Air races

This weekend the Red Bull air races are taking place in London. Specifically, they’re racing over the River Thames with the Millenium Dome as a backdrop. I managed to catch some of their practice runs today. Unfortunately the only camera I had was on my iPhone (which is also how I’m writing this post!)

Cool stuff like this is why I really love London.

Photo of one run here…

True Knowledge — Free invites to a different kind of search

I’ve been reading about True Knowledge for quite a while now. True Knowledge is a Cambridge (UK) based company that’s building a new search engine, but based on completely different techniques than Google. With their system, you literally type a question into the search box to get your answer. (There’s more behind the scenes, but this is the most obvious change.) I signed up on their list for a beta invite and got one a while back. I recently received 60 additional beta invites to pass along to others.

Why post this now? Well, True Knowledge just got a whole bunch more venture capital funding, so they are at least impressing their advisors. And when I’ve tried it their technology has impressed me, too. While right now it’s fairly specialised, as they scale up their back-end databases this should most certainly change.

You can read press about them here and here.

You if you’d like an invite, please just leave a comment below or get in touch with me directly.

Into the wild blue yonder

Have you heard about Virgin Galactic’s White Knight 2? It was unveiled Monday at Scaled Composite’s Mojave complex.

I’m quite happy that I’ve got an interesting connection to it… one of my good friends from back at the University of Michigan (and the Solar Car Team) was the lead aero designer for WK2! Yes, I’m hoping to score some cool points by association here.

For background, WK2 is designed to carry a spaceship to ~50k feet in the air, and then drop it so that the spaceship can start its rocket motor and actually get into space. It’s built to carry a lot of weight, so it’s got a big wingspan. Because it’s got to drop a spaceship, it’s designed to have two fuselages. WK2 is of very advanced construction, the main structure being built completely of composites. (Strong, lightweight… you know the drill.)

The cool part is that if WK2 isn’t carrying the spaceship, it’s quite an impressive plane on its own. Imagine dropping a V12 into a Dodge Dart and you’ll have an idea of what I mean. It will be massively overpowered without a very large extra bit attached, which should make it very fun and interesting to fly!

So well done to the entire team; I can’t wait until I have the chance to someday take a ride for myself.

Meditations — the start of a series

I picked up a book recently that’s been both a fascinating and inspirational read: “Meditations,” by Marcus Aurelius. (This book is the translation I actually own, which is a bit newer and has an unnecessarily pompous title.)

I’ve found it a great little book to keep with my bag as I ride the Tube into work. There are a lot of short but important thoughts that help remind me of what’s important in life and what I really need to be focusing on.

To be fair, it’s also clear it was written over 2000 years ago, so certain bits aren’t very applicable. Some of it is on the metaphysical side, some on the nature of physics, etc. But so much of it is a leader meditating on how to be a better person, and still rings very true today.

I’m going to periodically post quotes from this book; things that I find interesting or important. Perhaps you’ll find them as intriguing as I do!

Today’s closing quote:

Claim your right to say or do anything that accords with nature, and pay no attention to the chatter of your critics. If it is good to say or do something, then it is even better to be criticized for having said or done it. Others have their own consciences to guide them and will follow their own lights. Don’t be gazing after them, but keep your eyes on the straight path ahead of you, […]

-Meditations, Book Five, #3