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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.