Archive for April, 2008

what do you think of the new british coins?

April 29, 2008

Do we really need coins anymore? I think making new coins is a waste of money.


unfriendly skies

April 22, 2008

A PBS NewsHour transcript in 1997 contains very good information about CAT, Clear Air Turbulence, or much more simply, “air pockets”. Here are some excerpts:

Since 1981, two people have died in air turbulence incidents, one aboard United Airlines Flight 826, where a 32-year-old Japanese woman suffered a fatal head injury when her body was hurled against the ceiling of the plane.

Early analysis of the aircraft’s flight data recorder showed that the 747 initially rose suddenly, then plunged six seconds later about one hundred feet.

According to ABC News Aviation Specialist John Nance, when dealing with clear air turbulence pilots have almost nothing, except their own analysis and experience of the weather reports, where the tropopause is — the layer between the troposphere and the stratosphere, the temperature changes that they may run into, and indications of high clouds that might tell them that they’re running into or out of a jet stream.

Also according to Nance, severe turbulence or clear air turbulence is an extreme rarity. Moderate turbulence is about as bad as it gets. What pilots try to do is avoid any areas of severe or clear air turbulence. Sometimes they can’t. The only tool they have available is to either change altitude, which is what they normally do (Pilots ask other flights, and/or ask the controller — Is it smoother at 33? Is it smoother at 31? ), or vary the speed, but at high altitude, you don’t have the option of slowing down a lot. So that really leaves them with only the option of changing altitude, or changing course.

So what do you think? Do you think you’re going to buckle up your seat belts next time?

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April 22, 2008

Excerpt from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything:

“At any one moment 1,800 thunderstorms are in progress around the globe — some 40,000 a day. Day and night across the planet every second about a hundred lightning bolts hit the ground. The sky is a lively place.”

“Hi, I’m on a plane.”

April 18, 2008

According to the Associated Press, you can use your cell phone in the skies over Europe later this year under new rules that will allow air travelers to stay in touch starting at 9,800 feet.

But don’t expect to use your phone on a U.S. flight anytime soon. The ban remains in place for all U.S. carriers, including domestic and international flights.

The decision on April 7, 2008 by the European Union makes the 27-nation bloc the first region in the world to scrap bans on the use of cell phones in the sky.

According to Gizmodo, The technical requirements are quite simple.

Cell phone calls will be connected through an onboard base station. The base will relay all calls to a satellite, which will pass them to the ground-based cell network. A flight’s captain will have the power to turn off service anytime.

Phone service will be blocked during takeoff and landing, EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said. That means using your cell phone will fall under roughly the same restrictions as using your laptop or iPod. In Europe, travelers will be allowed to turn on their phones after planes climb past 10,000 feet. That’s when other electronic devices are typically permitted. Captains will also be able to block cell phone service during turbulence.

Meanwhile, travelers are already expressing concern about another kind of disruption — noisy passengers. The friendly skies are one of the last refuges against shrill ringtones and yapping callers.

The new EU rules were welcomed by airlines, some of which, such as Air France-KLM, had already launched a trial of in-flight phone service on some European routes. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines introduced its in-flight phone services on its Dubai-to-Casablanca route but limits the number of calls passengers can make and bars calls during night flights.

German airline Lufthansa said Monday it does not plan to introduce the service because a majority of its customers saw no need. Surveys have shown a large majority of customers against it, Lufthansa spokesman Jan Baerwalde said.

Expect to pay an arm and a leg for this air roaming.