So How Fast is Blackbird ?

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s True Top Speed

 

The story of the SR-71 Blackbird that outran Gaddafi's SAMs during a BDA flight of Libya in support of Operation Eldorado Canyon

The SR-71 Blackbird is still the fastest plane that has ever flown and served an important role in history as a spy plane. Its first test flight was on December 22, 1964 and was never once hit by a missile during its 25 years of service.Though these awesome planes haven’t left the ground since before the turn of the century, they’re still worth all the recognition of being the fastest plane on Earth.

The SR-71, the most advanced member of the Blackbird family that included the A-12 and YF-12, was designed by a team of Lockheed personnel led by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, then vice president of Lockheed’s Advanced Development Company Projects, commonly known as the “Skunk Works” and now a part of Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Blackbirds were designed to cruise at “Mach 3+,” just over three times the speed of sound or more than 2,200 miles per hour and at altitudes up to 85,000 feet.

Now when talking about SR-71 probably the most frequently asked Blackbird question is-how high and how fast does it really fly?

Former SR-71 pilot Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Gil Bertelson recalls in Richard H. Graham book SR-71 Blackbird Stories, Tales and Legends:

‘When I first joined the SR-71 program there was one permanent operating location for SR-71s at Kadena AB. The unit at Kadena was known as detachment 1 (or Det 1) of the 9th SRW. Habus were deployed to Det 1 for six weeks at a time and each crew made the trip four to six times a year. About twice a year, there was a requirement to temporarily activate an additional Det at RAF Mildenhall in England. Although we’d had two SR-71s permanently stationed at RAF Mildenhall since 1981, it wasn’t until 5 April 1984 that Prime Minister Thatcher formally announced SR-71s would be permanently based at Mildenhall. This unit was known as Det 4 of the 9th SRW. Dets 2 and 3 of the 9th SRW were U-2 operating locations, at Osan AB, Korea, and RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, respectively.

‘There was a significantly different flying environment between the two detachments. The weather was almost at opposite ends of the spectrum. The missions were not quite as “routine” as many of the Okinawa missions.

‘Because of the more demanding missions at Mildenhall, each new SR-71crew had to fly its first operational sorties at Kadena. Every SR crew lobbied long and hard to get on the schedule for Mildenhall. And London was not far away!

‘Frank Stampf, my RSO crewmate on the SR-71, and I were fortunate to get on the schedule for Mildenhall after only two trips to Okinawa. For both of us, it was like going home. Just before entering the SR-71 program, Frank had been stationed at RAF Alconbury for about four years as an RF-4 crew dog. And I had been stationed at RAF Lakenheath for a couple of years. As the “crow flies,” Alconbury is only 30 miles from Mildenhall and Lakenheath is only 3 miles from Mildenhall. We were both anxious to visit the old flying buddies we had known and worked with in careers before we became Habus.

1280px-Brian_Shul_in_the_cockpit_of_the_SR-71_Blackbird.jpg

‘On one occasion, I arranged to meet several of my F-111 friends at Lakenheath Officers’ Club for dinner. We met in the bar and had a few drinks (as a real, live, dyed-in-the-wool teetotaler, I assume I was drinking grapefruit juice or 7-Up). We shared numerous laughs while trying to outdo each other with tales of unequalled courage and great feats of airmanship. I’m sure our hands were getting a good workout—pilots gesticulate a lot!

‘At some point in the evening, the Aardvark (F-111 nickname) guys began to press me, in a good-natured way, for classified information about the SR-71. Probably the most frequently asked Blackbird question is-how high and how fast does it really fly? That question was being actively pursued that night at Lakenheath.

‘I need to back up about a year and a half to set the stage as to why they seemed intent on pushing that particular question. In most Air Force buildings, at least the flying squadron buildings I used to frequent, there were numerous locations where the base fire marshal had posted information regarding fire classifications and appropriate reactions upon discovering different types of fires. These posters were displayed in the restrooms, in the halls, near the duty desks, in the crew briefing rooms, and next to all of the fire extinguisher. I can’t remember all the specifics other than there was one fire classification identified as a category or type 3.

‘At some point in my application for assignment to the SR-71, I was requested to go to Beale for my “tryout” for the Blackbird program. The whole process from departing Lakenheath until returning back to Lakenheath took about two weeks. During the visit to Beale, I heard and read a number of times that the unclassified speed of the SR-71 was listed as Mach 3-plus. A “3+” patch is displayed on flight suits worn by SR-71 squadron crewmembers.

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s Top Speed

‘When I arrived back to Lakenheath, I was really pumped up and excited about the prospects of being selected to fly the SR-71. I didn’t want to forget the experiences I had at Beale or to lose sight of my goal. To help me remember and to keep my attention focused on what I wanted to do, I began adding a black grease pencil + sign to all of the 3s on the fire code posters. There were many added + signs around the base that the very diligent safety officer in 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron actually called the base fire marshal to get information about this “new classification.” When he was told there was no such thing as a code 3+, he finally figured it out and started looking for me. I was given a “cease and desist” order and one by one, he began erasing my “unauthorized” + signs.

‘Now back to the “O” Club a year and a half later. My dinner partners remembered the fuss over the posters and figured now was an appropriate time and place to get the real scoop as to how high and how fast the Blackbird really did fly. They were curious as to what kind of speed that little + sign actually equated to.

‘I played along for a while, dragging out the inevitable answer of Mach 3-plus, which, when all was said and done, was all I really could tell them anyway. I finally got them leaning in toward me as we sat around the dinner table. I did a pretty good acting job as I began nervously looking around the room be sure no one else was eavesdropping on what they thought would be a classified conversation.

With the guys leaning in to hang on every word I was about to speak, I said something like, “You’ve got to promise not to tell a soul what I am going to tell you now. If you do, I’ll deny it till the day I die. I’m sure you know I shouldn’t be talking about this at all. You know how high the pile will be that they’ll stick me in if you tell anyone else.” As they gathered closer to make sure they didn’t miss anything, I said, “I can’t specific numbers, but I can give you a point of reference you can use to figure it out. You know the part in ‘High Flight’—where it talks about putting out your hand to touch the face of God?” Well,” I added, “when we’re at speed and altitude in the SR, we have to slow down and descend in order to do that.”

800px-SR71_J58_Engine_Airflow_Patterns.svg

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You know the part in ‘High Flight’—where it talks about putting out your hand to touch the face of God? Well, when we’re at speed and altitude in the SR, we have to slow down and descend in order to do that,” Gil Bertelson, former SR-71 Blackbird pilot.

That time a Blackbird pilot revealed SR-71’s Top Speed

15 Fascinating Facts About The SR-71 Blackbird —

1. The SR-71 Blackbird aircraft was built by Lockheed Martin and took its first flight in 1964. It was retired by NASA in 1999. 2. It is the fastest planes that ever took flight. The official fastest record it holds is 2,193.13 mph on July 1976. The photo above was taken right after it reached that record. 3. It earned its nickname “Blackbird” because of how stealth it was. It was also extremely quiet inside the cockpit, according to pilot Richard Graham. “You could hear a pin drop. The view is spectacular, being able to see the curvature of the Earth and the black space above filled with stars,” he said. 4. The Blackbird was able to map terrain like a side-scanning sonar, aim a radar up to 45 degrees to the side, and interrupt enemy communication and radar signals. 5. It was built to fly up to Mach 3.4 speeds (approx. 2,500 mph on land). 6. Over 4,000 missiles were fired at the Blackbird in the 25 years it was flown, but none ever hit it. The Blackbird was just too fast and its evasive tactic was just to speed up until the missile couldn’t keep up with it. 7. Its navigation system called “R2-D2” had a sensor so powerful that it could detect up to 61 stars in broad daylight while the plane was still on the ground. 8. The plane required a large amount of titanium to be built so the CIA created fake companies around the world to buy metal from the USSR, which was the biggest supplier, as well as the United States’ enemy at that time. 9. The plane was covered in over 60 pounds of black paint because the black helped cool down the plane by up to 86 degrees. Traveling at over Mach 3, the plane could hit as high as 1,000 degrees without the black paint dissipating the heat. 10. The SR-71 constantly leaked fuel while not in flight due to the contraction of its titanium skin. The tank was designed to expand as it heated up due to air friction. The SR-71 had enough fuel to take off and then get refueled up in the air by a tanker. 11. Its tires were specially designed for the SR-71. Their material was made of aluminum powder which was impregnated to reject heat. This additive gave its unique appearance of silver coloration. 12. There were only 32 Blackbirds ever built. 13. Even though it leaked fuel, the fuel had such a high flash point that it would not ignite even if it was hit with fire. 14. To work on the plane as a crew member, you needed to be between the ages of 25 and 40, be married and be “emotionally stable.” 15. The camera on the Blackbird was so advanced that when it took a photo of a car on the ground that was 80,000 feet below it and the plane traveled at over 2,000 mph, the license plate would be visible in the photo.

How big is the Sun? What Is the Biggest Star?

Our Sun is a normal main-sequence G2 star, one of more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy but although The sun may appear to be the largest star in the sky, that’s just because it’s the closest. On a stellar scale, it’s really quite average — about half of the known stars are larger; half are smaller. The largest known star in the universe is UY Scuti, a hypergiant with a radius around 1,700 times larger than the sun. And it’s not alone in dwarfing Earth’s dominant star.

The largest of all

In 1860, German astronomers at the Bonn Observatory first cataloged UY Scuti, naming it BD -12 5055. During a second detection, the astronomers realized it grows brighter and dimmer over a 740-day period, leading astronomers to classify it as a variable star. The star lies near the center of the Milky Way, roughly 9,500 light-years away.

Located in the constellation Scutum, UY Scuti is a hypergiant, the classification that comes after supergiant, which itself comes after giant. Hypergiants are rare stars that shine very brightly. They lose much of their mass through fast-moving stellar winds.

Of course, all stellar sizes are estimates, based on measurements taken from far away.

UY Scuti largest known star

“The complication with stars is that they have diffuse edges,” wrote astronomer Jillian Scudder of the University of Sussex. “Most stars don’t have a rigid surface where the gas ends and vacuum begins, which would have served as a harsh dividing line and easy marker of the end of the star.”

Instead, astronomers rely on a star’s photosphere, where the star becomes transparent to light and the particles of light, or photons, can escape the star.

“As far as an astrophysicist is concerned, this is the surface of the star, as this is the point at which photons can leave the star,” Scudder said.

If UY Scuti replaced the sun in the center of the solar system, its photosphere would extend just beyond the orbit of Jupiter. The nebula of gas stripped from the star extends even farther out, beyond the orbit of Pluto to 400 times time the Earth-sun distance.

But UY Scuti doesn’t remain stagnant. Scudder pointed out that the star varies in brightness as it varies in radius, with a margin of error of about 192 solar radii. These errors could allow other stars to beat out UY Scuti in the race for size. In fact, there are as many as 30 stars whose radii fit within UY Scuti’s smallest estimated size, so it shouldn’t sit too securely on its throne.

Nor does UY Scuti’s large radius make it the most massive star. That honor goes to R136a1, which weighs in at about 300 times the mass of the sun but only about 30 solar radii. UY Scuti, in comparison, is only about 30 times more massive than the sun.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals the supercluster Westerlund 1, home of one of the largest known stars. Westerlund 1-26, a red supergiant, has a radius more than 1,500 times that of the sun. (Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

Title contenders

So which star would take UY Scuti’s place if it weren’t exactly 1,708 solar radii? Here are a few of the stars that might dominate:

  • WOH G64, measuring 1,504 to 1,730 solar radii. It is a red hypergiant star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way). Like UY Scuti, it varies in brightness. Some estimates have placed its radius as high as 3,000 solar radii. Variations are due in part to the presence of dust, which affects the brightness of the star and its related radius.
  • RW Cephei, at 1,535 solar radii. This star is an orange hypergiant in the constellation of Cepheus, and also a variable star.
  • Westerlund 1-26, which comes in at 1,530 to 2,550 solar radii. If the upper estimate is correct, its photosphere would engulf the orbit of Saturn if the star were placed at the center of the solar system. The star changes its temperature but not its brightness.
  • KY Cygni, at 1,420 to 2,850 solar radii. It’s a red supergiant in the constellation Cygnus. The upper estimate is considered by astronomers to be dubious due to an observational error, while the lower estimate is consistent with other stars from the same survey, as well as theoretical models of stellar evolution.
  • VY Canis Majoris, ranging from 1,300 to 1,540 solar radii. This red hypergiant star was previously estimated to be 1,800 to 2,200 solar radii, but that size put it outside the bounds of stellar evolutionary theory. New measurements brought it down to size. (Some sources still list it as the largest star.)
  • History of The Sun

    The Sun is by far the largest object in the solar system. It contains more than 99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System (Jupiter contains most of the rest).

    It is often said that the Sun is an “ordinary” star. That’s true in the sense that there are many others similar to it. But there are many more smaller stars than larger ones; the Sun is in the top 10% by mass. The median size of stars in our galaxy is probably less than half the mass of the Sun.

    The Sun is personified in many mythologies: the Greeks called it Helios and the Romans called it Sol.

    The Sun is, at present, about 70% hydrogen and 28% helium by mass everything else (“metals”) amounts to less than 2%. This changes slowly over time as the Sun converts hydrogen to helium in its core.

    The outer layers of the Sun exhibit differential rotation: at the equator the surface rotates once every 25.4 days; near the poles it’s as much as 36 days. This odd behavior is due to the fact that the Sun is not a solid body like the Earth. Similar effects are seen in the gas planets. The differential rotation extends considerably down into the interior of the Sun but the core of the Sun rotates as a solid body.

    Conditions at the Sun’s core (approximately the inner 25% of its radius) are extreme. The temperature is 15.6 million Kelvin and the pressure is 250 billion atmospheres. At the center of the core the Sun’s density is more than 150 times that of water.

    The Sun’s power (about 386 billion billion mega Watts) is produced by nuclear fusion reactions. Each second about 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen are converted to about 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons (=3.86e33 ergs) of energy in the form of gamma rays. As it travels out toward the surface, the energy is continuously absorbed and re-emitted at lower and lower temperatures so that by the time it reaches the surface, it is primarily visible light. For the last 20% of the way to the surface the energy is carried more by convection than by radiation.

    The surface of the Sun, called the photosphere, is at a temperature of about 5800 K. Sunspots are “cool” regions, only 3800 K (they look dark only by comparison with the surrounding regions). Sunspots can be very large, as much as 50,000 km in diameter. Sunspots are caused by complicated and not very well understood interactions with the Sun’s magnetic field.

    A small region known as the chromosphere lies above the photosphere.

    The highly rarefied region above the chromosphere, called the corona, extends millions of kilometers into space but is visible only during a total solar eclipse (left). Temperatures in the corona are over 1,000,000 K.

    It just happens that the Moon and the Sun appear the same size in the sky as viewed from the Earth. And since the Moon orbits the Earth in approximately the same plane as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun sometimes the Moon comes directly between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a solar eclipse; if the alignment is slighly imperfect then the Moon covers only part of the Sun’s disk and the event is called a partial eclipse. When it lines up perfectly the entire solar disk is blocked and it is called a total eclipse of the Sun. Partial eclipses are visible over a wide area of the Earth but the region from which a total eclipse is visible, called the path of totality, is very narrow, just a few kilometers (though it is usually thousands of kilometers long). Eclipses of the Sun happen once or twice a year. If you stay home, you’re likely to see a partial eclipse several times per decade. But since the path of totality is so small it is very unlikely that it will cross you home. So people often travel half way around the world just to see a total solar eclipse. To stand in the shadow of the Moon is an awesome experience. For a few precious minutes it gets dark in the middle of the day. The stars come out. The animals and birds think it’s time to sleep. And you can see the solar corona. It is well worth a major journey.

    The Sun’s magnetic field is very strong (by terrestrial standards) and very complicated. Its magnetosphere (also known as the heliosphere) extends well beyond Pluto.

    In addition to heat and light, the Sun also emits a low density stream of charged particles (mostly electrons and protons) known as the solar wind which propagates throughout the solar system at about 450 km/sec. The solar wind and the much higher energy particles ejected by solar flares can have dramatic effects on the Earth ranging from power line surges to radio interference to the beautiful aurora borealis.

    Recent data from the spacecraft Ulysses show that during the minimum of the solar cycle the solar wind emanating from the polar regions flows at nearly double the rate, 750 kilometers per second, than it does at lower latitudes. The composition of the solar wind also appears to differ in the polar regions. During the solar maximum, however, the solar wind moves at an intermediate speed.

    Further study of the solar wind will be done by Wind, ACE and SOHO spacecraft from the dynamically stable vantage point directly between the Earth and the Sun about 1.6 million km from Earth.

    The solar wind has large effects on the tails of comets and even has measurable effects on the trajectories of spacecraft.

    Spectacular loops and prominences are often visible on the Sun’s limb (left).

    The Sun’s output is not entirely constant. Nor is the amount of sunspot activity. There was a period of very low sunspot activity in the latter half of the 17th century called the Maunder Minimum. It coincides with an abnormally cold period in northern Europe sometimes known as the Little Ice Age. Since the formation of the solar system the Sun’s output has increased by about 40%.

    The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old. Since its birth it has used up about half of the hydrogen in its core. It will continue to radiate “peacefully” for another 5 billion years or so (although its luminosity will approximately double in that time). But eventually it will run out of hydrogen fuel. It will then be forced into radical changes which, though commonplace by stellar standards, will result in the total destruction of the Earth (and probably the creation of a planetary nebula).

    The Sun’s satellites

    There are eight planets and a large number of smaller objects orbiting the Sun. (Exactly which bodies should be classified as planets and which as “smaller objects” has been the source of some controversy, but in the end it is really only a matter of definition. Pluto is no longer officially a planet but we’ll keep it here for history’s sake.)

    Planet Distance(000 km) Radius(km) Mass(kg) Discoverer Date
    Mercury 57,910 2439 3.30e23
    Venus 108,200 6052 4.87e24
    Earth 149,600 6378 5.98e24
    Mars 227,940 3397 6.42e23
    Jupiter 778,330 71492 1.90e27
    Saturn 1,426,940 60268 5.69e26
    Uranus 2,870,990 25559 8.69e25 Herschel 1781
    Neptune 4,497,070 24764 1.02e26 Galle 1846
    Pluto 5,913,520 1160 1.31e22 Tombaugh 1930

    More detailed data and definitions of terms can be found on the data page.

    More about the Sun

      • more Sun images
      • from NSSDC
      • Stanford Solar Center
      • Yohkoh Public Outreach Project, lots of good info, images and movies
      • The University of Michigan Solar and Heliospheric Research Group’s Web Space for Kids and Non-Scientists
      • Solar Data Analysis Center
      • Elemental abundances in the Sun
      • National Solar Observatory / Sacramento Peak Image Index
      • more info and links about sunspots
      • historical info about sunspots
      • Virtual Tour of the Sun by Michael Berger
      • The Sun: a Pictorial Introduction, a slide set by P. Charbonneau and O.R. White
      • The HK Project
      • Ulysses Home Page
      • Spartan 201, NASA’s mission to explore the Sun’s corona
      • IACG Campaign IV: including lots of good references

    Open Issues

    • Is there a causal connection between the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age or was it just a coincidence? How does the variability of the Sun affect the Earth’s climate?
    • Since all the planets except Pluto orbit the Sun within a few degrees of the plane of the Sun’s equator, we know very little about the interplanetary environment outside that plane. The Ulysses mission will provide information about the polar regions of the Sun.
    • The corona is much hotter than the photosphere. Why?

    Interesting Facts about the Sun

      • The Sun is one of the millions of stars in the solar system. It is, however, larger than most (although not the biggest) and a very special star to us. Without the Sun there would be absolutely no life on Earth.
      • The Sun is 870,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) across. This is so big it is hard to imagine, but it would take more than one million Earths to fill the size of the Sun!
      • The Sun is so big it takes up 99% of the matter in our solar system. The 1% left over is taken up by planets, asteroids, moons and other matter.
      • The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old. It is thought to be halfway through its lifetime. Stars get bigger as they get older.
      • As the Sun ages, it will get bigger. When this happens, it will consume some of the things close to it, and this includes Mercury, Venus and maybe even Earth and Mars. Luckily this is billions of years in the future.
      • The Sun is the centre of the solar system.
      • The Sun is 92.96 million miles (149.6 kilometers) away from Earth.
      • The Sun is made of a ball of burning gases. These gases are 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium.
    • The sunlight we see on Earth left the Sun 8 minutes ago. This is the length of time it takes for the light to travel the distance between the Sun and the Earth.
    • When the moon goes around the Earth, it sometimes finds itself between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a solar eclipse and makes the Earth dark whilst the moon shuts out most of the Sun’s light. This only lasts for a couple of hours while the moon continues its rotation and moves out of the way of the sun.
    • In ancient astronomy, it was thought that the Sun moved. People believed that the Earth stayed still and the Sun rotated around it.
    • About 2000 years ago some began to think it was the Sun that stays still whilst the planets make a path around it. This only became an accepted theory around the 1600s when Isaac Newton proposed the sun-centric solar system.
    • The Sun is almost a perfect sphere. It is the closest thing to a sphere found in nature with only a 6.2 mile (10 kilometres) difference between its vertical and horizontal measurements.
    • The Sun’s core is extremely hot! An unthinkable 13,600,000 degrees Celcius!
    • The Sun has a very big magnetic field. It is the most powerful magnetic field in the whole solar system. This field is regenerating itself, but scientists are unsure how.
    • The Sun produces solar winds. These are a stream of particles from the Sun that stream out into space. This is why planets atmospheres are so important. They protect the planet from these solar winds.
    • The Sun rotates but not as Earth does. On Earth, the planet is rotating at the same speed no matter where you are. The Sun does not rotate like a solid object and is spinning faster at its equator than it is at its poles. It is complicated to say how fast the Sun is spinning but depending whereabouts on the Sun you are looking at it takes between 24 and 38 days to spin around.
    • The Sun has been both worshipped and feared throughout history by a variety of cultures.

How Deep Is Deep? We Dive Into the World’s Oceans, Lakes, and Drill Holes

Explore the full-size version of this chart by clicking here.
A Deep Dive Into the World's Oceans, Lakes, and Drill Holes

Today’s chart is best viewed full-screen. Explore the high resolution version by clicking here.

Sailors have been circumnavigating the high seas for centuries now, but what could be found beneath the sunlit surface of the ocean remained a mystery until far more recently. In fact, it wasn’t until 1875, during the Challenger expedition, that humanity got it’s first definative idea of how deep the ocean actually was.

The ocean has an average depth of approximately 3.7 kilometres (or 2.3 miles). A calculation from satellite measurements in 2010 put the average depth at 3,682 metres (12,080 feet). However, only about 10% of Earth’s seafloor has been mapped to high resolution, so this figure is only an estimate.

Ocean depth is divided into zones: littoral, bathyal, abyssal and hadal. The deepest part of the ocean, the hadal zone, is anywhere deeper than six kilometres.

Today’s graphic, another fantastic piece by xkcd, is a unique and entertaining look at everything from Lake Superior’s ice encrusted shoreline down to blackest, inhospitable trench (which today bears the name of the expedition that first discovered it).

The graphic is packed with detail, so we’ll only highlight a few points of interest.

Deep Thoughts with Lake Baikal

Deep in Siberia, abutting a mountainous stretch of the Mongolian border, is the one of the most remarkable bodies of water on Earth: Lake Baikal. There are a number of qualities that make Lake Baikal stand out.

Depth: Baikal, located in a massive continental rift, is the deepest lake in the world at 1,642m (5,387ft). That extreme depth holds a lot of fresh water. In fact, an estimated 22% of all the world’s fresh water can be found in the lake.

Age: Baikal (which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is estimated to be over 25 million years old, making it the most ancient lake on the planet.

Clarity: Interestingly, the water in the lake is exceptionally clear. In winter, visibility can extend over 30m (98ft) below the surface.

Biodiversity: The unique ecosystem of Lake Baikal provides a home for thousands of plant and animal species. In fact, upwards of 80% of those species are endemic, meaning they are unique to that region.

Who is Alvin?

Since 1964, a hard-working research submersible named Alvin has been helping us better understand the deep ocean. Alvin explored the wreckage of RMS Titanic in 1986, and helped confirm the existence of black smokers (one of the weirdest ecosystems in the world). Though most of the components of the vessel have been replaced and upgraded over the years, it’s still in use today.

Polymetallic Nodules

The ancient Greek word, ábyssos, roughly means “unfathomable, bottomless gulf”. While there is a bottom (the abyssopelagic zone comprises around 75% of the ocean floor), the enormous scale of this ecosystem is certainly unfathomable.

Objectively, the abyssal plain is not the prettiest part of the ocean. It’s nearly featureless, and lacks the panache of, say, a coral reef, but there are still some very compelling reasons we’re eager to explore it. Resource companies are chiefly interested in polymetallic nodules, which are essentially rich manganese formations scattered about on the sea bottom.

Manganese is already essential in steel production, but demand is also getting a substantial lift from the fast-growing electric vehicle market. The first company to find an economical way to harvest nodules from the ocean floor could reap a significant windfall.

Drill Baby, Drill

Demand for resources can force humans into some very inhospitable places, and in the case of Deepwater Horizon, we chased oil to a depth even surpassing the famed Marianas Trench.

Drilling that far below the surface is a complicated endeavor, and when the drill platform was put into service in 2001, it was hailed as an engineering marvel. To this day, Deepwater Horizon holds the record for the deepest offshore hole ever made.

After the rig’s infamous explosion and subsequent spill in 2010, that record may stand the test of time.

ASTEROID experts have produced a terrifying simulation Comparing the Size of Asteroids in our Solar System to New York City .

The Absolutely Frightening apocalyptic consequences of a colossal space rock colliding with Earth.

Comparison of asteroid sizes

Asteroids are rocky worlds revolving around the sun that are too small to be called planets. They are also known as planetoids or minor planets. There are millions of asteroids, ranging in size from hundreds of miles to several feet across. In total, the mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth’s moon.

Despite their size, asteroids can be dangerous. Many have hit Earth in the past, and more will crash into our planet in the future. That’s one reason scientists study asteroids and are eager to learn more about their numbers, orbits and physical characteristics. If an asteroid is headed our way, we want to know that.

The video begins by comparing a human to one of the minor planets before revealing their enormity as the following asteroids quickly dwarf New York City in its entirety. It comes out with asteroid 2008 TC3, which is around 4.1 meters in diameter.

Things take a dramatic turn when asteroid 99942 Apophis steps onto the scene with an average diameter of 370 meters. Then it goes all the way up to 1 Ceres (which is 939km in diameter) and takes up a large chunk of the US.

Stephen Hawking in his last book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, wrote that asteroids are the biggest threat to Earth. If any of these hit the Earth it would be devastating.

Formation

Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Early on, the birth of Jupiter prevented any planetary bodies from forming in the gap between Mars and Jupiter, causing the small objects that were there to collide with each other and fragment into the asteroids seen today.

Understanding of how the solar system evolved is constantly expanding. Two fairly recent theories, the Nice model and the Grand Tack, suggest that the gas giants moved around before settling into their modern orbits. This movement could have sent asteroids from the main belt raining down on the terrestrial planets, emptying and refilling the original belt.

Physical characteristics

Asteroids can reach as large as Ceres, which is 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. On the other end of the scale, the smallest asteroid ever studied is the 6-foot-wide (2 meters) space rock 2015 TC25, which was observed when it made a close flyby of Earth in October 2015. The chances of it hitting Earth in the foreseeable future are small, Vishnu Reddy of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory said in a statement.

“You can think of [an asteroid] as a meteorite floating in space that hasn’t hit the atmosphere and made it to the ground — yet,” Reddy added.

Nearly all asteroids are irregularly shaped, although a few of the largest are nearly spherical, such as Ceres. They are often pitted or cratered — for instance, Vesta has a giant crater some 285 miles (460 km) in diameter. The surfaces of most asteroids are thought to be covered in dust.

As asteroids revolve around the sun in elliptical orbits, they rotate, sometimes tumbling quite erratically. More than 150 asteroids are also known to have a small companion moon, with some having two moons. Binary or double asteroids also exist, in which two asteroids of roughly equal size orbit each other, and triple asteroid systems are known as well. Many asteroids seemingly have been captured by a planet’s gravity and become moons — likely candidates include Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, and most of the outer moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The average temperature of the surface of a typical asteroid is minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 73 degrees Celsius). Asteroids have stayed mostly unchanged for billions of years — as such, research into them could reveal a great deal about the early solar system.

Asteroids come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are solid bodies, while others are smaller piles of rubble bound together by gravity. One, which orbits the sun between Neptune and Uranus, comes with its own set of rings. Another has not one but six tails.

Classification

Asteroids lie within three regions of the solar system. Most asteroids lie in a vast ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This main asteroid belt holds more than 200 asteroids larger than 60 miles (100 km) in diameter. Scientists estimate the asteroid belt also contains between 1.1 million and 1.9 million asteroids larger than 1 km (3,281 feet) in diameter and millions of smaller ones.

Not everything in the main belt is an asteroid — Ceres, once thought of only as an asteroid, is now also considered a dwarf planet. In the past decade, scientists have also identified a class of objects known as “main belt asteroids,” small rocky objects with tails. While some of the tails form when objects crash into an asteroid, or by disintegrating asteroids, others may be comets in disguise.

Many asteroids lie outside the main belt. Trojan asteroids orbit a larger planet in two special places, known as Lagrange points, where the gravitational pull of the sun and the planet are balanced. Jupiter Trojans are the most numerous, boasting nearly as high a population as the main asteroid belt. Neptune, Mars and Earth also have Trojan asteroids.

Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) circle closer to Earth than the sun. Amor asteroids have close orbits that approach but no not cross Earth’s path, according to NASA. Apollo asteroids have Earth-crossing orbits but spend most of their time outside the planet’s path. Aten asteroids also cross Earth’s orbit but spend most of their time inside Earth’s orbit. Atira asteroids are near-Earth asteroids whose orbits are contained within Earth’s orbit. According to the European Space Agency, roughly 10,000 of the known asteroids are NEAs.

In addition to classifications of asteroids based on their orbits, most asteroids fall into three classes based on composition:

The C-type or carbonaceous asteroids are grayish in color and are the most common, including more than 75 percent of known asteroids. They probably consist of clay and stony silicate rocks, and inhabit the main belt’s outer regions.

The S-type or silicaceous asteroids are greenish to reddish in color, account for about 17 percent of known asteroids, and dominate the inner asteroid belt. They appear to be made of silicate materials and nickel-iron.

The M-type or metallic asteroids are reddish in color, make up most of the rest of the asteroids, and dwell in the middle region of the main belt. They seem to be made up of nickle-iron.

There are many other rare types based on composition as well — for instance, V-type asteroids typified by Vesta have a basaltic, volcanic crust.

Earth impacts

Ever since Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, asteroids and comets have routinely slammed into the planet. The most dangerous asteroids are extremely rare, according to NASA.

An asteroid capable of global disaster would have to be more than a quarter-mile wide. Researchers have estimated that such an impact would raise enough dust into the atmosphere to effectively create a “nuclear winter,” severely disrupting agriculture around the world. Asteroids that large strike Earth only once every 1,000 centuries on average, NASA officials say.

Smaller asteroids that are believed to strike Earth every 1,000 to 10,000 years could destroy a city or cause devastating tsunamis. According to NASA, space rocks smaller than 82 feet (25 m) will most likely burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere, which means that even if 2015 TC25 hit Earth, it probably wouldn’t make it to the ground.

On Feb. 15, 2013, an asteroid slammed into the atmosphere over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, creating a shock wave that injured 1,200 people. The space rock is thought to have measured about 65 feet (20 m) wide when it entered Earth’s atmosphere.

When an asteroid, or a part of it, crashes into Earth, it’s called a meteorite. Here are typical compositions:

Iron meteorites

  • Iron: 91 percent
  • Nickel: 8.5 percent
  • Cobalt: 0.6 percent

Stony meteorites

  • Oxygen: 6 percent
  • Iron: 26 percent
  • Silicon: 18 percent
  • Magnesium: 14 percent
  • Aluminum: 1.5 percent
  • Nickel: 1.4 percent
  • Calcium: 1.3 percent

Asteroid defense

Dozens of asteroids have been classified as “potentially hazardous” by the scientists who track them. Some of these, whose orbits come close enough to Earth, could potentially be perturbed in the distant future and sent on a collision course with our planet. Scientists point out that if an asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth 30 or 40 years down the road, there is time to react. Though the technology would have to be developed, possibilities include exploding the object or diverting it.

For every known asteroid, however, there are many that have not been spotted, and shorter reaction times could prove more threatening.

When asteroids do close flybys of Earth, one of the most effective ways to observe them is by using radar, such as the system at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. In September 2017, the near-Earth asteroid 3122 Florence cruised by Earth at 4.4 million miles (7 million km), or 18 times the distance to the moon. The flyby confirmed its size (2.8 miles or 4.5 km) and rotation period (2.4 hours). Radar also revealed new information such as its shape, the presence of at least one big crater, and two moons.

In a NASA broadcast from earlier in 2017, Marina Brozovic, a physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said radar can reveal details such as its size, its shape, and whether the asteroid is actually two objects (a binary system, where a smaller object orbits a larger object.) “Radar is a little bit like a Swiss army knife,” she said. “It reveals so much about asteroids all at once.”

In the unlikely event that the asteroid is deemed a threat, NASA has a Planetary Defense Coordination Office that has scenarios for defusing the situation. In the same broadcast, PDCO planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson said the agency has two technologies at the least that could be used: a kinetic impactor (meaning, a spacecraft that slams into the asteroid to move its orbit) or a gravity tractor (meaning, a spacecraft that remains near an asteroid for a long period of time, using its own gravity to gradually alter the asteroid’s path.) PDCO would also consult with the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and likely other space agencies, to determine what to do. However, there is no known asteroid (or comet) threat to Earth and NASA carefully tracks all known objects through a network of partner telescopes.

Water delivery?

Ironically, the collisions that could mean death for humans may be the reason we are alive today. When Earth formed, it was dry and barren. Asteroid and comet collisions may have delivered the water-ice and other carbon-based molecules to the planet that allowed life to evolve. At the same time, the frequent collisions kept life from surviving until the solar system calmed down. Later collisions shaped which species evolved and which were wiped out.

According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies CNEOS), “It seems possible that the origin of life on the Earth’s surface could have been first prevented by an enormous flux of impacting comets and asteroids, then a much less intense rain of comets may have deposited the very materials that allowed life to form some 3.5 – 3.8 billion years ago.”

Discovery & naming

In 1801, while making a star map, Italian priest and astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi accidentally discovered the first and largest asteroid, Ceres, orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Although Ceres is classified today as a dwarf planet, it accounts for a quarter of all the mass of all the known asteroids in or near the main asteroid belt.

Over the first half of the 19th century, several asteroids were discovered and classified as planets. William Herschel coined the phrase “asteroid” in 1802, but other scientists referred to the newfound objects as minor planets. By 1851, there were 15 new asteroids, and the naming process shifted to include numbers, with Ceres being designated as (1) Ceres. Today, Ceres shares dual designation as both an asteroid and a dwarf planet, while the rest remain asteroids.

Since the International Astronomical Union is less strict on how asteroids are named when compared to other bodies, there are asteroids named after Mr. Spock of “Star Trek” and rock musician Frank Zappa, as well as more solemn tributes, such as the seven asteroids named for the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia killed in 2003. Naming asteroids after pets is no longer allowed.

Asteroids are also given numbers — for example, 99942 Apophis.

Exploration

The first spacecraft to take close-up images of asteroids was NASA’s Galileo in 1991, which also discovered the first moon to orbit an asteroid in 1994.

In 2001, after NASA’s NEAR spacecraft intensely studied the near-earth asteroid Eros for more than a year from orbit, mission controllers decided to try and land the spacecraft. Although it wasn’t designed for landing, NEAR successfully touched down, setting the record as the first to successfully land on an asteroid.

In 2006, Japan’s Hayabusa became the first spacecraft to land on and take off from an asteroid. It returned to Earth in June 2010, and the samples it recovered are currently under study.

NASA’s Dawn mission, launched in 2007, began exploring Vesta in 2011. After a year, it left the asteroid for a trip to Ceres, arriving in 2015. Dawn was the first spacecraft to visit Vesta and Ceres. As of 2017, the spacecraft still orbits the extraordinary asteroid.

In September 2016, NASA launched the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx), which will explore the asteroid Bennu before grabbing a sample to return to Earth.

“Sample return is really at the forefront of scientific exploration,” OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta said at a press conference.

In January 2017, NASA selected two projects, Lucy and Psyche, via its Discovery Program. Planned to launch in October 2021, Lucy will visit an object in the asteroid belt before going on to study six Trojan asteroids. Psyche will travel to 16 Psyche, an enormous metallic asteroid that may be the core of an ancient Mars-size planet, stripped of its crust through violent collisions.

In 2012, a company called Planetary Resources, Inc. announced plans to eventually send a mission to a space rock to extract water and mine the asteroid for precious metals. Since then, NASA has begun to work on plans for its own asteroid-capture mission.

According to CNEOS, “It has been estimated that the mineral wealth resident in the belt of asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter would be equivalent to about 100 billion dollars for every person on Earth today.”

 

$645million 370ft eco-friendly superyacht powered by liquid hydrogen

The designers of the world’s first hydrogen-fueled super yacht have denied the $645million vessel is going to Microsoft boss Bill Gates.

The 370ft vessel, which only emits water, had been linked to Gates for his penchant for super yachts and his keen interest in technological solutions to climate change.

But Sinot, the designers of the concept ship, have since denied this is the case.

The yacht, unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show last year, comprises five decks complete with space for 14 guests, 31 crew members, a gym, yoga studio, beauty room, massage parlor and cascading pool on its rear deck.

But its most impressive feature is locked away in the hold – two 28-ton vacuum-sealed tanks that are cooled to -423F (-253C) and filled with liquid hydrogen which powers the ship.

The Aqua superyacht is a futuristic design that is 370ft-long, comprised of five decks, and runs off liquid hydrogen meaning it only emits water. Design studio Sinot said the exterior of the vessel was inspired by ocean swells, the movement of the tides, and weather out on the open ocean

The Aqua superyacht is a futuristic design that is 370ft-long, comprised of five decks, and runs off liquid hydrogen meaning it only emits water. Design studio Sinot said the exterior of the vessel was inspired by ocean swells, the movement of the tides, and weather out on the open ocean

 

The rear of the vessel has two entertaining areas - one lower lounge area for sunbathing or swimming - and an upper entertaining space with room for outdoor dining. Gel-fuelled fire bowls allow guests to stay warm on colder evenings without having to burn wood or coals

 

The rear of the vessel has two entertaining areas – one lower lounge area for sunbathing or swimming – and an upper entertaining space with room for outdoor dining. Gel-fuelled fire bowls allow guests to stay warm on colder evenings without having to burn wood or coals

The rear deck features an infinity pool which cascades towards the ocean, while floor-to-ceiling glass windows lead through into a downstairs entertaining space with dining room for 14 people and a home cinema

 

The rear deck features an infinity pool which cascades towards the ocean, while floor-to-ceiling glass windows lead through into a downstairs entertaining space with dining room for 14 people and a home cinema

Aqua was unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show, which runs from September 25-28 in Port Hercules. While the yacht is only a design concept at the moment, its architects hope it will inspire future designs based on its eco-friendly fuel system

 

Aqua was unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show, which runs from September 25-28 in Port Hercules. While the yacht is only a design concept at the moment, its architects hope it will inspire future designs based on its eco-friendly fuel system

A huge staircase at the centre of the vessel spirals around a water feature (centre) to the lower level, where the ship's hydrogen fuel tanks can be viewed through a glass panel (rear). Each tank weighs 28 tons, is vacuum sealed and cooled to -423F (-253C) in order to hold the hydrogen fuel

 

A huge staircase at the centre of the vessel spirals around a water feature (centre) to the lower level, where the ship’s hydrogen fuel tanks can be viewed through a glass panel (rear). Each tank weighs 28 tons, is vacuum sealed and cooled to -423F (-253C) in order to hold the hydrogen fuel

The liquid hydrogen is pumped through special PEM fuel cells which convert it into electricity which runs the engines and electronics on board. The supply is moderated using two fuel cells to make sure it stays constant. The only emission from the system is water, which can be safely pumped into the ocean

 

The liquid hydrogen is pumped through special PEM fuel cells which convert it into electricity which runs the engines and electronics on board. The supply is moderated using two fuel cells to make sure it stays constant. The only emission from the system is water, which can be safely pumped into the ocean

Bill Gates orders world’s first hydrogen-powered superyacht

 

The new vessel is not expected to be ready to take to the open seas until 2024.

In a statement, Sinot said today that claims the vessel’s concept had been bought by Gates were ‘factually incorrect.’

The hydrogen is pumped through a special type of fuel cell which converts it into electricity, while emitting only water which can be safety pumped into the ocean.

Despite its novel fuel source, the vessel is able to reach 17 knots and travel 3,750 miles before it needs to refuel, enough to cover an Atlantic crossing from New York to Southampton.

Designer Sander Sinot is hoping it will pave the way towards a more ecological future for the superyacht industry.

The boat will easily be able to cross the Atlantic  but it will also have a backup diesel engine due to the scarcity of Hydrogen refueling points

The boat will easily be able to cross the Atlantic  but it will also have a backup diesel engine due to the scarcity of Hydrogen refueling points

The ship's wheelhouse is located under a bubble hood-shaped roof on the bridge deck and has a 360 degree view of the surrounding ocean. It is from this spaceship-like room that the ship's captain and his 32-strong crew operate the vessel

The ship’s wheelhouse is located under a bubble hood-shaped roof on the bridge deck and has a 360 degree view of the surrounding ocean. It is from this spaceship-like room that the ship’s captain and his 32-strong crew operate the vessel

The master suite occupies the entire 50ft width of the Aqua under a central skylight, broken into separate 'rooms' using wooden dividers. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide plenty of light from both sides, while the interior can be decorated however the new owner wishes. A doorway at the read leads through to the bedroom and bathroom

The master suite occupies the entire 50ft width of the Aqua under a central skylight, broken into separate ‘rooms’ using wooden dividers. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide plenty of light from both sides, while the interior can be decorated however the new owner wishes. A doorway at the read leads through to the bedroom and bathroom

The yacht contains enough space for 14 guests and 32 crew, including the huge owner's pavilion (bedroom, pictured), two other VIP state rooms for their most valued guests and four regular state rooms

 

The yacht contains enough space for 14 guests and 32 crew, including the huge owner’s pavilion (bedroom, pictured), two other VIP state rooms for their most valued guests and four regular state rooms

The master bathroom also features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the ocean, a large central bathtub, his-and-hers vanity units off to either side, and his-and-hers shower units to the left and right

 

The master bathroom also features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the ocean, a large central bathtub, his-and-hers vanity units off to either side, and his-and-hers shower units to the left and right

 

Gates, 64, is known to regularly take vacations onboard superyachts and would usually rent boats during summer trips to the Mediterranean. Here he is pictured along with Melinda in Turkey in 2005

Bill and Melinda Gates are spotted on vacation in Marmaris, Turkey travelling on a speedboat in October 2005

Bill and Melinda Gates are spotted on vacation in Marmaris, Turkey travelling on a speedboat in October 2005

He said: ‘With every project, I challenge my team and myself to surpass ourselves. For development of AQUA we took inspiration from the lifestyle of a discerning, forward-looking owner, the fluid versatility of water and cutting-edge technology to combine this in a superyacht with truly innovative features.’

Working alongside Lateral Naval Architects, Sinot spent five months perfecting the details in the yacht in the hopes of one day being able to transform it into a real vessel.

Although this new yacht will be run on liquid hydrogen, there will also be an engine that runs on diesel as a back-up due to a current lack of hydrogen refueling stations.

The gym features a range of workout machines, a full set of dumbbells and a yoga studio. A window stretching the entire width of the gym at sea-level gives the impression of working out on the water itself

 

The gym features a range of workout machines, a full set of dumbbells and a yoga studio. A window stretching the entire width of the gym at sea-level gives the impression of working out on the water itself

Located in a room to the side of the gym is the hydro massage room, where passengers are massage by soothing water jets that rain down on the central granite table

 

Located in a room to the side of the gym is the hydro massage room, where passengers are massage by soothing water jets that rain down on the central granite table

The upper-deck lounge area leads directly off the owner's pavilion area and has floor-to-ceiling windows as well as views out over the outdoor entertaining space. It can be used either as a casual entertaining space, or for al-fresco dining

 

The upper-deck lounge area leads directly off the owner’s pavilion area and has floor-to-ceiling windows as well as views out over the outdoor entertaining space. It can be used either as a casual entertaining space, or for al-fresco dining

A lounge space within the lower-deck entertaining area can either be set up for casual conversation, or rotate to face a cinema screen. Behind the seating area is the formal dining space, with settings for 14 people

A lounge space within the lower-deck entertaining area can either be set up for casual conversation, or rotate to face a cinema screen. Behind the seating area is the formal dining space, with settings for 14 people

Aside from the fuel source, the yacht’s other features include a wheelhouse that looks like something out of a spaceship, a huge central staircase spiraling around a water feature, and a beauty and fitness suite.

The rear deck features two entertaining areas – one upper and one lower – along with a cascading pool, sun loungers, and outdoor dining space.

There is also storage space for two 32ft tenders – smaller boats used to get to and from the main yacht – three jet-skis and smaller ‘water toys’.

Computer-generated images of the yacht, along with a 10ft scale model, were unveiled by Sinot at the Monaco Yacht Show last year.

The yacht's designers said they wanted it to combine 'ground-breaking technology with cutting-edge design' and provide a blueprint for future designs using eco-friendly fuel sources

The yacht’s designers said they wanted it to combine ‘ground-breaking technology with cutting-edge design’ and provide a blueprint for future designs using eco-friendly fuel sources

This water feature - comprised of a jet falling from the ceiling into the pool below - sits at the centre of the gym complex, with doorways at either side leading to the workout room and the massage parlour

This water feature – comprised of a jet falling from the ceiling into the pool below – sits at the centre of the gym complex, with doorways at either side leading to the workout room and the massage parlour

A top-down view of the vessel showing the two outdoor entertaining areas at the rear, the central bubble bridge containing the wheelhouse and a view down through the ceiling window in the owner's pavilion

 

A top-down view of the vessel showing the two outdoor entertaining areas at the rear, the central bubble bridge containing the wheelhouse and a view down through the ceiling window in the owner’s pavilion

The boat was in a design concept when it was unveiled at the Monaco Boat Show

The boat was in a design concept when it was unveiled at the Monaco Boat Show

The Aqua also comes with space for two tenders - smaller boats used to get to the larger vessel - three jet-skis and a range of other 'water toys'

The Aqua also comes with space for two tenders – smaller boats used to get to the larger vessel – three jet-skis and a range of other ‘water toys’

HOW DO HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS WORK?

Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity to power a battery and motor by mixing hydrogen and oxygen in specially treated plates, which are combined to form the fuel cell stack.

Fuel cell stacks and batteries have allowed engineers to significantly shrink these components to even fit neatly inside a family car, although they are also commonly used to fuel buses and other larger vehicles.

Oxygen is collected from the air through intakes, usually in the grille, and hydrogen is stored in aluminium-lined fuel tanks, which automatically seal in an accident to prevent leaks.

These ingredients are fused, releasing usable electricity and water as byproducts and making the technology one of the quietest and most environmentally friendly available.

Reducing the amount of platinum used in the stack has made fuel cells less expensive, but the use of the rare metal has restricted the spread of their use.

Recent research has suggested hydrogen fuel cell cars could one day challenge electric cars in the race for pollution-free roads, however – but only if more stations are built to fuel them.

Fuel cell cars can be refueled as quickly as gasoline-powered cars and can also travel further between fill-ups.

Fuelling stations cost up to $2 million to build, so companies have been reluctant to build them unless more fuel cell cars are on the road.

The U.S. Department of Energy lists just 34 public hydrogen fuelling stations in the country; all but three are in California.

According to Information Trends, there were 6,475 FCV’s worldwide at the end of 2017.

More than half were registered in California, which puts the U.S. (53 per cent) at the forefront for FCV adoption.

Japan takes second place with 38 per cent, while Europe is at nine per cent.

Nokia through the years: 34 best and worst phones, in pictures

Nokia is back. The brand is being used on phones again after Microsoft retired it on its own devices a couple of years ago.

Finnish manufacturer HMD Global Oy is releasing new Nokia handsets, this time loaded with Android, and we’re extremely happy to see the famous label once again back where it belongs. It is even tipped to be announcing a refresh of the amazing, classic 3310. Huzzah!

To celebrate, we’ve handpicked some of our favourite Nokia mobile phones from the last 30 years or so. We’ve also chucked in some stinkers too.

So here are the best and, frankly, worst and weirdest Nokia handsets we all remember, as we look forward to the Android Nokia phones of the future.

Nokia 3310 (Any Network) Working Handset Blue Very Popular - *FREE POST*

Perhaps the most iconic of all Nokia handsets, the 3310 was the phone that really took the interchangeable covers craze to all-new levels. It was also a hardy device – we know as we accidentally lobbed a fair few of them across car parks and down streets, but they continued to work.

Image result for Nokia 6310 (2001)

Business types loved the 6310 and 6310i (and the similar looking 6210 before them). It was more professional looking than the 3310, but still offered a degree of customisation in an interchangeable plate at the bottom. The “i” version added a backlit screen and tri-band connectivity.

Image result for Nokia Lumia 1020 (2013)

Described as a Windows Phone 8-powered cameraphone, the 1020 notably featured a PureView Pro camera with a 41-megapixel image sensor. It was also the last Nokia phone made before Microsoft announced it would acquire Nokia’s phone business.

Image result for Nokia 808 Pureview (2012)

The 808 was Nokia’s last Symbian-powered smartphone. It was also the first phone to feature Nokia’s PureView Pro technology.

Image result for Nokia 6310 (2001)

Despite a clear demand for everything smart, Nokia went ahead with this affordable ultrabasic dual-band GSM mobile phone… in 2010.

Image result for Nokia N-Gage (2002)

The N-Gage was Nokia’s attempt to win over GameBoy users. It was a gaming device and mobile phone in one, though gamers scoffed at the phone and described it as looking like a taco.

Image result for Nokia N95 (2007)

Coming with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, the Nokia N95 was a truly “smart” phone for its day. The battery took some bashing however, thanks to all the tech crammed inside, and it needed charging often.

Image result for Nokia N81 (2007)

The N81 was marketed as a mobile gaming device – similar to the N-Gage – and was notable for being the only N-Gage 2.0 device with special gaming keys.

Image result for Nokia 5300 (2006)

The 5300 was reportedly the most popular (in regards to the number of units sold) of all the XpressMusic phones, a line of Nokia phones that was designed for music playback.

Image result for Nokia N70 (2005)

 

The N70 was a 3G mobile phone. It was announced as part of Nokia’s brand new line of N-series multimedia phones.

Image result for Nokia 6280 (2005) NOKIA

The 6280 was another 3G mobile phone. It had a slide form factor and 2.2-inch colour TFT screen.

Image result for Nokia 3250 (2005)

The 3250 was a unique mobile phone that featured a twist design, traditional phone keypad, camera, and dedicated music control keys.

Image result for Nokia 1100 (2005)

The 1100 was a basic GSM mobile phone. Nokia claimed in 2011 that the phone was once owned by 250 million people, making it the world’s most popular phone at that time.

Image result for Nokia 8800 (2005)

The 8800 was a slider phone. It was different in that it had a stainless-steel housing and a scratch-resistant screen.

Image result for Nokia N90 (2005)

The N90 was another phone under the N-series but stood out for its swivel design that transformed the device into four different modes.

Image result for Nokia 7710 (2005)

The 7710 was a smartphone widely known as being Nokia’s first device with a touchscreen.

Image result for Nokia 7280 (2004)

The 7280 was also called the “lipstick” phone. Announced as part of Nokia’s Fashion Phone line, it had black, white and red styling as well as a screen that transformed it into a mirror.

Image result for Nokia 7600 (2004)

The 7600 had a teardrop form factor. It was aimed at the fashion market and featured interchangeable covers.

Image result for Nokia 3300 (2003)

The 3300 was marketed as music playing phone but also featured a QWERTY keyboard.

Image result for Nokia 5100 (2002)

The 5100 was a rugged device with a rubber casing and built-in FM stereo.

Image result for Nokia 6800 (2002)

The 6800 was marketed as a messaging phone because of its unusual fold-out QWERTY keyboard.

Image result for Nokia 3600/3650 (2002)

The 3600/3650 was also the first phone in North America with an integrated camera. It was also different due to its circular keypad.

Image result for Nokia 5510 (2001)

The 5510 featured a full QWERTY keyboard and a digital music player. It even had 64MB memory for storing audio files. Tonnes of room, right?

Image result for Nokia 7650 (2001)

The 7650 was the first Nokia smartphone with Symbian OS.

Image result for Nokia 8210 (1999)

The 8210 was the smallest and lightest Nokia mobile phone available when it launched and reintroduced colourful, interchangeable covers.

Image result for Nokia7110 (1999)

 

The 7110 is nicknamed “The Swordfish Phone” because it was used by actor John Travolta in the film Swordfish. It was also the first mobile phone to come with a WAP browser.

Image result for Nokia 3210 (1999)

The 3210 was notable because it introduced the idea of colourful, interchangeable covers. There are claims over 160 million units were sold, making it one of the most popular and successful phones in history.

Image result for Nokia 5110 (1998)

The 5110 was made with business-consumers in mind, though it’s most remembered today for being one of the first phones to feature an addictive game: Snake.

Image result for Nokia 9000 Communicator (1996)

The 9000 Communicator was a messaging phone and the first phone under the Communicator series. It is famous for being used by actor Val Kilmer in the remake of The Saint as well as by actors Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock in the film Bad Company.

Image result for Nokia 8110 (1996)

The 8110 gained notoriety as being the first phone with a slider form factor, but the design’s prominent curvature earned it the nickname “banana phone”.

Image result for Nokia 1011 (1993)

The 1011 is famous for being the first mass-produced GSM phone.

Image result for Nokia Cityman (1987)

The Cityman was one of the first compact phones. It became famous in 1987 when Mikhail Gorbachev, then-president of the Soviet Union, used a Cityman 900 to call Moscow during a press conference.

Image result for Nokia Mobira Talkman (1985)

From 1985 to 1992, Nokia manufactured the Mobira Talkman line of crazy-large cell phones you could carry with you (if your arms were strong enough to lift the massive block/suitcase attached to the phone).

Image result for Nokia 6 (2017)

The Nokia 6 marks the long-awaited return of the brand to the mobile sphere. Already available in China but coming to Europe in 2017, the 5.5-inch Full HD Android phone will be squarely aimed at the budget conscious.

Alzheimer’s and the link to applying deodorant.

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Most men put little to no effort into finding the best deodorants for their body, Smelling good certainly plays a vital role in our everyday affairs so does killing bacteria and reducing odor and sweat. But their is a myth that the aluminum from cans, can cause cancer.

The ability of metals from food or cookware to cause Alzheimer’s disease is a regular concern in the news. Here’s the evidence behind the presence of metals such as copper, zinc, iron and aluminium.

Can certain metals increase my risk of developing dementia?

At present, there is no strong evidence to support the fears that coming in to contact with metals through using equipment or through food or water increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

However, there are many other metals that are present naturally in the brain.

What does the research say?

The current research shows that there is likely to be a relationship between naturally-occurring metals and the development or progression of Alzheimer’s disease. But the evidence doesn’t yet show whether this relationship actually causes Alzheimer’s disease.

It is also unclear whether reducing metals in the brain via drugs or reducing our exposure would have any effect. These metals are essential to the healthy function of our brain, so further research into changes before or during disease development is also necessary to understand if reducing the amount in the brain would actually be beneficial.

Origin of the myth

The myth that deodorant causes cancer has been circulated via emails, on websites, and even in newspapers.  The story varies from source to source, but contains some or all of the following elements:

  • Aluminium-containing antiperspirants prevent toxins from being expelled by the body.  These toxins clog up lymph nodes around the armpits and breasts and cause breast cancer.
  • The aluminium in deodorants is absorbed by the skin. It affects the blood brain barrier and has been linked with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The risk is higher for women who apply deodorant after shaving.  This is because nicks in the skin increase absorption of aluminium and other chemicals.

Metals and the body

Naturally-occurring metals and Alzheimer’s disease

Metals such as zinc, copper and iron are present naturally in our bodies. Small amounts of these metals are essential to keeping our brains and bodies working properly. They are involved in many different processes including energy production, the movement of oxygen and the creation and management of many important molecules in the body.

Metals within food

Along with these essential metals, there are other metals that we are exposed to through things such as food.

The body is able to tolerate these metals in small amounts by clearing through the kidneys. These include aluminium and lead, for example it has been shown that if they are not taken out by the kidneys through organ failure or by exposure to extremely high doses these metals are able to deposit in the brain.

These metals are known to cause negative effects in the brain and have been implicated in several neurological conditions.

Copper, zinc and iron

Copper has been the most extensively studied of the natural metals in the brain, but there have also been several studies on exposure to excess zinc and iron among others.

High levels of iron were first reported in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease in 1953. Since that time it has been shown that iron, as well as zinc and copper are associated with the hallmark Alzheimer’s proteins amyloid and tau in the brain.

These hallmark proteins appear as clumps called amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and are thought to cause damage.

Laboratory experiments using cells in a dish or animal models have shown that copper, zinc and iron can cause the development of these plaques and tangles. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they cause disease.

Zinc has actually been shown to reduce the toxic effect of the amyloid plaques by changing the amyloid proteins into a shape that is less harmful to the brain.

Reactive oxygen species

Copper and iron, but not zinc, have also been implicated in the development of something called ‘reactive oxygen species’ (ROS) in the brain. These are oxygen molecules that have been altered by a chemical reaction. Increased levels are known to be damaging, contributing to cell ageing and death. This is why antioxidants, which can clear up these ROS, are thought to be beneficial to general health.

ROS are believed to be an early contributor to the mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease development. Increased levels have been seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and toxic amyloid has been shown to increase ROS production.

Conversely, zinc has been shown to protect against ROS by binding to amyloid protein in the place of copper, which reduces the creation of these reactive oxygen species.

The management of the levels of these and other naturally occurring metals is very tightly controlled by the body. It includes many different molecules and disruption of these processes can occur for various reasons. It is not yet clear if the increase in metals seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s causes the disease. However, it does appear that there is a relationship between the naturally occurring metals and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Aluminium

In 1965, researchers found that rabbits injected with an extremely high dose of aluminium developed toxic tau tangles in their brains. This led to speculation that aluminium from cans, cookware, processed foods and even the water supply could be causing dementia. The ability of this high dose aluminium to induce tau tangles, increase amyloid levels and contribute to the development of plaques has been shown in laboratory experiments on animals.

Importantly, these results were only seen with extremely high exposures that far exceed the levels that can enter the body through food or potentially through contact with aluminium cookware.

Since this study was reported, much research has been done on the relationship of aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease. As yet no study or group of studies has been able to confirm that aluminium is involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Aluminium is seen in the normal, healthy brain. It is not clear how aluminium is getting into the brain from the blood. The levels currently seen in peoples brains hasn’t been shown to be toxic but an ageing brain may be less able to process the aluminium. Although aluminium has been seen in amyloid plaques there is no solid evidence that aluminium is increased in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. No convincing relationship between amount of exposure or aluminium in the body and the development of Alzheimer’s disease has been established.

Aluminium in food and drink is in a form that is not easily absorbed in to the body. Hence the amount taken up is less than 1% of the amount present in food and drink. Most of the aluminium taken into the body is cleaned out by the kidneys. Studies of people who were treated with contaminated dialysis have shown an increase in the amount of aluminium in the brain. This was believed to be as a result of inadequately monitored dialysis which then led to encephalopathy related dementia. Methods of dialysis have since been improved and doctors are better able to predict and prevent this form of dementia.

One large recent study did find a potential role for high dose aluminium in drinking water in progressing Alzheimer’s disease for people who already have the disease.

However, multiple other small and large scale studies have failed to find a convincing causal association between aluminium exposure in humans and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Treatments

The idea that metals could be contributing to Alzheimer’s disease has led researchers to study the effects of drugs which remove or inactivate metals in the brain on disease progression. To date, several different drugs have been trialled to see if they can remove excess copper or zinc from the brain or the amyloid plaques.

Many of these drugs have shown positive results in human trials on either reducing plaques and/or cognitive decline. However, as yet, none of these drugs have been approved for use in people due to significant side effects such as severe headaches, renal failure, or life threatening low calcium, among others. Research in to this potential treatment is ongoing.

Current evidence

The Journal of The National Cancer Institute published a study in 2002 exploring the relationship between breast cancers and antiperspirants or deodorants in 1606 women.  The findings did not show an increased risk of cancer amongst deodorant or antiperspirant users, or amongst women who shaved before using deodorant or antiperspirant.

Another small case control study, in 2006 found that 82% of the controls (women without breast cancer) and 52% of cases (women with breast cancer) used antiperspirants, indicating that using the under arm product might protect against breast cancer. While the study is too small to make such a claim, it certainly does not support the ‘antiperspirants cause cancer’ story.

Furthermore, antiperspirants work by aluminium salts blocking sweat glands, not lymph nodes.  Although lymph nodes do remove toxins, they do not remove them by sweating.  Most carcinogens are removed through the liver or kidneys and excreted out.  It is also pertinent to note that breast cancer starts in the breast and spreads to the lymph nodes, not the other way around.

Studies show that there is no relationship between antiperspirant use and Alzheimer’s disease. Humans are exposed to aluminium from food, packaging, pans, water, air and medicines.  From the aluminium we are exposed to, only minute amounts are absorbed, and these are usually excreted or harmlessly stored in bone.  At any one time, the average human body contains much less aluminium than an antacid tablet.  The Alzheimer’s Society states that the link between environmental Aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease seems increasingly unlikely.

Reputable organisations like the American National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, the American Cancer Society and most other major authorities suggest the link between deodorant or antiperspirant use and breast cancer is unconfirmed, or simply a myth.

It is impossible to ignore when researching this question that the large majority of the research articulating the possible link between underarm cosmetics and breast cancer comes from one research group.  And it seems despite the absence of evidence to support the link, their search to prove the theory persists.

Summary

There is insufficient evidence to support the myth that applying deodorant or antiperspirant after shaving will increase the risk of cancer, as demonstrated by the 2002 study mentioned above. The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that the main risk related to using theses products is that they can cause skin irritation if a razor nick or cut is infected.

The Hypersonic Synergetic Rocket Engine – Sabre – is designed to drive space planes to orbit

Hypersonic jet travel across the Atlantic has moved a step closer after scientists successfully tested technology to stop jet engines melting at speeds up to 25 times the speed of sound.

Researchers at Reaction Engines managed to make a ‘pre cooler’ work at a simulated speed of 3.3 mach or 2,500 mph (4,023kph) – that means large scale hypersonic engines that could be fitted to passenger jets are a step closer to being realised.

Their experimental Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine (Sabre) is designed to be fitted to large aircraft to ferry passengers around the world in hours and deliver goods into orbit for less.

The ‘pre-cooler’, which lets the aircraft travel at high speed without hot air rushing in and causing the engine to melt was tested at simulated speeds of more than three times the speed of sound. The next stage of tests will see the technology tested at Mach 5.5 (4,200mph / 6,800kph), and could one day lead to flights between London and New York that take less than an hour. 

UK engineers have completed a milestone test of their new high-speed 'spaceplane' which they say could be able to fly at 25 times the speed of sound (mach 25). Reaction Engines has tested a 'pre-cooler' technology - which allows aircraft to travel faster than ever

UK engineers have completed a milestone test of their new high-speed ‘spaceplane’ which they say could be able to fly at 25 times the speed of sound (mach 25). Reaction Engines has tested a ‘pre-cooler’ technology – which allows aircraft to travel faster than ever

Reaction built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine to replicate the conditions that the vehicle will experience at hypersonic speeds.

The firm hopes to make a reusable vehicle that would combine the fuel efficiency of a jet engine with the power and speed of a rocket.

Reaction, based in Oxfordshire, believe that the aircraft could travel the distance between New York and London in less than an hour when running at it’s proposed top speed.

The company also wants to take people and payloads into space and return to Earth.

A spokesperson for Reaction Engines told MailOnline that although this technology is decades away from use in passenger jets, the technology could be used in more immediate applications.

The heat exchanger technology has a wide range of potential commercial applications and the ability to revolutionise the approach to thermal management across a range of industries; from aerospace to motorsport, industrial processes, and the oil and gas industry.

The heat exchanger technology has a wide range of potential commercial applications and the ability to revolutionise the approach to thermal management across a range of industries; from aerospace to motorsport, industrial processes, and the oil and gas industry

The heat exchanger technology has a wide range of potential commercial applications and the ability to revolutionise the approach to thermal management across a range of industries; from aerospace to motorsport, industrial processes, and the oil and gas industry

The breakthrough test was conducted at the company’s newly opened TF2 test facility at Colorado Air and Space Port.

It comes 30 years after Reaction Engines was formed in the UK around an engine cycle concept to enable access to space and hypersonic air-breathing flight from a standing start.

The pre-cooling technology is designed to lower the temperature of the air coming into the engine from more than 1,000°C (1,832°F) to room temperature in one twentieth of a second.

To do this, the team developed a heat-exchanger to manage very high temperature airflows.

Reaction Engines has tested a 'pre-cooler' technology - which allows aircraft to travel faster than ever. The experimental Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine - Sabre - is designed to drive space planes to orbit and take airliners around the world in just a few hours

Reaction Engines has tested a ‘pre-cooler’ technology – which allows aircraft to travel faster than ever. The experimental Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine – Sabre – is designed to drive space planes to orbit and take airliners around the world in just a few hours

The tech is designed to chill air in the inlet of high-speed turbojets for hypersonic vehicles and ultimately will form the basis for the company’s Sabre engine for low-cost repeatable access to space.

The goal is to incorporate this technology into their Sabre engine, which would work like an ‘air breathing rocket engine’.

It would carry significantly less fuel oxidant than a conventional rocket, making it much lighter.

From take-off to Mach 5.5 (5.5 times the speed of sound), it would take oxygen from the atmosphere, which would be fed into a rocket combustion chamber.

During tests, at simulated speeds of Mach 3.3, or more than three times the speed of sound. To replicate the conditions that it will experience at hypersonic speeds, Reaction built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine

During tests, at simulated speeds of Mach 3.3, or more than three times the speed of sound. To replicate the conditions that it will experience at hypersonic speeds, Reaction built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine

The tech is designed to chill air in the inlet of high-speed turbojets for hypersonic vehicles and ultimately will form the basis for the company’s Sabre engine for low-cost repeatable access to space. The goal is to incorporate this technology into their Sabre engine, which would work like an 'air breathing rocket engine'

The tech is designed to chill air in the inlet of high-speed turbojets for hypersonic vehicles and ultimately will form the basis for the company’s Sabre engine for low-cost repeatable access to space. The goal is to incorporate this technology into their Sabre engine, which would work like an ‘air breathing rocket engine’

Here, it would be ignited along with stored liquid hydrogen and then switch at high altitude, burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen from on-board fuel tanks.

Mark Thomas, the Reaction Engines chief executive, told the Times: ‘If you can pull it off, it’s a game changer. It kicks conventional rocket engines into touch.’

It did this by successfully quenching a 420°C (788°F) stream of gases in less than 1/20th of a second.

At low altitude and low speeds, it would behave like a jet, burning its fuel in a stream of air scooped from the atmosphere.

At high speeds and at high altitude, it would transition to full rocket mode, combining the fuel with the oxygen carried inside.

They envisage that it would be able aircraft that could travel the distance between New York and London in less than an hour. They also want to take people or payloads into space and return to Earth

They envisage that it would be able aircraft that could travel the distance between New York and London in less than an hour. They also want to take people or payloads into space and return to Earth

HOW DOES REACTION ENGINES’ ‘SABRE’ ENGINE WORK?

Reaction Engines Limited (REL), based at Culham in Oxfordshire, is working on a turbine that combines both jet and rocket technologies. 

The Sabre engine works by burning atmospheric air in combustion chambers.

It then uses the heat to turbo-charge the engine.

The Sabre engine works by burning atmospheric air in combustion chambers. It then uses the heat to turbo-charge the engine

The Sabre engine (artist’s impression) works by burning atmospheric air in combustion chambers. It then uses the heat to turbo-charge the engine

At the moment, rockets have to carry liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to power them and the cost of carrying this heavy fuel is expensive. 

The new engine creates its own liquid oxygen by cooling air entering the engine from 1,000°C to minus 150°C in a hundredth of a second – six times faster than the blink of an eye – without creating ice blockages.

This new class of aerospace engine is designed to enable aircraft to operate from standstill on the runway to speeds of over five times the speed of sound in the atmosphere.

It can then transition to a rocket flight mode, allowing spaceflight at speeds up to orbital velocity, equivalent to 25 times the speed of sound.

Everest… Earth’s highest mountain

Everest. So sprawling is the scale and macabre history of this fabled landmass, the name alone should be enough to give your brain momentary frostbite. Indeed, separating the myth from the mountain isn’t easy – but it is important.
Over 200 mountaineers have died climbing Everest in the past century. In 2015 alone, a record-high 22 climbers met their fate atop the massif (avalanches accounting for 29% of deaths, 23% for falls and 20% for exposure or acute mountain sickness, among other deadly factors).
Few know the dangers more than British explorer Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton. In May 2012, aged just 22, he became one of the youngest climbers in history to reach the summit. Here, he reveals the darkest parts of an Everest climb.

1. The ‘death zone’ makes you delirious

“The difference between Everest and most high-altitude climbs is that you need supplemental oxygen to reach the summit. An average journey takes five or six weeks, with much of the trek designed to help your body acclimatise. We had a good rotation, we didn’t get sick and we completed it on the first attempt within five weeks. But nothing prepares you for that thin air, it makes you delirious. They call the area where there’s not enough The Death Zone. Up there it’s all or nothing.”

2. There are a lot of crevices

“There are loads of crevices on Everest, many requiring you to traverse across them on ladders. Normally you start the journey with single ladders, gradually getting two ladders back-to-back and then eventually you get three ladders, like in this video I took [above]. I’d never climbed a horizontal ladder with crampons on before Everest, but feeling a little drunk on the lack of oxygen helped to ease any fears. On Everest, you encounter obstacles, tricks and techniques you’ve never had to solve before, and it all comes together on the same mountain.”

3. Sherpas can be crazy

“If I fell into a crevice nothing would probably happen as I’d still be attached by a rope. But the worst part is watching the Sherpas. They are paid by load/weight, so the more rotations they do the more they get paid, so they cut corners to go faster. They don’t clip in, they don’t wear helmets, they don’t do a lot of safety stuff. They’ll be walking across the ladders unclipped holding on with their hands. The day before we got to a big crevice past camp one we were told a Sherpa had fallen into it and died a day earlier. A rescue team had dragged his body up and he’d bled all the way up the icy face of this square crevice. There was no smell, it was just the sight of the blood. It was a lot darker than I expected it to look, and it made me feel physically sick. It put the climb into perspective.”

4. The mountain hides itself

"The sheer size of it is a huge problem to overcome mentally."
“The sheer size of it is a huge problem to overcome mentally.”
“You can’t quite take Everest in. Not fully. It’s so far away that when you can see all of it that it looks like a painting, and close-up it’s so big that it’s not possible to know what you’re even looking at. It’s almost as if the mountain hides itself: you can’t see camp three until you get to camp two. Then you only see camp four once you’re going up around the side of the mountain. Even on summit day it looks unrelenting. The size is a huge problem to overcome mentally.”

5. You will probably see dead bodies

“Everest is littered with dead bodies. When you leave camp four and you’re on your summit day, it’s so high up there you can barely take yourself. You can’t take a heavy rucksack, so if you die up there then there’s very little chance anyone will be able to get you down, and so you encounter bodies. Some families do pay for teams to pick up a body and lower it down. For the most part everyone stays very positive, you don’t talk about this stuff, but you can’t help but notice the bodies because their clothes are still bright. You might see some bare flesh but you won’t see a skull as the skin is almost embalmed as if it’s been frozen in time, almost like a waxwork. The clothes are flapping in the wind and ultra violet light, each person with their own story.”

6. Debris is a constant danger

Dieumegard-Thornton on his Everest climb
Dieumegard-Thornton on his Everest climb
“Everest isn’t your traditional up and down mountain – it’s not a technical climb; K2 is a more difficult mountain to climb in terms of technicality – but you still need to watch your step. Due to Everest getting drier as a result of global warming, and not enough snowfall, the mountain effectively sheds a layer of ice and rocks which tumble down the mountain. Basically, you have to negotiate terrain that is trying to throw a lot of stuff at you, and these can be boulders the size of a car.”

7. Failure is a big fear

“One of the biggest challenges with Everest is funding. It costs over £40,000 to plan a trip, you need good marketability, and it’s harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. I contacted 2,000 companies, and in the end it was just luck – Yellow Pages were re-branding and wanted Everest as part of their messaging, so I was in the right place at the right time. You don’t want to let anyone down, and this added pressure of failing when people have invested so much in you can play on your mind.”

8. Reaching the summit feels like a horror movie

Dieumegard-Thornton shortly before reaching Everest's summit
Dieumegard-Thornton shortly before reaching Everest’s summit
“I went into the climb imagining dying at the top of Everest would be quite a tranquil end – should the worst happen – because the oxygen is so low that you’d just fade out. But no, the summit is so windy and hostile – it’s simply not a nice place to be. It is extreme. You feel a long way from help and nobody is going to rescue you. The wind adds so much suspense I can only liken it to the sound of a horror movie. By the point I reached the top I was so hypoxic, or rather, low on oxygen, that I completely forgot about taking photos for all my sponsors. I only cared about myself in that moment as I felt so punch drunk. But when you’re pitting yourself against nature in a very raw way, thinking about yourself is no bad thing.”

Would a bottle of wine from the Titanic still be drinkable?

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In August of 1985, a US Navy-sponsored expedition lead by marine archeologist Robert Ballard was struggling to find the wreck of the Titanic. Ballard and his crew were given twelve days to sweep a potential resting place of more than 150 square miles using new technology that allowed for exploration below 10,000 feet. One week into the expedition, Ballard and his crew propitiously stumbled across the Titanic’s “debris field,” a large trail of debris left by the ship as it broke in half and sank to the ocean floor.

The debris field contained millions of objects: suitcases, clothes, bathtubs, jugs, bowls, hand mirrors and numerous other personal effects. One item that caught Ballard’s eye in particular were fully intact wine bottles, which appeared to still contain their corks.

The number of wine bottles scattered around the Titanic—an ocean liner whose main appeal was its luxury—isn’t a surprise. The ship’s first class passengers enjoyed extremely elaborate, 10-course dinners, with accompanying wine pairings for each dish. Corks retreived from the wreck indicate that Champagne from Moët and Heidsieck & Co. was popular on board.

A man holds a lunch menu recovered from the Titanic.

Champagne-style wines were favoured on the Titanic because they could be easily chilled after being brought onto the ship. Bordeaux wines were less favoured because the rumble from the enormous steam engines could dislodge sediment from inside the bottle. To slake the thirst of its first class passengers, the Titanic held more than 12,000 bottles of wine in its cellar.

This begs the question: if photographs indicate that the wreck of the Titanic holds thousands of sealed, unbroken bottles, could some of that wine still be drinkable?

It’s difficult to say, mainly because samples from the wreck are few and far between. Ballard himself refused to take bottles of wine from the wreck, claiming that doing so would be tantamount to grave robbing:

“Maritime collectors around the world would have paid thousands of dollars for a piece of the ship… How I would have loved a bottle of Titanic champagne for my own wine cellar. But from all our discussions it became clear that the Titanic has no true archaeological value… Recovering a chamber pot or a wine bottle or a copper cooking pan would really just be pure treasure-hunting.”

Bottles claiming to be from the wreck of the Titanic do occasionally appear at auctions, but the ship’s extensive wine collection remains mostly undisturbed on the ocean floor.

Experts taste wine from a 151-year-old US Civil War shipwreck at an event in Charleston, South Carolina. Attendees claimed the wine tasted like “crab water, gasoline, salt water, vinegar, with hints of citrus and alcohol.”

If other wrecks are any indication, however, there is some hope. A shipment of wines that lay buried in a wreck on the ocean floor for 138 years off the coast of Georgia was retrieved and tasted by divers in 1979, who described the wines as “incredibly good” (the collection contained 1839 red Bergundy of Cru quality, 1834 Port and 1830 Madeira).

In 2010, Finnish divers discovered several crates of champagne and beer from a sunken ship that had been at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for nearly 200 years. When changing pressures caused one of the champagne corks to pop out of its bottle, the divers tasted the wine and found that it was still drinkable.

“Bottles kept at the bottom of the sea are better kept than in the finest wine cellars,” Champagne expert Richard Juhlin explains. If experts like Juhlin are right, if there is anywhere wine could survive for 100 years, it’s the bottom of the ocean.

Perhaps the closest comparison we have to the Titanic is the RMS Republic, another massive White Star ocean liner which sunk in 1909 when it collided with the SS Florida. A key difference between the two wrecks is that the Republic experienced relatively little loss of life, making salvage efforts less prone to accusations of grave robbing.

Expeditions to the Republic have found a similarly large collection of wines: Moët & Chandon and Dom Ruinart champagnes; several Mosels, other white wines of uncertain origin, and some Bordeaux. When divers from a 1987 expedition opened a bottle of 1898 Moët & Chandon Champagne from the wreck, they found the wine to be “effervescent” and “wonderful.” When they sent some of the bottles to the New York office of Christie’s auction house, however, the wines were found to be malodorous and unpleasant.

“The bottles they brought us were debris,” Robert Maneker of Christie’s told The Wine Spectator in 1987. Experts at the auction house determined that the wine bottles were nothing more than a collection of “curiosities,” like “shrunken heads,” and said that newspaper reports estimating that the bottles could be worth up to $4,000 were “absolutely rubbish.”

If past shipwrecks are any indication then, the Titanic’s wine collection could have met a variety of fates. Fluctuations in temperature, bacteria and water pressure could have removed the seals of the bottles completely. Seepage might also have slowly replaced the original contents of the bottles with saltwater. Or perhaps some of the Titanic’s wine collection lies on the ocean floor still intact, after more than a century of deep sea cellaring, still waiting to be tasted. ♦