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scientific developments, inventions, design, sci fi

In-car-info-and-entertainment-driver-distraction systems – Jaguar XF

Not that long ago in response to accident figures that purported to show accidents were on the up for the first time in years, I commented on the fact that cars today had more and more “techno” gadgets incorporated and this surely brings about distraction for the driver.

We all see the blatant disregard in the use of mobile phones and all their modes of use at the wheel, and the instances of other office equipment e.g. laptops is sadly not as rare as one would hope, I personally remember seeing a phone and laptop in use together over 15 years ago on the M25.

“Infotainment” screens are getting bigger and allow contact with facebook and twitter as well as car information and sat nav, most of these screens are below dashboard height and viewing them for anything other than a quick glance is the equivalent of driving blind for that period of time.…

The loudest noise in the ocean


File this under Useless Information if you like. What is the loudest noise made by creatures of the ocean?

The answer for any individual creature is the blue whale – and that takes in the land as well], it’s not the loudest collective noise, i.e. one which submarines might encounter.  That prize goes to the trillions of a variety of shrimp called Alphaidae in shrimp layers in tropical and sub-tropical waters.

The sound comes to 246 decibels but adjusted for sound travelling five times as fast underwater, is still around 160 decibels.  Given that a jet plane makes about 140 decibels, it gives you an idea why they interfere with sonar.  Subs need to stick their mast up through the layer – if below – in order to hear anything.…


Not going to mention the Airbus crash, for fear of upsetting Ivan. Speaking of flying craft which strain to stay aloft – uh huh:


NASA has successfully tested a new space drive that doesn’t use a propellant and shouldn’t work, at least according to the laws of physics, according to a story that broke in Wired.UK. The drive, called the Cannae Drive, worked in the NASA directed test, defying physics.

Sidelights on tech

Gamester Al Lowe reminisces about Sierra. Greed has been a theme in the past few days at N.O.:

The company was going great and literally had a 28 percent market share. In other words, 28 cents out of every dollar spent on entertainment software for home computers in the US went to Sierra. They had a tremendous product line in all aspects of entertainment home software, all kinds. That was the company that Ken and Roberta [Williams] literally started on their kitchen table and built to a billion-dollar market capitalization company.

One of Ken’s board members on a Monday morning called and said, “I’m gonna stage a hostile takeover of your company and I’m gonna offer 50 percent more than the going price of the stock. If you fight me, every stockholder in the country will file a lawsuit against you for not accepting this wonderful offer from me.” It was like, “Okay, I guess you’re in charge now.”…

Car thieves please note …


But 4x4s Prove to Be a Popular Target for Thieves in 2014 Reports TRACKER

As owners of new cars take delivery of their latest pride and joy this March plate change, stolen vehicle recovery expert TRACKER is putting the spotlight on thieves’ top targets. According to the latest figures from TRACKER (part of the Tantalum Corporation), the BMW X5 is still the favourite among car crooks, topping its most stolen and recovered table again 2014 for the sixth year in a row.

Last year TRACKER recovered over £11 million worth of stolen vehicles and returned them to their owners. The average value of cars stolen and recovered in 2014 increased by over 8%, hitting £25,600, compared to £23,600 in 2013.

For the past three years, BMW models have dominated the top 10, but 2014 saw an increase in the range of Mercedes and Jaguar Land Rover marques being stolen and recovered.…

The hacker, the dabbler and the cool nerd

Interesting take on nerdiness via Chuckles:

My younger colleague @puellavulnerata observes that for a long time, there were only weird nerds, but when our traditional pursuits (programming, electrical engineering, computer games, &c) became a route to career stability, nerdiness and its surface-level signifiers got culturally co-opted by trend-chasers who jumped on the style but never picked up on the underlying substance that differentiates weird nerds from the culture that still shuns them.

[S]cience, technology, and mathematics continue to attract the same awkward, isolated, and lonely personalities they have always attracted. Weird nerds are made, not born, and our society turns them out at a young age. Tufekci argues that “life’s not just high school,” but the process of unlearning lessons ingrained from childhood takes a lot more than a cap and gown or even a $10 million VC check.

Humans are social animals, and part of what makes a social species social is that its members place a high priority on signaling their commitment to other members of their species.

Where are the Brits?

Have a look at this one:

Admittedly the Americans aren’t there either but where are the Brits?

Alright, now the outright world record on water:

Have a look at the end when the engineer is interviewed – he’s British.

Where the hell are the Brits competing for these things, at the cutting edge? Some say the Brits are best at passage making, so let’s look at this.

There are certainly Brits on there – in 2002, 2003. What’s happened since then?

Let’s look at some of the premier global races. The Vendée Globe. Volvo Round the World.

America’s Cup. Everyone remembers the last one – the Americans won but who was their tactician and semi-skipper? GBR’s Ben Ainslie.

Britain used to be cutting edge, even until the early noughties – where is Britain now? Why are we not up there? Oh we are – at the Proms:

Plus Wiggins and TdF, plus all those medals at Olympics 2012 but the point still stands – look at football.…

The noble Quest

Edge I

The tragedy of a noble mind o’erthrown. This starts politically but then moves onto sport.

Chuckles, naturally, would point to the Australian government kicking out the entire CSIRO board and if you check this link, it’s Watt’s Up, which of course is therefore on the topic of climate change.

OK. In a nutshell, these global warming alarmists have been given the royal order of the boot and they’re not happy, being the Labor appointed cartel they are.

That’s one issue but what causes me chagrin is the head of that organization is one Simon McKeon. Having been away from Oz affairs for so long, I wondered if he was related in some way to the champion sailor of the 80s to the noughties.

Yep, it was. Such a pity, as I’ve followed his sailing exploits, not his political. Known as Australian of the year in some year in Wiki, he was also part of the Macquarie team which held the water speed record for some time and was first to clock over 50 knots – as a sailor, might I just say here that that is bloody fast.…

The appalling aesthetics of supposedly up-market machinery today


If you didn’t recognize the protruding steering wheel hub, you might be forgiven for thinking this a 70s or 80s Ford or the wrap-over vinyl and plastic dash might suggest, say, a Passat or Volvo.  Actually, it’s the latest Roller.

The rear quarter window treatment, something BMW are able to get right, RR just can’t seem to manage and as for the overall tinny look now as all cars on the market move towards a mediocre middling design, it’s soul-sapping.  There’s no excitement, style, elegance any more.

The Bentley we disposed of yesterday – if you look at the rest of their range, there IS no elegant flagship any more – it’s all this pseudo-racy stuff with swirls and go-fasts.

Mercedes are not immune either:

tacky merc

The word is bland, same as all the others.  it could be Kia or Hyundai, the front below-grill treatment is plastic in the worst way – OK on a £20,000 care but not on an E-class.…

New Red October?


Those pesky Russians are at it again:

As a follow-up to my previous article “What to Expect from Russia’s Pacific Fleet in 2014,” I would like to take a closer look at Russia’s new backbone of its maritime nuclear deterrence  – the Borei-class (aka Dolgorukiy-class), Project 955, fourth generation SSBN (Ship, Submersible, Ballistic, Nuclear) submarine. RT (somewhat predictably) called this new SSBN class, “the planet’s most advanced nuclear deterrent tool.”

Science versus junk science

An inventor comes out with a new idea – OK, we read about it, see it demonstrated, make up our minds.  But we’re wary when certain alarm bells go off and red flags go up.

1.  I.A. Richards, in Science and Poetry [1926] wrote:

We believe a scientist because he can substantiate his remarks, not because he is eloquent and forcable in his enunciation.  In fact we distrust him when he seems to be influencing us by his manner.



Golgafrincham Ark Fleet, Ship B

This blog author and many of its commenters have been accused, in the past, of being somewhat negative. You don’t say.


I’m sure we all wish the Morons for Mars all the very best in their one way trip to Mars. One way trip. Y-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s. Run by reality TV people – what could possibly go wrong?

# It will fund the whole thing through sponsorship and a reality TV series – made by Endemol, the same people behind Big Brother, covering the preparations and mission on Mars.

# Some of the potential astronaut picks seem to be based on their televisual appeal rather than usefulness as likely colonists.

# The settlers will then inflate balloons to give themselves another 200 sq metres of living and cultivation space.

# Mars One calls its plans visionary, but most of the scientific and space community are less polite. The idea has been criticized for being underfunded, overambitious, and a suicide mission according to one study.