Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Space Elevator? Yea, Right!

Straight from the pages of Ripley's Believe It Or Not, a Japanese construction giant says it'll have a space elevator up and running by 2050....reaching 96,000km out into space.
Robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors will carry people and cargo to a newly-built space station, at a fraction of the cost of
rockets. It will take seven days to get there.
The Obayashi company says this fantasy is within reach due to the development of carbon nanotechnology, the tensile strength of which is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable.
Yoji Ishikawa, R+D manager: "Right now we can't make the cable long enough. We can only make 3cm-long nanotubes but by 2030 we'll be able to do it."
The boffins reckon the space elevator could signal the end of rockets which are hugely expensive - a space shuttle costs about $22,000 per kilogram to take cargo into space: the estimate for the space elevator is about $200!
The elevator would allow small rockets to be housed and launched from stations in space without needing huge amounts of fuel to break the Earth's gravitational pull.
It's also hoped the space elevator could help in solving the world's power problems, by delivering huge amounts of cheap solar power or storing nuclear waste.
And hey, why not idly speculate about space tourism! Obayashi is working on 30-man elevator cars, and believes it won't be too long before the Moon is the next must-see tourist destination.
Yea, right!!! Open the pod bay doors, Hal...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

IWC Is A Eunuch

It's all over, bar the shouting...of which there will be much.
The International Whaling Commission's (IWC) 65th meeting has ended, with an agreement to toughen scrutiny of Japan's Antarctic hunts, but without the balls to do much else.
The 35/20 vote, for a NZ resolution to tighten the review of proposals for research whaling, was hailed by conservationists as a major victory. Patrick Ramage, whale programme director at International Fund for Animal Welfare, called it a great day for NZ's anti-whaling efforts:
"It really tightens the noose on Japan's ongoing scientific whaling in and around Antarctica."
The resolution instructs the IWC's scientific committee to assess whether a research bid is truly science-driven, including by satisfying itself that non-lethal means are not an option. And until such a review is completed, it "requests" that countries do not issue any research whaling permits.
And there's the problem: while the IWC's scientific committee considers proposals for scientific whaling, there's nothing preventing a nation from going ahead without its blessing (as Sara Phillips writes for ABC Environment). So while the majority of nations in this particular vote want to close the "scientific whaling" loophole, they're working with another gap, ie: that the IWC resolution itself is non-binding.
As we already know, Japan cancelled this summer's Antarctic hunt after March's International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, but says it'll resume in 2015-16, and will file a new "research" plan by the end of this year.
Patrick Ramage: "It's as though Japan is saying: 'Pay no attention to the world court judgment - we are going back to killing in a whale sanctuary around Antarctica.' Ultimately, Japan needs to reconcile itself to the emerging global consensus for whale conservation and the court order of the ICJ."
Let's be BLUNT: Japan is saying "あなたをファック!" to us all!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wally-wood Does It Again

Wellington Airport is facing more flak over its controversial Wellington Blown Away sign!
You may recall the public hoohah when the sign plan was first announced, and the huge campaign to select the eventual design.
Wow! Was that a FART???
Well, the sign's changed twice in recent months, first to Vellington to support the Kiwi vampire movie What We Do In The Shadows and now to WOWington to celebrate the upcoming World of Wearable Arts show.
But the changes have attracted criticism from a local concert promoter, who reckons it's simply become a billboard.
However, airport spokesman Greg Thomas says they're using the sign exactly as it was intended: "There's one thing that the sign was put up for - which was about showcasing Wellington. And both of these two changes have very much been in line with that, to showcase Wellington. They've only been subtle changes." He says it'll be changed back to Wellington Blown Away after WOW.
The airport first announced plans to build a Wellywood sign (a copy of the Hollywood sign) in early 2010, to promote Wellington's film industry to visitors. That met with intense backlash (plus legal threats from USA) and was slammed by many who thought it unoriginal.
So the airport backed down and an independent panel helped choose an alternative. The panel ran a public competition and Wellington Blown Away was selected as the winner, scoring 18,862 of 33,027 votes.
Interesting to note that, contrary to Greg Thomas' position, at no stage during the initial discussions over the $80K sign, was there ever any mention of repeated promotional changes.
In the USA, the now-iconic Hollywood sign was originally merely a 1923 real estate advertisement, originally saying Hollywoodland! No changes were made to that sign: the -land bit simply fell off with old age!!!