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* Posts by John Mangan

56 posts • joined 14 Aug 2007

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Stars say relativity still works

John Mangan
Thumb Down

One slight problem with that . .

is that you have some circular logic there. The redshift gives you the distance if you know the Hubble constant. But you need to know the distance of some (non-triangulated galaxies to calculate the Hubble constant.

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John Mangan
Happy

If I remember correctly . . .

the parallax method gives you a 'local' population of satrs with directly measured sitances. This allow you to calculate absolute magnitudes (how bright the *really* are) for a range of star types. Within this group are a class of stars known as Cepheid variables whose brightness changes with a period dependent on their size. These standard candles then allow you to calculate distances for more distant stars and 'local' galaxies. From the population of galaxies you get a scale of mass/brightness which can then be used to calculate equivalent values for more distant galaxies where you can't pick out the standard candles.

If I remember correctly . . . .

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Gravity wave detector gets more sensitive

John Mangan
Boffin

@James Micallef

That's not entirely correct - and I am dredging up a deep channel of memory here but:

Newtonian gravity doesn't predict gravitational waves; that is entirely a prediction of Einsteinian relativity. You also need to draw a distinction between direct measurements of gravitational radiation, as these detectors are designed to do, and indirect detection such as the changing orbits of neutron star or black hole binaries. The energy radiated away alters the orbits of the bodies involved. Pulsars in binaries are particularly useful in this case. It's a while since I looked it up but I think there was some good indirect evidence for gravitational radiation from these studies.

Gravitons have been proposed as the particle 'carrier' for the gravitational force but I've lost track of where they currently lie in the morass of Supersymmetry, string theory, Quantuim Loop Gravity et al.

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John Mangan
Happy

Ahh . . .memories

I used to be a Ph.D. student up at Glasgow working on this stuff more years ago that I want to admit. Back then we had a 10m prototype to play with, Argon ion lasers and and all the liquid nitrogen we could drink (don't try this at home!). Even then the sources of noise that would affect the detector were surprising. I finished my Ph.D. before Geo600 got properly started.

Quantum squeezing had been suggested back then but it obviously turned out to be a bit more difficult than expected.

(Sits back in armchair with slightly nostalgic look on face)

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Missile defence FAIL: US 'kill vehicle' space weapon flunks test

John Mangan

Reminds me of the scene in 'The West Wing'

where a scepticla President Bartlett received the results of the latest failed MD test with the immortal words, 'Good Grief Charlie Brown!"

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Shut up, Spock! – how Battlestar Galactica beat Trek babble

John Mangan

@Code Monkey

The gas is already dissolved in your blood stream and will be present in various body cavities, etc. With the drop in external pressure when 'entering' vacuum the gas expands.

Similarly with the bends; the Nitrogen does not come from the water but is already in the body.

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Moms stand firm against antenna madness

John Mangan

"emit radiation 800 feet in every direction"

Is that all? Blimey there must be even more of these transmitters than I realised!

Although . . . presumably if the range was just 800 feet the energy would be lower and nobody would have to worry? Reduce the range to 100 feet and put one in everyone's back garden and then all of the property values will be equally affected and everyone's happy, no?

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Tinfoil 'radiation shield' maternity wear hits 'Frisco

John Mangan
Happy

One ambition failed:

"Another product for folk with more brass than sense."

I always wanted to have more money than sense but it wasn't to be . . .

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What's the difference between an iPod and an iPood?

John Mangan

"That could have been worded better, don't you think?"

You know, I'm not entirely sure it could.

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End of Microsoft NHS deal means mass deletions

John Mangan

@Eddie

I can't say I've had those problems and I've used OOO on windows and Linux. Startup is always slow due to the Java dependence but usually after that I find things are pretty responsive.

Then again I may be less demanding than you - or you could be very unlucky.

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First true submarine captured from American drug smugglers

John Mangan

@Sooty

It did say in the article that deployment of active detection was very expensive over a wide area.

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3D TV: Avatar or Ishtar?

John Mangan
FAIL

Pros and Cons

Pro

More immersive with the right content

Cons

Family sitting around with their jamjars on

Non-interoperability of different specs so need a bag of 'spares' for when friends come around

Easy to lose one remote, what are the odds on losing/breaking expensive glasses

Not great/relevant for many types of content

possible restrictions on viewing angles/distances in modern, cramped houses

I left out expense since that will fall. Yes, internet access would be more useful.

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Amazon punts Kindleware for Androids

John Mangan

@Sid James

Erm . . . I think that was the joke.

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Laid-off public sector techies better get flexible to survive

John Mangan

@ Errr

"All those councils who stuck all their money in Icelandic banks when competent advice was saying to not do that and to also spread money around, spring to mind."

Well if you're going to start with a lie then you really can't expect me to read any further now can you?

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Antarctic glacier melt maybe 'not due to climate change'

John Mangan
Thumb Down

Drama . . . not really

In fact most scientists reports downplay the drama of their discoveries usually citing the need for more evidence of further studies. Unfortuantely politicians and the press like to go for unambiguous interpretations of results and push more dramtic conclusions.

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Public sector IT: Our own pig in lipstick?

John Mangan
Thumb Up

@ IT is not the issue

Indeed because having the consultants in is very effectve at bullet-proofing arses. I've been in meetings where this was cited in so many words as the the justification for getting the consultants in. Unfortunately cultural issues take a long time to fix and aren't going to be an easy sell when everyone particularly wants theiir arses covered during budget cuts!

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Turkey bans Google Books, Google Docs, Google Translate...

John Mangan

I doubt it

"But there would be a lot less fighting going on. One religious sect hell bent on wiping out the others"

People have never been short of excuses for fighting; religion is one, so is oil as you pointed out but then there's water (likely to be increasingly common), nationalism, racism, historic injustices, etc., etc. etc.

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German bank robbers in Italian Job moment

John Mangan
Grenade

Re: Sulfuric

I looked this up a few years ago (yes I am that sad) and it appears that both 'sulphuric' and 'sulfuric' are legitmate English spellings. i also discovered that 'aluminum' is not an exclusively American metal.

'Nucular', however, is still an abomination in mine eyes!

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Queen's speech pledges faster deficit cut, 'freedom bill'

John Mangan
Grenade

@MexFlyboy

Blimey, you still think there'll be such things as cruise ships and piña coladas in 2039?

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UK hot-swaps leaders - Brown out, Cameron in

John Mangan
Unhappy

Bl@@dy Typical!!

How did I manage to get the only typo on the word accuracy???

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John Mangan

Re: This "Electing the PM" thing → #

A fair point BUT just because people don't understand (or can't be bothered to understand) the system AS IT IS doesn't make the PM unelected. Any more than John Major was unelected.

You have a nice justification there but it doesn't change the fact that most of the t@$$ers complaining about 'unelected PMs' are basically anti-Brown and nothing else.

P.S. I am not a Labour supporter and I am glad to see the back of Brown but I just like accuract. Sorry.

Where's the screaming in rage icon? Sarah, help me now!

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John Mangan

Pedant ALert

Well, sixty per cent of the population that voted.

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John Mangan
Megaphone

@Anonymous John

Not that old canard! Britain has NEVER had an elected PM. Sheesh! How many more times?

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Neil Armstrong slams 'devastating' Constellation cancellation

John Mangan
Grenade

Constellation - Humbug

I've waited so long for true progress on space flight that my only hope now is the space elevator. Get Otis on the phone and I'll rustle up some carbon nanotubes!

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Thousands wrongly labelled by CRB checks

John Mangan
Unhappy

Mission creep

Unfortunately the more checks there are the more false positives there will be. And there may, or may not, be a linear realtionship between the false positives and the false negatives. As was noted above although the false positives are distressing for the innocents affected false negatives can have much wider repercussions.

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Tories ask: Why BBC3, BBC4?

John Mangan

An intractable problem . . .

It seems to me that the whole point of the BBC, since it is not funded commercially, should be to product the kind of programmes that commercial broadcasters can't/won't/don't. The problem with that, of course, is that almost by definition such programmes will not be popular (or at least not popular enough to justify the interest of a commercial channel) and everyone will then complain that they don't get value for their licence fee.

If the BBC tries to keep everyone happy by producing 'popular' programming then the obvious question becomes why don't they just operate on a commercial footing?

Truly a circle to be squared!

On the whole I believe the BBC successfully navigate between the Scylla and Charybdis of their charter. I lament the sad decline of science programming such as Horizon and the rise of (from my point of view) mindless soaps, cooking and makeover shows but I applaud some excellent dramas, news and comedy (which the commercial channels rarely even approach in quality).

I can't pick an appropriate icon from the menu available.

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Multiple travel firms refuse ID cards as passport alternative

John Mangan
Grenade

@Another One

I won't attempt to cover all of the anti- arguments but in brief:

- as you touched upon the trumped up reasons for having them

- the exhorbitant cost

- the fac that this is intended tobe come the prime ID authentication document (unlike what you describe as the, mostly-neglected, Netherlands document).

- the government's crass 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' cant.

- but mostly the DAMN DATABASE which has so many many reasons for being anti I'm not even going to start

OVer to anyone else . . . .

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How the Dunning-Kruger effect will stop techies buying houses

John Mangan
Happy

At last I have a name for it!

I often reflected on this very phenomenon when asked by some recruitment companies to rate my expertise on various technologies in a tick-box grid. Despite in-depth and extensive experience in a number of areas I rarely felt that I should tick the 'Expert' box being, perhaps overly, aware of the bits I didn't understand or had direct experience of.

I also often wondered how many people with no experience but clutching their base certifications were not similarly encumbered.

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Amazon tosses gelded Kindle at UK readers

John Mangan
FAIL

Is the Reg getting a cut on Kindle sales?

We seem to be wading through a glut of Kindle stories at the moment despite the fact that most reponses to the device appear to be 'meh' at best!

(Obviously I'm not seriously questioning the Reg's editorial independence).

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Kindle to come to Blighty on 19 October

John Mangan
Stop

No thanks.

That is all.

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Amazon Kindle fails test at Bezos alma mater

John Mangan
Thumb Down

I'm a luddite!

I love reading but I've never considered a reader for a number of reasons:

- DRM, 'nuff said.

- the ability to stick your finger between pages and flick back and forth rapidly

- when reading a book the 'physical' memory of where you saw something (left or right page, near the front, etc.)

- being able to read far from a charger.

- being able to read if your 'reader' is broken

- being able to read a book no matter what brand of reader you bought or whether it has gone 'out of stock/support.

I have books that I bought 30 years ago that I can just pick up and read. how long can users rely on their readers maintaining the same formats?

Yes, I would like the space saving and the weight reduction but the cost (and I don't mean the cash) is too high!

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Virgin Media 'overwhelmed' by broadband customers fleeing BT

John Mangan

@matt83

That's no joke - just a statement of the facts!

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IR35 tax is a huge failure

John Mangan
Happy

@John Lamb

Never let ignorance get in the way of a good rant, eh?

Oh, wait a minute; maybe those two things aren't completely unrelated . . . . .

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GM to convert Volts to Amps in Europe

John Mangan
Alien

What I want to know is . . .

why does every GM car, at least in the UK, have to be named to end in an 'a'?

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Doner kebabs: Death wrapped in pitta bread

John Mangan
IT Angle

And the surprise is . . . . ?

Is any one really shocked by these findings? Really?!

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Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap

John Mangan
Happy

Fantastic . . .

I know what I'm going to be reading this weekend. I've longed for someone to actually put realistic numbers on these various options; line them up side-by-side and let the spectators judge. Nobody likes nuclear but it does look like its that or fry.

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Quantum crypto targeted in attack of the clones

John Mangan

@AC

Not sure if you are being entirely flippant but the whole point of quantum cryptography is that you cannot analyse the polarisation and just retransmit. There's bound to be an explanation at Wikipedia . . . .

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Windows Vista has been battered, says Wall Street fan

John Mangan
Gates Horns

Windows 7 . . .

I'm no marketing man and I don't have the breadth of technical knowledge demonstrated by some contributors to the Reg but it seems to me that the biggest problem with Vista is the overly-powerful hardware it needs for no net benefit. It provides no improvement over XP but at a high cost. Microsoft need to change their approach to Windows 7.

Basically, start from scratch with all they've learnt about operating systems in the last xx years. 64-bit only, no backward compatibility, no labyrinthine inter-dependencies to win anti-trust cases just the cleanest, leanest most stable and secure operating system they can build. Declare from the start that this is a clean start and there will be, at best, limited support for older hardware. They can continue to sell XP alongside this for those that absolutely need backward compatibility but over time people will want the cleaner, more stable, FASTER OS and will migrate. The gravy train picks up speed again and they can continue adding their customary cruft with subsequent releases.

That's my 2 cents.

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Labour isn't working for IT contractors

John Mangan
Flame

No surprise there, then.

This is spot on. I recently abandoned contracting for just this reason. The credit crunch had no bearing on my decision at all. Labour have made it impossible to cover the risks inherent in contracting through their short-sighted and incompetent policies. I could no longer justify taking those risks with my family in mind.

There has long been a perception that contractors are coining it compared to permanent staff but this perception usually lies with those who have never tried to run their own business. I would expect a government to have a slightly clearer and more complete picture of the situation.

The icon? Labour are going to get badly burned at the next election.

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Penguin goes electronic

John Mangan
Unhappy

The physical artifact

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that eschews e-books because of the lack of a physical item. I have been waiting for someone to create a low-power, robust, high-quality reader with some type of memory slot. Then you buy your books on a cartridge a la Gameboys, PSPs, etc. and plug in whatever you want to read. Each book can be fully protected by DRM and I don't need an extra suitcase and a subscription to the local gym for my holiday reading material.

You can have a shelf of your favourite titles, which you can display, lend, re-sell, etc. just like a book and not have to worry about wired/wireless internet access, space left on your reader, accidental erasure, etc.

I know, I know! I'll just keep buying books . . .

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Supremes reject Microsoft's Novell request

John Mangan
Happy

About bl@@dy trime!

That is all.

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Vote now for your fave sci-fi movie quote

John Mangan
Alien

Dr. Strangelove

"Stop! You can't fight in the war room!"

"Those commies, polluting our precious bodily fluids"

But it had to be Bladerunner . . . . .

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Healthy? You're a burden on the state

John Mangan
Pirate

@AC - Not flawed at all

You're missing the point that the people contribute a lot in taxes on the way to the grave but then pop their clogs relatively quickly. That's a net gain to the exchequer.

And as the poster above remarked it has been clear for years that we all owe a great debt to smokers, drinkers and fatties for paying for our pensions and geriatric health care with little chance of cashing in themselves.

Gawd bless'em all!

Skull and crossbones for the spectre of death stalking the land.

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The 'blem wit' error messages

John Mangan
Go

Fondly (if hazily) remembered .

I did once receive an error message from a Windows server along the lines of "The server is unwilling to service your request at this time".

I was torn between fear for the future of humanity as the machines rose to power and hope because the server was not ruling out that it would be willing to help me at some future time.

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IPS leak suggests ID card fingerprint chop

John Mangan
Thumb Up

It's a cliche but . . .

. . . you really couldn't make this stuff up. There's probably a lost 'Yes, Prime Minister' episode on this subject but they just couldn't make it believable.

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Six in ten UK punters fear what gov will do with private data

John Mangan
Happy

On the silver lining side . . . .

at least the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' crew are keeping a low profile at the moment. It's a small mercy but welcome.

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Security minister defends ID cards, longer detention

John Mangan
Boffin

That can't be right . . . can it?

Surely the noun is 'court martial' so there can be no past tense? Can you be 'footballed' or 'pizza-ed'?

Surely there is a grammarian in the house!!

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Science facing funding crisis, MPs warn

John Mangan
Unhappy

How can this be?

Science is a priority . . . blah blah . . . knowledge-based economy . . blah blah . . . world-class science infrastructure . . . blah blah blah!

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UK ID card service mounts birth, marriage, death landgrab

John Mangan
Thumb Down

Revolution!

It's the only sensible response. But then, of course, any suggestions of such a thing makes you a terrorist. This may be my last post . . .

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MP warns against Microsoft monopoly in e-gov services

John Mangan
Gates Horns

Really?

"Some open source projects cannot meet our needs for quality or security, and we are not prepared to compromise on those," she added.

Which ones? What are the problems? What's that got to do with MACs.

Sounds like a smoke screen excuse to me.

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