister detector, D-Zero, weighed in shortly after and put the kibosh on all the excitement: they didn’t see the same signal.

What Happens to Snails in Space? A new paper by a team of US and Russian scientists that appeared in April on PLoS investigated the effects of microgravity on, well, snails.

On the Trail of Magnetic Monopoles. In the season 2 finale of The Big Bang Theoryeveryone’s favorite socially challenged physicist, Sheldon, accepts an invitation to spend three months at the North Pole searching for magnetic monopoles. He figures finding a magnetic monopole would put him on the fast track for a Nobel Prize. And he would be right. But he shouldn’t count on finding one right away; magnetic monopoles have eluded our best scientists for centuries.

Finally, a propos of nothing in particular, here’s one of my favorite physics-y songs, by The Cat Empire. Enjoy! And here’s to another year of bloggy goodness in 2012.

Jennifer OuelletteAbout the Author: Jennifer Ouellette is a recovering English major turned science writer who loves to indulge her inner geek by finding quirky connections between physics, popular culture, and the world at large.
The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.