* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Toshiba launches first domestic fuel-cell charger

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Is that 7ml to recharge a phone or 25ml?

If the latter, two spare batteries would be much cheaper. When was the last time you had no access to the mains for two weeks, but still had a signal on your phone?

Fuel cells were proposed as a way to power laptops. (Laptops were the precursor to notebooks and could be used on your lap without overheating.) Methanol boils of 65⁰ and has a flash point of 79⁰C. Fuel cells for notebooks could be spectacular.

Microsoft's Sidekick restoration turns into farce

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


The rumour is they did have one backup:

Just before a planned upgrade, the techies started a new backup - on top of the only back because they did not have anywhere else to put it. After two days, the PHB got impatient and was not prepared to wait another four days for the backup to be completed (LOTS of data). She decided to halt the backup and proceed with the upgrade.

When your PHB won't shell out for a second set of backup media, you know your setup is being cost cut to shreds.

Oracle and Sun fingered for Sidekick fiasco

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A different version of what went wrong


UK.gov convinces just 2,000 Mancunians to join ID card trial

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

2000 ID cards or 2000 people?

If you need an ID card keep your job, why get only one?

Lloyds TSB's online banking system shows no love for Firefox

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Dont bank online until Lloyds gets a clue about security



Olympic builders hit with biometrics - local residents next?

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What are you complaining about?

Didn't you know ID cards prevent swine flu? They also smooth sharp edges, stop heavy objects from falling and prevent global warming.

If you were a Labour politician, who would you be more frightened of: an angry man with a gun in Afghanistan or a taxpayer in the UK? Do ID cards make sense now?

MoD 'How to stop leaks' guide leaks

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How many pages ...

... came from a travesty generator?

Did amanfromMars contribute?

NASA works on robo-podcab scheme

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@Lionel Baden

The Toytown Express works fine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docklands_Light_Railway

UK Music secret data: 'Young people will pay for downloads'

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Anyone know?

Taking individuals to court may not be cost effective. Sending threatening letters in bulk offering out of court settlements works very well - especially if you do not pass any of the proceeds on to musicians. Anyone know if it is just the civil court actions that will come to an end, or do the threatening letters stop too?

Music distributors finally discovering that most people are not a bunch theives. How long has this taken? Next thing you know, they will remove the advert for downloading films from new DVD's.

Dell and HP sing Microsoft tune on Word injunction

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Dell and HP could actually make some sales

As there are free trail versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office, then why not go a step further and have a free version of Vista that people pay money to change to Windows 7? If this became a common feature of Dell/HP machines then I would look at there sites to see if they sell anything I want, and perhaps recommend them to others.

New NASA rocket fuel 'could be made on Moon, Mars'

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@Steve 70

Getting to 100,000 feet is cheap. Accelerating to orbital velocity is expensive.


Before launch, the shuttle and boosters have a mass of 2030000kg. Lifting all that to 30500m requires 607GJ. (Slight over estimate because you would not need a full external tank if you start from 100,000 feet.)


Without the external tank and boosters, the shuttle has a mass of 109000kg. Magically accelerating only that to the velocity of the international space station (7680m/s) without any rocket fuel requires 3200GJ. In real life, over 90% of the initial thrust is used to accelerate rocket fuel. This percentage falls as the fuel is burned, but you need much more than 3200GJ when you include accelerating some of the the fuel to some of the final velocity.

You might save 5% on the cost of a space shuttle if you had a free ride to 100,000 feet. You are looking for a payload of about 200,000kg. Here is what is/was/might be available:


Payload: 160,000kg Currently incomplete and out of money.


Payload: 40,000kg. Zeplin/helicopter hybrid currently under development.


Payload: 83,000kg. Currently in pieces under the sea.


Payload: 72,000kg. Currently in pieces under the sea.


Payload: 10,000kg. Currently not functional. (LZ-130 scrapped after 129 went down in flames)


Payload: 2000kg. The biggest I could find that actually flies today.

I doubt that any of these could get close to 100,000 feet.

Sony sparks digi book fireworks with ePub move

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Not everyone is a crook

" readers are unlikely to buy a legit version of a book once they've read it. "

People already use illegally distributed music as a way to try before they buy. This results in more sales because people can be sure that they are buying something they want to keep. Some people buy illegally distributed DVD's because the proper one has not been released yet, then they buy a proper copy when it is released. Why should it be any different with books?

If you do not want your book collection to disappear when manufacturers decide you have to buy a new reader, go with a company that does not treat you like a criminal.


Sony to make rechargeable batteries last 4x longer

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The whole idea of a battery ...

... is that is should last just longer than the guaranty and cease production after a year so a replacement battery can cost as much as a whole new gizmo.

Unless manufacturers agree a standard shape, voltage and charger interface then I will stay with AA's wherever possible.

El Reg space paper plane christened Vulture 1

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I have done some of this before

Lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries are useless at low temperatures. There was a lot of laughter here when commentards found out that a mini-sub was powered by a crate full of D batteries. That only had to work down to 0 centigrade. I have not seen batteries quoted for really low temperatures, so you might be looking for some sort of thermos flask for the batteries.

Looks like you spotted the problem with GSM: at altitude, many cells will be within range. The network operators will not be happy if you broadcast to a dozen cells at once. I have not done APRS, but I suspect it has some of the same challenges for the power supply as GSM. The average power may be reasonable, but the radio needs to take sharp bursts of power. This means you will need short leads and good contacts between the radio and the battery. Some kind person replaced my gold plated folded sheet metal contacts with helical steel springs (inductors with a huge contact resistance). That was sufficient to prevent the GSM module getting the sudden bursts of power it needed.

For release, I would go test the following in a freezer: Connect the balloon to the decent module with fuse wire and break it with a large current. Go nuts on the current because the fuse wire will get covered in ice. Use multiple methods for deciding when to release: GPS reports target altitude, GPS reports minimum acceptable altitude and consistently descending, time limit and remote control from your radio (you never know - it might still be working).

Read the instructions for your GPS. Many of them are optimised on the assumption that you must be on the surface of the earth, and that you want the signals that have been reflected off buildings (Reflected signals cause multipath error, but that may be preferable on the ground when the direct signals are blocked). There are often manufacturer specific 'NMEA' commands that will reconfigure a GPS for use at altitude.

Passive antennas will work at very low temperatures - if your GPS can use a passive antenna. If you have to use an active antenna, check the specs to find out if it will work at low temperatures. Read the real instructions for the antenna. The salesman will tell you what he thinks you want to hear. There are good signals at altitude, and plenty of satellites will be in view, but the kit will be working below the tested temperature range while covered in ice. Many GPS antennas assume they are stuck to the top of a car, and need a ground plane (sheet of metal about 30cm in diameter) to work according to spec (this include plenty of antennas for hand-held GPS devices). Use a coating that repels water: you can get them in spray cans (Often very poisonous. Read the instructions carefully and do not use indoors). Spray all the electronics as well (except the connectors).

It is safe to assume your GPS and your radio will not work at the same time. If you cut the weight by removing the RF shielding from you GPS, radio or CPU then none of them will work at the same time. Make sure you can send the last __valid__ GPS fix. If the parts work individually, but not when packed together, add small capacitors connecting each connection between modules to ground. If you cannot keep the GPS and radio antennas apart, point the radio antenna's weakest transmission direction at the GPS antennas worst reception direction. The frequencies are very different, but putting a powerful radio transmitter right next to a very sensitive receiver is always asking for trouble. GPS likes short antenna cables - especially if you use a passive antenna. The really thin light weight cable is poorly shielded and will pick up too much signal from everything that can confuse the GPS.

Government rubbishes ID card hack report

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I'm Spartacus - my ID card proves it

If the data on ID cards is ever used for anything, than changing it will be as easy as getting you mobile phone unlocked. Who wants to be Gordon Brown?

Exotic star's 'violent ejections' during companion's visits

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Blue looks white for a reason

Install python and the python imaging library (PIL), and run the program at the end of this comment on the big tiff image. It turns every over exposed pixel black. Some of the stars might emit more blue light than red and green, but all three components are maxed out in the bright stars so you cannot tell. You cannot even be sure of the colours of the stars that are not over exposed. You would have to find out if the picture is really made of red/green/blue components - it could easily be infra-red, ruby-red, red.

#! /usr/bin/env python

from PIL import Image

i = Image.open('ejecty_star_big.tiff')

Image.eval(i, lambda x: (x, 0)[x==255]).save('overexposed.tiff')

Microsoft gets personal on Windows 7 "show stopper" bug

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


If Microsoft haven't reproduced the crash or experienced any crashes with chkdsk on the stack reported in "any measurable number", how do they know that updating the chipset drivers fixes the problem?

For at least 20 years, Harddisks have hidden bad sectors from the OS by automatically mapping pre-reserved good sectors into their addresses. A fault in chkdsk /r itself is not something many people will ever bump into, but if chkdsk is exposing a bug somewhere else that other programs may trigger then there is a problem.

Clearly, the best way to solve this type of problem is to post a random 'solution' before getting clear results from a proper investigation, and to blame the people reporting the bug.

Microsoft's Windows 7 price gamble - and why it's flawed

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What competition on price?

Mac OS X is only licensed for use on Apple hardware. Microsoft's Vista hardware compatibility site shows "Unknown" for iMac. (Is there a Windows 8 compatibility page?)


How can you compare prices for software that will not available for the same hardware?

Does the absence of a clear positive statement of compatibility mean there is no demand for Windows on Apple hardware? It could mean Microsoft are afraid of people comparing the two operating systems on common hardware.

Amish farmers lose court battle against RFID

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Please explain ...

Do the Amish believe dead christians will starve if all the cattle go to hell?

Linux Foundation urges fans to sign up to Visa credit card

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@AC 16:11

Windows and all its software is expensive, so children learn that the only way they can use the software is to find a source of illegal copies. Some people never grow out of the habit, and extend it to music and films.

One reason Linux users buy so little software is that there is so little commercial software available for Linux that is better than what they can get for free. Programmers earn their living from copyright laws, and free/open source software depends on copyright. I have found that penguinstas have more respect for copyright than Windows users.

The bank and the Linux foundation earn their money by taking a percentage from each sale (normally absorbed by the vendor). The bank gets their best profit from people who do not repay at the end of each month. If the commission is not so high that vendors refuse to accept the card, and if the terms and conditions are fair, then the card look interesting as a way to support Linux.

Truck drivers! Don't go texting now

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I used to watch the road

Now that speed limits have become much lower, I watch the speedometer instead.

Open source and the cloud: An unbalanced marriage

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Even though this has happened before, a few will still fall for it

Selling open source with lock-in is like trying to sell windows without support for legacy applications. Eventually even the most pointy haired bosses catch on and plan a migration away from lock in.

Google have enough money to develop their own operating system, but Microsoft have demonstrated that it is the limit of their resources. Anyone smaller would have to maintain their closed source patches to keep up with the rest of the world using F/OSS for free without the benefit of the largest share of the world's advertising budget or control of the distribution channel. Everyone trying to lock people into different closed source extended clouds would just be a re-run of the Unix wars.

Most of the free software crowd will not care, and the few who do will use Affero style licenses.

Windfarm Britain means (very) expensive electricity

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UK to export IT - while the laptop batteries last

Pumped storage is profitable because it is used every day. To avoid power cuts, you would need easily 20x as much as we have now, most of which would only be used once every year or two. It would suffer the same economic problems as a once every year or two gas power station. Big batteries suffer from self discharge and some chemistries (like Lithium ion) are destroyed by deep discharge. Keeping a huge pile of batteries charged all year in case they might be needed for a day or two is costly.

I have yet to see what the wind power plan is for our next big storm. Are we going to build expensive windturbines that can withstand a storm that might turn up some time in the next ten years, or cheap ones that will all be blown to pieces on the same night?

A workable energy policy needs a variety of power sources, storage and not wasting power when there is a choice. If you want to do something constructive, check warming your water with solar power to reduce the energy required for hot water. Unless your home is in the Hebrides, solar heating will probably pay for itself and a wind turbine on your roof wont.

Just remember it could always be worse. Imagine "Biofuel Britain".

US tactical bot has no taste for humans

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

EATR will hunt and kill people for fun, not food

Can anyone explain to me why this is reassuring?

Now start thinking about what EATR would be made of: A cross between a tank, combine harvester and a biodiesel refinery.

I found some figures for an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m1-specs.htm

0.6 miles per gallon.

60 gallons per hour when traveling cross-country

30+ gallons per hour while operating at a tactical ideal

10 gallons basic idle

A mine plow will increase the fuel consummation rate of a tank by 25 percent

Big combine harvesters need almost as much fuel as a tank, but a small one can collect enough rice or wheat, and uses only about 5% of the power of a tank. http://www.tradeindia.com/selloffer/1759732/Combine-Harvester-Jiaolong-Type.html

While we are at it, making biodiesel requires more energy than you can get back from burning the resulting biodiesel. The only reasons for making it are to collect the subsidies for growing crops, chip fat would block sewers and because it is hard to make an aeroplane powered by batteries. If you rely on your enemies to buy fertilisers for EATR's hunting grounds you might recover more energy than the energy used to harvest and process a field of fully grown wheat or rice.

Here is a biodiesel processing kit rated for 600 gallons/day: http://www.extremebiodiesel.com/

It is not automated and it requires a supply of methanol and lye. If you add a wood chipper, fermenter and distillery to our combinetankrefinery, you get a supply of methanol. Lye can be made from wood ash.

Lastly, EATR needs to kill people. Normal ammunition requires some energy intensive chemicals. Manufacturing them inside EATR would add even more equipment to fit inside our giant complicated killer robot. The combine harvester and wood chipper would be excellent weapons if desecrating bodies was not a war crime. How about using excess biodiesel or methanol for a flame thrower? Is it OK to burn people to death? (Remember, with a few EATR's wandering around chewing up forests and nicking all the crops, these people would would starve to death anyway.)

DHS chief accused of using no-fly list for political payback

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Finally - a good reason for ID cards

If you have a common name and want to fly without hassle, buy a fake ID with an unusual name. Forgers can charge extra for names known not to be on recent no-fly lists.

Unpatched Firefox flaw lets fox into henhouse

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

More choices


lynx is safe against all attacks that require javascript, java, flash or activex. It works very well with limited bandwidth.

If you are too lazy to compile your own browser, a web search for "lynx browser compiled windows" will give you several choices. Similar searches for links and w3m did not show anything convincing near the top, but I did find this:


Rogue CA update bricks Win XP systems

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

White list?

Forgive and ignorant penguinista, but don't these anti virus programs have a list of files not to wipe out, and digital signatures for them to spot when they have been modified?

Well, that proves selling videos of swatting causes less harm than looking for UFO's ha ha ha.

Google Oompa-Loompas dream of virus-free OS

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Google could make life difficult for crackers

They could make the local storage read only. That would prevent malware on the client from surviving a reboot. If the users need any non-volatile data, it could be hosted at Google. Google could scan for malware if anything turns up.

Deal inked in US Navy 'R2-D2' raygun robo-turret plan

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Out of interest:

Where does the 400kW of heat go?

Does the kit still work in rain and fog?

Open-source .NET splits for extra Microsoft protection

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No reason to use Mono

There are plenty of media players and application installers. Gnote does exactly what Tomboy does, but uses native libraries so it is far quicker. If Beagle is installed it regularly thrashes your disks and wipes out the caches - even if you never use it for searching. If your machine takes ages to get going after being left idle for a while, try removing Beagle.

Microsoft promises no patent prosecution of open-source .NET

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Embrace, extend, extinguish

The promise does not apply to future versions of the specification, non-required optional portions of the specification, extensions to the specification or deviations from the specification - even when those extensions and deviations are required to match Microsoft's implementation.

I do not need mono, and I will keep it that way - at least until Microsoft earns a reputation for not abusing its near monopoly in operating systems.

Australia's 'answer to the velociraptor' unveiled

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What big arms you have Grandmother

If you look at a whole T Rex, the arms look small. If you visit the natural history museum and walk up to the arm bones mounted on the wall, they are impressively big - even if you are 6'5".

'Non-compulsory' ID cards poised for a makeover?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

You missed the people who really need ID cards:


If the government set up a suspicious looking web site hosted in Russia or China that offers counterfit ID cards, they could get all the ID's that people intend to use to commit crimes.

Russians demand flying cars and telepathy

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@Ted Treen

I'll take immortality. That way I might live long enough to get perpetual youth.

Amiga Forever updated for Windows 7

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For ever?

Until the W7 authentication server tells you that you have to buy W8.

Toshiba NB200

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What happened to the small cheap computers?

My laptop is over 2 years old, faster, better LCD and it cost less. A replacement should be half the price or double the speed by now.

China not demolishing Green Dam

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Has the software been paid for?

If the project was cancelled, perhaps someone would have to give the money back.

I thought only Microsoft got paid for software installed on all PC's whether customers want it or not.

Feds: Hospital hacker's 'massive' DDoS averted

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@ AC 22:59

If someone has physical access to a PC, then they can root it - no matter what operating system is installed. You can slow someone down by locking the case, glueing covers on the USB ports and changing the BIOS manufacturer's backdoor password. Using Linux (or a BSD) provides some protection from remote attacks - depending on what demons you leave running and how you configure them. You still need to lock people out of the server room.

Ashdown's missile dump security panel puts women to flight

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

There is a reason for having an army, navy and airforce

If someone in command of one of the armed services decides to take over, he has to fight the other two. Looks like we will end up with and airforce that can only shoot at planes, a navy that can protect ships from mines and nuke a country and an army that can capture all the airbases and ports that survive the budget.

On the plus side, if this is our defence strategy the army will be able to demand decent pay and equipment.

Notorious phone phreaker gets 11 years for swatting

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@Jimbo 7

People have chosen to buy cocaine. None of the victims here chose to have a bunch of armed police burst into their house. Someone could have been shot.

Microsoft unveils Windows 7 free upgrades and discounts

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Removing IE8 not something the EU requires

"[Microsoft] said earlier this month it would deliver Windows 7 in Europe minus IE 8 to satisfy with European antitrust regulators"

I thought the European antitrust regulators have already said W7-IE8 is Microsoft's idea, not theirs, and is not a suitable remedy anyway:

The European Commission notes with interest Microsoft's announcement of its plans for Windows 7, and in particular of the apparent separation of Internet Explorer (IE) from Windows in the EEA. The Commission will shortly decide in the pending browser tying antitrust case whether or not Microsoft’s conduct from 1996 to date has been abusive and, if so, what remedy would be necessary to create genuine consumer choice and address the anticompetitive effects of Microsoft’s long-standing conduct. In terms of potential remedies if the Commission were to find that Microsoft had committed an abuse, the Commission has suggested that consumers should be offered a choice of browser, not that Windows should be supplied without a browser at all.


UK.gov decides best form of cyber defence is attack

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

What do you do with a scammer?

Imagine these people follow the money being paid for fake anti-virus software to a criminal in Russia or China. What are they going to do once they find him?

The best defence is a good defence: Use proper passwords. Do not use the same password for several accounts. Disable Javascript and Flash. Use an operating system designed with a proper security model (not some toy from Microsoft where security is a bolt on afterthought compromised for backward compatibility).

Acer Aspire Revo R3600

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Geode / Celeron M

"The combination of Atom and D945G has been responsible for the creation of the market for 'nettop' desktop PCs that offer basic services such as e-mail and browsing the web at a low price."

Small cheap computers started with the XO-1, which used an AMD Geode. Eee (Is she still on the beach?) was an underclocked Celeron M. Acer Aspire 1 (Atom) was about 6 months later. The Atom was responsible for small cheap computers passing the size and price of a cheap laptop, but without the performance.

Commission investigates right to 'chip silence'

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XP phone home

This should be fun for proprietary software vendors with excessive DRM.

Intel tears up CPU branding scheme

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How about ...

Distributors specify the manufacturer's part numbers of the chipset, CPU and the performance of the attached heat sink. Computer literate customers can check Intel/AMD/Via's web site for the chips' features, clock speeds, power dissipation and operating temperature. They can also check their favourate review site for benchmark comparisons.

No-one else will have a clue what they are buying and can be confident that the sales assistant is not conning them because he is equally clueless and is just following the deceptive script provided by his employer.

Are Intel's marketing team as clueless as a PCworld employee, or are they just trying to do what they can based on the ignorance and attention span of the average PCworld customer?

Catholic social club ousts coven of witches

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Hire the hall for a performance of the Mass

Don't tell them you meant Plague Mass by Diamanda Galás. (She has a stunning voice ;-)

Broadband tax of £6 per year to fund rural fibre rollout

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

What return will I get on my investment?

I suspect I will get nothing, and all this infrastructure will be given to BT for free.

EC rejects Microsoft's browser promises

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If they do not like the fines, they could obey the law

Microsoft broke the law and caused a lot of damage. If they get fined for their activities, either tax payers will not have to contribute so much to the EU, or the EU will have a bigger budget. Either way, most people do not end up ahead because of all the problems caused by Microsoft's defective browser.

If Microsoft wanted to make me happy, they would have to start obeying the laws that apply to near monopolies (Laws intended to prevent businesses from being able to compete with governments). I cannot see it happening. If Microsoft tried to compete on meritt, they would be a very small company within five years.

Periodic table adding new element

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@Gallium at Lead

What you get if you fire Gallium at Lead: not enough neutrons.

Light elements have about the same number of protons as neutrons - adding an extra neutron means populating a higher energy level. A neutron can decay into a proton and an electron, the resulting proton can drop to a lower energy level and this more than compensates for the additional electrostatic repulsion of all those protons. Heavy elements need more neutrons: the protons repel each other with electrostatic forces, but all the protons and neutrons attract each nuclear forces. The extra neutrons hold the nucleus together and make it more stable.

The half life of 112 was so short because there were not enough neutrons to hold the nucleus together. If they had 173 neutrons instead of 165, the half life might have been several minutes (half life is estimated from trends - there is not enough (any?) direct physical data for very heavy elements). Using gallium instead of zinc adds a proton, but does not add any more neutrons, and 113 would be more stable with 174 neutrons.




TTXGP e-bikers finish qualification run

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


How much power do you really need on a bike? It is been easy to add more power than a rider can control for decades. http://www.madv8bike.com/id10.html

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