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scientific developments, inventions, design, sci fi

Building an aeroplane

Haiku has been quite tongue-in-cheek of late, bless the lad. He suggested: “After the boat, maybe a Moth?”

Do not jest, sir.  I replied:


No joking here, I could easily build a wooden plane [see pic].  Engine is same cost as my o/b.  Would be far less complex and I know about foils [T Speer].  Rest I’d ask and learn about.

In fact, I was thinking of a twin engine ultralight, twice the normal length.

Regs are far more stringent on airborne though.

All jokes aside, I’m a little bit frightened to go up more than ten metres in something I’ve built. So I was seriously looking at WIG on water. Never ocean, always river and lake:

Would you accept my word if I say this is not difficult to build in wood [6mm ply and carcassing]? Given that my current baby is 42 feet, the wig is seriously not an issue, construction wise.…

Telescope or binoculars?

pirate telescope

Haiku brought up this topic about telephoto and zooms and that made me think about binoculars or telescope on the boat.  I’d also like to use them from my window here over the valley.

This explained it to me in better detail:

Binoculars are identified by 2 numbers. The first is magnification power.

Example: 7 x 35 binoculars have a magnification power of 7.

A magnification power of 7 means that an object will appear 7 times closer than it would to your unassisted eye. For example, if you view a deer that stands 200 yards away from you through 7x binoculars, it will appear as though it were 28.6 yards away (200 divided by 7).

Be aware that binoculars with magnification powers greater than 10 amplify the movements of your hands, making steady viewing difficult.

Binocular Objective Lens Diameter

The second number used in binocular identification refers to the diameter (in millimeters) of the objective lenses (those farther from your eyes; those closer to the “object” being viewed).

The ark

An oldie but a goodie:

If Noah built the ark today!

The Lord spoke to Noah and said: “In six months I’m going to make it rain until the whole earth is covered with water and all the evil people are destroyed. But I want to save a few good people, and two of every kind of living thing on the planet. I am ordering you to build an Ark.”

And in a flash of lightning he delivered the specifications for an Ark. “OK,” said Noah, trembling in fear and fumbling with the blueprints.

“Six months, and it starts to rain,” thundered the Lord. “You’d better have my Ark completed, or learn how to swim for a very long time.”

And six months passed. The skies began to cloud up and rain began to fall.

The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard, weeping. And there was no Ark.…

There’s something about wimmin and rods, don’t you feel?

whipstaff girlThese should pass:



Finding I’m having to do boat things early morning and late evening – the yard is baking in the middle of the day, don’t know how long this heat will last. It’s drying out the core of the boat well except for the main parts under glass, e.g. deck, which are dry anyway. Will have to use the middle of the day better now, do my blogging then.

The extension to 42 feet has both solved and caused issues. The actual joinery was a piece of cake – possibly more solid than the original. The issue is that I now have a huge covered area of 12 feet by 5 feet into which almost everything must go without weighing down the stern and the centre hull had to stop at one point for the outboard to be mounted on a transom. I don’t want the o/b on the stern as it can be knocked off too easily and so we’re talking critical inches here on its placement.…

Of design, dithering and parallel lines


My design has always been about parallel lines, some full length, some part way, with a covered deck aft and different levels.  Straightsided was always the plan, not least for lateral stability. The windage on this launch is cleverly low through flow-through.  This pic has been my inspiration for my beloved ark.

It’s not a design for sailing craft, it’s for power vessels, plus the windows in the pic are too large for sailing. I’d like the stempost to be more vertical too.

With an ark, the necessity for curved lines diminishes and I can combine this look above, fine for a canal, with sail in a vessel which will not wallow but actually sail [lines below the waterline]. Long, narrow, low is a major factor in this.

My design has always been about wood and rope – even mast stays are rope – I just put more ropes in and to hell with windage.

Sunday [1]

From now on, we need to refer to Wiggia as Wiggia the Wicked.  Yes, our mild-mannered erstwhile cycling oenophile has rebelled!  Read on:


As the morning sun passed over my PC monitor screen its blackness showed the need for a good clean where the smears and dots showed in a way they never did with the screen on.

For reasons I can’t explain I have always followed advice and the vast number of wipes solutions pads etc I have used have all had one thing in common, they were useless.

Even those praised by computer magazines as “best biys” have turned out to be no different all leaving despite following instructions to the t smears lines swirls and milky areas, repeated careful wipings have all failed to improve matters and in some cases have been made worse, and still I bought them.

As I reached this morning for a “fresh” sachet of wonder cleaner my better self finally kicked in and I stopped went and got a clean damp microfibre cloth and hey presto in half the time normally spent I had a spotless monitor to be proud of, result and the wipes went in the bin, how many years I have persevered with cleaning “solutions” I have no idea all I do know it was far too long.

Even the computer cooks a meal

If you think that a supercomputer can do a better job of inventing new meals than, say, Gordon Ramsey, then today’s your lucky day. IBM is opening up its Chef Watson web app to the world, enabling open-minded foodies to make outlandish food combinations for dinner parties with people you’re not fussed about pleasing.




Apart from saying a prayer for the lady overboard off South Africa, it does focus the mind on being at sea.

Retiree couples buying a boat and sailing the world are not uncommon but I’ve always thought it a tad dangerous. Even with self-steering, two is too few. With ground and air support, one is possible but who has that?…

Quietening Schiphol airport

Two years ago in the Netherlands, artist Paul de Kort designed an 81-acre park near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. His assignment? To use nothing but landscaping to dampen the noise of airplanes.

Smithsonian’s Heather Hansman reported last month, the project was a success, cutting airport noise by almost half of what the community around the airport required. De Kort collaborated with an architecture firm called H+N+S Landscapearchitects, and scientists who had been studying the noise problem for years, to create a landscape that would dampen some of the noise of Schiphol.

And they did it by using some very old-school landscape engineering:…

The Strépy-Thieu Boat Lift

For as long as one can remember, the people of Belgium wanted to have an inland waterway that connected the Meuse river with the Scheldt river. With the start of the industrial age, a navigable waterway proved essential for the transport of coal and, in general, for the economic development of the province of Hainaut. Finally in 1879, it was decided that a canal would be built, but there were some technical challenges that needed to be overcome first. The major problem was the height difference between the rivers, which at 96 meters would require as many as 32 locks, which was prohibitively expensive and therefore not feasible.

Read on.


Damned thing wanted to be a bee too

Technicians Descartes and Heisenburg are working on it.

F-35. Cost blow-out.

“It wasn’t the first time we’ve had to put one down,” he continued. “We even named the first one ‘Billy.’ We hoped that having an advanced, self-aware electronics component in the F-35 might give it some kind of edge, with maneuvering and target-tracking and whatnot. But that one just didn’t have any fight in it. We had to keep it on a tether after it snuck off one day. We found it three hours later, just hovering in a meadow in Fairfax, Virginia, watching bees pollinate flowers. Damned thing wanted to be a bee, too.”

The Knight & Drummer Tavern

Das Boot

This is to scale [click and click again to zoom]:

LOA/LWL = 38’3″
BOA = 6’10”
SA = 515.3 sq ft
Displacement = 7,200lbs
Ballast = 2,400lbs

marian james enhanced

A:  Stem and sternposts are 8″ x 2″, ditto the four pontoons.

B:  The two fore-and-aft sails are for on wind, going about, strong winds, squares are the driving sails. Rarely will all sails be up, also depends on number of crew [max 3]. In a strong wind, I imagine the jib and mizzen, plus one smaller sail on the lower mainmast will be all I’d carry.…

Weather modification


Haiku points to the article from All Africa, in which:

A TOP Zanu PF official’s hypothesis for the failure of the party’s land redistribution programme is that Britain and America have imposed sanctions on the country’s weather patterns.

Pressed to explain the decline in agricultural production, Ndlovu said Western countries are tampering with the country’s rainfall patterns in order to sabotage the land reform programme.

Haiku commented: “And I’ll bet you thought that it was all due to global warming,” to which I say not so fast.…

Real science

Chuckles sends this from Robert Brown, Duke University Physics Department, quoted in Watts Up:

Physicists therefore usually know better than to believe the very stuff that they peddle. When I teach students introductory physics, I tell them up front — “Everything I’m going to teach you over the next two semesters is basically wrong — but it works, and works amazingly well, right up to where it doesn’t work and we have to find a better, broader explanation.”

I also tell them not to believe anything I tell them because I’m telling them, and I’m the professor and therefore I know and its up to them to parrot me and believe it or else. I tell them quite the opposite. Believe me because what I teach you makes sense (is consistent), corresponds at least roughly with your own everyday experience, and because when you check it in the labs and by doing computations that can be compared to e.g.

Bringing discipline to developers

Yes, Sergeant-Major:

This is my take on the terms we use in the industry. Really, putting people into 3 buckets is a huge over-simplification of the nuance, knowledge, and experience of progressing through this profession, but it is what it is. If we are going to classify people in this way, then we need to take time in the industry off the table. A person with 10 years experience is quite different than someone who has experienced the same year 10 times.

On young developers:

Dealing with this is really all you can focus on, and it is what you really should be trying your best to learn. Junior developers need a lot of direction, supervision, and mentoring because of this, or they can stay in this place for a very, very long time (I recently encountered a fellow who had been building software for almost a decade who I would say is still a junior).