* Posts by John Mangan

394 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Aug 2007


Remember that blurry first-ever photo of a black hole? Turns out snaps like that can tell us a lot about these matter-gobbling voids

John Mangan

Re: Perhaps someone can explain something to dumb old me.

@erst I've seen that video before and I think it is an excellently clear explanation of what that blurry photo is revealing.

H0LiCOW: Cosmoboffins still have no idea why universe seems to be expanding more rapidly than expected

John Mangan

Re: 2nd question


I bl@@dy knew I would miss something! I wrote MPc on one side and then the value for Pcs on the other.

I thought the answer looked a bit large but didn't have time to check my working.

Thanks for the correction (and not laughing).

John Mangan

Re: 2nd question

Well, since you asked:

1 MPc = 3 * 10^13 km

1 Yr = 31 *10^6 seconds

So take 73Km/s as H0

Then distance = Initial Separation/MPc * H0 * Secs in a Year * 1000

= 150*10^6/3*10^13 * 73 * 31*10^6 * 10^3

= 150/3 *73 * 31 *10^2

= 11.3 million Km

(unless I made a mistake rushing it while trying not to be noticed at work).

5G signals won't make men infertile, sighs UK ad watchdog as it bans bonkers scary poster

John Mangan

Re: All electromagnetic radiation harmful?

Turn off the lights!! Aaaghh, my eyes!!

Someone get Greenpeace on the line. Boffins clock carbon 'pollution' cloud 30,000 light-years wide choking galaxies

John Mangan

The Currents of Space?

Isaac Asimov

Post Office coughs £57.75m to settle wonky Horizon IT system case

John Mangan

I want to know . .

why no-one is going to prison for this.

They've ruined people's lives and reputations and now they're barely compensating them for that if the article is to be believed.

BBC tells Conservative Party to remove edited Facebook ad featuring its reporters

John Mangan


Agreed. I've lost track of the number of Remainer calling it the 'British Brexit Corporation' and the number of Leavers saying it is completely Remain-biased (I don't think they've come up with a 'clever' acronym).

I take the view that nothing is perfect (e.g. letting woo-woo practitioners 'balance' sound scientific evidence) but when two sides of an argument both consider one particular source to be biased against them I think that's reasonable marker that the source is:

a: trying to be balanced

b: not so far off balanced you need a compass to find your way back.

You wanted flying cars and colony worlds. Instead, IKEA furniture-building-ish AI robots

John Mangan

Re: Hmmm


Agreed. I've always thought the critical step was checking that you had all the parts and laying them out in a rational manner. As long as you have enough room to work in after that it really is straight-forward - and I've got stuff that is well into it's third decade.

I did have some flat-pack furniture from a different supplier one time where the bolts and holes just didn't line up. It was clearly a manufacturing error. I got it replaced and the new one had the same problem so refund time. I've yet to experience that with Ikea.

Thanks, Brexit. Tesla boss Elon Musk reveals Berlin as location for Euro Gigafactory

John Mangan

Re: Is Musk aware of the strength of the unions and employment laws in Germany ?

He probably couldn't wait for the full post-brexit labour deregulation in the UK. And then the tariffs . . . .

That's not long division, Timmy! China school experimented on pupils with mind-reading tech

John Mangan

Re: Hummmm... wut ?


Exactly my reaction. A whole article about one school in China piloting this and one sentence about wider use in the US.

I'm searching for a word . .. . oh yes, balance.

Cyber-security super-brain Rudy Giuliani forgets password, bricks iPhone, begs Apple Store staff for help

John Mangan

Re: If he wasn't such an obviously stupid man


Maybe it's the fact that the royal families of Europe inter-married so much that made it socially acceptable?

Well, if it's good enought for His Highness . . . . .

Equally perhaps the strongly anti-establishment views of the first settlers pushed them strongly the other way.

NOTE: I know absolutely nothing about this subject but I was provoked by your interesting question.

Plan to strip post-Brexit Brits of .EU domains now on hold: Registry waves white flag amid political madness

John Mangan

Re: Does the UK require citizenship for .uk domains?

@downvoter - you can downvote facts all you like. It doesn't stop them being facts.

John Mangan

Re: Does the UK require citizenship for .uk domains?

The UK fell foul of Galileo rules that it insisted on making.

That's not the EU being nasty, that's being hoist on your own petard.

Japanese hotel chain sorry that hackers may have watched guests through bedside robots

John Mangan

Re: Humans Not Optional?

@Mister Fluffy

That's easy for you to say.

Hundreds charged in internet's biggest child-abuse swap-shop site bust: IP addy leak led cops to sys-op's home

John Mangan

Last paragraph...

""Society must decide whether it will accept these lawless online spaces, whether American taxpayers should fund them, or whether we will instead demand that providers act to prioritize protecting children from online predators." ®"

Perhaps if various 'state actors' weren't poring over everybody's data 24/7 fewer people would feel the need to use TOR and it would be even easier to trace these traffic flows. Just saying.

I also declined to peruse the indictments and having read other commentards responses I'm glad I did. My total respect for those who not only have to view the indictments but also the evidence from which they arise.

Welcome to the World Of Tomorrow, where fridges suffer certificate errors. Just like everything else

John Mangan

@Nick Kew

"MAYBE: my little indulgence - a dispenser for chilled water and ice, all plumbed in (would be a YES except that it's only available on "american style" models)."

Say YES, you'll never regret it.

RIP: First space-walk badass Alexei Leonov, who made it to 85 despite best efforts of Soviet machine

John Mangan

With absolutely no sense of irony . . .

What a guy!

Just let us have Huawei and get on with 5G, UK mobe networks tell MPs

John Mangan

Re: Ownership

!All foreigners aren't equally 'foreign'.!

All allies aren't equally trustworthy.

Europe publishes 5G risk assessment; America scrawls ‘Huawei’ on the side of a nuke and goes for a ride

John Mangan


"Most importantly, the report notes that there are fundamental differences in the current 3G and 4G networks that we use for our mobile phones (and broader mobile data delivery) and the upcoming 5G networks which promise far faster and more expansive opportunities.

Most importantly, 5G networks are reliant to a far greater degree on software and less on specialized hardware and software. This is a big plus - it means new features can be added easily and the underlying infrastructure won’t have to be overhauled or replaced to take advantage of them. But, at the same time of course, it means that 5G networks will be more open to attack."

Which 'most importantly' is the most important?

I tried to resist but I am weak. Sorry.

Mission Extension Vehicle-1 launches to save space from zombie satellites

John Mangan

Re: We're saved!

Only if the ELE-asteroid has a convenient rocket nozzle attached.

'We go back to the Moon to stay': Apollo vets not too chuffed with NASA's new rush to the regolith

John Mangan


I tried REALLY hard but I could only upvote this once, sorry.

John Mangan


I think the point is that it is very likely nobody would spend money on this stuff if there weren't a big push for the purposes of'wasteful' things like space flight - but once created their uses overflow - unless you can justify your statement that "Historically, the cross over from space exploration to other situations has been surprisingly small".

John Mangan

Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

It's not a matter of bias:

- a nationwide building and R&D process

- a worldwide tracking and communications effort

- a cold war environment in which you can be certain the Russians were also monitoring and would have happily spilt the beans

- rocks retrieved from the moon and analysed around the world

- mirrors planted on the moon that to this day allow range-finding

That's just a short list that appeared in my mind in less than 30 seconds. I'm sure there are plenty more I, and others, could produce with a couple of moments thought.

Are you also a member of the Flat Earth Society?

John Mangan

Re: Let's start with the basics and then work forward from there.

This is such a tired old trope; any discovery, any research CAN pay dividends for humanity. CAN, not necessarily will because of politics, greed, religious conflict, tribal jealousies and on and on. To do NOTHING until ALL of humanity's problems are solved is a sure way to solve NONE of them (sorry, channelled BB a bit there).

"Hey, why are you leaving Africa when there's still people here living in caves?"

"Columbus, get out of that boat! There are people living in squalor here"

"Orville, Wilbur stop tinkering with that contraption and sort out the plight of the native americans."

And you really should know better than to try and throw doubt on the moon landings on a site such as this!

John Mangan

"To simply go and come back and say that we've been there again is highly unsatisfactory,"

Indeed. And slightly shameful.

Cassini may be dead – but its data shows basic building blocks of life spewing from Enceladus

John Mangan

Re: It's life Jim,...

Some assembly required.

Exploding super-prang asteroid to pepper Earth, trigger deadly ice age – no, wait, it happened 466 million years ago

John Mangan

Third interstellar visitor?

"The presence of strange isotopes and rare metals signaled the dust came from the depths of the galaxy"

or, just the asteroid belt?

UK taxman wins tribunal case against BBC presenters

John Mangan

Re: TL;DR they were badly advised by their own accountants ?

From memory; accountants take no responsibility if they make a mistake.

(That's probably an over-simplification which an accountant can correct but I've got more than one acquaintance that had run-ins with HMRC and the accountants were able to back away with a sympathetic smile).

UK launches online VAT inquiry following fears of Brexit fraudster surge

John Mangan

Defining terms

"It has already been a great success in other countries such as USA & Australia."

Given what I would kindly call the Government's loose use of the term 'great success' in a number of other spheres I would like more details on what qualifies as success in this context.

UK Home Office web form snafu allows you to both agree and disagree – strongly – all at once

John Mangan

Re: The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device,


All hail the genius of Douglas Adams!

Damn! Beaten by seconds. By the OP though, so that's not so bad.

UK plod could lose access to 79 million criminal alerts in event of a no-deal Brexit

John Mangan

Re: Cut the bullsh^H^H^H rhetoric.

Stop blaming the EU for the British government brandishing no deal as a good thing.

No deal means, well, 'no deal'. So anything you want to continue to work needs to be agreed - a deal if you will - which the UK government doesn't want, thinks is a million to one shot, but probably will happen so be ready, you know, just in case . . . .

Everyone remembers their first time: ESA satellite dodges 'mega constellation'

John Mangan

Re: Dodgy Excuses

@TimeMaster T

Thanks, that's a new favourite XKCD for me!

What other similes could unexpectedly not do our species any favours? Discuss.

Don't panic! Don't panic! UK IT job ads plummet as Brexit uncertainty grabs UK tech sector by the short and curlies

John Mangan

Re: How are you counting those jobs?

Not to mention the 'ghost' jobs that are just there to harvest CVs.

A few years ago when looking for a job I read a description that was word for word identical to one that a former colleague had written (it had first been advertised when I worked with him).

Thinking to short-circuit the whole agency thing I rang him direct to be told that, yes, that was his advert but, no, he wasn't recruiting.

That's as well as the jobs that you ring up and ask if they are still short-listing and after receiving a reply in the affirmative you send your CV in. 24 hours later when you ring to see if it was considered suitable you find that 'budgets have been modified', 'the business is restructuring' or some other bollocks.

Job adverts are very little indication of anything - except that recruitment agents are scum..

Researchers peer into crystal ball to see future where everyone's ID is tied to their smartphone

John Mangan

Re: "mobile versions will be easy to scale quickly"

@eldakka all good points and fair but I think part of the issue was the way the contract was awarded. There appears to have been no public tendering process and companies that actually had experience running ferry services, e.g. the tunnel company, weren't invited - leading to the big payoff after they sued the government for violating competition rules. And then other ferry companies sued the government as well because their competitors were effectively being subsidised.

I think the ferry company having no ferries (the point you were addressing) was just an easy flag to stick on the TL:DR version so that everyone knew who to snicker at.

One person's harmless japery can be another's night of LaserJet Lego

John Mangan

Re: Heavy...

@John Lilburne

I came across the story years ago. I just love that multi-generational forethought.

Makes you wonder if there is a nomadic tribe wandering the desert protecting the Mummy's tomb?

Linux Journal runs shutdown -h now for a second time: Mag editor fires parting shot at proprietary software

John Mangan

Seems unnecessarily pessimistic

I can't help thinking that the penetration of the Raspberry Pi running Linux will start to swing the balance back.

For £30-odd quid anyone can have a computer they're not afraid to break. That they can afford to 'try' things on even if it breaks an I/O port or two.

Those people, and there will be plenty of young 'uns, will grow up, like the Speccy/Amiga/etc. generation, used to the idea of delving into their computers and it will all be on Linux. It will take a few years for the impact to become clear but I don't think Linux is going to become totally invisible.

I also suspect that the long-term impact of Steam making more and more games available on Linux will grow the market of people who want to play games but don't want a sealed, proprietary box and who therefore become increasingly familiar with Linux.

Or maybe I'm being hopelessly optimistic?

Can't dance? That's no excuse. Let a robot do it for you at this 'forced exoskeleton rave'

John Mangan

As Bones would say,

"It's dancing, Jim, but not as we know it".

"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor not a choreographer!".

Meet the super-speedy white dwarf binary system that's going to grav-wave our world

John Mangan

Re: Re. LISA

I don't know where the intrusive '1' came from - it's not next to '0' or '3' on the keyboard?

John Mangan

Re: Re. LISA

A PoC was launched a few years back to test some of the required technologies. We are nowhere near launching the real thing - as the estimated date of 20134 demonstrates.

Humans may be able to live on Mars within halls of aerogel – a wonder material that can trap heat and block radiation

John Mangan

Aerogel has already been used in a vacuum..

..on a cometary sample collection craft if I remember correctly.

Was it the Japanese one that crashed on return but they still managed to retrieve useful samples?

NASA rattles the tin for an extra $1.6bn to keep 2024 lunar hopes alive

John Mangan

Re: Follow the $

There really aren't enough pejorative terms for that . . . . . entity.

Guess what shrinks when it gets cold and then you shake it around a little? The Moon. We're talking about the Moon

John Mangan

Re: Neal Stephenson will be

I've read both and, probably just due to my own leanings, preferred Seveneves. both good reads though full of interesting detail and obviously obsessively researched

However I feel a persistent disappointment with Stephenson's endings starting way back with 'Snow Crash'. Is it me?

Brit Parliament online orifice overwhelmed by Brexit bashers

John Mangan


Well, demographically speaking several hundred thousand affected by this clusterfuck weren't eligible on the date you mentioned.

Many who were eligible and did vote are now dead.

No doubt some who expected to see the easiest trade deal in history signed, sealed and ldelivered by now have become fatigued.

I could go on . . . a bit like May's government's Brexit process.

John Mangan

It is hypnotic though...

watching hundreds of signatures added at a time.

Won't make any difference of course but then neither is anything that Parliament is doing.

Yes! Pack your bags! Blossoming planetary system strikingly similar to ours found by boffins

John Mangan

Re: Faster than light not needed?

There's also the problem that at any appreciable fraction of the speed of light every proton in your path becomes a death-dealing radiation menace.

Brit rocket wranglers get Reaction they wanted after rattling SABRE

John Mangan

I'm sure I saw somewhere..

..that in the early days they had support from the government. however when the government then chose to withdraw they paced some sort of embargo on the technology that prevented the designers from getting other funding. It sounds like SOP for our bunch of privileged leather warmers.

Apparently the embargo timed our or was lifted a few years back. If I didn't create this in some fever dream.

I would really like to see this fly before I die.

Crew Dragon returns to dry land as NASA promises new space station for the Moon

John Mangan

@Clive Galway

True. But the daily infall of cosmic debris more than makes up for that.

John Mangan

I don't think as a race we are at the point where we can significantly change the mass of an object the size of the moon.

John Mangan

Re: Lunar Gateway Questions

It looks a bit more 'experimental' that I was expecting:

"In addition, Gateway’s location will take it far outside Earth’s protective magnetic field and will leave astronauts exposed to far more intense radiation than is experienced on the ISS. This will provide key opportunities to study the long-term impact of radiation on humans in deep space. “We will ultimately translate that experience toward human missions to Mars,” says William Gerstenmaier, an associate administrator at Nasa headquarters in Washington."

The full article I took that from is here:


I won't be volunteering.

Lovely graphics:


John Mangan

Re: Lunar Gateway Questions

So far as I know (I'm prepared to be corrected) the ISS doesn't have sufficient water to provide this level of shielding so you would be taking extra.