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* Posts by Francis Boyle

994 posts • joined 29 Jul 2007

Space: 1999 returning to TV?

Francis Boyle
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Might work

if they ditched the silly nuclear explosions thing and replaced it with say mysterious alien technology (black monolith anyone). The thing I loved (as a teenager) about the show was its sense of wonder about the universe (inherited no doubt form 2001). What I didn't like was the fact that it too often spilled over into mystical mumbo-jumbo and sometimes plain anti-science. If they had stuck to Clark's Third Law it could have been a great series instead of just an enjoyable one.

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Francis Boyle
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A demonstration that the Eagle is practical

Years ago, I created this slightly modified version of the Eagle for Orbiter* using only reasonably realistic assumptions about near future tech. If you dare you can try flying it into lunar orbit (difficult but not impossible). If you can land it, you're Alan Carter himself (or a computer). Hint: you use the underside engine to rotate to the correct orientation then fire up the big ones at the back which makes sense when you realise that the moon isn't exactly littered with vehicle assembly buildings.

Merlin Transporter for Orbiter : http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=2234

(SpaceX ripped me off - I'd sue but I can't afford Apple's lawyers.)

*Orbiter Space Fight Simulator: orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/

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US Navy preps railgun for tests

Francis Boyle
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Re: Re : there isn't much energy in a bullet

My laptop battery has an energy density of just over one half a megajoule per kilogram and it's not exactly military spec. So maybe 250 shots per kg assuming no losses. (Yes, there will be losses but on the other side battery tech is still improving rapidly) I don't exactly think a 1kg power pack would be a problem for Arnie. On the other hand I do have this image of a young Stallone with dozens of little phone batteries tucked into his bandolera.

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Jackpot: astronomers tag Goldilocks planet

Francis Boyle
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Porridge

No thanks. I've just finished the blancmanges

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Indonesian train roof fare-dodgers given the brush off

Francis Boyle
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The Register - for all your IT* news

* Indonesian train

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Koala food may power US Defence force

Francis Boyle
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That's just my back yard.

Admittedly there not as common as they were. Apparently birds have learned how to kill and eat them. What's a bit of poison when you're Australian wildlife.

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Toshiba releases 'world's thinnest' Android tablet

Francis Boyle
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Seriously, WTF

is wrong with letterboxing. Is a black bar in your field of vision so much worse than a bezel? I'm looking to buy a new monitor but everything's bloody 16:9. Now the size is limited by the available space on my desk, so by going widescreen I'm actually losing screen real estate. Likewise with a tablet the limiting factor is primarily the larger dimension (and 16:9 is horrible vertically). Now, I hate to agree with the sainted Steve (check my posts if you like, you won't find any Apple love from me) but he got that one right.

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The IEEE and the Electric Universe

Francis Boyle
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Not to mention that idea that gravity was once a fringe concept

is just plain wrong.

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SpaceX successfully tests SuperDraco rescue rockets

Francis Boyle
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If there is a leak

and toxic vapours manage to reach the crew I think the crew might already have had problems - like not being able to breathe in the vacuum of space. And yes, if there are two leaks there could be an explosion. If I were designing the system I would separate the tanks for the component fuels. And since the SpaceX people are smart I suspect they have come up with something even better.

Hypergolic engines are a tried and proven reliable technology, widely used without problems (the Apollo Lunar module main engine was hypergolic for a start). I'd certainly rather have eight of these things around me than a singe rocket above me as in conventional launch escape systems (or nothing as was the case with the shuttle).

This is impressive stuff - if they keep it up the Martian Alliance may have to consider breaking cover.

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Boffins crack superconducting graphene's melting mystery

Francis Boyle
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You love Britain so much

yet you can't spell its name or even be bothered to capitalise it properly.

That aside, this is fundamental research where the limiting factor tends to be the researchers not the equipment so if you really want to keep the research in Britain you can't just throw money at it. (How many tunneling electron microscopes can one team use?) And yes this research is going to be exploited by all the world - that's how fundamental research works. If Edison made more money out of electricity than Faraday it wasn't because Faraday was under-appreciated. (It was probably because Edison was a thieving bastard.)

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JEDI alliance: Jellyfish overlords won't rule Earth after all

Francis Boyle
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Just what we want you to think

Regards - the Rutan Host.

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Serial killer PYTHONS stalk Florida's Everglades

Francis Boyle
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Snakes on

Lake Pontchartrain. OK, wrong state but not far off.

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Star Trek tractor beam to save Earth from asteroid Armageddon

Francis Boyle
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Alternatively

just fit them with peril-sensitive filters.

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Nikon compact, only $AU100k

Francis Boyle
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but shirley

They're offering $100k to take it off their hands.

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Boffins one step closer to invisible shed

Francis Boyle
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"plasmonic cloaking"

Didn't Spock invent that. Or maybe it was Scotty. I'm sure it was one of them - having to escape certain death before the end of a TV hour is the mother of invention.

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BBC's images of murdered infant did not breach privacy, copyright

Francis Boyle
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Different issue

different court, different country. Both sensible judgments, though.

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Big stars give birth to little stars in new WISE pic

Francis Boyle
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That puzzled me too

(And supernovae may be quick but they belong in a funeral home. The process of recycling their material into new stars takes a little bit longer.)

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Spammers hit mobes with QR code junkmail jump pads

Francis Boyle
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Easy, it ends in

.ru

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Boeing backs biofuel boffinry

Francis Boyle
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On the other hand

Oil has never been polluted by something as dirty as politics.

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Francis Boyle
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I agree about the corn

I don't advocate the use of food crops for biofuel. But that's for economic/politcal reasons.(Sugarcane is exception - it's high yield and if you're living on sugar you're doing it wrong.) A ratio of 1.5 for energy in to energy out may look bad (and is bad compared to 8 for sugarcane) but apart from pollution/land use concerns it really doesn't matter since you're producing energy. You might as well complain that you're "only" getting 50% return on you're investments!

But again, I'm not advocating the use of food crops for biofuels. I am advocating serious research into non-food sources such as switchgrass and algae. If they can be made to give the yield of sugarcane without it's environmental impact (cane farming tends to be fertiliser intensive and produce nasty runoff) we will have a viable alternative to oil.

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Francis Boyle
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Hang on

" The fuel required to transport biomass to a processing plant, covert it to fuel and transport the fuel to an airport is about equal to the fuel created from biomass."

I see this claim again and again. Yet we manage to transport crude oil half-way around the globe for a net energy profit. Is the energy density of biofuels so much less or is this an economic argument in disguise?

Now I can't find precise figures but according to the Wikipedia "oil tanker" article "the average cost of oil transport by tanker amounts to only two or three United States cents per 1 US gallon". (Yes there's a citation for that.) With crude oil at 1$100 per barrel (42 gallons) three US cents buys something like one hundredth of a gallon. That's a ratio of 100 to one even assuming no other costs.

OK, if you transport the raw biomass rather than processing it on site the ratio would decrease significantly but why would you do that? You harvest the material, process (or refine) it and ship it out in a concentrated form.

Sorry, but these efficiency arguments are just a red herring. There is no theoretical constraint. At the moment oil is cheaper because it's cheaper (an economic constraint). But it's not getting cheaper and never will while biofuels certainly will.

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Did Vatican commit Cardinal sin over Wikipedia bios?

Francis Boyle
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I love how

they translate even the names into Latin. Nialus Armstrong FTW.

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Whale versus shark in KIWI DEATH MATCH!

Francis Boyle
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Trouble is

if the sharks had FRIKKIN' LASERS!!! the Orcas would respond with SMEGGIN' TACTICAL NUKES!!!11, they're that hardcore.

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Stephen Hawking seeks geek to maintain his unique wheelchair

Francis Boyle
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I applied for that one

All I got was killed in a cheap negative effect.

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Make room, internet, there's another 5 million domains to fit in

Francis Boyle
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Turn off the internet - that's crazy talk

The internet is just a black box with a flashing red light on the top. There is no off button.

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Facebook shoves your face into creepy 'sponsored stories' in 2012

Francis Boyle
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"I think well known brands tend to pay more for R&D"

Why?

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Parallel politics: Gerry Harvey, imports and taxes

Francis Boyle
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I'd question

the "affectionately" bit.

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Tas Uni helps align ice observations

Francis Boyle
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"The earth is not warming any more"

Famous last words.

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Francis Boyle
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The world will be fine

I just wouldn't fancy being around in another fifty plus years. Just maybe this work will make life in the 2060s a little more endurable.

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Facebook's 'Darwinian' nature keeps users safe - Irish gov

Francis Boyle
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Put that simply

the idea is tautologous nonsense. But, of course, you've put it too simply. Put simply, but not too simply, the idea is something like: "the survival of organisms with inheritable traits that allow individuals to survive long enough to have sufficient offspring to ensure those traits survive. That may be beyond your ability to understand but it isn't nonsense.

Now, can we get back to talking about how crap Facebook is.

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Ofcom maps out what 'psychics' are allowed to do on TV

Francis Boyle
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Music

Where?

Okay, there's some damn fine religious music but from my brief exposure it's not to found on Song of Praise.

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IBM: 'Your PC will read your mind by 2016'

Francis Boyle
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2011's Best... compact cameras

Francis Boyle
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I got a grip

It's attached to my SLR. Obviously, I'm reading the wrong article.

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Duff Mars probe's flaming shards to rain down mid-January

Francis Boyle
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Translation fail?

Since 100km is pretty generally regarded as the edge of space I doubt the accuracy of the statement about the fuel burning up in "the dense atmosphere of the Earth at an altitude of approximately 100km".

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Doctor Who girl Amy Pond axed in 'heartbreaking' exit

Francis Boyle
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Oh God, you made me remember

the flying shark.

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Asus Zenbook UX31E

Francis Boyle
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A-ZOO-S is indeed the 'correct' pronunciation but the company itself tends to use A-SUS in promotional material produced for/by English speakers. (Or maybe their PR company just didn't get the memo.)

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Woz's key to success: Burn the tie, wear T-shirts to work

Francis Boyle
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I'm not a Bill Hicks wannabee

I'm a Douglas Adams wannabee.

And anyway I wouldn't have existed if not for Hitler but that doesn't stop me being 21236468th on the list of people who get to have a crack at killing him should time travel ever be invented..

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Francis Boyle
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So?

If Einstein where around today he'd have a dozen sets of black t-shirt and jeans.

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Nearest supernova since 1986 blasts boffin off her chair

Francis Boyle
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Coat

Boffin chair blasting

Great fun for the boffin.

Less fun for the Trazabentigarnos whose stay this used to be.

Mine's the one with the collected works of Arthur C. Clarke in the pocket.

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Wikipedia simplifies article editing for world+dog

Francis Boyle
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+10

for adding some perspective (the first thing that seems to get lost when people talk about Wikipedia).

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Higgs boson hunters have god particle in their sights

Francis Boyle
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Yin and yang

It's to preserve the balance of the universe - God Particle, Devil typeface.

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Why there's real hope for webOS - if HP is committed

Francis Boyle
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This reply is a figment of your imagination

brought to you by a Pre running WebOS 2 . (Thanks to a 'community'.)

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Google execs eye NASA's Hangar One to park their air fleet

Francis Boyle
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The "museum or educational centre"

should contain a permanent display of a lead balloon.

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2011's Best... Games

Francis Boyle
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JOTY

Joke of the year.

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Infographic: The road to desktop virtualisation

Francis Boyle
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With infographics

slick is the problem. Try good insted

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PC sales forecast slashed on back of disk drive crisis

Francis Boyle
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You're forgetting

supply and demand. If the supply's there and demand is low prices go down thus pushing up demand. That's not happening here.

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Next Dr Who game to leave Xboxers in the cold

Francis Boyle
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The Eternity Quest

for a decent Doctor Who game.

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Red Cross: 600m videogamers may be war criminals

Francis Boyle
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Why not?

ISTR in America's Army or whatever it was called if you broke the rules you ended up in a virtual Leavenworth.

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Eyes on stalks: ancient predator a real monster

Francis Boyle
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Wasn't god

permanently on acid. It would explain pretty much everything.

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Facebook disses Effin Irishwoman

Francis Boyle
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Or maybe

Far North Queensland.

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