* Posts by Mike Richards

3608 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

CERN: LHC to fire first proton-smash ray next month

Mike Richards

Other tech needed

I hope there's a big lever involved and one of those jacob's ladder machines that goes bbbbzzZZT! bbbbzzZZT! in the background of Frankenstein movies.

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Kiwi cops hunt teenage serial burglar with head of Robbie Coltrane

Mike Richards

Should catch on over here

This could overcome the problem with eFit pictures that they never quite look human. Instead we'll have precise descriptions like 'imagine Joanna Lumley if she were male, black, in her mid-twenties and with a strong Birmingham accent.'

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Suprise at spelling snafu sanctions

Mike Richards

Logical conclusion

We should let students submit in lolspeak.

I'll go halves with anyone who wishes to introduce Ken Smith to a small pit of kwiklime (sic).

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Snoop more, share less - Home Office spurns EU advice

Mike Richards

Death spiral

Come on folks, who gives a toss what New Labour plan for the future? It doesn't have one - this government is spiralling around the electoral drain like a drowned wasp. .

Let's sit back and watch the brothers (and sisters) tear one apart in one final Blairite spasm. Then we give the survivors a damn good kicking.

Then to show we're not politically biased, we give the Tories another damned good kicking.

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Top Jock cop calls for universal DNA database

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'When will the police & politicians finally realise that they cannot keep erode our liberties without getting a backlash from the public.'

Y'know, I'm not sure the British people have a limit. Year after year more and more liberties are taken away and hardly anyone gives a crap - ask people about DNA databases and they regurgitate the 'Crimewatch' line.

I'm sure its down to three things:

1: the crap educational level of the average Briton who knows nothing about - oooh the law, politics, history (and the rest);

2: the fact we don't have a written constitution - take the US, most Americans know what their rights are (in the broadest sense) and where to find them. Who here knows the relevant pieces of legislation that gives us our very limited rights; and;

3: we've never been under a domestic dictatorship or occupied by a foreign power - go to mainland Europe and they all have personal experience or recent family experience of what its like to have a secret police force, detention without trial, the removal of undesirables etc.

Put those three together and you have a smug, complacent, thick-as-pigshit population who can be exploited by anyone with an agenda.

This country is broken, time to take it back and demand a new one.

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BT slams bandwidth brakes on all subscribers

Mike Richards

@ bobbles31

'Add that to a 12 month contract and you have got about as close to fraud as I think it is possible to get without a Cabinet Minister on the board!'

They've got Patricia Hewitt - does that score closely enough?

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Mike Richards

No wonder it's been so shite of late

Well shiteier...

The last few weeks have been appallingly slow on BT - bad enough when just doing a bit of browsing, but I've also had a number of updates for the Mac, the PS3 and Windows that have had to be installed* and they've been taking hours to come over. Now I kind of know why.

The moment my BT contract ends I'm out of there for someone like Zen.

* One for Sony why can't I do ANYTHING on the PS3 until you've downloaded the latest firmware update? This can take the best part of an hour. Why not download in the background and cache to disk so I can get on and play a game / watch a movie. Surely it's not a - gasp - hardware limitation???

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IBM solves world's 'paper or plastic' crisis

Mike Richards

We live at the dawn of a new age

Now for the big question - why have no UK supermarkets introduced those strong brown paper bags you get in US stores?

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NASA chief: ISS tests for super plasma space drive

Mike Richards

@ Stuart Van Onselen @ kevin

Stuart:

'Anybody know if this drive is a new design, or just a bigger, more powerful version of the ones NASA have already been using on small probes?'

It's never been flown, but has been tested on the ground. It's related to the ion engines that have been used on some space probes, but is capable of producing much higher thrusts.

There's quite a nice article on it at:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.01/plasma.html

Kevin:

'How do you get rid of 12 Megawatts of heat, given that you are in a vacuum?'

Huge radiators.

There are some really early concept drawings for 2001 which shows the Discovery we're familiar with, but sporting enormous radiators all along its length. They'd got some engineers to design radiators big enough to cool the reactor Arthur C Clarke needed to get his ship to Saturn (yes it was originally Saturn, but they couldn't do the rings). Kubrick decided to dump them as they made the ship much less elegant and he wanted something that looked almost skeletal.

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Mike Richards

Not just technofear...

The nuclear reactors on the Soviet RORSATs *WERE* a legitimate cause for concern because a number of them failed to eject their cores into storage orbits at the end of their lives. Which meant that large chunks of intensely radioactive material re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, and on one occasion hit Canada.

They also infuriated astronomers since they were unshielded (to save weight) and their emissions regularly interfered with observations.

RTGs on the other hand are almost entirely safe and the people who protest about those are the usual 'Back to the Dark Ages envirohippies'.

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American man too fat for execution

Mike Richards

@ fajensen

'Err, no, Mike, because those corrupt beyond belief European parliaments just went and re-introduced the death penalty via the Lisbon treaty "in the case of war, riots, upheaval".'

Not true.

Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights has always allowed for the imposition of the death penalty in times of war, or where there is an imminent prospect of war; but only in signatory states where there is existing legislation that permits the death penalty.

In all other circumstances the death penalty is forbidden by the binding Nice Treaty of 2000. All but four member states (Italy, Poland, Latvia and Spain) have also ratified Protocol 13 of the ECHR which outlaws the death penalty IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

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Too much money? Bling your iPhone with the $1000 app

Mike Richards

@ StopthePropaganda

'Any bets on it hitting 2.5x within two years, or 3x after Obama and a Democratic congressional majority rule?'

Nah, with the current lot in charge over here we'll be in a race to parity with the Zimbabwe Dollar.

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Paris Hilton - the compromised candidate

Mike Richards

Endorsed by vultures

Is the Mighty Reg going to throw its full weight behind Paris? A heavy-weight endorsement from the Register could be just what we need to see POTUS Paris.

And is there any chance one of her rallies could be brought to us in PlayMobilovision?

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NASA: Mars is good habitat for Terry Pratchett dragons

Mike Richards

Not entirely unexpected

The Viking missions were the first successful landers designed to look for signs of life. They found carbon dioxide was released when Martian soil was wetted and nutrients added. The initial suspicion was that microbes had been found in the soil and had been incubated, but later tests showed that biological reactions were unlikely and that the soil must contain a powerful oxidising agent.

The big question for the last thirty years has been to try and work out what it is in the soil. Peroxides have been a favourite, but it looks like perchlorate ions are the guilty parties.

Now it'd be nice to know what sort of concentrations we're looking at - high quantities would pretty much remove any possibility of life at this site since perchlorate reacts strongly with organic molecules.

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Delta aims Wi-Fi at American planes

Mike Richards

Kudos to Delta

That will make it the best of the American carriers that bother to fly the Atlantic. Of course by 'best' I mean in the sense that scrofula is the best skin infection you can contract.

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Old ships' logs show temporary global warming in 1730s

Mike Richards

@ herman

I'm old enough to remember the 1970s global cooling scare, but hat's all it was - a scare.

Some climatologists of the time had a theory that interglacials such as the one we've been living in for the last 10K years had a mean lifetime of - well about 10K years. When they looked at climactic data, there was also a marked downturn in global temperatures during the middle 20th Century. So it was a reasonable theory to propose we were looking at the end of an interglacial with global temperatures likely to go into long term decline.

HOWEVER, that was only ever a minority point of view - albeit a well publicised one. The majority of global climate scientists had concluded that temperatures would either remain stable or, even begin to warm. They were looking at the various Milankovich Cycles that appear to have been driving the Pleistocene and Holocene climate changes.

We now know that the decline in the mid 20th Century is more linked to the huge aerosol emissions associated with the rapid industrialisation of the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in North America, the USSR and China, much of which was driven by high sulphur coal. As these economies gradually switched to cleaner coal and increasingly to oil and gas; and began to limit industrial emissions, the skies cleared and temperatures began to rise.

And if anyone is still reading - (hello) - the Medieval Warm Period is responsible for Greenland being MARGINALLY warmer than it is today - it was never green - that was Viking spin. Unlike the current warming, its effects were not global; the North Atlantic saw large amounts of warming, but the Pacific was cooler. It also came on much slower than the current warming, so its cause was probably not related to what we're seeing today.

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Home Office bankrolls plastic plod 'documentaries'

Mike Richards

Hazel the Jihadi Slayer

30 second pitch.

Permanently short and painfully cheerful Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, mounts her hog (that's a bike BTW.) to root out extremist behaviour around Britain. Armed with nothing more than a chirpy attitude and a government green paper she's our last bet hope to protect the New Labour Project.

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Blighty's nuke-power push stalled as EDF buy falls through

Mike Richards

And another reason to get at Gordon Brown

Until last year the British government had a majority stake in British Energy, until it was flogged off to try and balance the books by one Gordon Brown.

In the last few years, Labour have sold off BNFL's Westinghouse group which manufactures reactors AND control of the industry - but are now trying to have a nuclear future.

Honestly, this lot couldn't organise the piss up if we provided the brewery AND and an instruction sheet.

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US Congress to vote on in-flight mobile ban

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'By the way, why do EU nations like Spain & the Netherlands think their law trumps all law everywhere? e.g. http://tinyurl.com/5g262r'

It's pretty much the same in all legislatures which have grown up regarding themselves as the supreme arbiters of lawmaking. In this country there is absolutely nothing to prevent the House of Commons passing an Act of Parliament that declares the speaking of French to be a crime no matter where it is spoken. At a stroke, the entire nation of France would be violation of the law, but it could never be enforced.

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Spammers, Cuil, and the rescue from planet Google

Mike Richards

@Richard Kay

There's a common misconception that the US legal system outlaws monopolies, in fact it only outlaws abuse of a monopoly position. Microsoft were found to be abusing their 90%+ share of the OS market and fell foul of anti-trust legislation.

For Google to face a monopoly investigation there must first be substantive evidence that their actions are affecting the consumer.

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Home Office minister gets tough, then gets stuck

Mike Richards

May I suggest

Liam tells us how 'firm' he plans to be.

Then we can all snigger at the back of the Internet.

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New Van Gogh pic discovered using German atom-smasher

Mike Richards

A question for the local physicists

Don't you ever - even for a tiny moment - want to stand in front of a particle accelerator and see if you'll get superpowers?

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US airforce to launch robotic Space Shuttle 2.0 this year

Mike Richards

Why USAF needs winged spacecraft...

...is one of the reasons the Space Shuttle is so poor.

Many military payloads need to be put into a polar orbit at a high inclination to the equator. By the time an object has made just one orbit taking about 90 minutes, the planet will have rotated and its launch site will have slipped away to the East. In the event of a crisis where the craft can't simply wait for the Earth to complete a revolution, the orbiter needs to steer its way back through re-entry - a so-called cross-range capability - which is best done with wings.

Of course wings are heavy and cause huge problems for the aerodynamics during launch when they contribute almost nothing. It was the USAF's insistence that the Space Shuttle had to have cross-range capability which produced the current design.

The USAF wanted to launch shuttles into polar orbits out of Vandenburg on the Californian coast and wanted to guarantee that in the event of an emergency their oh-so-secret payloads could be returned safely to America. To get to polar orbit the Shuttle would have needed super light-weight solid rocket boosters; but after the Challenger explosion it was quickly realised this design was even more prone to failure. So the Vandenburg Shuttle complex was mothballed, the USAF switched to the Titan IV heavy booster and the Shuttle became something of a white elephant.

But it looks like the boys in blue have decided they still want something that goes whoosh in space (laws of physics not withstanding).

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Only 'unlawful threats' would invalidate McKinnon extradition

Mike Richards

@ Seán

'People who wear wigs and like to be spanked as a result of a culture of sodomy in boarding schools and inbreeding shouldn't really be in charge of anything never mind the liberty of real people. '

So if judges aren't to decide the application of the law, who should? Politicians? The Jeremy Kyle audience?

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McKinnon loses Lords appeal

Mike Richards

@ MichaelG

'I agree - Brown & Co (inc bought Lords) have their heads so far up Bush & Co's arses that they can see their intestines.'

That's a very foolish and incorrect statement..

...Brown & Co. have their heads so far up Bush & Co's arses they could be their dentists.

As for the Lords; they are not passing judgement on the rights or wrongs of the case but on the legality of the extradition request.

Ever since Blunkett passed the cack-handed extradition treaty with the United States, there has been almost no way of blocking a request from US authorities. If you were kidnapped from the streets with a bag over your head, the current treaty would probably blame you for kicking and screaming so hard.

The decision of the ECHR whether or not to hear the case will be an interesting one.

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Citizens's panel demands policing for DNA database

Mike Richards

THUNK! THUNK! THUNK!

<quote>

'some even believed they should be kept up to five years after death in case a crime comes to light.'

</quote>

'And in the case of the Crown versus the exhumed corpse of Geraldo von Bubblejet, the defendant was once again warned that refusing to enter a plea may prove prejudicial to his defence.'

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More dodgy phone-ins cost BBC £400,000

Mike Richards

@ Sean

'Surely some other kind of punishment could have been used.'

I'd be happy to see Jonathan Ross flogged through the streets of London.

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Bebo users to summon superhuman alien pop-fancier invasion

Mike Richards

Quatermass?

Maybe we can use the power of social networking power (no, don't laugh) and get all the Bebotistas to gather together for harvesting.

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Apple is sorry (again) over MobileMe

Mike Richards

@ Robert

Yep, I'm getting intermittent errors with Mail refusing to send messages using the correct servers. To be fair though, this problem pre-existed long before MobileMe was dumped on us.

I've found I can normally get the message to bugger off to where its meant to go by using the resend button on the error window. If that doesn't work, quitting Mail and restarting usually gets Mail to do what it's meant to do.

Of course the most important question is - what's WebsterPhreaky's take on all this?

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Doctors: Third babies are the same as patio heaters

Mike Richards

Failing to see the problem here...

The population can't keep expanding for the very simple reason there isn't a bottomless pool of resources to be tapped. The doctors aren't calling for euthanasia, they're talking about a move towards a lower population by people tying a knot in it after two.

I went to a hustings at OU during the last general election and this question came up (it was at a university) and watching the candidates squirm was fascinating - and worrying. The Tory/UKIP position was that no one should be told what to do and it'd get in the way of economic growth. The LibDem/Green position was that this was a problem, but they didn't know how it could be solved; and Labour (in the form of the Android MP for MKSW) was that that no one should be coerced to do anything - yeah, thought you'd like that.

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Brits terrified of online fraud, but want magic cars, says BT

Mike Richards

Ask a loaded question

'Today the proportion wishing for a less dangerous online life is 28 per cent.'

Hmmm isn't this the official reason for Phorm?

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Home Office to order fingerprinting of air passengers

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Oh, except Blair gave us the Parliament Act '

Actually though they're the sort of law that would give him wet dreams, Blair got beat to it - twice, once in 1911 and once in 1949. However New Labour have abused the two Parliament Acts and used them far more than any other government.

Labour is also committed to further reducing the power of the Lords should it be re-elected, further tipping powers towards the executive in the Commons.

As for extending the life of a Parliament...

The Parliament Act 1911 set the term to a maximum of five years, but that is not absolute. A series of acts passed in the Second World War extended Parliament for a maximum of ten years on the grounds that an election would be a distraction and potentially divisive during a crisis.

So a government could introduce a bill that struck down all or part of the Parliament Act 1911 and simply declare a new maximum term (we've had maximum terms of both three and seven years in the past); or they could try and declare a situation so serious that an election wasn't in the country's best interests.

I'd hope that there are still enough members of the Parliamentary Labour Party that neither of those are a goer.

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Chinese takeaway biodiesel man in garage explosion horror

Mike Richards

@Tony

'They used to show pictures of him in the local press everytime that the C&E popped round to make sure he wasn't actually imbibing the product.'

Bizarre, you'd have thought even Customs and Excise would know that the main side-effect of swigging methanol is to be found lightly dead.

The real drawback of methanol as a fuel (as if being toxic wasn't enough) is that it is highly corrosive to materials like plastics and aluminium. You can burn it in your car, but don't be too surprised if bits start dropping off.

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CGI furnishes filmstar with fur

Mike Richards

Awesome writing Sarah

Thanks, but since you brought the subject up...

Tom Cruise in 'Valkyrie'.

Not only demands the line 'aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?', but raises the horrifying possibility that he might do an oh-so-serious worthy movie pulling a German accent.

In which case bagsie the popcorn, this could be the most definitive Nazi movie since 'The Producers'.

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Reg hack insults the Parachute Regiment

Mike Richards

Silly Reg...

If you'd thought about it, you'd have cast doubts on the ability of the lovely Italians, then you could expect lots of leggy Mediterranean minxes descending on Vulture Towers wanting to give you a very stern talking to.

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Sutton Police bribe kids to behave

Mike Richards

Should be mandatory...

...to have cops in every cinema audience. It might be the only way to stop members of the audience talking, making and taking phone calls, jumping up and down and generally being pains in the ass.

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US nuke missile crew falls asleep on the job

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous from Mars

'YANKEE HOTEL FOXTRAUT BRAVO INDIA ALPHA GULF SIERRA OHSCAR ZULU NOVEMBYR KILO JULIET'

And a vowel please Carol.

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High-priority patch fixes critical vulns in RealPlayer

Mike Richards

Bloody BBC iPlayer

If only I didn't like listening to live radio - then I could junk RealPlayer once and for all and only be left with the sucktitude that is Flash on the Mac.

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Greenpeace: UK gov trying to strangle wind power

Mike Richards

Okay setting aside the Greenpeace hyperbole

They do seem to have a point - in part. Since none of the new nuclear plants have ever been announced, let alone designed, tendered and built; there would seem to be available tap in points waiting to be used as older plants are decommissioned.

It's obvious that wind turbines and presumably wave can be constructed and deployed faster than a new nuclear plant; so why not give offshore renewables priority access to the existing terminals and build additional grid capacity at the same time as the new nuclear stations go up?

Or is that dangerously joined-up thinking?

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Free for all on London Underground

Mike Richards

@ Roger Kynaston

'imagine if This (and previous crashes) had been the National Identity Card.'

More like

'And tonight Matthew I will be Gordon Brown.'

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Tiscali sues BT for 'defamation and falsehood'

Mike Richards

@Mark Baker

I feel your pain.

I'm £24 in credit with Tiscali after closing my account.

Not only have they failed to send me the balance; but (and this is the surreal bit), they referred my case to a bailiff. So I'm waiting for a burly bloke to smash the door down and leave something valuable behind.

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Mike Richards

Is it defamation to say

That both companies are shit?

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UK comms intercepts up by half - and it isn't the council

Mike Richards

Thank goodness!

With councils having these powers none of the local terrorists will be getting their kids into the good schools - hah, bet you didn't think of that Osama!

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Climate protestor claims glued self to UK Prime Minister

Mike Richards

Best opening line of an article ever

Full stop.

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Sat nav blunder places The Rock in Skegness

Mike Richards

Makes things much clearer

Parcelforce clearly use the same satnav system.

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Blighty's electro-supercar 2.0 uncloaked today

Mike Richards

Engine noise

You want the sound of the most appallingly loud, buttock-clenchingly badly tuned, polar-bear drowningly inefficient engine ever to come out of 1970s Detroit.

Then pull up next to a lentil knitter's recumbent bike and watch them keel over from a heady mix of malnutrition and apoplexy.

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Home Office classes openness review a secret

Mike Richards

undeclared carbon dioxide

Does this mean SodaStreams now have to be licenced?

One of the reports yesterday mentioned the government can now demand entry to your house to look for bears.

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Scientists ponder future Moon mission activities

Mike Richards

@ Charles Manning

Actually the Russians didn't get it right from the start. Their robot sample return missions were a fall-back when they realised there was no way their N1 Moon rocket was not going to be ready in time to beat the Saturn V.

They did consistently beat America with their Luna probes but this was down to the greater throw weight of the R7 launcher and its derivatives over American rockets of the time. But the American Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter probes were more or less doing the same job as the early Luna probes.

Where the Russians really scored was Lunokhod which roved the Moon for months and could be sent into areas that it was impossible to put manned landers. It's a shame they didn't go on with later missions - a robot roving the far side would have been awesome - but the technological problems would have been huge.

The astronauts of Apollo did an impressive job bearing in mind with one exception, none of them were geologists; but the lack of time was crippling. Expeditions on Apollo 15 and 17 had to be curtailed because of lack of oxygen. Maybe the best solution will be for future astronauts to have a robot buddy they can drop off at sites of interest and leave it to do a prolonged study of the area when they blast off back to Earth.

I suppose I'm grouchy because I was too young to be an astronaut when Apollo was sending men to the Moon and now I'm too old for the next missions. If anyone from NASA is reading - PLEASE - I was a doozy at studying europium anomalies in lunar samples - and I can't use that line in my CV anywhere else!

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DDoS attack floors Georgia prez website

Mike Richards

@ Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

Putin: 'short, failed lieutenant general'

Hmmm let me see, became President of the Russian Republic, took control of the World's second largest nuclear arsenal, started rebuilding the military, brought the economy under control, cracked down on low-level corruption, made sure the West took Russia seriously, rebuilt the country's foreign currency reserved, seen by the Russian people as one of their greatest leaders, and is now Prime Minister.

Nice - no; scary - absolutely; failed - certainly not.

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EU abolishes the acre

Mike Richards

At bloody last

In the dim and distant 1970s, when we still had proper summers, I learned land area in ares and hectares; never acres - so what's the fuss? Just the same as I only ever saw SI units in school.

Surely the majority of people in the UK have now only learned SI and metric in school it's time to get rid of the ridiculous Imperial system once and for all?

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