* Posts by mantavani

32 posts • joined 14 Jan 2010

It's cool for Brit snoops to break the law, says secretive spy court. Just hold on while we pull off some legal jujitsu to let MI5 off the hook...

mantavani

Re: Arbitrary law is reappearing

Your assumption only holds water on condition that the PM in question actually commands a working majority in the House, rather than just behaving like he does.

France says 'non merci' to Facebook-backed Libra cryptocurrency

mantavani

It’s constantly flown upside down here quite often too.

Apollo 11 @ 50: The long shadow of the flag

mantavani

Cost

Can we dismiss this idea that the Apollo project was some kind of uber-expensive white elephant? During the Apollo era, NASA accounted for 4% of the US federal budget (today it's more like 0.5%). The whole shebang cost around $25 billion (without adjusting for inflation), which amounted to a massive stimulus package that the entire economy benefited from. Aside from the fantastic technological advances in every field from integrated circuits to materials science that happened along the way (NASA document more than 6,000 discrete innovations from smoke detectors to microwaves as a result of the space programme), for every dollar spent on Apollo the US economy benefited to the tune of about seven dollars.

For comparison, you could have had five and a bit Apollo programmes for one single Vietnam war.

mantavani
Pint

25 seconds of fuel

I thought Bob Carlton stopped his watch at 18 seconds of fuel remaining?

Jodrell Bank goes full UNESCO while Dundee awaits the decomissioners

mantavani

Re: £4 parking fee

There is a balance to be struck. The parking charge in particular just seems punitive and cynical. I love Jodrell, to the extent that one day I'd like to volunteer there. I don't pine for the days when you could walk right up to the dish without paying a penny - the science engagement is much needed and my girls (4 and 7) enjoy the place too. But at the end of the day, bar the Lovell itself, there isn't much to do there beyond soaking up the atmosphere. I can't justify £72 for an annual pass, and as it's now over £30 if we just feel like going for a picnic our visits will sadly be fewer and farther between.

mantavani

Car park

The cafe at Jodrell does a pretty good breakfast, and the radio quiet zone is an excellent excuse to turn the phone off for a bit. Won’t be stopping by quite so often since they introduced the £4 parking charge on top of the entry fee though, which made my last visit there a bit on the steep side (in fairness also because I can never resist a bit of space tat from the shop). The car in front of me turned around at the gate (there is no warning prior to this). The lady on the front desk was very apologetic and explained it was the only way to get match funding out of the University. Seems like Dundee aren’t the only ones full of it.

Heathrow Airport drops £50m on CT scanners to help smooth passage through security checks

mantavani

Re: if the tech will mean an end to the daft liquids rule – only 100ml per container

The last time I flew internationally, I still had to dump the large bottle of water I bought *airside* before going through the final bit of security theatre when boarding. I was incredulous.

Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

mantavani

Re: The most amazing engineering

I bet the runway was there before your old office. Always amuses me when people complain about what they moved next door to.

mantavani

Re: The most amazing engineering

I used to time my walk home across Albert Bridge and through Battersea Park for the same flight, so we were both gazing at her at the same time!

Huawei Mate 10 Pro: The unfashionable estate car wants to go to town

mantavani

Re: Why is it...

Me too. I also see Chevy Chase driving it.

Birds are pecking apart Australia's national broadband network

mantavani
Thumb Up

Re: Cull them all.

The plumage don't enter into it.

Hurricane Irma imperils first ever SpaceX shuttle launch: US military's secret squirrel X-37B

mantavani
Joke

Re: Just Category 5?

Presumably a cat 6 storm will be just like a cat 5 storm, but with less crosstalk.

Up close with the 'New Psion' Gemini: Specs, pics, and genesis of this QWERTY pocketbook

mantavani
Joke

Re: 18:9?

Any number of arguments? 3.14159...?

Last Concorde completes last journey, at maybe Mach 0.02

mantavani
Boffin

Re: Don't know why...

The accident may have been triggered by a stray piece of cowling, but undoubtedly design flaws allowed it to progress into the loss of the aircraft. Concorde had even had many near misses in her service life that should have been taken more seriously. Such an impact should have been survivable and resulted in nothing more than a go-around and emergency landing. Given that flaw, the story of how Concorde returned to flight afterwards via a seriously impressive piece of shoestring engineering is just as enthralling as the rest of her story - retrofitting the fuel tanks and more to ensure the same accident couldn't happen again. Have a look at http://www.concordesst.com/returntoflight/mods.html.

There are many theories as to what caused her ultimate demise - the BA aircraft were still profitable - as always it probably just boiled down to politics. Sad, I would have loved to have flown on her.

Time for a brutal TELLY-OFF: Android TV versus Firefox OS

mantavani
Joke

Need more input

Johnny Five Is Alive?

Last flying Avro Vulcan, XH558, prepares for her swan song

mantavani
Thumb Up

I'll add my 0.02 for what its worth. Last year XH558 was doing a pre-season engineering check flight and came by the site I was working at near York. Traffic on the A64 and A19 ground to a halt as people filled the laybys to watch her fly circuits. She literally stopped traffic!

My childhood Vulcan memory (late 80s/very early 90s? Must have been on the verge of leaving service) is from RAF Church Fenton, which had a decent air show in those days. It's the only thing I remember from the day but I remember it vividly, Olympus-induced earthquake and car alarms going off and all. Absolutely awe inspiring. I gladly chucked a few quid in to the VTTS campaign so my name ought to be amongst those on 558's bomb bay door somewhere. Hopefully I can take my three-year-old to see her fly before she's grounded for good, and pay those memories forward a little.

Hubble hits 25th anniversary IN SPAAACE – time for telescope to come home

mantavani
Alien

Re: >> removed one of the scientific instruments and installed the corrective device

More than a decade - they started building the High‐Speed Photometer in the 70s. They did manage some success with their science package, though the primary mission was a failure - you can read about it here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/316334 - the module came back to Earth on board Endeavour and was at least useful in exploring the resilience of flight hardware, and if the rest of the telescope de-orbits it will at least be amongst the hardware that survived the mission.

All is not lost, though - the last Hubble service visit installed a soft capture system (the original plan was to bring the whole telescope home in the back of a shuttle) so a future robotic rescue mission is at least theoretically feasible.

Licence to chill: Ex-CIA spyboss Petraeus gets probation for leaking US secrets to his mistress

mantavani
Pint

Bernard was right

Reminds me of that Yes, Prime Minister sketch - in the immortal words of Bernard Wooley: "that's another of those irregular verbs, isn't it? *I* give confidential press briefings; *you* leak; *he's* been charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act."

Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

mantavani

Streaming

You can stream BBC radio - bar a few sports programmes where there are rights issues - outside the UK. It's just the telly version that gets uppity about this stuff.

Boffins: On my command, unleash REMOTE CONTROL BULL SPERM

mantavani

@smartermind doesn't matter if you're male or female. The testes are immunologically privileged - because sperm are haploid and therefore most definitely non-self your body would mount an immune response to your own sperm. This is a cause of some types of inferitility - often following trauma of the eye-watering variety.

Sperm are incredibly sensitive to handling - temperature shock and environment - and get nutritional support from seminal fluid, which obviously wouldn't be present in this application - so it's difficult to see how they would last any length of time in vivo. It's a really interesting idea though!

Burger-rage horse dumps on McDonald's: Rider saddled with fat fine

mantavani
IT Angle

@S4qFBxkFFg is pretty much right. There's quite a good chance of dog faeces carrying Toxocara canis which is a non-trivial risk to human health. Whereas being the product of an herbivorous digestive system, horse poop is basically pure fertilizer and the only parasite risk is to other horses.

EU boffins in plan for 'more nutritious' horsemeat ice cream

mantavani
Coat

Re: No prions

That's not quite right, or at lease a misunderstanding. While we still don't know precisely what the origin of BSE was, it's a good working hypothesis that Scrapie from sheep was indeed the initial spark (but there are other ideas, such as the endogenous virus hypothesis).

However, the species barrier in transmitting a TSE is immense - so there is very little chance of you receiving a dose of BSE prion that would cause you vCJD, or of a cow receiving a BSE-inducing inoculation from sheep meal - but once it has occurred, there is a much higher chance of then passing on that infectious prion through cannibalism (cf. kuru in man). The problem being that we fed ruminants other ruminants - so-called MBM (meat & bone meal). We only saw it here in the UK first because we changed the way we manufactured MBM at the end of the 70s and apparently the new method did not control the infectious vector.

We KNOW this was an important infection route just from looking at the disease surveillance data - as soon as the feeding ban was brought in around '88 the incidence of BSE in cattle shot down from tens of thousands to almost nothing. In the UK - partially because of this whole sorry affair - we have tremendously active public health surveillance, and as a result of all this effort in 2010-11 there were NO cases of BSE in our national herd. That's quite an achievement.

BUT!

If you were unlucky enough to be infected with vCJD, the duration of the incubation period before the appearance of clinical symptoms would be strongly linked to your genotype: specifically, a methionine/valine polymorphism at codon 129 of the gene coding for the human prion protein.

Human clinical vCJD disease seemed to peak in 2000*, but ALL of these cases were known MM homozygotes. The predction of a 'second vast epidemic' you allude to was because of the potential vulnerability of MV or VV homozygous humans, who were thought to be (and may still be) at risk of developing vCJD.

As usual with these things, the truth is much stranger than fiction.

I'll get my coat.

--

*Data from http://www.cjd.ed.ac.uk/documents/figs.pdf

mantavani
Unhappy

Re: No prions

That would be precisely what I meant by 'no public health oversight'. Trading meat like any other commodity through an insanely long supply chain across national borders positively invites criminal intervention. Problem is, it's /not/ like any other commodity...

mantavani
Pirate

No prions

To all those 'oh noes! Teh mad cows' commenters - there'll be little additional risk from rogue prion diseases (BSE/Scrapie => vCJD) - the relevant tissue is considered specified risk material (SRM) and has to be destroyed by incineration, the legislation covering all this is quite tough (and a good reason to be up in arms about the horse meat scandal even if you don't mind noshing on a bit of pony - where and how those animals were raised, slaughtered and butchered is anyone's guess, you have no idea what welfare issues, diseases and drug residues were present with no public health oversight).

I agree we should practice old fashioned 'nose to tail eating'; no expensively produced protein should be lost form a carcass, but it should not be dressed up as something it's not ('chicken' nuggets etc.).

Star Trek phaser sells for a STUNNING $231,000

mantavani

@khaptain - sounds a bit like Trident!

NASA to place twin probes in Moon orbit as you snog beneath mistletoe

mantavani
Joke

Grail?

A more seasonal name would have been the High Orbit Lunar Insertion Gravity Recovery and Interior Lab. Not forgetting the science Package, the QUantum Entanglement Search Technology... yes, the QUEST for the HOLI GRAIL...

BBC One and bureaucracy spared in Auntie cuts

mantavani
Headmaster

@Anton - also for missing out the three years 2006-9. Pointless graph.

Sheep as smart as humans: Official

mantavani
Boffin

Title

@RobE who says that's not possible already, not to say has been for centuires? Not in the Doolittle sense. Language is a different thing from communication.

For any human to work effectively with an animal (working dogs, horses etc) the two have got to be able to communicate pretty effectively. Sure, it's possible to - say - beat a horse into submission; but the truly good riders can tell you exactly what their horses are thinking, and work with them in partnership rather than dominance. Man has been doing this kind of thing since the first days of domestication.

And it's not just one way; dogs are remarkably - perhaps uniquely - adept at reading emotion in human faces. Remember how much of our communication is non-verbal. Google 'left-gaze bias in dogs' for more.

Kindle lets users lend e-books to mates via email

mantavani
Badgers

Really?

A prehistoric trade association getting into a hissy fit because the Internet threatens its outdated sales model? How unusual.

Yet another industry body that'll need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century, let alone this one.

Windows hits 25

mantavani
FAIL

What about Windows 2000?

W2K - the unloved and forgotten brother in the Windows world... but still an important step towards XP, tying 9x and NT together.

Blighty suffers 'real shortage of serviceable conkers'

mantavani
FAIL

Forcing kids to wear goggles?

You couldn't make it up.

Oh wait, actually, yes you could:

http://www.fivechinesecrackers.com/2009/12/how-mail-reacts-when-one-of-its-myths.html

Tabloid fail.

Survey outs Britain as nation of tech twits

mantavani
FAIL

Oh come on...

It's a bloody PR agency puff piece. I know it's just a bit of fun but I used to expect more of El Reg...

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