The Anonymous Widower

Is This The Future Of Patient Monitoring?

As anybody who has spent time in hospital connected to a traditional heart, blood pressure, pulse and temperature monitor will know, it is not an easy process. Leads fall off, moving around is difficult and you are often in need of staff. I’ve only spent time recently in good hospitals, where they were enough staff to check on me regularly and that includes two NHS hospitals. But in one NHS hospital, I had a private room and a quick visual check as the nurse passed by wouldn’t have been possible.

In some ways the current system is like driving a car without a fuel gauge and every few miles, you have to get out to dip the tank to see if you’ve enough fuel to carry on.

But then enter the engineers!

I have just watched this story on BBC Breakfast Here’s the first three paragraphs.

The NHS is starting to test a sticking-plaster-sized patient-monitoring patch.

Placed on the chest, it wirelessly transmits data on heart rate, breathing and body-temperature while the patient is free to move around.

Independent experts say the system, developed in Britain, could ease pressure on wards and has the potential to monitor patients in their own home.

I think we all have to remember, that this is the first device. No-one would be able to predict how far this technology will go. And how a healthcare system like the will be able to use it in the future!

On the other hand, there is also this statement in the story.

But the Royal College of Nursing says there is no substitute for having enough staff.

In some ways that shows what a good system it must be, as the Luddites and Nimbys always try to stop good developments.

Read more about the company; Sensium Healthcare, behind the development here.

As it’s got one or more ultra-low power chips in there somewhere, is this another application of technology from ARM?

July 22, 2014 Posted by | Health, News | , , | Leave a comment

A Marks And Spencer Gluten-Free Baguette

This was my lunch today.

A Marks And Spencer Gluten-Free Baguette

A Marks And Spencer Gluten-Free Baguette

The baguette was from Marks and Spencer and was just warmed through in the oven, before filling with bacon.

I can’t remember, when I last had a baguette that was this acceptable. If it looks small, it’s because there was another bit, that I’d already eaten before the photo was taken.

This new Marks and Spencer’s product certainly makes it easier to cope with a visitor, who needs gluten-free food.

July 21, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , | 2 Comments

A 3D Map Of London

This 3D map of London is at the Building Centre close to Tottenham Court Road station.

Unfortunately, dalston is just off the map, But it was good nevertheless.

July 21, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Places And Spaces At The Building Centre

I went to this exhibition this morning, which shows how the various stations on Crossrail will look.

It was certainly a good free exhibition and whetted my appetite for what is to come.

July 21, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Do We Need Double-Deck Trains In The UK?

You regularly see articles like this one in the Guardian extolling the virtues of double-deck trains. Here’s an extract.

Consultants have drawn up blueprints for double-deckers up to 400 metres long, carrying more than 1,000 passengers, on the network. Supporters of high speed rail say tackling the limited capacity offered by existing lines is crucial.

Greening told the Sunday Times she was excited by the idea of “continental-style double-decker trains that immediately give you more seats and more space”. The trains could have glass viewing ceilings and meeting areas.

Have any of these advocates of double-deck trains ever travelled on one?

They may work on the Continent, but UK railways are different to the rest of the Continent and probably the rest of the world, in that we’re increasingly going for walk-in step-free access to our trains, whereas everybody else has low platforms and several steps up into the train, as I pointed out in this article. In the article I quoted from  the specification issued by Crossrail for their Class 345 trains.

Wide through gangways between carriages, and ample space in the passenger saloons and around the doors, will reduce passenger congestion while allowing room for those with heavy luggage or pushchairs.

From what I have read here on First Capital Connect’s web site, the Class 700 might be very similar.

If you’ve ever tried to get in and out of a French, German or Italian express train in a hurry, you will realise that they’re designed to different principles. And they are a total nightmare with a heavy case, in a wheelchair or pushing  a buggy. And I’m generally tslking about single-deck trains.

You must also consider the Health and Safety aspects of double-deck trains. If the British public felt they were dangerous and didn’t like the climbing up and down, they would get angry and Disgusted from Tunbridge Wells would get his computer out.

But the biggest problem of double-deck trains is that they need infrastructure clearance everywhere they might go. So if say you might want to run say one of the trains to an important event off its usual haunts, you would have to make sure that line was cleared to accept it.

With normal height trains, like the Class 800, they are designed as go-anywhere trains, that can accept the far corners of the network.

You could argue that the double-deck trains would only stay on high speed or high-density commuter lines, but then for reasons of efficiency trains they must also be able to run on other lines.

Double-deck trains are one of these ideas that look good to politicians, but create more problems than they solve.


July 21, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Beginner’s Guide On Opposing HS2

I found this here on Rail News.

Read it and enjoy.

As I’m a simple man, who prefers words of one syllable, my views on HS2 are as follows.

1. The best way to increase the capacity of our motorways is to move as much freight as possible off the roads onto the railways. As there are a limited number of freight paths on the East and West Coast Main Lines, one way to increase capacity would be to create a new high speed railway that is used by the high speed passenger trains from London to the Midlands, North and Scotland. Passenger trains would take HS2, thus releasing capacity on older lines for freight.

2. It is well known that speed attracts more passengers. At the moment there’s a lot of speculation about Norwich in Ninety. Every route from London has a time, that would attract passengers. Perhaps, it should be Birmingham in an hour, Cardiff and Manchester in two and Edinburgh in four. Speed will attract people to use the trains, hopefully freeing up the roads.

3. A lot of our older stations like Euston and Manchester Piccadilly need rebuilding, or are on cramped sites like Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle, so building HS2 with a few well-connected and spacious stations may well make a better railway for every passenger. The network’s Victorian designers didn’t envisage the number and size of trains we are using today, let alone those that we will, in a few years time.

4. HS2 is making us think.  In the past couple of months, George Osborne has laid out a plan for HS3 across the north of England from Liverpool and Manchester to Hull. The government has now announced that the exiting line will be electrified as a priority. Would a politician have ever thought of this without HS2?

5. I also believe that HS2 should be freight enabled, so that at night, when the line won’t be busy, freight trains can be sneaked up and down the country. Network Rail are experimenting with using Euston in the middle of the night, as a distribution point for retail goods, so could we see that in cities like Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester?

6. I also think that HS2 could be the solution to how we get freight from London Gateway up to the North, if we built a tunnelled link from HS2 to HS1, This would also allow direct passenger and freight services between most of the UK and the Continent. Surely, it would be a better way to distribute Jaguars, Land-Rovers, Toyotas and Nissans all over the Continent and perhaps even further. That is just one example of probably many on how rail freight could be used.

7. I have my doubts about direct passenger services between say Manchester and Berlin, as for a journey of that length, the easyRyans of this would will always be a lot quicker and probably cheaper.

8. A properly linked up high speed rail system, connected to most parts of the country, will open up all sorts of possibilities.

9. Suppose the North Wales Coast line between Holyhead and Crewe was electrified and made into a full-size faster line, would this ease the problem of transporting freight and passengers to and from Ireland? At the present time it take nearly four hours to get to Holyhead from London, so with something like a Class 800 train, under three hours should be possible, even without the sections of HS2 north of Birmingham.

10. South Wales isn’t a problem from London and the South East, as by the end of this decade, Brunel’s Great Western will be making his ghost jump for joy, as trains speed along an electrified railway to Cardiff and South Wales as trains speed along at 225 kph. The line which, I’ve called HSW will probably change the way we think about high speed rail.

11. The main problem of South Wales is getting to Birmingham and the North. But this will probably be solved in the short term by the use of Class 800 running via Gloucester.

12. The Class 800 will have big part to play with HS2, as it will be used as a route extender, as I said in point 9, where it could be used to Holyhead.


July 21, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Musings On Airliners And Engines

I flew to and from Iceland in an Icelandic Air Boeing 757. It’s funny, but I think that these are my only journeys in the type, as normally on short-haul flights around Europe it’s a Boeing 737 or a babyAirbus.

The 757s, that I flew on were powered by Rolls-Royce RB211-535 engines. These engines first flew on a 757 in January 1983 and were a launch engine for the airliner.

Incidentally, I wonder when the two Icelandic 757s I flew were built! Not that I worry, as well-maintained aircraft can last a lot longer than thirty years. These weren’t that old and were probably about twenty.

When I was at University, the father of one of the fellow students,  worked at Tesco in Derby. Tesco used to supply Rolls-Royce with time-expired frozen chickens, which were used by the engine company to test the first version of the RB-211 with its carbon-fibre fan blades for bird-strikes. That must have been about 1966, a few years before the RB211-22 entered service in 1972 on a Lockheed Tristar.

Today in the Sunday Times, there is an article which talks about how Airbus and Boeing, instead of designing new aircraft, are redesigning old ones. The article talks about the Airbus A330neo powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines. And what is a Trent engine? It’s a developed and renamed RB-211. Someone got the basic design right fifty years ago.

One paragraph in the Wikipedia entry for the Trent 700 must be shown.

Compared to the A330 engines the Trent 7000 will improve specific fuel consumption by ten per cent, double the bypass ratio and halve perceived noise enabling the A330neo to meet the stricter London airport (QC) noise regulations of QC1/0.25 for departure and arrivals respectively.

But then they’re only following a long tradition of the company or squeezing every drop of performance out of a design, just as they did with the Merlin.

Is it just a coincidence, that another of the UK’s long-lived and much-developed engineering icons; the InterCity 125, also has strong connections to the city of Derby in the years around 1970?

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Africa’s Great Green Wall

The Sunday Times has an article today about the Great Green Wall. Wikipedia describes the project like this.

The Great Green Wall is a planned project to plant a wall of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert as a means to prevent desertification. It was developed by the African Union to address the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification in the Sahel and the Sahara.

The aims are wider than this according to the Sunday Times, with hopes that trees can be planted that provide useful crops and income, so that the men aren’t drawn to terrorism and general mayhem.

The article also talks about how Kew Gardens is being drawn into the project, because it has the expertise to make sure the trees germinate and thrive.

By the end of this year they hope to have planted 162,000 trees in 2,500 acres. The forty species include gum arabic, tamarind and desert date.

This project is one of the ways to help stop poverty in the poorer areas of the world, whereas the article is the reason to buy the Sunday Times today.

Putin sends a missile battery, whereas Kew sends in and trains botanists and gardeners.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

Will This Become One Of The Iconic Photographs Of the Queen?

Last week, the Queen opened the new Reading station. It’s reported here on the BBC.

The picture of her sitting amongst Network Rail’s orange army, will surely become one of the most iconic photographs of the Queen.

The Queen With The Orange Army

The Queen With The Orange Army

I wonder how many mantelpieces, it’s already sitting on.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Could This Be The Key To Hydrogen Power?

Jerry Woodall has form as a scientist and inventor as he developed the first commercially-viable red LEDs that we see in car brake lights and traffic signals.

Last night I was searching for something else and came across this video on YouTube. This is the description to go with the video.

The actual process: gallium and aluminum combining, add water. stir – bubbles of hydrogen with only white aluminum oxide. as demonstrated by John Woodall – Jerry M. Woodall, National Medal of Technology Laureate, Distinguished Professor of School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette.

To put it simply, you add water to aluminium doped with gallium and the aluminium combines with the oxygen in the water and the hydrogen is released. The hydrogen can then be used to power a small engine.

There’s more description here on

It’s early days yet, but could this simple process be the key to hydrogen power?

I always remember in the Electrical Engineering Department at Liverpool University in the 1960s, we were shown one of the first lasers.  In some ways then, it was just a scientific curiosity and people were speculating about how they could be used. Now everybody has at least one, if they have a CD player. Many people reading this will be navigating the Internet using a laser mouse, as in fact I am with a Logitech M525.

It may not use Jerry Woodall’s invention, but at some time in the future, you’ll just put water in the fuel tank of your car and just drive away, emitting nothing more than water vapour.

There are many problems to solve, but the internal combustion engine will be here hundreds of years from now.


July 20, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment


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