Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Not in Service

Not in Service

The so-called ‘Boris bus’ or London’s ‘new Routemaster’, hailed as a wonder of green technology, is turning out to be an embarrassment, reports BBC News:

I’m told that at the back of a bus depot, there is a large pile of power batteries that no longer work.

All have been removed from the new bus for London and are a crucial part of the hybrid system.

Drivers say that many buses across London are operating without them in place.


Heathrow pantomime [image credit: BBC]

Heathrow pantomime [image credit: BBC]

What effect will this have on public perceptions? Might help to consign climate change to the fringes of acceptability as an issue with any luck. The BBC reports:

Protesters disrupted flights at Heathrow Airport by cutting through a fence and chaining themselves together on a runway.

Direct action group Plane Stupid said 13 demonstrators opposed to the airport’s expansion plans got on to the northern runway at 03:30 BST.

The runway was closed for nearly three hours and 13 flights were cancelled.


Caravanning in Antarctica is no holiday

Posted: July 8, 2015 by oldbrew in research, Travel

Mobile home [image credit: BAS]

Mobile home [image credit: BAS]

The British Antarctic Survey has a new research station with a difference, reports the New Scientist:

CONSTANT darkness, bone-chilling temperatures and cut off from the rest of the world. Living in Antarctica isn’t for the faint-hearted – and I should know, I overwintered there a while back. But at least I lived in a base built on rock; it’s quite another matter when your home sits on top of a floating ice shelf. This is Halley VI, the Antarctic’s most futuristic construction so far.


Squeaky bum time over at NASA for the team handling the Pluto probe with a sudden technical hitch – now resolved – days before the crucial fly-by, reports The Verge.

The New Horizons team is breathing a big sigh of relief this Monday. Over the weekend, the NASA team resolved a glitch that caused their Pluto probe to go into “safe mode” on July 4th. The spacecraft switched to its backup computer and briefly ceased communication with ground control.


H/T to @IntrepidWanders for this paper, which lays out in clear terms the argument for abiotic oil/gas. I’ll post the second half next.

Saturn seen across a sea of methane on Titan by Huygens probe 2005

Saturn seen across a sea of methane on Titan. Artists impression. Credit: NASA/JPL Gregor Kervina

Evgeny Yantovski
Independent researcher
Elsass str. 58, D-52068 Aachen, Germany

Thomas Gold was a main participant and contributor in the controversy between the biogenic
and abiogenic theories of the origin of hydrocarbons, a controversy launched by the abiogenic
views of Mendeleev and supported by other Russian and Ukrainian authors. The great success
of Gold’s forecasts is illustrated by a photo of the methane seas on the cold planetary body
Titan. Recently Scott et al.’s experiment on methane formation at high pressure suggests a
possibility of methane formation in the mantle. Some thermodynamic equilibrium
calculations suggest a possible exothermic reaction of carbon dioxide with fayalite producing
methane. In this view, carbon could play the role of an energy carrier from fayalite to
methane and then to a power plant and in a closed cycle be reinjected in Earth. Fayalite
becomes a fuel, with methane the energy carrier. Methane is then a renewable energy source.
The search for methane in Earth and resoluton of its origins deserve more efforts than ever


Opportunity Cost is the Achilles Heel of High Speed 2

Posted: November 5, 2014 by tallbloke in Politics, Travel


Short and to the point, this article contains very useful reference links. Which way our public transport systems?

Originally posted on Richard Wellings:

An economically rational transport investment policy would allocate scarce resources to those projects with the highest returns.

Yet even if one accepts the official estimates – and in reality there are major doubts as to whether the benefits will actually outweigh the costs – it is clear that High Speed 2 offers poor value for money compared with alternative transport schemes (data on rates of return on transport schemes here).

The issue of Opportunity Cost is therefore the Achilles Heel of HS2. Clearly the vast resources required would be far better deployed elsewhere.

If the aim is to cut journey times, then other schemes would deliver more valuable savings for less expenditure.

If the objective is to address overcrowding then there are far more cost-effective ways of increasing capacity and making more efficient use of existing links.

And if regeneration of the North is the priority, then greater…

View original 42 more words

Talkshop contributor Cheremon emailed me earlier to say that today is the centenary of the birth of Adventurer and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl. Here’s a short Biography of this remarkable man. I visited the museum and ‘ethnological park he built on Teneriffe (with Fred Olson’s money) some years ago, and marvelled at the similarity of the ancient artifacts from both sides of the Atlantic on display next to the pyramids he excavated from a pile of rubble. This from


Thor Heyerdahl Biography

Writer, Academic, Archaeologist, Explorer (1914–2002)
Born in 1914, Thor Heyerdahl grew up in Norway. He attended Oslo University, where he studied zoology. In 1936, Heyerdahl went to live on the Pacific island of Fatu Hiva. He made his world-famous voyage from Peru to French Polynesia aboard the Kon-Tiki in 1947. His book about this adventure became an international hit. In 1953, Heyerdahl led an archaelogical expedition to the Galapagos Islands. Two years later, he traveled to Easter Island. In his later years, Heyerdahl excavated pyramids in Peru and the Canary Islands. He died in 2002. (more…)

From 2020 drivers of all but the most efficient diesel cars and older petrol cars will be charged an additional £10 a day to use the London roads they already pay road tax and a ‘congestion charge’ to travel on. Boris Johnson is bringing in the new levy in response to EU pressure to further reduce emissions. The unelected EU commission launched legal proceedings against Britain in February.


Elsewhere, Labour is planning a network of low-emission zones that would force older diesel vehicles out of many cities. Sheffield, Leicester, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and 14 other cities are considering bringing in the zones to cope with poor air quality.


Gizmag has a report on a successful test flight by World View Enterprises of their 1/10 scale model of the real thing. Can I have a go please:


UK Weather: Incoming!

Posted: February 12, 2014 by tallbloke in Natural Variation, Ocean dynamics, Tides, Travel, trees, waves, weather, wind

Batten down and hang on. 100mph gusts expected on coasts and exposed ground.




Never say die

Posted: December 4, 2013 by tallbloke in Ocean dynamics, People power, Philosophy, Travel, waves

Heartwarming story of a rescue on the seabed:

Man survives 3 days at bottom of Atlantic
By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press

rescueLAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — About 100 feet down, on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, divers had already pulled four bodies out of the sunken tugboat. Then a hand appeared on a TV screen monitoring the recovery.

Everyone assumed it was another corpse, and the diver moved toward it.

“But when he went to grab the hand, the hand grabbed him!” Tony Walker, project manager for the Dutch company DCN Diving, said of the rescue in May.

Harrison Odjegba Okene, the tug’s Nigerian cook, had survived for three days by breathing an ever-dwindling supply of oxygen in an air pocket. A video of Okene’s dramatic rescue — — was posted on the Internet more than six months after the rescue and has gone viral this week.

As the temperature dropped to freezing, Okene, dressed only in boxer shorts, recited a psalm his wife had sent him earlier by text message, sometimes called the Prayer for Deliverance. “Oh, God, by your name, save me. … The Lord sustains my life.”

To this day, Okene believes his rescue after 72 hours underwater was the result of divine deliverance. The 11 other seamen aboard the tug Jascon 4 died.

On the video, there was an exclamation of fear and shock from Okene’s rescuers, and then joy as the realization set in that this hand belonged to a survivor. “What’s that? He’s alive! He’s alive!” a voice can be heard exclaiming.

From the BBC website, the government’s latest argument for giving £42.5BILLION of our money over to a white elephant project designed to reinforce two-speed Britain. The sooner we vote the main parties out of power the better:

flying pigA government-commissioned report says the alternative to a new HS2 high speed rail link would see 14 years of weekend route closures and longer journeys.

The report, by Network Rail and Atkins, says upgrading existing rail lines would severely affect the East Coast, Midland and West Coast mainlines.

It says that would double travel times between Leeds and London.

The study will inform the government’s updated business case for HS2, which will be presented on Tuesday. It will be the fifth official presentation given by the government on HS2.



BirdTrack is organised by the BTO for the BTO, RSPB, BirdWatch Ireland, SOC and WOS.” (British Trust for Ornithology, etc.) is an online resource reporting sightings of birds in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Bird numbers vary for a variety of reasons, particularly seasonally, this resource gives access to the reports. Accuracy relies on the consistency of the many humans watching.


H/T to Roger Andrews for spotting this BBC article about the imprisoned Greenpeace Activists awaiting trial in Murmansk:

greenpeace-piratingRussia has dropped piracy charges against 30 Greenpeace activists, replacing them with hooliganism charges, according to officials.

The new charge has a maximum penalty of seven years rather than 15, Russian news website Lenta reports.

The Arctic Sunrise was seized more than four weeks ago by Russian security forces after activists tried to scale an offshore oil platform.

All 30 people on board – including two freelance journalists – were detained.

So far all bail applications in the case have been refused.


hear.speak.seeFrom Nasa-Watch:

By Keith Cowing on October 21, 2013 2:30 PM.

NAS SSB: Committee on Human Spaceflight Meeting

Keith’s note: Only after today’s event began did the NAS Space Studies Board bother to tweet that there was a Webex feed for this meeting – something they only added to the event’s page after the fact. Bill Gerstenmaier is speaking on “Status on HSF Plans and Challenges” from 3:00 – 3:15 pm EDT. Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721 Conference Code: 448 560 9647

Attendees in the audience at the event were unaware that this event was being webcast or available as on dial-in. I asked the SSB ahead of time and they said it would not be webcast or audiocast so I came into town only to learn that I could have listened from my office. Thanks guys.


There has unfortunately been an aircraft crash at San Francisco. The talkshop extends our condolences to the families of the two people who lost their lives and best wishes to the injured for speedy recoveries.

When I heard detail news from an eyewitness I immediately thought of a 777 type problem.

I want to avoid scaremongering so up front, on checking the engines are different. NOT COMMON

However on looking for a good link I discover the Daily Mail have the same thought and have up photographs of both crashes.

Daily Mail article

You are all able to find news elsewhere.


An Asiana Boeing 777-200, registration HL7742 performing flight OZ-214 from Seoul (South Korea) to San Francisco,CA (USA) with 291 passengers and 16 crew, touched down short of runway 28L impacting the edge separating the runway from the San Francisco Bay 115 meters/375 feet ahead of the runway threshold while landing on San Francisco’s runway 28L at 11:27L (18:27Z), the tail plane, gear and engines separated, the aircraft came to a rest left of the runway about 490 meters/1600 feet past the runway threshold.  — Aviation Herald


“Confirm no G/S on both 28L and 28R. PAPI only”

and the FAA proof…ach_Status.pdf


We intend to hold a conference in September 2013 to discuss the new knowledge in the literature in relation to the theory of climate we have been developing here at the Talkshop. Because this is a first event, places will be limited, along with the budget.  I suggest you register your interest early to secure a place as a speaker or attendee. Speakers,  sponsors and poster presenters will get priority for accommodation at the venue itself, but there are many places offering lodgings nearby at prices to suit every budget. This will be a professionally presented event, planned and run by   experienced conference organisers at a fit for purpose venue in the vicinity of The university of Leeds and the city centre.

The radiatively based theory of climate is so deficient that its models are now falsified. The Talkshop has hosted discussion of many papers and articles over the last two years which demonstrate the radiative theory’s inadequacy, and many of these also offer an alternative description of the underlying dynamics of the atmospheric and oceanic processes involved in determining the way energy flows into, is absorbed by, redistributed, and finally re-emitted from the Earth’s envelope. We are now at a stage where we are ready to develop an alternative body of theory which can be quantified and assessed.



Kilauea image courtesy milazinkova via wikipedia, click image for details

Doug Protor writes: –

“I’m on the Big Island, Hawaii right now. There is a “drought” here: at the Volcano Winery just outside the Kilauea crater, they are only getting 110 inches of rain a year, instead of 180 inches of rain. Been going on for 7 years. The vineyards need irrigating and the grasslands are yellow and dry, in an extreme hazard for fire.

But still 110 inches of rain. The term “drought” as used by McKibben, clearly has a use aspect, not just a technical term of quantity. If your vineyards need water, it is a drought. If your cactus farm is drowning, it’s a record flood. If you are doing nothing with it, it is dry, which it sometimes does, and the resultant fires put nutrients into the lava fields.

Go figure.


I’ve been away for a few days as an invited participant at The Royal Society’s 2012 meeting on ‘Handling Uncertainty in Weather and Climate Prediction, With Application to Health, Agronomy, Hydrology, Energy and Economics’, organised by Prof. Tim Palmer. Unlike the 2010 meeting, this wasn’t held at The Royal Society’s London HQ, but at Chicheley Hall, in the Buckinghamshire countryside near Milton Keynes.

It was a wide ranging, detailed and very interesting meeting, with some 20 speakers (Audio here) and 70 or so more participants, and doing justice to the occasion is going to require several posts. To Set the scene, I’ll start with a few photos I took around the venue and some description gleaned mostly from the Royal Society fellow-in-residence, lucky man.

Chicheley Hall owned and restored by the Royal Society since 2009

The hall was completed in 1723 by the Chester family, who owned it until the middle of the C20th when it was sold to 2nd Earl Beatty (b. 1905, son of the famous World War I admiral). The Royal Society acquired it in 2009 and commenced refurbishment and alteration. The 75 acres surrounding the house contain the gardens, parkland and interesting corners for inquisitive visitors to discover.


Ian Laidlaw (left) with old colleague Prof Julian Dowdeswell, Head of the Scott Polar Research Institute

Yesterday I was privileged to make a visit to meet Prof. Julian Dowdeswell, the head of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. This was enabled by one of Julian’s former colleagues at Aberystwyth University, Ian Laidlaw who now lives in my home town of Leeds.  Along with another friend, Susan, we made the four hour journey down in atrocious rain conditions in Ian’s car, battling through near zero visibility as we passed trucks throwing huge spray plumes off the motorway road surface. Julian had an equally difficult drive from his home in Bristol. We laughed it off, when I commented that it wasn’t so bad in comparison to the conditions Scott and his party suffered in the Antarctic.