Jim Clark wins the Indy 500


victory laneIn celebration of Jim Clark’s historic win at the 49th Indianapolis 500, there is perhaps no better person to recount the occasion than Jim himself. This is what he wrote shortly after the race in the (rare) updated version of his autobiography, Jim Clark at the Wheel:

“Practice at Indianapolis often serves as a guide to ultimate performances, but it goes deeper than this because even such things as the time of day can influence your practice times. Also, you are not restricted to a particular grade of fuel, as you are in European racing, so it is quite easy to brew up some juice to give you a great deal more power. We tried a nitro mix in our fuel in practice and got ourselves an extra 50bhp but in the race we chose to run on alcohol and play safe. AJ Foyt, my greatest rival, ran nitro…

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Homage to a Hero


S2830034Fifty years ago today – October 25, 1964, in Mexico City – John Surtees clinched the F1 World Championship in his North American Race Team (NART)-liveried factory Ferrari. The finale had been a three-way fight between John, Jim Clark and Graham Hill. Jim looked to have the title won before he was forced to stop his Lotus 33-Climax with a seized engine on the penultimate lap; Graham Hill was flicked out of contention by Lorenzo Bandini, John’s team-mate; and so, with Lorenzo dutifully slowing on the final lap, John finished second to Dan Gurney to secure the title by one point. Lucky? Of course not. John had won that year at both the Nurburgring and Monza; as in life, there were causes and effects for everything that happened both to him and to his rivals.

And so the flowers, and the champagne, were well-earned. Look closely at some of the photos in books and…

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Rob Wilson’s world


He used to be a very fast (Nelson Piquet-, Nigel Mansell-fast) racing driver. Today he coaches personalities from all disciplines, including F1, GP2, GP3, F3, IndyCar, the WEC and the WRC. And, in between times, he writes music and plays in a band called Grand Prairie. He’s dedicated; he’s disciplined. And I don’t know anyone more passionate about the sport of motor racing. I recently spent a little time with Rob Wilson at his “second home” – Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, about 40 min drive north of Silverstone. I wanted to talk motor racing realities; I wanted to avoid the gloss. I can’t pretend ever to do justice to Rob Wilson but I hope some of the footage we shot  gives you some idea of why today he has the respect of most of the serious players in the F1 pit-lane. The concert clips, by the way, were filmed at the Grand…

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What are the best questions that bouncers use to expose possession of a fake ID?

When we owned a club called "SKIN" in Nottingham https://www.facebook.com/pages/Skin-Bar/19950442892 we used a superb product called IDScan http://idscan.co.uk/?gclid=CMWM2NOU070CFW7MtAodwVkAaQ which reduced the need to ask such questions, but we use to asked for the third digit of the postcode and the third digit of the year of birth, if fake about 80% would reply 3 to the question making them according to their answer in their 60's or 70's

Answer by Joel Lewenstein:

One of the best tricks I've heard: A bouncer asked a friend of mine (wielding a fake ID) whether he lived on a 'street' or a 'road.' Panicked, without time to recite the fully memorized address, my friend said 'street', to which the bouncer responded, 'You live on a boulevard. Come back when you know this ID better.' It struck me as a great way to prevent rote memorization of a fake.

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What its the most efficient geothermal energy solution available right now?

Answer by Kåre Lohse:

For individual houses:

Page on Digitalsolarheat

For communities:

Borehole Thermal Energy Storage: DLSC

They both have successful working projects of storing excess heat in the ground – two different methods, but basically the same:

Capturing heat from the sun when it's there, and saving it for later, whether 6 hours or 6 months later.

It's not a question of technology, it's a question of just doing it.

But (too) cheap energy from fossil fuel burning, combined with reluctance to change as well as lack of information available, is making the transition slow.

There are many others showing the way, like this blog about another individual, using geothermal storage to balance supply and demand over time:

Charging the Earth – Solar!: Introduction

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What are some innovations in wind energy?

Answer by Mike Barnard:

  • Wind turbine height: the wind is stronger higher off of the ground and taller wind turbines can catch more of it.
  • Mechanical efficiency: wind turbines have slowly evolved to eliminate unnecessary gearing and friction.  Many now have no gearboxes at all, significantly reducing complexity and gearing related losses.
  • Specialization: Lower wind conditions get bigger blades and smaller generators.  Higher wind conditions get narrower blades and larger generators.
  • Aerodynamic improvements: The blades cut through the air better and generate more aerodynamic lift due to advances in their shape and changes to their shape through their length to accommodate different relative air speeds between tip and hub.
  • Optimized maintenance: Well understood and costed best practices for maintaining specific wind turbines in specific conditions, ensure that they maintain the optimal balance, lubrication and uptime.
  • Robustness: Wind turbines are now large scale machines with better tolerance for high-winds, icing and other realities of exposed structures. Wind turbine failure, while it makes for spectacular pictures and videos, is extremely rare.
  • Wind modeling:  Understanding and modeling of wind conditions at specific sites is much more accurate now than 20 years ago.  This allows the right wind turbines to be selected and sited to maximize use of the wind resource in the specific location.
  • Instrumentation and automation:  Wind turbines are heavily computerized today to adjust to maximize power output in different wind conditions.  In addition, they are connected through SCADA-interfaces to wind farm managers and grid operators who receive real-time updates on the state of the turbines, allowing much faster response in the event of problems.  This maximizes performance in the moment and minimizes downtime.
  • Advanced materials: Materials for blades are being refined regularly, with stronger and lighter blades enabling increased robustness and increased efficiency.
  • Advanced coatings: Manufacturers are now applying advanced coatings which deteriorate much more slowly on blades, especially the leading edge. This increases laminar flow and maintains aerodynamic efficiency for longer.

For full references for each of these innovations, please see: The wind doesn’t blow all the time. Why doesn’t this make wind power ineffective?

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Gas Safety & Carbon Monoxide

Post by John Kirby:

Gas Safety & Carbon Monoxide

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CSL – John Kirby

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