Sarah Palin is the reason compasses point North.

calendar   Friday - April 24, 2009

World’s first electric car built by Victorian inventor in 1884.  ??  That’s what it says.

I wouldn’t know about the other claims he made.  Does anyone have information on the claim: 

He also claimed to have invented the spark plug, monoblock engine and the carburettor.

Still, an eye catching and interesting article.

This picture shows what may be the world’s first electric car - built by a Victorian inventor in 1884.

Last Updated: 11:24AM BST 24 Apr 2009

Thomas Parker: He is in the light suit in the front of the car

Sitting aboard is Thomas Parker, who was responsible for innovations such as electrifying the London Underground, overhead tramways in Liverpool and Birmingham, and the smokeless fuel coalite.
Last week the government announced it wanted to create a mass market in electric cars in order to cut down carbon emissions.

Parker claimed he had invented the electric car as early as 1884, and he also had a hand in refining car batteries for petrol-powered models.
He also stood unsuccessfully for Parliament for the Liberal Party in the 1892 General Election, where he earned the name of “honest Tom Parker”, and was interested in establishing a metric system of weights and measures and even decimal coinage.
He died in December 1915.

The photographs of the electric car are kept by his great-grandson Graham Parker, a 76-year-old former BBC Look East weatherman.
Mr Parker, who lives in Eaton, near Norwich, said he still marvelled at the range of ideas his great-grandfather had.
“He was into anything really,” he said. “Anything on four wheels was quite a novelty, people were terrified of the things and someone with a red flag had to walk in front of it.

“Electricity was even more terrifying because it was something you couldn’t see or touch, there seemed to be quite a lot of resistance to it.”
But with the French working on a rival petrol driven engine, the inventor soon turned his thoughts to other forms of mass transport.
“I don’t think all that many were made because he was more interested in trams and tramways,” he added. “He was one of the early people thinking about pollution.

“People in London were fed up sitting in the smoke. He went down to London to oversee the electrification process.”
For the Parkers inventing was almost a family business with both grandfather, Thomas Hugh Parker, and father, Howard Edward Parker following in the tradition.
In fact Thomas Hugh Parker shared his father’s flair for design and innovation, even building a steam powered car in 1901 before later working on modern car features such as hydraulic brakes and four wheel steering.

He also claimed to have invented the spark plug, monoblock engine and the carburettor.
The tradition lives on through Mr Parker’s oldest son, Alun, who is also an engineer who has worked on projects ranging from the West Coast mainline to the Panama Canal, and Crossrail.

“It’s interesting how history repeats itself,” Mr Parker said. “But it stopped when it got to me - though somebody once commented that as a weather forecaster, I was the biggest inventor of the lot.”


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 04/24/2009 at 09:22 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesUK •  
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calendar   Sunday - March 29, 2009

Nazi codebreaker which shortened the Second World War by two years.

I know this isn’t a new story and it’s fair to say everyone by now knows about Bletchley Park.

However, here’s another view with some great photos.  More photos at the link too.

Shame Churchill had originals destroyed but this gives you some idea of computing before BMEWS.

The Wider View: Nazi codebreaker which shortened the Second World War by two years

By Mail On Sunday Reporter
Last updated at 11:36 PM on 28th March 2009

The rows of silver dials and tangle of scarlet wires look more like a telephone exchange.

But this is the inside of the Turing Bombe, the part-electronic, part-mechanical code-breaking machine and forerunner of the modern computer, which cracked 3,000 messages a day sent on Nazi Enigma machines during the Second World War.

There were 210 such bookcase-like Bombes that gave Britain advance warning of Hitler’s plans and shortened the conflict by two years

All were destroyed for security reasons on Churchill’s orders after the war. This is a replica, built by 60 volunteers, which was fired up last Tuesday.

Code-breakers including former Wrens Ruth Bourne and Jean Valentine, pictured above, returned for a reunion at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, where they worked in top secret in blacked-out, cupboard-sized spaces.

The original Bombes, invented by brilliant mathematician Alan Turing, were made using reinforced brown Tufnol plastic moulded from sheets a tenth of an inch thick, a cast-iron framework and 12 miles of intricate wire circuits.

The machine has taken 14 years to build from scratch into working order

At 61⁄2ft tall and running on no more power than a kettle, the Bombe could unravel 158 trillion possible combinations to unlock a seemingly random series of letters sent by the Nazis to the front lines, which were, in fact, highly complex codes, changing daily. Typewriter-like Enigma machines scrambled the letters using three or four rotor wheels.

This inside view of the Bombe would not usually be visible to the operator. The right-hand wall is a hinged door, the inside of which holds electronic circuits.

The left-hand wall is the mechanical half of the Bombe. The brightly coloured squares are resistors and the loops of red tangled wire are circuits.

Teams of highly skilled mathematicians, cryptologists, inventive thinkers and crossword enthusiasts would receive hundreds of Nazi codes and ‘guess’ the approximate real message or plain text.

This ‘crib’ would be given to the Wrens who would set it on the Bombe’s alphabet wheels.

By checking all the permutations, the crib would help locate the true message within the code. It
took the Bombe about 11 minutes to find a possible message. When it did, a bell would sound and the Wrens passed it on to the code-crackers, using a red scrambler phone. Churchill called them ‘the geese that laid the golden eggs but never cackled’.

The machine was named after an earlier Polish code-breaking machine called a Bomba. Each Bombe had its own title, inscribed on wooden plaques. .

This replica is called Phoenix


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/29/2009 at 10:02 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesScience-TechnologyUKWar-Stories •  
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calendar   Thursday - March 19, 2009


This just appeared in Telegraph online ....

Nice footage ....

March 19, The Telegraph



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/19/2009 at 06:31 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesArt-Photography •  
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calendar   Monday - March 02, 2009

What goes up …

NASA environmental satellite lost in launch failure

... I know, I know, this is from nearly a week ago.

Looks like there won’t be any Global Warming data gathering for a while yet ...

NASA’s $273 million Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite crashed into the ocean near Antarctica shortly after launch today from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., atop an Orbital Sciences Corp. Taurus XL booster. Telemetry indicated a protective nose cone fairing failed to separate early in the climb to space, weighing the rocket down and preventing the spacecraft from reaching orbit. The Orbital Sciences Taurus XL rocket

“It’s a huge disappointment to the entire team that’s worked very hard over years and years and really did their best to see it through,” said NASA launch manager Chuck Dovale. “The reason not everyone is able to do this is, it’s hard. And even when you do the best you can, you can still fail. It’s a tough business.”

Said John Brunschwyler, manager of the Taurus rocket program for Orbital Sciences: “Our whole team, at a very personal level, are disappointed in the events of this morning. It’s very hard and, as I said, at a very personal level, (we’re) upset with the results.”

The 986-pound satellite’s four-stage solid-fuel Taurus XL rocket blasted off at 4:55:30 a.m. EST and roared away from its Vandenberg launch pad about five minutes behind schedule because of a minor technical glitch. The ascent appeared normal and telemetry indicated all systems were working as planned through the first stage burn, stage separation and second stage ignition.

Seven seconds after the second stage fired up, the satellite’s protective clamshell nose cone was commanded to separate. The 63-inch-wide carbon composite fairing is designed to separate in two pieces and fall away using small pyrotechnic devices that are activated by a series of electrical pulses.

“We have confirmation that the correct sequence was sent by the software,” said Brunschwyler. “We had good power going into this event and we also had a healthy indications of our electronics box that sent the signal. Once that time had passed, which was about three minutes into the flight, we observed various pieces of telemetry that, of course, we then try to correlate because at first, being humans, we don’t necessarily believe one piece of data.”

While engineers were studying telemetry, the Taurus XL’s third and fourth stage motors ignited as planned. But it soon became clear the fairing was still in place and that its weight was preventing the rocket from accelerating normally.

“The fairing has considerable weight relative to the portion of the vehicle that’s flying,” Brunschwyler said. “So when it separates off, you get a jump in acceleration. We did not have that jump in acceleration. As a direct result of carrying that extra weight, we could not make orbit. The initial indications are the vehicle did not have enough delta V (velocity) to reach obit and landed just short of Antarctica in the ocean.”

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory was designed to study natural and man-made carbon dioxide emission and absorption to help scientists assess how the greenhouse gas might be contributing to global warming.

A Taurus is scheduled to launch another NASA environmental research satellite - Glory - later this year. Officials said today it’s too early to say how the mishap might affect those plans.

This was the eighth launch of a Taurus XL rocket and the second mission failure. It was NASA’s first mission using the solid-fuel rocket after a certification process intended to ensure safety and reliability. A sticker on the ill-fated rocket called attention to that certification, signifying what Brunschwyler described before launch as a process “to ensure it’s the lowest risk possible for these valuable payloads.”

It looks like the Taurus is a good platform for launching a half ton ICBM halfway around the world. Let’s see if they can get actually get the next one into space. My guess is that the next one will have just a wee bit more explosives and a better backup ignition system in the nose cone.

I was actually looking forward to seeing the CO2 data too. Next time then. Get back to work NASA.

Meanwhile NASA has given the Kepler Space Observatory flight a serious once over, and has decided that the nose cone on that rocket is good to go for launch this Friday. The Kepler flight will use a Delta 2 booster. The Delta 2 has been around since forever 1989, and has flown 140 times with a 99% success rate.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/02/2009 at 11:42 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesSpace •  
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calendar   Thursday - February 19, 2009

Big Mystery to Science and the DNC


Cool picture!

Then you find out it’s the Miniature Ice Snot Snail. Eeeewwww. Arcticerus Pelosiolis Slimestra, because I think Limacina was a girl from Brazil I once knew.

Spinning a “mucus net” off its paddle-like foot-wings to trap algae and other foods, the swimming snail species Limacina helicinia is no bigger than a bean. But the discovery that it and at least 234 other species inhabit both Arctic and Antarctic waters is big news to biologists.

Finding so many species inhabiting both Poles “startled” scientists, according to a statement today from the Census of Marine Life, an international project to assess all marine life--past, present, and future--by 2010. Among the other dual-Pole species: whales, worms, and crustaceans. [sounds like Democrats to me. Who wants to make the “dual pole” joke?]

Exactly where these species came from and how they ended up a world apart--with comparatively warm oceans in between--remains a mystery, the scientists said.

Silly scientists. More easily fooled and startled than most Democrats. The answer is obvious if you can recall the old flea joke with the punch line ...

“And so the next thing I know, I’m on this guy’s mustache again!”

Yeah, yeah, I know ... Odd Science, Democrats ... there should be “teeth” to go with this post I think.

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/19/2009 at 12:02 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and Discoveries •  
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calendar   Saturday - January 17, 2009

Autmotive Autopilot gets one step closer

Idiot Drivers Rejoice!

Volvo Brings “City Safety” technology to market

Does system allows for “safe” tailgating?

Add this to the self parking Lexus technology, along with the amazing sensor arrays built in to today’s cars, plus the whole “wired” thing with the GPS, DVD, iPod, LoJack, etc., that already exists. Will self directing cars be that far in the future? Tell your dashboard where you want to go, and the car drives itself. At the most efficient speed of course, but also driving around traffic and potholes, while reporting your position and blood alcohol content to the government every 15 seconds. Because driving a car is such an unpleasant and difficult thing, and you might speed or waste gas by excessive idling. It’s for your own good you know. But for now we’ll sell you your loss of freedom incrementally, and we’ll do it in the name of safety and convenience. And you’ll clamor for it, every step of the way.

Volvo has announced more innovative safety technology – a unique ‘City Safety’ system that could help drivers avoid 50 per cent of all rear-end, low speed accidents that often happen in urban environments or slow moving traffic. Statistics reveal that 75 per cent of all reported collisions occur at low speeds of up to 30 km/h (18.7 mph). The Volvo system, called ‘City Safety’, is active up to 30 km/h and keeps a watchful eye on traffic up to six metres in front of the car with the help of an optical radar system integrated into the upper part of the windscreen. If a car in front suddenly brakes or is stationary, the system will automatically pre-charge the brakes to help the driver avoid an accident by slowing down in time, or steering away from a potential collision. However, if a collision is imminent, the system will activate the car’s brakes automatically.

“The system offers benefits to all involved. For the occupants of the car in front, the risk of whiplash injuries is avoided or reduced, plus it can help reduce or even eliminate the cost of repairs to both vehicles,” says Ingrid Skogsmo, director of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre.

The system runs a calculation 50 times per second to determine what braking speed is needed to avoid a collision based on the distance to the object in front and the car’s own speed. If the calculated braking force exceeds a given level without the driver responding, the danger of a collision is considered imminent and ‘City Safety’ helps avoid or reduce the consequences of a collision by automatically activating the car’s brakes and reducing the throttle.

The ‘City Safety’ system works equally well day or night, but will have the same limitations as any other radar systems, so can be limited by fog, mist, snow or heavy rain. If the sensor on the windscreen is obscured by dirt or snow the driver is alerted via the car’s information display.

“It is important to emphasize that the system does not absolve the driver from driving with adequate safety margins in order to avoid collisions. The automatic braking function is only activated when the system assesses that a collision is imminent. The system then steps in to limit the consequences of the imminent collision or, in some cases, totally avoid it,” explains Ingrid Skogsmo.

The ‘City Safety’ system should be available within two years. However, Volvo recently introduced Collision Warning and Brake Support (CWABS) active safety systems with the all-new Volvo S80, which also help to avoid and reduce damage and injuries from collisions. These systems alert the driver via audible and visual signals if the gap to the car in front is reducing so quickly that an impact is likely. It automatically pre-charges the braking system so that braking is as effective as possible in an emergency situation but doesn’t offer full auto-braking.

Volvo is doing a big promotion across the country as it enters the luxury, performance-oriented, small SUV/crossover market with their new XC60. Two Parallel Tours will cross the country with more than 85 events, giving customers the opportunity to see the new XC60 before it goes on sale at dealerships and experience “City Safety” - Volvo’s most extensive safety package ever.

This technology is being promoted across the US under Volvo’s From Sweden with Löv ad campaign. Check it out, and see it in action at a Volvo dealer near you!

I think it’s a great idea. There are too many bad drivers on the road, and far too many who are not paying attention. But I spent my youth on motorcycles, so I have a different perspective: pay absolute attention to everything around you at all times while driving, or die. That’s the motorcycle choice. As far as I’m concerned, the folks who need automatic parking, automatic braking, GPS, traction control, drive by wire, CVT transmissions, and all the rest ... probably should be taking the bus. Not that I’d hesitate to have any of these features on my ride. I just don’t want them to get to the point where they stop me from doing what I want to do.

PS - while on the subject of cars, what gives with the price of gas? It’s shot up 25 cents in the past couple weeks, yet the price of crude is still at historic lows. ($36.51/bbl) Demand is down more than any decrease in production. Maybe the Gaza situation? But they don’t have any oil!! Pirates? They only got 1 tanker, and they let that one go already. Confused and miffed here.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/17/2009 at 01:53 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and Discoveriesplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Thursday - January 15, 2009

Life On Mars?

NASA Science Update to Discuss Mars Atmosphere Activity

The stodgy Official NASA press release:

WASHINGTON—NASA will hold a science update at 2 p.m. EST, Thursday, Jan. 15, to discuss analysis of the Martian atmosphere that raises the possibility of life or geologic activity. The briefing will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St., S.W., Washington, and carried live on NASA Television.

The briefing participants are:

- Michael Meyer, Mars program lead scientist, NASA Headquarters in Washington
- Michael Mumma, senior planetary scientist and director, Goddard Center for Astrobiology, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
- Geronimo Villanueva, planetary scientist and astrobiologist, Goddard Space Flight Center
- Sushil Atreya, professor of atmospheric and space science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- Lisa Pratt, professor of geological sciences, Indiana University in Bloomington.

Reporters may ask questions from participating NASA locations. They also may listen or ask questions by phone. To reserve a phone line, contact J.D. Harrington at 202-358-5241.

For information about NASA TV, streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit:

The same news from the rather more excitable UK SUN:

ALIEN microbes living just below the Martian soil are responsible for a haze of methane around the Red Planet, Nasa scientists believe.

The gas, belched in vast quantities in our world by cows, was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes. Nasa are today expected to confirm its presence during a briefing at their Washington HQ. And the find is seen as exciting new evidence that Martian microbes are still alive today. Some scientists reckon methane is also produced by volcanic processes. But there are NO known active volcanoes on Mars. Furthermore, Nasa has found the gas in the same regions as clouds of water vapour, the vital “drink” needed to support life. Experts speculate that the methane is being emitted as a waste product by organisms called methanogens living in water beneath underground ice. And they would have to be alive today because the methane would otherwise have been lost from the Martian atmosphere.

John Murray — a member of the Mars Express European space probe team — believes the mini-Martians may be in a form of suspended animation and could even be REVIVED. He has found overwhelming evidence of a vast frozen ocean beneath the dust near the Martian equator where simple life could have thrived as microbes.

Very interesting.

UPDATE: Like the actual scientists that they are, NASA’s team gave us the big I DON’T KNOW. And they had several good theories. But the facts are that they have found lots of methane on Mars, and it shows up only in 3 discrete areas of the planet, and it appears seasonally. Summer, IIRC.

Now, whether this means that there is an underground monster with bad digestion who lets a big one rip every X months, or whether this is indicative of a simple life form living at the subsurface water/ice boundary which goes on a seasonal feeding frenzy. or whether it means that a bit of extra heat seeps down under the surface and allows a bit of ice to melt, which in turn allows pockets of ancient methane trapped in the rocks to escape, they can’t say. But it does look like they have observed this seasonal methane outgassing several times, although they dodged that question at the end of the interview when asked directly. Still in all, pretty amazing, seeing as they got all this evidence through a telescope and a gas spectrometer. Landers on Mars have already located water ice. For a bit more on the methane surprise, go here. I don’t really understand why NASA made this announcement today. Politics? Obama? Because the methane awareness is at least 5 years old now, and the water ice news is not new either.

In other NASA news, ANITA is still up there. ANITA is an enormous superpressure balloon. The acronym stands for ANtarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna. Built of high strength poly, it is an eliptica shape (ie a pumpkin) that keeps constant volume regardless of internal gas pressure. Carrying a rather huge payload, ANITA has been hovering over Antarctica for 26 days now at an altitude of about 23 miles. The balloon itself is enormous, with an internal volume of 7 million cubic feet. It is the size of the Rose Bowl football stadium. It is expected to stay up, at the very edge of space, for at least 100 days. Cool!

This project is really just (pardon the pun) a trial balloon. NASA wants to build an even bigger one, more than 22 million cubic feet in volume, that can lift over a ton to the same altitude, and keep it there. For a long long time. Skyhook much? Have to hang the space elevator from something during construction, right? Imagine a ring of a hundred of those, tethered to a central platform. Think of the fuel savings, launching your shuttles and rockets from 20 miles up to start. A sky gantry. Awesome.


ANITA attains “float” - static altitude - shortly after launch


The little thing hanging from the balloon is actually this antenna array. ANITA is huge!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/15/2009 at 01:00 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesSpace •  
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calendar   Sunday - January 11, 2009

The Most Awesome Solar Eclipse You’ll Ever See

Saturn eclipses the Sun

Bonus: Earth is in the picture. Can you find it?

This is pretty awesome wallpaper. My wife approves. She didn’t like my previous wallpaper of Sarah Michelle Gellar. I can’t imagine why? We both enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Back to Saturn. This picture has resulted in the discovery of several new rings around your an ... er… Saturn.


Posted by Christopher   United States  on 01/11/2009 at 08:59 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesArt-PhotographyFun-Stuff •  
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calendar   Wednesday - January 07, 2009

The amazing tin can bomber made by British pilot in Great Escape POW camp.  AMAZING IS RIGHT!

Awesome, isn’t it?  Wow.  Be sure to look at the other photos at the link.
Must have been one tough and determined soldier.  And very talented as well.

You really need to read this.  Can’t understand how or why this was hidden away for so long. What a great bit of history!
Take a look too at his drawings of the camp and actual photo of the camp.

The amazing tin can bomber made by British pilot in Great Escape POW camp
Last updated at 4:59 PM on 07th January 2009

Skillfully crafted from tin cans, matchsticks and off cuts, one can only imagine the satisfaction a prisoner of war derived from finishing this stunning model aircraft as he languished in Stalag Luft III.

Constructed almost perfectly to scale, his detailed version of a Lancaster Bomber like the one he flew before his capture even bears what appears to be the skull and crossbones logo of RAF 100 Squadron, famous for its night-time raids.

Little is known about its maker, other than that he was an airman named E Taylor.


The model was found during a clearance sale at house in the south of England along with his prison camp diary, in which he had drawn a map of where his plane was shot down over Hungary on August 28, 1944.

He was incarcerated in the prisoner of war camp in Sagan, 100 miles south-east of Berlin, during its strictest regime, having arrived there only months after the ‘Great Escape’ when 76 Allied airmen made an audacious bid for freedom.  Only three made it home and 50 were executed by the Gestapo.

The pilot’s model shows how prisoners were determined to keep their spirits up despite being made to go on forced marches and fed only meagre rations.

His diary includes morale-boosting songs, along with sketches of the camp so detailed they show the prisoners’ sleeping arrangements and clothes hanging on a washing line. In it, he tells of his harsh treatment at the hands of his captors, referred to as the ‘goons’.

Describing how he and his fellow prisoners were given an hour’s notice before one forced march, he wrote: ‘The first day we covered 20km. The ice on the roads was good and we pulled our kit along on homemade sleigh.

‘Tired and hungry we put up at a school for the night. Next day. Until now no food was given us by the goons and it was hard going on the roads.
‘We covered about 20km during the day and spent the night in a church it is pouring with rain.’

Elsewhere he writes: ‘We got in the gates and an air raid started. There was panic by the goons and it was early morn when they searched us and put us in blocks.

‘This is one of the unhealthy and dirtiest places I had seen. We are starving there is practically no food. Our food for the day consists of 3 slices of bread and a cup of soup, there is no need to say more.’

The model and diary are due to be auctioned in Ludlow, Shrosphire, later this month. Richard Westwood-Brookes, historical documents expert at at Mullocks Auctioneers said the plane is the finest example of ‘trench art’ he has ever seen.

He said: ‘The model is beautifully slotted together and is constructed of a lot of different sections, which require some skill.

‘While the main body is made out of wood, the moving propellors are fashioned by materials from a tin can and the cockpit section from glass or some kind of resin.

‘Matchsticks underneath form the guns on the plane and the model is completed with realistic camouflage colouring. He will have managed to have got the paints whilst doing the painting duties around the camp.

‘The guards will have let this kind of thing happen because the more time the prisoners were doing things like that, the less time they were spending on trying to escape.’

Mr Westwood-Brookes added: ‘The model and diary just shows the remarkable spirit of the British troops. Mr Taylor has certainly left us with a fine legacy of his courage.’



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/07/2009 at 12:32 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesHistoryplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobilesUK •  
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calendar   Tuesday - January 06, 2009

Diaries of swashbuckling hero who rescued Robinson Crusoe unearthed.



Man oh man I just love this sort of thing. I tend to get carried way, away and over the top.  Can’t help it.

Now why can’t anyone go after modern day pirates the old fashioned way?  What did they know in the 17 and 1800s that we forgot?

Oh well, this isn’t exactly about that particular subject anyway.

This is some kind of find.

A 300-year-old journal of a British explorer who saved the real-life Robinson Crusoe and defeated pirates of the Caribbean has been discovered.

By Nick Britten
Last Updated: 3:37PM GMT 05 Jan 2009

Rogers, who left Britain in 1708, had been tasked with ‘victimising’ pirates targeting his fellow British merchants Photo: BNPS

The extremely rare account chronicles a three-year round-the world voyage of the swashbuckling privateer Capt Woodes Rogers, who made a fortune pillaging from pirate ships and Spanish galleons.

During that journey, Rogers, who was a friend of the author Daniel Defoe, even stopped off at a remote Pacific island and found castaway Alexander Selkirk, who inspired the character and book Robinson Crusoe. He said he found him “wild-looking” and wearing “goatskins”, adding: “He had with him his clothes and bedding, with a firelock, some powder, bullets and tobacco, a hatchet, a knife, a kettle, a Bible and books.”

Rogers, who left Britain in 1708, had been tasked with “victimising” pirates targeting his fellow British merchants.

Commanding two 36-gun ships, the Duke and the Duchess, and 333 men, he sailed the South Seas, the East Indies and the Cape of Good Hope, going about his task with great gusto.

His finest catch was the prized vessel The Great Manila, a Spanish trading ship that sailed across the Pacific with a valuable cargo, including precious stones and exotic silks worth $2 million.

In 1717, he was appointed the governor of the Behamas by King George I and played a major role in ridding the islands of 2,000 pirates, including Edward Teach, also called Blackbeard. He was pursued by Rogers’ forces and killed.

The slogan of his epic voyage, “Piracy expelled, commerce restored”, remained the islands’ own motto until independence was declared in 1973.

It is thought only a hundred copies of his book, A Cruising Voyage Around the World, were printed seven years after Rogers completed his odyssey. One was recently found in a loft in Bristol, where Rogers’ was based, and is expected to fetch £3,000 when it is auctioned on January 21st.


You can’t begin to know how much I’d love to own this bit of history. One among many really. Darn.
I think that passion began when I was just a kid, and something called “The Freedom Train” was making it’s way across the USA.  It was a rolling museum and contained the ORIGINAL US Constitution, letters by Washington,Jefferson etc. AND, get this, a document by early explorers describing what they were seeing in this new world that later became America.  Awesome stuff let me tell ya.  Made an impression on me that never went away.

Try that today and it would be picketed by protesters who could find some excuse to protest some issue, the pc crowd would be out to point out the negative aspects of America’s founding, blah blah and blah.  Now I’m PO’d just thinking about that.
While I’m sure they were present, they must have been, we didn’t see any armed guards or high security.

I think I grew up in a somewhat better time.  For all it’s flaws it was a better time.


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/06/2009 at 04:43 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesHeroesHistoryUK •  
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calendar   Tuesday - December 23, 2008

archaeologist uncovers hoard of 1,300-year-old gold coins under a car park in Jerusalem .

WOW. Must be my day for finding stories relating to antiquity.

Photo and video available at the link below.  Those coins though look too well preserved and the print awfully darn modern looking to me. But I am very far from expert on matters of that nature.  See what you think.

British archaeologist uncovers hoard of 1,300-year-old gold coins under a car park in Jerusalem

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 2:31 PM on 23rd December 2008

A hoard of more than 1,300- year-old gold coins has been unearthed under a car park in Jerusalem, the Israeli Antiquities Authority revealed.

Archaeologists said the collection of 264 coins found in the ruins of a 7th century building, the end of the Byzantine period, was one of the largest uncovered in Jerusalem.

‘We’ve had pottery, we’ve had glass, but we’ve had nothing like this,’ said British archaeologist Nadine Ross, who made the discovery on Sunday.

The coins date to the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, who ruled from AD 610 to 641.
Enlarge gold coins

On one side they bear a likeness of the emperor wearing military garb and holding a cross in his right hand.

On the reverse is the cross.

Experts said they were minted at the beginning of Heraclius’s reign, before the Persians conquered Byzantine Jerusalem in AD 614.

‘This is one of the largest and most impressive coin hoards ever discovered in Jerusalem – certainly the largest and most important of its period,’ said site directors Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets.

‘Since no pottery vessel was discovered adjacent to the hoard, we can assume that it was concealed inside a hidden niche in one of the walls of the building,’ they said.

Until now, the only hoard of gold coins from the Byzantine period that had been discovered in Jerusalem consisted of five gold coins, they added.

At the time the coins were minted Anglo-Saxon England was split into several kingdoms including Mercia and East Anglia.

A number of rulers converted to Christianity in the seventh century.

Watch video of the find ...



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/23/2008 at 11:37 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesHistory •  
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Tombs of ancient Egyptian court officials found in 4,000-year-old cemetery.

As most here already know, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing.  And this is also Drew’s area of interest. So how’d I find it first?
Hey, psst. You awake Drew?  Look at this find.

Look at the scale in the photo. Awsome. What a shame long ago grave robbers cleaned the place out. Would loved to have seen what it held.

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:00 PM on 23rd December 2008

Egyptian archaeologists have found the tombs of two court officials, in charge of music and pyramid building, in a 4,000-year-old cemetery from the reign of Pharaoh Unas.

The tombs were buried in the sands south of Cairo and could shed light on the fifth and the sixth dynasties of the Old Kingdom, said Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities chief.

Hawass said: ‘We announce today a major important discovery at Saqqara, the discovery of two new tombs dating back to 4,300 years ago.’

Saqqara is the burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis, about 12 miles south of Cairo.

One of the tombs belonged to Iya Maat, the supervisor of pyramid-building under the reign of Unas, Hawass said.

Iya Maat organised the acquisition of granite and limestone from Aswan and other materials from the Western Desert.

The second tomb housed the remains of Thanah, who was in charge of singers in the court of Unas.


Both tombs feature hieroglyphics at their entrances but the contents of the tombs have long since been stolen, Hawass said.

The entrance of Thanah’s tomb shows carved images of her smelling lotus flowers.

‘The discovery of the tombs are the beginning of a big, large cemetery,’ he said.

‘We are continuing our excavation and we are going to uncover more tombs in the area to explain the period of dynasty five and dynasty six,’ he said, adding that 70 per cent of Egypt’s ancient monuments remain buried under sand.

The death of Unas brought to an end the fifth dynasty, as he did not have a male heir. His daughter is widely believed to have become a queen to the first king of the sixth dynasty.

The Sixth Dynasty, a time of conflict in Egypt’s royal family and erosion of centralised power, is considered to be the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom (2,613-2,494 BC), after which Egypt descended into famine and social upheaval.

Archaeologists have been working at the site for six months, Hawass added.



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/23/2008 at 10:39 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesHistory •  
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calendar   Friday - December 19, 2008

White People Cause Global Cooling

Yup, that’s the logic behind this amazing article at Science Daily.

It’s a pretty straightforward deduction too: prior to the invasion of the western hemisphere by evil white folks, the natives were living in perfect harmony with mother earth, that is when they weren’t otherwise occupied with killing and torturing each other. They hunted, they gathered, they had sustainable growth organic farms with no environmental impact and fair trade practices. Then the whites showed up, dosed the whole continent with diseases, and nearly all the natives died. Which means all their peaceful and groovy farms went even more back to nature, and the trees took over. A few zillion more trees sucked all the CO2 out of the air, causing Global Cooling, which led to the Little Ice Age of 1500 to 1750. See? Blame the white folks.

The article avoids pointing out that the same logic would imply that the earlier rise in native farming would have led to the same climactic warming period that gave Europe the Vikings. It also fails to point out that the same logic implies that the population explosion of white folks after 1750 and their habit of setting everything on fire led to the next two hundred years of warmer normal temperatures.

But that’s Science Daily. Just the facts. No hype, no political bias. It’s like Pravda, only with lab coats and test tubes.

New World Post-pandemic Reforestation Helped Start Little Ice Age, Say Scientists

ScienceDaily (Dec. 19, 2008) — The power of viruses is well documented in human history. Swarms of little viral Davids have repeatedly laid low the great Goliaths of human civilization, most famously in the devastating pandemics that swept the New World during European conquest and settlement.

In recent years, there has been growing evidence for the hypothesis that the effect of the pandemics in the Americas wasn’t confined to killing indigenous peoples. Global climate appears to have been altered as well.

Stanford University researchers have conducted a comprehensive analysis of data detailing the amount of charcoal contained in soils and lake sediments at the sites of both pre-Columbian population centers in the Americas and in sparsely populated surrounding regions. They concluded that reforestation of agricultural lands—abandoned as the population collapsed—pulled so much carbon out of the atmosphere that it helped trigger a period of global cooling, at its most intense from approximately 1500 to 1750, known as the Little Ice Age.

Just to be on the safe side, they hedge their bets a little bit:

Nevle and Bird don’t attribute all of the cooling during the Little Ice Age to reforestation in the Americas.

“There are other causes at play,” Nevle said. “But reforestation is certainly a first-order contributor.”

I give up. Here is some hair porn. Hell, have two.

UPDATE: More of the same, only from the other side of the looking glass. It might be agriculture that is causing global warming all by itself, and right now that could be a good thing!

[ten thousand years ago,] the introduction of large-scale rice agriculture in Asia, coupled with extensive deforestation in Europe began to alter world climate by pumping significant amounts of greenhouse gases — methane from terraced rice paddies and carbon dioxide from burning forests — into the atmosphere. In turn, a warmer atmosphere heated the oceans making them much less efficient storehouses of carbon dioxide and reinforcing global warming.

not only is this a good thing, it may be the only thing keeping the planet from entering a new ice age, that it’s trying hard to do!

“We’re at a very favorable state right now for increased glaciation,” says Kutzbach. “Nature is favoring it at this time in orbital cycles, and if humans weren’t in the picture it would probably be happening today.”

So do your part to fight the Ice Giants. Burn something nice today.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/19/2008 at 02:38 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesClimate-Weather •  
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calendar   Thursday - December 11, 2008


Hey, was it the Mills Bros. or the Ink Spots who once sang,

I’m gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own.

I didn’t post the whole article here so use the link provided for more photos and text.
It is interesting but ..... ??  Don’t know.  Kinda creepy having this around wouldn’t ya think?

Hey, remember an episode of The Twilight Zone with this very subject?  Stared the late Jack Warden.  Hmm. Funny I recall that.

Computer geek too busy for romance builds himself the perfect girlfriend

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:06 AM on 11th December 2008

If blind dates, speed dating or websites haven’t led you to the love of your life, you could always take a leaf out of inventor Le Trung’s book - and build your perfect partner.

The 33-year-old has created Aiko - a ‘twenty-something’ robot who not only looks feminine and sexy but also does household chores and his accounts.

But despite her shiny hair and 32-23-33 figure, Aiko - whose name means love child - is no trophy partner.

She is accomplished too with a talent for maths and a 13,000-sentence vocabulary - in English and Japanese. She can also recognise faces, read aloud from a newspaper and give directions.

Aiko, a fembot made from silicone and A.I. technology, is a genuine labour of love for Mr Trung.

He has taken out credit cards and loans, sold his car and spent his life savings on perfecting the machine - at a cost so far of £14,000.

The former software programmer, from Ontario, Canada, said he never had time to find a real wife but has not built Aiko as a sexual partner - although she is touch-sensitive and reacts if she is shown affection or is hurt.



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/11/2008 at 12:05 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesOdd-StrangeScience-Technology •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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GNU Terry Pratchett

Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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