3344 posts • joined Wednesday 28th February 2007 21:13 GMT
You're thinking right
It was the HOrizontal Take-Off and Landing - HOTOL which brought a bit of Thunderbirds flash to the 1980s before vanishing in a big puff of bureaucracy.
Its designer, Alan Bond now runs Reaction Engines:
Oh I can't believe I'm rising to this... but needs must
'It predicted a spherical earth while many people were flat earthers.'
No it doesn't. Young Earthers like pointing to a phrase in Isaiah which uses the word 'circle'. They don't so often mention the mentions of God laying out the Earth with a compass in Job and Proverbs. You can't make a sphere with a compass.
And there were never many flat earthers. The concept of the Earth as a sphere long predates the Bible, it caused few problems for the Ancients or the medieval world. It's 21st Century Kansas that seems to have trouble with the idea of the Earth just being a lump of slowly cooling iron, nickel and silicon hanging around a gloomy part of the Milky Way that's been going gently downhill since the early Caenozoic.
'Genesis states God created light before the sun and stars which is consistent with the Big Bang Theory.'
Well if you mean that there was light before the stars then yes, the Bible is consistent with the Big Bang theory (but then gets understandably side-tracked by the whole begetting bit when it could have been explaining the role of deuterium in the early Universe).
However, your theory falls apart when you actually - ummmm - read the Bible. Doesn't the whole 'Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.' rather suggest that even if the light appeared without stars, it's irrelevant because the water got there first?
And if you do want to discuss creation in Genesis - which one do you want? There are two irreconcilable tellings of the act of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Either God is even more unknowable than we thought, or there was some sloppy proof-reading going on in early Palestine.
Genesis is myth and epic poetry. It's about as useful at explaining the Universe as a copy of Lord of the Rings with the saving grace that it's out of copyright and there are no crappy songs.
'It describes cities that don't exist (for which it has been criticised), but archaeologists continue to dig them up.'
You're really going to need to explain that, preferably with the aid of diagrams - they don't exist but they get dug up? I'd like to see that on Time Team. If you mean cities that have been lost then that's a different matter; but no one is seriously saying there are no historical events in the Bible - it's just that they've been buried under layer upon layer of badly translated myth.
If Bible says there was a city in a location in a (fairly tiny) part of the world with relatively little habitable space which has been settled for tens of thousands of years - and we dig up human remains - that's hardly astonishing.
If on the other hand we were to find the Ark of the Covenant, some fossilised manna or an eye witness account of the end of Sodom (preferably in the hand of the author who had been pinned down under an easily carbon dateable catamite by a large lump of falling brimstone) - that'd be different.
Makes you wonder what their interview procedure is like
Do they concentrate on academic output or just media whoredom?
Warwick and friends are the embarrassing relatives to Kurzweil's Singularity.
It's the details that count
Dell have done an okay job on this, but as usual they've skimped on the design. Those Home and Back icons are the wrong orientation when you hold the machine in portrait format. It's a little thing, but you just know Steve J wouldn't let that happen. Okay he wouldn't let a machine out the door with THREE buttons on the front...
Were never a NASA project and the Soviets used felt tips for many years.
Is it really made from Lego?
Not sure this is an issue
From the project's press release:
'Along with out-of-copyright material from the newspaper archive - defined in this context as pre-1900 newspaper material - the partnership will also seek to digitise a range of in-copyright material, with the agreement of the relevant rightsholders. '
If rights holders don't want their stuff digitised they have an opt out.
I'd prefer someone respectable like the British Library was doing this rather than it not happening at all; or individual piecemeal preservation attempts by with wildly differing standards and technologies and no central repository.
Fraunhofer-Institut für Fertigungstechnik und Angewandte Materialforschung
Do their business cards come in widescreen?
...the suggestion that the Olympics should be represented by something associated with the venue, in this case the East End of London.
So it came down to a toss up between a giant plasticised Barbara Windsor and a cuddly plush Jack the Ripper.
When the BBC produces something that does badly in the ratings, the likes of the Times and the Mail come out and attack it for spending money on things that no one watches. The BBC can't win either way.
And I have no problem with the BBC making money abroad, the money comes back here and gets invested in new programming. Where does Sky's money go? The company doesn't even pay tax here. As far as I can tell it spunks its money up the wall on football rights and overpaying for TV programmes that have built a faithful audience on terrestrial.
I think it really depends how loyal people are to their chosen brand of newspaper/magazine. And I think the media companies will be surprised how fickle we are when something is taken away. The Times website is nicely done, the news is solid (the comment less so), but it's not so indispensable that when Rupert's paywall goes up I'll pay for it. I might miss the Times for a couple of days, but then I'll go look elsewhere for the same information.
I can think of precious few publications so wonderful that I'd pay for them to be delivered to my computer and none that will replace paper for anything other than convenience. I'll keep with my paper magazine subscriptions because I want the actual tangible item. National Geographic on a computer screen is nothing compared to the actual magazine which I can hoard, clip or share to my heart's content.
As for the iPad; Early Edition is a great little RSS reader that assembles items into a 'paper like' format - it's the closest implementation of 'The Daily Me' I've seen so far. It still needs a bit of work - being able to assemble feeds into sections would be a nice addition.
Apart from choosing a particularly shite Arthur C Clarke book title, why did they choose that value? It's debatable whether Magnitude 10 'quakes are even possible because there don't seem to be any faults long enough to generate them.
The best chance of experiencing one will be the next time something the size of Snowdon drops out of the sky.
So they'd better make it asteroid-proof as well.
The really big bombs of the 1950s were three-stage devices like you described. More modern warheads dispense with the depleted uranium jacket allowing them to be smaller and also a lot less planet killing.
When the USS Theodore Roosevelt or the USS Kennedy was steaming your way you knew you were in trouble - I'm not sure the knowledge that the USS Ronald Reagan or the USS Gerald Ford* are en-route will have the same effect. And god only knows the reaction to Dubya sliding down the slipway.
* Who was famously said not to be able to walk and chew gum. Maybe his namesake is a similar underachiever?
Family only, no flowers
Can the Reg get a quote out of Meg Hillier, who on top of finding herself out of a job, now has a bit of plastic in her wallet that can't even get her out of the country*. Perhaps it'll come in handy if we keep having these frosty mornings.
* Other question. Did she pay for that card, or did we?
It was the Conservatives who killed the nuclear industry in this country when they came to the belated realisation that the business of splitting atoms was a bottomless sink for public money.
Nothing in the last 20 years suggests that the financial argument for nuclear power has become any more compelling.
As for the fans of FBRs here; there were many reasons they never took off (metaphorically); fixing the plumbing so that molten sodium didn't keep coming into contact with boiling water was one, but they died a painful death when the economics of reprocessing spent fuel became clear. Regular nuclear power is expensive, reprocessing makes it look like a bargain.
And do we really want to be in a situation arguing why its perfectly acceptable for us to be producing tonne quantities of plutonium, but not energy hungry, fossil-fuel poor countries like Pakistan?
But we probably don't have the skills to build a warhead.
Ever since MacMillan had his Bermuda holiday with Kennedy, Britain has been more or less dependent on American technology for everything from the warhead design to the missile and guidance systems right down to the tritium that makes a satisfyingly large apocalypse. In return I think we've provided them with some plutonium when they ran short.
Our current city killers are clones of the American W76s with a Union Jack sticker on them.
'BookVendia' - I like it - it's got a streetwise camel case that'll look great on a carrier bag. I hope you've trademarked it for six months time when Waterstone's need yet another rebrand to try and ignore the fact they're a really shite bookstore.
They've already had one
Blair promised an inquiry into electoral reform before the 1997 election (when he thought he might need the LibDems to secure a Commons majority). Roy Jenkins ran an extremely thorough inquiry and settled on Alternative Vote Plus.
Essentially there would be five-hundred constituencies where voters ranked candidates. If no one got an outright majority on first preference votes, then there would be a recount with the less popular candidates dropping out one by one (least popular first) with their alternate votes being redistributed amongst the remaining candidates until one goes over 50%.
On top of that, there would be county level seats where voters ranked parties. The representatives would be chosen from a list like that used in the European election.
AV+ is a pretty good system it keeps a link with constituencies and it would achieve a much better representation of people's wishes.
Blair went cold on it when he had his landslide.
Why go to all the bother of distributing hydrogen when we have lovely efficient ways of moving gas and oil around the World? This project could simply push its products into the existing infrastructure.
There's also a good reason to cut it back - it kills people.
Indoor particulate emissions are a serious health threat to people who rely on wood, dung or charcoal for their primary source of energy; and those of us in the developed world don't get off lightly - the sort of tiny particles pumped out by diesel engines are linked to various cancers.
Not worth it
NASA recovered a couple of satellites from low orbit when the Shuttle was new. The policy never caught on as the cost of refurbishing and decontaminating the satellites was extremely high.
As for geosynchronous orbit, there currently is no way of getting stuff back from high orbit. No one's ever got round to building a space tug and the boosters used to kick satellites out to geosync don't have fuel to bring them closer to home.
This will be an insurance claim.
Shuttle polar orbits
It was the Shuttle's ability to fly polar orbits that really freaked the Kremlin into funding Buran. The Soviet military got it into their minds that a Shuttle carrying a nuclear weapon could lob a warhead at the Soviet Union, avoiding all of their early warning systems and anti-missile networks and still be back in California in time for mai-tais.
Brezhnev not only ordered the horrendously expensive Buran project, but also got the USSR to resume anti-satellite weapon research; both of which were canned right at the collapse of the Soviet Union. They got quite a long way, right up to launching the enormous Polyus satellite; which failed to reach orbit - but looks wonderfully sinister on its Gerry Andersonesque launcher:
If you want the world to end in a thermonuclear toasting you want it to end because of weapons that look the part.
Getting the Shuttle to fly polar orbits would probably ended in disaster even if the Soviet Union wasn't panicked into lobbing a missile back at the US. The launches would have required extremely light weight solid rocket boosters. These were canned after Challenger exploded because they would have been even more prone to joint failure.
The money spent so far is sunk, lost, gone - whatever you want to call it.
Johnson seems to think that by getting the public to pay for it, the books miraculously balance. But that money isn't magicked out of nowhere - it is taken from other expenditure those people could have made - you know the sort, things that might have kept people employed, or just happy.
Also worth adding
In addition to the Met Office, NATS were getting information from the engine manufacturers who were telling them they could not guarantee their engines' performance under these conditions.
The first ash eruption was mostly driven by the magma being andestic in composition. It was rich in silica and sticky so it exploded rather than flowed out of the vent. This magma had probably been sitting in the volcano since 1821-23 when it last erupted, becoming richer in silica with time. The ice would have added a small amount to the ash eruption, but not much.
The eruption appears to becoming 'strombolian' - small explosions of fluid magma which don't produce much ash at all. But, as you say, if more ice enters the vent that could create 'surtseyan' ash explosions - but they won't go to such an altitude. The people of Skógar and Vík will still be sweeping their roofs though.
This doesn't mean the explosive phase of the eruption is over; during 1821-23 there were two explosive eruptions separated by quite a long period of relative quiet. And of course, everyone is looking towards Katla next door which has been quiet since 1918 - and a quick check at the Icelandic Met Office site suggests its silent today.
Not just Constellation
Boeing is a partner in Launch Alliance with its Delta V Heavy rocket. The whole thing has been a disaster as it is much more expensive than non-US rockets and has pretty much only survived thanks to the largesse of the government buying Deltas for space probes and classified missions.
If other American companies come into the marketplace for government launches, Delta V might not be able to compete there either. Which would leave Boeing pretty much out of the space business.
Relax. Whilst there were a number of short periods when it erupted violently producing a lot of ash; most of the time Eyjafjallajökull just grumbled away.
On a media hype scale, this might be huge; but the eruption is much smaller than Mount St. Helens. It's just better placed for maximum buggeration in the current weather patterns.
Default settings and updates
Did you get all the updates from the Lenovo site? There is a BIOS update and graphics driver updates that gave mine a serious boost. Also the default power settings seem to underclock the processor. If you open the management app you should be able to tweak them a little faster.
Better than the mark suggests
The mark seems a bit mean when compared to the scores 'me-too' netbooks are getting.
The X100e runs Office 2007 with zero problems and has no trouble playing 720p MKV video (I haven't tried it with an external display, so I don't know about 1080 output).
And that keyboard - oh it's a joy to work with.
The only thing I haven't found, is there a quick way of disabling WiFi?
Whilst there is no doubt that the Laki eruption had a catastrophic effect on human, animal and plant life in Iceland; the Grattan paper is controversial. There are very wide differences in the estimates of sulfur produced by Laki which would affect how much damage it could have done. Also because the summer of 1783 was freakishly hot and that would have pushed mortality well above trend.
It is a fascinating paper though and well worth a read.
Bearing in mind the miserable state of the Icelandic climate, I doubt there was much need for a god of fire. Icelandic folklore tends to associate volcanoes with underground fire giants. Surtr, leader of the jötunn who help bring about the end of the World would be a good bet for any writs. Surtsey, the island created in a 1963 is named after him.
Wouldn't be uncommon for an Icelandic eruption, but the plume is a short term phenomenon as the gassy magma at the top of the chamber reaches the surface. Assuming the eruption continues for any length of time, the volcano will become much less explosive and become dominated by large-scale lava flows.
It's certainly going to bugger for travel and tourism around Southern Iceland even if there isn't a jökulhlaup (glacier burst). Eyjafjallajokull is right next to the main road into the gorgeous national park and forest of Þórsmörk.
Still, according to the latest seismic data, Katla under the much larger Mýrdalsjökull ice sheet hasn't started waking up. The last time it erupted in 1918, the jökulhlaup extended the Mýrdalssandur coastline by 5km and the ash poisoned animals in Northern Ireland.
Who is behind CEOP?
I'd like to know how I could get the same level of ready access to government money and influence that CEOP and the Internet Watch Foundation appear to have.
They've not been elected or placed on a statutory basis and yet they appear to think they can tell us what to say, what to do and what to think. For the first time in my life can I say 'well done Facebook'.
Rather than being a completely different form of life, these organisms have evolved from those that lived in much less extreme conditions. They show how powerful evolution is, but they don't make it any more or less likely that radically different chemistries can be involved in life.
What they do make more likely is that carbon-based life can exist in places we never thought of previously. When black smoke colonies were first discovered it was only a small leap to imagine similar ecosystems appearing in the internal oceans of moons like Europa and Enceladus.
Strip mining ahoy!
It's worth pointing out that the black smoke itself is rich in metallic sulfides leached out of the molten rock below the surface. Many of our existing copper/lead/zinc/silver 'massive sulfide deposits' (geologists never use a complex term if a good old-fashioned bit of plain speaking will do) are the fossilised remnants of these smokers and there could be money in them thar rifts for anyone with a bucket and a really long length of rope.
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