Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 22 January 2015 13:24

Mazda MX-5 World Series race car

Mazda has already announced the new MX-5 Cup one-make race series events that will be launched globally in 2016, but this was the first time we’d seen the fully painted race version sitting on slick race rubber.

It is based on the US-spec Cup Car with six-point roll cage, with adjustable suspension, slick tyres, bigger brakes, race harness and seats.

There is an annual four-hour MX-5 Media Race at Japan’s Tsukuba Circuit in September this year with 25 examples of the coupe take to the 2 km long track. (Perhaps I should let Mazda know I am available!)

The US-spec car will incorporate a 2.0 liter engine, the Japanese version will get the 1.5 liter SKYACTIV engine that will be offered on the Japan-spec production model, which is due to be in the showrooms in June this year.

Thursday, 22 January 2015 13:23

New cars revealed in Tokyo, too

Mitsubishi used the 2015 Tokyo auto salon to reveal its most powerful Evo yet, the Evolution 10 Final Concept.

Mitsubishi have apparently called it quits with the Evo 10 to be the last of the popular Evo series, so no Evo 11 to look forward to. However, rather than say there actually will be an Evo 11, they have called this latest iteration the Evolution 10 Final Concept.

Incorporating a retuned ECU and new HKS turbo churning out 353 kW, this is the most powerful Evo yet.

The Final Concept Evo is based on a five-speed GSR and generates 135 kW more power than the GSR, with an upgraded cooling system (larger air intakes and intercoolers) designed to improve thermal dynamics. A new exhaust, adjustable suspension from HKS and 19-inch Rays forged wheels are also added.

Currently it will have a 6 speed auto transmission, but after March this year it can be ordered with a 6 speed manual box.

Thursday, 22 January 2015 13:20

Honda’s hybrid-Mugen combo

Honda focused heavily on combining its best technologies in a range of hybrid-powered Mugen-tuned production cars. With the Mugen Legend large car leading the way boasting an original Mugen carbon fiber spoiler and rear wing and 20 inch wheels, Honda has also added ‘hybrid’ to other Japanese models to create the Mugen Grace (sold here as the Honda City), Mugen HR-V, Mugen Fit RS AutoSalon Special and Mugen Jade.

Mugen Grace.

Thursday, 22 January 2015 13:18

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned a famous ‘production’ sports car that had a top speed of 370 km/h with a fuel consumption of 80 L/100 km. With turbocharging it developed more than 1000 BHP. I asked what was it? It was the Porsche 917.

So to this week. There is a car preserved in the Turin Automobile museum, which was built for the Monaco GP of 1935. It had an eight cylinder radial two stroke engine and front wheel drive. What was this car?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:40

Blood group differences - Thai and Farang

A couple of weeks ago, a call went out to the farang population in Thailand for some Rh negative blood. This happens around three times a year, and each time this stimulates some of our more public spirited foreigners to ask why there is a shortage, and what can be done about it?

The basic problem does come down to some of the many differences between Caucasian races and Asian races, and I’m not talking about cultural differences here. Just as there is a difference in hair types and skin types, there are differences in blood types as well.

The question is often asked as to why the blood collection agencies just don’t stock up on the rarer groups, so there is always some to call upon. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy, as the ‘shelf life’ of blood is only around 30 days.

Blood transfusions and blood banks only came about in the 1930’s with Sergei Yudin of Russia organizing the world’s first blood bank at the Nikolay Sklifosovskiy Institute, which set an example for the establishment of further blood banks in different regions of the Soviet Union and in other countries. By the mid-1930s the Soviet Union had set up a system of at least sixty five large blood centers and more than 500 subsidiary ones, all storing blood and shipping it to all corners of the country.

News of the Soviet experience traveled to the United States, where in 1937 Bernard Fantus, director of therapeutics at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, established the first hospital blood bank in America. In creating a hospital laboratory that preserved and stored donor blood, Fantus coined the term ‘Blood Bank’. Within a few years, hospital and community blood banks were established across the United States and in 1940 Willem Johan Kolff organized the first blood bank in Europe.

With the discovery of blood groups, generally classified by the ABO system (so we are generally either A, B, O or AB) it was soon apparent that there were differences in their distribution in the world. There are many reasons for this, including susceptibility to disease of various blood groups, population drifts, inter-marriage and others. However, the end result is that simplistically the Asian population has a different distribution of ABO groups from the Caucasian population; for example, blood group B is far more predominant in the East than in the West.

When you look at one of the other blood typing systems, the Rhesus grouping into Positive or Negative, even greater disparities become apparent. The Asian population has very little Rhesus Negative (0.3 percent), compared to the Caucasians (15 percent). For interest, 50 percent of Basques are Rhesus Negative, one of the highest in the world.

Recently there has been the discovery of another blood type called the Bombay group. This is a version of O +ve, that was not compatible with the usual O +ve blood. First identified in Mumbai, from which the group derives its name, so far there have been just 179 such cases reported in India. However, even in India, there have been cases where doctors could not find a donor for transfusion of the Bombay group blood that would have been necessary. Even though it has first been identified in Mumbai, the city is now believed to have just 35-40 people with the group.

Consequently, you can see that when there is a need for blood for a number of injured Caucasians in an Asian country, the chances of there being sufficient blood stocks are virtually nil.

If you are a farang resident in Thailand, please have your blood grouped and if you are Rhesus Negative, go on a register at the local Red Cross, or even the nearest large hospital, so that you can be called upon in emergencies.

Currently, post disaster (or ‘between disasters’) there is no desperate shortage, but since blood does not keep ‘forever’ there will be times in the future when we will need Rhesus Negative blood, so don’t spill it in the streets, spill it at the Red Cross!

My hospital has regular donation days in conjunction with the Red Cross, so keep that in mind too.

Thursday, 15 January 2015 11:06

Bucciali TAV

There have been some amazing motor cars over the years, especially from the late 20’s and early 30’s. The Bucciali TAV was a classic example, built along the lines of the Bugatti Royale.

Thursday, 15 January 2015 11:01

A pick-up you won’t get here

The world’s fastest pick-up was released in Australia in 2014. Holden Special Vehicles unveiled the world’s fastest pick-up in September and the first 150 sold out in one day despite a THB 2.7 million price tag.

With even more demand, Holden Special Vehicles then built another 250 versions of the HSV GTS Maloo (including 10 for New Zealand) because some longstanding customers missed out.


The HSV GTS Maloo is powered by a supercharged 6.2 liter V8 with 430 kW of power and 740 Nm of torque and can do the zero to 100 km/h dash in 4.5 seconds, as fast as a Porsche. It also has the biggest brakes ever fitted to a pick-up anywhere in the world. With that kind of performance, the owners of these ‘super pick-ups’ will need the big brakes.

Thursday, 15 January 2015 11:01

Technology that just blows me away

Can you imagine sound technology that would allow you to listen to Beethoven while the kids listen to Ben 10? Sounds too amazing to be true for me, but not so, says a friend Nick Bailey in the UK, representing the Harman Company.

Harman’s Individual Sound Zones (ISZ) is a new in-cabin technology that enables drivers and passengers to create sonic zones, ensuring that all occupants only hear what matters to them.

While there are many different sounds generated in-vehicle, not all of these sounds are relevant to all passengers. Today’s explosion of portable electronics and in-vehicle technologies like navigation, hands free calling and Bluetooth connections have dramatically altered our driving habits and in-cabin experience. Navigation prompts and phone calls are important for drivers, but interrupt the music for passengers. Games, audio books and digital videos for one passenger result in a cabin filled with sonic clutter for all. Harman’s new ISZ technology can help reduce that clutter, ensuring that all occupants in the vehicle hear only what matters to them.

“Individual Sound Zones and the HALOsonic technology suite enable automakers to offer enhanced experiences to passengers, as well as imagine new possibilities as the car itself continues to evolve in use beyond the traditional ‘people mover’,” said Michael Mauser, president, Lifestyle Division, Harman. “With Harman’s science-based architecture and acoustic precision, we’re pushing the barriers of sound and creating the ultimate personalized experience throughout the vehicle cabin.”

ISZ is an innovative acoustic design and complementary digital signal processing that maximizes speaker directivity and minimizes crosstalk in and between the zones in a vehicle for a more personalized in-cabin experience. ISZ does not eliminate all sound signals, but tunes the vehicle to ensure passengers audio experience is optimized for their location in the vehicle and current mode of listening.

ISZ utilizes a vehicle’s existing audio system speakers with the addition of headrest speakers equipped with micro speaker technology, along with thin and flat Electro Dynamic Planar Loudspeakers in the vehicle ceiling. The digital signal processing has been specifically adjusted to the vehicle cabin and speakers such that it will temper the signals from other zones, regardless of whether they are music, voice or other noises. Each passenger can activate and control their “zone.” Passengers can still hear other sounds in the cabin, but those sounds are controlled in a way that limits the interruptions and distractions to each passenger’s own sound experience. The configuration can be customized based on the cabin design and layout of vehicles, as well as type of vehicle (i.e. sedan vs. minivan).

Individual Sound Zones can be integrated into any Harman in-car audio system via the amplifier, providing automakers limitless possibilities to further enhance in-car listening experiences. It is available now to all automakers.

This still sounds space-age to me!

Thursday, 15 January 2015 10:57

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I said have a look at the photo. This car was built in 2007. I asked what is it? It was a Zagato Diatto Ottovu. At least that made it hard for the Googlers! Diatto was an Italian manufacturing company founded in 1835 in Turin by Guglielmo Diatto. They began making cars in 1905 and Diatto was known for innovative engineering and as early as the 1920s their cars were equipped with four-wheel brakes and four-speed gearboxes. Unfortunately, the company folded in 1929. However it was resurrected on 9 February 2007 by Zagato who announced the revival of the Diatto marque to celebrate its 100th anniversary. At the 77th Geneva Motor Show in March 2007 it unveiled the new all-aluminum sports car called the Zagato Diatto Ottovù. So there you are!

Zagato DiattoZagato Diatto

So to this week. This famous ‘production’ sports car had a top speed of 370 km/h with a fuel consumption of 80 L/100 km. With turbocharging it developed more than 1000 BHP. What was it?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wednesday, 14 January 2015 14:28

Is Cancer just “Bad Luck”?

The January 2 edition of the journal Science was led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the USA, and based on a statistical model that includes many types of cancer in a range of human tissues. Its conclusion was that cancer is often caused by the “bad luck” of random mutations that arise when cells divide, not family history or environmental causes.

However, it did not include breast cancer, which is the most common cancer in women, or skin cancer which is the most common cancer in men, followed by prostate cancer.

In the adult cancers they did measure (and not a very comprehensive list either), about two-thirds of these could be explained by random mutation in genes that encourage tumors to grow, while the remaining one third was due to environmental factors and inherited genes.

“This study shows that you can add to your risk of getting cancers by smoking or other poor lifestyle factors,” said study author Bert Vogelstein, a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“However, many forms of cancer are due largely to the bad luck of acquiring a mutation in a cancer driver gene regardless of lifestyle and heredity factors.”

He added that people who live a long time without getting cancer, despite being long-time smokers or being exposed heavily to the sun, do not have “good genes.” “The truth is that most of them simply had good luck,” he added.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Johns Hopkins is a well known and respected university, but this study, as reported in Science January 2, is not well enough documented. How many cancers did they study? Especially having excluded the major cancers, how many were left? To my simple mind, looking at a small percentage of the whole and drawing conclusions from it is risky to say the least.

They reported that the team sought to look at cancer in a new light, by searching the scientific literature for information on how many times stem cells divided over the course of an average person’s lifespan.

This process of self-renewal occurs naturally in the body and helps repopulate cells that die off in a specific organ. However, I would point out that this self-renewal is not 100 percent, otherwise we would all live for ever as there would be no kidney disease, for example, as all you have to do is sit tight and wait for spontaneous cell renewal.

They also claim that researchers have long understood that cancer can arise when stem cells make random mistakes, known as mutations. (Note the use of “can” arise and not “will” arise.)

But the study represents the first attempt at comparing how many cancers arise from this process, compared to family history or environmental factors.

Some 22 cancer types arising in 31 tissues studied could be traced back to random mutations, the study found.

The other nine “had incidences higher than predicted by ‘bad luck’ and were presumably due to a combination of bad luck plus environmental or inherited factors,” the university said.

These nine types included lung cancer and skin cancer - which are influenced by exposure to smoke and sunshine - as well as some cancers known to be hereditary.

The findings mean that an even greater emphasis should be placed on early detection of cancer and research that could detect these harmful random acts before they lead to widespread cancer.

“Changing our lifestyle and habits will be a huge help in preventing certain cancers, but this may not be as effective for a variety of others,” said biomathematician Cristian Tomasetti, an assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“We should focus more resources on finding ways to detect such cancers at early, curable stages.” Breast and prostate cancers were not included in the study because the literature did not show reliable stem cell division rates in those areas of the body, the authors said.

So, because these major cancers did not fit in with their study, they left them out.

But I do agree with the concept of early detection to get the development of cancer at the early stages.

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