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The Aeronauts brings the joy and perils of Victorian ballooning to vivid life

Ars Technica - December 7, 2019 - 9:37pm

Enlarge / Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones star in The Aeronauts (credit: Amazon Studios)

Just in time for the holiday season, Amazon Studios has released The Aeronauts, a soaring historical adventure film about the perils faced by a Victorian scientist and a balloonist attempting to fly higher than anyone before them. Granted, the characters might be a bit thinly drawn when it comes to emotional depth, and the earth-bound first act is solid, if unremarkable, period drama. However, once the film (literally) gets off the ground, it blossoms into a gripping, thoroughly entertaining epic tale of survival at punishing altitudes. Above all, the film looks spectacular; every frame is practically a canvas, painted in vibrant, almost Disney-esque hues.

(Some spoilers below.)

The Aeronauts is a fictionalized account of a historic balloon flight by pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher. He and his pilot, Henry Coxwell, made several balloon flights to measure the temperature and humidity of the upper atmosphere between 1862 and 1866. Armed with scientific instruments and bottles of brandy, Glaisher and Coxwell set a world-altitude record, reaching an estimated 38,999 feet (11,887 meters) on September 5, 1862. They were the first men to reach the atmospheric stratosphere, and they did it without the benefit of oxygen tanks, pressure suits, or a pressurized cabin.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple May Use Carbon-Free Aluminum In New iPhones

Slashdot - December 7, 2019 - 8:15pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

European Plan To Tackle Space Debris? Hug it Out

Slashdot - December 7, 2019 - 6:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Review: Horrified is a terrific family-friendly monster-themed board game

Ars Technica - December 7, 2019 - 5:48pm

Enlarge

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

Some folks use "family game" as a pejorative. Not me. For one thing, I happen to like my family. More importantly, as a player and critic of board games, it is my holy duty to introduce as many games as possible to my family. In the cardboard eschaton, all games shall be family games, because families will play anything and everything together.

With that very important disclaimer out of the way, it's now time to announce that Prospero Hall's Horrified is my favorite family game of the year.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

No one knows why rocks are exploding from asteroid Bennu

Ars Technica - December 7, 2019 - 3:42pm

Enlarge / A composite image of a short and long exposure photograph of Bennu showing the largest particle ejection on January 6, 2019. (credit: NASA | Goddard | University of Arizona | Lockheed Martin)

For the last year, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been circling a large asteroid named Bennu that regularly passes uncomfortably close to Earth. The spacecraft has been painstakingly mapping the asteroid's rocky surface using a suite of cameras and other instruments that will help it determine where to land next year. Once NASA selects a final landing site, OSIRIS-REx will kiss Bennu just long enough to scoop up a sample to bring back to Earth in 2023.

Many scientists expect the Bennu sample to revolutionize our understanding of asteroids, especially those that are near Earth and pose the greatest threat from space to life as we know it. But as detailed in a paper published this week in Science, NASA has already started making surprising discoveries around this alien world. Earlier this year, the OSIRIS-REx team witnessed particles exploding from the asteroid's surface—and the team's not sure why.

"No one has ever seen an active asteroid up close like this," says Carl Hergenrother, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and the scientist who proposed Bennu as the target for OSIRIS-REx. "It wasn't that long ago that the conventional wisdom was that asteroids are these dead bodies that didn't change very much."

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

General election 2019: Reddit says UK-US trade talks document leak 'linked to Russia'

BBC Technology News - December 7, 2019 - 2:24pm
Jeremy Corbyn claimed the papers proved "the NHS is for sale" when he highlighted them at a press conference.

The PC was supposed to die a decade ago. Instead, this happened

ZDnet Blogs - December 7, 2019 - 2:00pm
Back on January 27, 2010, a very Big Thinker declared the PC dead. A decade later, the PC is very much alive, although a time traveler from 2010 might not recognize it. Here's how this endangered species evolved and survived.
Categories: Opinion

Floor pavements in Pompeii illustrate surveying technology

Ars Technica - December 7, 2019 - 1:00pm

Enlarge (credit: L. FERRO, G MAGLI, M. OSANNA)

Decorative pavements in the floor of a recently unearthed Roman house in Pompeii offer a glimpse into the life and work of an ancient land surveyor. The pavements depict a stylized drawing of an ancient surveyor’s tool called a groma, along with a diagram of a surveying technique and the plan of a construction project in Pompeii. So far, they’re the only original Roman illustrations of the tools and techniques the Romans used to help build an empire and its infrastructure.

The land surveyor’s house

Only a few metal fragments of a Roman groma exist today (also recovered from Pompeii), and archaeologists have found only a few images carved into surveyors’ tombstones. Otherwise, we know the tool only from descriptions in medieval versions of ancient Roman surveying manuals.

The newly unearthed pavements at Pompeii suggest that those medieval copies were pretty close to the original ancient texts. An image on the floor of the entrance hall is nearly identical to illustrations in medieval copies of Roman texts, attributed to Roman surveyor Hygius and famed architect Vitruvius.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

'How smart home tech helps me live independently'

BBC Technology News - December 7, 2019 - 2:06am
Specially designed tech is allowing Adam, who has Down's syndrome, to live without in-home carers.

NHS e-health systems 'risk patient safety'

BBC Technology News - December 7, 2019 - 1:26am
The use 21 separate electronic record systems in NHS hospitals across England 'could lead to errors'.

General election 2019: Labour pledges to electrify England's bus fleet

BBC Technology News - December 7, 2019 - 1:15am
It wants to electrify England's buses by 2030, but the Tories say Labour would "scrap vital new roads".

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