Author: James Higham

The boy who asked why

Earth quiz

1. What makes thunder?

If you thought, “Lightning!” then hats off to you. But I had a more illuminating answer in mind. The air around a lightning bolt is superheated to about five times the temperature of the sun. This sudden heating causes the air to expand faster than the speed of sound, which compresses the air and forms a shock wave; we hear it as thunder.

2. Can rocks grow?… More here ...


So, what have we actually got on our hands here?

A British teenager has contacted scientists at Nasa to point out an error in a set of their own data. A-level student Miles Soloman found that radiation sensors on the International Space Station (ISS) were recording false data.

The 17-year-old from Tapton school in Sheffield said it was “pretty cool” to email the space agency. The correction was said to be “appreciated” by Nasa, which invited him to help analyse the problem.

“What we got given was a lot of spreadsheets, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds,” Miles told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

I’d refer back to two things:

1. In Tenerife, on that KLM plane, the young Flight Engineer noticed the Captain was wrong in his judgement of the situation prior to takeoff. That Captain had almost flown his full time quota for the day, he was a decorated and feted man, featured in flight magazines, he was a KLM hero.… More here ...

You need a good poof

Call me technically stupid but I can’t see how this helps:

A small team at Otherlab, which does all kinds of weird things, has been using ARPA-E funding to develop what they’re calling “thermally adaptive materials.” We’ll call it self-poofing fabric, for its ability to dynamically change its insulation in response to temperature. The idea is that the fabric will provide a small amount of insulation when it’s warm out, and then increase how insulating it is (by trapping more air) in response to colder temperatures. When you see the prototype fabric in action, it looks like magic.

Now this is insulating material to me:

Also, in Russia, they make the house walls two feet thick.  of course the materials theselves need to be insulating.  In that fabric above, there is no increase in thickness, it has the insulating properties it has.  Increasing air pockets are then subject to both outside cold and body heat.… More here ...

Female trouble

For the first part of ‘Female Trouble‘, there were only things on Muslims, Africans and the like.

Then came this:

A better answer may be that this is the inevitable result of the feminization of Western civilization. The most important country in Europe is ruled by a barren old woman who started out in life as a communist.

The most masculine politician in France is Marie Le Pen. Germany’s opposition party is led by a mousy little wood nymph named Frauke Petry.

Even the Brits turned to a woman to lead them out of Europe after the Brexit vote and the collapse of Cameron’s government. The West is now a matriarchy.

Not all he writes is spot on and this analysis is a bit frayed around the edges – for example, what about Trump, Orban?  Were you to look at Erdogan, you’d probably prefer Le Pen.… More here ...

Different strokes

Every so often, old trusties do break down, as was the case with the old Philips triple-head – the new Euro model just arrived.

Which got me to thinking how people do this job. For a while, I had the old type brush and the shaving stick but after a while, soapy water did the trick reasonably well. Still think the blade razor is needed every so often, hygienically but the electric does the day to day.

All you chaps and chapesses who can lay bare your system – how do you go about it?… More here ...