Feeds

British Rail flying saucer unearthed

Scotched by the wrong kind of space-snow?

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Flying Saucer blueprintBritish Rail patented a design for a flying saucer powered by thermonuclear fusion back in 1973. The public transport body submitted Charles Osmond Frederick's maverick contraption, the Guardian reports.

The fact that sustainable fusion hasto this day eluded scientists was no deterrent to such a ferociously inventive mind. Frederick explains how to dodge the scientific watershed: "The thermonuclear fusion will take place in a series of pulses, each pulse being triggered by laser energy, and/or energetic particles reflected from a previous pulse. The system will be arranged so that the fusion process will decay after each pulse so that the stability of the system is maintained." Ah...gotcha.

European Patent Agency lawyer Alexander Clelland told El Reg why the ground-breaking answer to all the world's transport and climate change problems remained interred until now. He said that in the paranoia of the Cold War any application containing the word 'nuclear' was slapped with a secrecy order.

Clelland compared Frederick's innovation to the ideas of Authur Paul Pedrick. A former patent officer himself, Pedrick bombarded his former employers with legendarily screwball designs in the 60s and 70s - one of which was a catflap fitted with a colour sensor to allow his cat Ginger through, to the exclusion of his neighbour's black moggie.

Hilariously mutton-chopped space wurzel Professor Colin Pillinger - of Beagle 2 infamy - is excited by Fredrick's blueprints. He told the Guardian: "I think the plans are fascinating; it really looks like a flying saucer."

Hmm. Perhaps because it is a drawing of a flying saucer?

Nobody knows just how far ahead of his time Frederick will turn out to be; but shades of Da Vinci's helicopter must come to mind. Indubitably, the cut-and-thrust of modern day privatised public transport would never allow room for such a wildly imaginative brain. A skim of the original application suggests perhaps that's a good thing, however. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.