Tag Archives: United Kingdom

ESA contract for hypersonic engine research

The competition heats up: The European Space Agency has signed a research contract for 10 million euros with Reaction Engines to build a ground-based prototype of its hypersonic rocket engine.

While ground testing is always necessary, I am not sure what they gain by building a solely ground-based prototype. Hypersonic engines use the oxygen in the atmosphere, much like jet engines. Their operation however is dependent on altitude as well as the speed in which they are traveling, neither of which is easily tested on the ground.

This project is also one part of the United Kingdom’s new space agency program.

Elite journalist considers murder the appropriate response to Brexit vote

Fascist: A British journalist asked her readers today to consider whether they’d kill the leader of the UK’s movement to leave the European Union.

A journalist working for the Telegraph has asked her Twitter followers to consider if they would kill UKIP leader Nigel Farage, comparing him to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. “You know that time travel conundrum: would you kill baby Hitler? Same but Nigel Farage”, wrote Catherine Gee, who claims to have been “writing about culture for the Telegraph since 2007”, and has also written for the Guardian, Western Mail and Clash.

She has deleted the tweet, but only I think because it embarrassed her, not because she realized how barbaric it was. Worse, she is not alone.

Over the course of just a few hours, Breitbart London uncovered hundreds of tweets and Facebook updates dating back as far as 2010, with some as recent as last Thursday afternoon after Member of Parliament Jo Cox was murdered.

The revelations go some way to shattering the narrative that “hateful” or “aggressive” rhetoric emanates from only one side of UK politics. Most of the messages listed below are from younger people, and Breitbart found that most were either Liberal Democrat, Scottish National Party, or Labour Party supporters. Most of them also expressed pro-European Union sentiment and were overwhelmingly supportive of the ‘Remain’ campaign at the European Union referendum.

Basic level searches under the search terms “shoot Nigel Farage”, “stab Nigel Farage” or “kill Nigel Farage” reveal hundreds of messages, some of those in fact with further messages of support for the notions in the replies.

Freedom and democracy cannot stand if it is considered acceptable to call for the murder of your opponents.

The howl against democracy

Link here. Key quote:

In all the years I’ve been writing about political stuff, I cannot remember a time when anti-democratic sentiment has been as strong as it is right now. No sooner had an awe-inspiring 17.5m people rebelled against the advice of virtually every wing of the establishment and said screw-you to the EU than politicos were calling into question the legitimacy of their democratic cry. Apparently the people were ill-informed, manipulated, in thrall to populist demagoguery, and the thing they want, this unravelling of the EU, is simply too mad and disruptive a course of action to contemplate. So let’s overturn the wishes of this dumb demos.

The author then outlines the numerous calls by EU supporters in the UK to do anything possible to void the will of the people in a legitimate vote. Why would I not be surprised if these same people also align themselves politically with today’s American Democratic Party, which increasingly sees the Bill of Rights and freedom as an obstacle and an evil that must be destroyed.

The elite speak!

The coming dark age: The journal Science published on Friday a nice collection of tweets from a lot of scientists expressing their contempt and disgust at the vote by the citizens of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Two tweets say it all:

Dear Europe – for the record, I didn’t want this to happen. Please don’t judge all Brits by the poisonous rhetoric of the Leave campaign. — Dr Heather Williams (@alrightPET) June 24, 2016

Today is a sad day for science and sanity. #Brexit — Hannah Wakeford (@StellarPlanet) June 24, 2016

In the first the scientist accuses the Leave campaign of expressing “poisonous rhetoric”, while the second (one of many quite similar) declares anyone who disagreed with the Remain campaign to be insane. Does anyone but me see the blind stupidity here?

Not one of these tweeters, all supposedly highly educated scientists, consider for an instant the quite valid and reasonable intellectual arguments of the Leave campaign. Leave is wrong, and don’t you dare think otherwise! Some also suggest that the vote should be ignored, or invalidated, because they don’t like the result. So much for open-mindedness and a respect for democracy.

Science elites move to block UK exit from EU

A statement today from the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, reacting to yesterday’s vote to leave the European Union, calls for the government to do whatever it can to nullify that exit.

Professor John Zarnecki, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, commented: “We must remember that whatever happens, science has no boundaries. It is vital that we do not give the message, particularly to our younger colleagues, in the UK and beyond that our country is not a good place in which to do scientific research, however uncertain the economic and political environment is.

“I have been privileged during my career to have worked in a research environment in Europe which has had few borders for either people or ideas. We must strive to make sure that these rights are not taken away – this would be enormously to the detriment of UK society.”

The statement includes a laundry list of benefits that membership in the EU brings scientists, including lots of funding to pay the salaries of these scientists. The statement also insists that all these benefits must be maintained, despite the will of the electorate.

While many of these benefits (easy travel between nations) are beneficial and a reason to have a European Union, the electorate understood that the benefits have been increasingly outweighed by the heavy regulatory burden imposed by the EU, with no democratic recourse allowed.

Articles in the science journals Science and Nature, here, here, and here, also note the distress and opposition by scientists to yesterday’s vote.

This unwillingness of the elite community to accept the will of the public is part and parcel to the same bubble I found in Washington when I attended the CNAS conference. Unfortunately, I see no evidence of a willingness in the elite community to bend at all to the will of the general public, meaning that we can only expect the conflict between the top and the bottom to intensify in the coming years. The question will be whether our institutions of democracy will be able to withstand that battle, especially when those in power continue to find their power being attacked from below.

UK votes to leave EU

The revolt continues: The voters of the United Kingdom tonight chose to leave the European Union.

The EU was a great idea, unfortunately spoiled in the past few decades by a crushing regulatory bureaucracy unaccountable to anyone, which is why every single time the question has been put to the voters in recent years the voters have chosen to quit the EU.

The unrest among American voters, fueling the success of outsiders and the defeat of incumbents in recent elections, is based on similar issues and dissatisfactions. I thus expect similar surprises here come November. This essay expresses these circumstances here in the states quite nicely:

This is not about ideology. If people trusted elites and institutions they defend to look out for them, in a non-ideological sense, the breakdown of our systems would have been mitigated or confined. The fact that it is so sweeping is due to a generation of elites who didn’t do their jobs well, or pretended things weren’t their job for too long.

We have breakdown, chaos, and upheaval in our politics today not because the people are “insane”, as Rauch writes, but because they are sane. They know the leadership class which held power for the past generation has not looked out for them. Don’t blame a people for turning on elites who thought they knew better but proved over and over that they didn’t. It is thoroughly rational to want something else instead. Even if that something else turns out not to deliver either, at least you know it’s not the same as what’s failed. [emphasis mine]

Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same failed thing over and over again, even though it is proven to never work. This what our elites have been doing for the past three decades. The voters, however, are increasingly showing that they are not insane, that they want to try new things. Kudos to them!

Backgrounder on June 23 UK vote on EU membership

Link here. The videos at the link are especially informative.

Polls have recently shifted strongly in favor of leaving the union, but that is not a certain result. If it happens, however, I will consider that decision by the public to be another example of a growing revolt by the general public against the intellectual elites who presently rule western society, since most of these elites appear to favor keeping the United Kingdom in the European Union.

Posted from Washington, D.C.

United Kingdom cancels spaceport competition

The competition heats up: The United Kingdom has cancelled its spaceport competition to chose one spaceport and instead has announced it will allow any one of the competing locations to operate if they can want and can meet some licensing requirements.

In other words, instead of the government dictating one location as the nation’s spaceport, it will allow different locations to compete for the space launch business.

The link has few details, though a closer look at subject of the British space effort can be found here.

New astronaut crew to ISS, including Brit

A Russian Soyuz rocket today successfully launched a new crew to ISS, including Great Britain’s first official astronaut.

Tim Peake is not the first Brit in space, but he is the first paid for by the British government. The first British citizen to fly in space, back in 1991, was Helen Sharman, whose flight was a publicity stunt mostly paid for by the Russians themselves.

The crew is expected to dock with ISS later today.

British spaceplane concept gets infusion of cash

The competition heats up: Reaction Engines, the British company developing a hybrid air-breathing rocket engine, today received obtained a significant funding boost from a new private partner as well as the British government.

The government has committed $60 million, while BAE has purchased 20% of the company with a commitment of an additional $20 million.

The craft Reaction Engines intends to eventually produce, known as Skylon, depends on the ability to cool an incoming airstream from 1,000 degrees C to minus 150 C almost instantly, at close to 1/100th of a second. That process doubles the technical limits of a jet engine, and would enable the craft to reach extremely fast speeds in Earth’s atmosphere, up to give times the speed of sound, before switching to a rocket engine to reach orbit.

Don’t start buying tickets however. They don’t expect to begin manned test flights for at least a decade

The UK launches a 3D printed airplane drone

A University of Southampton team, under a project for the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, have built and launched an entirely 3D printed unmanned air vehicle (UAV) from a navy ship.

Produced under the institution’s Project Triangle, the Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft (SULSA) UAV was launched via catapult from the patrol vessel HMS Mersey, and flew over the Wyke Regis training facility near Weymouth in the south of the country to land on Chesil beach. The 5min sortie covered a range of some 500m, with the UAV carrying a small video payload to record the mission so that operators could monitor it during the flight.

SULSA measures 150cm (59in) and weighs 3kg (6.6lb), and is made via 3D printing using laser sintered nylon. The university claims that SULSA is the world’s first UAV made entirely via the technique. It consists of four separately manufactured main parts that are assembled without the need for any additional tools.

The specific achievement here is interesting, but its significance in illustrating the growing use of unmanned drones and 3D printing is more important. Very soon, a large percentage of everything we own will be built with 3D printing technology, lowering the cost while making construction easier. As for drones, they carry both positive and negative possibilities.

Great Britain space agency calls for an increased space effort

The competition heats up: The United Kingdom’s space agency has issued its proposed future strategy, focusing on a renewed involvement with ISS and the European Space Agency.

Following a public consultation and lengthy discussions across government, the new strategy, published today, concludes that continued involvement in the ISS and other programs via ESA membership is the best way to involve U.K. scientists and industry in human spaceflight. The document says the government will consider bilateral projects with other space agencies but fears always being the junior partner since the United Kingdom has no launchers or space stations. It does not think that the commercial launch industry is sufficiently mature for the United Kingdom to buy services commercially. The report also states: “The Agency will also consider its role in human exploration missions beyond Earth orbit, especially where this complements science and technology goals for robotic exploration.”

I wonder if the newly elected conservative British government agrees with this strategy. It appears to me that it was researched and written prior to the election.

Tory victory in UK even better than predicted just yesterday

The final tallies of the election in Great Britain have given the conservatives an outright majority.

They don’t have to form a coalition with anyone to form a government. Moreover, this is after months of listening to pollsters and pundits insisting they would at best achieve a tie with the left, and most likely get kicked out of office.

Read it all. The results strongly suggest that, except for the separatist movement in Scotland, conservatives rule Britannia.

Kickstarter campaign to fund lunar probe

The competition heats up: A private consortium of scientists and entrepreneurs is planning to fund its unmanned lunar lander with a Kickstarter campaign followed by private sales..

The mission is raising initial development funding through Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform. Following the initial public phase the remaining funding requirements will be met through sales of ‘digital memory boxes’ in which donors can have their biographies recorded and taken to the Moon. These will also include a strand of hair so that their DNA can exist in space. The team has claimed that around one per cent of the global population who can afford a memory box will buy one. Also included in the time capsule will be record of life on Earth. The archive will include a record of human history and civilisation to date alongside a species database showing the biodiversity of animals and plants.

This is essentially a UK project, backed by the government but with little funding. They hope to launch in 2024, with two missions planned, the first to drill into the lunar soil and the second to bring back samples.

Great Britain’s proposed suborbital spaceport locations

The competition heats up: More information was released today describing Great Britain’s suggested spaceport locations.

These spaceports are specifically aimed at the suborbital space tourism market, for American companies like Virgin Galactic or XCOR, or for the developing British company Skylon.

It is interesting that 6 of 8 are located in Scotland, which might very well not be part of the United Kingdom after a vote on separation this fall.

A spaceport for Great Britain?

The competition heats up: The government of the United Kingdom today outlined its intention to build its first spaceport by 2018.

The announcement listed eight potential sites, six of which were in Scotland, which is presently threatening to break away from the United Kingdom. This announcement I suspect is less a call for British space exploration and instead a political effort to encourage Scotland to remain in the UK.

A United Kingdom effort to drill down almost two miles to reach buired Lake Ellsworth in Antarctica has been abandoned.

A United Kingdom effort to drill down almost two miles to reach buired Lake Ellsworth in Antarctica has been abandoned.

The article doesn’t mention the failure of a boiler two weeks ago, which from their website apparently delayed drilling until this week.

The National Health Service of the UK is making its patient database available to researchers

Coming to your US healthcare system soon! The National Health Service (NHS) of the UK is making its patient database available to researchers.

NHS plans to change its constitution to allow patient data to be open to researchers by default, with an opt-out option for individuals. The ability to take advantage of NHS data will be a boon for research in the United Kingdom, said Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust. The more patients who are involved in research, the greater the public benefit, he said in a statement, adding that a patient once told him, “giving my anonymous data is the most painless thing I can do to help others get better.”

Some have raised privacy concerns about the data access plan, which is why the U.K. government will hold a public consultation on the idea before moving ahead, but Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, also applauds the proposal. [emphasis mine]

It is significant that the NHS’s constitution forbid the release of this data without a patient’s permission. I suspect that this privacy rule was almost certainly a condition used to convince Great Britain’s population to go along with nationalized healthcare. “Don’t worry about your health records! The nationalized healthcare system will be required to keep it private and available only to you!”

As is typical for a government program, this promise had an expiration date. Government programs like to control things, and they will inevitably do whatever they must — twist the facts, break promises, lie, cheat, — to gain that control.

Right now the patient health records are supposed to remain anonymous once they are released. Want to bet that in a few years these same scientists will demand that they need to know who the patients are in order to do their research effectively? And do you want to bet on whether that information remains secret?

UK eliminates all but two climate-change projects to balance books.

The United Kingdom’s British Council is eliminating all but of its two climate-change projects in order to balance its books. Unfortunately, some taxpayer-funded propaganda will still continue:

The council says that two flagship global projects will continue: the ‘Climate Generation’ initiative, which engages young climate activists and the ‘Climate4Classrooms’ project, which provides resources for schoolchildren.

Met Office chief says he has received death threats from climate change skeptics

This is wrong, if true: The chief of the UK’s Met Office said yesterday that he has received death threats from climate change skeptics.

A Met Office spokesman confirmed Mr Hirst had received death threats made in a number of ”unsavoury emails”, but said they were ”isolated incidents” and the organisation had not felt it necessary to involve the police.