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Heat Waves In Australia Are Getting More Frequent, and Hotter

RobHart Report is from a crowd funded organisation (279 comments)

As a slightly different slant on this troll rousing topic, it is worth noting a few things.
1) Per capita, Australia is the worlds highest emitter of greenhouse gases as we use mostly coal to generate electricity. Furthermore, we are one of the worlds largest coal miners/exporters and so contribute significantly to global CO2 production elsewhere.
2) In September, Australia elected a new government that is predominantly in the hands of climate change deniers. The Prime Minister (Tony Abbott) is on the public record saying that climate change is "crap" (http://blogs.abc.net.au/victoria/2009/12/climate-change-is-crap-tony-abbot-said-to-the-pyrenees-advocate.html). Amongst the new government's first acts was to defund the Climate Commission (along with several other "green" initiatives of previous governments). They are also committed to repealing the existing Carbon Tax legislation, but cannot (yet) force this through the upper house (Senate) which they do not control.
3) In response to its defunding, the Climate Commission reformed itself as the Climate Council, raising around $1 million in under two weeks. Whilst not big bikkies in US terms, this is extremely significant in a small population country like Australia that demonstrates that many Australians feel very strongly about climate change - strongly enough to not only make a one off donation but to commit to regular, monthly donations to support the ongoing public information work of the Climate Council.

From their "about" page http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/about-us/
"The Climate Council is an independent non-profit organisation funded by donations by the public. Our mission is to provide authoritative, expert advice to the Australian public on climate change."

about 2 months ago
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Carl Sagan Was On US Team To Nuke the Moon

RobHart Read John Wyndham's "The Outward Urge" (206 comments)

In 1959, John Wyndham (the Day of the Triffids, the Chrysalids etc) wrote a set of linked short stories about a family participating in the colonisation of space. In one of these, the USA, Russia and the UK have nuclear armed moon bases.

An interesting case of art imitating life - even if the the life was top secret at the time!

about a year ago
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Australian WiFi Inventors Win US Legal Battle

RobHart Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (193 comments)

If you look at the list of companies that were sued (and have settled), you will notice that none of them is an Australian company. It was Australian tax payer dollars that funded this research (and the patenting process), so just how does the Australian government tax all those non-Australain companies??? The ONLY way to do it is with patents so that the companies making money from the technology in many countries around the world pay a part of their profits back to the inventors.

As has been said, the CSIRO will use this money to fund further research - such as the "pure" radio astronomy work which resulted in this spin off piece of technology in the first place!

RobHart

about 2 years ago
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Are You Better At Math Than a 4th (or 10th) Grader?

RobHart Is Maths ability seen as relevant? (845 comments)

Bias up front: I am an ex academic (in engineering), bored early retiree who is now teaching senior Maths/Physics at high school (in Australia) - including 10th grade Maths. As well as being an academic, I worked in the private sector (including my own business), so I have some idea as to what I would expect of general clerical staff.

I am truly astonished that a "well educated" person could not solve the sort of problems referenced in the article. Simple Maths problems like these do not just show Mathematical capability, but also demonstrate logical reasoning skills - the sort of skills I would look for when hiring someone for a general clerical position.

That said, quite a few of my (middle to lower ability class) kids in 10th grade this year failed to meet this sort of standard, although with most of these it was lack of effort/application not innate ability that determined their outcome. Quite a few of these kids said they couldn't care less as "Maths was irrelevant" to their area of career interest (despite solid examples that demonstrated that idea to be incorrect).

I have the feeling that many kids regard Maths as hard and "you can do well without it" as a socially accepted truth. Yet we live in an increasingly technical (numerate, Mathematical) world, so I can't help but feel this widely accepted "truth" will (or quite probably already is going to) bite us in the bum: without logical, (mathematically literate) people to run our world, it will fall into a hole...

more than 2 years ago
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30,000-Lb. Bomb On Fast Track For Deployment

RobHart Barnes Wallis Reinvented...again! (707 comments)

This is really a reinvention and extension of 1940's British technology. Barnes Wallis (of the bouncing "Dam Buster" bomb fame) designed a 5 tonne bomb (Tallboy) in 1943. The larger 10 tonne bomb (Grand Slam) was introduced in early 1945. It was dropped from a Lancaster bomber (by 617 squadron - the Dam Buster squadron) from about 20,000 ft and was close to sonic (320 m/s) when it hit the ground. It was designed as a penetrator, only detonating when well underground. It was used with devastating effect against the German U Boat pens, canals, bridges and viaducts where the "earthquake" effect of a deep explosion undermined foundations. The Grand Slam used 4,144 kg of explosives (Torpex)which is considerably more than the heavier bomb proposed by the US DoD with an earth penetration design depth of 40m. I would imagine that the higher impact speed of the US bomb requires a much stronger casing, but I am surprised at the small ordinance load. It is interesting to note that (as with much British technology) design data for the Grand Slam was shared with the US and a US version was made, but not (as far as I am aware) used in WWII. RobHart

more than 4 years ago
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High-tech Cars Replacing Driver Skill?

RobHart It's all in the training (805 comments)

I am a gliding instructor in Australia. We are currently introducing new technology to assist in avoiding collisions (an unhappy concommitant of gliding as we frequently fly very close to many other gliders). This is GPS based system (see http://www.rf-developments.com/page008.html).

Gliding, more than any other air sport, has put considerable resources into training glider pilots to have and use excellent lookout skills - and yet mid air collisions with other gliders still happen (one person was killed, one injured and two gliders written off in such an incident last year).

We are at the trial stage of this new technology - we had 60 gliders fitted with the units at a competition just before Christmas - and there is considerable debate as to whether this technology is a good idea or not. Collision warning systems like this can only warn you about other gliders that have ozFLARM fitted - and can do nothing to alert you of gliders or the many other users of the air (including large eagles) that are not fitted with this equipment - or if the unit in your glider fails. So - it is essential that we continue to train pilots to acquire and maintain excellent lookout skills if (as seems likely) we will require this equipment in competition gliders and recommend it for all other gliders.

In other words, we train for equipment failure as well as in using the new equipment.

Unfortunately, current driving training does not seem to do this - and yet there is an increasing amount of extremely important safety equipment in most vehicles. Probably the anti-lock braking system (ABS) is the most critical.

Learning how to avoid skids and how to handle them if they do occur is probably the most vital piece of driver safety training!

more than 8 years ago

Submissions

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SpaceX launches second geosynchromnous satellite in 5 weeks.

RobHart RobHart writes  |  about 3 months ago

RobHart (70431) writes "SpaceX this morning completed its second successful geosynchronous launch in 5 week, this time pushing a Thiacom communications satellite into orbit. SpaceX is turning the satellite launch market on its head, with launch costs that are fractions of its competitors (to date, principally the United Launch Alliance). Later this year, it will demonstrate its Falcon 9 Heavy rocket and during 2014 it will move closer to manned certification for the Falcon 9/Dragon combination."
Link to Original Source
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Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) downgraded

RobHart RobHart writes  |  about 4 months ago

RobHart (70431) writes "Following election promises to create a "better, cheaper, sooner" NBN, the new Australian government has reneged, announcing instead n NBN to cost $12bn more and take four years longer. The critical change is that the new network is based on Telstra's aging and unreliable copper network rather than fibre to the home as has already been delivered during the NBN roll out to date."
Link to Original Source
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54% increase in smartphone battery life?

RobHart RobHart writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RobHart writes "The research proposes a new idle mode E-MiLi: "Here's how E-MiLi works: It slows down the WiFi card's clock by up to 1/16 its normal frequency, but jolts it back to full speed when the phone notices information coming in. It's well known that you can slow a device's clock to save energy. The hard part, Shin said, was getting the phone to recognize an incoming message while it was in this slower mode.""
Link to Original Source
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Earth's graviational shape in detail

RobHart RobHart writes  |  about 3 years ago

RobHart (70431) writes "The European Space Agency (ESA) has released detailed information about the Earth's gravitational shape, based on data from the ESA's GOCE satellite (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer). The link includes an interesting animation of the data, using an appropriately distorted Earth."
Link to Original Source
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Best OSS CFD package for high school Physics?

RobHart RobHart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RobHart (70431) writes "I am teaching a "physics of flight" unit to grade 11 Physics students. Part of the unit will have the students running tests on several aerofoils in a wind tunnel. I also want to expose them to a Computational Fluid Dynamics package which will allow them to contrast experimental results with those produced by the CFD package. There are a number of open source CFDs available (Windows or Linux based are both fine), but I don't have much time to evaluate which are the simplest to use in terms of setting up the mesh, initial conditions etc — a very important issue as students do not have much time in this unit. I am hoping that the Slashdot community can provide some guidance here."
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Australian government to shelve Internet filter?

RobHart RobHart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RobHart (70431) writes "It is reported that the proposed filters are seen as too toxic a policy to take to the next federal election — due later this year. This is according to the Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam."
Link to Original Source
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Space X's Falcon 9 appears as UFO in Australia

RobHart RobHart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RobHart (70431) writes "ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Commission) has reported extensively on a bright spiraling light that was seen in Eastern Australia just before dawn. They have just broadcast a report from an Australian astronomer who has suggested that the light was probably the successful Falcon 9 launch, which would have been over Australia at that time on its launch trajectory."
Link to Original Source
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Gulf oil leak plugged?

RobHart RobHart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RobHart (70431) writes "The LA Times is reporting that the Gulf oil leak appears to have been plugged by the "top kill".

"Thad Allen, who is coordinating the government response, says the well still has low pressure, but cement will be used to cap the well permanently as soon as the pressure hits zero.""

Link to Original Source

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