Gatlino, here’s how to win the coffee wars

Wednesday, 22 October, 2014

Make coffee, not war? The rise of capsule powered coffee brewing machines however is allowing us the choice… enter the Gatlino, a machine gun that uses said coffee capsules as ammunition. Capable of firing four thousand shots a minute, this gun is one formidable weapon. Or imaginary weapon, you didn’t think it actually existed, did you?

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Can you name the first woman to fly around the world solo?

Wednesday, 22 October, 2014

In 1964, Jerrie Mock, a mother of three living in Columbus, Ohio, piloting a single engine Cessna 180 aircraft, became the first woman to fly solo around the world, yet the chances are you’ve not heard of her

But the last 50 years have produced no Hollywood movie, no legend, and, until recently, not so much as a statue of Mock in her small hometown. Elsewhere in Ohio – the so-called birthplace of aviation – the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton doesn’t include her. Committee members who vote for inductees, according to one who added Mock to the ballot in 2003, don’t recognize her name.

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The two hour marathon? Give it time and it may well happen…

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014

For a long time athletes strived to run a mile in less than four minutes, and finally, in 1954 Roger Bannister succeeded. Now marathon runners are eyeing up what is possibly a far more ambitious goal, to run a marathon in under two hours.

If though the trend is a long distance runner’s friend, then it is something that may happen in about sixteen years, if time reductions, especially noticeable since 1998, continue as they have.

Running a marathon, being a distance of twenty-six point two miles, in a time of exactly two hours, or the merest fraction less than, would require covering a mile every four minutes and thirty-five seconds. I wonder who will be the first person to achieve this particular milestone?

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It’s not cherry, it’s not rose… time to look up the colour thesaurus

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014

Just as there are a thousand, or thereabouts, shades of grey, there are many shades of other colours. Variations of the colour red, for example, could be cherry, rose, jam, merlot, crimson, or garnet, to name but a few.

It looks to me like a colour thesaurus is something we should not be without.

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How about selfies as password substitutes then?

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014

Michael Daniel, a senior US government official, thinks that passwords may not be the best way to maintain the security of computer systems. It’s possible he’s not alone on that point either. But what to make of his suggestion that selfies, or photos we take of ourselves, might be a better option?

Daniel suggested that “selfies” would be one possibility. A device could scan a photo of a person’s face and grant access only to the right one. “You could use the cameras on cell phones, which are now ubiquitous, so the selfies are used for something besides posting on Facebook,” Daniel said.

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Executed for theft but not murder? Once upon a time, yes, it seems

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014

The justice system’s perception of the seriousness of an offence looks to have changed over the centuries, for instance execution appeared to be an acceptable penalty for petty theft, at least in Britain, in the seventeenth century, according to a study of transcripts of old court cases that were tried at London’s well known criminal court, the Old Bailey.

The records of the Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court, tell the tale of one John Randal, who was tried on Sept. 9, 1674. He was charged “with two Indictments, one for Fellony for stealing several pieces of Plate, and other Goods…, and the other for Murder, Killing his House-Keeper.” That his theft and his murder were described and tried together was natural for a world where the protection of property was a virtue at least on par with the promotion of human happiness. Nearly a hundred years later, in 1769, William Blackstone argued that it is quite reasonable to execute someone convicted of stealing “a handkerchief, or other trifle, privately from one’s person,” even though other crimes that involve goods of higher value are punished less severely.

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Some fine instances of slow motion in the movies

Monday, 20 October, 2014

Slow motion scenes can make or break a movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, for instance, is an example of the effect being over-worked, but films such as Hurt Locker, Drive, The Shining, Watchmen, and Dredd, are another matter all together.

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Aborting the launch of the Space Shuttle, easy… in theory anyway

Monday, 20 October, 2014

There was a procedure in place to abort a Space Shuttle flight if a problem became apparent on, or immediately, after launch, but it certainly wasn’t a simple matter of switching off the engines, and heading towards a nearby landing strip…

About two minutes into the flight, the SRBs [Solid Rocket Boosters] would burn out and then be jettisoned. The SSMEs [Space Shuttle Main Engines] would continue to burn fuel from the ET [External Tank] until about eight and a half minutes after liftoff. For missions with a particularly heavy payload, the two Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engines could be fired during ascent to help the shuttle aloft. The OMS engines were also used later to adjust the shuttle’s orbit, including the deorbit burn that brought it home at the end of the mission. After Main Engine Cutoff (MECO), the shuttle would jettison the empty ET, which would disintegrate as it tumbled back to Earth. That’s all there was to it. What could possibly go wrong?

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Whoever said as life as a billionaire was easy?

Monday, 20 October, 2014

It may come as some comfort to those of us who are not billionaires, that life as a billionaire is not always beer and skittles, or caviar and private jets, as the case may be. In fact, life for the super well off may very much be caviar and private jets, but it is often devoid of some of the simpler pleasures, and that it seems, can be a drawback. Apparently.

“Mark Zuckerberg will never get to bum around a foreign country,” Graham writes. “He can do other things most people can’t, like charter jets to fly him to foreign countries. But success has taken a lot of the serendipity out of his life.”

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How do you get ahead? That depends on what country you live in…

Monday, 20 October, 2014

Hard work aside, is our success, be it personal or professional, out of our hands? Does it come down to luck, or to the people we know? The part of the world where we live, seemingly, looks to hold some sway in this regard:

People in developing economies were far more likely to say that “having a good education” and “working hard” were 10/10 in terms of importance. That appears to be something of a paradox, since many respondents in those same countries also claimed that “giving bribes” and “being lucky” were very important. Although people in wealthy countries also think diligence and education are important, a smaller share of respondents gave those factors top marks in determining their lives.

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