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The Geoff

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About The Geoff

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  • Birthday 11/08/1976

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  • Location
    Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Interests
    Kitesurfing, linux tinkering, reading, writing, sci-fi & comedy
  • College Major/Degree
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Physics & Astronomy
  • Occupation
    Science buyer for a national bookchain
  1. Weirdly, I think we should encourage people to ask questions in forums/fora like these and many others. "Just Googleing it" is a cheap option. It's cheating in a pub quiz. All of the fun and education is in the conversation, that's why you get five or six blokes at my local pub figuring out crosswords between them of an evening. The standard line-up is a bookseller, a banker, a joiner, a chef, a barman or two and several disreputables who have never admitted to a real job but have money for beer and know what a homonym is when they see one. That's the beauty, you get some chat and
  2. One of the foundations of GR as we were taught at school is that there is no way to differentiate between a force felt due to acceleration and a force of the same magnitude caused by a gravitational field. However, the acceleration caused by a rocket (for example) is linear, everything is being pushed in the same direction. A gravitational field, however, is invariably curved in some way....if I hold my arms out and drop a coin from each hand they won't fall in the same direction, they'll converge slightly because they're both heading towards the same place, the centre of the Earth. S
  3. Step out of a third floor window and say that... It is a very interesting question - there's a good (but pricey) book called "In The Grip Of The Distant Universe" that covers a lot of the history and weirdness of inertia.
  4. Right......so in effect you can change the direction of the vector all you want with two bodies, but it takes a third to provide an actual transfer of kinetic energy?
  5. Why thank you Really? I was under the impression it was a simple result of the relative motion of two massive bodies? Simplified version: Picture a spaceship approaching the earth with velocity v (for clarity, the ship is moving left to right in our external field of view). The ship skims past the earth at the correct speed to be caught in half an "orbit" and exits moving right to left, new velocity is -v. Total change 2v, no sun required? To phrase the idea differently, a ship comes in with such a velocity that a "normal" gravity assist would only divert its course by a
  6. I'm hoping this isn't speculation as it's part of a SF plotline I'm playing with and I want it to be as good as Clarke's stuff We know the slingshot effect works from various spaceprobes that have used it. We know (theoretically) that the space elevator works. So....if you had a ship in geosynchronous orbit, on the end of a space elevator, and then rapidly shortened the tether from the ground before releasing it, it should impart a slingshot effect on the ship? Basically the energy put in by the power station on the ground would accelerate the ship without having to carry all of
  7. This reminds me of something on the IRC the other night.... Person X: What's a really quick and easy thing to do check that Sulphuric acid is exactly 93%?
  8. As said, there's no rushing need to specialise. Your son sounds very like me at that age, I hope my experience is useful: I was very into science from a young age, my dad is/was an engineer/metallurgist by trade, and I was one of those "but why...?" kids. I got into all forms of science as a kid but fairly swiftly gravitated (no pun intended) towards physics. This was in combination with my hobbies which were mostly outdoor sports (climbing, rugby, mountain biking etc) and a keen interest in computers and technology. All three; science, sports and technology were a result of the sa
  9. Hi, I'm the flatmate and yes, my ears are really quite small. I'm not on here simply to copy my flatmate in a weird SWF way (the film, not the file extension), that got boring several years ago. However he did point this forum out to me and I thought it was worth a look....turns out I was right. My background starts with a childhood combination of Clarke, Asimov and taking toys apart. Remember those toys with the wire you had to guide a hoop around without touching it? I dismantled one of those and used it to make a Santa-alarm when I was six, and I'm still quite proud of it. Would
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