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Saturday, June 19, 2010


Previously I discussed how it is possible to build space elevators in pairs by locating one north of the equator & the other south. It is also possible to put more than one at either end so long as the lateral pull is balanced.

This may not be a total solution because, as the map shows, not everywhere in the northern hemisphere is matched by a non polar land mass & the same applies in reverse to Brazil.

I can see 3 possible technical solutions to this.
1 - Tethering to Antarctica, or in Brazil's case, Greenland. This produces a tether leaving the ground at close to horizontal with added lateral pull.
2 - Anchoring it to the sea bottom or to an artificial floating island in turn anchored to the sea bottom.
3 - "Anchoring" to a ship permanently stationed with its engine permanently running to produce southward tension (possibly nuclear powered).

All 3 would certainly add significant expense & might be unfeasible.

Otherwise the best option is to anchor it on an island which makes a number of very small islands in the southern hemisphere into valuable real estate.

New England as far south as New York is matched by southern Chile. The Juan Fernandez Islands off Chile match a line running through roughly the Appalachian line. Easter Island matches a line through the mid west. The Galapagos, being on the equator cannot provide a match. West of Easter Island there start to be a number of very small Polynesian islands or even reefs matching points on the US & Canadian west coast.

Japan, Korea & coastal China, where almost all Chinese live, are matched by Australia, with Indonesian islands extending further west, though they may be to close to the equator. Central India is matched only by some islands in the Chagos archipelago

Southern Africa matches Europe from Western Russia, just short of Moscow as far west as the Berlin-Rome line. West of that there are 2 islands - Gough, a normally uninhabited island at 9.935 west whose longitude kisses points on the west coast of Ireland & St Helena 5.45 west which matches a line running through Spain from Cadiz, Penzance in Cornwall & ....

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Friday, June 18, 2010


Another rant on the actions of the imbeciles who run Scotland & the LudDims. Again it relates to a recent news item
On June 13th Hayabusa [falcon] streaked through the night sky of southern Australia to deliver to Earth what researchers hope will be the first sample of rock collected from the surface of an asteroid.

As the picture suggests, most of the craft burned up on re-entry. But a small part, protected by a heat shield made of carbon-phenolic resin, survived and landed in the desert near Woomera. This capsule, it is hoped, will contain material from Itokawa, a half-kilometre-long asteroid whose orbit crosses the Earth’s.

One up, then, to JAXA, Japan’s space agency. Indeed, two up, because on June 10th it successfully deployed Ikaros, a solar sail attached to a small satellite in orbit round the Earth.

In the short term, the mission to Itokawa was the more spectacular of the two. It was dogged by bad luck, ranging from solar flares to boulder-strewn landing fields, and returned to Earth three years late. But return it did, having been nursed through its traumas by a patient ground team at JAXA’s mission-control centre in Tsukuba.

In the long term, though, Ikaros may be the more important mission. Solar sails are not the quickest way to travel through space, but they are cheap.
The Japanese rocket lifted off in May 2003 & the mission has been costed at $170 million (say £110 million).

In 2002 in response to a LibDem request for ideas for an innovative (& relatively inexpensive) policy idea which would make a newsworthy debate at the Scottish conference, I proposed we call for Scotland to put up a £20 million X-Prize for the first probe to soft land on an asteroid beyond the orbit of Mars. Rather conservatively I suggested the prize last till 2050 amortising it to a very small annual cost, or of course, no cost whatsoever if it didn't work.

The party derisively rejected even discussing the idea on the grounds, so far as I could find, that it was "utter bilge. I don't think anybody will ever put up enough money to do such a thing. . . . all rather rot." To be fair no other British party has subsequently shown any more interest.

The £20 million I proposed awarding is much less than the £110 m the Japanese have spent but even so is, with hindsight, rather more than required.

Firstly because the Japanese mission, which involved returning a sample, is very much more complex & expensive than simply making the outward journey, as made clear here, though my initial proposal that it have to be an asteroid beyond the orbit of Mars (ie proving we can reach most of the asteroid belt) does bring in some extra difficulty as well as make it a more important achievement.

Secondly the point about X-Prizes is that they should not cover the entire cost of a project, certainly not at government work rates, but provide the seed corn to support something which pushes the technological envelope in ways that do have major economic spin offs but do not have sufficient guarantee of a large enough immediate return to first investors. It is difficult to give an exact figure of what proportion of total cost should be covered by a prize, though 1/3rd looks like the maximum which would fit the description. The only firm figure I can give is the one produced by the US army "For less than $10 million in prize money and expenses [specifically $3 million in prizes], the Department of Defense has created new technology that would have otherwise cost more than $100 million, and taken a lot longer to perfect." That would imply that Scotland could have attracted at least £660 million of spending for a £20 million prize, putting Scotland, alone, well ahead in competition with Japan. Of course if the Luddites had been right & nothing had come of it there would have been no cost either but this Japanese example shows that it is technologically feasible & very probably would have worked.

The incompetent blithering idiots running Scotland have wasted £41.3 marching up & down with their particular economically insane pork barrel project nominally to build a rail link to Glasgow Airport. For our £41.3 million they have produced absolutely nothing. Had they been willing to listen for slightly less they could have had both the rail link they said they wanted, about £600 million of investment & Scotland in a world leading position in an industry that is growing at 10% annually & about to change rather more than just the world.

This & yesterday's are 2 of my earliest proposals. I look froward to the continuing experience of telling those in charge "I told you so".

On the other hand, while I would like my own country's government to show a little commitment to progress there are a lot of other countries, or provinces or US states, which may do what our numptocracy would not.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010


Dear Nicol Stephen (formerly LudDim Transport Minister & then party leader),

You may have noticed this report in the Herald recently.
The controversial decision to scrap the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (Garl) has cost the taxpayer £40 million...

The figures detailed in Stevenson’s parliamentary answer show that the costs incurred relating to “the close out” of the Garl project were almost £19m on branch line works, £7.6m for combined work on the Glasgow to Paisley main line and branch line and around £6.75m paid for land, legal and consultancy bills.

The figures do not include VAT, which would add another £5m, nor the £3m cost of the original Bill to allow work to go ahead.

Alexander said: “SNP ministers have now admitted their decision to cancel the Glasgow Airport Rail Link has cost over £40m.
As you know some years ago I wrote to you, while you were the Scottish transport Minister (& before it had been officially decided that being in favour of running the country competently was "illiberal", "too right wing" to be contemplated & "incompatible with (my) party membership" suggesting that a better option would be an automated monorail. You will recall that the in initial reply you had sent was that this option would be considered but only if I could find some company will to timider for the job. When I did indeed find such a company, ULTra, who were doing a similar job at Heathrow & who expressed their willingness to tender for a price around £20 million, you will recall that I received a 2nd letter advising that the statement that you would be willing to consider this if I found somebody should not have been taken to mean that you would consider this if I found somebody. Instead I was told that the government would only ever, under any circumstances, be willing to look at any new ideas if they had been brought up by the leaders of the parties in government.

That certainly provides full inoculation against any form of innovation.

I do not know if congratulations are in order or not. By your personal decision you have cost the Scottish people, in this case alone, over £41.3 million to achieve absolutely nothing when, for the price of £20 million, you could have had the airport link which was the alleged intent of this project. If the real intent was to corruptly defraud the taxpayer to provide money for your friends & for government workers then you have indeed achieved a very clever fraud. If, on the other hand, you ever had the remotest intent of doing your job honestly you have proven to be an incompetent & indeed blithering idiot who, along with the party that subsequently made you leader, should never, under any circumstances whatsoever be trusted with anything more complicated than a knife & fork.

I do congratulate you on the decision of yopur party to elevate you to the leadership, thereby proving that they believed you to be the most competent person in that party.

I ask you to let me know if you, or anybody in your party, wishes to claim that you were not engaged in deliberate theft of public money.

Whether we are dealing with moronic incompetence or deliberate fraud, or indeed both, I trust you will not dispute that this & your subsequent elevation to leadership, proves that under no circumstances can any member of your party credibly claim to be fit for any responsible role in government.

Hopefully, at some stage in the future some part of the Holyrood "numptocracy" will be willing to show some interest in achieving competence & value for money (or at least something more than the -200% level you have achieved. For example we both know that the laws of engineering which allowed this airport link to be built for £20 million still exist & as has been proven at Heathrow, this project could still go forward if any significant part of Holyrood actually wanted this link rather than merely to divvy out the cash.
Neil Craig

Sent to him & CC'd to some associates. I apologise if this seems a bit of a rant but the fact that useless morons like this (omitting mention of their, at best, moral blindness in promoting genocide) are responsible for running our country into the ground offends me.

Continued next day with what that lost extra £20 million could have done.

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