The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Life on Mars Search Continues

I love the report of the Martian Robot explorations that come from NASA in the quest to find life on Mars. This is a new report from the Space Reporter.

NASA’s Opportunity rover is celebrating ten years since it landed on Mars, on January 24, 2004. In the rover’s 24-mile journey from its landing site to the rim of Endeavour Crater, it has uncovered evidence that is helping to elucidate the early history of Mars. The latest findings have been analyzed by a team led by Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson of Washington University.
According to a NASA statement, Opportunity has analyzed rocks older than any others encountered by the rover. The Opportunity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory employed an instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that is designed to map minerals on the Martian surface. This instrument, the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, began scanning the vicinity of Opportunity in 2010, and detected the signature of a clay mineral called iron-rich smectite at a site on Endeavour’s rim known as Matijevic Hill.
The Opportunity team steered the rover in a loop, guided by the orbiter, until it arrived at the promising outcrop. There, Opportunity had the chance to study the smectite in its proper context and determine how its location and position in the Martian geological record relate to those of other minerals and rock layers.
Arvidson and team’s analysis of the new data indicates that the warmer, wetter conditions in which the iron-rich smectite formed existed before Endeavour Crater was gouged out approximately 4 billion years ago. This environment also predates acidic and oxidizing conditions represented in rocks previously studied by the rover. The environment would have been suitable for microbial life. The new research has been published in the January 24 issue of the journal Science.
Although Opportunity’s twin rover, Spirit, ceased to function in 2010, Opportunity is still working well in conjunction with the larger, newer Curiosity rover half a planet away. Both rovers are guided by data gathered by the Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance orbiters.
I can't help wondering if some of the conditions that destroyed Mars might have been around the time when the believed meteorite hit Earth destroying the dinosaurs. Its only a thought, but maybe the solar system had a rain fall of meteorites many billion years ago along a scale more intense then we get at present.
Of course I'm no scientist and my dates could be way off and I'm sure NASA scientists have explored such a possibility. I will watch the continuous reports of the Martian exploration robots. Its very exciting stuff and I hope they find some fossil evidence of life, even if its the minutest form of life that once was.

US Helicopter Gunners in Vietnam War

This documentary, about Huey Helicopter Gunners is rather special because of the commentary and the way it is presented. We might laugh at it today with the benefit of hindsight, but despite the terror of the Vietnam war and horrors it brought into our living rooms via tv, I strongly believe it was a war that the USA could not afford to ignore. This is a bit rich coming from a Brit, I know. I don't think she (USA) had a choice and the other minor western nations, that enjoyed democracy under the cloak of US protection, also had no choice but to support this action. It proved to be a loss in the long run, but it did exhaust communist ambitions in other areas. I think there was an inadvertent success of the domino theory, though the Vietnam war/battle became a strategic withdrawal/loss.
The USA had to undertake a war with restrictions because of what happened in Korea. I do believe that there were long term benefits for the democratic west in the long run because of this, while the USA picked up the tab of recrimination. This, of course, might appear callous. It does not take into account the innocent Vietnamese that were killed in the crossfire. However, they were being brutally killed by both sides. The USA paid the price with international and unfair vilification from many nations that were free because of US power and presence, and so did the Vietnamese with the hard won unification.
This above film is very good from an historical point of view because of the way it is presented. Imagine if we could listen to the presentation of Romans or Crusaders with their firm convictions. I think this is a great documentary.

Fenland's Wisbech Should have Rail line Re-instated.

There is still a Railway station in the market town of March, Cambridgeshire but some of the other Fenland market towns are cut off from Rail today. One of the most notable places is Wisbech. A big town like Wisbech in Fenland Cambridgeshire should be reconnected to the main rail lines.
This is a clip from 1963 in March. The station still remains, though I don't think it is as busy as it once was. The Wisbech connection should be reconsidered and there is a local campaign to reinstate a rail line at Wisbech. I hope it comes true because I think it would be good for the Fenland.

Wisbech did once have a rail station that was built in 1848. However, it was shut down in 1968. Today many feel that this was a mistake and Wisbech should be re-instated.

Celtic Music - Dark Compelling Spirit Rituals

This is dark, mystical, yet beautiful. It reminds me of the woodlands and obscure nooks and crannies around the Isles, where things of old still echo through vision and smell. Places that are perhaps the same before the Romans came. Today we can only find the places in our imagination, yet musical pieces like this allow the listener to see the raw beauty within the mind's eye. I wonder if such beauty, from the past, still retains a biological programme within our DNA. Is there something about it the past that sounds familiar to us.


Little Owls in Britain

Little Owls are not native to Britain. They were introduced in 1842, by a man named Thomas Powys. Since this time the Little Owl has become naturalised. They are wonderful little creatures, but the temptation to cuddle or stroke one is a big no, no. Owls don't usually like being cuddled or stroked - even the ones tamed to human keepers or falcon trainers.
They are at their best in the wild though some reside in rescue centres and get to be flown. Tame ones need to be flown because there is a weight balance that they must fit into. This weight is easily maintained in the wild when hunting for food. In captivity they can become over weight very quickly if not exercised. They are high maintenance creatures and don't make the best pets. The wild is always better for them.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Isle Of Man TT Speed Needs of the Chancers

The Isle of Man TT is a Motorbike race like no other. The regulations are less stringent, so the safety aspect is reduced. The race is dangerous, to say the least. The Isle of Man TT is like a Mecca for those with an unyielding need to push themselves to the limit. Sometimes with dire consequences.
Watch the above clip and get an idea of the speed these racers go to and see what can happen with just the merest lapse in concentration.


Common Buzzard in the Fenlands of East England.

My wife and I have bought a house in the Market town of March, Cambridgeshire in the Fenlands. There are vast areas of open flat lands - fields everywhere with tiny clusters and lines of trees here and there.
One of the first things I noticed was the birds of prey. Mainly kestrels that are hovering everywhere along the country roads hunting rodents. Then I saw a rather bigger bird that made my heart leap.
It was the creature in the picture beside. It is called a Common Buzzard. I did not know this at the time as my knowledge on such fine creatures is very limited.
Since seeing this bird I have seen several, even as many as three along a stretch of the A16 going between Crowlands and Spalding in Lincolnshire. They are often perched upon fence posts along the A16 road as we drive to Spalding. I've also seen another, on several occasions, along a country lane called New Cut B1167 off of the A46 going towards another lane called French Drove and the village of Gedney Hill.
They become such regular observations that we keep our eyes peeled when ever travelling between March, Crowlands and Spalding. On numerous occasions, including yesterday, Friday 24th January 2014, we saw the usual three Common Buzzards along that same old stretch of the A16 between Crowlands and Spalding.

We decided to pay a visit to the Raptor centre today 25th January 2014, at a place called Pidely in Cambridgeshire, between March and Huntingdon. The common sight of so many birds of prey caused us to go. There were birds of Prey from all over the world and they gave us a display of falconry. The showed us six different type of bird, including an Eagle from South Africa, a couple of kestrels - one British and one American. But to end it all, they brought out a Common Buzzard for us to see. The falconer spoke of how their numbers were reduced in recent decades to the areas of North and West Britain, but since the 1990s they have began to reappear in the East.

I was tempted to call out, that there are a large number in the Cambridgeshire/Lincolnshire boarders, but he then went on tell the audience that the last time he spoke of how rare they were; no fewer then eight were spotted in the wild, surrounding the fields of the raptor centre. He then went on to say how they like to perch on fence post along the roads or telegraph poles, the very places we had seen them.

After our enjoyable afternoon, my wife 'Carole' and I drove back to see my Mother who lives in French Drove close to where we saw one of the Common Buzzards. As I turned the car off of the roundabout of the A46 onto New Cut Lane B1167 where the sign said Gedney Hill, I preceeded along the country road and mentioned to Carole that we should keep our eyes peeled. No sooner had I said it and then there was one (Common Buzzard) standing on the grass on the other side of a dyke, where the field ended. The dyke ran along the side of the road.

I said to Carole, "Did you see that, there was one by the dyke."

She had missed it so I turned the car by a field entrance path and drove back slowly along the lane. There it was staring at us with it huge eyes. We went back down to the roundabout on the A46 and returned once again into New Cut. Carole got out her mobile phone to photograph the wonderful creature, but as we got there, the buzzard looked at us and got spooked. He opened his wings and flew off across the fenland field. We watched it flying low for some distance before landing among, what looked like, small cabbages.

"I think we spooked it," I said.

Common Buzzards seem to be plentiful now in the Fenlands. We continued home and there were the usual kestrels hovering along the dyke of French Drove.


Friday, 24 January 2014

The Last Days Of Thunder Child by C A Powell - Book Reviews - Good and Bad)

1. By  John Johnny   on October 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Amazon Verified Purchase 

I really enjoyed this stories take on The War of the Worlds. It is set aboard H.M.S. Thunder Child as it sails around the South coast of England, recieving semephore messages from shore stations about Martian tripods laying waste to Great Britain. I thought the characters were good and I especially warmed to Mister Stanley's personal journey.I thought the story was well paced and it built to a very exciting climax!

2. By  James Urban   on June 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Amazon Verified Purchase 
Very good book. Telling part of the story about "War of the Worlds" that I think most folks would like have heard more about back even when it was 1st release.

3. By  Mark Chadwick   on May 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Amazon Verified Purchase 
As a big fan of the musical War of the Worlds, when I stumbled across this I was ecstatic.

It's a pretty interesting tale as told from the point of view of one of the sailors on the Thunder Child, but it's a bit shorter than I would have liked, and a large font hid the fact that the story was even shorter than the number of pages would suggest. However, it was a reasonably enjoyable read, with good descriptive visuals that took me back to the musical.

I'd recommend it, but I think if you have never heard the musical, you should do that first to understand what the Thunder Child was, as well as what was going on at the time this story takes place. Without it, it may be a less engaging story for you.

4. By Lindsey 
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Last Days of Thunder Child (Kindle Edition)

I have never read The War of the Worlds, but still found this to be an enjoyable read.
An intriguing story of sea battles and alien invaders, told through the perspective of the Royal Navy Crew, and a character I instantly enjoyed, Mister Stanley. I thought the story was too short, but it was well written and edited. The author did an outstanding job building up this story and it ends with a lot of excitement!!

I would recommend this book, if you're interested in a short fun, science fiction!

5. By Brian G. - See all my reviews

(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Last Days Of Thunder Child (Kindle Edition)

Novels like this are like a painting inside of a painting, or a painting inside someone else's painting. C A Powell does a great job in both stepping into Wells world and handling the sea battle, which is probably the most challenging kind of battle to write. For more detail watch the video I made. For a buck this book is definitely worth it. I got at least seven out of it.

6. By F. J. Bayog of Fantascize - See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Last Days of Thunder Child (Paperback)

The Last Days of Thunder Child evoked a feeling of wonder in me when I read it. The settings feel credible. The alien invasion --Well-described; I love its connection with War of the Worlds. There are exciting scenes that moved me while I was reading it. Very enjoyable read. If you love quality sci-fi with a heart-pounding story, check this out. It's definitely one of the best sci-fi novels I've read.

7. By Alan J. Stedall  VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
If, like me, you have often wondered what brought the torpedo-ram, HMS "Thunder Child", to engage with the Martian invaders, pitting Victorian military technology against advanced extra-terrestial science far beyond the wit of man, then this is the book for you.

It sets out the last journey of that sturdy little iron-clad, with her breech-loading guns and the brave British sailors who manned her, up to her fateful engagement with the three Martian war machines in the Thames Estuary.

As the officers and crew of "Thunder Child" watched the pitiless tripods with their death-rays wade through the river towards the paddle-steamer, "The Southend Belle", packed with screaming women and children, they knew that, in the best traditions of the Royal Navy, they had no choice but to engage, regardless of their prospect of success. And, as we all know, thank goodness, attack they did.

A very enjoyable read and I learnt much about the history of this famous engagement, e.g. the valiant support we received from our European allies.

But at the end of the day, this was after all a British victory.

God Save Queen Victoria !
8. By Mr R. J. Buckley 
This book is very enjoyable and moves at a good pace. Any WOTW fan knows what happens to Thunder Child, but the build up in this story is good and the ending is spectacular. I liked the idea of being aboard the ship as she sails towards her heroic confrontation with three alien tripods. The final battle is seen from the crew's perspective and is very gripping. I have to admit to a little adrenalin rush. Good Sci/fi/ or alternative reality, and set during the time of the British Empire

Andrew Givens (from YouTube)
I love the notion of using the Devastation class for Thunder Child - those breastwork monitors perfectly fit Wells' description of a low-lying almost waterlogged ship with a massive central structure. HMS Glatton would be another contender, with her extreme low freeboard. I always visualised Thunder Child as an 'improved Polyphemus', carrying better guns, but have recently hit upon the idea that Wells may have had the Danish torpedo ram Tordenskjold in mind - the name similarity is compelling.

bonesf200 (from YouTube)

Loving this book. I've read all but 1 of the War of the Worlds spin offs and this is by far the best. It's the only one, I've found, that really captures the mood of the original. Great scares, characters and dialogue with loads of ginger haired people knocking around. (and I'm also really proud of the fellow Northerner who saves countless lives with his father's makeshift coal gas mask. Top bloke)

1960jefbot (from YouTube)
H.M.S. Thunder Child dies, She never surrenders...She dies Hard

Daniel Chapman (from YouTube)
Fairwell, Thunder Child!

Genuine criticism is welcome.

(One Not so Good Review)
9. By B. Murphy 
I really can't see me reading this book, which is a shame.

It's just arrived and the first thing to strike me was the tiny size of the print. I have never bought a book with such small type.

It's really annoying as there is ample blank space at the top & bottom of each page to have made the print larger. Or they could have spent a few pence adding more pages.

Average letters are a little over 1mm tall as opposed to nearly 2mm in the paperback I'm just finishing. Doesn't sound a lot but its getting on for double the size.

I'm not that old (Late 40s) but I'd have to read it with a magnifying glass or suffer a *lot* of eye strain.

So instead I'll probably look for a second hand copy of the version published by emp3books instead. It's 42 pages (27%!) longer which suggests the type is readable. Also none of the Amazon reviews for it suggest this problem.

Retro Brit Answer

In the above new edition, the old front cover returns. There was this complaint above by B. Murphy that the font was too small. This was noted and the script is now larger with professional work done filling page to proper proportions. The result is; more pages, giving the book a better look. One that the reader would find more kind to the eye.

Genuine criticism is welcome.

10. By Daniel Greenway 
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
Having been a lifelong fan of War Of The Worlds i was delighted to find this book on Amazon,after discovering it on YouTube.
However,having purchased and read it,i was disappointed by the the calibre of the storyline.The book itself claims to be the story of the last days of HMS Thundrechild and whilst it skims over this as a baseline,it`s also the story of group of survivors aboard the little steamship.
I wont divulge any more of the storyline as i do`nt want to spoil it for those who might be interested in buying it,but suffice to say H.G.Wells it is not !.The style of writing reminds me more of the the library books i used to read at school than something that seeks to extend the orginal story,so i`d have to say it`s more for W.O.W. collecters,like myself,than for anyone else.

 To sum it up i`d have to say (like my school reports used to say)could do better
Retro Brit Answer

 I would rather like to feel this is the sort of book one might find at a school library. Still 3 out of 5 stars is average, I suppose. Can't win them all, but thanks for the review.
Kindle USA

For people living in the USA; you can download The Last Days of Thunder Child for just $0.99. That's right, for less than a dollar if you do Kiindle USA

Click link below if you live in the USA and have Kindle.

Nigel Farage on UK Defense: January 2014

Nigel Farage talks so much sense and I have decided that I will vote for this man and the UKIP party. I wanted there to be some hope on a none socialist EU, but that does not seem likely anymore. The worrying trend of the Tories scaling down our armed forces is very scary indeed. Their idea of simplifying things and tougher sentencing policy.
I do not think we will get involved with overseas wars anymore, but the idea of the UK going it alone and not shackled to an EU run by a socialists only club is very attractive.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Silver Fox vs Wolfgang Von Trips during Millie Migalia 1957

In Italy of 1957, during the golden age of danger and dare; Formula One racing car drivers began to emerge from around the world to compete with the charismatic Italian racers and car designers. The world of fast racing cars was a small bubble of freedom in the developing world where regulation was held at bay.

Young men emerged, who were dashing, daring. Many were eager to skim the edge of death, then live to tell the consequences. After the race they would talk to each other of such daring undertakings. Perhaps they were coming forth in search of adulation and prestige. This came with winning. They had a dire need for speed and to live on the edge for a few brief moments and then come down from the high adrenalin buzz, in each other’s company. Often they liked to discuss their deeds and desires in bars and restaurants. They spent racing seasons doing this from one racing event to another and each driver was moulded in a different way, with different views to come to grips with the constant danger they faced. Many lived fast and died young. It was part of the compelling aspect of danger that gripped some.

We all know how dangerous Formula One Racing has been and still is, but in the decades of 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, so many racers were getting killed in the pursuit of high speed glory.

Still, young men came forward to dice with high speed vehicles, constructed by the world’s top designers. Among the best of these designers in the 1950s was Enzo Ferrari. He wanted to make better and faster cars all of the time and needed such men to be daring enough to push his dream machines to the limit.

Among such drivers was one old veteran who had never won a major race, but had taken part in many. His name was Piero Taruffi and he was 51 years of age in 1957 and he had a wife and family. The great Italian Formula One race of the Mille Miglia was coming around for its annual staging, and Piero Taruffi wanted to emerge from semi-retirement to dance once more with the Mille Migila, the prestigious Italian race. He had attempted to win the race twelve times before, but to no avail. There had always been more determined and better contestants. In 1957 there was a new breed of young men who were hungry for victory. Piero had often said to his wife he would retire if he could win the Mille Miglia endurance race that started in Brescia and went on for a thousand KM in a circle of roads around central Italy to finish back at Brescia, where it started. His wife must have been under strain and worry because like all racers Piero always seemed to need to achieve a goal that was just out of reach. At 51, he had lived longer than many. The law of averages was against him.

Among the youngsters entering the 1957 Mille Miglia were many great up and coming names, like Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Mike Hawthorn and others who were big names of the time.

In a small Italian restaurant there was a gathering of such awe inspiring names before the final dash toward Brescia and the finish line. They were young Ferrari team mates enjoying one another’s company. A group of young dare devils who would not live to be old. One was about to die, while the other two would see a few more races before coming to an untimely end.

One was Alfonso de Portago – London born Spaniard of 28. He sat with Wolfgang Von Trips – a young German from Cologne who had overcome illness of polio to attain such fitness to drive a Formula One Ferrari. Then there was Peter Collins – a fine looking young fair haired Englishman who was also in the Ferrari team. With these three young racers was an actress called Linda Christian – a beautiful looking lady from Mexico who had been married to Tyrone Power. She was engaged to be married to Alfonso de Portago, the Spanish driver. All three of these great drivers would fall victim to the Formula One circuit and pay for their love of racing with their lives. However this was to be the last time Portago would indulge in such camaraderie with his good team mates Wolfgang and Peter. As said before, they would live for a few more years and races yet. It would also be the last time Alfonso and his fiancĂ© Linda would see each other. This little moment in eternity for a group of searchers and chancers.

These drivers went into the last part of the contest with many others equally determined to win the endurance race. It was within the last 30 mile stretch that Wolfgang Von Trips and the old veteran Silver Fox (Piero Taruffi) got into a duel with one another. Each driver pushing his Ferrari for a little extra, wondering if there was a little more to the dream machine’s limit.

A few minutes behind was the Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago. Wolfgang and Piero had each thundered through the tiny village of Guidizzolo where spectators from the little dwellings had gathered along the roadway to watch the fast racing cars zoom past on the final run toward the finishing line at Brescia, some thirty miles beyond. They happily cheered, while Wolfgang and Piero zoomed through the humble little place. Each man was lost in their duel of speed, no doubt leaving the small village receding behind. Oblivious of the diabolical fame about to be bestowed upon the little Italian habitations. The two competing racer’s thoughts were upon the contest as pulsing pistons thrashed up and down willing the engines to motor the fine Ferrari vehicles towards the glory of the approaching finishing line that was over a few more hills and not so far away.

The village spectators waited for other racing cars to come charging passed. All were cheering and waving excitedly in eager anticipation. They saw the fast approaching car of Alfonso de Portago speeding down towards their little village at around 130 miles per hour. Many may have gasped in awesome dread expecting his vehicle to roar by.

Suddenly Alfonso’s speeding vehicle lost control and skidded into a huge telegraph pole. Alfonso was decapitated as the wrecked car lifted into the air and smashed into the spectators. Nine of the villagers were killed including five children. Plus others were injured too. The carnage and death was horrendous as shell shocked spectators began to view the race, amid destruction, in a less enthusiastic light. Their loved ones were hideously left dead and dying before their very eyes.

Up ahead, Wolfgang Von Trips and Piero Taruffi were unaware of the disaster behind them as they sped away from the village towards Brecsia. Neck and neck the old veteran pitted himself against the dashing young German driver Wolfgang Von Trips.

What went through Piero’s mind must have been difficult to comprehend. This one elusive prize that he had coveted winning and this was his final chance. They were upon the final run, still neck and neck. Piero’s car was beginning to cause problems as he was nearing the line with the gallant German still at his side. He is believed to have looked sideways to Wolfgang who was looking back at him. It is not known for sure what transpired between the young German racer and the under achieving Italian veteran, but Wolfgang decided to ease off slightly and throw the race in order that the old veteran should have his day of glory at the Mille Miglia. The Silver Fox crossed the line in first place with the noble young Wolfgang coming second.
Piero’s dream came true and Wolfgang congratulated the veteran racer upon getting out of his car amid the crowd of applauding people. The celebrations would soon be marred by the terrible news of what had happened back at the village of Guidizzolo.

The Bishop of Mantua would launch protests that went to the core of government in Italy. The Mille Miglia had been staged from 1927 until this final race of 1957. It would not be staged anymore because of the danger. It would only re-open in 1977 as a vintage show race. Piero Taruffi was the last Formula One driver to win the prestigious and dangerous race.  


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Review of The Limit (Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit) by Michael Cannell

I loved this era of Formula one racing and Le Mans too. The 1950s was one of the most dangerous times during the history of motor racing. This book delves into the life of American F1 hero Phil Hill, German hero Wolfgang Von Trips and car designer Enzo Ferrari who had both the racers on his elite motor racing team. All the other great are featured as well, including Hawthorn, Collins, Ascari etc.

It is buzzing with excitement and eye witness accounts of many fatal crashes, including Le Mans 1955. Old time greats come into this historical account. I honestly could not put this book down. It was a cracking read. If you love the history of Motorsports; you'll love this. I have not enjoyed anything on par for a long time. We see Hill and Von Trips advancing up the rankings of the Ferrari team as those drivers above are killed.
We see the relaxation life of the driving superstars as they go around the world waiting for the next big race and who will be dining and laughing afterwards. These guys are speed gladiators and one of them: Stirling Moss survived all this. This is a real eye opener.

The Limit
Michael Cannell

Sunday, 19 January 2014

European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft to be a Comet Chaser at 24,600mph

ESA Spacecraft to be woken for Big Mission

Report by Independent Newspaper

A spacecraft will begin one of the most daring missions ever attempted on Monday - landing on a comet which is hurtling through space at 24,600 mph.
As it is impossible for it to achieve the speed needed alone, the spacecraft has completed three flybys of Earth and one of Mars to build up pace using the planets' gravitational pulls.
Operating on solar energy alone, the spacecraft was placed into a deep sleep in mid-2011 in order to conserve energy as it cruised far away from the Sun’s gaze and out towards the orbit of Jupiter. It has been out of contact with Earth ever since.
At 10am on Monday, what the ESA is calling the ‘most important alarm clock in the solar system’ will sound to awaken the vessel. It will then take up to six hours for the vessel’s star trackers to warm up - only then can it attempt to reconnect with mission control on Darmstadt, Germany.
Due to Rosetta’s vast distance from Earth – just over 807 million kilometres – it will take 45 minutes for the signal to reach home, meaning controllers will be tentatively listening out for the signal between 17:30 and 18:30 GMT.
It is hoped that the Rosetta will finally catch up with the comet in August when it will spending a couple of months studying and mapping the 2.5 mile wide ball of ice and dust, before dropping a small robot on its surface to gather samples and take pictures.
European Space Agency project scientist Matt Taylor compared the mission to the film 'Armageddon’ - in which Bruce Willis’s character lands lands on an asteroid to to prevent it from destroying Earth.
“We look at comets as being a time capsule, they are relics from the beginning of the solar system,” added Mr Taylor, speaking to The Sunday Telegraph. “We felt we had to go to one.”
Fred Jansen, ESA’s Rosetta mission manager, added: “We’re very excited to have this important milestone in sight, but we’ll be anxious to assess the health of the spacecraft after Rosetta has spent nearly 10 years in space.”

Nasa Shocked as Mars JPL Rover Comes Upon a Mystery Rock.

Strange Rock Appeared from Nowhere.
From Independent Newspaper
A mysterious rock which appeared in front of the Opportunity rover is “like nothing we’ve ever seen before”, according to Mars exploration scientists at Nasa.
Experts said they were “completely confused” by both the origins and makeup of the object, which is currently being investigated by Opportunity’s various measuring instruments.
Astronomers noticed the new rock had “appeared” without any explanation on an outcrop which had been empty just days earlier. The rover has been stuck photographing the same region of Mars for more than a month due to bad weather, with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California monitoring the images it sends.
Nasa issued a Mars status report entitled “encountering a surprise”, and lead Mars Exploration rover scientist Steve Squyres told a JPL event it seems the planet literally “keeps throwing new things at us”.
He said the images, from 12 Martian days apart, were from no more than a couple of weeks ago. “We saw this rock just sitting here. It looks white around the edge in the middle and there’s a low spot in the centre that’s dark red – it looks like a jelly doughnut.
“And it appeared, just plain appeared at that spot – and we haven’t ever driven over that spot.”
Squyres said his team had two theories on how the rock got there – that there’s “a smoking hole in the ground somewhere nearby” and it was caused by a meteor, or that it was “somehow flicked out of the ground by a wheel” as the rover went by.
“We had driven a metre or two away from here, and I think the idea that somehow we mysteriously flicked it with a wheel is the best explanation,” Squyres said.
Yet the story got even stranger when Opportunity investigated further. Squyres explained: “We are as we speak situated with the rover’s instruments deployed making measurements of this rock.
“We’ve taken pictures of both the doughnut and jelly parts, and the got the first data on the composition of the jelly yesterday.
“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” he said. “It’s very high in sulphur, it’s very high in magnesium, it’s got twice as much manganese as we’ve ever seen in anything on Mars.
“I don’t know what any of this means. We’re completely confused, and everyone in the team is arguing and fighting (over what it means).
“That’s the beauty of this mission… what I’ve realised is that we will never be finished. There will always be something tantalising, something wonderful just beyond our reach that we didn’t quite get to – and that’s the nature of exploration.”
Squyres was speaking at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the arrival of Opportunity and Spirit on the surface of Mars.
While Spirit lost contact with Earth and was later declared “dead” in 2010, Opportunity has now roamed the planet far in excess of what was originally planned as a three-month mission. Nasa said that with its maximum speed of just 0.05mph, as of “Sol 3547” (15 January 2014) Opportunity had covered just over 24 miles (38km). NASA: Space in pictures

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Isle Of Man Motorbike TT Speed Freaks.

I don't know how these guys have got the bottle but if you have; the thrill must be addictive and like nothing I can imagine. Just watching these dare devils is breath taking. Guy Martin - the thrill seeking adventurer takes part in these races and his ambition is to one day win it.
The Isle of Man TT has public roads shut off and the road around the island in the Irish sea, between Britain and Ireland is exempt from certain UK or Ireland Government rules. The Isle of Man has its own parliament and has not allowed UK, Ireland, or EU road safety restrictions to stop its prestigious and monumental race. It is also one of the most dangerous racing events in the world. In around one hundred and seven events since 1907, the TT has claimed in excess of 240 lives during race and training sessions.
Combined with other non fatal, yet hair raising crashes; the event speaks for itself. Every year when the race is held; it is like a Mecca for motorbike enthusiasts and race spectators. People from around the planet flock to the island. I, like all good spectators, wish to go to the Isle of Man TT at least once. 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Would You Like To Drive One of Jim Clark's Formula One Cars?

Driving Jim Clark's Lotus 25 would be a dream come true for anyone who enjoys formula one and its high octane, fuel injected, excitingly dangerous history. Where the thin line between winning glory and devastating acceleration into the afterlife can happen in the flicker of a blink.
Jim Clark tasted both sides - the euphoric adulation of winning while skimming the danger of death and finally the flip side of the formula one coin. His name now echoes in eternity and the thought of driving one of his actual cars is something close to the legend he has become. I would be too terrified to even contemplate racing in formula one, but to take one on a spin on an empty open track? Oh yes! I think I could manage that.
David Coulthard got to do just that, but then he is one of the many who have tweaked the nose of Formula one danger. I have a Lotus 25 diecast 1:18 of Jim Clark's 1967 Dutch Grand Prix car. It has pride of place in my little office room. I enjoy watching Formula One, but I get this interest in fads. I am going through such a fad of interest at the moment. It will settle down, but its Ron Howard, the late James Hunt and Nikki Lauda's fault.

For now, I'm enjoying going through a retro buzz  and the great Retro Brit names of the 50s and 60s are compelling me to look at the sport. Jim Clark, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins, Graham Hill, John Surtees and Jackie Stewart. That fifteen years was a golden age for British Formula One. Great days with only some of the vehicles of some of the ghosts that have left us.


How Formula One's 1961 Contestent Wolfgang Von Trips was So Close Yet Denied.

Wolfgang Von Trips was in a fierce competition against his Ferrari team mate Phil Hill during the Formula One world championship of 1961. Both drivers were close to securing the Formula One World Drivers Championship. For Wolfgang Von Trips it would secure Germany's first FI championship win, while for Phil Hill it would be a first for the USA.

There was just the 1961 Italian Grand Prix to go on the 10th September and if Wolfgang could finish third or better; the FI championship 1961 would be his. This was all he had worked for and like all F1 racers, who diced with death during every race, it was his dream to come true if he could clinch third spot or better.

 Wolfgang Von Trips was born in Cologne Germany in 1928 and was of a well to do family. They owned a castle outside of Cologne. As a lad of 14, Wolfgang caught polio, and was treated. Once he had overcome this obstacle he was summoned and sent into the Hitler Youth. This was during WWII when Germany was under the rule of National Socialism. In 1944, he along with friends of the Volkssturm and Hitler Youth, had to try and defend Cologne from advancing American troops.

He was among the captured when the city fell. Once the war ended, he returned to the family castle to find it had been ransacked by allies. Obviously, his family had much restoration to do. He was motivated by occupying British and American troops to take up his interest in Motorbikes and cars. He had an obvious talent in this field. This was probably disappointing for his family because it was their intention that young Wolfgang Von Trips was destined to run the family farm. He did attend collage studies in agriculture and passed these in 1954. However he was buying cars and entering racing competitions and was talent spotted in 1956, by no lesser man then Enzo Ferrari.

Wolfgang began his F1 carrier during the 1956 season. All this effort and risk in the fast lane, like his fellow competitors, culminated in the grand standing of 1961's Italian Grand Prix of Monza. All he needed was third place or better and the much coveted championship would be his. 

As the race started the duel between Wolfgang and Phil Hill got under way. This particular Grand Prix was a dangerous one of significance and had claimed lives before. This was also during an era of formula one racing when deaths were very often happening during every season. The drivers that do this sort of sport are great thrill seekers and it is argued that many are misfits in some way - speed merchants that need the buzz of dicing close to the edge of death. Perhaps Wolfgang Von Tripp was such a thrill seeker who was coming so close to glorious victory; that he could taste it - go that extra yard for the all desired prize.

There was a new up and coming young Scot named Jim Clark in this race and on an all important bend of the Monza circuit, Wolfgang turned his Ferrari in to the chasing path of Jim Clark's Lotus. At that moment Wolfgang's rear wheel clipped the front of the pursuing 'future British Champion' Jim Clark's car. The German driver went into a terrible spin off of the track and onto the verge. His car lifted as it hit the crash barriers and killed 14 spectators. Wolfgang Von Trip was also killed in the crash as he was thrown from the cascading wreckage.

He was a gallant racer, and like so many before and after him. Wolfgang Von Trips died tragically in pursuit of the sport he obviously had a passion for. The terrible legacy was the death of the Italian spectators too. It had shades of the horrific Le Mans disaster of 1955

The USA's Phil Hill went on to take the Formula One trophy of 1961. Wolfgang went out in an explosive blaze of Formula One legend and gloried tribute. He is remembered with honour by those who love the sport.  

Wolfgang Von Trips Crash 1961 Italian Grand Prix