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People do Media Studies?

Neutrinos are created as a result of certain types of radioactive decay or nuclear reactions such as those that take place in the Sun, in nuclear reactors, or when cosmic rays hit atoms. There are three types, or “flavours”, of neutrinos: electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos; each type also has a corresponding antiparticle, called antineutrinos. Electron neutrinos (or antineutrinos) are generated whenever protons change into neutrons (or vice versa), the two forms of beta decay. Interactions involving neutrinos are mediated by the weak interaction.

[I was once offered a PhD at Oxford in muon spin-resonance]

Most neutrinos passing through the Earth emanate from the Sun, and more than 50 trillion solar neutrinos pass through the human body every second.

By the time you read this it’s a lot more than 50 trillion. And you bought your book by Émile Durkheim why precisely? We are out in the suburbs of the Orion Spur, 8,000 parsecs* from centre and there are of the order of 100 billion stars in this galaxy and you are “studying” media! Why?

I think it’s time to go down-town and check out the action – don’t you reckon?

There is a triple breasted lady with green skin that I want to take roughly from behind. I mean if Captain Kirk did it then why not me?

A few years ago this was stetted. That is Skylon and it needed 180 million that a government (cheers Ruth Kelly you obnoxious muntrix!) couldn’t afford that but could afford to bung Muslims half that to not be nasty.

My hero, Clarence “Kelly” Johnson believed that if it “looks right it will fly right”. That looks like a spaceship to me. Because that is so cool!

Request for funding from the British government was undertaken in 2000, with a proposal that could have offered a large potential return on investment. The request was not taken up on at that time. Subsequent discussions with the British National Space Centre led to agreement in 2009 on a co-funding agreement between BNSC, ESA and REL to continue technology development for the SABRE engine.

That’s a variable cycle engine. That is faster than the flying fuck.The Sabre will do Mach 5.4 air breathing. And then when the LOX kicks in above 26 km to it’s orbital flight it will go very, very fast indeed and that is really fast. That is Mach 20+ which is absolutely fucking caning it. Why could we not afford that?

Just build Skylon and open Bristol International Spaceport and let me go home.

*A Parsec is about 31 trillion kilometres or 3.26 light years. You might think it’s a long way to the post office but that is fuck all to what is out there.


  1. John B says:

    You must have compassion, Nick.
    Some of us lean more towards talking to each other rather than exploring the outer (inner?) edges of eternity.
    Accepted the communication is more or less always a control agenda. Sad, hey?
    I do kinda like this video:

  2. David Gillies says:

    You mean you can’t do the sums.

    I think flavour-mixing to explain the solar neutrino problem is about the coolest thing in particle physics in the last ten years.

  3. El Draque says:

    Single stage to orbit?
    Why does that make me tremble in anticipation? And to murmur “Oh please someone fund this thing!”

  4. NickM says:

    Yeah, ED.

    SSTO from Bristol! And cheap too. It’s designed to run on an entirely commercial basis with two day turn-arounds. This is not the Shuttle that costs a billion dollars a launch. And guess what else? The same basic tech is the basis of a potential hypersonic aircraft. 45 minutes from Bristol to Sydney anyone?

  5. RAB says:

    45 minutes from Bristol to Sydney anyone?

    Yes please! I want to watch that baby launch!, like I saw the last Concorde land, from my bedroom window.

    Media Studies, Pah! That is what we did after revising for a History, Economics or Law exam, with a cup of coffee, the newspaper and the TV on. It was called relaxing in my day, you didn’t have to study for it, it came naturally.

  6. Andrew Duffin says:

    “a proposal that could have offered a large potential return on investment”

    It’s that little weasel word “potential” that does it.

    If you actually had a large return on the investment, you could go to your High Street Bank (well sort of) and they’d be delighted.

    As it is, you want me to pay for your toys through my taxes (with a large added overhead for administration/state waste of course) and frankly I have better things to do with my money than search for little green men, no matter how much the engine might kick ass.

    Nice try but no cigar.

  7. ivan says:

    The problem with all western governments is that they have been brainwashed into believing the only way to get ‘up there’ is to use an exploding totem pole for direct vertical lift. Clark, in his ‘Prelude to Space’, among others, have advocated the use of the space plane for years but it was never taken up because no one could see beyond rockets – a total retrograde perspective.

  8. John B says:

    Dave. I can do numbers as long as they don’t have to be joined up.
    But I do appreciate the frustration!

  9. Sam Duncan says:

    “You mean you can’t do the sums.”

    Hell, yes. But there are far, far more interesting things us innumerates can do than taking Big Brother seriously or dissecting the hidden subtext of Emmerdale (hint: it hasn’t got one). My frustration isn’t that people are doing media studies instead of particle physics; it’s that they’re doing media studies instead of everything else.

    Apart from all that, much like the plague of spotty Herberts with MBAs and no clue wrecking businesses up and down the land, MS graduates make shite telly. Fact. Don’t argue.

  10. El Draque says:

    If I remember correctly from “Prelude to Space” – and he reprised the idea in “2001″ (book version) – Clarke imagined a launcher that carried the orbiter high enough for it to fly into space. The lower part then glided down to land.

    The Skylon is a step further – a genuine flight from earth to space.
    Interesting that it derives from HOTOL. I wrote about that concept in a school project in about 1966 I think. Might have been on “Tomorrow’s World” with James Burke.
    Or my memory is in error.

  11. El Draque says:

    Memory in error.
    (Memo to self – check internet first.)
    Hotol is more recent, think I was remembering a vertical launch re-usable space-plane from an earlier era, A BAC space-shuttle. Vague memory says it was called “Project Mustard” but no evidence on internet.

  12. El Draque says:

    It is indeed on internet, memory cell still functioning.

    But still a three stage rocket, in essence.

  13. Kinuachdrach says:

    “I was once offered a PhD at Oxford in muon spin-resonance”

    Scene switches to a seedy backstreet in the crumbling ghettos of Oxford. It is raining, and dark. A shifty looking man with a cigarette dangling from his lower lip stops a rather uncomfortable-looking student type, who was obviously carrying out a course requirement to connect with the Working Class and then write a diatribe against English capitalism:

    Hey there, gov. You look like a real up & comer! Maybe even BP management material. You got the walk, gov. Know what you need? That’s right, those toffee-nosed pooftahs in BP HQ won’t even give you a second glance at the urinal unless you’ve got the right stuff. Know what I mean, gov? Eh?

    Shifty man furtively pulls a sheepskin out of his jacket.

    Just look at that! Eh! Eh! Don’t you just want to run your hand over that? Look how smooth. Look how white. Virgin, you know. Never been touched. PhD in muon-spin resonance — every word spelled correct, too! It’s your ticket out of this backwater, gov. Your lucky night, eh? You are looking at the Big Time.

    Uncomfortable student looks even more uncomfortable, and steps back. He had not realized this course assignment actually involved contact with the Working Class. They seemed so much nicer on the pages of his standard Oxford textbook, “Marx for Dummies”.

    No, no – cried the shifty man. Don’t go. Chance of a lifetime here, gov. Don’t blow it and end up tending office plants for some ball-busting alpha bitch in the Department of Community Outreach in Salford. Happened to a bloke just like you who used to come around here. Know what I’m saying?

    Look – said the shifty character. I like you, gov. We’re on the same page, you & me. I’m going to break my own rules and show you the good stuff. So saying, he tossed the PhD in muon spin-resonance into the dirty gutter and pulled out another parchment.

    Oh My God, cried the student. A Masters in Wymn’s Studies!

  14. Paul Marks says:

    Bankrupt societies (bankrupt economically and culturally) do not tend to make major technological leaps Nick.

    People still think up wonderful ideas (such as Skylon) but, somehow, the funding (government or private) just is not there – or it comes with strings attached that mess up the project.

    It may be that the 1960′s (space travel and computer) were the last great roar of Western Civilization, a civilization that (if one looked at the universities – the breeding ground for the future government and private people of power) was already going rotten.

    It may be that it is our misfortune to live in the “dying embers” of what was once a great creative fire of a civilization – and that things are so far gone that we can not save it.

    For example, Aetius was a political as well as a military genius – yet Roman civilization was so far gone (before he was even born) that nothing he could do could really save it. So he goes down in history as the “last of the Romans” a title that would have horrified him.

    We both want the same thing – a technological society expanding out to the stars. But to have that you must first have a strong healthy society – and we do not have that.

    I still hope that we can restore the foundations of society – but if we do not (or can not) then expanding into the universe may be the work of a later civilization.

    I fully accept that this is particularly bad for you – a man of scientfic background.

    It must be like watching the barbarians bashing in the poles of their huts – bashing the poles into mosaic floors (which once had underfloor heating) in great buildings that were falling into ruins.

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