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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

NERDS!

A long but very interesting article in the latest National Geographic about the discovery of fossils from a gigantic, swimming dinosaur called Spinosaurus.

This thing appears to have basically been the T Rex of the ancient seas. It was actually ;onger than an adult T Rex, at 16 metre (50 foot) and weighing about seven tonnes. What’s really strange about it though is that it had a large sail on its back and an elongated snout that resembled the maw of a crocodile, with lots of conical teeth.

As is usually the case with dinosaur fossils it turns out that there had been much controversy over exactly what the creature looked like. But things were tougher in this case because the earliest fossils of it – dug up in Egypt between 1910 and 1914 by a Bavarian palaeontologist and aristocrat called Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach (sounds like the start of an Indiana Jones movie) – were lost:

During World War II, Allied bombing prompted Stromer—a critic of the Nazi regime—to beg the museum director to move the fossils to safety. The Nazi director refused, and bombing destroyed the fossils in 1944. Drawings, photos, and descriptions in journal articles were all that remained to prove Stromer’s Spinosaurus fossils ever existed.

Chalk up one more piece of barbarity to the moronic Nazis.

This particular fossil has started to put a lot of those questions to rest. It comes from a sandstone formation called the Kem Kem beds, that starts 200 miles east of Marrakesh in Morocco and extends 150 miles to the southwest. It’s rugged, brutally hot country:

I got a taste for the site’s challenges, and the rush of discovery, when I joined the team in July 2019 for a return expedition. The 117-degree heat and arid winds wicked liters of water from my body as we chipped our way through an outcrop marbled like bacon. Fanned along the outcrop below, Ibrahim’s Detroit Mercy students lugged rocks in buckets made from recycled tires and scoured the debris for even the tiniest flecks of bone.

I have to say that this photo struck me as particularly Indiana Jonesish.

But that image is quickly replaced by this passage:

The 2018 dig started brutally. To clear tonnes of sandstone, the crew bought the region’s only working jackhammer. It broke within minutes. Days were so gruelling that several team members were hospitalised once they returned home.

But the promise of discovery kept them going, along with Nutella breaks that temporarily took their minds off the punishing work. Finally, they started finding one caudal vertebra after another from the animal’s tail, sometimes just minutes and inches apart.

The team was so giddy over the bonanza, they drummed out musical beats with their rock hammers and broke into song, belting out, “It’s another caudal!” to the tune of Europe’s “The Final Countdown.”

Heh. Fucking nerds eh? You have to love them. But read the whole article.

Here’s the song they were singling along to. Personally I always hated it as one of those typical over-produced, Big Hair 80’s “rocker classics”. Barf!

See also:

The Fault In Our Stars

Dinosaur Wars and The Nine Foot Problem.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 20, 2021 at 10:17 am

Another argument that is no longer off-limits

One of the detailed points of argument during the Great Chinese Lung Rot pandemic was around the definition of what actually constituted a Covid-19 death.

Early in the hysteria it was pointed out that deaths were being recorded as Covid simply because the patient had tested positive for Covid. This included even ridiculous examples such as deaths by car accident.

Naturally the pro-hysteria side, with the aid of the “If It Bleeds, It Leads” MSM, ferociously attacked such arguments. For the MSM it’s quite natural that the more death there is the better the story. That’s been true since the days of William Randolph Hearst and his famous “Sob Sisters” over a hundred years ago.

But even the medical “experts” had motive to push death numbers higher, since the more death there was the more likely they could persuade politicians and The People to undertake the extremist controls they advocated. Some of this was obvious with the pandemic models pushed by the likes of Neil Ferguson (“A spherical cow of uniform density in a frictionless vacuum“).

Naturally their counter-attacks against such critics focused on how you should not argue with medical experts, even though medical experts were among the critics of the Covid-death classifications. The motivations of the likes of Ferguson and company were not to be questioned, only those of their dastardly and uncaring opponents.

My, how things change when the motivations run the other way. In this case the criticism around deaths of people who have been vaccinated for Covid-19. Placed under such pressure, no less than the head of American Center for Disease Control (CDC) backs into …. the precise arguments put forward by critics of the Covid death counters.

Walensky is drawing a distinction between those who died directly because they got COVID and those who may have tested positive, but ultimately died of another comorbidity or condition. Now, to most people, that would seem like common sense. After all, why would you count someone with terminal cancer or an already failing heart as a COVID death – just because they had the virus when they died?

Obviously, what Walensky is saying is true. What we’ve known about COVID from early on from those hit the hardest told us that co-morbidities, including heart problems, lung problems, and morbid obesity, are the top factors, and that very old people (70+) naturally suffered more from the first two factors, hence them suffering a higher Covid-19 death rate than other age groups. If someone is otherwise terminally sick, even a mild case of Covid-19 could expedite matters – just as the Flu or Pneumonia normally does. The latter has long been called the “Old People’s Friend” for that very reason.

But the real point I want made clear here is that what Walensky is saying has previously been declared to be completely off-limits for over a year by the powers that be. In fact, it’s the kind of thing that has often gotten right wing-leaning sites in trouble with the social media censors of FaceTwit and company.

Yet, here is the Biden administration saying what was previously labeled as taboo, just because it now fits their narrative, which is driven by the motivation to reduce the death count rather than increase it because the latter would blow up the vaccination programmes. Meanwhile, the media don’t question it, and the social media overlords just shrug.

Oh, and the CDC has recently and rapidly shifted their positions on masks. Because Science.

The North Face: an outstanding company

I don’t think I own any North Face gear, or ever have, though I do think their line of outdoor clothing is stylish.

Apparently the company likes stylish things across the board, especially those which let its customers know that it cares about more than just profits, but the Earth itself:

Innovex is based in Houston and has nearly 100 workers in the Permian Basin.

Each year, the company gets a Christmas gift for its employees. This year, it was supposed to be a North Face jacket with an Innovex logo, a company Innovex has ordered gear from in the past.

The company providing the jackets said The North Face doesn’t want to support the oil and gas industry in the same way they’d reject the porn industry or tobacco industry.

“They told us we did not meet their brand standards,” Innovex CEO Anderson said. “We were separately informed that what that really meant is was that we were an oil and gas company.”

[North Face said that it] “thoroughly investigates product requests to ensure they align closely with our goals and commitments surrounding sustainability and environmental protection.”

Take that you disgusting, Global Warming, despoilers of Gaia! Begone from our customer’s ranks! No more will our skiers have to be ashamed at wearing the same clothes as some deplorable oil driller. Virtue and purity hath returned to our world.

Unfortunately for North Face their management turned out to be pretty ignorant about their own products and it didn’t take long for somebody in the fossil fuel industry to strike back – but in an unexpected way:

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has bestowed its first-ever “Extraordinary Customer Award” on The North Face, saying it appreciates the company for its abundant use of oil and gas.

“To have such a large percent of what they make, probably three-quarters of the mass they ship is actually our product. So, it’s hard to top the all-in nature of The North Face as a consumer of our product,” said Chris Wright, CEO of Liberty Oilfield Services.

Fantastic stuff and now a US state government, Louisiana, has made it official with a resolution passed last week, that recognized The North Face as an “extraordinary customer” of “the Louisiana oil and gas petrochemical industries.”

The resolution highlights the “symbiotic relationship between the Louisiana oil and gas and petrochemical industry and The North Face,” commending the clothing company for “utilizing vital oil and gas resources so important to our state.”

“The North Face continues to offer a comprehensive collection of high-performance outerwear, skiwear, backpacks, duffels, and footwear made with nylon, polyester, and polyurethane, all of which come from petroleum products,” the resolution reads.

Congratulations to The North Face for these well-deserved awards.

In fact I’m so pleased about this that I think I shall go and buy a new ski jacket, and while looking at the products in the store I shall certainly offer voluble and effusive commentary in commending them on their wonderfully high use of fossil fuels.

I’m sure their sales people and customers will also be pleased with my visit.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 14, 2021 at 11:05 am

A Thousand Moons

Beautiful isn’t it?

As the photographer explains here:

This image of the Moon is the result of combining approximately 1000 exposures taken with my telescope during different phases to show the full depth of its mountains and craters. One of my most detailed images yet!

There’s also this compilation of forty eight different colours of the moon photographed in a time span of ten years.

I thought of these images the other day when news broke that NASA has made a very big decision regarding its planned lunar exploration:

[NASA decided] a week ago to award SpaceX—and only SpaceX—a contract to develop, test, and fly two missions to the lunar surface. The second flight, which will carry astronauts to the Moon, could launch as early as 2024.

That’s a hell of a vote of confidence in SpaceX given that they’re still developing Starship, but by now they’ve got a track record I don’t think anyone should be denying. The Starship HLS (Human Landing System) will be a variation on the standard Starship model.

The thing that strikes me about this decision is that it could be the death knell of the huge Space Launch System, which NASA has been developing for over a decade now and which has still not had even one test flight compared to what Space X has done in less time.

The SLS

NASA finally has at least hauled the first SLS stage from its test site in Mississippi to Florida where they’ll start assembling the whole thing for a uncrewed flight to the Moon later this year as part of the Artemis Programme.

The first crewed mission might happen in 2023.

Also, just like the good old Apollo programme fifty years ago, everything but the Orion spacecraft on top will be thrown away. Each SLS flight will cost about $2 billion. NASA and its contractors can only build one per year.

By contrast Starship and its Heavy Lifter (the BFR) are designed to be fully reusable. The two Starship flights will cost about $1.4 billion each, but following the SpaceX business model of Falcon 9, more flights would rapidly lower that cost and they’re already building one test-model Starship a month.

Both vehicles will lift about the same amount of mass to LEO (Low Earth Orbit).

This is all even sadder when you consider that the SLS is basically the same rocket as the Ares that started development under the Constellation Programme of the Bush Administration, as is the Orion spacecraft. That programme was begun in 2005 to replace the Space Shuttles, following the loss of a second Shuttle, Columbia, in 2003, and was supposed to have got to the Moon by 2020. Constellation was cancelled in 2011 when it became obvious that it wasn’t working.

Bush’s NASA administrator, an actual rocket scientist, never helped matters when he cringingly described the whole system as “Apollo on steroids”. Ugh! Not exactly the bold leap into the 21st century one would expect of NASA.

More like Apollo on Xanax.

So NASA has basically failed twice in a row. No wonder they’ve gone for SpaceX.

For these reasons the SLS has been nicknamed the Senate Launch System. Getting that NASA money spread around the states by such politicians was how LBJ set the whole thing up to protect the Apollo project, and like similar schemes that LBJ created it has survived to produce things like this that aren’t fit for purpose. But Senator Shelby (R-Ala) has announced his retirement, he was one of the biggest backers of the SLS and his seniority made him the head of the Senate Committee dealing with NASA, so he had a lot of sway. His retirement is another blow to the SLS.

Artists rendition of Starship HLS

Supposedly there will be an SLS lunar landing in 2024. Clearly NASA has now bet that Starship will be ready by then to do the same thing, even if that huge spacecraft is overkill for the task. And if it does then you could see the SLS finally cancelled. The Orion spacecraft may linger on but to what end?

Naturally, because this is America, a couple of the losing contenders have filed legal challenges to NASA’s decision. Undoubtedly they’ve plugged tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars into their design for lunar landers, but NASA clearly thought they couldn’t make it. However the contract will be on hold until the GAO (Government Accountability Office) makes a ruling on those claims.

The underlying message here may be that the days of NASA feeding private contractors cost-plus contracts is over. If they want to land on the Moon they’ll negotiate a contract with SpaceX, exactly as they do for the ISS cargo and crew services.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 3, 2021 at 6:00 am

The need of the hour

Following on from Gravedodger’s post about the latest MSM Chinese Lung Rot hysteria, If It Bleeds It Leads, I thought I would take a look at actual numbers.

The sort of numbers not seen in the MSM.

The current daily death rate in India of 2,600 is equivalent to 126 deaths per day in the UK. That is far below the UK’s peak rate and closer to what they are experiencing now.

Take a look at this graph produced by John Hopkins University to understand the context.

India is one of the mysteries of Covid-19. When the pandemic started in China early in 2020 I expected that India would soon become a hotbed of the pandemic; an equally gigantic population of some 1.4 billion, a poor health care infrastructure and poor healthcare in general, and even poorer than China, with all that implies about living conditions and public sanitary care.

But as the months went by it became apparent that India was not suffering anything like the rest of the world. Until now? Perhaps, but if it has started in India now you’d have to ask what has changed? It’s not like the Indian government ever cut itself off from the rest of the world or went for a nation-wide lockdown.

Dehli has been the worst hit and the focus of the MSM, providing them with those juicy scenes of horror. Well, the photo below is of Dehli on a normal day.

And you thought air pollution was bad in Chinese cities! The city has the most toxic air in the world, which often leads to the city having to close down due to the widespread effects on respiratory health. The city was also the first to develop an “oxygen bar”, where the wealthier citizens could go to add some whiffs of the precious gas to whatever they were drinking and eating.

Respiratory diseases including COPD, TB, and respiratory tract infections like bronchitis leading to pneumonia are always among the top ten killers in India. These conditions are severely aggravated by air pollution and often require oxygen which can be in short supply during air pollution crises.

Also note that more people die of diarrhoea every day in India – and have done for years, which led to the following editorial cartoon in an Indian newspaper.


One aid worker commented that:

My contacts have reported that the usual seasonal bronchial infections have not been properly treated by doctors afraid of getting Covid, and people’s avoidance of government hospitals due to fear of getting Covid.

Undoubtedly, these fears will have been fuelled by the media’s alarmist coverage of the situation.

Thanks MSM.

Finally I’ll leave it with this graph. What it suggests is that the government and people of India may have focused more on the vaccines saving them and lost focus on post-infection treatments. There seems no other explanation for the Covid-19 surge happening after the vaccine campaign began.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 29, 2021 at 10:48 am

They must have laughed!

Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and other national leaders that is, at least after the great AGW Zoom call was finished.

I realise that there’s not a lot going on upstairs with the ambulatory root vegetable currently titled as the President of the United States, but seriously, why is he still wearing a fucking mask on his moronic face?

He’s the only leader on the call who is doing so, despite the fact that he was injected with one of the Chinese Lung Rot vaccines before Christmas, meaning that he’s immune to the virus, so has no need to mask up, and can’t spread it to other people, which also means there’s no need for a mask.

There are 17 people on that call. Only the 78 year old Biden:

  • chose to wear a mask.
  • while sitting alone on a remote video call.
  • after being vaccinated.

Does he not realize how stupid this makes the USA look? You can imagine how much Putin was laughing inside after staring across at POTUS making an absolute clown of himself.

Perhaps Biden’s advisors, the ones who are effectively in charge of the USA, are so determined to fundamentally transform America that they think this helps and therefore allowed this to happen?

The world’s most effective Anti-Vaxxer spokesman

I wish I could say at this point that it’s all just political theatre, a carry-over from the 2020 US election, but when you have the infamous Dr Faucista also telling people that they’ll need to practice wearing masks and social distancing after they get the vaccine then it’s getting to the point of dangerous stupidity:

CHUCK TODD: “Why does a vaccinated person have to wear a mask?”

DR. FAUCI: “You dramatically diminish” possible Covid infection with a vaccine, but vaccinated people could still carry infection.”

Re-infection chances after vaccination are almost non-existent (0.0075%), and the possibility of death at that point is less than being struck by lightning. There are probably a hundred things you do throughout the day that are statistically more likely to kill you than COVID after you’ve been vaccinated. Further, the risk from COVID will never be zero, thus Fauci’s standard here is essentially a permanent mask mandate and never shaking hands again.

Does that sound reasonable? How many people will listen to his words and conclude that getting the shot is a waste of time if they still can’t get back to living a normal, pre-Covid-19 life? In that sense this 80 year-old idiot is the world’s greatest practical anti-vaxxer.

Remember also that these people have been at the forefront of screaming “Science” about this whole thing since Day One. This incident shows how much that was bullshit, as it always is with these ideologues.

As for Biden, surely this call will put to bed the endless claims that the USA would once again be “respected” by all the right people if he was elected President. He looked like a weak, scared, helpless old man, and that look will rub off on the USA, perhaps with good reason when you look at Pelosi, Schumer and the rest of the geriatric US leadership.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 25, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Et tu Texas?

In recent years Texas has done very well economically, showing solid growth which has, in turn, attracted millions to immigrate there from other parts of the USA, like the benighted Progressive state of California. Texas emerged from the GFC faster and in better shape than almost any other state in the union, and its job growth was a major part of the reason for the steady reduction in the US’s unemployment rate after 2009.

One of the many attractions was that Texas did not appear to worship Gaia and as a result had low electricity prices and a reliable power system.

Unfortunately it turns out that Texas has been pushing down the same path as California in building Unreliable Energy, particularly wind farms, which now constitute 23% of electrical capacity in the state, with Natural-gas-fired power plants at 40% of Texas’s electricity, coal at 18% and nuclear at 11%. And so the inevitable has happened as a massive cold snap, the worst in decades, has hit Texas.

On the demand side Texas, like California, has its usual electrical peak in Summer because in the USA Winter warmth is almost exclusively provided via gas-fired central heating. But the cold froze up the logistics of gas production and delivery for homes (not power stations) so electricity was it, causing a massive increase in power consumption. At the same time the cold snap also froze those Texas windmills, producing a gap between supply and demand.

Then, because the grid had been rendered unstable by the loss of renewables power, it began tripping off reliable base-load power stations that were still operating, increasing the gap still further. ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) estimated that almost 34,000 megawatts of electricity was forced off the system. On average, a single megawatt can power about 500 homes. As a result they also reported that the spot price for electricity in Texas hit a stunning $9000 per MegaWatt-hour. Even in the summer months, $100 per MW-hr would be high. The only solution to stop the whole thing collapsing was rolling blackouts. Those baseload stations, whether gas, coal or nuclear, are not designed to stop and start on a dime. They can take days to be re-started.

But all of this was a short-term problem. The long-term problem is that Texas just did not have the base-load capacity required to fill the supply gap that always happens with renewable energy, as well as providing the excess capacity to keep the grid stable. The reason for that lack of base-load capacity, the root cause of the Texas blackouts, is a national and state policy that has prioritized the adoption of unreliable wind/solar energy over reliable energy.

In the last 4-5 years, Texas lost a net of 3,000 megawatts of thermal out of a total installed capacity 73,000 megawatts today. That was because operators couldn’t see a return on investment due to being undercut by wind and solar which is cheap not because wind and sun are free but because:

  1. It’s subsidized (at both state and federal levels).
  2. It doesn’t have to pay for the costs of grid reliability by purchasing battery farms or contracting with gas peaker plants to produce power when needed.

This subsidized wind and solar power have, as planned, pushed reliable thermal operators out of business or prevented new generation from being built as operators can’t make money in the market. This reduced the capacity margin. In 2009, coal-fired plants generated nearly 37 percent of the state’s electricity (now 18%) while wind provided about 6 percent (now 23). In the same period, Texas energy consumption rose by 20 percent. Just last week, the Republican Governor Greg Abbott proudly accepted something called the Wind Leadership Award, given with gratitude by Tri Global Energy, a company getting rich from those green energy subsidies.

Paradoxically these “wind and sun are free” power plants also produce higher power prices:

Because intermittent wind and solar can always go near zero – as we saw recently in TX – they don’t replace the cost of reliable power plants, they add to the cost of reliable power plants. This is why the more wind and solar grids use, the higher their electricity prices. To lessen the price increases from “unreliables” governments try to get away with as few reliable power plants online as they can get away with. TX is no exception. The Public Utilities Commission of TX has called their grid’s margin for error (“reserve margin”) “very scary.”

And here’s the real kicker: at the same time that pressure is on for 100% renewable electricity, the demand for electricity is increasing as more devices are created or converted to use it. Elon Musk has recently warned that even in good times, any push to electric cars would double electric demand worldwide. None other than the CEO of Toyota agreed with Musk. No grid anywhere is ready for that. California’s can’t even really handle its current load well but it’s pushing to ban gas vehicles. That’s idiotic.

And that’s just the cars. As this article points out the gas that’s burned in the USA represents a fantastic amount of energy:

In January 2019, U.S. natural gas demand set a record of 145 billion cubic feet per day. That record will be smashed during this blizzard, and daily volumes will exceed 150 Bcf. That is an enormous amount of energy. In fact, on the coldest days of winter, the amount of energy delivered by the gas grid is roughly three times as great as the energy consumed during the hottest days of the summer.

And as California has experienced in recent years, coping in summer now with significant amounts of renewable energy has resulted in blackouts, brownouts and grid crashes. Doubling the demand and more, while also pushing for 100% renewable would simply mean a system that would collapse often.

During peak cold events like this one, the gas grid delivers about 80 Bcf/d to homes and businesses. In energy equivalent terms, that’s roughly 83 trillion Btu, or the energy output of about 1 terawatt of electric generation capacity for 24 hours. Put another way, to equal the 80 Bcf/d of gas delivered during cold snaps, the U.S. would need an electric grid as large as all existing generation in the country, which is currently about 1.2 terawatts.

So another doubling. This is just not doable as a GHG emissions-free target short of a huge increase in nuclear power. And of course that’s just the USA: think of China, India, Asia, or Africa, which are on the same economic growth path that the West went through in the 20th century.

As an aside the electrification of everything has already had an ironic impact in the case of Texas in this cold snap, in that the natural gas pipeline operators, in trying to appease the Greens, have steadily replaced fuel-fired pumps that run on the gas in the pipe, (therefore are failsafe so long as the pipe has something in it and is intact) with electrically powered booster pumps. The gas only freezes at cryogenic temperatures, and the machinery has plenty of heat source in the pipe. Thus was an ultra-reliable and essential energy delivery system that would always continue to operate (short of physical destruction) turned it into yet another fragile system dependent on multiple outside elements. When any of those elements fail so does the natural gas delivery.

Still, even as they freeze there will be Texans who can get a grim laugh from the following.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 20, 2021 at 10:00 am

Two crashes

Both spectacular.

First up is the Arecibo Radio Observatory, based in Puerto Rico. If you’re not familar with it from an astronomy standpoint you may recall seeing it in the Bond film, Goldeneye, and also the movie Contact. It’s a giant, fixed radio dish 300 metres wide, set into a hollow between small hills, upon which stand towers with massive steel cables attached that hold up a 900 ton receiving apparatus above the dish. Despite being fixed in the earth the dish can be “steered” to different points in the sky by moving the receiver. It was built in 1963.

A couple of months ago there was an alarming report that a couple of the steel cables had “failed” and this led the National Science Foundation (NSF) to declare that it was now unsafe to use and would be decommissioned, probably via a controlled demolition. In the meantime they set up cameras and even a drone over the structure to constantly check the cables.

However, reality was faster than the NSF and thus this happened the other day.

It’s incredible to see those massive cables snapping in an instant, watched by the drone that was flying nearby at the time, as well the tops of those towers being knocked off to tumble into the jungle below. Awesome destruction and a sad end to the observatory. As is often the case nowadays there is a larger version already operating in China!

Second up is this…

The figure at the top of the first frame is Grosjean climbing back across the barrier while his team doctor reaches out to help him. His F1 car broke in half, with the front half containing him, smashing through the steel barrier. At the 1:20 mark you can see Grosjean getting up and out of the cockpit while surrounded by flames as two men blast extinguishers on the blaze.

Car and Driver magazine has a superb article on this accident, The Tech and Training behind Why F1 Racer Grosjean Is Alive Today. It describes in detail the engineering of Formula 1 racecars that enabled the driver to survive largely unhurt. There’s also this animation of the crash, which includes a frame-by-frame look (120 FPS) from multiple angles.

The keys to his survival was that he was protected by multiple layers of defense, and although some failed the following did not:

  • The “Halo” cockpit protection system.
  • The chassis survival cell.
  • HANS (Head And Neck Support) device.
  • His helmet.
  • Fire-proof overalls.
  • The “fuel cell” (fuel tank) which retained almost all the full load. The massive fireball was merely from a few kilograms of the 100kg starting load.
  • And, finally by the rapid response of the medical car team of Alan van der Merwe and Dr. Ian Roberts. This was a bit of a fluke since they’re only this close at the start of the race, but Grosjean probably would have escaped the fire anyway as it was small (seriously – see the point above)

I was struck by these passages, as just two examples of the technology at work here:

FIA researchers will be able to study various video streams, including video produced by a high-speed camera which faces the driver and films at 400 frames per second…
Drivers wear in-ear accelerometers that are custom made for each driver to fit inside a driver’s ear canal to measure the movement of his head in a crash.

To me the key device here is the Halo mounted above the driver. Without it – even with most of the other safety systems working – he would have been decapitated. The Halo was only introduced in 2018 and some drivers complained about it affecting their field of vision. Grosjean was apparently one of them. No more objections I would say. In the live video you can actually see one of these “Halos” (labeled AlphaCentauri Fashion and with the driver’s number, 26, written on it) above the head of the driver who Grosjean crossed in front of as he lost control of his car.

If you have the time watch the documentary, Senna, a documentary about the legendary Brazilian race car driver, Ayrton Senna, who died in a famous 1994 crash which resulted in the avalanche of safety improvements that saved Grosjean’s life.

I’d heard of Senna and his death but I’m actually not much into motor sports so watching the crash was astounding to me because it looks like nothing at all. He goes off the track in a straight line and hits a concrete barrier at an angle. The car does not fly to pieces, there’s no fireball and you almost expect to see Seena climb out. Yet it killed him.

Nowadays it would not have. I’m not sure if Senna has a memorial but if he does Grosjean should leave a tribute there.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 19, 2020 at 8:55 am

Posted in Science, Space, Technology

Go Rube Goldberg

A Rube Goldberg machine is a crazy device that uses incredible and unneccssary complexity to accomplish simple tasks. The British equivalent is a “Heath Robinson Device”.

In both cases we’re not talking about actual inventors but cartoonists and illustrators who crafted up images about these strange machines. Rube Goldberg himself is also listed as an “inventor”, although that seems to be around games.

In any case it’s quite a nice legacy, and with the great pandemic lockdowns still happening around the world some people clearly have had too much time on their hands inventing crazy devices, such as the Squirrel Obstacle Course created by a former NASA engineer.

Or this one!

Written by Tom Hunter

December 18, 2020 at 6:08 am

Posted in Humour, Science, Technology

Lesbians, Who dat?

In a world where idea evolution runs faster than ever, you can, if you’re a square old Right-Wing conservative, afford to raise an ironic eyebrow at how our ideological opponents on the Left are getting tangled up in their own ideas.

To wit the slow fading of lesbianism, as described in this article, Why Other Queers Are Stuffing Lesbians Back In The Closet. It seems that it’s just no longer cool to be a lesbian:

Herzog tells of a professor friend who mentioned to a campus colleague that she was lesbian. The woman “reacted like I’d confessed to being a Confederate Lost-Causer.” She was scolded that “the term is outdated and problematic, and I shouldn’t use it.”

Woah! A Confedrate Lost-Causer accusation? Welcome to the club, lady. Next up is you being called a Fascist, or just an outright Nazi!.

The problem is it’s a bit too bio-essentialist and exclusive. So this professor now keeps quiet about her sexuality among her leftist peers. In fact, she added ironically, “it’s like living in a second closet” now.

Apparently there has been a huge reduction in the number of Lesbian-exclusive bars in the USA: Alabama has the same number as California; one each.

None of this is much of a surprise in the wake of the onsalught of Trans bullshit. But there was one interesting fact that surprised me:

… people who identify as lesbian have much higher pregnancy rates than heterosexual women? It is trueOne study among many explains, “Again, bisexual and lesbian teens were more likely in each region to report pregnancy histories than heterosexual peers.”

Another study examined the pregnancy rates of adult sexual-minority women [SMW], revealing the same thing….

In fact, the abortion and birth rates of non-heterosexually identified women is roughly twice that of the heterosexual population. That is a whole lot of baby-making sex going on among women who were supposedly “born lesbian.”

There’s some interesting explanations for this but beyond all the verbiage of professors it seems to boil down to woman being romantically attracted whereas men are body attracted. Who knew?

I did appreciate the following description as to the sad state of affairs that Lesbians have been reduced to in the early 21st century:

In the good old days, any self-respecting lesbian could tell a man who insisted on buying her a drink where he could go and be cheered a feminist hero for doing so. Today, if that same man wears a pencil skirt and claims to be trans, that lesbian becomes the worst person in the world.

And guess who is leading the pitchfork and torch brigade:

U.K. lesbian writer Claire Heuchan warns, “Everywhere you look, there are reminders of how little the safety and wellbeing of lesbian women is valued. We can’t seem to escape violence and vilification. Especially since, in recent months, a lot of it has come from within the LGBT communities we helped build. …[E]ven within LGBT spheres, where we are – at least theoretically – part of the community, lesbians are now being vilified.”

So the modern LGBT community are intolerant, bullying assholes? Again – who knew.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 12, 2020 at 8:49 am