Happy new year everyone . Hope 2013 is a retro one and full of 8-bit love.
Monday, 31 December 2012
Wednesday, 26 December 2012
Gerry Anderson, the creator of hit TV shows including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90, has died at the age of 83.
He also created Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and his puppet superheroes fired the imaginations of millions of young viewers in the 1960s and '70s.
Thunderbirds, a science-fiction fantasy about a daring rescue squad, ran from 1965 and was his most famous show.
Anderson had suffered from Alzheimer's since 2010 and the disease had worsened in recent months, his son Jamie said.
Jamie Anderson announced the news on his website, saying his father died peacefully in his sleep at noon on Wednesday.
"Gerry was diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago and his condition worsened quite dramatically over the past six months," he wrote
Gerry Anderson talked about the onset of the disease in June 2012.
Speaking on BBC Berkshire he said: "I don't think I realised at all. It was my wife Mary who began to notice that I would do something quite daft like putting the kettle in the sink and waiting for it to boil."
His other creations included UFO, Space: 1999, Supercar and Fireball XL5.
Actor Brian Blessed, who worked with Anderson on shows including The Day After Tomorrow and Space 1999, told BBC News: "I think a light has gone out in the universe.
"He had a great sense of humour. He wasn't childish but child-like and he had a tremendous love of the universe and astronomy and scientists.
"He got their latest theories, which he would expand on. He was always galvanised and full of energy."'Great creation'
Celebrities paying tribute on Twitter included comedian Eddie Izzard, who wrote: "What great creation Thunderbirds was, as it fuelled the imagination of a generation."
TV presenter Jonathan Ross wrote: "For men of my age, his work made childhood an incredible place to be."
Anderson, who lived in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, began his career studying fibrous plastering, but had to give it up when it gave him dermatitis.
After a spell in photographic portrait work, a job in Gainsborough films and time spent in air traffic control, he set up AP Films with some friends.
Commissions were few, however, so he responded eagerly to the opportunity to make a puppet series called The Adventures of Twizzle in 1956. It was nine years before Thunderbirds came into being on ITV.
The action was filmed on Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire.
The story revolved around International Rescue, a futuristic emergency service manned by the Tracy family, often assisted by Lady Penelope - voiced by Mrs Anderson - and her butler, Parker.
It included the catchphrases "Thunderbirds are go!" and "FAB".
The show marked the career apex for Gerry and his wife Sylvia, who had honed their "supermarionation" technique on Fireball XL5 and Stingray.
Nick Williams, chairman of Fanderson, the Gerry Anderson appreciation society, described him as "a quiet, unassuming but determined man".
"His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works," he said.
"Gerry's legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world."
Thursday, 20 December 2012
ITV is to celebrate 30 years of its children's programming by screening classic TV shows for two days next month.
Programmes including Rainbow, Super Gran, Press Gang, The Raggy Dolls and Children's Ward will all be broadcast.
Digital channel CITV will clear its schedule on 5 and 6 January to screen almost nine hours of old favourites each day.
ITV1 will also air a documentary to celebrate the 30th anniversary.
Other popular shows to be screened include Count Duckula, Art Attack, The Tomorrow People, Puddle Lane and Rosie & Jim.
Drama series Press Gang and Children's Ward both won Bafta awards during their runs.
Created by Kay Mellor and Paul Abbott, Children's Ward helped launch the careers of many writers, including future Doctor Who boss Russell T Davies, who wrote and produced the series.
Press Gang, set in the offices of a student newspaper, was created by current Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat.
"We are very proud of CITV's heritage and look forward to bringing back all the old favourites for this one-off, not-to-be-missed event," said Jamila Metran, CITV's head of programming.
She added the weekend of repeats would "show the kids what their parents watched when they were young".
Children's ITV launched on 3 January 1983 with guest presenters such as Roland Rat, Basil Brush and Timmy Mallett recording introductions to programmes.
Digital channel CITV channel launched in 2006.
Regularly scheduled children's programming on BBC One will end on Friday 21 December as more children move to the BBC's digital channels to watch content.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Saturday, 8 December 2012
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
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It's not just children who like to build towers with Lego - the internet is alive with discussion on how many Lego bricks, stacked one on top of the other, it would take to destroy the bottom brick. So what's the answer?
There has been a burning debate on the social news website Reddit.
It's a trivial question you might think, but one the Open University's engineering department has - at the request of the BBC's More or Less programme - fired up its labs to try to answer.
"It's an exciting thing to do because it's an entirely new question and new questions are always interesting," says Dr Ian Johnston, an applied mathematician and lecturer in engineering.
Looking on the internet, he expected to find the answer, but was surprised to find only a lot of speculation.
Perhaps that's because not everyone who has pondered the question has ready access to a hydraulic testing machine.
The 2x2 Lego brick looks vulnerable, placed on top of a metal plate, which a hydraulic ram is pushing upwards. On top of the brick is a second plate, with a load cell on top of it, measuring the force being exerted.
Safety glasses on, the engineers begin to nervously edge towards the door.
"We're setting it up automatically, so that we can all back out of the room, so none of us is in range when the thing goes bang," Johnston explains - positioned, I notice, slightly behind me.
And the load on top of the brick gets larger and larger. We reach 3,500 newtons (N) of force - the equivalent of having 350kg (770lbs) sitting on top of the brick - more than a third of a tonne.
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Ian JohnstonOpen UniversityI'd be delighted to meet a Lego builder who could make a 3.5km tower”
The force climbs on, above 4,000N. And then...
Well, not much. There is no big bang. The brick just kind of melts.
It looks like a small square of warm camembert.
This, Ian Johnston explains - noting that the computer also shows the load is no longer increasing - is a "material failure".
"The material is just flowing out of the way now and it's not able to take any more. We're getting a plastic failure. It means the brick keeps on deforming, without the load increasing. Metals can be plastic, and this plastic is being plastic," he says.
So - how many Lego bricks, stacked one on top of the other, would it take to destroy the bottom brick?
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What's a newton?
Ian Johnston and the team do two more tests to be sure we hadn't just happened upon the strongest Lego brick in existence. And in fact they were impressed at the consistency of Lego manufacture.
The average maximum force the bricks can stand is 4,240N. That's equivalent to a mass of 432kg (950lbs). If you divide that by the mass of a single brick, which is 1.152g, then you get the grand total of bricks a single piece of Lego could support: 375,000.
So, 375,000 bricks towering 3.5km (2.17 miles) high is what it would take to break a Lego brick.
"That's taller than the highest mountain in Spain. It's significantly higher than Mount Olympus [tallest mountain in Greece], and it's the typical height at which people ski in the Alps," Ian Johnston says (though many skiers also ski at lower altitudes).
"So if the Greek gods wanted to build a new temple on Mount Olympus, and Mount Olympus wasn't available, they could just - but no more - do it with Lego bricks. As long as they don't jump up and down too much."The tallest Lego tower... in theory
A 2x4 brick would fail sooner, Ian Johnston reckons, while a 1x2 brick would likely be able to withstand more.
But could a 3.5km Lego tower really be built?
"There isn't a chance you could do it in reality," Johnston says. "Long before the brick fails, the tower would fail as a structure itself, by buckling. The other thing you have to remember is that we were very careful to load this equally down the middle, so that all four walls were loaded."
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Brief history of Lego
- Lego bricks were launched in 1958
- Word "Lego" comes from the Danish "leg godt", which means "play well"
- Lego, based in Denmark, is the fourth largest maker of toys in the world
- Lego says the tallest tower made using its bricks was 32.5m. The Guinness World Record for "tallest structure built with interlocking plastic bricks" is 30.52m (100ft)
A 3.5km tower would have to be built so straight that it was no more than 2mm off centre at the midway point, he says.
"And I'd be delighted to meet a Lego builder who could make a 3.5km tower so accurately."
Cue Duncan Titmarsh, the UK's only certified Lego builder - and one of only 13 worldwide - and Ed Diment, his partner at company Bright Bricks.
They built the 12.2m (40ft) Lego Christmas tree that stood in London's St Pancras station last Christmas, and the 5m x 3m advent calendar standing in Covent Garden.
Do they think they could take up the challenge? No.
"If you try stacking 2x2 bricks as soon as you get beyond 3 or 4m tall there's almost no way you can take out all of the kinks," Ed Diment says.
"So it would be totally structurally impossible to do it, whilst it's an interesting theory."