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* Posts by Mike Richards

3578 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Startup slices solar panels using ion gun

Mike Richards
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Probably not, the Reg has a spellchecker.

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Apple iPad sales slip as cheap Android tablet tsunami looms

Mike Richards
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Where's the money?

Even with a reduced market share, Apple still has the high end pretty much to itself.

I wonder if the board of Apple ever play Scrooge McDuck and go and swim through oceans of dollar bills in their vaults?

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LOHAN's fantastical flying truss takes to the air

Mike Richards
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Re: Exxxxxcellent news smithers

That's a great question - one other...

When will we get to see video of LOHAN and a donkey?

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Underwater Greek volcano brewing Lara Croft style earthquake

Mike Richards
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Re: GPS underwater?

That's probably the submarine volcano Kolumbos to the NE of Santorini which is only about 15m beneath the surface. It's seismically extremely active, but hasn't had any known eruptions since the 17th Century - when it covered much of the surrounding area in ash and pumice.

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Mike Richards
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Re: GPS underwater?

You're good. There are two islands in the caldera, all formed by resurgent vulcanism since the caldera was formed. They're Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni which translate as New Burnt and Old Burnt respectively. They've been intermittently active for about 2000 years with the last explosive eruption in 1939-40 followed by quiet dome building in 1950 (IIRC).

This sort of deformation isn't uncommon in calderas as magma is regularly injected into the underlying magma chamber and then withdrawn again. It may, or may not presage more vulcanism in the very near future. If you want a good example of one that scared people witless a while back, the small town of Pozzuoli west of Naples sits in the middle of the Campi Flegrei caldera which last had a minor eruption in 1538 when the completely new volcano Monte Nuovo popped up in the middle of some fields. Between 1982 and 1984 they experienced thousands of small quakes and the ground bulging by 40cm - at its peak the town was rising by 4mm per day! Unsurprisingly, there were predictions of an imminent eruption, so the town was evacuated. After a few tense months the ground began to deflate and the area returned to its usual levels of seismicity.

And Campi Flegrei is a real monster of a volcano, about 37kya it produced 200km3 of white hot foam that now underlies most of the Bay of Naples. About 2 million people live in and around it who might need to be evacuated in a hurry. And you've seen what Italian traffic is like on a good day.

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Game Group shares slide under a penny

Mike Richards
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Re: Multiple Stores

In some cases it will be the lease is so long term that they can't close the store without incurring huge penalties from the leaseholder.

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New Yorker sues Apple: 'Misleading and deceptive' Siri ads

Mike Richards
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Quick question

Are their any 4S owners here who can tell us whether they think Siri's performance is different from when they first got their new phones?

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PayPal slaps down Dr Who ‘charity book’

Mike Richards
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You need a US address and formal US ID to run a Kickstarter project (anyone, anywhere can contribute to an existing project).

Kickstarter have been promising to open up to other countries for a couple of years now. First they blamed Amazon Payments for only being available in America, but that's no longer the case. They've even stopped giving updates of when they expect to offer Kickstarter in the rest of the world.

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Mass Effect 3

Mike Richards
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Re: NOT the Matrix

Or even further back, Jack McDevitt's excellent novel 'The Engines of God'.

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MICRORAPTOR dino-pigeon lured mates with glowing feathers

Mike Richards
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Iridescence isn't the same as luminescence (glowing).

But I still think velociraptors look wrong with feathers whatever the fossils say.

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Solar storm arrives, nobody notices

Mike Richards
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Re: I just went ouside, looked up

That's Mars. It's quite brilliant at the moment. If you can get to a telescope it's well worth a squint.

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Flying Spaghetti Monster's works spotted in space

Mike Richards
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Note to self: find how to reliably identify Venus/Mars/Jupiter in sky (I have no talent in astronomy, but I'm sure I'll be able to work it out).

There's an app for that ;)

If you want to go the old fashioned route. When Venus is visible it is always found relatively close to the Sun so it is best seen around sunrise or sunset. It is by far the brightest natural object in the sky apart from the Sun and the Moon and appears bright white. With a telescope or a pair of binoculars you might even be able to see the phases of the planet.

Jupiter is fainter and never shows phases.

Right now you can see Venus and Jupiter quite close together around sunset in the Western sky - they are both very bright. Venus is closer to the horizon than Jupiter. Meanwhile on the other side of the sky you can see Mars - it's very bright and in a region with few bright stars and distinctly reddish orange - even in built up areas.

HTH.

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Ten... stars of the Geneva Motor Show

Mike Richards
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There was a new Maserati - everything else in the world is ugly and boring.

http://www.autoblog.com/2012/03/07/2012-maserati-granturismo-sport-geneva-2012/

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3D: 10% of LCD TVs in 2011, 25% in 2012

Mike Richards
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Another stat would be useful

How much 3D content is being bought or rented? A good number of 3D Blu-Rays are on the market right now, it'd be interesting to know how their sales compare to conventional disks and how the trend is shaping up.

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Katie Price's teasing 'strapline reveal' avoids bust

Mike Richards
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Is it just me

That finds: 'You’re not you when you’re hungry @snickersUk #hungry #spon ...' utterly unintelligible? It's not exactly Don Draper stuff is it?

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Why on Earth would you build a closed Android phone?

Mike Richards
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Re: A maker who -

They're doomed.

But this is a great idea in a world of iPhone photocopies.

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Microsoft and Apple should hit Amazon, not Google

Mike Richards
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Based on Goldman Sachs' previous form

They're probably taking positions to benefit from an Amazon stock collapse whilst publicly telling their clients to invest in the company.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldman_Sachs#Abacus_mortgage-backed_CDOs

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Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4

Mike Richards
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Re: Struggling to see the point?

As other more knowledgeable folks have pointed out, this gives you a more efficient use of the diesel. Something similar has been used for locomotives since the 1930s.

Which makes me wonder - any chance of a diesel hydraulic car?

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Mike Richards
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Re: Well at least it would be very economical,

Oh come on, it's far less ugly than that horrible kick-it-Kuga also on this site.

And both are positively delightful compared to the horror that is the BMW X6 - think coupe shape on a 4x4 chassis - go on Google it, I'll be here waiting…

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Eric Schmidt flicks INTERSTELLAR TOWEL at top tech fair

Mike Richards
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Googlfrinchans

We should be very worried if the next generation of Google phones all come with a sachet of Triclosan.

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Boffins, tourists threaten Antarctica with alien invasion

Mike Richards
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Science

There's a good scientific reason for not wanting tourists carrying seeds to Antarctica - because it spoils research into how nature colonises formerly barren areas.

A good comparison is with the Icelandic island of Surtsey which was formed between 1963 and 1967. The island and its surrounding waters are closed to the public and can only be accessed by accredited scientists who are performing a long term study of how the island is being colonised from a bare rock to one that now holds hundreds of different species.

Even then they have to take care about accidentally introducing new species, in one case a tomato plant sprouted on Surtsey; it had from a seed that had escaped from someone's lunch. Even though there was almost no risk of the plant fruiting in the shall we say - brisk - Icelandic summer, the plant was torn up and removed from Surtsey to avoid contamination.

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Robot NIGHTMARE sets new leggy-bot speed record

Mike Richards
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Obviously

We have to get to work resurrecting dinosaurs immediately - packs of velociraptors are the only things that will be able ward off the killer robots.

There is literally nothing that can go wrong with this plan.

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China aims its most powerful rocket ever AT THE MOON

Mike Richards
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Re: "NASA's mighty Saturn V [...] is capable of 3,400 metric tons."

The blueprints exist, the assembly facilities are still standing and the launchpads could be modified back to Saturn V spec - the only things the US lacks right now is a determination to get back into space and the money.

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Space FIREBALL over Blighty sparks hunt for rich meteorite

Mike Richards
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"Our own origins are locked up in these pieces of rock. They are pristine material from the beginning of the solar system and hold the ingredients of life. "

That rather depends on the meteorite (if anything survives). Chondrites - especially the carbonaceous chondrites are almost pristine - only lacking some of the volatile elements with very early dates, and yes, they contain amino acids; but many other types of meteorite are mineralogically highly evolved with a large range of dates; eucrites from Vesta are over 200 My younger than most meteorites, whilst shergottites from Mars are as young as 180My.

If this chunk did hit the surface, there's not a huge chance of finding it; 90%+ of all known meteorites are stony, which to the untrained eye look like - well - stones. But good luck to anyone who does find a meteorite - just hope it's a pallasite:

http://www.arizonaskiesmeteorites.com/AZ_Skies_Links/Esquel/371gEsquel/

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Asteroid could SMASH INTO EARTH in 2040

Mike Richards
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Re: Hypothetically speaking...

A rule of thumb for impacts is to take the size of the object and multiply by ten to get the size of the impact crater.

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Xeroxiraptor: Boffins to print 3D robot dinosaur

Mike Richards
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I demand all other science (yes even LOHAN) is stopped this moment until robot dinosaurs are made real.

And can we scrap this silly 'scaled down' requirement?

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RIP: Peak Oil - we won't be running out any time soon

Mike Richards
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Well the unconventional gas figures don't stand much scrutiny so I don't think we should put too much faith in another bunch dealing with unconventional oil reserves.

The most common figure cited for American gas reserves is 2,170 trillion cubic feet (tcf) from the Potential Gas Committee. Which is often said to be a 95-year supply if 2010 consumption figures are maintained.

Of that, 273 tcf are "proved reserves," stuff we are fairly sure is there and can be produced economically. 536.6 tcf are "probable" from existing fields, it probably exists and might be economically recoverable. 687.7 tcf is "possible" from new fields - gas that might be in new fields if and when we find them and might be recoverable. Beyond that are 518.3 tcf of "speculative," gas - the meaning is in the title and 176 tcf for coalfield gas of which 90% has not been proven.

In short the US has 11 years of proven gas, 21 of proven and possible reserves and everything after that is an unknown. And that's not even taking into account the percentage of any gas that can be recovered from a field.

As for the rig counts - does it show there is a huge untapped supply of gas out there? No, it shows that shale needs a lot more rigs than conventional reserves and that shale gas wells are tapped out much more quickly than traditional gas wells.

Oh and some of the operators might have been overstating production and reserves:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8212

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Met Office wants better supercomputer to predict EXTREME weather

Mike Richards
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Re: make greater use of probabilistic information in their weather forecasts

I should be all in favour of probabilistic forecasting, except this is the country where people have trouble with concepts like 'greater than' and 'less than'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2007/nov/08/minusagraspforfigures

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CRACK made by quakes FOUND ON MOON

Mike Richards
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More likely they're down to the interior of the Moon contracting as it has cooled.

The range on the ages of these features is pretty wide; they're anywhere from 1.2 Gya to 50 Mya years ago (most probably towards the younger end of the scale). Lunar geologists have an especially broad definition of 'recent' - even compared to terrestrial geologists.

That there was much going on on the Moon after 1 Gya is interesting enough; the youngest feature with a firm(ish) date is the Compton–Belkovich thorium anomaly, a patch of highly evolved silicic rock on the lunar far side which has been estimated at 800 Mya - 1 Gya.

It'd be interesting to see if any of the glowing Transient Lunar Phenomena which are occasionally reported by astronomers can be tied to these faults. One of the explanations for TLPs is that gas might still be coming out of the interior of the Moon.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Very cool...

'Does the moon still have a hot core? Is there anyway to find out (from earth)? Probably not unless one observed some sort of Luna volcano??'

The exact state of the Moon's core is uncertain. Apollo left a series of ALSEPs packages on the surface to record heat flow from the interior and register impacts which could have revealed the structure of the interior. In their period of operation we found out the heat flow is very low, but nothing big enough to send a good shock through the core hit the Moon before the instruments were turned off. Having said that, some top notch seismic boffinry has been done on the Moon.

The best estimate is that the lunar core is tiny - no more than 350km across. It's probably nickel-iron alloy with sulfur and silicon like the Earth's core. It is suggested there is a solid or mostly solid inner core about half the diameter of the whole core. The outer core is probably liquid but not convecting violently like the Earth's (hence no appreciable lunar magnetic field), but this is somewhat disputed.

Over that is the mantle which is divided into two, a lower zone about 500km in diameter which appears to be either partially molten or highly plastic and might contain sizeable pockets of magma. The outer mantle is relatively cold, solid and appears not to contain any sizeable amounts of magma.

There has been some mathematical and laboratory modelling of the lunar interior by VU University Amsterdam which used the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility to examine the behaviour of postulated lunar magma under very high temperatures and pressures. Their discovery is that the titanium-rich magmas responsible for forming the rocks returned by Apollo and Luna are unlikely to be able to rise through the lunar mantle because they are denser than the warm mantle. However, if the mantle continues to cool and become denser, we could see a resumption of vulcanism on the Moon.

HTH.

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Anglo-French nuke pact blesses 4th-gen reactors

Mike Richards
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2020

Seems very optimistic to design, prototype and build a new reactor design by 2020. Especially one with sodium cooling which has never been trouble-free in the past. Good luck to them, but I wouldn't be putting money on seeing the big red switch (there is a big red switch isn't there?) being pressed in eight years' time.

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Two UK airports scrap IRIS eye-scanners

Mike Richards
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Hmmm

So if Blunkett, Clarke, Blears and the very lovely Meg Hillier had had their way we'd have now been talking about scrapping tens of thousands of them. If only they'd been told in advance this wasn't going to work...

....oh, in news just breaking - they were.

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Swiss space-cleaning bot grabs flying junk, hurls itself into furnace

Mike Richards
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Re: "systems from GPS to TV rely on satellites"

Junk is a problem in geostationary orbit. So far no collisions have occurred, but that has been through foresight.

Gravitational perturbations from the Sun and Moon mean that satellites don't remain on station. All geosynchronous satellites require regular 'station keeping' burns to keep them more or less in place. After they have been abandoned they can wander significantly away from where we thought they are and since comms sats are clustered over the most advantageous positions, that is a serious risk. Operators are now required to demonstrate that their satellites can be fired into a graveyard orbit a few hundred km further away from Earth at the end of their lives.

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Shakira attacked by sea lion who mistook BlackBerry for a 'fish'

Mike Richards
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I think this can only be properly visualised using the medium of Playmobil.

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Pope's PR says Vatican in grip of WikiLeaks-style scandal

Mike Richards
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Perhaps the Catholic Church would be less objectionable if it followed the National Trust and sold more tea towels?

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Mars, Europe losers in Obama's 2013 NASA budget

Mike Richards
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Probably need to be a Russian rocket. ExoMars was going to use a pair of Atlas Vs. A couple of Protons might be able to do the same job.

But yes, let's throw ExoMars open to the Russians, Chinese, Indians, Japanese and anyone else who wants to explore Mars.

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Tesco offers broadband for LESS THAN THE PRICE OF A PINT

Mike Richards
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That'll be the three downloads or fewer service then.

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NASA plans manned Deep Space Moon outpost

Mike Richards
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Apollo far side mission

Apollo 17's Harrison Schmidt proposed an Apollo mission to the lunar far side with a landing site in the crater Tsiolkovskiy. It would have used a TIROS satellite orbiting around L2 to talk back to Earth.

It never went much beyond a 'what if?' and the budget cuts to Apollo doomed it.

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Space: 1999 returning to TV?

Mike Richards
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UFO

Going back to it isn't entirely brilliant. There's still the lovely Gabrielle Drake, the UFOs still make that fabulous noise and the SHADOmobiles are ace - but why is it shot like a porn movie?

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Mike Richards
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Silly nuclear explosions?

SILLY NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS?

I was 8 - watching that much stuff blow up was precisely what I wanted to see. I don't want a big black box I want stuff blowing up.

Space 1999's first episode might go a long way to explaining my choice of chemistry...

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Mike Richards
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You're forgetting the 1st Law of Andersonian physics

Does it look cool?

The Eagles look incredibly cool - therefore everything else goes by the wayside.

I'd really hope they'd remake it with models - 'Moon' a couple of years ago looked so much more real (and not too dissimilar from Space 1999) because they used whacking great models rather than pixels.

The 2nd Law of Andersonian physics is that stuff blows up - regularly. Even stuff that shouldn't blow up. This is a good thing. Unless you're near the stuff blowing up.

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Coming to a continent near you: America

Mike Richards
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Possibly.

The Atlantic is a mature ocean, sooner or later it will begin to see subduction occurring around its margins (currently really only happening in the Caribbean margin, in South Sandwich and possibly getting started off Portugal.

If that happens, the UK might one day have some lovely volcanoes whose effect on house prices will really upset the Daily Mail.

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Mike Richards
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The Urals are a suture between two former continents when the former Siberian plate collided with Pangaea, so yep it is perfectly correct for geologists consider them to mark a continental divide as the geology on either side is so profoundly different.

But then, you could claim the same for most of Scotland and North Wales which are geologically much more similar to Greenland than they are to London.

The only really new bit in this work is the possible location of the new supercontinent (and it's a pretty safe bet none of us will be around to prove otherwise). That the Atlantic was widening, the Pacific floor being subducted and Africa and India burrowing into the belly of Eurasia is Geology 101. But the animations are nice.

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Russians drill into buried 20 million-year-old Antarctic lake

Mike Richards
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Or a Krynoid.

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US tweet deportation: Chilling behind-the-scenes photos

Mike Richards
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So long as you are in the US

You are afforded the protection of the Constitution whether you are a citizen or no. Outside the US - then that's asking for a cruise missiling.

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Second 'Blue Marble' NASA sat pic apes Apollo 17's stunner

Mike Richards
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That I grant you, but can I nominate second place?

It has to be the first shot of the Earth Moon system which was captured by Voyager 1 from over 7 million miles out.

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/image/planetary/earth/vgr_earth_moon.jpg

BTW if you've never seen them, the Earthrise images sent back by the Soviet Zond 7 probe (an unmanned trial of a possible manned lunar mission) are quite beautiful:

http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_Zond07_1.jpg

http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_Zond07_6.jpg

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Cosmic rays blamed for Phobos-Grunt fiasco

Mike Richards
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Mars 6 and Mars 7 - same problem

Both probes were effectively dead on arrival at Mars because of radiation damage to their microprocessors. Mars 6 deployed its lander but it died before it could reach the Martian surface - some data about the atmosphere's composition was returned however. Mars 7 ejected its lander too early for the same reason, both the lander and the orbital module went into orbit around the Sun.

What's shocking is that this happened in 1973.

In 1988 and 1989 respectively, the two Fobos probes were lost because of software issues.

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Nikon stretches Coolpix focal-range beyond belief

Mike Richards
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It might just be the lighting

But that looks like a very plasticky camera with none-too-hot build quality.

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Airbrushed Rachel Weisz gets watchdog hot under the collar

Mike Richards
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With the above

I'm glad someone told me who that was in the photo, she looks nothing like Rachel Weisz - more like a monochrome muppet out of 'Avatar'.

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Brit pair deported from US for 'destroy America' tweet

Mike Richards
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Directions to Robin Hood airport

(Taken from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)

Start from Dover, drive north, keep driving north, turn south at Hadrian's Wall, take the 'Noddinhum' exit, third forest on the right.

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