The west wind blows afresh

IT TAKES chutzpah to tweet “rockets are tricky” shortly after one you have just launched has deliberately blown itself up. But Elon Musk, founder and boss of SpaceX, is not a man who lacks self-confidence, and he did just that on August 22nd after the terminal malfunction of one of his company’s Falcon 9 vehicles….

Howling for a growler

SALES of craft beer, which tastes better than the mass-market slop, were up 17.2% last year, even as overall beer sales fell 1.9%. Small wonder the big, bland brewers want to stop you drinking it. The latest bar brawl concerns growlers; the jugs which those who wish to continue quaffing at home use to carry…

Clocking people’s clocks

WITH some pride, the FBI trumpeted the news last month that thanks to the agency’s facial-recognition system Neil Stammer, wanted for sexual assault and kidnapping, had been apprehended in Nepal after being on the run for 14 years. The truth was slightly more prosaic. A State Department official had used the FBI’s “Wanted” posters in…

Obituary: Harry Chapman Pincher

Henry Chapman Pincher, journalist and spy-hunter, died on 5th August, aged 100 HIS favourite weapon was lunch, and he deployed it almost every day. Seated opposite a well-informed companion in L’Ecu de France, halfway between Fleet Street and Whitehall, Chapman Pincher would go hunting for scoops. Notes were never taken, and drink only rarely. After…

Pee power

“URINE and faeces to you”, explains a dodgy sewer-manager in one of Reginald Hill’s crime novels, “is bread and butter to me.” And he is not the only one. The BioEnergy Team, led by Ioannis Ieropoulos of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) in Britain, are hoping to profit from working with the stuff too. They…

The Mars and Venus question

THAT men and women think differently is now widely accepted. Why they do so is another matter. One possible explanation is that in the time of hunting and gathering different skills were required: men spent time away from camp, tracking animals and fighting off intruders, and women needed social skills to bring up children. Yet…