* Posts by Richard Brown

37 posts • joined 20 Dec 2007

Elon Musk unveils Hyperloop – the subsonic tube of tomorrow

Richard Brown

Channel tunnel was three tunnels, each of 50 km length. So that is 150 km in total plus two terminals and rolling stock for $15bn. So you might just get that 15 miles for less than you think.

Richard Brown

The construction costs per mile for the Hyperloop are $12,000,000. This is slightly higer than the published figures for freeway construction in the US, but less than the costs associated with light railway construction in urban environments.

The ticket price suggested is 5 cents/mile, this compares with 13 cents/mile for a low cost airline ticket.

Journey time by Hyperloop is 30 minutes, by air 80 minutes.

So construction costs are probably a reasoable approximation subject to confirmation in engineering design. There is obviously some leeway in ticket price as it could double and still remain competative with airlines. Jouney time is very competative and is likely to be city centre to centre giving another two hour advantage.

When the Channel Tunnel was built the tunnel itself was constructed on time and on budget. The additional cost and delays occurred during fixed equipment installation. I would expect the same thing to happen on the Hyperloop project. Hanging what is essentially a long pipeline off pylons or on stilts has been done before, it's the trains and the partial vacuum that is novel and where costs will be less predictable.

Ten ten-inch tablets

Richard Brown

Lenovo Thinkpad

Where do you find a Thinkpad for £499? Lenovo quote £570 and £700 for the two models and their reseller in the UK quotes £539. You can £165 for the Bluetooth keyboard and £80 for the dock, giving a total price for the base model of £815. Do El Reg hacks get a 40% discount?

Toy train company bids for West Coast Mainline

Richard Brown

Re: The problem with Wooden trains

I'll call you a taxi

Tony Blair closes RSA 2012, denounces WikiLeaks

Richard Brown

What money can't buy

All post war Prime Ministers under Queen Elizabeth II have either been created at Knight of the Garter or given a peerage. Tony & Gordon have received nothing.

Order of the Garter is the most prestigious order of knighthood in the UK and its award is the personal prerogative of the Queen. The order is restricted to a membership of 24 knights. Two new knights were appointed in 2011 so there were posts available if the Queen wished to appoint them.

This is probably the the only way the Queen has of giving these two bar stewards that time honoured English salute.

Weeing Frenchman sues Google over Street View photo

Richard Brown

Re: I know

A quick search (and Google is your friend here!) shows the camera to be, perhaps, 10 feet above ground level.

See: http://perpetualanticipation.blogspot.com/2011/06/strange-and-beautiful-photos-from.html

Compare the gentleman in the background to the camera height, assume he is 6 feet tall.

What should a sci-fi spaceship REALLY look like?

Richard Brown
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This is important because the living quarters will need to be shielded from solar radiation/wind etc. This takes mass. The smaller the surface area the smaller the mass required for shielding, the more you get out of your propulsion system.

Fusion boffins crack shreddy eddy plasma puzzle

Richard Brown

Helium 3

Need some scoop ships to mine Jupiter then don't we.

Comp-sci boffin aims to REPROGRAM LIFE ITSELF

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DARPA drops another HTV-2

Richard Brown

So impatient

Compare and contrast this current attempt at high speed flight with the first attempts to fly faster than the speed of sound. How long did that take, how many attempts, how much money, how many pilots died?

I am not convinced that the Space Shuttle can be used as a valid comparison, it is a glider not a powered aircraft and relies on an orbital manoeuvring system for control for most of its flight. The only time it it is hypersonic is during orbit, where aerodynamics are irrelevant and during the first part of its decent, when it is trying to shed speed as quickly as possible in the upper atmosphere.

Scientists print out solar cells using inkjet tech

Richard Brown

Reinventing the wheel

Already done by Nano Solar - not in a research lab - in production.

And no, I am not a shareholder (mores the pity).

Richard Brown


Gearbox perchance

Boffins herald end of stiff screens

Richard Brown

Calm down dear!

To use the, now immortal, phrase

The best sci-fi film never made: Also-rans take a bow

Richard Brown

I think he got bored with writing Amtrak Wars

I know what you mean, for years after the last book was published I kept looking for the next book in the series because I couldn't believe it ended so abruptly.

Richard Brown


Just looked Neal Asher up cos of your pithy review of his work.

Sounds just my cup of tea, must go and buy some of his books and support a fellow Essex man.

Pope says gravity proves technology can't supplant God

Richard Brown

You don't understand science do you?

Science requires the postulation of a disprovable hypothesis. The notion of a god is not testable by science because it is based on faith not proof or disproof.

So from a scientific perspective god is irrelevant.

And then there is Occam's razor ....

.... which tends to get rid of the need for a god as there are better explanations (i.e. scientific ones) for the natural phenomenon we see around us.

So, what's the best sci-fi film never made?

Richard Brown

How are you going to sort this lot out?

Dorsai by Gordon R Dickson

Richard Brown

There's more

Retief: Diplomat at Arms by Keith Laumer

The Forever King and The Broken Sword: The Return of King Arthur by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy

Richard Brown

Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke

Oh and I agree with anything by Peter F Hamilton, but especially the Greg Mandel series.

The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling.

The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Azimov

The Forever War by Joe Hadleman

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

ROBOT COP scatters LIVE GRENADES in San Francisco STREET

Richard Brown


.... a brain the size of a planet ....

You are showing your age, as am I.

'Squeeze green oil from North Sea by squirting CO2 in' - prof

Richard Brown

CO2 is an acid

Carbon Dioxide is acidic. This makes it relatively easy to capture from large sources such as power station flues using existing technology such as amine plants.

Transport to and injecting it into the reservoir shouldn't be a problem as this will be new infrastructure designed for that purpose and the Carbon Dioxide will be dry.

However, once in the reservoir it will percolate through to the wells and back up to the platform with the oil. The problem is that Carbon Dioxide is acidic, especially where there is a lot of water around, and there always is. At high pressures and temperatures found in the reservoirs this becomes very corrosive and attacks the pipes used to line the wells, and suddenly you don't have a well anymore. You can fix this but you have to reline the wells with expensive corrosion resistant steels.

Freesat BBC iPlayer beta gets red button access

Richard Brown

Wot no wireless?

If the Wii has wireless access to the internet and an iPlayer channel for ages why are Humax still relying on cables?

French culture minister flames Google over book scan plan

Richard Brown
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What a bunch of cry babies

Just the other day some French group (Avenir de la langue française) were complaining about the domination of English in International Business, Diplomacy, the EU. It was all an Anglo Saxon conspiracy to rule the world.

However the Acadamie Francaise has been shooting itself in the foot for years by opposing the introduction of "alien" words into the French language. One of the strengths of English has been its adoption of words from other languages including French as well as Hindi, Urdu, Arabic and many others. Complaining that Google are being unfair when they wish to make digital copies available around the world (and not just in dusty shelves in some obscure building in Paris) is blowing the other foot off as well.

Anyway the Ruler of the World competition was won by the Anglosphere at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and confirmed in 1805 at Trafalgar. France came second. The finals of the next round of Ruler of the World competition will be between India and China.

TomTom goes Jock to abuse English 'bas'

Richard Brown

Errrr .... No

TomTom is a Dutch company, so what has alleged Scots slang got to do with anything.

E-cars are a dangerous myth, says top boffin

Richard Brown

Energy audit

What we need is a (publicly available, fully transparent) national energy audit updated every 3 to 5 years. This would highlight what aspects of our economy use the greatest amount of energy, and in what form. This in turn would enable policy makers to focus resources on those aspects that would give the greatest return in lower carbon footprint etc for our pound.

Otherwise all we get is a piecemeal approach, grabbing at the latest "new thing", environmentally friendly gadget that will be the saviour of mankind, whether that is electric vehicles, nuclear energy, wind power etc ad infinitum.

Carbon capture would create fizzy underground oceans

Richard Brown

Both may be right

Are Werner Aeschbach-Hertig and Stuart Gilfillan talking about the same thing? Oil and gas reservoirs are capped by a dome of impervious rock that retains the content of the reservoir. To get to it we have to drill through the cap. Aeschbach-Hertig mentions ground water. He may be referring to artesian reservoirs in strata that at some point come to the surface or are not capped with completely impervious layers of rock, allowing the gas to percolate up to the surface over relatively short periods of geologic time. Many gas reservoirs already contain significant proportions of CO2 that has been naturally produced and trapped with hydrocarbon gases.

In other words these two views are not necessarily contradictory.

Boffin seeks $300,000 to build eight-wheel 230mph EV

Richard Brown
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Eight wheels?

What benefit does eight wheels bring? More complex steering, more road noise, more weight, more rolling resistance, more tyres to replace. There is probably a good reason why 99.9% of cars designed over the last 100 years only have 4 wheels.

Spooks foils fictional Russian plot

Richard Brown


Using of a sub may be a little over the top in this case but submarines have been used for tapping into underwater cables. The Americans did this to a USSR military communications cable during the Cold War and is documented in the book Blind Man's Buff.

London cabs to go 'lectric in 2009

Richard Brown

8 hours worth of 'leccy

As we have been told on numerous occasions that the average speed of traffic in London is 12 mph, that means it will take a cabbie 8 hours to do his 100 miles, and then when you add on tea breaks, lunch breaks and sitting in cab ranks will extend the time even further.

And speaking of cab ranks, sounds like a potential rechargeing point to me. Have powered rails embeded in the road, have some contacts beneath the car that can be lowered to draw power - full size Scalectric!

Scotland Mountain Rescue turns on Ofcom

Richard Brown

From the OFCOM Website

"If you remain dissatisfied, you may refer your complaint to the Chairman of the Ofcom Board. Please contact the office of the Secretary to the Corporation Graham Howell (graham.howell@ofcom.org.uk) who will refer your complaint to the Chairman."

Brit firm to demo serious flying robo-saucer in 2009

Richard Brown

Proof of concept

Maybe this is just a proof of concept for the aerodynamics, not a battle ready borg and if the MOD or DOD ante up some development money they will make it bigger, faster, quieter and more deadly. But right now they wanted the cheapest engine they could get find of so went for what was available off the shelf at the local model shop.

Senator slams DHS boss over border laptop searches

Richard Brown

14th Amendment

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

It says "any person" not citizen when it comes to depriving them of their property. Therefore both US citizens and non-citizens should be treated equally. And it requires due process of law, which I assume is not the whim of some immigration official.

Home wireless without the power trip

Richard Brown

And the value of this is?

Apart from the potential use for people with disabilities the value of this technology is what ... I can now turn my lights off from my PC, what's wrong with the light switch. And how much fun will local teenage terrorists have hacking these systems and playing with your lights, cooker, fridge etc.

Bah Humbug!

John Glenn blasts Moonbase-to-Mars NASA roadmap

Richard Brown


I don't know exactly how close to the equator a space elevator would have to be but Diego Garcia is just 7 degrees south, owned by the Brits, run by the Yanks, and there is no one downrange for hundreds of miles to be concerned about falling elevator cables.

Boeing raygunship fires first blasts in ground testing

Richard Brown


Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

Oil rig dream bomb taxpayer bill 'astronomical'

Richard Brown

Such well informed comments .... NOT!

Difficult to know where to start with all the drivel ......

Oil Installation Managers (OIM) cannot devolve or derogate their attendance at their Emergency Response training courses - it is mandatory, by law - no course, no job, no OIM, platform shuts down. This does not happen.

There will be a standard set of Emergency Response Procedures that have been produced that account for almost any scenario you can imagine, including bomb threats. These are flowchart driven processes with prescribed actions for a given set of conditions. It is easy to be critical of such an approach but it has arisen after the Piper Alpha disaster when such procedures did not exist and neighbouring platforms continued to pump gas to the burning platform because no one told them otherwise. Such is human behaviour when everything is going pear shaped.

There are over 500 people on the Safe Scandinavia - that provides a massive resource for rumour and gossip. Very few people will know what actually happened, what was said, when and to whom - and those that do will not be talking to the press.

Can't be certain, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the coastguard et al will back charge the installation operator for their mobilisation - every other government organisation does (HSE, Police, Fire Service, SEPA etc).

One other thing that is certain is that the companies involved will go over this with a fine comb to find out what exactly happened and if any changes should be made to their procedures.

Here endeth the advert for the Oil & Gas Industry

US switches off the incandescent lightbulb

Richard Brown

Independant Tests

Which? (The Consumer Association) published the outcome of their tests on CFL lamps in Oct 2007.

They tested lamps for over 8000 hours, switching them on and off for both long and short cycles, testing light output after 750 and 1500 hours.

Their estimated savings by replacing a 100W incandescent lamp was £30 over 5 years.

Their "Best Buy" exceeded the manufacturers claimed lifetime by 33%, had no problems being repeatedly switched on and off and didn't dim much over time.

I purchased a whole bunch of these at a variety of wattages and they seem subjectively better than the incandescents they replaced. They do take a few seconds to reach full output, but so what - there is ample light to see what you are doing immediately and enough to read fine print within 30 seconds.


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