* Posts by Ian R

24 publicly visible posts • joined 16 Oct 2007

NASA's WISE opens 'candy store of images'

Ian R

Are you kidding?

Andromeda is so far away that no movement of the satellite will have any effect on the angle that we see the galaxy. We are stuck with this angle and point of view until we can travel out of our own galaxy a very long way.

LHC smashes Tevatron record: Humanity enters the unknown

Ian R


R2? Fire up the power converters!

Spanish region teaches kids how to crack one off

Ian R


Carelingly printed on tissue grade paper :-)

Norway warns Amazon against Kindle launch

Ian R

@ Def

...and, in the winter, going out of town when it has just snowed, it can be like a Xmas card, very pretty!

We should grab a beer one day! Name your bar :-)

Ian R

@VoodooTrucker et al

Been here in Oslo for many years now. When I first came it seemed a bit of a nanny state and england seemed freer, but, as I'm sure you can understand, I now feel the reverse is true. When I visit england (home? two homes really, hell perhaps I'm a citizen of the world;-)), I feel watched everywhere and the news on the Beeb is just weird. I guess you have to have some distance to really appreciate how things have changed. When you live through tiny incremental changes the majority do not notice.

Ok...beer...yes, expensive..however, like most countries, when you work and pay taxes you are financially aclimatized so it does not make a big difference. For a vistor it is painful, I know. Of course, when visiting an english pub the beer is so cheap! So breaks back 'home' are really easy.

The weather...hmmm...I don't ski...a bit old to start and become an expert, and snow in the city is not fun, takes twice as long to walk anywhere. But, these guys are really clued up. When snow falls (I am always shocked when it starts...last night no snow...the morning, you look through the curtains and there is a couple of feet of snow out there!), there are suddenly snow ploughs on every major street, they even have tiny snowploughs that run along pavements on some streets. And of course, winter tyres, the place does not ground to a halt like england, just keeps merrrily ticking over.

Ah, but summer. Oslo has a special climate, there may be good and bad summers, but to reach 32 C for a week or two is quite normal. And you know, I really like the distinct seasons. I truly do see and appreciate all four.

The light...well, this was a bit of a shock at first, winters do seem long and dark but spring and summer, it just keeps on getting lighter. Imagine, enter pub at 23:30, it is light, exit pub at 01:30, it is even lighter! Yes, it is not north enough to get midnight sun, but you certainly notice the difference from england. And ok, you could see the same in Shetland, but hell, it is fun in what is a european captial city with all the expected distractions.

So, on the whole, move to norway. They love the english (mostly), they love to speak english, the women are far more beautiful on average than england, they do import interesting beers. A great place for IT, each norwegian is much more tech integrated than most english.

As for taxes, yes, high, but much more obvious, income tax, alcohol, cigs, cars, yes, of course, but in england I believe the level is similar because of all the hidden and stealth taxes, so no real problem.

Oh...did I mention beer ;-). What fun it is to decide to have a pint at midnight and leave at closing time, 03:00. Very civilised :-)

So...a nice country...not in EU (which increasingly has benefits, especially if Tony gets new top job)...blonds everywhere (and an enormous catalogue of blond jokes :-)), anglophiles, exceptional IT opportunities especially if you are english, small enough population in a really big country to have space even in a capital city, 2 hour flight to england, Blackadder, Monty Python on TV (they love good english comedy),

Of course there are niggles, but really, not so much that I care anymore, like I say, beats england and easy to visit Blighty when one wishes, so, come on over, the water's lovely (actually, it mostly is, quite refreshing to get pure water from the tap:-)).

Well, only eight in the evening, may just watch a film or two and go pubbing after midnight. Hope you'all enjoy your 'after party' at home at 23:45, oh...there is no such thing in england...is there :-)

Upminster top for tupping on UK bonkmap

Ian R

Just a thought...

Ok, I accept the publicity angle an' all. But has no one considered an inverse interpretation? Should the largest uptake (ooerr missus) of products indicate the location of the most deprived rather than most depraved of the populace? Perhaps the lowest score (eek!) represent the true seat (ouch!) of expertise, indulgence and satisfaction.

(Batteries not included)

NASA moon-bomb probe strikes rich seam of fruitcake

Ian R

@jake (thumbs up) and really @sillyfellow, wolf and others

Quite rightly said jake.

I have been watching these moon bomb/blast/impact/oh-my-god threads. We should remember that the 'age of reason' is still so very young, perhaps 400 years at most. This is a tiny time in the life our our species (a really tiny time if you believe the world is 10,000, 6,000 or 4482 years old.

I am sure that reasoning ability has been with us much longer than that, however, reason has been shouted down (and still is, actually, reason is under serious threat, but I stae the obvious.). It occurred to me, how to start a religion? I know! See an implausible threat (like a moon splitting in half, blah, blah), test out your audience, seek reverence from said audience. Once the fear is in place, suggest there is a diety holding the power, and you can mediate on behalf of the feared.

Oh---by the way, I am not going to do any more hunting, you will have to feed me. Oh--by the way, I need one of the best huts around here, you will build it for me. Oh---by the way, I will have to ratify any/ANY decision the chief/king makes, be it war, wife or taxes (I am exempt of those of course).

We have had a lot of fun in this thread with the 'whacktards'. But, seriously, do these people hold the same genes that the founders of our religions also held? Does one not hear the same bleats? 'Do not be arrogant! etc.',

Acquisition of learning and execution of reason are not acts of arrogance. For this moon thing, as others had stated eloquently, there was no physics issue, no possible doomsday scenario. The gnat hitting your windscreen is a close approximation. For rights of NASA to 'bomb' the moon, see earlier posts that show this was planned and known for a very long time. For Noah, see Black Sea origins via the opening of the Dardenells in a sudden rush.

I am grateful to live in this time of reason, I grew up in it, it seems to be fading fast in the popular culture, which is a dire shame for the future. I am so happy that here, I see fellows, who hold the flag of objectivity, observation, experiment, result and conclusion still so high.

Remember folks, we are only 400 years old, my hopes for the future of mankind rest with reason surviving beyond all attacks and absurdities. It does not matter that I/we shall not witness the far future, but I hope we do not witness our deep dimise in our lifetimes.

Reason rules, 'cos it's reasonable innit :-)

Top prices, old shows - the Beeb's iPlayer goes global

Ian R

Title? Wot title!

Wait for BBC Entertainment? If they send the same newly censored shows on international iPlayer as they do on BBCE, what is the point? For instance, Coupling was an excellent series, but now, see Coupling on BBCE and you get the fabulous 'Inferno' episode so cut to ribbons that you never hear the words 'Lesbian Spank Inferno' at all, and the whole speech at the end describing the nature of the feminist film collective competition is just missing. What is the point of paying for this, and so condoning the further nannying of auntie beeb?

G1 Android launch pictures leaked?

Ian R

40,000 BC

Just found this for non-video fans, made me laugh...


NASA to sniff Martian atmosphere

Ian R


Terraforming has been a popular subject when discussing Mars for decades. However, there are various problems. The atmosphere - way too thin and if 'thickened' it will always leak away, as has been said, by a combination of low gravity and Solar wind stripping as there is no magnetic field to deflect the wind. Radiation - way too high, again as there is no magnetic field. Plant and animal life would have a hard time and die off easily, microbial life (specially selected for radiation endurance) might be about it. Even if it were possible to do any decent level of terraforming, all humans would still have to walk around in radiation protective suits with personal air supplies.

National DNA database grows on the genes of the innocent

Ian R


Never argue with an idiot, they'll beat you down to their level and win on experience.

NASA's robotic moon-dirt grubbing contest is go

Ian R
Thumb Up


There will be this big hole at the business end where the soil is intended to enter. This will somewhat defeat any attempts at 'air tight'. Let alone the issue of using tanked air - which rapidly escapes to everywhere and only very slightly will increase the pressure returning up the nozzle.

And if it is useless until you dig down a bit, you'll need two devices, so Occam would tend to indicate that this is a way too complicated and unnecessary solution which probably will have extreme minimum success anyway.

Also, why would things be better after you have dug a bit? Do you think you are going to reach air-tight mud?

The horse is definitely dead, I'd stop flogging it if I were you.

Simplicity is crucial...arm...scoop...conveyor...hopper

Ian R


Since the moon has no atmosphere worth talking about, the Hoover technique would be a non-starter, or perhaps non-sucker.

The temptation for a Paris icon is almost overwhelming...

Galaxy's smallest known black hole discovered

Ian R

Volume of a black hole

Ah, but we are talking volume here, so we should have a Much Hadham at the top and bottom, then working toward the centre, a Baldock, then Letchworth, then Hitchin, with a Stevenage as the middle slice. Posssible with an associated Knebworth orbiting at near light show speeds ;-).

Vote now for your fave sci-fi movie quote

Ian R

Bladerunner is the best but...

I can't believe no one has mentioned:

"Apology accepted Captain Needar"

Lightsaber voted top movie weapon

Ian R

@John Benson

It was a 16 ton weight :-)

And what about Dekard's hard gun - nice look and made a good noise.

I guess it's a bit whimpy to suggest Leggy's bow and arrow, but it should supercede Robin's perhaps.

And the good old Zippo lighter must have been thrown hundreds of times to start a deadly inferno!

Space brains resign over efforts to attract ET attention

Ian R
Thumb Up


Are you really sure about that? We may have discovered many planets recently but none are known to be earth-like and are many of the ones found really that close?

There has been lots of conjecture about aliens thinking the earth is poisonous, and it may be - oxygen for instance. But I think liquid water is a good reason to think it's not.

Anyway, there may be lots of niches we can't envisage yet, we keep finding life in really hostile places here, but we find the vast majority of life dependent on water.

Ian R

One thing missing

Having read these comments I notice one thing.

The thought behind our future space travel is often that of colonisation, Mars for instance.

Yet many posters consider alien visitations as just that - a visit, sightseeing, saying hi.

Any very advanced civilisation will be far more conscious of the limited life of their star, and if they have the same drive to survive that we have, they will eventually wish to establish colonies outside their solar system to ensure the survival of their species.

With the expense involved, this is the reason for interstellar travel that makes most sense. therefore, we can imagine that the most likely motives of any species that notices us will be colonisation - likely including replacement of our own species.

Now this does not make me call for a halt to active SETI just yet. The distances involved are so huge that there probably isn't a problem for a million years or so ( the idea of 1000 years is a bit short, the likelihood for the nearest space fairing civilisation would be much, much further than 1000 LY).

Active SETI is most likely to attract a phonecall or two, not visitors (conquering or otherwise), and that would be rather cool, even if hostile in nature, it would still cause a re-adjustment for us that could help us evolve out of the primitive religious tendencies we currently possess in abundance and stand more chance of destroying us than anything else.

As for us and our space travel, we have perhaps a half billion years before we all have to move to Mars (and work out how to shield ourselves from the sun's UV), and then another half billion before Titan looks like home, so there is no great hurry.

FTL travel and other Star Trek fictions remain for the moment just that - fiction. Unfortunately physics doesn't allow it and having a belief that we are just not advanced enough to achieve it yet doesn't change physics. Apart from wormholes (extremely doubtful in practise) there is no way to achieve FTL travel.

With the 'window' argument mentioned far above, I agree that we may find evidence for aliens only as archaeologists on some distant planet in some distant moment in the future, and also that that is how we will be discovered by aliens.

Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's

Ian R

ElReg unit

Can I suggest a Pratchett as an ElReg unit of Embuggerence, seems fitting...

Inventor offers London Congestion Charge GPS gizmo

Ian R

Ken doll/dummy

I guess you all realise why Ken hates cars so much?

He failed his driving test at an early age, still doesn't have a license, and has leapt at his opportunities to harass drivers ever since.

Of course, I hope you all also realise that 'mysteriously' the traffic signal timings in the CC zone were 'adapted' for 6 months before the charge came in to make the congestion really bad and so help justify the charge.

Reminds me of when the speed limit first came in on motorways in the '60s, courtesy of Barbara C. After, the accident figures went down - woo, an instant and real justification. No actually, the real cause of accident reductions was that they brought in the 'no trucks/coaches in the fast lane' rule at the same time.

I applaud the opportunism of the makers of this gizmo, but it kinda misses the point, that we are being royally screwed for daring to own a personal means of transportation and wishing to continue to drive it where we like. I guess we are not far from an all england/britain congestion charge.

Deadly planet-smash asteroid was actually Euro probe

Ian R
Paris Hilton

Ooops PM I course

All this PH talk made me make a typo... I meant PM of course.

But I guess PH travelling at an Angle equating to a collision course with tunguska might result in a Bulgarian Airbug Burst.

Ian R

Comets and PH and @Drew

As has been said, Tunguska didn't hit. But neither was it likely a comet, rather a lump of asteroid belt, so PH's statement is sound.

Sad to see the old fella maligned so much. Sure, he is getting somewhat past it, but what an incredible man in his day and how he advanced space and astronomy to the masses,especially during the days of 1, 2 and 3 TV channels only.

Life is wierd and I had the chance to bump into him on 3 occasions. The first was a guest lecture at QMC in '77. He spoke for an hour with no notes, at breakneck speed and totally coherently, the only piece of paper used was a tiny scrap which listed his slideshow - brilliant. The second was on the tube from Heathrow to central London in about '79. At first we were the only ones in the carriage, so I sat and talked with him, as you can imagine, he talked back - profusely. By Picadilly circus the carriage was crowded, people standing, staring in bewilderment at this unexpected scene. By then he was showing me slides of Venus just in from a russian lander. The third at an astro fair/event in about '90 where we had a passing acknowledgement and recall of previous meetings.

PH is ok by me, and I'm sure that any tiny quote from a jostling reporter cannot be indicative of his real opinions on the matter, he is much more likely to be sceptical of such things.

[perhaps we can have a comet or astroid icon? ;-)]

Mars rovers can keep on rovin'

Ian R

Space elevators

The thing about space elevators that really brings the cost down is when you bring stuff down at the same time as taking something up - like junk or raw materials from asteroids/moon. If you only take things up, your 'haulage' costs still are pretty high.

But you are right, elevators are the way to go, a bit like going from raw meat to cooked meat for early man - saved so much time and energy and enabled man to do so many other things.

Ian R

Not futile

I find your comments a little short-sighted Vladimir. Any manned mission to Mars would cost 1000s of times more than the robotic missions, and not for ages be able to stay very long - compared to the rovers operational longevity. The rovers have discovered much, not just a few blueberries and dust devils. And don't forget, they are excellent scouts for possible manned landing sites. Their value for money cannot be underestimated, since the budget was accepted on the basis of 3 months life, just think how well that money was spent.

It is also often forgotten that since Mars is open to almost the full glare of radiation from the sun, all these dreams of exploration and colonisation have to be tempered by the fact that any visitor will have a considerably shortened life expectancy, probably best to go in your 70's.

There have been a very large amount of robotic missions around the solar system, these have told us an enormous amount, and if we only did manned missions, we would still be stuck making maybe 3 more trips to the moon and know nothing about what was beyond.

In the future, the development of AI coupled to improving robotic technologies and even limited self-repair, will take us to many more worlds, far sooner, than over-emphasis on manned missions ever will.