Video: Bicycle powered helicopter wins Canadian inventors $250,000 prize

A Canadian-built helicopter that is powered by a human riding a bicycle has become the first winner of a decades-old $250,000 (£165,000) engineering prize.

The American Helicopter Society had never given out its Igor Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Award – initiated 33 years ago – until the team from the University of Toronto won it this week.

The challenge was to create a flying machine that would be able to reach a height of three metres, fly for 60 seconds by human power alone, and stay within a 10m by 10m radius.

“It was long seen as impossible to win this,” AHS International executive director Mike Hirschberg told French news agency AFP.

The winning vehicle is called the Atlas, and was designed by a team of about 20 students and young professionals.


BBC’s ‘Obstacles to Peace’: wrong on right of return – Part 2

BBC Watch

In the first part of this article we discussed Martin Asser’s partisan treatment of the subject of Palestinian refugees in which he promoted claims of an Israeli “pre-determined plan to expel Palestinian civilians”.

One very notable feature about Asser’s article is the way in which he isolates the subject of Palestinian refugees from the context of the war which raged at the time – thereby avoiding the subject of responsibility of any parties other than Israel for the creation of the refugee problem. In this article we will look at a case study – the events which led to the departure of the Arab population of the town of Tiberias – which provides a good example of the many factors deliberately ignored by Asser in order to enable the promotion of his one-sided narrative. SONY DSC

On the eve of the War of Independence Tiberias had a population of around 11,000…

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Mea culpa – I confess it.  I love math.  I’ve always loved math.  It comes very naturally to me and I revel in its precision.  I guess it’s for the same reason that I enjoy crosswords and jigsaw puzzles and those games where you have to get from point A to point B by drawing a line through a maze without running into the barricades while en route.  When you get the right answer or complete the puzzle, you have the reward of knowing that you accomplished something.

So here’s a math-ish question for you.  Now before I state the question, you might be thinking that I read this on a five hour flight and who is seated next to me but a man who spilled half a bottle of Gaucho Boy Cologne (primary ingredient being horse sweat).  So I picked up the In Flight magazine to see if there are any ads or stories…

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BBC’s ‘Obstacles to Peace’: wrong on right of return – Part 1

BBC Watch

As we noted earlier this year, via the country profile for Israel on the BBC’s Middle East page, readers reach a series of four articles under the heading “Related Stories” which are entitled  “Obstacles to Peace”. We previously dealt with the item on the subject of water here and here. This article will address the item entitled “Obstacles to Arab-Israeli peace: Palestinian refugees“.

All four of the “Obstacles to Peace” articles were written by Martin Asser and are dated September 2nd 2010. However, they already existed prior to that date and were the subject of critiques by CAMERA in mid-2007 – including the one about Palestinian refugees. Significantly, the BBC has not corrected the inaccuracies pointed out over six years ago and the article continues to mislead BBC audiences searching for information on the Middle East. 

Asser article refugees

Asser’s article is nothing more than an emotive exercise…

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ANECDOTAGE: Why in today’s UK politics, I have a leg in neither camp.

The Slog

Although I don’t vote Labour (and only voted Tory once) I think perhaps this little set of memories might help explain why I find Labour pc and Conservative Friedmanism equally abhorrent.

My Dad’s sister was called Molly. In 1930, while playing in the back yard of the family home in Buile Street Salford, she fell over and scratched her knee quite badly on the edge of a flagstone. My grandmother bathed the wound, and Molly (always called ‘Mont’ for some reason) went back to playing with her two appalling brothers.

Two days later, the knee was looking ‘angry’ as we say in Lancashire. But this was 1930: as a Union organiser on the trams, Grandad had been first locked out during the 1926 General Strike, and then victimised into unemployment. Before the war, my grandfather had been a master carpenter. He went off with the Lancashire fusiliers to get his…

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Time for American Support for Syrian Free Army has Passed

Beyond the Cusp

United States President Obama stalled straddling the fence on whether or not to supply weapons including heavy crew served weapons to the presumably secular Free Syria Army until quite recently. If President Obama aimed to not actually support the Free Syria Army he handled the situation perfectly but if his aim was to assist in the overthrow of Assad and replacing him with a secular democracy then his actions have produced utter failure. The beginning of the end of the Free Syria Army came in the form of the assassination of one of the leading Free Syria Army Officers, Kamal Hamami whose nom de guerre is Abu Bassel al-Ladkani, by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with whom he was meeting to coordinate joint efforts. Qassem Saadeddine, a Free Syrian Army spokesman, gave the media a report on the incident stating, “The Islamic State phoned me…

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China’s city-sized mall, complete with artificial sun

China News

For years, the race to build the world’s tallest tower has been dominated by the United Arab Emirates with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, or the Tokyo Sky Tree of Japan. But China recently opened up a few front in this race with their unveiling of the world’s “largest building”. Known as the New Century Global Center, this building recently opened in Chengdu, a city of more than 14 million people in southwest China’s Sichuan province.

Measuring some 100 meters (328 feet) high, 500 meters (1,640 feet) long, and 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, it is described by Chinese officials as being “the world’s largest standalone structure”. To give you a sense of that space, the mall contains roughly 420 acres of floor space, which is almost the same area as the principality of Monaco. To put it another way, the mall could fit three Pentagons…

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The Slog

smokesigsNext stop, Portugal. Senior employees of JP Morgan are piling into Lisbon bigtime. Their job? Helping expats and the other Portuguese who really need to make advance plans about getting their savings and occasionally ill-gotten gains out of Portobanks and offshore.

The Great Portuguese bailin, they think, is imminent.

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva rejected the plan to heal a government rift yesterday, igniting what critics called a “time bomb” by calling for early elections next year. The Lisbon Stock market fell 1.7%, and 10-year bond yields climbed eight basis points to 6.97%.

The false confidence of crowds. Word reaches me that the Conservatives are now so confident UK construction growth and property prices can be their Get out of Jail Free card  in 2015, more manipulations and elector bribes are planned to give voters a strong feelgood emotion. The cynical relaxing of building regs (and secretly ignoring…

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