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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

It shouldn't happen to a vetting database

Mike Richards
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Is this a replacement for the ID card database?

The government suddenly goes cool over ID cards, but is extending this database like crazy.

Soon they'll want to put all adults on it - which, when you think about it, makes sense.

Just think EVEN NOW children are in the unsupervised presence of adults when they go to shops, cinemas or riding on a bus. Some of these strangers will try to talk to the children using phrases such as 'Good morning,' 'Can I see your ticket?' or even 'Hello' - chillingly, all these words are known to have been used by paedophiles.

The evidence is clear.

Honestly it'll be for our own good if we're all databased, tagged, chipped and followed around by a power-mad government.

Just think of the children. No not that way - that's creepy.

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Apollo 11 vets urge Mars mission

Mike Richards
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@ Anonymous Coward

'Space exploration today is all about trying, and failing, to get a toilet to work.'

Which is why calling for an immediate mission to Mars is silly. If we can't get a toilet to work in low orbit, you don't want to think of spending 2 years in the company of a crapped out cyberloo. I don't think the Ares V is NASA's biggest challenge - it's the plumbing.

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US space superloo claps out

Mike Richards
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Imagine the callout charge

When you need a plumber at a weekend in low orbit.

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Wikipedia's Gallery guy hung up to dry?

Mike Richards
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I dream of a day when all this sort of thing could be avoided

Just imagine if someone were to come up with a hypermedia technology that would allow pages about the paintings on the Wikipedia site to link to their images stored on the NPG's servers.

Do you think it could be possible?

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Amazon vanishes 1984 from citizen Kindles

Mike Richards
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My problem with this is...

The customer is the one who really loses out.

They bought (or licensed) the title from Amazon in good faith. Presumably Amazon were given the rights to those titles by the publisher. So it looks like the publisher goofed. In the olden days the publisher might have been expected to eat their loss. But not here.

A mature solution might have been for the publisher to stop further sales as soon as they noticed the error. They've lost nothing so far. After all, they got their royalties from each Kindle user. The books are DRMed up to the eyeballs so can't be copied (ahem) - so there's no risk of them spreading further (cough). The problem would have been contained, there'd have been no unhappy customers and Amazon wouldn't look bad.

Certainly Amazon should have behaved in a more consumer-friendly manner towards customers who've invested a hell of a lot of money in the company's eBook strategy - those are A-list customers guaranteed to come back time and time again, now they're pissed off. And they're letting the world know.

And like a lot of people here, it's really cooled me towards buying a Kindle.

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Xbox 360 reverses plunging console sales trend

Mike Richards
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Could just be the 360 is the best supported of the consoles

The PS3 is more expensive and even a cursory glance shows that it has precious few 'must have' exclusive titles whereas those available on PS3 and 360 tend to look better on the Microsoft machine. I don't know if it's lazy coding or bad support from Sony or the desperate lack of texture memory on the PS3 - but some PS3 games are running in lower resolutions than the 360, have lower frame rates and some horribly blocky textures.

As for the Wii sales falling. Simple - once you've played Wii Sports, what else is there that's worth having? The Wii is a complete bust as a games platform, Nintendo seems to have forgotten to release games for it, preferring a series of gimmicks like Wii Fit and Wii Music which don't have much long appeal and are ridiculously expensive.

I'm on my 3rd 360, whereas my PS3 and Wii have behaved perfectly; but it's clear Microsoft have won this generation of consoles - they've tapped into popular sentiment and got a compelling set of exclusives.

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Swedish devil girls fingered on Street View

Mike Richards
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@ Andy 3

'I'm calling "fake" on this one.'

Hold on, the culprits in these shocking photos are clearly blonde and must therefore be Swedish.

You can't fake that sort of thing.

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India plots 1.2bn user biometric ID cards project

Mike Richards
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Easy solution

We outsource the whole Home Office to Bangalore and let the Indians have them. We'll even throw in every Home Secretary for the last 20 years to sweeten the deal.

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Mysterious organic blobs found in Alaskan waters

Mike Richards
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Hold on...

15 fcuking miles long???? This thing's got a starring role in a future Michael Bay movie!

'Gordon Brower with the North Slope Borough's Planning and Community Services Department told the paper he saw some jellyfish tangled up in the goo and someone else retrieved bones and feathers from a dead goose.'

This thing's carnivorous???

We are so boned...

...on the upside it might be the only thing to save us all from Lewis' refrigerator-sized immortal jellyfish (El Reg passim).

I wonder how it handles Humvee sized Arctic spiders???

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Endeavour heads for ISS on sixth try

Mike Richards
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@ Parax

'Thanks, that would be a good half hour (45mins?) after launch then?! I could have sworn they dropped it way earlier (shortly after meco) I obviously spent to long listening and not watching...'

You're right, the ET's jettisoned about 8 1/2 minutes after launch just after MECO; but it's only just sub-orbital so the burn-up is between 60 and 80 minutes after launch. It only needs a small change in velocity to put it into LEO, so during the 1980s there were a number of studies about putting the ET into orbit as the basis of a space station.

Yesterday's launch is here, the tank is jettisoned around 9 minutes in:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_MlgxV1lqo

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Mike Richards
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@ Elsie

'Get there before they finish!'

Yep, there's going to be a big gap in launches before the Ares V flies.

NASA doesn't have that launching until 2018; but that's going to be a monster - 110m tall and 3,300 tonnes - it'll be like the good old days of the Saturn V. Now if only they'd built the Nova - that'd have been TWICE as powerful as the Saturn V; and if they hadn't had a sudden attack of 'what if it all went wrong?', the upper stage would have been nuclear.

If only they'd put Gerry Anderson in charge of the space programme.

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Mike Richards
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@ Parax

'So does anyopne know where they dropped the Main Tank last night??'

It's jettisoned into the Indian Ocean, but they ensure it tumbles on re-entry so that it breaks up at altitude.

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Vulture Central plans Brit-Yank dictionary

Mike Richards
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Stop

@ The Original Ash

'Aluminium is actually pronounced Aluminum'

Nope, it's 'aluminium' according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (head boffins in the bangs and smells division). Sir Humphry Davy called it aluminum in 1812 before it had been isolated as an element, but this was objected to as long ago as 1813 with the 'ium' ending given on the grounds that it sounded 'more classical'.

Humphry Davy had previously called it 'alumium' but he might have been off his face on nitrous oxide at the time.

Just in case the Brits get too smug, the American spelling of 'sulfur' is the correct one. I use it just to piss off my pedantic colleagues.

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Lords cut Irish travel from e-Borders

Mike Richards
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@ Anonymous Coward

'Not surprisingly this went down like a lead balloon with the NI Unionists...'

I wonder if this was a concession demanded by the Unionists in exchange for the support they're regularly giving the government to overcome Labour rebels on the backbenches?

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Amazon sued for cracks in Kindle

Mike Richards
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Ummm folks...

He's not expecting to receive $5 million. It's a class action suit which if Amazon were found liable would see $5 million - expenses shared amongst the plaintiffs.

That's not to say $5 million is a reasonable sum, it's hard to see how they came to that number without knowing precisely how many cases have been sold and I doubt Amazon have released that number.

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Microsoft stores to get in Apple's face this autumn

Mike Richards
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Still not sure what they're planning on selling

After all, Microsoft doesn't make computers. Go into an Apple Store and you see the software running on an Apple machine you can buy there and then. Go into a Microsoft store and - ummm...

They'd be foolish to tie the XBox brand too closely to the rest of Microsoft, part of the console's success is that it's seen as 'cool' - something Microsoft isn't. To a lesser extent Zune benefits from not being seen as a Microsoft product.

But if the stores are going to concentrate on selling software and improving user skills they're going to be seen as copies of the Apple Store Genius Bars and professional sessions.

So is this anything more than Microsoft once again deciding it has to compete in a market just because someone else is making money from it?

Oh well, if nothing else I guess we'll all get to play with Surface.

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Microsoft hosts Feynman lecture series

Mike Richards
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Any idea...?

Why the BBC no longer has the rights to them?

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MPs shown 'email evidence' of wider NotW snooping

Mike Richards
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@ EnricoSuarve

Good points.

I'm guessing the voicemail is being highlighted because the NotW would have hoped they'd get a juicy bit of gossip from one sleb or another along the lines of who's shagging who and how often and what flavour dildo was inserted where.

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Government promises low carbon future

Mike Richards
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How much...

...of the drop in emissions is down to the Conservatives closing coal mines and switching to gas-fired electricity production? (Policies I think the likes of Gordon Brown opposed in Opposition)

Because I'm buggered if I can think of anything this government's done to reduce emissions. Well apart from screwing up the whole economy so spectacularly that there won't be a factory left in the country and we'll all be too poor to fill up the car. Taking us back to the Dark Ages will have a nice effect on CO2.

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Italian bride's bouquet downs ultralight

Mike Richards
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It is now imperative that...

...a PlayMobil reconstruction is made available ASAP - I'm having trouble visualising some of the finer details such as whether Optimus Prime was the Matron of Honour.

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Fifth time not a charm for Endeavour liftoff

Mike Richards
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@ ElNumbre

'Other than having the ability to make the SRB's fall into the ocean, rather than on someone's house, is there any other reason why they don't launch shuttles from the drier Nevada desert rather than the tropical Florida coast?'

Not really. Canaveral had always been there so that missile tests could drop harmlessly into the Atlantic so it made sense to keep on using it. As Ian R 1 says above, you also get a small extra kick into orbit by moving the launchpad closer to the Equator.

The Shuttle was originally also going to fly out of Vandenberg AFB on the Californian coast to put military satellites into polar orbits - the SRBs dropping into the Pacific. Although the USAF had been the biggest influence on the Shuttle's final design, they dropped it like a hot potato after Challenger and went back to big expendable launchers.

Which in a way was a good thing. The Soviets were terrified the Shuttle could be used to lob a huge nuclear weapon over the North Pole as a first strike weapon. Scrapping polar flights solved that little Cold War nightmare. But not before the Soviets bankrupted themselves by building their Buran Shuttle capable of doing just the thing they were worried the Americans were planning.

Oh how we miss those days of bat-shit insane paranoia.

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Endeavour launch scrubbed for fourth time

Mike Richards
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@ TeeCee

'What's the runway for?'

Landing in the event of an emergency.

HOWEVER - the Shuttle has real problems with bad weather in the event of an abort. The first being that it has a sink rate about that of a brick and is extremely vulnerable to side winds - there's no 'go around' if it can't land - so the weather has to be calm.

The second is that the heat tiles form the aerodynamic surface of the Shuttle; flying through large raindrops or hail could shred the coating on the wings, destroying the lift and - well that gets nasty. NASA was very strongly condemned for launching into heavy clouds shortly before Challenger made its final flight.

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Endeavour set for Saturday launch

Mike Richards
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@ Dave Page 2

'Is there a technical reason for the seemingly random launch time? I'm (perhaps naively) assuming that it's not a case of launching at that precise time so they can fly in a perfectly straight line to the docking port on the ISS.'

Pretty much it - the launch window is when the orbital plane of the ISS intersects Kennedy. It's actually a window opening at 19:34 and closing again at 19.44. The Shuttle tries to launch right in the middle of that window to reduce the amount of maneuvering needed to intercept the ISS. There's a similar length window open for each of the next few days.

The Shuttle's launch window is further constrained as NASA tries to launch when the transAtlantic abort sites are in daylight. If the Shuttle has a major failure - such as the loss of two engines before main engine cut-off it doesn't have enough velocity to go once around the Earth and return to the US, and it's going too fast and too high to return to Kennedy, so the plan would be to hop across the Atlantic and land the orbiter at one of several extremely long runways including RAF Fairford, Zaragoza and Keflavik.

HTH.

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Home Office gets another ad agency for ID cards

Mike Richards
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Oooh please sir, please sir!!!!

Change one word from the current TV Licensing advert so it's now

'YOU'RE in the database'

That'll be ten million quid, a Lear Jet full of hookers and a bin bag of the finest Bolivian please.

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Did the Vatican suppress hidden 'Galileo Cryptogram'?

Mike Richards
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@ Joe Zeff

Absolutely.

Until we have evidence that Galileo described Neptune as a planet, then the first person to observe *and recognise it as such* was Johann Galle in 1846. We still credit William Herschel with discovering Uranus even though it had been recorded in observations as far back at the late 17th Century, but always marked as a star.

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Pig flu promises holidays for all

Mike Richards
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Tough choice...

Which is the more appalling prospect - swine 'flu or watching cricket for a couple of weeks?

Isn't lassa fever an option?

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Samsung N310 netbook

Mike Richards
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Oh and I thought it was going to be bouncy

All those big rounded corners and bright colours had me hoping they'd designed a neoprene or silicone covered netbook that could take a tumble. A ruggedised model would go towards justifying that price.

But as J 3 says above, wake me up when there's something new...

...you know radical stuff like higher resolutions or more than 1Gb RAM, or a browser that thinks it's an operating system ;)

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Asus F70SL

Mike Richards
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4kg?

And it seems to be mostly made of plastic. Have they stuffed half a brick in there or something?

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Amazon cuts cost of Kindle

Mike Richards
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@ ChrisInBelgium

'Just bought 'Digital Fortress' by Dan Brown for € 7.50 - with free delivery. '

In the name of sanity - WHY????

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Google's vanity OS is Microsoft's dream

Mike Richards
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@Paul Coen

'And software. Telling someone "Hey, stop using Photoshop Elements and use this thing called 'GIMP' instead" gets you funny looks. The stupid name is half of it, of course, a common problem with many open source packages.'

One reason not to use GIMP for photographs is that it is still limited to 8-bit TIFF. After finally getting photographers to start using RAW, it'd be a huge backward step to ask them to start using an inferior piece of software.

And the name's shite as well.

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New boffinry: North Atlantic could be massive CO2 sink

Mike Richards
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Ummm... this has been tried

It wasn't that long ago that an iron fertilisation experiment was tried in the Antarctic Ocean which is also iron deficient.

The phytoplankton bloom - and are almost immediately gobbled up by exploding populations of zooplankton which feed fish... This keeps the majority of the carbon in the upper part of the water where it can re-enter the atmosphere rather than sinking it to the ocean sediments where you want it.

http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/detail/item/lohafex_provides_new_insights_on_plankton_ecology_only_small_amounts_of_atmospheric_carbon_dioxide/?cHash=1c5720d7a1

The only new thing here is that the North Atlantic is poorer in dissolved iron than we thought.

Mind you if the Icelanders are clever they'll fertilise the oceans, get more plankton, which are gobbled up by copepods, which are then snacked on by capelin which go on to feed minke whales - which are delicious and best served rare with a portion of guilt on the side.

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Enertia e-bike wheeled into shops

Mike Richards
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Kind of pretty - but...

...the styling makes it look like my Dyson's long-lost cousin.

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Too thick to boil an egg? Buy 'em preboiled

Mike Richards
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@ Anonymous Coward

'What I just love is all that pre-packaged pre-cooked food that comes with lovely bright pictures on the packaging and the printed phrase "Serving suggestion". Which sounds like some kind of a recipe, but is in fact usually just a euphemism for "Rip off the lid and slap it on a plate."'

Believe it or not, it's a legal get-out; by putting 'serving suggestion' next to a picture of a delicious egg with buttered soldiers they protect themselves from morons who might sue them expecting to find spread and the Light Infantry inside the carton.

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Mike Richards
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Hopefully...

These will be placed alongside the pre-peeled oranges (no really) and bottled water, so the terminally stupid don't have to wander too far from the carers.

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Vulture Central unleashes RegPad™

Mike Richards
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Hold on- where is she?

Everyone knows the reason the Eee was so successful was that the Reg only ever featured the netbook with it's beach-loving best friend.

If you want to dominate the World, the RegPad will also need its own nubile handler. Have you seen if Paris is available for photos and fondling?

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Phorm confirms TalkTalk fail

Mike Richards
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'15 markets worldwide'

So that'd be China, North Korea, Iran, Belarus...

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Counter terror cops prep for recession funding squeeze

Mike Richards
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'soon be reduced to "substantial"'

Does anyone ever expect the terrorometer to fall to 'normal'? Just like the Department of Homeland Security has never bother setting the threat level to blue or green.

If things look dodgy for the police budget, expect them to leak a few stories about 'active plots', 'imminent threats' and 'intelligence sources' in the sympathetic parts of the media. Then they'll announce the threat level has been raised to 'trouser filling' as a precaution against Al Qaeda unleashing radioactive badgers on the Tube and the money will come flooding in.

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BCC calls recession bottom

Mike Richards
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But what shape bottom is it?

(Oh do stop sniggering!)

Is it a U, a V, a W or an L?

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BT abandons Phorm

Mike Richards
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Huh?

From the BT Spokesdroid: 'we don't have immediate plans to deploy Webwise today.'

Clearly they're not excluding the devious possibility of having long-term plans to deploy Webwise today.

Oh well, can't cry. Anything that's bad for the likes of Patricia Hewitt and Norman Lamont has to be good for us.

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Lunar orbiter beams back first Moon snaps

Mike Richards
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LROC resolution

Is 50cm per pixel (http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/EPO/LROC/lroc.php?pg=specifications)

And the LMs won't be slightly different from the surface, they will be blindingly different - the lunar surface is very dark, they are covered in reflective mylar; they will also be casting shadows. Depending on the angle of the Sun it should also be reasonably easy to see the trails left by the lunar rovers and hopefully also by the Soviet Lunokhods.

Whether we can find Al Shepard's Apollo 14 golf ball is another question.

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Mike Richards
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'suggesting a craggy and inhospitable surface'

With no atmosphere and a - 233C to +123C temperature variation I think it's more than 'suggesting' it's inhospitable.

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Australia's 'answer to the velociraptor' unveiled

Mike Richards
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@ Anonymous Coward and @ Spielberg while I'm about it

'He doubled the size of the raptors to make them look impressive.'

He did, then the palaeontologists went and uncovered Utahraptor which stood up to 2m tall and is best described as combined the cuddly nature of the great white shark with the contents of Gordon Ramsey's knife rack.

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US sinks $0.5bn into electromagnetic aircraft-throwers

Mike Richards
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Ship names

The only thing that will boost morale on the USS Gerald R Ford is that they won't be crewing the USS George W Bush.

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'First-ever' flight of robotic ornithopter announced

Mike Richards
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@ Frank Bough

'What does the 'thopter design offer over a rotary wing alternative?'

The opportunity to acquire bags of DARPA funding.

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Hollywood prepares to battle Asteroids

Mike Richards
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Nic Cage on line one...

...apparently he's up for the lead role in my musical remake of 'Pong' also starring the late Peter Lorre as the evil 'bat on the right'.

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UK DVD sales plunge...

Mike Richards
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@DVD

I particularly enjoy the UK DVDs where the media company hasn't even bothered to change the copyright warning and still threatens me with the warm rubber gloves of the FBI and a huge dollar fine.

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Mrs Slocombe's pussy vanishes from Twitter

Mike Richards
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Mollie Sugden

I naively assumed she'd died years ago - after all you didn't see her at all after the Queen Mother died.

Coincidence???

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Marie Curie voted top female boffin

Mike Richards
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@ Pete 2

'However if you asked the same MitS to name any 2 male scientists, I would expect the overwhelming answer to be Einstein, followed after along pause by "that guy in the wheelchair? yooooo know - wassis name?".'

Davros????

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Bing slips into bed with Twitter

Mike Richards
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Erm...

They're working under the assumption that indexing Twitter comments will make for a BETTER search engine???

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Spanish boffins develop bat-like sonar-vision superpower

Mike Richards
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Coat

Hmmm

"Two hours per day [of clicking practice] for a couple of weeks are enough to distinguish whether you have an object in front of you"

But long before then you'll be taken away to a nice soft room where all the coats have extra-long sleeves.

Mine's the one with the extra-long sleeves - thanks.

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