Fuel cells for aircraft in the news again

Back in July I wrote about the Antares DLR-H2, the first manned fuel-cell-powered aircraft, under development in Germany. Now comes news of two developments in the USA, both concerned with powering small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s). The US Naval Research Laboratory has just achieved a milestone by flying a fuel-cell-powered UAV for more than 24 hours. In a news release, the USNRL reported: The Naval Research Laboratory’s Ion Tiger, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell unmanned air vehicle (UAV), has flown 26 hours and 1 minute carrying a 5-pound payload, setting another unofficial flight endurance record for a fuel-cell powered flight. The

Continue reading

More guts than sense?

The video clip below shows a shop clerk wrestle a gun from a would-be armed robber in an unidentified store (which, from the people shown, looks to be somewhere in South-East Asia or China). He was very lucky! If that thief had been just a little more ruthless, he’d have shot him after the failure of his first attempt. Still, one has to hand it to the clerk – that took cojones. One hopes he’ll learn better disarming techniques now, in case it happens again! Peter

Continue reading

Oh, well done, sir!

Andrew Breitbart has scooped the entire mainstream media on his blog, ‘Big Government’. He’s caught ACORN red-handed dumping a mass of documents (possibly illegally) in what looks like an attempt to forestall an inquiry that would force them to hand over those documents to the authorities. As he points out: On October 1st, 2009 California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced that an investigation had been opened into ACORN’s activities in California, resulting from undercover videos showing employees seemingly offering to assist the undercover film makers with human smuggling, child prostitution and even tax advice to boot. Although ACORN has denied

Continue reading

End of the check-book?

A report from England suggests that banking authorities are about to phase out the check-book after 350 years of use. Cheques are to be abolished under controversial plans being drawn up by bankers. They are widely expected to vote next month for the chequebook to be consigned to history. Yesterday, the move was criticised by consumer groups, business lobbyists and charities representing the elderly. They raised fears that vulnerable people, who have relied on their chequebook all their lives, will be left confused. Many others simply prefer to pay by cheque, instead of by direct debit or bank transfer. The

Continue reading

Why college may not be such a good idea for everyone, any more

A number of interesting articles in recent days have highlighted the problems being experienced with the US higher education system. George Leef asks: Does a college education build human capital – or are students just marching in place? Human capital means the mental toolkit a person has—the stock of knowledge and skills that enable him to produce and solve problems. We benefit from accumulating human capital just as we benefit from accumulating physical capital (tools); both increase our productivity. We augment our human capital through learning. That fact leads many people to jump to the conclusion that schooling necessarily adds

Continue reading

Killing a lobster with kindness?

I’m intrigued by a report of a new device to painlessly kill lobsters and other shellfish prior to cooking them. The way that lobsters are cooked causes concern to many chefs and animal-lovers alike – not to mention the unfortunate crustacean itself. Traditionally, it is dropped alive into a pan of boiling water, where it emits a shrieking noise as it takes several minutes to die. But all that could be about to change with a more humane device which kills the shellfish almost instantly – and, so its inventor claims, makes it taste better. Entrepreneur Simon Buckhaven, 50, has

Continue reading

Doofus Of The Day #292

Today’s title goes, jointly and severally, to the Chinese businessmen and bureaucrats responsible for this mess. Crackpot planners have driven motorists up the pole – by leaving a 40ft pylon in the middle of a six lane highway. The unmarked and unlit pole – in Zhengzhou, central China – has been the cause of dozens of accidents as unwary drivers smash into it. And road signs only a few yards from the pole show an arrow directing drivers right into it at 50mph. “We have complained to the council but they say it would cost too much to bury the

Continue reading

So much for biometric security systems!

You’ve doubtless heard of biometric security systems, which typically use your fingerprint to clock you in and out at work, or unlock doors for areas where you’re permitted to go, or even safeguard access to computers by requiring users to provide their fingerprints to use the device. Now, from China it’s reported that there’s a new way to bypass some such systems. Lazy workers are giving bosses’ new security measures the finger – by sending off for kits to fake their own fingerprints. Customers send their prints to an online company in Shandong, eastern China, which for 10 GBP sends

Continue reading