* Posts by mwk

34 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Earth orbit for £1,000? You must be joking


Right, let's speculate!

You go up with the balloon, then want to use the gas for fuel. This will require several things. We need a balloon that can be deflated on command (plausible) , a controlled burn gaseous hydrogen rocket (difficult) and a main capsule that can control its orientation in the upper atmosphere.

Initial thoughts would be to launch the balloon up to a certain height, then force deflate it, compressing the gas internally within the main capsule. During this stage the craft will be in freefall, so the gas needs to be compressed as quickly as possible to minimise altitude loss. Problem: Heat from compressing the gas could lead to explosion, need study to find out how likely this is.

Once the hydrogen is compressed, we dump the balloon (with a parachute for recovery, balloons ain't cheap) align the main capsule and hit the burn button. This ignites our carefully released hydrogen fuel (some form of pulse rocket? Need to think about that.) and we burn for LEO. Do the rules specify what they're considering "space" to be? Anyway, once up, we release the satellite (Electronics chappies can probably do something with 20g) and hope it's somewhere vaguely stable for the next ~12 hours.

Recovery of the main capsule is a non-trivial problem left to the reader.

Amazon.co.uk takes on Tesco


It's a nice selection

but a bit pricey.

And so many are individual bottles! I want deliveries by the crate at least.

England versus Germany: Quaff real ale


The weather should be nice

so everyone should be relaxing in their summer suits with a nice G&T or a glass of Pimms.

Indonesia flips over internet rock star smut clips

Paris Hilton


no link?

LibCons bin £2bn of late Labour projects

Black Helicopters

SAR choppers

Was it another plan to save the British helicopter industry by spending three times as much as they would buying from abroad and just paying the key skilled workers wages for 5 years? If so, scrapping it might not be a bad idea.

Google opens alphabetti spaghetti with refined spelling in search


God help you

if you're trying to find something that's deliberately misspelt.

Flat-pack plug designer wins top award

Thumb Up

If they're safe

he deserves to get rich.

Tories ask: Why BBC3, BBC4?


I don't know why BBC4 would be expensive

It only operates in the evenings, and STILL manages to show the same programme twice a day.

Hubble peers closely at Pluto


It's tiny, it's far away

and it's also cold. It's emitting fuck all radiation for Hubble to work with, so almost everything it has to go on is reflected. Again, it's tiny, and far away, so there's really not a lot of that.

You can only work with the radiation that's available.

Adobe to Jobs: 'What the Flash do you know?'


To be fair

I don't think they've ever actually called that anything other than an alpha.

Survey: Only 1% of Torrents non-infringing


It wouldn't surprise me

if they managed to work in a bit about how you've bought a license to use the software only if it's installed from the specific disks you purchased.

IFPI wants another stab at OiNK


Holy fuck, that counts as an official report?

It looks and reads like a fucking media students coursework.

Except that a student would probably be marked down for the biased language and unreferenced blanket statements.

One second-hand space shuttle: Yours for $29m


I'm guessing that those shuttle engines

have some fairly hefty export limitations on them.

Tories: We will set up a permanent 'War Cabinet'

Black Helicopters

With a permanent "war cabinet"

does that mean they can have permanent "extraordinary executive powers"?

Also, and rather bizarrely, I agree with amanfromMars. I'm not sure that's healthy.

New mega offshore windfarms could supply 2% of UK energy


They'll end up foreign built whatever.

Even with the cost of transportation and whatever other import cost bollockry they can come up with, it's just significantly cheaper to import from abroad than it is to build anything here.

You could probably make money by setting up a British company, taking whatever government cash is available and then importing all the turbines and staff anyway. Then once it's built, you sell the whole thing to a French energy company, pay off your loans and have a croissant and a glass of white wine.

NASA's nuclear Mars tank gets improved cooker mod


Because otherwise they'll never learn how to?

They need controlled landings to put things on the ground where all the interesting stuff is. Boulders, craters and crevices do not make for good bounce-landing sites, but they're where a lot of the science is. That method looks obscene, but it allows for better placement and site selection, stops the rover being impeded by the landing gear or trapped on a landing platform and the rover's own suspension can handle any small surface irregularities.

Paramount prepares to scale Dune



suspiciously middle-eastern men fighting a guerrilla holy war against the people who have come to their desert in order to seize a valuable resource.

I'm sure that'll go down well in some quarters.

Camel carcasses menace Outback water supplies


Shoot all the camels

Have a big barbecue.

Mozilla hatches Thunderbird 3 release candidate

Thumb Down

I tried beta 4

Didn't actually intend to (apparently the Fedora team occasionally confuse "leading edge" and "unstable test version") and really didn't like it. I eventually replaced it after a week or so because the UI was annoying the hell out of me.

Intel: 3D Web to save HPC


@is this serious

It'll be serious once I exploit this "metaverse" to upload a deadly linguistic virus into the users brains.

Sony Reader PRS-300 Pocket Edition


That's all very nice,

but how long does it take to "turn" a page?

Google backs enormous load of balls for Olympics


So, if I chip in a fiver

does that mean I get a cut of the advertising revenue?

Sounds like a way to get the public to pay for your billboards to me.

Brown declines to resign


The number of people is irrelevent.

If you get a million people to protest against the government, they will be a vocal minority who don't represent the views of the whole population.

If you get 10,000 people to stand up and agree with the government, it will be a clear display of the strong support present among the general public.

Large Hadron Collider team flicks switch on Xeon grid


They use all of it

because if they didn't, someone would notice and they'd never get the funding for the next round of upgrades.

The optimal state for the modern physicist is always having just a bit more data than you have time to analyse.

Globo-renewables all electric future touted again


It will just be easier

to wait for an environmental collapse, let a huge swathe of the population die off and then reconstruct a new society better adapted to the world that remains.

'More than ever before' now studying Sci/Tech in Blighty


Chemistry is on the decline

because chemistry departments are on the decline.

Specialist fields (organic-chem, chem-eng, comp-chem, forensics etc) get siphoned off into other, larger, "more appropriately equipped" depts, or get split off into their own separate group, and they take most of the industrial funding with them. Fundamental chemistry is left to huddle in the corner, poor and unloved.

And if it can't make money, the university heads will kill it.

Nokia sues Apple over iPhone


@Lionel Baden

While the cynicism is traditional, and possibly true (this recession is a bit harsh, who can we sue to balance the books?), there's no reason this couldn't be the result of a breakdown in negotiations.

This section of their press release:

"Nokia has already successfully entered into license agreements ... including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors ..."

implies to me that they've convinced everyone else to hand over some wedge, but talks with Apple have broken down, so they're heading to the courts.

UK.gov backs ID scheme with peanuts promo spend


I was about to go apoplectic

but that was only because I read the title and thought Charlie Brown was involved.

Student loans company says 'we're not overloaded'


@AC I don't remember...

12 years ago you weren't required to pay tuition fees at the start of the year, and universities hadn't started charging ~£3-4k for 31 weeks accommodation.

Rich people cannot feel pain, don't care if they're liked


nana nana nana nana


Pssst... Apple tablet on way, whisper Chinese moles


More like a giant iPod Touch

though the idea of someone walking along holding a 10 inch screen to their ear is appealing.

ESA lifts world's largest telecoms satellite


@ evilbob

It's not an ESA satellite?

It's not even an ESA launcher. Arianespace is its own commercial company that pays to use the ESA launch site.

'Overweight' people live longer than those of 'ideal' weight


Body Volume Index measurements

look like they'd make more sense, scanning the body in three dimensions to map the location of the mass as well, but the need for a big scanner cabinet will probably make it just too expensive.

Student leader demands lectures be 'put against the wall'


The NUS is just shit

and writing stories about them only encourages them.