Today's commute clippings, starting with a cracking article by Stuart Nathan in The Engineer on a recent rocket test in Cornwall...
[...] The messy flame of the igniter pack gave way to a long, narrow tongue of fire and the roar of the rocket caused a perceptible shudder in the concrete floor of our building. During the ten-second burn, a row of diamond-shaped shock waves were clearly visible in the rocket plume, an indicator of smooth fuel combustion; Jubb’s painstaking CFD had worked, to the obvious delight of his team, some of whom had marked the occasion by donning false moustaches.
As the roar died away and the rocket plume diminished, flames continued to roil from the back of the rocket tube. ‘Well, clearly I’m going to have to have a word with the engineers,’ Green said drily. ‘Nobody told me my arse would be on fire at the end of this.’
Meanwhile, somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now...
Something very, very interesting is happening with Voyager 1, the human probe that’s the very farthest from Earth.
New data from the spacecraft, which I will discuss below, indicate Voyager 1 may have exited the solar system for good. If true, this would mark a truly historic moment for the human race — sending a spacecraft beyond the edge of our home solar system.
- from this post by Dave McComas.
Here, Sully nails the appeal of fundamentalism nicely:
[...] Fundamentalism is not about being dumb; it is an act of will to over-ride reality with totalist faith, so that nothing is left unresolved and everything can be explained by a single text, or a single religious leader. It is, in some ways, a neurotic response by many educated, intelligent people to live their lives according to something that cannot admit uncertainty or doubt.
- from this post by Andrew Sullivan.
Amazing discoveries are being made in our beloved Orkney. Before Stonehenge, before pyramids...
[...] This is the temple complex of the Ness of Brodgar, and its size, complexity and sophistication have left archaeologists desperately struggling to find superlatives to describe the wonders they found there. "We have discovered a Neolithic temple complex that is without parallel in western Europe. Yet for decades we thought it was just a hill made of glacial moraine," says discoverer Nick Card of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology. "In fact the place is entirely manmade, although it covers more than six acres of land."
Once protected by two giant walls, each more than 100m long and 4m high, the complex at Ness contained more than a dozen large temples – one measured almost 25m square – that were linked to outhouses and kitchens by carefully constructed stone pavements. The bones of sacrificed cattle, elegantly made pottery and pieces of painted ceramics lie scattered round the site. The exact purpose of the complex is a mystery, though it is clearly ancient. Some parts were constructed more than 5,000 years ago.
The people of the Neolithic – the new Stone Age – were the first farmers in Britain, and they arrived on Orkney about 6,000 years ago. They cultivated the land, built farmsteads and rapidly established a vibrant culture, erecting giant stone circles, chambered communal tombs – and a giant complex of buildings at the Ness of Brodgar. The religious beliefs that underpinned these vast works is unknown, however, as is the purpose of the Brodgar temples.
[...] What is clear is that the cultural energy of the few thousand farming folk of Orkney dwarfed those of other civilisations at that time. In size and sophistication, the Ness of Brodgar is comparable with Stonehenge or the wonders of ancient Egypt. Yet the temple complex predates them all. The fact that this great stately edifice was constructed on Orkney, an island that has become a byword for remoteness, makes the site's discovery all the more remarkable. For many archaeologists, its discovery has revolutionised our understanding of ancient Britain.
- from this article in The Guardian.
And finally this lovely snapshot from Caught By The River of Festival No.6 which sounds far more delightful than any music festival has the right to be, even more so given my love of The Prisoner.
[...] As rapturous applause died down and the band prepared to start their second song, the sky – by this point set to a monotone, perfectly Welsh kind of brooding grey – cracked open and the arc of a glorious rainbow shot across the estuary. Scrap that, it was a double rainbow. The band could see it from the stage whereas the audience were missing it, stood as they were facing away. To hear Emily from the band frantically trying to get the entire audience to turn around in a fit of sugar-rush excitement was to bear witness a moment of pure, unadulterated wonder. The rainbows deservedly got one of the biggest cheers of the weekend, a deafening roar of appreciation for nature and the genuinely psychedelic environment we were all stood in.