Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Professor Liedenbrock's view on what makes a splendid book

"See," he went on, both asking the questions and supplying the answers. "Isn't it a beauty? Yes; splendid! Did you ever see such a binding? Doesn't the book open easily? Yes; it stops open anywhere. But does it shut equally well? Yes; for the binding and the leaves are flush, all in a straight line, and no gaps or openings anywhere. And look at its back, after seven hundred years. Why, Bozerian, Closs, or Purgold might have been proud of such a binding!"

from A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne

Monday, 28 November 2011

Pencil museum celebrates 30 years

Cumbria is the birthplace of the pencil. Legend says it all began in the early 1500s when a violent storm in Borrowdale led to trees being uprooted.

A strange black material was discovered underneath. The substance was initially thought to be a form of lead. It was actually graphite. And it was soon apparent that this stuff could be used to mark paper. The discovery revolutionised writing and drawing.

Keswick became the pencil capital of the world, leading to the formation of Britain’s first pencil factory in 1832.

The Cumberland Pencil Company was formed in Keswick in 1916 and opened the pencil museum in 1981.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

World’s Largest Propeller

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the manufacturer of the world’s largest propellers, has set a new record in this category.

The newest propeller is 101.5 tons in weight and 9.1 meters in diameter, or as large as a 3-story building. While a standard commercial propeller has between 4 and 5 blades, this propeller has 6. It is intended for the first of four 7,200 TEU containerships, currently under construction for Hapag Lloyd.

Until now the largest propeller in the world was 99.9 tons, manufactured for a 5,600 TEU containership built by HHI in March


Saturday, 19 November 2011

How to hold a tea cup

In order for one not to spill the hot liquid onto oneself, the proper way to hold the vessel of a cup with no handle is to place one’s thumb at the six o'clock position and one’s index and middle fingers at the twelve o'clock position, while gently raising one’s pinkie up for balance.

See full article at

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Single-sideband modulation (SSB) or Single-sideband suppressed-carrier (SSB-SC) is a refinement of amplitude modulation that more efficiently uses electrical power and bandwidth.

Amplitude modulation produces a modulated output signal that has twice the bandwidth of the original baseband signal. Single-sideband modulation avoids this bandwidth doubling, and the power wasted on a carrier, at the cost of somewhat increased device complexity.


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Standing End, Tail, and Bitter End

In many boating knots it is convenient to talk about the Standing End - which takes the strain, and the Tail - the loose end in your hand.

On a large ship, each shore line is initially tightened using the winch. The tail is then properly called a Bitter End as it is transferred to the Bitts.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Types of Fences

  • Barbed wire fence
  • Chain-link fencing, wire fencing made of wires woven together
  • Concrete fence, easy to install and highly durable
  • Chicken wire, light wire mesh for keeping predators out and chickens or other small livestock in
  • Electric fence
  • Ha-ha (or sunken fence)
  • High tensile smooth wire
  • Hurdle fencing, made from moveable sections
  • Newt fencing, amphibian fencing, drift fencing or turtle fence, a low fence of plastic sheeting or similar materials to restrict movement of amphibians or reptiles.
  • Palisade
  • Pest-exclusion fence
  • Pet fence Underground fence for pet containment
  • Picket fences, generally a waist-high, painted, partially decorative fence
  • Pool fence
  • Post-and-rail fencing
  • Roundpole fences, similar to post-and-rail fencing but more closely spaced rails, typical of Scandinavia and other areas rich in raw timber.
  • Slate fencing in Mid-Wales
  • Slate fence, a type of palisade made of vertical slabs of slate wired together. Commonly used in parts of Wales.
  • Snow fence
  • Spear-top fence
  • Split-rail fences made of timber, often laid in a zig-zag pattern, particularly in newly-settled parts of the United States and Canada
  • Stockade fence, a variation of the picket fence that is typically 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m) high with pickets placed adjacent to one another with no space between. This type of fence is commonly used for privacy.
  • Vinyl fencing
  • Wattle fencing, of split branches woven between stakes.
  • Wood-panel fencing
  • Woven wire fencing, many designs, from fine Chicken wire to heavy mesh "sheep fence" or "ring fence"
  • Wrought iron fencing, made from tube steel, also known as ornamental iron.
  • Hedge
  • Walls


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ponzi scheme

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation.

The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering higher returns than other investments, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent.

Perpetuation of the high returns requires an ever-increasing flow of money from new investors to keep the scheme going.


Wednesday, 2 November 2011


A kludge (or kluge) is a workaround, a quick-and-dirty solution, a clumsy or inelegant, yet effective, solution to a problem, typically using parts that are cobbled together.

This term is diversely used in fields such as computer science, aerospace engineering, Internet slang, and evolutionary neuroscience.