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Saturday, December 21, 2013

"In human years, this would be like a 60-year-old converting to a 20-year-old in these specific areas"

   "A mouse is as much of a miracle of biology as an elephant, but the elephant is more impressive"
                                                     Robert A. Heinlein

      Bear that in mind when reading this from Next Big Future:

December 19, 2013

Partial reversal of aging achieved in mice by restoring mitochondria cellular communication

Researchers have discovered a cause of aging in mammals that may be reversible.

 The essence of this finding is a series of molecular events that enable communication inside cells between the nucleus and mitochondria. As communication breaks down, aging accelerates. By administering a molecule naturally produced by the human body, scientists restored the communication network in older mice. Subsequent tissue samples showed key biological hallmarks that were comparable to those of much younger animals.

Cell - Declining NAD+ Induces a Pseudohypoxic State Disrupting Nuclear-Mitochondrial Communication during Aging


• A specific decline in mitochondrially encoded genes occurs during aging in muscle
• Nuclear NAD+ levels regulate mitochondrial homeostasis independently of PGC-1α/β
• Declining NAD+ during aging causes pseudohypoxia, which disrupts OXPHOS function
• Raising nuclear NAD+ in old mice reverses pseudohypoxia and metabolic dysfunction


Ever since eukaryotes subsumed the bacterial ancestor of mitochondria, the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes have had to closely coordinate their activities, as each encode different subunits of the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) system. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark of aging, but its causes are debated. We show that, during aging, there is a specific loss of mitochondrial, but not nuclear, encoded OXPHOS subunits. We trace the cause to an alternate PGC-1α/β-independent pathway of nuclear-mitochondrial communication that is induced by a decline in nuclear NAD+ and the accumulation of HIF-1α under normoxic conditions, with parallels to Warburg reprogramming. Deleting SIRT1 accelerates this process, whereas raising NAD+ levels in old mice restores mitochondrial function to that of a young mouse in a SIRT1-dependent manner. Thus, a pseudohypoxic state that disrupts PGC-1α/β-independent nuclear-mitochondrial communication contributes to the decline in mitochondrial function with age, a process that is apparently reversible.

Communication breakdown

Mitochondria are often referred to as the cell's "powerhouse," generating chemical energy to carry out essential biological functions. These self-contained organelles, which live inside our cells and house their own small genomes, have long been identified as key biological players in aging. As they become increasingly dysfunctional overtime, many age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes gradually set in.

Researchers have generally been skeptical of the idea that aging can be reversed, due mainly to the prevailing theory that age-related ills are the result of mutations in mitochondrial DNA—and mutations cannot be reversed.

Sinclair and his group have been studying the fundamental science of aging—which is broadly defined as the gradual decline in function with time—for many years, primarily focusing on a group of genes called sirtuins. Previous studies from his lab showed that one of these genes, SIRT1, was activated by the compound resveratrol, which is found in grapes, red wine and certain nuts.

Ana Gomes, a postdoctoral scientist in the Sinclair lab, had been studying mice in which this SIRT1 gene had been removed. While they accurately predicted that these mice would show signs of aging, including mitochondrial dysfunction, the researchers were surprised to find that most mitochondrial proteins coming from the cell’s nucleus were at normal levels; only those encoded by the mitochondrial genome were reduced.

“This was at odds with what the literature suggested,” said Gomes.

As Gomes and her colleagues investigated potential causes for this, they discovered an intricate cascade of events that begins with a chemical called NAD and concludes with a key molecule that shuttles information and coordinates activities between the cell’s nuclear genome and the mitochondrial genome. Cells stay healthy as long as coordination between the genomes remains fluid. SIRT1’s role is intermediary, akin to a security guard; it assures that a meddlesome molecule called HIF-1 does not interfere with communication.

For reasons still unclear, as we age, levels of the initial chemical NAD decline. Without sufficient NAD, SIRT1 loses its ability to keep tabs on HIF-1. Levels of HIF-1 escalate and begin wreaking havoc on the otherwise smooth cross-genome communication. Over time, the research team found, this loss of communication reduces the cell's ability to make energy, and signs of aging and disease become apparent.

“This particular component of the aging process had never before been described,” said Gomes.

While the breakdown of this process causes a rapid decline in mitochondrial function, other signs of aging take longer to occur. Gomes found that by administering an endogenous compound that cells transform into NAD, she could repair the broken network and rapidly restore communication and mitochondrial function. If the compound was given early enough—prior to excessive mutation accumulation—within days, some aspects of the aging process could be reversed.

Cancer connection

Examining muscle from two-year-old mice that had been given the NAD-producing compound for just one week, the researchers looked for indicators of insulin resistance, inflammation and muscle wasting. In all three instances, tissue from the mice resembled that of six-month-old mice. In human years, this would be like a 60-year-old converting to a 20-year-old in these specific areas.
One particularly important aspect of this finding involvesHIF-1. More than just an intrusive molecule that foils communication, HIF-1 normally switches on when the body is deprived of oxygen. Otherwise, it remains silent. Cancer, however, is known to activate and hijack HIF-1. Researchers have been investigating the precise role HIF-1 plays in cancer growth.

“It’s certainly significant to find that a molecule that switches on in many cancers also switches on during aging,” said Gomes. “We're starting to see now that the physiology of cancer is in certain ways similar to the physiology of aging. Perhaps this can explain why the greatest risk of cancer is age.”

“There’s clearly much more work to be done here, but if these results stand, then certain aspects of aging may be reversible if caught early,” said Sinclair.

The researchers are now looking at the longer-term outcomes of the NAD-producing compound in mice and how it affects the mouse as a whole. They are also exploring whether the compound can be used to safely treat rare mitochondrial diseases or more common diseases such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Longer term, Sinclair plans to test if the compound will give mice a healthier, longer life.
     Lets not overstate it. A scientific claim shouldn't be treated very seriously until it has been repeated. On the other hand is impressive and there is quite a lot of other work going on on what causes and can be done about aging, so somebody getting such a result isn't so strange.
    I have previously written about the M-Prize, put up by the Methuselah Foundation. This is a relatively small prize awarded for extending the life of a mouse.
   "pure science prizes, like the M-Prize whose importance to aging research cannot easily be underestimated, has achieved repeated successes with funding which government would consider insufficient to carry as pocket change."
    Earlier I went into some detail about the M-Prize:
The Methuselah Mouse prize is a very good example of how to use such prices since actual profits to be made in extending the lives of mice are minimal but the possible crossover to humans when it has been achieved is unlimited. They also, having made awards, have a proven record of success.
    And I have mentioned it in passing several times here, and once when a lecturer at the Royal Phil spoke on aging asked his opinion of the prize - he hadn't head of it but then he wasn't confident of such research.
     And then a few weeks ago I mentioned the future of aging research on Brian's "Debate", though never expected any such speedy confirmation.
    No doubt this research would have been done, though somewhat later, without the spur of this prize since the spur of ending aging is a potentially enormous one though further away. However "somewhat later" is equivalent to millions of lives.
    I expect the major contribution to this research by government will turn out to be regulating, slowing and perhaps preventing it in case it turns out the cure turns out to be carcinogenic or something. The idiocy of that is obvious and it may well be that the governments of countries not run by anti-progress Luddites will appreciate this.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Lib Dems Asked Either Not to Break Godwin's Law Or Not To Censor

    A few days ago I put a polite but truthful comment on the LibDemVoice site, the party's official blog.  It was in response to this guilt by association attack, making allegations not against UKIP but on other parties in the EU parliament. In line with normal trends it was censored.

    OK - but then I see a comment calling us "Nazis" with not a trace of evidence, was allowed to stand.

   I have put this comment.

"I note LDV allowing the disgraceful claim that "UKIP are akin to the pre-1933 Nazis Party in Germany" while censoring comments disagreeing. Most other LD sites also censor.

On the other hand UKIP sites regularly show comments from those opposed to our policies (eg almost any post by Roger Helmer will have something from the environmental subsidy supporters.

Remember that the LDs were and still are the party most supportive of NATO dissecting thousands of human being while still alive & have repeatedly lied and censored in this cause.
I think that shows which of the 2 parties are traditional liberals and which are ideologically similar to the Nazis."

I expect it to be censored again. I have also contacted a number of LD MPs & will let you know if any disapprove:

       LDV, your party's official blog regularly attacks UKIP as fascistic. This might be compatible with liberalism if they did not then censor any defence.

       Worse than that - having censored reasonable comments LDV has hosted the claim that "UKIP are akin to the Nazis".  Neither the censorship nor that subsequent fact free libel is compatible with any sort of liberal principles. Anybody in the party who is more akin to liberal principles than fascist ones would obviously be grateful for the opportunity to dissociate themselves from such behaviour and I ask you, and the party officially, to do so.

       Liberalism is a doctrine of free speech and moderation and it seems difficult to dispute that your party has proven itself much less liberal than UKIP.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Windmilling Executive Actually Debating

   This is from a post by Roger Helmer on his estimable blog. It is a debate between myself and Steve Gilkes and I am reprinting it because his is about as intelligent a case as you are going to get from windmillers.

    I do not, of course, accept his, or rather the government's claims, that onshore wind is reaching competitive costs and am unlikely to do so as long as it needs subsidy.

   He asks if I am campaigning in favour of cutting gas prices and can confirm that I have long done so through supporting fracking. The point about people's interests follows a number of posters on Helmer, newspapers etc where it is obvious posters are not interested in debating facts, let alone being susceptible to them, which can only be credibly explained by assuming they are state funded propagandists. Steve is clearly better informed than that but his income does still depend on believing in windmillery.

   "Steve Gilkes appointed as Global Wind Turbine Leader as growth in wind farm development increases demand for technical assurance and safety.
Lloyd's Register has appointed the industry-respected wind turbine specialist Steve Gilkes to lead its ambitious technical support programme for operators and manufacturers serving the wind sector.

Lloyd's Register has appointed the industry-respected wind turbine specialist Steve Gilkes to lead its ambitious technical support programme for operators and manufacturers serving the wind sector.

Gilkes, who has started the role of Global Wind Turbine Leader after joining the organisation from GL Garrad Hassan, will be based in Bristol and is expected to bring a wealth of experience to the job, having spent more than 21 years in the industry before joining Lloyd's Register earlier this month."

   I don't think you could get a better technically qualified debater.

  Neil craig says:
  1. Steve, bearing in mind how much time “environmentalists” devote to denouncing us for being paid by Big Something or Other, perhaps you should have introduced yourself as an employee of the windmill industry. Of course that cuts both ways and you do appear to have expertise not displayed by most renewabilists here.
  3. As such perhaps you could say when you expect, at least the onshore side of your industry, to be able to compete in the commercial market rather than depending on subsidy, as so often promised for some time in the future.

    1. Steve Gilkes says:
    To Neil Criag,

  •  I didn’t see the necessity to declare my day job, as no-one else has done, and my name is in plain view and quite unusual, so no hiding there. Perhaps you would like to declare your interest.

  •  It shows that a new gas plant power (figure 7.3) provides electricity at £65/MWhr (without carbon costing), coal is 60, onshore wind 85, nuclear 95, offshore wind 175. I think this is with something close to current actual gas prices and with the current locations for onshore wind.
  • With the carbon pricing assumptions (i.e. polluter pays), onshore wind and gas are equal cheapest at 85. Given the current strike prices, these numbers look reasonable.
    In some markets, wind is considerably cheaper. UK wind cannot use the most windy parts of the country due to planning restrictions, development costs are high due planning costs and planning induced project failure rates. With good wind sites and low development costs, prices are much lower, The Scottish farms of the early 2000′s were paid £35/MWhr, current US projects average £40 and go as low as £20. No Deletion due to the Real Price there.
  • But wind isn’t there to reduce the cost, it is there to reduce the CO2 pollution. It could do this at negligible additional cost, With Carbon pricing and in comparisons to nuclear, it even does quite well in the UK.
  • Does that help?
    • Neil craig says:

      Thank you Steve, it does. As I have written previously, comparing known Chinese nuclear costs to ours shows it is being artificially increased by government action at least 4 to 8 fold which puts that £95 in perspective.
    • You acknowledge that wind “isn’t there to reduce cost but to cut CO2″. So you will acknowledge that if we are not experiencing catastrophic global warming; or indeed if one accepts that Britain’s contribution is negligible; or that the entire “cuts” in CO2 from the Kyoto process would be minor; or that far more good could be done by spending the money on other humanitarian measures as Lomberg proposes; or that the reduction in CO2, after including standby costs is negligible; or that there are geoengineering solutions at a fraction of the cost then we should not be wasting money on windmills. I happen to believe the evidence is for all 5.
    • Or, if the real objective is genuinely to cut CO2, then nuclear is far more effective, cutting virtually 100% whereas wind only works about 1/4 of the time, as well as nuclear being far cheaper.
    • PS Though I blog regularly on these subjects I have no financial interest beyond the interest we all have in low bills and a growing economy that high energy costs are preventing.
  1. Steve Gilkes says:

    Going back to the headline topic, if you follow the analysis here
    you will find that given the real mix of displaced and modulated power plant, then use of wind plant results in gaining 97% of the CO2 savings from the displaced CCGT systems. In addition at night in the UK, wind displaces coal, giving considerable savings.....
    1. Steve Gilkes says:
    Brian, in too many places to mention, you will see that all electricity production is subsidized. The renewables/nuclear ones are just more obvious. Thanks to very low coal prices, coal does very nicely. Everyone knows what the likely mix and capacity factors are because the statistics of demand and non-dispatchable sources (wind and nuclear) are well known. Prices can be well set.

  • Coal plant is shutting down because it pollutes (Sox, Nox and CO2) so badly. At the moment, nobody will build more because of teh possibility of a carbon tax, and the current non-feasibility of CCS.
    • Brian H says:

    • Horse feathers. Per MWh, wind and renewables are a couple of orders of magnitude more heavily subsidized. Further, other sources pay taxes FIRST, and get some tax breaks. Renewables lose money FIRST, pay no taxes, and get profit from handouts.
      Big difference, and it’s been going on for decades with no sign of improvement.
      CO2 is pollution only by perverse EPA definition. Sox and Nox are scrubbable. Coal plants are shutting down because they are being barred from earning their own way. By Leftist politicians and bureaucrats.
    • Neil craig says:

      Steve I think it is disingenuous to claim that the falling price of coal is a “state subsidy”. Actually the reason it is falling is because US shale gas is replacing it in the USA. There is an absolute difference between commercial costs and state subsidy or state regulatory parasitism.
    • I previously answered your post by giving 6 reasons for doubting the need to subsidise wind to cut CO2. I would be interested to know if you have any factual dispute. In particular with the last point – that nuclear is far better at cutting CO2 than windmills (as well as cheaper, less visually intrusive, safer, continuous & not producing unhealthy low frequency sound).
    • Steve Gilkes says:

      Neil, you asked for a breakdown, but I really should end the conversation after this, because we will both be able to find evidence that supports opposing views in which we each believe.
    • I am not sure of the meaning of comment on Chinese Nuclear; to clarify, the Atkins report takes all the relevant costs and reasonable financial return in to account for the actual UK situation.
    • Climate change: Accepted by all important decision makers
      Britain’s small contribution: Maybe, but we all have to make one if you want China and India to follow.
    • Kyoto process: I don’t understand why “entire cuts” are “minor”.
      Lomberg’s humanitarian aid priority: I would like to read more on this one, thanks.
      Negligible CO2 saving: The saving from wind are substantial, operated in the real system. All the papers that I have read on the lack of savings have been based on one mistakes; that wind exits in some system only with open cycle gas turbines because wind is unpredictable, and this is compared with an all CCGT system. Actually wind is very predictable. Coal and CCGT can be adjusted in plenty of time to match most of the change. The rest could be done by OCGT, but in the UK at present the pumped storage and hydro systems are used so the wind is 97% effective in returning a CO2 saving.
      Geoengineering: I didn’t know it was so cheap; I will have to read more.
      Nuclear alternative: Personally I think the risks are too high. The current technologies can not be modulated, so they cannot make up too much of the system. The cost appears to be roughly the same as onshore wind.
    • Presumably, your motivation to reduce energy costs also means you are campaigning to deal with the real cause of recent price rises, the wholesale gas prices? As I have shown above, with fewer planning restrictions, UK wind could be our cheapest form of new build electricity.
    • Another clarification: I didn’t imply that coal prices are reduced to the low level by subsidy, I believe it is due to cheap fracked gas displacing coal in the US, leading to a glut.
    • Thanks for the discussion.
    • Neil craig says:

      On the Kyoto process being minor this is the BBC (from some time ago):
      “Most climate scientists say that the targets set in the Kyoto Protocol are merely scratching the surface of the problem.
    • The agreement aims to reduce emissions from industrialised nations only by around 5%, whereas the consensus among many climate scientists is that in order to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, emissions cuts in the order of 60% across the board are needed.”
    • Since minor action has put those countries doing it into the worst recession since the 1930s I doubt what is allegedly actually needed will be done. The only practical way to cut that much CO2 would be going nuclear which those who, even while claiming to believe the alternative is catastrophe, generally oppose
    • Here is a link to my favourite geoengineering – stratospheric sulphur crystals:
      “what if the cost to get started was not trillions of dollars but $100 million a year — less than the cost of a good-size wind farm?”
    • I think you are right that we will not persuade each other but I hope you and others find the links informative.


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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How The Quangocracy Get Rich Making Britain Poor

        An impressive article in the always credible Register. This just would not get published by our dead tree press or state controlled broadcasters. Indeed hasn't been.

       It is about NESTA, whose X-Prize subgroup I previously and wrongly praised as at least having potential, though I decried that both their prizes were for bicycling nonsense.

       It is about how a Brit who approached them for financial support to develop a touch computer screen back in the 1990s, was given endless runaround, had information made public, saw NESTA blatantly lying about giving him £100K support and thus eventually was bypassed by competitors. Some excerpts:

Nesta began life in 1998 with a £250m endowment, using the interest on the sum to fund its activities. Its first chairman was Labour supporter and donor Lord Puttnam of Queensgate.

He was succeeded by top adman Sir Chris Powell, who, as the son of Air Vice-Marshal John Frederick Powell, belongs to one of the most powerful and influential families in British public life. Sir Chris's elder brother Charles, now Baron Powell of Bayswater, was an ambassador and private secretary to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His younger brother Jonathan became Blair’s Chief of Staff in Downing Street, a title created by the incoming premier, granting Jonathan unprecedented power over civil servants. Meanwhile, Sir Chris headed the advertising agency BMP, which was used by Labour from 1972 to 1997......

"When I first approached Nesta I was told that I would receive a funding decision within 6 weeks," he says. "However, it took Nesta a year to just write the contract. To put that in perspective, it took Apple only 2 years to conceive, develop and commercialise the entire iPhone."

'No one at Nesta has a science or engineering background'

It would be many months before the organisation's bureaucracy finished processing his paperwork. Fentem said he had been troubled to learn, that spring, from a manager at the quango that that “no one at Nesta has a science or engineering background”, in the manager’s own words.

“When he saw the look of horror and disbelief on my face he quickly said, ‘But we're trying to remedy that’,” Fentem recalled.


Send in the Clowns

Was Nesta truly committed? The sum [£20 K]seemed paltry compared to some other grants the outfit was dishing out.

In 2003 the press reported that Angela de Castro, a Brazilian-born clown, had won £39,200 for a study to “evolve her clowning expertise and look deeply into what clowning has to offer contemporary society”, according to Nesta. That cash also covered travel expenses so the performer could learn from “master clowns” around the world.

Requests for jaunts were favourably received. Later it would emerge that Nesta spent over £1m on “dream time fellowships”, which encouraged artists to take a year off to "explore". .....

Nesta’s apparent frivolity didn’t stop there. The Lottery Act that had created the outfit urged it to protect an individual’s intellectual property (IP). Yet, astonishingly, even before Nesta had signed a contract with Fentem, we're told it published the details about his work on its website, alerting competitors.......

In an internal review conducted in December 2004 which The Register has seen, Nesta itself conceded that "milestone" requirements [were] not set out sufficiently clearly in the contract to provide certainty on when they have been met." It continued: "Milestone renegotiation issues can only be resolved through discussion between awardee and programme identify a way forward."

But Nesta and Fentem could not reach an agreement. He told us: "They wouldn't acknowledge that they'd wasted such an enormous amount of my time."

To add insult to injury, Nesta continued to claim publicly it had invested £100,000 in his multi-touch screen tech........   (my suspicion is that they had, but £80 K of it was shuffling the paper at their end - Neil)

       He subsequently tried to get an investigation, contacting the "independent" ombudswoman Helen Abrahams over the fact that NESTA had tried to get him in bed with a potential investor who was employing NESTA personnel and who they knew to be about to go bankrupt, as it did leaving him stuck

each request to investigate Nesta was turned down by Abraham. Her office cited a clause in the 1967 Parliamentary Commissioner Act which allowed it to “exercise its discretion” not to investigate contracts. The parts of the complaint which did fall under its remit, it declared, were so “entwined” with the contracts that its hands were tied. ....

A former council official, ombudsman Abraham had launched a project called "Ombudsman's Principles" which took two years to define what an Ombudsman should do. Proudly enshrined in the 2007 publication "Principles of Good Administration", these included "Getting it right", "Being customer focused", "Being open and accountable", "Acting fairly and proportionately", "Putting things right" and "Seeking continuous improvement".

Later dubbed “the Quango Queen”, Abraham retired with a £1.45m pension pot in December 2011, claiming £9,100 on hotel expenses in her final nine months in the job. Her career had included spells at the quangos Housing Corporation, the Benefits Agency and the National Association Of Citizens Advice Bureaux and the Committee On Standards In Public Life. She also acted as the Health Service Ombudsman for a full nine years, until just two years ago, in 2011.....

Today, the iPad is capable of manipulating images and driving virtual instruments – and this was all work Fentem was perfecting in 1999, work that had to be “relearned” by Apple after acquiring Fingerworks. Acquiring Fentem's potentially superior British technology could have allowed Apple to bring products to market faster.

But thanks to the bungling British quangocracy, Apple never even saw his work.

In fact, in a bizarre twist, Nesta actually contacted Fentem asking for royalties statements, gross receipts and updates on his trading status the following year in a letter seen by The Register.

In its first five years handling a £250m endowment, NESTA saw a return of just £228 in royalties ("Puttnam fund hit by row on ‘follies waste’" - Sunday Times - behind paywall).

“A few years ago,” Fentem recalls, “I was interviewed about my work by the British Council - the article was for a magazine distributed by their 'creative embassies' around the world. After the usual questions about my influences etc, they asked me what my message would be to young people thinking about coming to work or study in the UK.”

“I said, 'Don't'. 'Don't what?' asked the woman from the British Council...'Don't come. Don't come to the UK....that would be my message'."
I commented:

  I have long campaigned for a well funded X-Prize Foundation run by successful engineers, scientists, accountants and venture capitalists not politicians and civil servants.
To be fair such an organisation would not have directly funded this project in advance but if they had known that by achieving a target, short of commercial viability, the winning company would have won anything from hundreds of thousands to millions, real venture capitalists would have showered him with immediate offers of financial support.


   If you take Pournelle's dictum that "the purpose of government programmes is to pay government employees and their friends, the nominal purpose is, at best, secondary, all of this makes sense.

   A quango of well connected parasities is set up to hand over money to luvvies but to keep a little public credibility and to empire build it then extends its remit to cover scientific stuff. But since the purpose was never to promote any technology but merely provide gainful employment for their own, they never actually hired anybody who knew anything about technology. Then as a nice little earner they tried to get him in bed with a "friendly" investor who they knew was going bankrupt but was paying them. Rather than, for example, brokering a deal with Apple, who weren't paying any of them.

PS    I also suspect that NESTA weren't actually lying about having spent £100,000 on this. Just that £20,000 went to Fentem to invent the thing and £80,000 to "government employees and their friends" to watch as he did so and to shuffle papers and, ever so slowly, draw up contracts.

PPS  His last words remind me of a friend, who knew, who said "Britain's Space Agency must be the worst space agency in the world, they charge you £6,000 to fill in a form".

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Congratulations China

       The Chinese automated Moon Lander was last item on ITV and has been generally described as "40 years late" by our media. 40 years after Apollo perhaps but NASA couldn't do it now.

        It does seem likely that it will be of more pure scientific use than the Apollo landings because the lander has ground penetrating radar and since it will work for several months, will cover a much greater area.
From Wikipedia

The Yutu rover is slightly smaller than the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and carries similar instruments: panoramic cameras and two spectrometers, one operating in the infrared, the other using alpha particles and X-rays (APXS).[8][14] Yutu is equipped with a robotic arm to position the APXS near the target sample.
The rover has a mass of approximately 120 kilograms (260 lb) and a payload capacity of approximately 20 kg (44 lb).[1][2][15] It may transmit video in real time and has automatic sensors to prevent it from colliding with other objects.


The six-wheeled rover is designed to explore an area of 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) during its 3-month mission, with a maximum travelling distance of 10 km (6.2 mi). Energy would be provided by a solar panel, allowing the rover to operate through lunar days. During the lunar nights, the lander and the rover will go into 'sleep mode'.[12] Heating will be provided by use of radioisotope heater units (RHU) and two-phase fluid loops.[16]

Scientific payload[edit]

The planned landing site was Sinus Iridum, a lava-filled crater 249 km in diameter. Arrow shows location of Soviet Lunokhod 1 rover. The actual landing took place east of it, on Mare Imbrium, about 44 km southeast of Laplace F crater
The Yutu rover carries a ground-penetrating radar and spectrometers to inspect the composition of the soil and the structure of the lunar crust beneath it.

Ground-penetrating radar[edit]

The rover carries a ground-penetrating radar on its underside, allowing for the first direct measurement of the structure and depth of the lunar soil down to a depth of 30 m (98 ft), and investigation of the lunar crust structure down to several hundred meters deep.[13]


The rover carries an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer[14] and an Infrared spectrometer to analyze the chemical element composition of lunar samples.


There are two panoramic cameras and two navigation cameras on the rover's mast, which stands ~1.5 m (4.9 ft) above the lunar surface, as well as two hazard avoidance cameras installed on the lower front portion of the rover. Each camera pair may be used to capture either stereoscopic three-dimensional imaging or range-sensor two-dimensional imaging.

      It cannot return rocks to Earth but that is promised for future voyages.

     Remarkably China's space budget is low  US$500 million (official); US$1.3 billion (Euroconsult).

     That is £320 million or £800 million. By comparison Britain's space budget is £330 million, almost all simply handed over to ESA, whose budget in turn is about half of the $20,000 million NASA spends.

     This makes China's space efforts remarkably small and remarkably successful or NASA and ESA remarkably useless which is probably more likely. That is 60p per person annually. Clearly they are not so much racing for space as engaged in a gentle stroll while the west slides slowly backwards.

      It reinforces my and UKIP's belief that if even only our current space budget was put into an X-Prize Foundation, we might well quickly become the world leader in commercial space development. If we also added the £500 million NERC spends, largely on advertising the warming scare, we would be a racing certainty.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

White Paper - Scotland's Energy Future

       My latest article now up on ThinkScotland - please put any comments there. It is part of a series Brian has run on the SNP's white paper.

   The entire energy question is covered in Chapter 8 of the White Paper entitled "Environment, Rural Affairs, Energy and Resources" which is reflects the degree of priority given to energy, despite the fact that energy use is pretty much identical to gdp.

    They boast "Between January 2010 and April 2013, industry has announced £13.1 billion of investment with an associated 9,100 jobs" which, at £1.44 million per job would not be that wonderful even if Verso Economics had not previously proven that for every "Green" job created 3.7 jobs in the non-subsidised economy are destroyed. Add the decision of Scottish Power to pull out its previously announced intention to invest in a Hebridean windfarm, and many other recent cancellations of windmill projects and even that promise looks improbable.

    In fact none of this £13.1 billion would have been on offer were it not that wind energy is getting a 200% subsidy. The Scottish government has not only already promised we will be 100% renewable by 2020 but every major conventional power generator is intended to close before 2020 except:

Longannet, coal, 2.4 GW, opened 1972, The station is expected to continue operating until approximately 2020-2025, because of the technical advancements in place at the station. These include the station's low NOx burners, its NOx reburn system

Hunterston B, nuclear, 1.288 GW, opened 1976, Hunterston B was originally planned to operate until 2011. In 2007 planned operation was extended by 5 years to 2016. In December 2012 EDF said it could (technically and economically) operate until 2023.

Torness, nuclear, 1.344 GW, opened 1988 It is expected to operate until 2023

 Peterhead, gas, was 1550GW, opened 1980, UK Peterhead power plant Unit 2 likely to close
* 660 megawatt Peterhead Unit Two likely to close
* Peterhead transmission capacity down to 1,180 megawatts - undated but clearly current. Peterhead has also not got the Westminster £1bn subsidy for carbon capture that Holyrood wanted and was listed by Jim McDonald as one due to close before 2030.

  We are building no new large capacity generators. We will soon have none.

   Windmills simply cannot provide baseload because they are intermittent, even the government funded lobbyists, Scottish Renewables accept this..

   So how will the power be kept on?

   Despite the 100% renewable promise the paper promises incentives to provide "renewable and thermal", which looks like 2 incompatible promises but I am assured there is an explanation.

    The big question is how Scotland can afford to be 100% renewable when everybody accepts  wind is more expensive. Particularly when we are assured not only that Holyrood will oppose fuel poverty but that they will have a statutory duty to end fuel poverty.

     This is how:

    "This Government proposes that a single Transmission Operator will continue to balance supply and demand across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Following independence, Scottish renewable energy will continue to represent the most cost-effective means for the rest of the UK to meet its renewable ambitions. The continuation of a system of shared support for renewables and capital costs of transmission among consumers in Scotland and the rest of the UK is a reasonable consideration for meeting the UK's ongoing green commitments."

    The rest of the UK will continue to subsidise our windmills.

    They are honest enough to say that this is simply what the SNP "proposes" but it is clearly insane. Nobody can guarantee that England will continue to elect governments willing to pour subsidies into a foreign country. But having admitted it is only a proposal there is no plan B should the English electorate decide otherwise.

      Bear in mind that Ofgen have already said they expect electricity bills to rise to £3,000 a year across the UK by 2020 when the UK will not yet have reached its target of 30% renewable, Scotland, with its 100% target would, on our own, clearly be well beyond impossible without English subsidy. Ignoring the question shows them to be, at best, unfit to hold any responsible job.

      Actually its worse than that - because wind is intermittent, and particularly likely to be missing when it is cold, we will would need their help to keep the lights on in any case and irrespective of cost. Indeed either way we will need to strengthen the cross border interconnector either to sell as much of our spare windpower ass promised or to bring in enough of their conventional power at need.

      The paper also guarantees that £70 of the energy levies will be transferred to tax. With 2 million Scots households an 2/3 of power use being non-domestic that comes to £420 million - 1.3p on income tax or some equivalent, both unspecified. This and other spending promises for an independent country look to be adding about 20p to income taxes or equivalent. I await hearing of their equivalent.

Oil & Gas

  The long prophesied Oil Fund gets another mention but since no promise of how much will go into it, or when it may safely be ignored. Good thing since that money is currently being spent.

  I found this interesting remark about gas "Scotland is also estimated to have the second largest volume of proven gas reserves in the EU after the Netherlands" The key word being "proven" which allows them to ignore shale gas though it is orders of magnitude more than conventional gas and the UK may be the European leader. Most shale is in northern England but there is enough under Scotland's central belt that, per capita, a separate Scotland would not lose out. Or at least would not lose out unless we decided to. But the SNP have promised ever more regulation to prevent it being.

    Grangemouth was saved because the owner decided to bring in US shale gas (which costs 1/3rd of what ours does) to process, but this is like carrying coals to Newcastle in that we could be getting this gas from Fife.

   Another interesting omission is under decommissioning. This is about getting England to pay for decommissioning of oil rigs. The omission is any mention of decommissioning nuclear plants, Over the decades the government have taken over £40 million from the nuclear industry to be held by them in a "decommissiong fund" - in fact no such fund exists or it would, accounting for inflation and interest, now be worth well above £200 billion. It is out of character that they don't stake a claim to a disproportionate share of this and I think it is evidence of their blank spot over nuclear rather than any goodwill.


     I am not trying to say that Scotland cannot afford separation. A Scotland favourable to economic freedom, willing to allow us to have shale gas and nuclear power at a market price would undoubtedly be far wealthier than the current UK. Hinkley Point is to cost 4 times more than an equivalent European built project in China and almost equally important for investor returns, will take 10 years rather than 3 to complete, entirely due to government parasitism.

      Then again so would such a UK. The problem is that the SNP not only don't want that, it is obvious from this document that they cannot even conceive of such an option. Nor, from the criticism from the other parties and our mainstream media, can any of them.

      Which brings me to my last extract from the paper:

"If we form the government of an independent Scotland we will:
  • seek to enshrine environmental protection in the constitution. With independence we will have the opportunity to enshrine protection of our environment in the proposed written constitution for Scotland"
  I'm of the old fashioned view that the purpose of a constitution is to limit the power the state has over us, rather than the EU style one, that it is to give judges and those in power more power over us and limit our power to object. This is very much of the latter sort. It says what government can do and even what we cannot object to the state doing. No wording is given but there is difficulty in concluding that it would say, or after a few years interpretation would be deemed to say, that we mortals have no right to object to anything the ecofascists claim is necessary. Ultimately even that nobody not willing to claim to see catastrophic warming (or whatever the next eco-scare is) at every hand, could stand for election. Holyrood did vote for the world's most restrictive Climate Change Act and did so with Soviet style unanimity - how many of them would object to it being enshrined in the constitution to keep future generations restrained too?


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Sunday, December 15, 2013

So How Many Are being Killed By Ecofascism In Britain?

Total excess winter deaths in England and Wales last winter was 31,000. Proportionately that should be 2,880 in Scotland, assuming our winter weather isn't worse, but officially the figure, while not yet fully available is "about 2000".

1990/91 2,430 1991/92 2,740 1993/94 2,590 1994/95  2,310 1995/6 3,650 1996/97 3,640 1997/98  2,610 1998/99  4,750 1999/2000 5,190 2000/01 2,220 2001/2 2,510 2003/04 2,840 2004/05 2,760 2005/06  2,750 2007/08 2,180 2008/09 3,510 2009/10  2,760 2010/1 2,450 2011/12 1,420 2012/13  provisional (90 190 600 1,120) 2,000   (figures in brackets are by age group showing that while these deaths are mainly pensioner ones they are  far from entirely so).

     The 2009/10 winter was the coldest for decades yet the death rate is shown as down compared to the previous year. Also there appears to have been a step reduction in recorded deaths after 2000, for which I can see no physical reason.

      I think we are dealing with a massaging of the figures rather than a change in reality.

      If we assume deaths are proportional to England and Wales that would be a total of 33,880.

      How many of these deaths are due to fuel poverty. Well according to the state owned "legally balanced" BBC it is 50%.

    "An all attack on the energy companies is in progress….the BBC, rather than standing back from the fray and giving us impartial news and information, is more than happy to land a few punches of its own.

We had ‘green’ companies complaining about their state subsidised profiteering being taken away from them…and linking it to yesterday’s scare stories about winter deaths….much exaggerated as shown in a previous post.

The company spokesman telling us that 50% of deaths were due to high fuel bills.

The BBC didn’t challenge that."

   Now the BBC were using this as a stick to beat the energy companies and that is false since we know the energy companies aren't making excess profits, indeed, as a proportion of turnover, profits have fallen. But if it this proportion is true it remains true when discussing the truth - that not only 100% of  the increase in fuel costs is deliberate political parasitism. indeed that between 80% and 98% of each electricity bill is state parasitism.

   Which makes our politicians knowingly and deliberately guilty of the murder of  17,000 citizens last year. More this year as costs rise. And a comparable number every year since the early 1970s when the anti-nuclear campaign first started putting up prices. Call it 680,000 in the UK.

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