Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Today is Science Education Day

14 March is Science Education Day.

I mention it in appreciation of those who staff museums, zoos, aquariums, observatories, planetariums, science centres, nature centres, outdoor education centres, rocket parks, and any other formal or informal science setting.

I guess it’s also a reflection of ‘Where did I go wrong?’ thoughts as well.

This was brought home with a bang recently when I saw someone post a pic of one the accelerators at CERN, and noted they had “Just started my dream job”.

Oh well… Too late now.

Maybe NEXT reincarnation, if I don’t come back as a cat.

One of the detectors there, open for maintenance – spot the step ladders to get an idea of scale.

CERN Detector Maintenance

CERN Detector Maintenance

Just in case that was too morbid, we’ll lighten things up a bit.

CERN Humour

CERN Humour


March 14, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Today is Pi Day

14 March is Pi Day.

That’s 3.14 if you’re not a fan of numbers.

Circles are round, pies are round, and the ratio of circumference over a diameter is… pi, or π.

If 3.14 is a little short of digits for your needs, you could try…

One million digits of pi

The quest for pi is sometimes seen as a fool’s errand by some, given that it appears to extend to infinity and at no point has the pattern ever been found to reliably repeat itself.

Pi is a transcendental number – that’s a number (possibly complex) that is not the root of any integer polynomial, meaning that it is not an algebraic number of any degree. Every real transcendental number must also be irrational, since a rational number is, by definition, an algebraic number of degree one.

There’s only one way to celebrate Pi Day… PIE!

Pi Day

Pi Day


March 14, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Recognise this lock box bolted to a lamppost?

Time for a mystery post.

Spotted last night, on a lamppost I have been passing for years, but never looked at.

It’s just too far away to be noticed as the footpath here is widened by a couple of metres of grass, separating the walking part from the road, and the lampposts installed next to the gutter.

I only spotted the box shown below when it was caught in the headlights of an approaching vehicle, otherwise I’d still never have noticed it.

I’ve looked at some old pics of the road, and these show there was nothing attached to the lamppost back in 2015, so it’s been added fairly recently. And a little more substantially mounted than by a couple of cable-ties, it’s not going to fall off any time soon.

No markings apparent, not in the dark of night at least, so this one needs a daylight visit to check for any details or clues.

Lock Box

Lock Box

March 13, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Baillieston’s old Airdrie Savings Bank conversion underway

An unplanned jaunt through Baillieston provided a number of updates.

Biggest surprise was a big banner on its Lidl, warning everyone it closes in a few days, for a MONTH! Apparently it’s getting a major makeover to make, yes, you guessed it… BETTER!

Next was Chamber’s old shop, where I last noted the demise of the little side building that used to be home to a little barber’s shop. A concrete base has been laid on, so they’re going to be using the space released by this little bit of demolition,

But the most interesting development was at the old Airdrie Savings Bank building, where work was underway even though it was well past normal stopping time (I hope UNITE or the RMT is not involved, or the nation could be on strike soon).

Although the windows are still too high to see in over, you can see in past the edges of some very badly fitting plywood panels jammed in place of the original opaque glazing at the bottom of the main window, but there’s nothing to see.

I did notice the hole where the cash machine once lived had been worked on, but there was just some wooden shuttering over it, to close the hole.

I’ll look again next time I pass.

Airdrie Savings Bank Works

Airdrie Savings Bank Works

March 13, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Feline paralysis – recognise the symptoms

Feline Paralysis

Feline Paralysis

Plan ahead!

More important than leaving snacks and drinks nearby…

Stuff kitty litter down your pants – you’ll need it sooner than them when this strikes 🙂

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Bennie Railplane display – Kelvingrove

Digging into the ‘cold weather archive’ again, I came across the display for Bennie’s Railplane which can be found in Kelvingrove.

The panel (click for bigger) gives enough details for anyone who is unfamiliar, but that’s not what I have in mind.

Bennie Railplane Description Kelvingrove

Bennie Railplane Description Kelvingrove

The idea was good enough in itself, and if we look overseas then a number of monorails can be found which have succeeded.

But the missing aspect was proper consideration of the engineering and costs – had Bennie been in business with someone who had reeled him in, and ensured the system had been approached in a way that addressed its flaws, then the outcome could have been different.

Using a propeller to drive a land craft was not a good idea, but would have seemed like a good idea by following speedy aviation and streamlining ideas which were popular concepts, and innovation would attract funding. In reality, the losses of a propeller driven carriage, and resultant high fuel consumption would have ruined the operating economics, and demanded a change to some sort of mechanical drive (like other systems of the day).

Then there was the hugely impractical suspended track, intended to be built over existing railways.

However, an honest look at its complexity, and the amount of material consumed compared to the rail tracks which would lie below should soon reveal the dubious wisdom of that part of the system too. There probably wasn’t much that could have been done then to reduce that, barring a complete redesign of the structure, and with the steel and construction methods of the day, there would have been problems.

There’s another aspect – that test track only has one line. Two would really have been needed to provide a realistic service in both directions. Or there would have to have been some way of shuffling railplanes back and forth, and around one another on a single track. Given how often single track trains crashed in those days due to signalling errors, can you imagine how long it would have been until the first truly high-speed collision occurred if that had been tried?

I guess the lack of any subsequent projects along the same lines (unless we count the Hyperloop, which is yet to become a reality anywhere) is as good an indication as any that Bennie may have had an idea, but that while it looked good, it couldn’t deliver.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Today is World Plumbing Day


11 March 2018 is World Plumbing Day.

World Plumbing Day is an international event, initiated by the World Plumbing Council, held on 11 March each year to recognise the important role plumbing plays in societal health and amenity.

That’s a pity.

I thought it would have been a day to celebrate the huge number of millionaires that had been created thanks to the horrendous call out charges, minimum charges, and hourly rates plumbers can charge, especially in London.

Oh well, guess I was wrong.


March 12, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Trevor Baylis is gone

Trevor Baylis Pic Credit BBC

Trevor Baylis Pic Credit BBC

Sad to read that Trevor Baylis had suffered a period of illness before he died.

The inventor of the wind-up radio, Trevor Baylis, has died aged 80, the manager of his company has confirmed.

David Bunting said Mr Baylis from Twickenham, south-west London, died on Monday of natural causes after a long illness.

Mr Baylis invented the Baygen clockwork radio in 1991.

He was appointed CBE in 2015 after campaigning to make theft of intellectual property a white-collar crime.

He said chatting with the Queen at the ceremony was “like catching up with an old mate”.

Mr Baylis had also worked as a film and TV stuntman and an aquatic showman.

He had been seriously debilitated, having suffered from Crohn’s disease, Mr Bunting said.

Via Trevor Baylis: Wind-up radio inventor dies aged 80

I always found his success in promoting his wind-up radio intriguing, and wondered if it was an example of not ‘what’ you know, so much as ‘who’ you know.

Back at the time of its promotion, and the campaigns raised regarding its use in Africa, I struggled to find an overwhelming advantage of his design versus similar wind-up devices which were around at the time. None really seemed to run for that long from a single wind, and although I never did the sums, I always wondered if they could have been bettered, by using circuits that consumed less power. Today, it seems they are a thing of the past already, with the mechanical clockwork/spring replaced by newer rechargeable cells, and hand-cranked generators. Then there’s steadily improving solar, small wind generators, and even thermal.

I’m NOT knocking his radio, rather I’m still thinking the same today, where we have BEVs (battery electric vehicles) that are as heavy and bulky as conventional fossil-fuelled vehicles, and seem to have made little or no concession to lightweight designs and size reduction to increase range for a given battery capacity. While there have been a few designs that DO maximise weight reduction, and were also smaller, they were also very odd vehicles, which the general public disliked and would not buy.

I wonder how he’d get on today, as digital radio packed with yet more power-hungry processing apparently eat even high-capacity batteries.

Anyway, he did seem to know a lot of ‘names’, and had contacts, all important in getting inventions accepted.

Missed seeing him pop-up occasionally, and it was a shame illness got him.

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , , , | Leave a comment

Red squirrels get assist from pine martens

As someone who only gets to see grey squirrel vermin swarming around the trees and bushes in the east end of Glasgow, it’s always nice to see stories that report successes in the re-establishment of our native red squirrel in the face of the pox-ridden invader.

It doesn’t seem to be all that long ago when I made a few notes regarding the return of the pine marten, and increased numbers of sightings in the wild.

Now, it seems the pine marten is helping the red too.

The pine marten has emerged as an unlikely ally for the beleaguered native red squirrel in its battle with the grey squirrel.

This is according to scientists at the University of Aberdeen, who carried out an in-depth forensic study of the relationship between the three species.

The pine marten is a predator of the reds, but in areas where it thrives, the number of grey squirrels reduces.

The findings are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The journal study suggests that the pine martens reverse the “typical relationship” between red and grey squirrels, where the red always loses out, according to lead researcher Dr Emma Sheehy.

“Where pine marten activity is high, grey squirrel populations are actually heavily suppressed. And that gives the competitive advantage to red squirrels,” she said.

“So you see lots of red squirrels and you see them coming back into areas where they hadn’t been for quite some time.”

Via Red squirrel numbers boosted by predator

The story is also a pretty good warning to be wary of ‘Armchair Experts’ who spout their (usually) misguided wisdom and (often) seriously flawed logic in many comments sections offered after media stories.

I can imagine the replies that would follow this story if it was open for comments, after the statement that pine martens are red squirrel predators.

Once a place to find reasonable discussion, comment areas today seem to be populated by morons, cretins, activists, lobbyists, and every frustrated political wannabe driven from other places, and who turns almost every comment area from its actual subject into a soap box for their demented campaigning.

Red Squirrel And Pine Marten

Red Squirrel And Pine Marten

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | 2 Comments

I think I need a bigger mousetrap

Things have been quiet over the cold weather, and while there was one mouse caught on its way indoors  during the winter, once the weather combined cold, wet, windy, frosty, and snowy together… the arrivals stopped.

While the system (of trapping just outside the door) seems to be completely effective, and it seems I can at last leave my back door open once again, I did have a quick look online for any new developments.

I think I’ll have to think about building something bigger, just to be sure.

They’re evolving!

I might keep this one 🙂



Russian genetic engineering?



No comment (but I will be getting a ‘humane’ trap).



March 11, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Riverside Museum gains Tesla Model S

I was going to start by noting that I wished I could afford to give away my old cars to a museum such as Riverside – then I realised I could (or should).

I’m not going into details, but since I was priced off the road a few years ago (there were other reasons too), I just ‘collected’ my cars and stored two of the three that could go into a museum, but my thoughts were that I’d use at least, instead of a fourth cheap runabout I was using. But, such is the bill for just keeping a car legally on the road, I ended up storing that one too, and none of them can be used.

There’s an intriguing aside to this. I don’t know what recent car paint is made of, but the one that had to live outside, uncovered, while I was elsewhere, was found to get dirty in the rain, but when inspected was found to have moss in the dirt. However, after this was cleaned off a couple of times there was an unwanted surprise – the moss had eaten into the paint, and when it was removed, a layer of paint came with it.

I’m not sure, I haven’t researched this, but wonder if it’s a consequence of the dropping of the old traditional cellulose based paints, and the switch to ‘green’ or water-based products.

Back to the Tesla:

Glasgow’s Riverside Museum has been gifted a Tesla to showcase alongside its alternative fuel vehicles.

The Model S P85+ electric car was gifted to the popular visitor attraction by Chris Clarkson.

It will form part of a display which reflects advances in technology and explore the development of more environmentally friendly vehicles.

The car will be prepared for storage, before it goes on display at Riverside Museum in 2019.

Glasgow Museums confirmed it will form part of the city’s James Watt Bicentennial celebrations.

Via Businessman gifts Tesla electric car to Riverside Museum

I’ve only spotted one Tesla on the roads around Glasgow while wandering the streets, and that went flying past while I was standing near a junction – just my luck the lights were green, so no time even to reach for a camera, or even read the badges… it was gone almost as soon as I recognised the shape. The UK wallows embarrassingly around 5 years or so behind the US on EV (electric vehicle) acceptance, where I follow their progress in detail, so, even though we don’t have many, I can recognise one easily.

As someone who could cover around 300 miles a day while at work (that’s just one trip to Aberdeen), with its range, I always lusted after a Model S, since it would have eaten my more normal commutes and only needed charging once or twice a week (but would have been topped up most nights, so not an issue), and would have dealt with my longer trips too.

Be nice to see one in Riverside – cars have changed radically since the days of true ‘Classics’, and that when things get risky, as people forget to preserve current examples.

And I don’t just mean cars. I suspect there may be a number of articles from recent years which it would now be hard to find examples of.

Unlike my stock Model S image below (which I had to ‘convert’), I see the example to be donated is already right-hand drive.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: