3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007
'This does seem a bit odd as nobody panics when a Tomahawk cruise missile gets fired off'
Not really, unlike a ballistic missile the other side doesn't see the cruise missile pop up on their radar and have to make an instant decision whether they're watching the other side playing silly buggers or going to have to replan their weekend around the horrible flaming megadeath of humanity.
Is this thing being tracked at all
Are ground observers able to see Fobos at all? It'd be horrible luck if it has fired its engines for Mars after all and we're looking in the wrong place.
It's also rather freaky in flight
The exhaust is almost entirely invisible, so the photos of the Prospero launch make Black Arrow look like it was just hanging there:
You should also add Israel, Japan and Russia to the list of countries operating spy satellites.
The neutrinos are passing through solid rock between CERN and the observatory.
Light has issues with this.
We have a worthy winner
I assume Lester is a shoo-in for the first prize in that he showed all the qualities of the very finest of British engineering - beer, creative thinking, bodging and more beer.
Image problem for engineers
In the UK an engineer is someone who fixes your washing machine, in Germany he is heralded by a magnificent Herr Doktor.
...combined with the steam catapaults it'd make a fantastic new weapon against pirates
Magma is sloshing around under Yellowstone, but there is no evidence that activity is trending upwards. Most of these big calderas see regular injections of magma from depth, followed by gradual withdrawals.
There was some worry a few years ago about a bulge under Yellowstone Lake which some people thought was due to magma rising towards the surface. In fact it is probably caused by hot water and gas rising up beneath the lake. It's not growing and not associated with any seismic activity. The biggest current risk in Yellowstone is a recurrence of the massive hydrothermal eruptions which have occurred in the last few thousand years (IIRC the latest has been provisionally dated to 1300 or so).
And its impossible to say what scale the activity in Yellowstone would be on, again caldera eruptions can be catastrophic, or they can be small scale eruptions of magma. A good example is in California where the mind-buggeringly big Long Valley caldera created a series of catastrophic eruptions around 760,000 years ago; but since then activity has been in the form of a series of smaller volcanoes at Mammoth Mountain and the Mono and Inyo Craters which wouldn't really be a threat to anyone.
The three big Yellowstone eruptions were 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago, so not exactly clockwork and there is no geologist who would ever say when an eruption will occur - only that one will occur at some point in the future.
Besides, why worry about Yellowstone when the Campi Flegrei caldera is only a 3 hour plane flight away; much more active and where the food is better?
But if you do ever get a chance to visit Yellowstone, take it, it is one of the most extraordinary places on Earth.
Most of the troops weren't even born when Sharon Stone was actually famous. For most of the last twenty years she's been becoming increasingly bizarre going on fully unhinged. As the ever-wonderful Marina Hyde put it:
'In 2006, as Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon was slipping into a coma after a stroke, cinema's Sharon Stone was readying herself to prove that nymphomaniac ice-pick murderers and Middle East peace envoys need not be mutually exclusive.'
Shocking failure to abide by Reg guidelines
But that's the Americans for you, never using the same standard sauropod-derived measurements as the rest of us.
Seems a bit of a lot of hard work
Centrifuge plants require a lot of power to work. Bomb the power plants if you can't get to the 'fuges themselves.
You can argue that the rebuilding of the Ruhr dams consumed so much material and manpower that it prevented the Germans from reinforcing the Atlantic Wall, and so made the Normandy landings possible.
That's a very cool lorry
But you just know that if the British Army ever get their hands on one the first thing they'll do is try and drive it under a low bridge.
It doesn't seem to add up
As above. The Desertec project to produce 15% of Europe's energy from solar power in the Sahara is much less challenging and would produce cheaper power more quickly.
There's no crippling of connection speeds where I live - my broadband speed is pitiful round the clock.
Although my connection speed sucks (thanks to BT's decision to lay phone cables along the most scenic route); Be are a great ISP and definitely the one to be with if you can't afford Zen.
Obligatory NASA gee-whizzery
By the time Voyager 2 reached Neptune the strength of the radio signal received on Earth was already 1/20 billionth the power of that produced by a watch battery.
These machines are incredible.
Mail website summary
Shock and outrage on the left. Slappers on the right.
Still problems downstream
Sony's main camera plant is currently underwater in Thailand and will be out of service for a few months yet. If you were planning on buying an Alpha, it might be worth heading to the shops now.
The British bit didn't work :(
In its defence
The old show never gave us those twin wonders of Space and Time - Amy Pond and River Song.
The Russians have recently finished their latest reactor in Kaliningrad, and if they've engineered it to their usual high standards it should be leaking quite nicely about now,
I'd also add the criminally neglected 'Tangled' from Disney to the list - a beautiful transfer of a gorgeous looking movie.
"TV, record all the future episodes of The Simpsons"
That might run into conflict with some of the PVR patents awarded to TiVo and which have been upheld in the courts.
I'd just like it if Sony released TVs that were actually distinguishable from one another by more than the 22nd digit in an unmemorable product code. Fewer different TVs would help people pick one from the multitude.
Oh and don't make them so inflammable next time.
Mars 5 worked just fine, but it is a lousy record; especially when you compare it to their hugely successful Luna and Venera probes.
I think the right word for this is
They must also be concerned that the window for Mars is passing quickly. Leave it much longer and even if they can get Fobos to talk they won't have enough fuel to get there.
Understatement of the year
'We know even less about warm dense matter believed to exist in the core of larger planets'
That's a bit like calling the Blessed Paris merely 'warm and dense'.
Any news on whether the safety systems of the reactor have been brought up to basic standards? Most of the VVERs exported to India and China have had completely different safety systems (often Western) from those installed for the Russian reactors; and AFAIK none of the existing VVERs allow for passive cooling.
Not exactly just a theoretical question if previous Soviet operating regimes are anything to go on.
What's often ignored with any discussion of any gas is that it is rarely pure and needs to be sweetened before put into a pipeline. The two major acid gases in natural gas are hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. Hydrogen sulfide is easily reduced to sulfur, but carbon dioxide is regularly vented into the atmosphere at the treatment plant. Injection back into the field can be done, but isn't widespread. So when you add the carbon dioxide that comes up with the gas to the carbon dioxide that is produced by burning it, the actual savings from burning gas often aren't as good as made out.
Overall, gas is a better fuel than coal and oil, but it probably isn't good for the long term health of the planet.
As for fracking, yep it can cause 'quakes. But generally not big ones.
A few large 'quakes have been linked to injection of fluid into wells (the most famous being in Colorado where nerve gas waste was being pumped into a deep reservoir). But most are small, just like the swarms going on at Hellisheiði right now where Reykjavik Energy are injecting water to bring new geothermal boreholes online. (It's the little cluster of yellow and orange dots near the centre-left of the map between Reykjavik and Þingvallavatn (the big lake)
It's not so long ago that EdF was the largest corporate debtor in the world despite having most of its nuclear costs either written off, transferred to the spreadsheets of the French government or simply ignored.
It must be easy to generate cheap power when you don't have to pay for anything.
No! No! No!
Not the music!
Argh - humming now.
There's a version of Lemmings for the PS3 available for download. It plays like a dog.
Sounds like bullshit to me
Surely there can't be enough room in a RyanAir seat to do the knuckle shuffle.
Wow! Just wow!
We're really lucky that measles is never fatal and there are no cases of the chickenpox virus causing serious conditions in adults with immune deficiencies.
Oh wait a moment...
They'd better run fast through Bletchley if they don't want to be dragged away by hordes of feral youth.
Make sure the government doesn't get involved
Before they know it, UKube-1 will be the size of a bus, weigh as much as a brontosaurus, cost as much as a nearly new Nimrod and have all the functionality of the MoD.
For all of its faults (such as continuing to believe in God), the Vatican does do some very good science through the Vatican Observatory headquartered at Castel Gandolfo:
So talking to physicists isn't completely unexpected.
Is that a hotel bedroom?
Or a prison cell following a dirty protest?
And now I have this (frankly terrifying) image of Lester and Drew, (suitably pyjamad), sitting in that bed like Eric and Ernie.
Coming soon on Channel 5
Celebrity Big Brother: Mars Edition
Every week, one unlucky astronaut will be evicted by the airlock.
There's no way PF could ever be let loose within a metric barge pole of technology after being well and truly fooled by Chris Morris' Brasseye.
'It wasn’t until 1970 that China even got a satellite into orbit'
In the process beating Britain by a year.
And unlike us, they didn't give up.
It's a beaver disguised as a maple leaf.
How good are air heat pumps for providing warmth inside a home?
With the likes of Norman Lamont, Nigel Lawson, Norman Tebbitt and John Redwood all recently starring in the ghastly afterlife of Newsnight interviews there does seem to be good reason to think the dark forces of the supernatural are a perfect match for the Conservative Party.
The Voynich is more complex than that.
There's the huge problem of how many characters are used - there's almost no agreement about whether some characters are distinct or whether they are actually different characters with ligatures. Estimates vary that Voynichese uses between 20 and 30 characters for the bulk of its text plus a few other rare characters.
Then when you start doing the number crunching odd things begin to appear - there are definitely word-like groups in the text, but the word lengths do not resemble any known language - there are very few short words and very few ones over 10 characters long. Some words are only found in certain parts of the manuscript. Individual words are often repeated either identically or with slight variations - a pattern not usually found in real texts.
The patterns of characters are definitely not random, there are rules about which characters follow others and which do not and whether they appear anywhere in a word or only at the beginning.
When you measure the entropy of the whole text (ie. how predictable the text is), it comes much lower than most European languages, around the same as English or Latin - but neither of those match the previous patterns found in the text.
It most probably is completely meaningless, but a huge amount of work was put into its creation and it would be wonderful to know more about where this thing came from and why it was made.
The best suggestion is that it was an alchemical fake designed to impress the rich and powerful in Central Europe, but there is a frustrating lack of contemporaneous evidence for the book prior to the early 17th Century (we now know from C-14 that the vellum is early 15th Century, but that does not necessarily mean the book itself is that old).
The far side of a grand and they don't throw in any 3D glasses. That's sure to boost sales.
Can't we just agree that 3D was a headache-inducing flash in the pan, scrap it from TVs and make them cheaper?
Facebook's target audience is relaxed about privacy.
I tried using the Kobo site - once.
I put a stack of books in my shopping cart. Clicked to pay, filled out the details. Got an error message, but was reassured in big friendly letters that I hadn't been billed. Told to try again. Did so, same error message. Gave up, bought the books elsewhere.
A hour later, two receipts from Kobo for the books. Told customer service that I wanted a refund as their site had not worked and had assured me there had been no charge.
Response: all sales are final, no refund.
They edge just ahead of Sony in my league of companies that can go and merrily burn in hell.
Still stuck on 2Mbps
The graphs over at akamai are really rather interesting - and once again South Korea just wipes the floor with us with what looks like an average of 13Mbps.
Meanwhile I wish someone from BT would come along and tighten the bit of damp string that connects me to the Intertubes.
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