Monday, December 29, 2008

The two biggest warships of Britain

It may look like the ultimate boy's toy but this scale model - pictured here for the first time - represents the future of the Royal Navy. As work begins on two 65,000-ton aircraft carriers, Live gains exclusive access to the top secret plans for Britain's biggest and most ambitious warships

At first sight it looks like a giant Airfix model, with every detail carefully replicated, from the tiny fighter jets and helicopters to the unique twin ‘island’ control towers complete with a captain and commander to survey the deck. Even the 30mm anti-aircraft guns and the long-range radar have been painstakingly reproduced. At more than five feet long, the model is a carefully crafted reminder of our glorious naval past carved out of grey plastic.

Such vast aircraft carriers may once have been a badge of pride, but now you can’t help but feel they are merely lumbering relics of the Cold War or even the Empire, which have surely had their day. After all, the UK abandoned the idea of aircraft carriers in the late Seventies when our last big carrier, the HMS Ark Royal, was scrapped.

But this long hunk of plastic represents a work in progress. It sits proudly in the lobby of the design headquarters for the Royal Navy’s latest grand project. It’s a 1:200 scale model of what will be the two biggest warships Britain has ever launched – the 65,000-ton HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales.

Each ship will have nine decks topped by a vast flight deck and will tower six metres taller than Nelson’s Column from keel to masthead.

‘Cover the flight deck with grass and it would be a par four,’ says one of the design team.

They will carry 36 state-of-the-art Joint Strike Fighter stealth jump-jets and four helicopters each, and be able to get 24 planes airborne within just 15 minutes.

‘All the major navies in the world are now building them,’ says Dr Lee Willett, head of the Maritime Studies Programme at the Royal United Services Institute.

‘The Russians have one of their big carriers, the Admiral Kuznetsov, back at sea and have stated that they plan to build 12 carrier battle groups. The Chinese and the Indians are also under way with plans, the Japanese are building a destroyer that will act as a helicopter carrier and the US are working on new-generation carriers.

‘We’re an island nation and we have global interests so we need these four acres of moveable sovereign airfield that we can deploy wherever we want, whenever we need them.’

What the building of the carriers also shows is that Britain is running out of friends.

Willett says, ‘The world is an unstable place and, post-Iraq and the global war on terror, access to other nation’s territory or airspace is more difficult.’

Former naval officer and now author Lewis Page agrees.

‘Friendly nations are hard to find and it becomes even harder once you have taken over local air bases, which are then vulnerable to attack.

'But there is a way to avoid giving yourself a logistical nightmare and becoming a target. Without having to ask anyone you can put an aircraft carrier 15 miles offshore in international waters and carry out operations from there without a single person needing to set foot on land or a single supply convoy coming under fire.

'And you won’t need to go through any diplomatic hoops.’

Despite the persuasive arguments, our two supercarriers have had a long and painful birth. The decision to build them was announced in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, but the official signing ceremony only came a decade later, in July this year.

Now the Defence Secretary has announced the carriers will be further delayed – they are not expected to be ready for final delivery until 2016 and 2018.

Meanwhile, work continues at Rosyth dockyard on the Firth Of Forth to expand the granite sides of the massive Number One dock. It is here that the final assembly of the carriers will take place – or at least, that’s the plan.

But there are troubled waters ahead for this huge project, which still has the potential to go spectacularly wrong. Britain has never put together a ship in this way, on this scale, and there are fears over whether we have the commitment or the skilled workers to build the vessels to order and on time.

There have been criticisms of cost-cutting measures, concerns linger over whether the engines will work and, just to add to the uncertainty, the planes it is hoped will fly off the carriers have yet to be built.

From the outside it looks like any other nondescript provincial HQ, with a few well-manicured bushes and rows of family saloon cars parked neatly in front. But it’s on this unassuming industrial estate in suburban Bristol that the Royal Navy’s latest strike force is being designed.

Live has been given exclusive access to the design team, to watch them at work on blueprints and on computer designs for the new carriers, the UK’s most impressive piece of military kit for decades.

Within the open-plan office there are 180 people, among them 150 designers. I’m introduced to the design team in a meeting room, on one wall of which are pinned rows of detailed diagrams of the nine decks of the CVF (CV is the hull classification for a Carrier Vessel, while F stands for Future). We are prohibited from taking pictures as the diagrams are protected by the Official Secrets Act.

‘The project has been going for ten years and this is the third ship we’ve worked on,’ says naval architect Simon Knight, the project’s Platform Design Director.

‘We spent two years working on a bigger ship but found she was much too expensive, then a year on a smaller ship, but we couldn’t fit in everything we needed. We’ve been working on the CVFs now for the past three-and-a-half years.’

In the past, the team would have had to build life-size sections in plywood, but today most of the design and simulation is done on computers. Eddie Chambers, from Tyneside, is responsible for the intricate CAD (computer-aided design) 3D models of the ship. Built up in meticulous detail, these even show individual pipes and electrical cables.

He offers me a virtual tour of the engine room, then calls up one of the mess halls, complete with tables and chairs.

‘This allows you to walk around the ship,’ he says, ‘and means we can make sure that when we tell the build people to start they’ll know exactly where everything has to go. These ships are going to be huge, the second biggest in the world. Only the Yanks have got one bigger – and it’s good to know that at least we’ll have a bigger one than the French.’
Putting the ship together should be like assembling a Lego model. But with blocks of up to 10,000 tons

No single shipyard in this country has the infrastructure or personnel to construct the entire ship, so the plan is to build them in sections in different shipyards. Work on the lower bow section has already begun in Devon. The other shipyards are set to begin cutting steel in March 2009.

The aft block will be built in Glasgow, the central block in Barrow-In-Furness and the forward section in Portsmouth. The remaining upper sections will be constructed in smaller docks; bids from shipyards are still being considered.

The blocks will then be transported independently to Rosyth to be put together. The integration process is scheduled to take around two years and the plan is that as soon as the first ship floats it will leave and then work will begin on the second.

Putting aside questions over whether the money or political will could dry up before these carriers are completed, simply the practicality of gathering the parts together is a logistical nightmare.

‘Transportation is one of our biggest problems,’ says Knight. ‘Ideally you would build part of the ship in a dock, flood the dock, float the section of ship out and tow it to Rosyth, where you float it into another dock and let the water out so it’s left resting on blocks. You then connect it to the next section.

‘But unfortunately the aft section doesn’t float. We’ve looked at barges to transport it, but there’s only one big enough to take that weight and who knows if that barge will be around when we need her.

‘Alternatively we could put tanks on her to give extra buoyancy – basically enormous floats. But this is risky because we’ll have to tow it from the west coast of Scotland to the east coast.’

If and when all the pieces do finally meet, then putting the thing together should be like assembling a Lego model. But this is a massive undertaking – each of these gigantic blocks will weigh up to 10,000 tons.

‘Joining these enormous sections together, physically hammering them along a block and then making sure they’re exactly aligned will be a pretty hairy operation,’ says Knight.

The procedure has been carried out before to build offshore rigs, and the Navy is using it for its Type 45 destroyers, but those are small projects compared to these monsters. Each of these blocks will be bigger than a Type 45.

Even if things run smoothly this far, there are no guarantees that the ship will actually move. Simon Knight admits that nervousness will continue until the moment that HMS Queen Elizabeth finally goes into the water.

‘The speed trials, scheduled to take place off Rosyth, will certainly be nerve-racking. You can estimate how well the propellers will drive the ship forward, but until you’re full-scale in the water it’s very hard to know for certain. So when they first launch the ship, I’ll be terrified.’

The £3.9 billion cost for two carriers may seem huge, but they are built to serve for 50 years, and the budget is significantly less than for American carriers – each new ship costs $14 billion (£9 billion).

The project team admits that designing a ship with the desired features to a tight budget has been challenging. The result, they say, is notable more for simplicity and efficiency rather than hi-tech innovation. The most revolutionary element of the CVF design is its highly mechanised weapons handling system, which means a cut in the crew numbers required – from 4,500 on a US carrier (including a team of 150 just to move the weapons around) to 1,450.

One of the first things to go was nuclear power. Most modern aircraft carriers, including the American ships, are powered by an on-board nuclear reactor.

‘This is a brand-new ship, so getting through all the safety aspects of nuclear power would have been hideously expensive,’ says Knight.

Instead, like modern cruise liners, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales will be propelled by electrical motors, powered by two Rolls-Royce gas turbines and four diesel generators. The diesel generators are more economical and used for general cruising, but when you need to get somewhere fast or need more headwind to help the planes to take off then you switch to the gas turbines.

Money has also been saved in side armour protection, though Knight insists this was a strategic rather than a budgetary issue.

‘The CVF’s first line of defence is the frigates and the new Type 45 destroyers around us,’ he adds. ‘Our only self-defence is close-in weapons systems and small guns. Instead, what you have on the ship is 36 of the most lethal aircraft ever made.’

That would be fine except that the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jump-jets requested are still in early flight tests and engine problems mean they will not even attempt vertical take-off until next year.

‘It’s much easier with an existing aeroplane,’ says Aviation Design Manager Gary Davey. ‘Our ramp design has already been completed but the JSF’s undercarriage is still evolving.’

Areminder of the worth of aircraft carriers as mobile airfields was provided by the Falklands War in 1982. HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes had been built as ‘through-deck cruisers’, to carry hunter-killer groups of Sea King anti-submarine helicopters, which were capable of tracking down and destroying Soviet subs in the north Atlantic should the Cold War ever spill over into open conflict.

The four or five Sea Harrier planes also aboard were simply there to protect the ship from attacks by other aircraft. But then the ships were hastily reconfigured to carry eight Harrier jets in the Falklands crisis, and they proved invaluable in getting air power over their targets.

In these turbulent times, ‘power projection’ is once again considered a necessity. As complications over finding host nations and even getting agreement on using air space grow, so does the value of the carrier, which has been vital in the ongoing war in landlocked Afghanistan.

‘That started out as a carrier-based operation,’ says Dr Willett. ‘Finding shore bases can be politically difficult, and there’s also the question of whether they are of a sufficient standard. Upgrading them can be politically difficult and expensive. Carriers have proved their value in humanitarian and relief operations as well as in combat roles, and they remain a very flexible political and military asset.

Even if it’s not politically desirable to put troops ashore somewhere, you can fly aircraft overhead, use some ordnance against a specified target, or just deliver a warning simply by having a carrier parked offshore.

‘And you can do all this from your own sovereign territory in international waters and no one can tell you that you can’t.’

• The surface of the16,000sqm flight deck is covered in a grainy,heat-resistant paint,similar to very coarse sandpaper. The entire painted surface amounts to 370 acres - slightly bigger than Hyde Park.

• Two huge lifts, each with a 70-ton capacity, are capable of transporting two aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck in 60 seconds. The ship will be home to 36 Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and four EH-101 Merlin helicopters.

• The ground-breaking twin-island layout allows more deck space for aircraft and better visibility of the flight deck. The forward island is for navigating the ship; flight control is based in the aft island.

• The ship's 29,000 sq m hangar is 150 metres in length and has 20 slots for aircraft maintenance.

• There are 11 full-time medical staff on board managing an eight-bed medical suite, operating theatre and dental surgery.

• An onboard water treatment plant produces over 500 tons of fresh water daily.

• Two Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines and four diesel generator sets produce 109MW - enough to power a town the size of Swindon.

• Cabins are spacious and cruise-liner style, with en-suite toilets and shower facilities. Officers and senior ratings have single or two-berth cabins. The maximum number of crew in a cabin is six.

• The carrier will carry more than 8,600 tons of fuel, enough for the average family car to travel to the Moon and back 12 times. This gives a range of up to 10,000 nautical miles.

• Top speed will be in excess of 25 knots, sufficient to cross from Dover to Calais in an hour.

• The two five-blade propellers are each 30ft in diameter - that's one-and-a-half times the height of a double-decker bus.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bollywood Sexiest Actresses Of 2008's

Sexiest Actresses Of 2008's

Bipasha Basu
1. Bipasha Basu in Bachna Ae Haseeno
Hotpants, baby

Bips has long been one of the industry's hottest chicas, but this is decidedly the first time she's looked as breathtakingly oomphy. Constantly clad in aggressively sexy clothing, Bips rocks the tiny pants, shows off that fantastic posterior, toned legs, and flashes some wonderfully distracting decolletage.

As hot as it gets, really.

Shilpa Shetty
2. Shilpa Shetty in Dostana

Honestly, what better body to pour into a Miami showreel than this one? Miss Shetty's been missing from our screens for a while now, but clearly she hasn't been miserly with the yoga, and that bod looks better than ever. Say what you want about the film that had the potential to be so much more, but during the Shilpa-featuring opening credits all our jaws hung open.

Kareena Kapoor
3. Kareena Kapoor in Golmaal Returns

Kapoor's most hyped appearance of the year came in Victor Acharya's Tashan, where she poured her size-zero figure into a bikini. But despite that -- and the tarty red dress -- she looked far too parched to actually be hot.

The scorcher seemed a lot more wholesome in Golmaal Returns, be it in character in saris or all hotted up during the songs.

Priyanka Chopra
4. Priyanka Chopra in Dostana

It might have been more than a tad in-your-face, but try and hunt out just one man complaining about Priyanka Chopra's wardrobe in Karan Johar's latest production. Some of it was plain ridiculous -- especially the way she dressed for work -- but to all those women who rationally and cattily complain that no woman dresses like that, all us men retort: well, they should. If only in our fantasies.

Mugdha Godse
5. Mugdha Godse in Fashion

There was much talk of Madhur Bhandarkar's film starring three very attractive actresses, and while Priyanka Chopra and Kangna Ranaut played a couple of stereotyped characters, the more likeable (and less exaggerated) role belonged to Godse, making her Bollywood debut. Also, she was the hottest of the trio, by far.

Mallika Sherawat
6. Mallika Sherawat in Maan Gaye Mughal-E-Azam

The film, a rather painful attempt at remaking Mel Brooks' To Be Or Not To Be, might have been a critical and commercial disaster, but the industry's hottest woman poured her pneumatic body into flattering enough clothes. Flattering enough, in fact, to ensure that we were often gladly forgoing plotline entirely because we'd rather gape instead.

Katrina Kaif
7. Katrina Kaif in Race

The most plotless film of the year featured a bunch of stars strutting their stuff and frequently forgetting to act. But full marks for tossing Kats into formal-gear. Office skirts and fitted shirts haven't looked this sexy for a really long time, and it truly makes for Katrina at her hottest.

Sonal Chauhan
8. Sonal Chauhan in Jannat

A lithe, leggy actress who looks like a hotter version of Amrita Rao? Yes, please. We're all game to see more of the slender Sonal, yet another of the heroines who makes us realise just how charmed a certain Emraan Hashmi's life really is.

Minishha Lamba
9. Minishha Lamba in Kidnap

Alright, so it is another of the year's worst films, and Minissha positively grates on your nerves. The same can't be said about her willingness to display her ample curves though, a fact that should lead you to watch the music videos -- but not this film, oh no.

Amisha Patel
10. Amisha Patel in Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

We've always known she can't act -- and even formulated theories that her very presence can doom a film to abject unwatchability (a theory that Kunal Kohli's dud doesn't quite disprove) -- but honestly, her stripping down to bizarrely trashy cocktail dresses at least briefly livened up proceedings in this awful movie.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Beauty of clouds gathering over Greenland

These incredible photographs look more like a scene from the end of the world than a winter sunrise.

The dramatic pictures were taken in north west Greenland by British Arctic photographers Bryan and Cherry Alexander and show a storm brewing over an Inuit community.

skyThe award-winning photographic pair were staying in Qaanaaq, about 800 miles from the North Pole, when the apocalyptic cloud colouring began over Inglefield Bay.

'It was just before dawn, around 10am, when an Inuit friend of mine whose house I was staying in came to my room and suggested that I take a look at the sky,' Mr Cherry said.

'I went outside and was stunned by the beautiful and dramatic cloud formation. I just couldn't believe my eyes. I have worked in the Arctic regularly for the past 37 years and I had never seen the sky like it.'

The pictures show a thin layer of medium-level cloud that has been pummeled by winds churned up between the glaciers below.

'You often see clouds repeating the shape of the ground below,' a spokeswoman from the Met Office said.

'The wind comes in from one side, is lifted up over the mountains and hits the clouds before coming down again. It's a dramatic example of what is known as an orographic effect.'

The angle of the rising sun helped to highlight the different colours and intricate patterns.

sky'It looked apocalyptic and like a scene from one of the Lord of the Rings movies,' Mr Cherry said.

'Because of the northern winter, the sun rises later and later the nearer you are to the North Pole. That's why even though the pictures were taken at dawn, it was actually ten in the morning.'

For Mr Cherry, it was a once-in-a-lifetime photographic event.

skyHe said: 'I grabbed my cameras and photographed for about an hour as the cloud formation changed and the colour of the clouds turned from grey to pink as the rising sun's rays caught them.

'An hour or so later the drama was gone and it became just another cloudy autumn day in North Greenland.'

But it was not just the Alexanders who were blown away by the natural wonder unfolding in front of them.

Mr Cherry said: 'Just about everybody in the village was amazed, including an elderly Inuit hunter who told me that he had never seen anything like that before in his life.'

The Alexanders have travelled to the region almost every year since the early 1970s, exploring it extensively to document the life of the North's native peoples.

However, in all that time they said they had never seen anything close to the incredible skies they witnessed this autumn.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fake colgate toothpaste sold

Thousands of tubes of fake Colgate toothpaste have been recalled by Sainsbury's and Boots.

The 100ml tubes, labelled Colgate Cavity Protection, have been bought by thousands of customers at Sainsbury's and Boots stores.

The chains have sent warnings to customers who used loyalty cards for the purchase, but many others cannot be traced.

toothpasteWarning: Thousands have bought the fake toothpaste, which may be contaminated with harmful chemicals, at Boots and Sainsbury's

In the past, fake Colgate toothpaste sold in the U.S. has been found to contain a toxic chemical used in anti-freeze.

That was made in China and it seems likely that the batch sold on UK high streets between November 28 and December 5 also originated in the Far East, although it was labelled Made in South Africa.

Customer Timothy Keen said he had been suspicious of the toothpaste because it had a peculiar smell and taste.

Mr Keen, 33, from Woking in Surrey, said: 'It tasted rather like Germolene, it was very odd.

'Looking on the internet, I found there have been health concerns about fake Colgate in the past. I am concerned about what has been put in the product, it could be anything.

'I can't believe a leading store can sell a fake product. Surely they should have checks in place.'

In a letter to the 17,000 customers who used their Nectar cards, Sainsbury's said: 'If you have any of this product at home, we would advise you to stop using it and return it for a refund.

'We are carrying out a full investigation and will take every necessary step to prevent a repeat.'

Warning notices have been put up in stores. In June last year, Colgate-labelled toothpaste sold in the U.S. was found to contain diethylene glycol (DEG) - a toxic chemical used in anti-freeze.

At the time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said DEG, sometimes used as a low-cost but potentially deadly substitute for glycerine sweetener in cough medicines, was a 'low health risk'.

Colgate in the UK said last night the fake product in Britain does not contain DEG, while Sainsbury's said it 'does not believe' the ingredients are harmful.

Colgate said there have been no reports of illness associated with the fake product, which was sold only in Boots and Sainsbury's.

Sainsbury's, which has notified trading standards authorities, added: 'We believed the supplier was reputable, and we are carrying out a full investigation.'

Boots said: 'We take the health and well-being of our customers extremely seriously.

'As soon as we were made aware of a possible issue with this product it was immediately withdrawn from sale.

'Customers that we know bought this product via our Advantage Card records have been contacted and we have issued a customer recall notice to be displayed in our stores.

'If any of our customers have any concerns, we would ask them to contact a member of our team in store or contact our Customer Care team on 0800 915 0004.'

Most Artificial Christmas Trees

Upside Down Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeThe upside of this upside-down 7-foot pre-lit Christmas tree is that you’ll have more room for presents underneath! This strange tree was originally designed for specialty stores to display ornaments while using as little floor space as possible.

It’s $600 and is currently sold out at Hammacher Schlemmer:

Whoville Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeIn Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch may have realized that Christmas doesn’t come from a store, but in this case, the Whoville desktop Christmas tree does come from one!

Charlie Brown’s Pathetic Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeGood Grief! If Cindy Lou’s Whoville Christmas tree above wasn’t sad enough, maybe you’ll like this one: Charlie Brown’s Pathetic Christmas Tree as featured in Charles Schulz’ excellent comic strip Peanut…. This tree needs you!

Afterall, Linus van Pelt did say "It’s not a bad little tree. All it needs is a little love."

Mountain Dew Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeIt’s probably too late for you to start doing this one: the awesome Mountain Dew Christmas Tree. It took about 3 months of soda drinking (approximately 400 cans of Mountain Dew) and 4 days of building.

Grolsch Beer Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeMountain Dew? Weaklings… Try Grolsch beer instead:

Knitted Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeIf you’re into knitting and crafts, why not knit yourself a Christmas tree? Like this big one done by about 1,000 knitters at Eden Project

The Shelf Tree

Christmas TreeDon’t want to bother with shedding pine needles or the hassle of putting together an artificial Christmas tree?

World’s Most Expensive Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeLast year, Singapore jeweler Soo Kee Jewellery created this Christmas tree with 21,798 diamonds totaling 913 carats and 3,762 crystal beads. The tree looked like (and was actually worth) a million bucks!

Giant Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeThis is the mother of all Christmas trees: a gigantic 7-story "tree" made from 350 regular-sized artificial trees! Approximately 70 staffers of Yilong Media company of China constructed a steel framing and then stacked this pyramid of Christmas trees.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Increible bus stop around the world

Increible-bus-stopThis increible bus stop was designed by Dennis Oppenheim in Ventura California

Increible-bus-stopThis bus stop allows skaters to go on a mini ramp attached to a bus stop, it's a Quiksilver ad

Increible-bus-stopSwing on a Bus Stop in London, part of Bruno Taylor's "Playful Spaces" art project

Increible-bus-stopAir-conditioned bus stop, presumably near Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai

Increible-bus-stopThe Simpsons Bus stop in Germany, advertising for the movie

Increible-bus-stopThis Star Wars "faux light saber" bus stop ad lights up at night.
The caption says "Use Only In Case of Sith"

Increible-bus-stopSoviet era bus stop

Increible-bus-stopThis living room bus stop was created by Ikea as marketing for the Design Week 2006

Increible-bus-stopAustralia Post Bus Stop Advertisement

Friday, December 19, 2008

Top 10 Inventions of 2008


1. The Retail DNA Test

Learning and sharing your genetic secrets are at the heart of 23andMe's controversial new service — a $399 saliva test that estimates your predisposition for more than 90 traits and conditions ranging from baldness to blindness. Although 23andMe isn't the only company selling DNA tests to the public, it does the best job of making them accessible and affordable. The 600,000 genetic markers that 23andMe identifies and interprets for each customer are "the digital manifestation of you," says Wojcicki (pronounced Wo-jis-key), 35, who majored in biology and was previously a health-care investor. "It's all this information beyond what you can see in the mirror."

We are at the beginning of a personal-genomics revolution that will transform not only how we take care of ourselves but also what we mean by personal information. In the past, only élite researchers had access to their genetic fingerprints, but now personal genotyping is available to anyone who orders the service online and mails in a spit sample

2. The Tesla Roadster

Electric cars were always environmentally friendly, quiet, clean — but definitely not sexy. The Tesla Roadster has changed all that. A battery-powered sports car that sells for $100,000 and has a top speed of 125 m.p.h. (200 km/h), the Roadster has excited the clean-tech crowd since it was announced in 2003. Celebrities like George Clooney joined a long waiting list for the Roadster; magazines like Wired drooled over it. After years of setbacks and shake-ups, the first Tesla Roadsters were delivered to customers this year. Reviews have been ecstatic, but Tesla Motors has been hit hard by the financial crisis. Plans to develop an affordable electric sedan have been put on hold, and Tesla is laying off employees. But even if the Roadster turns out to be a one-hit wonder, it's been a hell of an (electric) ride.


3. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

It may have been a long time since the U.S. built the world's best cars, but nobody can touch us when it comes to spacecraft. nasa is about to prove that again with the planned launch in February 2009 of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (lro). Our first unmanned moonship in 11 years, the lro will study the things lunar orbiters always study — gravity, temperature — but it will also look for signs of water ice, a vital resource for any future lunar base, and compile detailed 3-D lunar maps, including all six Apollo landing sites. Wingnuts, be warned: yes, we really went there.



When cable eventually dies, websites like Hulu will be held responsible. Unlike YouTube and other amateur-video-upload sites, Hulu is a hub for network TV shows and movies: Hulu offers shows from nbc, Fox, pbs and other channels, including free full episodes of SNL, The Daily Show, The Office and other hits the TiVo-less masses often miss, plus films like Ghostbusters, The Fifth Element and Lost in Translation. Created as a network-approved alternative to YouTube's grab bag, Hulu was at first roundly mocked as a ham-fisted corporate knockoff of the grass-roots glory that is YouTube. (It was also mocked for its weird name.) Instead it proved that suits can play in the Internet video space too and that studio content can coexist online with the user-generated kind. In doing so, it delivered the final blow that untethered TV from that box in your living room.


5. The Large Hadron Collider

Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest particle accelerator, which went online in September, ran for 10 days and then had to shut down at least until next spring because of an overheated wire. The mammoth machine will send protons wheeling in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light, then smash them together at 6,000 times a second to try to answer such deep questions as why mass exists and whether the universe has extra dimensions. If it takes a few extra months to find out, so what?


6. The Global Seed Vault

Superman had it right: if you want to keep something safe, build a mountain fortress above the Arctic Circle. That's the thinking — more or less — behind the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Almost every nation keeps collections of native seeds so local crops can be replanted in case of an agricultural disaster. The Global Seed Vault, opened this year on the far-northern Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, is a backup for the backups. It's badly needed — as many as half the seed banks in developing countries are at risk from natural disasters or general instability. The vault can hold up to 4.5 million samples, which will be kept dry at about 0°F (-18°C). Even if the facility loses power, the Arctic climate should keep the seeds viable for thousands of years. Let's just hope we still like corn then.


7. The Chevy Volt

No-emission electric motors — which began the automobile revolution — are the technology of tomorrow for cars. But today's batteries can't support the typical driving experience.. Chevy's Volt is a nice compromise. The sedan has an electric motor with a battery that can provide up to 40 miles (about 65 km) of range on a single charge. A gas engine kicks in to recharge the battery while you're driving.. Since nearly 80% of us drive less than 40 miles a day, that means that unlike the Prius, the Volt could get drivers off gas altogether. The best of both worlds lands by the end of 2010.


8. Bullets That Shoot Bullets

Think of the Army's new Active Protection System (APS) as Star Wars for soldiers, designed to protect them from rocket-propelled grenades and other short-range threats. Raytheon's APS will automatically detect an incoming round and then launch a missile to destroy it, all within a split second. If it works, future Army vehicles will be able to head into combat with less armor.


9. The Orbital Internet

In space, no one can hear you scream. But you will be able to send e-mail, thanks to a new protocol being developed for use there. It's hard to maintain a stable connection in orbit, so the interplanetary Internet will have to be especially tolerant of delays and disruptions. In September, a satellite used the new protocol to relay an image of the Cape of Good Hope back to Earth.


10. The World's Fastest Computer

On May 26, at 3:30 in the morning, a $133 million supercomputer nicknamed Roadrunner broke the long-sought-after petaflop barrier: 1 quadrillion calculations per second. Built by IBM for Los Alamos National Laboratory, Roadrunner will be used primarily to simulate the effects of aging on nuclear weapons.InventionsInventions

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tesla Coil Car With Burglar Alarm

tesla car
When Nikola Tesla got creative with transformers and driver circuits at the turn of the 20th century he probably had no idea that others would have so much fun with his concepts over a hundred years later.One such guy is an Australian named Peter who runs a website called TeslaDownUnder, which showcases all his wacky Tesla ways, or rather electrickery, as Peter calls it.

This is just one of them: Getting Ready

tesla car
Finishing Touches

tesla car
Total Protective Field

tesla car
In 2007 he persuaded his son to play a part in his experiments, all he had to do was sit in a car but his son was quite sure it was a good idea to be in it when the idea was to eventually be completely surrounded by a high-voltage electrical field. And you wouldn't blame him, but his father assured him it was all perfectly safe (even though he had bought extra insurance on the hire car "just in case").

Second Time Lucky

tesla car
3/4 rotation

tesla car
A Tesla coil was placed on top of the car with a rod projecting out and bent towards the ground, from which the sparks would fly. A wooden counterweight was then placed on top to make sure it stayed in place. When the electric current was switched on and the rod turned to encircle the car, under long exposure the results are electrifying.
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