* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3424 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Crewless dinghy signs to UK Ship Register for Middle East mission

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: I'm going to suggest (@Cederic)

and maps to shit creek? or are those only free without the paddle option?

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576-megapixel 'Zwicky Transient Facility' telescope sees first light

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Open data!

Will certainly have a go at applying tools we develop for BIG images (Gpixel to Tpixel range) on those. Great first-light image too.

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Boffins on alert: Brace yourselves for huge gravitational wave coming within a decade

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

So how many points do you score in intergalactic bar billiards if you pot one supermassive black hole into another?

I'll get me coat

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UK Home Sec thinks a Minority Report-style AI will prevent people posting bad things

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: She's deluded

"Poor bloody AI doesn't stand a chance."

Not sure about that. A rule-based system could learn rules like

IF (post.poster.name = "Boris Johnson") OR (post.poster.name = "Amber Rudd") THEN

REDIRECT(post, "/dev/null")

But somehow I think they don't want that kind of AI

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Count me unimpressed

Whenever I buy some product, most recently a 6V sealed led acid battery for my telescope, all these "AI" methods from Amazon and the like keep trying to flog more sealed led acid batteries. Same with the tumble dryer I bought online: endless tumble dryer adverts. Same again when I bought a 100-400mm zoom lens: they keep trying to flog more of exactly the same type of lens. Now, if the AI had suggested lenses complementary to the 100-400 (and not the 18-55 kit lens, which someone with a 100-400 zoom either has, or has already replaced by something better), that would show a modicum of intelligence. As it is, I am not impressed.

Youtube has made some interesting recommendations, I must say. It's latest one of The Dead South (In Hell I'll be in Good Company) did put a smile on my face

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BOFH: But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Lovely episode

Needed that after a tough week. Need one of those too -->

But that can wait a little longer

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IBM's next turnaround tool is ... a new open-source font?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Maybe they can turn things around if they get just the right, hyper-intelligent shade of blue.

Doffs hat (black fedora, once more) to the late, great Douglas Adams

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Brit moron tried buying a car bomb on dark web, posted it to his address. Now he's screwed

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Bomb Testing

My thoughts exactly. However, on second thoughts, you could test the ignition circuitry detached from the detonator quite safely. Otherwise it would indeed be a matter of "here and there he rests in pieces"

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Evil pixels: Researcher demos data-theft over screen-share protocols

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I wonder if filtering the screen data sent (or adding some noise) would scramble the data sufficiently to block this attack.

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Guy Glitchy: Villagers torch Openreach effigy

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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OpenREACH?

Why does Reacher Gilt suddenly spring to mind?

Sorry, couldn't resist. The one with Going Postal in the pocket, please

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KFC turns Japanese bath tubs into party buckets

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I'm with Marvin

"I'll think you'll find reality is on the blink again"

And this is indeed what we find

Must rush, the one with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy cassette tapes in the pocket, please. Doffs hat (black fedora today) to the late, great Douglas Adams.

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Hells door-bells! Ring pieces paralyzed in horror during Halloween trick-or-treat rush

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

If somebody gives me a "smart doorbell" for Xmas

I will unfriend them with extreme prejudice

Ring is like an earthly outpost of Sirius Cybernetics, by the sound of it

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First iPhone X fondlers struggle to admit that Face ID sort of sucks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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You're biting it wrong!

Bite marks are also distinctive, and biting can be a healthy and natural channelling of aggressive instincts in deeds of senseless violence (perfectly natural behaviour for a Vogon), especially when it refuses to open by facial recognition.

Sorry! I really should get me coat.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

May I suggest

the iSmell ID option?

On second thoughts, maybe not

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NASA reveals Curiosity 2020's 23-camera payload

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

I will just point at this collection ...

if ever my missus complains I have too many cameras. Hey, I have just 2 regular DSLRs, one astro-modded one, and three different planetary CMOS cameras (one monochrome of solar H-alpha, one monochrome hi-res for solar Ca-K and white light, and lunar, and one colour for planets).

I could also just count her shoes again

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Health quango: Booze 'evidence' not Puritan enough, do us another

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Whether it's news or not

I'll drink to it

Sorry, couldn't resist

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Comet 67-P farted just as Rosetta probe flew through the gas plume

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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So now we have to go back, and to other comets. Don't we?

Of course we do, but bring a thermos of hot tea, it's cold up there

Seriously though, marvellous boffinry!

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BOFH: Do I smell burning toes, I mean burning toast?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Epic episode!

Loved the use of the "Beware of the Leopard" bit. Interesting rhythmic devices that counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor ..

I'll get me coat

Doffs hat to the late, great Douglas Adams

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Boss put chocolate cake on aircon controller, to stop people using it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Where's Simon when you need him?

Clearly a situation that calls for a BOFH-modded cattle prod, or a stairwell accident, or something weird happening to the elevators, or a freak Halon incident (triggered by a cocoa powder sensor an Arduino and some actuators?), or any solution involving quicklime and a roll of carpet.

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The UK's super duper 1,000mph car is being tested in Cornwall

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Fingers crossed for all their runs

otherwise the term "terminal velocity" might get a different meaning

Big thumbs up for the attempt

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Cool, but why?

I am certainly going to show this to my kids, if they haven't found it already. One is definitely into engineering and will love the outrageous fuel pump, all by itself, the other is more into football, but can be impressed by other things

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Go on IBMers, tell us what you really think

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I trust the three positive words will be printed in large, friendly letters on the next annual report

I'll get me coat

Doffs hat (black fedora again) to the late, great Douglas Adams

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Canucks have beef with Soylent as to whether or not it's a real meal deal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: "or"?

Right you are! How could I have missed that

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I suspect the Quebecois, given the great food I got there, have quite a bit to say on this topic, and I tend to agree: Soylent a meal replacement? A real meal is more than the sum of of the nutrients it contains. A real meal is experience to savour, preferably in good company, with some nice wine (or beer, or cider, or <insert beverage of choice here>).

Darn, I'm hungry now

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Legacy kit, no antivirus, weak crypto. Yep. They're talking critical industrial networks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Facepalm

I am not surprised, unfortunately

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Curiosity rover gives Mars the middle finger, prepares to get drilling

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Excellent stuff

Hats off (black fedora today) to the engineers! Brilliant work

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Boffins trapped antiprotons for days, still can't say why they survived the Big Bang

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Simple

Alternatively, the delivery man brought all the antimatter to the universe next door but forgot to put a note in ours telling us about it (happens all the time).

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Japan finds long, deep tunnel on the Moon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: But what are they going to _do_ up there?

I could imagine pogo-dancing to some classic punk music would be a very different experience at lunar gravity

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What’s the real point of being a dev? It's saving management from themselves

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I aten't dead!

OO is certainly not dead, I use C++ for most of my more complex pieces of code, although just plain C is used for most of the heavy lifting image processing routines (I later tie some OO ribbons around that code to make them reusable ;-) ). What is essentially dead (bar some trivially short programs like "Hello world"), is true monolithic code, i.e. code that doesn't split up functionality into separate functions and procedures, and all flow control is through goto statements (preferable to labels you compute on the spot). THAT sort of could should be dead an buried by now.

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Your data will get hacked anyway so you might as well give up protecting it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I propose the following

Theorem 1:

Anybody who wants to freeze their head for the purpose of returning to life later, has a brain not worth freezing.

Proof of this is beyond the scope of this essay, but should be bleeding obvious to everyone with a brain worth freezing.

Corollary 1: All brains worth freezing will only be frozen for the above purpose against the will of the owner of said brain.

Corollary 2:Freezing of brains for the above purpose is either (i) a waste of space/time/energy, or (ii) evil

Of course, if you want to freeze your head for the purpose of scaring the willies out of your descendants, that is an entirely different matter

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Canadian govt snoops emit their own malware detection tool, eh

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Looks like even Canadian Spooks

are living up to the reputation of Canadians being nice (or at least they are trying).

My two brief visits (both Quebec City (well worth a visit), so there may be sampling bias) generally confirm this reputation, although I do not doubt there are exceptions to be found (like everywhere). The food was good, I must say, with the French influence clearly noticeable (hey, it's Quebec!). Having said that, I do not doubt people will want to scrutinize the code for any "telemetry" before wanting to use it

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Hate to break it to you, but billions of people can see Uranus tonight

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Forecast: clouds!

Typical! Given the wide orbit, the view should be OK for quite a while around opposition, however so I might still have a shot at imaging it. Even then, in my 8" scope Uranus (stop sniggering at the back), is never an amazing site. I captured it last year with my C8, but it just shows up as a little ball of a curious blue green colour. Neptune is even smaller. Having said that, when I first bagged both Uranus and Neptune one summer night in 1995, I did feel the solar system had become bigger for me.

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ARM chip OG Steve Furber: Turing missed the mark on human intelligence

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

So basically, we need very many machines that go "ping"

Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll get my coat. Mine's the one with the DVD of Monty Python's Meaning of Life in the pocket

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No, the FCC can't shut down TV stations just because Donald Trump is mad at the news

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Ein Trump, Ein reich...

Or commissioning a movie: Trumpf des Willens?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Somebody, call the pest control, double quick!

It is hard to get rid of trolls. Not feeding them is a start

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Neutron stars shower gold on universe in big bang, felt on Earth as 100-second grav wave

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Brilliant Boffinry at its Best!

I really love this stuff. When I studied astronomy in the 80s, we could only dream of the detectors available now. Stunning work from all the teams involved

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US Congress mulls first 'hack back' revenge law. And yup, you can guess what it'll let people do

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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In a perfect world

an ACDC bill would have been introduced by representatives named Tesla and Edison.

Further proof the world isn't perfect

I'd better get me coat.

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BOFH: Oh dear. Did someone get lost on the Audit Trail?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Brilliant!

Superb episode. "I'm the decoy" had me in stitches

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Software update turned my display and mouse upside-down, says user

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

I am just reminded of some traps us programmers set on some DOS machines. We were testing some code to write our own interrupt handlers, especially for keyboard and mouse event handling (early days, few useful libraries about), and to trap interrupts generated by some real-time data acquisition hardware we had made. Just for laughs, we wrote a little program called CRASH.EXE. This simply redirected interrupt 9 (keyboard) to our own handler, which did nothing, whatever key was pressed. After that, it printed a helpful message on the screen that your system had crashed. Pressing ctrl-alt-del didn't work, of course, so a hard reset was the only option to get out of the situation. Given that MS-DOS was single-tasking, this never resulted in data loss or anything. We put CRASH.EXE among the other executables of our users' systems, and it was instructive to see how almost all users were sufficiently inquisitive to see what command CRASH would do. As a result, I could pose a simple question to many users who came for assistance to "uncrash" their machines: "What did you THINK crash would do?" Inaudible mumbles were the usual replies.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Oh noes

Absolutely true, but try telling that to an MD. What might work is simply giving them a trackball screwed to the desk, so they cannot turn it around. On the other hand, for every step forward in idiot-proofing things, a better breed of idiots will subsequently evolve.

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Look! Over there! Intel's cooked a 17-qubit chip quantum package

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Mandatory Discworld quote

"IT HAS TO DO WITH THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE"

"What's that?"

"I AM NOT SURE"

Sorry, couldn't resist. Mine's the one with "Thud" in the pocket

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Gartner says back-to-school PC sales failed. IDC says they worked

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Time for Quantum Economics?

Let us simply state that PC sales were a superposition of failure and success. So therefore they could both be right, for a given value of "right".

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'There has never been a right to absolute privacy' – US Deputy AG slams 'warrant-proof' crypto

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Facepalm

Re: Backdoors for all

I have said it before, will say it again: One-Time Pad. Not easy to get the key through to the receiver, but certainly not impossible. If I send one-time pad encrypted messages over encrypted or unencrypted comms channels, nobody can crack it. If I send such a high entropy stream hidden in the noise bit of some inane video of cats/dogs/goats/drunks nobody will know it's there.

So yes, I may not have a constitutional right to do this, but there is no way to forbid, or even police this. Given that one-time pads have been known for a long time, you cannot argue that end-to-end encryption methods (which can be cracked, but require loads of CPU grunt) have changed matters fundamentally (well, of course they can argue that, but they would be WRONG).

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NASA readies its asteroid warning system for harmless flyby

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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No doubt it will be cloudy

Besides, magnitude 17 is too faint for my 8" scope, alas.

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New coding language Fetlang's syntax designed to read like 'poorly written erotica'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Love the honestly listed 'features'

I seem to remember that our CDC 160/760 NOS operating system responded to "Fuck you" with the dry response:

Task not in system

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: I think I prefer...

I have a soft spot for Befunge. Loops are REAL loops in a 2D language, and stack orientation means you program the way Yoda speaks

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AMD comes out swinging, says: We're the Buster Douglas of the tech industry!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I will certainly be looking at the AMD chippery for a new compute server here. My older 4x16 core Opteron machine has been great. No issues whatsoever (uptime 869 days, last time I looked) and it still packs quite a punch processing multi-gigapixel images. If the performance per euro (I'm based in the Netherlands, after all) is better than Intel, I have no reservations going for AMD

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Google touts Babel Fish-esque in-ear real-time translators. And the usual computer stuff

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Megaphone

For the hard of hearing, I would put forward Brian Blessed

(actually, Brian wouldn't need no steenking megaphone)

I suddenly have this vision of smoke issuing from the earbuds. Can't think why

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Foiled again! Brit military minds splash cash on killing satellites with... food wrapping?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Oi! That's my tinfoil hat you're takin'!!

Sorry, tinfoil and GCHQ in one piece meant I just couldn't resist

I'll get me coat

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Biochem boffins win the Nobel Prize for cryo-electron microscopy

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

We DO live in interesting times!

(in a good way, in some sense at least)

Great boffinry, and a well-deserved prize! I'll raise a glass to that!

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