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At the young age of three (1996), Benjamin David Baldasano began his talents as a motocross rider. He first started out on a Suzuki 50cc and began to race his young competition.
In two short years he began his favorite sport, baseball (1998). His first team ever was the La Center Marlins with Rodney Krause as the head coach. At the same time he began racing and got his first high point trophy at Woodland MX Park. Although the he didn’t win, he placed third overall which is what began his competitive streaks.
Not only did he play baseball but he decided to test other sports out, in which he discovered basketball. For years he led his community Education/YMCA teams to several undefeated seasons.
In the year of 2000-2001 he started to really understand the basics of motocross and won state on his 65cc dirt bike, the first of its motor size. At the time there were only 60cc’s and he needed a bike that would out win his competition.
By 2002 the points were tallied and he won by quite a bit.
In the same years he also decided to test his skills with the wonderful sport of football. His first team ever was the Woodland beavers, even though he was located in La Center. The community was too small and he needed a large team to play for. The positions he played on was defensive back (safety, cornerback) and tight end on offense. The next year later (2004) he played for the Ridgefield Raiders and continued to play the same positions. Coaches then decided he should try running back.
Ben then decided to give football a break in the grade of 6 and focus mainly on baseball, basketball and motocross.
Then, in 7th grade Ben was in the most horrific crash and broke his clavicle right out of socket at Portland International Raceway. Which of course was just before basketball season which placed him on the C team. Of course that team was all about fun thanks to coach Scanlin. Next is where Ben changes his entire life and volunteers to play as the quarterback for the La Center Hawks. After a tragic first loss the team ends up finishing the season at a whopping 5-1.
The next year he tries out for the basketball team and makes the 8th grade team but was mainly a bench player, which causes him to quit in the 9th grade season on Junior Varsity.
But his 8th grade year, Ben and his Hawks placed 1st and went undefeated. A perfect 6-0 with an overall middle school record of 11-1.
In high school he followed through and began playing just baseball as an out fielder and as a quarterback for the La Center Wildcats.
Although in his junior year he quit due to lack of play but returned his senior year with a vengeance. Which he was then awarded the most improved player for that year.
Next Ben went off to college at Southern Oregon University and majored in science and is continuing to succeed. (2011)

Rapunzel Physics, Rumpelstiltskin Engineering: The Science Behind Fairy Tales

Wherever the pleasure of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and other folk tales may lie, it’s hardly in the plausibility of the stories, but it’s fun to see how particulars of the fantasy could actually occur in real life. Here are a few instances where fairy tale events don’t require any magic.

Climbing a Tower With Hair (Rapunzel)


If Rapunzel lets down her hair, could a prince really climb that golden stair? In 2011, a group of physics students at the University of Leicester investigated this question for the school’s Journal of Physics Special Topics, which is devoted to applying math and science to creative questions. One of the primary pieces of data needed for this calculation was the ultimate tensile strength of human hair: How much stress it can take while being stretched before breaking. The physicists cited a separate bit of research published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science that found that human hair’s ultimate tensile strength was around 380 Megapascals (MPa), which is stronger than cast iron, aluminum, and copper, but weaker than steel. Still, it seems to be enough for Rapunzel’s visitors to ascend without incident.

Rapunzel’s hair “could support a weight of 27kN, or just over 2750kg [over 6,000 pounds],” the group wrote. “It is, therefore, safe to conclude that Rapunzel’s hair could easily support the weight of a man.”

The real tricky question is whether Rapunzel’s hair could actually reach the ground. Human hair from the head grows at a rate of anywhere between 4-6 inches a year, so, depending on the height of the tower, the prince may have to wait a bit to meet the princess.

Spinning Straw Into Gold (Rumpelstiltskin)


Turning straw or at least certain plants into gold doesn’t require a spinning wheel or making a deal with a freaky little man who’s interested in hiding his name. All you need are the right chemicals.

Plants absorb a lot of material from the ground as they suck up water and nutrients, so if there are precious metals in the soil, they can soak bits of those up too. In 2002, Miguel Yacaman and Jorge Gardea-Torresdey from the University of Texas found a way to extract some of that gold from a variety of plants, including alfalfa, wheat, and oats. But they weren’t looking to mine hidden gold from the ground; the pair’s research focused on using plants to create special tiny particles of gold that can be used in biological research and nanoengineering. After plants have been grown in gold-rich mediums, the scientists can use solvents to dissolve the organic material and leave the gold nanoparticles behind.

Another group led by Chris Anderson at New Zealand’s Massey University has been experimenting with ways to help plants suck up gold—along with other materials like copper, arsenic, and mercury—more easily, in order to clean up contaminated mining sites. Like Yacaman and Gardea-Torresdey, Anderson’s team wasn’t looking to make a fortune off of their work, since the yields of gold are incredibly small for the amount of effort put in. But at least you don’t have to sign away your firstborn to get it.

Building Up an Immunity to Poison (The Princess Bride)


He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store; …
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat; …
—I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

—A. E. Houseman, from A Shropshire Lad

We now turn from the Brothers Grimm to other folklore, notably stories from ancient Turkey, Persia (e.g., Visakanyas), 19th century England, and modern children’s lit and Hollywood.

While iocane powder isn’t a real poison, the strategy that The Princess Bride hero Westley employed in tricking the villainous Vizzini—taking a bit of poison over a long time to build up an immunity to the substance—does seem to have a solid foot in reality. Better known as mithridatism (named for Mithridates, a king of Pontus, who, fearing assassination, legend has it, took small doses of poison to build up immunity), self-immunization has been practiced by pockets of (very brave or foolish) people throughout history who’ve made themselves immune to a range of poisons and toxins.

A group of “arsenic eaters” in 19th-century Austria regularly took small doses of the poison arsenic for a variety of reasons: as a digestive or sexual aid, to improve breathing, and even to develop attractive rosy cheeks. While these supposed benefits of arsenic remain unproven (and pale in comparison to accidental arsenic poisoning), the arsenic eaters did seem to be able to survive a normally fatal dose of the poisonous element. A review article in the journal Applied Organometallic Chemistry relates how, at a meeting of the Association of German Natural Scientists and Physicians in 1860, a Dr. Knapp brought along two arsenic eaters who ate 400 and 300 milligrams of arsenic trioxide and orpiment (arsenic sulfide), respectively, in front of the assembled scientists. Not only did the two arsenic eaters not die, but soon after the demonstration Dr. Knapp presented an analysis to the conference attendees showing the presence of arsenic in the volunteers’ urine.

There are also multiple credible reports of snake handlers who injected themselves with gradually increasing doses of diluted snake venom to guard against fatal bites. The most notable of these was William Haast, whose blood is credited with saving the lives of more than 20 snakebite victims.

However, because of the tricky ethical quandary of research involving human subjects and potentially lethal doses of material, the scientific literature is understandably thin on studies of self-immunization. So it’s hard to gauge just where the line lies between mithridatism and unintentional suicide. Legend has it, though, that Mithridates did meet his own end by the latter.

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Are We Really ~10 Years Away From Finding ‘Indications’ of Alien Life?

How long will extraterrestrials have to keep twiddling their thumbs (or equivalent alien digits) waiting for humanity to call? According to NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan, probably not long. At a panel discussion on habitable worlds and alien life on Tuesday, Stofan said she expected researchers to find real clues to extraterrestrial life—probably not intelligent life, but more likely alien microbes—within 10 years.

“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20-30 years. We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology,” said Stofan who will be joining us in New York for World Science Festival 2015.

Stofan’s estimate for finding life within the next decade or two isn’t too far from the ones given by scientists Jack Szostak, Paul Davies, Sara Seager, and Dimitar Sasselov in the 2014 World Science Festival program “Alien Life: Will We Know It When We See It?”

What Makes Experts Think Alien Life Likely?

Why all the optimism? For starters, there’s water out there, and life on Earth evolved in the oceans. As Stofan said on Tuesday: “The water molecule has these really unique properties, we think. It’s a solvent. It moves things around. It has really unique properties that we think are really critical to the formation of life not just on here on Earth but on other bodies in the solar system.”

Also, there seem to be an abundance of planets out there in the galaxy: In one tiny fraction of space, the Kepler space telescope alone has found more than 4,600 exoplanet candidates, with 1,022 confirmed. Based on some of the systems found by Kepler, some scientists estimate there are 100 billion alien planets in the Milky Way galaxy, with maybe 17 billion of those being Earth-sized. And we’re starting to find complex organic molecules in other star systems, suggesting that it’s not a feature unique to our solar system. That adds up to a lot of potential targets to look at. And after all, as the writer Thomas Carlyle said (and Carl Sagan was fond of quoting), if all those planets are devoid of life, “what a waste of space.”

Watch NASA’s panel discussion below.

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How do you protect yourself from a spouse making an application for money years after your separation/divorce?

A decision which was given on Wednesday 11th March in the appeal courts to allow Kathleen Wyatt permission to make an application in the family court after several years of separation will send shivers of horror down the spine of anyone who has been married but not formalised the details of their separation.

A consent order is the only guarantee that you will have against an ex spouse coming back for money years after your separation and divorce. The costs of a consent order are relatively minor compared to the amount of money that you could be ordered to pay out in the future.

It is not uncommon to not bother with a consent order as at the time of divorce if you think that you haven’t got anything to protect. I would always advise my clients’ to have a consent order however little they might think that they have. Nobody knows what could happen in the future, you may win the lottery or make a fortune using your business acumen and then you could be in the position Dale Vince is now in. Kathleen Wyatt and Dale Vince married in 1981 and had 1 child. Dale Vince is now worth approximately £107 million and did not expect to have to defend a claim by his ex wife when they had separated years ago.

As all family lawyers know, there are a number of factors which the court have to consider when deciding how best to divide up the family assets. These factors are referred to as section 25 factors (s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973). They include factors such as the length of marriage; welfare of minor children, contributions and so on. If you come out of a short child-less marriage, then you would expect to get less than someone who has been married for 25 years and brought up 3 children. The factors are a guide but assist solicitors and the courts in trying to achieve a fair outcome to enable both parties to move on with their lives and to meet their commitments if they have children to consider.

To reach a decision there are now a number of processes such as Mediation; Collaborative Law; Arbitration; Negotiation through solicitors or the court to help you achieve a legally binding solution so that you are not looking over your shoulder for years to come.

For further information please contact Julia Dyson (Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer) and Partner in our Family team at our Brighton & Hove office on 01273 766915 or email

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Japanese Knotweed – The Blight of Modern Gardens?

Japanese knotweed was introduced to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental plant. The Victorians failed to realise that it grows prolifically and its growth is not impeded by the presence of concrete, walls or floorboards. Even a few years ago, the presence of Japanese knotweed in a garden would not have been cause for concern. However, now if knotweed is discovered, this means that things are not all rosy in the garden, particularly if you are thinking of selling your home.

Japanese knotweed is classed as a controlled waste under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and must therefore be disposed of accordingly. This classification means that it must only be disposed of in special landfill sites. It is also very difficult to eradicate and can lie dormant for years. Depending on the extent of the ‘infestation’, treatment varies from spraying and injecting of the plant to digging down three metres to ensure that all roots have been removed, removing topsoil and then placing a protective membrane over the top and covering with fresh soil or rubble. Treatment has to be timed in accordance with the plant’s growth and flowering cycle. What ever treatment is used, it is probable that specialist firms will be required in view of the legislative framework surrounding its destruction.

Furthermore, failure to deal with the presence or growth of Japanese knotweed so that it impacts on neighbours or communities could leave you at risk of receiving a Community protection notice under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014. Ultimately this could result in a hefty fine or an anti social behaviour order. Similarly, if the Japanese knotweed is allowed to spread onto neighbouring land you could find yourself landed with a claim for nuisance.

If you are aware of the presence of Japanese knotweed in the vicinity of your home, when you come to sell this must be disclosed to a prospective purchaser. Whilst until recently most mortgage lenders would refuse to lend against a knotweed blighted property, this is no longer the case. Where a lender is willing to lend, however, it will require sight of a management plan to deal with the control and eradication of the plant. The lender might also insist that money is put aside to tackle and treat the problem. Notwithstanding this change in stance, given the costs and time involved in controlling and eradicating this plant, if found on or close to your property, it is possible that this will have an adverse effect on the value of it.

If you are looking to buy a new home, be proactive and ask your surveyor to investigate for evidence of Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants. Whilst the seller is obliged to disclose the presence of this plant, it is notoriously difficult to identify.

For further information please contact Claire Manning, a Partner in our Residential Property Team in our Sevenoaks office on 01732 448301 or via e-mail

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