April 2015
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The Good Food Guru
Boeuf Bourguignon
April 2015
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Method

 

Brown the braising steak on the hob in a cast iron, ovenproof dish. When the meat begins to gain some colour, add the bacon strips and continue cooking until the bacon is done. Remove the meat and bacon from the dish and set to one side.

 

Use the same oven proof dish to soften the shallots in two tablespoons of olive oil. When the shallots soften and begin to brown, remove them from the dish and set to one side.

 

Now add 450 ml (1 US pint) of red wine to the dish and bring to a boil to de-glaze and make a rich stock.

 

Return the meat and bacon to the dish, along with the stock pot, bouquet garnis, dried mushroom powder, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.

 

Cover the dish and place in an oven set to 150 C (300 f) for 2 hours.

 

After the 2 hours is up, remove the dish from the oven and set it down on the hob.

 

Add the shallots and the button mushrooms and then top up the liquid with hot, but not boiling water from a kettle to just cover the ingredients.

 

Put the flour in a mug and add a small amount of cold water. Stir vigorously to make a stiff, smooth paste. Continue to add small amounts of water until the mug is about half full and the flour is evenly distributed with no lumps.

 

Add the the flour/water mix to the dish, stir, replace the lid and put back in the oven for a further hour, or until the meat is tender.

 

Remember to remove the bouquet garnis before you dish up!

 

This delicious recipe is sufficient for two people. Serve with your favourite seasonal vegetables or boiled/steamed rice.

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The Solar Eclipse
The day the Sun Smiled!
April 2015
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Badobadop's Mathematics Challenge
Last month I promised you that I would post a solution to the following problem:
The solution and Another Challenge
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I didn't receive any meaningful solutions from my readers last month, and only Badobadop's resident polymath, Paul managed to solve it in the end.
 
To satisfy your curiosity, a solution is shown below. Click on the picture for a more detailed view.
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April 2015
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The challenge for this month is to prove that the solution I have given here is unique and that there are no other solutions to the equation. Contact me if you manage it. Otherwise I will publish the proof next month.
Badobadop certainly had it's finger on the pulse on 20th March. A 6 inch reflecting telescope that I just happened to have in my office at work was put to good use providing a spectacular show of the eclipse for my bemused colleagues.
 
The sky was cloudless and our view was unobscured for the entire event (commiserations go to the folks in London and the South of England). 
 
The cheshire cat smile of the eclipsed sun is all I could have hoped for. I have enclosed a couple of pictures to give you a flavour.
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At the climax of the eclipse, the light level dropped markedly into an eyrie twilight and there was a noticeable chill in the air. We viewed the eclipse in complete safety by projecting the sun's light onto a whiteboard. The second whiteboard you see was to enhance the contrast by shadowing out direct sunlight.
Did You Know?
London to New York in 25 minutes!
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The future of transport as predicted in 1829.
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Courtesy: Wellcome Library, CC By 4.0

Ingredients

 

400 g (14 oz) diced braising steak

2 tbs olive oil

6 or 7 shallots

4 rashers of smoked, bacon (cut in strips)

450 ml (1 US pint) red wine

One beef stock shot/stock cube

One bouquet garnis sachet

2 tsp dried mushroom powder (optional)

2 cloves of garlic (crushed)

tsp salt and tsp ground black pepper

150 g button mushrooms

40 g (two heaped dessertspoons) of plain flour.

We assumed that the system would be implemented using frictionless, mag-lev technology and a very high vacuum tunnel to eliminate air resistance. Passengers would board and alight transit capsules via special airlocks which would be sealed and evacuated before each journey commenced.
 
We took a rather futuristic view, and assumed that power could be distributed along the whole of the tube's length, perhaps using superconducting cables. This would mean that transit pods could be accelerated magnetically at a constant, reasonably comfortable rate up to the halfway point. They could then be decelerated at the same rate after the halfway point and come to a standstill at the destination.
 
Exactly what constitutes a comfortable rate of acceleration is a difficult question to answer. It is well known that positive, (eyeballs in) acceleration, that pushes you to the back of your seat is easiest to withstand. We plumped for a reasonably conservative 1 g, and assumed that seats within the transit pod would be rotated at the half way point to maintain a positive (eyeballs in) g-force to maximize comfort.
 
A quick google search told us that the distance between London and New York is 5576 km. A few simple calculations on the blackboard gave a journey time of just 25 minutes, with a peak speed of 7500 kph (4660 mph).
 
Wow!
 
Imagine boarding your transit capsule, along with a few tens of other passengers. There are no windows, only a few  information screens dotted about the interior. Once everybody is seated and strapped in, you hear the capsule doors close and then a loud thud as the huge doors of the airlock slam shut. Almost unnoticeably, the magnetic levitation system kicks in. An announcement comes over the loudspeaker system introducing you to the journey and then, all of a sudden you feel a force press you back into your seat.
 
Unlike any vehicle you have ever been in, the force wouldn't let up, it would continue; making your arms, head and legs feel heavier than usual. There would be no sound. No whoosh of air rushing by the capsule, no rumble of wheels..... just complete silence.
 
After a couple of minutes, after the initial surprise dies away, people start to chatter, and the loudspeaker system plays some background music.  Even though you have no sensation of movement other than the force pressing you back into your seat, the information screens show the ever increasing capsule speed. 1000 kph, 2000 kph ........... Faster and faster every second.
 
About 12 minutes into the journey, when your speed reaches 7500 kph (4660 mph), the accelerative force stops and your seat rotates to face the other way. Then, the force pressing you into your seat begins again as the capsule starts to slow down. After a further ten minutes the music stops and an announcement gives disembarkation instructions. Just as the announcement finishes, you feel the decelerative force die away. There is a rush of air as the airlock fills. Your capsule doors open and you have arrived in New York!
 
April 2015
Thanks go to Azza, Kris, Big Dan, Flash Dan, Scouse Dan, Hannah, Leroy, Rich and Wendy for their contributions.
 
A recent discussion in one of my classes (I am a teacher of sorts) was prompted by a question about high speed rail links through evacuated tunnels.
 
As you can see from the picture opposite, the concept is not a new one, and as a class, we decided to investigate the limits of the technology if it were implemented between London and New York.
 
Before it was taken out of service, the fastest way to travel between London and New York was by Concorde, with a journey time of about three hours. As you will see, three hours is a positively pedestrian pace compared with the potential of an evacuated tunnel system.
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