A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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Wow. Wow. Wow. Watch JetSuit Mountaineering — 2,200 foot climb in 3 minutes

Everyone is going to want one of these. And he’d only six lessons!

Record Jet Suit Mountain Ascent

 From the Youtube:

We proved you can scale a Lake District Mountain (3100ft Helveylln) in 3mins 30 seconds, despite very poor visibility that would have grounded a HEMS Helicopter. The Mountain Rescue foot response is over 70 minutes typically. The route was 1.2 miles and 2200ft of height gain.

9.8 out of 10 based on 44 ratings […]

Australia “invented airconditioning” but can’t keep them running

James Harrison (click to enlarge)

Peter Hartcher points out that the country that invented refrigeration and thus airconditioning can no longer guarantee to keep them working.

In 1854 [James Harrison of Geelong] invented a commercial ice-making machine. He expanded it into a vapour compression refrigeration system, the basis for modern refrigeration.

“That’s right – an Aussie invented the fridge and it’s first real use was making beer,” remarked the US technology website Gizmodo. “You have to love this country.”

And one more big coal generator shuts down soon in Victoria:

In the next few weeks 4 per cent of Australia’s power supply will vanish when Victoria’s big Hazelwood power station shuts down, clapped out after 50 years of turning coal into electricity. It’ll be the ninth coal-fired power station to close in the past five years. New solar and wind plants are being built, but they are intermittent, and that means they are unreliable.

“Taking out Hazelwood is taking out a big buffer,” says Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute policy research centre in Melbourne. And, as we’ve just witnessed, Australia’s power system lacks buffers. “Managing intermittency is […]

“Nanophotonic” incandescent light bulbs that are more efficient than LEDs

MIT has an experimental globe that uses some kind of crystal coating to reflect back the wasted heat generated by incandescent lights. The energy can be “recycled”, putting incandescents into a similar efficiency range as some LED’s. Potentially, the researchers claim, the efficiency scores could be nearly three times better than even the best current LED’s, giving incandescents total supremacy again.

Normal incandescents are only 2 – 3% efficient. These experimental ones are already 6.6% efficient. Current LED’s range from 5 – 15% efficient, but everyone hates the unnatural spectrum. Meanwhile, Compact Florescents (CFLs) are hazardous waste bombs, so whatever their efficiency is, it’s not enough.

Potentially, the press release promises, the new lights could reach a whopping 40% efficient. (Go Edison! Actually, go Joseph Swan. h/t Robbo in comments. :- ) )

Right now it’s probably illegal to sell them.

A nanophotonic comeback for incandescent bulbs?

David L. Chandler | MIT News Office

Traditional light bulbs, thought to be well on their way to oblivion, may receive a reprieve thanks to a technological breakthrough.

Incandescent lighting and its warm, familiar glow is well over a century old yet survives virtually unchanged in […]