Best opening line of an article ever
3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007
Parcelforce clearly use the same satnav system.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
Where's this money suddenly come from? The government is flat broke and another huge wodge of cash comes along all of a sudden. It'd be nice to see this sort of money being promised to build the high speed train links we're going to need RSN if the rail network isn't to grind to a complete halt.
The current hypothesis of planetary formation is that the building blocks of the planets really don't much resemble what we see today - instead their bulk composition was probably much more like cometary matter - rich in volatile compounds like water, methane and ammonia. So the proto-Mars would have had much more water present than we see today. When these rocks were being formed, Mars was regularly receiving fresh supplies of water courtesy of the huge cometary impacts which helped carve out the Martian craters.
As for where it went. A good deal would have been converted into hydrated minerals in the Martian crust (like these phyllosilicates), some would have migrated into the subsoil permafrost, but the vast majority has been lost forever because Mars is too small.
Being small, Mars' interior cooled quickly and solidified. As it did so, the Martian magnetic field would have collapsed to the current pitiful strength. The magentic field helps shield the Martian atmosphere from the solar wind, no field and the wind can impact straight on to the atmosphere where sub-atomic particles tear molecules - such as water - apart. The free hydrogen atoms have velocities considerable in excess of Mars' escape velocity and are lost to space, the free oxygen wouldn't have escaped, but would have reacted with rocks and been locked away in the crust.
As the atmosphere was eroded, the liquid phase of water would not be possible on the Martian surface; water only being found in the form of ice or water vapour. Any vapour is vulnerable to being lost to space, so the process continues.
NASA in the 1960s was receiving twice as much money (adjusted for inflation) as they are now and only had to worry about funding one major project at a time - not the mishmash of projects that they've been tasked with by various Congresses.
If the ISS was abandoned as the useless white elephant it is and the Shuttle immediately retired as being pointless without the ISS, NASA might have the money to begin working on the Orion project.
'Incidentally I believe the biggest problem with Ares so far is vertical oscillations (pogoing) caused by the fundamental way a solid rocket motor runs, burning along the whole length of the tube. STS (the shuttle) doesn't suffer from this as there are two boosters tied together by the ET.'
Pogoing was a major problem with the Saturn V which was never entirely resolved. The unmanned Apollo 6 suffered such sever pogo that several pieces came off the rocket and it came close to structural failure. Apollos 11, 12 and 13 all experienced severe vibration during launch. On 13, the rocket very nearly never got into orbit; pogo caused one of the engines to shut down just before it tore loose of its mounting - which would have destroyed the rocket. Later flights used a slightly redesigned Saturn V and were much less rough on their crew.
Unfortunately pogo is one of those things that can't really be simulated on the ground with static tests, you can attempt to eliminate it at the design phase but the only real test is to light the candle - which is expensive and risky.
It's also worth pointing out that the Soviet N1 Moon rocket was destroyed by pogo in its last flight. The rocket was within seconds of completing the first successful burn of its first stage when pogo caused the computer to begin shutting down engines; the rocket tumbled out of control and exploded. With four out of four failures, the N1 was cancelled.
Mine's the hoodie with the gold tinted visor.
The Open University has put a nice clip of one of their old TV programmes on YouTube, featuring the noble gases, a man on the brink and some provocatively chunky knitwear:
...MobileMe is broken.
The introduction has been even more of a fiasco than last week's iPhone 3G launch.
If Apple spend time and money developing an operating system why *shouldn't* they be able to dictate the conditions on how it's used?
Shouldn't that be iPod dock?
Even though they won't be charging for streaming movies, the cost of XBox Live and a Netflix subscription is pretty expensive.
If they bundled a basic Netflix subscription into the Gold package that might go some way towards justifying the price of Live. Sony don't charge for their online service, nor do Nintendo, and whilst Live is the best of the online gaming services, it's still pretty expensive for what it offers.
...will be about 67 million people.
This will be followed by the incorporation of all voluntary organisations, youth work schemes and schools into a single government regulated body; anyone refusing to join will be imprisoned as a danger to the community as a potential paedophilic terrorist. May I suggest calling it the Brown Shirts? Such a snappy name it's hard to see why they haven't used it already.
...on stylistic grounds, the F22 - handsome beast. No TSR-2 I grant you, but it doesn't look like it was designed by a committee.
It's a bit more complex than 555 being a fictional area code.
Only 555-0100 to 555-0199 are reserved for film and television use. The remainder of the 555-xxxx can be used; IIRC 555-1212 is local directory enquiries throughout the US.
There were plans a while back for 555-xxxx to be used for getting hold of local franchises - so 555-APPL might get you the nearest Apple store to your present location, but AFAIK this has not become common.
Now another question - why have British companies never followed the Americans and used handy mnemonics for their telephone numbers?
Actually the cause of the Hindenburg burning at Lakehurst is still disputed, analysis of the fire does not support the dope theory as much as its proponents would like to admit.
Hydrogen IS too deadly to use; the Graf Zeppelin is pretty much the only airship to have ever had a long successful career whilst being lifted with hydrogen. If you want examples of other hydrogen-fed disasters, then choose from the British / American R38, the British super-ship the R101, the French record-breaking Dixmude or a terrible number of WW1 Zeppelins that burned in the air - all because of hydrogen and nothing to do with their doping.
Zeppelin themselves recognised the risk from hydrogen and designed the Hindenburg to be inflated with helium; however, the US refused to export the gas to Germany because of Nazi re-armament policies and the fear that it might be diverted into a military airship programme. So Hindenburg was inflated with hydrogen and made a successful first season of travel to the US. Over the winter when it was laid up, the ship's accommodation was expanded to make use of the extra lift provided by hydrogen. The airship never finished that season.
I was waiting for iTunes to authenticate my iPhone so I was kind of distracted.
And this time Apple have to take the blame.
I got the original iPhone back in November and getting that working was less smooth than it should be. I assumed they would have noticed the long delays in getting to iTunes last year and geared up accordingly. But no, today's upgrade to 2.0 is even worse.
@ Ioannis above. Good point I wonder if they'll refund people who can't use their paid-for service because of this shambles.
@ Kenny above. Yup .Mac/Mobile Me/Me is up, down, up, down, up, down. Mail is still working, but nothing else.
Next time guys - stagger these events. Firmware release BEFORE a new product launch to keep existing customers happy. And don't bugger round with a vital service at the same time.
Thank God the Reg is still working, it'd be like the 19th Century here if I didn't know everyone else was watching the iPhones go out one by one.
If the Chinese do solve the problem of voluminous expectoration, can they share the secret so that we can do the same to younger people in this country.
Mine's the one with 'Bah! Humbug' on the back marked out in Werther's Original wrappers.
When their MD gets a well-deserved Jobsian bollocking for screwing up one of the highest profile product launches of the year.
Something tells me O2 can forget getting the rights to the next phone. 3 years exclusivity will be out the window when O2 have shown themselves to be manifestly incapable of selling the product.
"It is simply unacceptable that consumers are being misled by these screen-scrapers into paying 'handling charges' for Ryanair’s flights when they can purchase the same flights with no handling charge on www.ryanair.com,"
RyanAir complaining about people having to pay unwarranted charges???
Offer them money if they vote the right way.
Either that or a chance to win a passion-filled night with New Labour's Poison Dwarf.
...now will the Japanese government fund my purchase of a 40W 40" OLED TV?
Part of me likes to think that Jacqui Smith is in her office sacking the bright-young-thing who came up with to the idea of this site. But a much larger part of me hopes she remains blissfully unaware for a bit longer.
As spin-doctoring operations go mylifemyid is a John Redwood / Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau moment.
Can we look forward to daily 'best-of's?
'Ah well, when the oil drought hits aviation fuel a bit harder, Ryanair will be first against the wall -- their target market will be the first to stop flying.'
Sadly, for all sorts of reasons - environmental and moral - RyanAir will be one of the last companies to hit the wall. They've got a modern fleet that sips less fuel, they run at very high load values and they aren't tied into the expensive major hubs so they can switch routes easily enough. Not to mention their scamtastic marketing suckers people into buying flights with them when the final cost is only a little less than flying with an airline which gives a damn* and takes you where you want to go and not a tin shed in the wrong time zone.
The ones that are going to go are the heavily indebted fleets with archaic business practices, protected by anti-competitve legislation, massive pension commitments and total reliance on big airports. Which is pretty much the whole of the American airline industry with the possible exception of SouthWest.
* SAS if you must know - no not the blokes in balaclavas.
'For example, a close reading of the production figures shows BBC2 has reduced its education programming by almost half – from 1374 to 785 hours. No doubt this change has some underlying significance.'
A good part of this is because the Open University has lost its late-night BBC2 'Learning Zone' broadcasting slot; instead the BBC switches over to the wondrous rolling car crash of fluffed links, missing captions and wrong clips that is BBC News.
Just think, generations of British youth will no longer discover the wonders of geology, organic chemistry and pure mathematics simply because they've staggered home in the wee small hours and just flicked on the TV - this is a cultural tragedy.
'Combine Tennis, Foxhunting, Waterpolo and Target Shooting and make a sport that is actually worth watching.'
Now that mate - is genius.
...I want that jacket.
The simplest way to reduce food costs and supply enough to feed the population is to stop feeding grain and soya to animals in feedlots. The US could support three or four times its current population by switching its grain harvest from animals to humans.
This doesn't mean a veggie world, it means meat becoming relatively more expensive; but the meat we would get would be tastier.
A far more interesting question about tongue is:
'Can it taste you eating it?'
Plotting MPs' second homes on Google Maps. Then they can use that info to find their nearest John Lewis store.
The perspex bit at the bottom is there simply because Asus couldn't be bothered to design a proper stand. It also means I wouldn't be able to tuck my keyboard underneath to retrieve a bit of desk space - something I do like about the iMac / CinemaDisplay monitors.
I like my Eee a lot, but increasingly Asus are looking like headless chickens frantically hoping to strike gold a second time.
'...they'll be working for no-nonsense entrepreneur Alan Sugar who controls a property empire worth more than £800.'
Ummmm what would ditching HRA do in this case?
The UK is a founding member of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights is the ultimate arbiter of that convention. All HRA did was incorporate the majority of the Convention into UK Law meaning that citizens had redress for breaches of their rights in the UK courts rather than having to appeal their case all the way to the court in Strasbourg, a process that cost tens of thousands of Pounds and many years.
Dumping HRA would just make things worse for people whose rights have been infringed, delay justice and allow governments to get away with greater abuses.
If anything HRA needs to be strengthened. It's not possible for a judge to strike down a law that conflicts with the Convention, nor can they refuse to sentence someone who broke such a law. to remain on the statute book, whereas they should be repealed. The strongest action a court can take is to issue a declaration of incompatibility with the Convention, but they cannot fine the government for breaching the Convention. The reason is down to the self-importance of Parliament which considers itself the sole arbiter of UK law. So anyone hoping that ID Cards could be declared illegal under HRA are in for a nasty surprise.
The sooner we have a modern constitution (we could do a whole lot worse than to plagiarise the one written by a bunch of traitors in 1787) the better.
I speak of Tom Cruise - he talks to real aliens every day.
If David Hasselhoff could do the soundtrack that would be awesome.
Couldn't you at least have told us how much the inkjet cartridges cost to do an entire cake?
Sorry, your chemist friend is wrong. (But just think how much fun you can have telling him)
The internationally agreed name for element number 13 is 'aluminium', with 'aluminum' being an acceptable alternative.
The problem goes all the way back to Humphry Davy who made the first attempts at separating the raw metal from pure aluminium oxide - alumina. He called the then hypothetical element 'alumium' at first before settling on 'aluminum' where it remained for a few more years before becoming 'aluminium' to fit in better with the majority of metal names.
However, the Brits didn't get it all their own way, the internationally agreed spelling for element 16 is 'sulfur'. Tragically, it is now also the recommended spelling in the UK according to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Presumably the precious little snowflakes in today's schools can't be expected to spell 'sulphur'.
It would have cost billions; it would have crushed a few more rights; it'd have employed more people in peaked hats and big boots; it have been hopelessly unreliable, inconvenient and infuriating; and most of all - IT WOULDN'T HAVE WORKED...
...and the government is abandoning it?
What (as they say) gives?
But the same sentiment applies.
Is it just me, or does Liam Byrne look like he'd get off on any opportunity to wear a black uniform with silver piping, jack boots and wire-frame glasses?
The closest analogy in existing law is when a suspect is bailed over for a later court appearance. If the bailee fails to answer the bail conditions, the person who put up the assurance isn't jailed they merely lose their money.
So why are perfectly innocent people going to be criminalised if an immigrant does a runner?
The repulsive Tony McNulty really is the lowest of the low in New Labour (and that's up against some pretty stiff competition); by building a career hard man image by picking on the weakest and most disadvantaged in society.
The sooner he and his cronies are thrown out of power the better.
Most 360 owners have been hardened through multiple bereavements as their precious boxes have RRoDed time after (three and counting) bloody time.
If they honestly think the LHC is going to spit out all sorts of subatomic weirdness they won't have bought the extended warranty.
...his users found the iPhone's lack of keyboard made it easier to wipe clean.
I need to post a letter and the queue in front already contains a family claiming a wheelbarrow load of benefits; a semi-literate teenager completing a passport application at the desk so that he can spend his gap year contracting some of Southern Europe's most exciting sexually-transmitted diseases; a Sun reader changing five billion Vietnamese Dong into Sterling one Dong at a time whilst recounting their nights of bliss at the Hanoi Hilton Happy Slapper LadyBoy Passion Parlour to anyone within earshot; someone whose actually bought one of those 'you've never heard of this movie' DVDs for £1.99 - in copper; three Lottery players trying to pick their almost certainly unlucky numbers, and a Patagonian waiter looking to send a 1/2 tonne box complete with air holes to one of the lesser-travelled parts of the Andes - and now they're going to be scanning people's eyeballs???
This was an on-the-record interview and he's a former spindoctor, Burnham knew what he was doing when he mentioned Chakrabarti. Bringing her into the conversation was not necessary to make a point, but he did it anyway. he should apologise.
Maybe she shouldn't have risen to the bait, but hell it's an opportunity to embarrass one of the government's more greasy members.
What's especially revealing is that Burnham can't get it into his head that people can agree on some things and not others. Such is the android level of conformity in new Labour he fails to see that it's possible for Liberty and Davis to agree on surveillance and disagree on the death penalty. People like Burnham who have no opinions that haven't been put their by the whips shouldn't be allowed into the House of Commons as they do all of us a disservice.
The HUGE problem with nuclear power is political - not the lentil knitters, but international politics. As the report points out, uranium reserves are pretty limited if the World decided that fission was the way forward (and it is increasingly looking that way).
Thorium is in some way an even bigger problem than uranium since it needs to be transmuted into U233 before it can be used as a fuel. The Indians, who have some of the largest thorium reserves, have long experience in doing this. BUT U233 is an excellent material for bomb making. It can be used in a uranium cannon bomb (unlike plutonium), a much simpler, cheaper way of becoming a nuclear power as it doesn't need anything like the same level of expertise - the design of Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima didn't need to be tested and the South Africans assembled a number of similar weapons without ever testing their designs.
The way to extend uranium reserves is through reprocessing and recycling U235 for further use and either blending in Pu239 to make MOX or to embark on a real fast breeder program using Pu239 as the fuel and U238 as the breeding blanket. This would mean a huge commitment to reprocessing - an economic disaster in the UK which is the only country to have ever gone wholeheartedly for the process, and something of an environment nightmare as it means finding repositories for spent actinides. Could any government make such a commitment?
BUT the monster in this is the plutonium economy. Such a programme would require hundreds of tonnes of plutonium, all suitable for bomb making, to be shipped around the World on a continuous basis. It would mean providing countries with whom we have awkward, if not hostile, relationships with plutonium. Bearing in mind the fracas we're currently having with Iran over its uranium program does anyone countenance the US or Israel permitting Iran to receive plutonium shipments?
Okay, we could avoid trans-shipments and say that everyone has a reprocessing program of their own. The technology is from the 1940s and is accessible to anyone with a supply of concrete, kerosene and some 1st year degree chemistry. Is the World ready for 200 odd reprocessing programmes all with the potential to divert plutonium into bomb programs?
Or the US and the rest of the Security Council could say that all new nuclear economies must sign up to receive fuel from their enrichment and processing plants and return spent fuel to them. This hasn't worked too well in the past - India's successful civilian and military programs are a direct protest at trying to impose similar rules through the Non Proliferation Treaty, and Iran's current intransigence is in part down to the fact that under the Treaty every country is permitted to have their own civilian nuclear programs - including a complete fuel cycle. The West demanding that Iran must accept fuel from outside is not grounded in law.
So can the readers of this mighty organ see how to get round these problems?