Tuesday, 28 April 2015

New York dims the lights to save migrating birds.

The state of New York is to turn off non-essential lights in state-run buildings to help birds navigate their migratory routes in spring and autumn.

Migrating birds are believed to use stars to navigate but they can be disorientated by electric lights, causing them to crash into buildings.

The phenomenon, known as "fatal light attraction", is estimated to kill up to one billion birds a year in the US.

Millions of birds migrate through New York along the Atlantic Flyway route.

Now those passing over the city by night will stand a better chance of making it further north.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that bright outdoor lights will be turned off between 23:00 and dawn during peak migration seasons in spring and autumn.

The state will join several well-known New York landmarks that have already signed up to the National Audubon Society's Lights Out programme, including the Rockefeller Centre, Chrysler Building and Time Warner Centre.

Fatal light attraction appears to affect migratory songbirds such as warblers, thrushes and sparrows more than local birds, who learn where they can fly safely.

Daniel Klem, professor of ornithology and conservation biology at Muhlenberg College who pioneered the study of window strikes said the strikes were particularly worrying because the fittest members of the population were just as likely to die in this way as weaker birds.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Mobile phones are changing

Some of the new handsets have a lot bigger batteries but the most interesting change we noted lately was how we connect to the networks.

EE is to begin switching some of its customers to wi-fi enabled calls to help combat mobile signal dead spots.

The UK network suggests the move will particularly benefit people who fail to get a connection or experience dropped calls in their homes and offices.

Other firms already offer a similar service via apps, but EE says its scheme is "seamless" as users are not required to do anything to switch between 3G/4G and wi-fi.

Potential pitfalls. - EE said its Wi-fi Calling facility would initially be limited to pay monthly subscribers using Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S5 phones and Microsoft's new Lumia 640, and the iPhone 5S and newer Apple handsets will also be supported.

Since it requires specific mobile data components to be built into the devices, it cannot be extended to other older models. However, EE said it would soon offer a compatible own-brand budget smartphone.

To join the service, users send the firm a single text message.

Mmm, interesting...

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday Fact

•The fingerprints of koala bears are almost indistinguishable from those of humans.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Solar plane aims for Chinese coast

Here is an update on the solar plane flying round the world

The fuel-free aeroplane Solar Impulse has taken off from Chongqing in western-central China, and is heading for Nanjing in the east.

It is the sixth stage in a bid to fly around the world that began in Abu Dhabi, UAE on 9 March.
Solar Impulse was only supposed to stay a few hours in Chongqing after arriving from Myanmar (Burma), but poor weather grounded the plane for three weeks.

The team is now confident conditions will remain fair for the Nanjing leg.

Getting to the east of the country would set up the project for its greatest challenge yet - a five-day, five-night crossing to Hawaii.

The latest leg saw Solar Impulse leave the runway at Chongqing International Airport at just after 06:00 local time, Tuesday (22:00 GMT, Monday). Project chairman, Bertrand Piccard, is again at the controls of the single-seater aircraft.

He is taking it in turns with CEO Andre Borschberg. But as the engineer in the partnership, Borschberg wants to do the Hawaii leg, so Piccard has elected to do both Chinese stages. He brought the plane in from Mandalay, Myanmar, to Chongqing, and is now flying the 1,200km to Nanjing as well. It should take him about 17 hours.

Once in Nanjing, the team will stay put for at least 10 days, carefully checking over the aircraft and running through a training programme ahead of the first Pacific leg.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Star Wars plane

This is totally off topic but I hope you will forgive me

I don't speak about it often but I am an avid star wars fan and when I found this it made me smile

It might not be the droid you're looking for, but a plane painted to look like R2-D2 could be the next best thing for Star Wars fans waiting for The Force Awakens.

Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) has unveiled a Boeing 787 Dreamliner decorated to look like the robot.

The cockpit and front half of the white fuselage are painted with blue panels in the shape of those on the droid.

I do hope its not a late April Fool...

Friday Fact

•The Earth weighs around 6,588,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

How good is the screen on your Smartphone

We have notices a lot of changes and this new number - 4k keep cropping up in both TV's and now phones.

Sharp has announced the first smartphone screen capable of showing images in 4K resolution.
The 5.5in (14cm) component packs in 806 pixels per inch.

That outclasses Samsung's Galaxy S6 which only offers 577ppi on a slightly smaller display.

Higher resolutions offer more detail, typically producing crisper images and text. But experts say there is a limit to what the human eye can appreciate.

At a certain point, the improvements get a lot less noticeable.

you and I will hardly tell the difference between 2K & 4K, even if you have perfect vision.

4K - which is also known as ultra-high definition - offers four times the resolution of 1080p HD.

but is it needed n a phone.

Also, with all those extra dots, what does it do to battery life.

I know, from my point of view, the battery lasting is more important than a 4k screen.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

You will need to move quick if you want the Govt £5k subsidy on EV's

2010 seems like a long time ago then transport secretary, Philip Hammond, declared that 2011 would be the year of the electric car. He was WRONG!!!

However, is seems 2015 just might be.

Figures from the UK car industry this week suggest we might finally be waking up to the electric revolution.
In March 2015, we bought more than 6,000 "plug-in" cars, compared with around 1200 in March 2014 - a 400% increase.

Plug-in hybrids - which have a conventional engine as well as an electric motor - saw sales rise by 984% over the same period, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), admittedly from a very low base.

Given the fall in the oil price, which has made conventional motoring cheaper, you might have thought that electric vehicles would stall, but the the opposite has happened.

If the trend continues, we could well buy more than 30,000 electric vehicles this year alone.
But the good news is also the bad: The government's £5,000 subsidy on each new car will run out when a total of 50,000 have been sold - and that target could now be reached before the end of the year. 

There are many more plug-in models to chose from. Then there were just six; now there are 27 models which qualify for the government grant.

The network of charging points has also expanded. There are now 3,000 places in the UK where you can plug in, and by doing so take advantage of motoring costs as low as 2p a mile.

More manufacturers have come in, the infrastructure has grown, and there are a lot of incentives behind buying a car.

Those incentives have been key: Road tax exemption, free entry to London's congestion zone, and the fact that the government currently pays  as much as £5,000 towards the cost of a car - the plug-in grant. Company car tax rates are also much lower

Based on government and the SMMT figures, 31,000 plug-in grants have now been paid - leaving  19,000 before the scheme ends.

Given that we bought 8,500 eligible cars in the first three months of 2015, the grants may well run out by the Autumn. If you're thinking of going electric, it may pay you to put your foot down.

The scheme is due to be reviewed in May, but as yet no one knows whether the subsidy will be extended.

At his show-room in north London, car dealer Larry Wood, of Hummingbird Motors, is unperturbed. The main reason is that Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - a plug-in hybrid SUV - has proved so popular.
It is now Britain's best-selling electric car, with more than 10,000 sales in the last year. He believes customers won't stop buying them, even if the plug-in grant is no longer available.

While the most polluting cars pay 35% in company car tax, electric cars - even though they used to be exempt - pay 5%.

As a result, any business with a fleet of vehicles could still save thousands of pounds a year by going electric.

Most of the problems initially associated with electric vehicles are gradually being resolved, or so the industry would have you believe.

"Range anxiety" - the fear of running out of charge - does not apply if you buy a hybrid car, which switches to its conventional engine as soon as the battery runs out of power.

Nevertheless, those who drive pure electric cars still worry about getting stranded.

The Mega-expensive Tesla S - already on sale in the UK - will go for 310 miles without a charge, according to the manufacturer.

Another problem has been the cost of batteries, the main reason that electric cars are so pricey in the first place.

But advances in technology could make them cost-competitive with petrol engines in less than a decade, according to two Swedish scientists.

The government boasts there are now 7,000 in the UK, in 3,000 locations. 500 of those are "fast chargers", which can offer a 50% charge in as little as 20 minutes.

But in reality, most charging stops are going to be for at least half an hour.

And for motorists, understanding the rival charge point networks - and the different costs for using them - still requires some tenacity.

Public subsidies for infrastructure have also changed, with the government ending its specific grant of up to £7,500 per charge point.

However, there is still some support available for owners under the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which pays householders up to £700 to have a charge point installed at home.

What is undeniable is that the appeal of the cars themselves has certainly improved.

Where once electric cars looked like garden shed conversions, the designers of BMW and Porsche have now worked magic.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Check out the new design of an electricity pylon.

The first new design of an electricity pylon in almost 90 years has been erected at a site in Nottinghamshire.

After the best part of a century of service, the traditional steel "lattice" pylon has been updated.

The "T-pylon" is shorter, standing at about 120ft (36m); the old steel giants are typically 165ft (50m).
The National Grid says it will respond to the need to harvest energy from an increasing number of lower-carbon energy sources.

The new tower can be shorter yet still capable of transporting 400,000 volts because of the way the cables are held in place.

Instead of being attached to three arms, a diamond arrangement is used to carry the cables off in one arm in a much smaller space.

Each arm has to carry 60 tonnes. With only eight main structural components plus bolts, it is easier to erect and install - taking a day rather than a week.

According to the National Grid, new pylons are needed to respond to the move away from coal and towards other forms of generation such as wind, solar and nuclear.

These new low-carbon energy sources come from different geographical locations to the "traditional ring" of coal-fired generation in the centre of England.

This test line won't be connected to the rest of the grid, it will be used to train staff and contractors.
In particular, it will be used for people to practise "stringing" the conductors (wires) on to the pylons, as a very different technique is needed.

The T-Pylon design was adopted after an international competition held by the National Grid in 2011, won by Danish company Bystrup.

The claim is that these pylons will be less obtrusive not just because of their shorter stature, but because the design allows them to "follow the contours of the land".

According to project manager Alan Large, maintenance will be easier because operators will not have to climb up the tower, they will work from elevated platforms positioned alongside it. Their smooth, impenetrable surface will also make them more difficult to vandalise.

It won't replace the 88,000 lattice pylons that currently bestride the UK countryside. It will principally be used in the construction of new power lines in England and Wales.

The National Grid is applying to use them to connect the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to the UK's electricity transmission network.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Fire safety

CLOCKS have gone forward an hour. Did you Check your Smoke Alarm???

Many of us will have a bit of time on our hands this weekend. we want to remind you to check your smoke alarms.

The national Fire Kills campaign is using the arrival of British Summer Time to urge householders to ‘tick tock test’ their alarms when they change their clocks over the weekend.

well we say take Easter as a second chance.

Smoke alarms are inexpensive and can be bought in DIY stores and at many supermarkets.

Stats have proved that you are four times more likely to survive a fire if you have a working smoke alarm. As the clocks go forward, it’s an ideal time to ‘press the button’ and make sure both the time and your home safety are right.

Some households will qualify for a free home fire safety check.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Good Friday Fact

•Marilyn Monroe had six toes.

We hope you have a Wonderful Easter

Thursday, 2 April 2015

US university students discover how to use sonic waves to suppress flames, avoiding the need for toxic chemicals

Did you know you can put out a fire with a low-rumbling bass frequency generator?

No! Neither did I!

Over the two last-year engineering majors at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia, appear to have invented a way to use sound waves to put out fires. It started as an idea for a research project, and after a year of trial and error and spending about $600 of their own money, they have built a somewhat portable sound generator, amplifier, power source and focusing tube that would seem to have great potential in attacking fires in a variety of situations.

Robertson, 23, and Tran, 28, applied for a provisional patent at the end of November, which gives them a year to do further testing on other flammable chemicals – so far they have put out only fires started with rubbing alcohol – and to continue to refine their device. Although they originally conceived of the device as a way to put out kitchen fires and, perhaps, fires in spacecraft, a local fire department already has asked them to test their bass waves on a structure fire; they think the concept could replace the toxic chemicals involved in fire extinguishers.

"There’s nothing on the market that works, so we thought we could be the ones to make it happen."
Seth Robertson

Robertson of Newport News, Virginia, and Tran of Arlington, Virginia, are electrical and computer engineering majors, and the idea for their project came about only because they didn’t like the ideas that their professors had proposed. They had seen research on how sound waves could disrupt flames, “but there’s nothing on the market that works”, Robertson said. “So we thought we could be the ones to make it happen. And that’s the inspiration for the project.”

As with all great scientific inspiration, there were plenty of naysayers, the pair said. They are electrical engineers, not chemical, and were told, “You guys don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tran said. A number of faculty members declined to serve as advisers on the project, but Professor Brian Mark agreed to oversee it and not fail them if the whole thing flopped, Tran said.

But how does it work? The basic concept, Tran said, is that sound waves are also “pressure waves, and they displace some of the oxygen” as they travel through the air. Oxygen, we all recall from high school chemistry, fuels fire. At a certain frequency, the sound waves “separate the oxygen from the fuel. The pressure wave is going back and forth, and that agitates where the air is. That specific space is enough to keep the fire from reigniting.”

Found on the Guardian - http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/27/students-fire-extinguisher-sound-waves

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

FB and Google club together to buy the Catholic Church

ROME. The Pope announced today that the Catholic Church had been bought by a Facebook and Google.

There will not be any rebranding, but all of the finance systems will be reviewed and audited. The transition will be hardly noticeable. Genesis is to be moved to page 3 of the bible due to a prologue written by Larry Page and a promotion of Google AdWords.

The combined resources of  these 2 corporate giants is hoped to bring the church kicking and screaming into the 21st century and allow 'us' to make religion easier and more fun for a broader range of people.

The pope announced this via his Facebook page.

Following on from last December when Pope Francis said equating Islam with violence was wrong and called on Muslim leaders to issue a global condemnation of terrorism they have set up a framework agreement for joint webcasts starting in May.

Facebook has brokered a deal for future strategic partnerships with Hinduism, Shinto, Daoism sighting that the church would like to increase their market share in India, Japan & China.

As part of the deal, Vatican city will get an upgraded wifi and the first location to trial 6G and the catholic church will get free sponsored links on the Google search engine.

Please remember what date it is and note that the joint webcast thing might not be such a bad idea...