Category: Transport

Mining Asteroids A New Venture

Asteroid Mining Asteroids A New Venture


Mining for minerals, precious stones and metals from our small planet earth has been undertaken by humans since around 4000 BC, when our stone age ancestors mined stone such as flint to make axes and tools. Since then we have plundered our planet for any mineral that could be used for fuel, manufacturing for most of what we use today including ever increasing demands electronic goods, smartphones, tablets computers  and jewellery.

Our earth has only a finite amount of these resources in terms of  minerals and metals which are  becoming scarcer and harder to mine, alternative sources are now being looked at beyond our pale blue dot of a planet!

Asteroids which orbit our sun and sometimes wander close (not too close we hope) to earth are thought to contain an abundance of the stuff we need.

With more nations and private enterprises now launching  space craft and looking to develop  fast evolving space related technology, instead of visiting these heavenly bodies to  map, take amazing  photos and get the odd sample, these new space industries want to mine asteroids. Instead of the famous Californian Gold Rush of the mid 1800s and misquote  “There’s gold in them thar hills”.   We may say there is gold and more in them space rocks.

The BBC reported that a new venture is joining the effort to extract mineral resources on asteroids.

The announcement of plans by Deep Space Industries to exploit the rare metals present in the space rocks turns asteroid mining into a two-horse race.

The other venture, Planetary Resources, went public with its proposals last year.

Advocates of asteroid mining hope it could turn into a trillion-dollar business, but some scientists are highly sceptical of the idea.

Deep Space Industries wants to send a fleet of asteroid-prospecting spacecraft out into the Solar System to hunt for resources.

These spacecraft, which the company has dubbed “Fireflies”, would use low-cost CubeSat components and benefit from discounted delivery to space by ride-sharing on the launch of larger communications satellites.

The Fireflies would have a mass of about 55 lb (25 kg) and be launched for the first time in 2015 on journeys of two to six months.

The company then wants to launch bigger spacecraft – which it calls “Dragonflies” – for round-trip visits that bring back samples.

These expeditions would take two to four years, depending on the target, and would return 60 to 150 lbs of material from target asteroids.

Arkyd Planetary Resources was the first firm to announce asteroid mining proposals

“Using resources harvested in space is the only way to afford permanent space development,” said the company’s chief executive David Gump.

“More than 900 new asteroids that pass near Earth are discovered every year. They can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century – a key resource located near where it was needed. In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century.”

Asteroids could yield precious minerals such as gold, platinum and rare-Earth metals. But some are also thought to harbour water ice, which could be used as a raw material for the manufacture of rocket propellant or even breathable air.

The other firm in the mining race, Planetary Resources, has backing from several billionaire investors, including Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, software executive Charles Simonyi and film maker James Cameron.

That company wants to start by launching orbiting telescopes that would identify suitable asteroid targets for mineral exploitation.

However, some scientists struggle to see how cost-effective asteroid mining could be, even with the high value of gold and platinum.

Also what percentage of asteroids would contain material worth mining?

They point out that an upcoming Nasa mission to return just 60g (two ounces) of material from an asteroid will cost about $1bn.

Quote & Thought for the Day 2 May

A bit later than usual at 7.19 am station duty supervisor Chris’s latest quote at Golders Green Underground (Tube) station today.

LUquote 2May

This is so true applied to everyday life, whether in family politics, work politics or national politics.  Leading by example is always the best way to influence people.

Quote & Thought For the Day on 1st of May

Travelling to work early am (06.40)today via Golders Green Underground(Tube)station this morning I saw the latest offering from Chris the duty station supervisor, who cheers us commuteres etc up with the quotes he writes. Here it is below; The words not clear are  ‘It’ & ‘unique’

LU quote May

Success Vs Failure

Chris, the duty supervisor at Golder Green London Undergound (Tube) Station offers his latest quote for today..always readable and enjoyabe for us commuters 🙂

Quote & Thught for the Day Curtesy of Chris of London Underground station Golders Green

Quote & Thought for the Day
Courtesy of Chris of London Underground station Golders Green

Success Vs Failure

This is the quote for the day.  Failure is not the end of things, it is just the start to something big if you heed it.

Out of the failure or failures, you will find solution if you evaluate and learn the lesson from it.  Do not give up just because it failed the first time, make it better until success is achieved.

Most successes weren’t achieve the first time!
Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.
– Alexander Graham Bell (the telephone man)

Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.
– J P Getty
🙁 oil?

I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.
– Michael Jordan

Ninety-nine per cent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
– George Washington Carver

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.
– George S Patton

Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.
– Robert Collier

Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.
– Ingrid Bergman

Success has always been a great liar.

The penalty for success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you.
– Nancy astor

“The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs… one step at a time.”
-Joe Girard

The only place where success comes before work is in a dictionary.
– Vidal Sassoon

What is success? It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.
Paulo Coelho

Thought & Quote For The Day

Golders Green Underground station’s  duty supervisor Chris’s quote for today.  For our edification 😉

Quote for day, thought for the day, London Underground, Golders green station, Francis Bacon

Quote for day, thought for the day, London Underground, Golders green station, Francis Bacon

Milkmen – a British door step delivery service – sadly declining (Nostalgic Reminiscence)

When I was a young boy in the 1960s, my best boyhood friend and neighbour (another Peter) and I  used to help the milkman on his  busy  milk  doorstep  delivery round, usually on a Friday, this being  his busiest day of the week as he collected the money for the milk he sold during the week.  As Peter and I were both late stage primary school pupils (aged about 9-11), our help was usually on school holidays or on an occasional Saturday.

The milkman’s name was Bert and he had done this round for many years and was well known and popular for his friendly &  genial character;  we got on well with him.

His round covered a few hundred houses in nearby roads and streets  including our road. The delivery round was governed by the mileage obtained from the large battery in his electric powered delivery van called a milk float.  Even in the 1960s, electric powered vehicles were being used, however then the batteries were huge and needed long overnight charging and the vehicles were slow and had limited range/mileage.

As the milk float had to stop frequently, electric motors were better adapted and cheaper to use  than petrol driven engines, speed was not a requirement!

I am a light sleeper and I still recall decades later the distinctive whine of the milk float’s electric motor as it came up our road early in the mornings, then the clunking sound as the milkman (normally Bert) set the hand brake after frequently stopping to make deliveries. I found these sounds reassuring when half asleep.

The dairy outlet building where the local deliveries were made from was about 5 minutes walk from where we lived.  The dairy was  part of a large chain called United Dairies which later merged with Unigate.  In the 1980s, Unigate stopped doing doorstep deliveries.  By the by, the C0-op and Express Dairies also ran a similar milk delivery service.

This dairy delivery building was next  to  a small park and  the milk floats were parked in a bay. After the rounds were  finished, the milkmen would plug their floats into the main electrical supplies for recharging overnight. In the evening when walking in the park you would see the parked milk floats and hear the electric hum of recharging.  Peter & I being children  were not allowed in the building or bay due to the high voltage charging equipment.

Sadly a couple of decades later our local dairy delivery building was sold and eventually redeveloped into luxury apartments as is the case with many interesting & partly historic buildings now:-(

A hundred or years ago milk was delivered by horse drawn  carts or  smaller  hand carts pushed or pulled  manually by the milkmen.  I say milkmen as it was a manual job, moving heavy crates of milk around etc.

Anyway, we sat with Bert in the front cab of his milk float (see photo below-1960s U.D. milk float), there were no doors to the cab to allow easy hopping in and out as the milk float stopped frequently. Other milk floats had sliding cab doors to keep out the weather and cold! The controls were simple,  mainly floor pedals to move up to a speed not much faster than a brisk walking pace!  There was a break pedal and also the steering was done by a large triangular shaped tubular bar.  Other models at that time and later did have proper steering wheels!

The milk  bottles had silver foil peel off  tops with colours denoting  type of milk in the bottles with  gold top for  full cream milk, silver top was ordinary milk and red top was semi skimmed milk, there was pasteurised milk too. the glass  bottles came in pint or half pint volume  that were kept  in crates at the back of the float(see photo).  There was no refrigeration and the back of the float was open on all sides except for a roof.  The milk was generally cooled by air movement and as the milk was normally delivered early each morning before the sun was too high it kept quite fresh.  Milk deliveries could be early morning e.g between 5am to 11am on a Friday ( when weekly payment dues collected from the customers).

Bert would consult a register type note book he carried, which detailed how many pints or half pints the cusomer had requested  be delivered to them by house number etc.

Peter and I would lift  the milk bottles from the crates and deliver individually to each house etc. We also would collect the empty glass milk bottles which were returned by the customer for re-use by the dairy (early example of recycling too!)

Later to remain competitive  with ever growing supermarkets,  milkmen delivered more dairy and and a variety  foodstuffs such as eggs, yoghurt, butter, chicken , bread, potatoes, even some soft drinks like lemomade and fruit juices & squash.

After Peter and I completed our milk round with Bert, about two -three hours work, he would pay us each  one shilling and sixpence worth about  £3  in todays inflated money. You may think child explotation labour but that earned money went  quite a long way. For example  in the 1960s, a loaf of bread cost  the  equivalent of 5p (£1.50 basic 2013 price). We were able to go to the local corner shop and buy comics, sweets, fizzy drinks and ice cream mousse, sometimes fireworks if near  Fireworks Night on 5th November.  We rarely saved our hard earned cash 😉

We enjoyed those times helping Bert and when some milkmen would stop and chat and would go out of their way to help the more elderly customers with little things.

Sadly door step deliveries of milk have declined and many milk rounds have gone.  Small franchises still exist, a father and son delivery service operated in our area a few years ago.

Nowadays at around 6am every day,  I see a modern electric milk float with better battery power, mileage and equipped with refrigeration delivering milk to my good friends and neighbours, who are in their 70s.  They are both traditionalist regarding doorstep milk delivery, receiving their daily delivered two pints of milk in glass bottles not plastic!    I think this  delivey servicesome  is made to only a few houses in our area now,  but fortunately still seems viable, but for how long  remains to be seen?

Social changes and a combination of factors have probably contributed to the decline milk delivery.  Before the 1980s, many more women stayed at home and had opportunities to wait for the milk delivery and therefore ensure to refrigerate the milk as soon as it arrives.  The late 20th and  21st centuries saw economic pressures  and career aspiration necessitating  most couples to work, leaving home earlier in the morning for work and therefore not about to receive milk etc deliveries.  The rise of impersonal  supermarkets, 24/7 convenience  stores and customers being able to order foodstuffs on-line from supermarkets  for  delivery when they want further erode milk delivery.  The smaller traditional door step delivery services  have done well to survive until now. Some  may adapt using on-line ordering too, competing with the big boys…good luck to them!


1920s milk delivery hand cart with measuring jugs-for milk no pint bottles yet! (Ealing- West London)

1920s milk delivery hand cart with measuring jugs-for milk no pint bottles yet! (Ealing- West London)


hand milk cart

hand drawn milk cart

electric hand pulled milk float 1960s

electric hand pulled Express Dairies milk float 1950-60s


Horse drawn milk delivery

Horse drawn milk delivery





1960s  United Dairies milk float

1960s three wheeled battery powered  United Dairies milk float  (it was orange coloured and part fibre glass around the front cab area).   This was the model our milkman used and we rode in to help deliver milk bottles and collect empties to and from door steps!

1960s cop milk float

1960s Co-op local milk delivery float




modern milk float

modern milk float




Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Today the friendly & helpful supervisor was on duty again at Golders Green Underground train station. Felllow commuters and Tube travelllers look forward tot he quotes he writes on one of the   station information boards – more interesting than notice about  travel delays etc 🙂

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Golders Green Tube Thought for the day

Golders Green Tube Thought for the day

The London Tube (Undergound) 150th Anniversary on 9th Jan 2013

09/01/2014 – Today is the 151 years anniversary of the London Underground!

On 9th January 1863, The world’s first underground passenger train pulled out of  Industrial Revolution (West London) and made its maiden 3.5 mile (5.6km) journey to Faringdon, East Central London.

London’s subterranean train system is known as London Underground, Underground or the Tube (due to the tube-shaped deeper tunnels). Other countries refer to their underground train systems as Metros or subways.

London led the way with developing and running a viable city-wide underground train network, of course the first trains then were not electric but steam-powered.

England and Britain also led the world in steam engine technology, as witnessed in the Industrial Revolution, which dramatically changed the world of industry, transport  and manufacturing. The first Underground train line was built by the Metropolitan Railway Company. The line relieved  overground main line trains and road traffic congestion  between Euston, King Cross and  Paddington.

The first underground railways in London, the Metropolitan Railway (MR) and the Metropolitan District Railway (MDR), used purpose-built steam locomotives to haul their trains through shallow tunnels which had many ventilation openings to allow steam and smoke to clear from the tunnels. It was impossible to use steam locomotives in the small un-vented tubular tunnels of the deep-level lines an alternative to steam had to be found.

Electric locomotives were first used on the London Underground after the world’s  first deep-level tube line, the City and South London Railway (C&SLR), was opened in 1890. The trains began running between Stockwell (Northern Line today) and King William Street.

Londoners found it a novelty to travel underground and long queues formed at the stations with 25,000 passengers using the system in the first six months. Today the Underground   carries approx 3.5 million passengers on weekdays between 270 stations and 250 miles of track of which 45% is underground. In 2012 over 1 billion passengers used the Tube.

During World War 2 1939-1945, some of the deeper tunnels and stations were used as air raid shelters by thousands of Londoners, some were kitted with bunk beds.

WW2 Air raid shelter at Aldwych tube station

WW2 Air raid shelter at Aldwych Underground train station, London

Driving a Tube Train

1967 tube driving controls

1967 tube driving controls

The driving controls of a tube train have grown in sophistication over the years. The most well known control is the so called  ‘dead mans handle’ a safety switch/pedal on a piece of machinery, such as a train, that allows operation only while depressed by the operator so if the driver is incapacitated, the train wil automatically stop.

Tube Driver Robyn and controls 2013

Tube Driver Robyn and her more modern driving controls 2013

From about 1987 the new Docklands Light Railway (DLR) has driverless trains controlled by computers. A Passenger Service Agant (PSA) AKA a Train Captain patrols the moving train, checking tickets/fares and can take manual control of the train if there are problems. Plans are being put forward to extend driverless trains throughout the London Underground. with fierce opposition from the militant transport  unions. Technical and safety issues of adopting such trains on the much more complex and heavily used main underground networks, means that this is some time away.

Driverless Tube trains DLR

Driverless Tube trains on the DLR

Train Guards

Up to 1984, the tube trains had a guard located in the end carriage. The guard ensured that passengers got &  off the train safely and judged when to close,  operated the electric sliding doors, lights to each carriage and informed/signalled the driver when to depart a station when all passengers were on board after closing the doors. Seeing this as a cost saving exercise by Tube companies which could compromise passenger safety, the union dominated tube staff managed to delay removal of guards from 1973. Tube train drivers benefitted with a large increase in salary as they operated the doors etc. It has to be said that having a guard on a  tube train did offer reassurance to passengers, particularly those travelling late at night.

The guard's station on the last carriage of the train, note the worn operating buttons!

The guard’s station on the last carriage of the train, note the worn operating buttons!  Located on the top left hand corner of the operating panel  is a speaking tube connected to the tube train driver. The botton left below the panel is a pull down (green) seat for the guard.

The London Tube  is the world’s second largest metro system in the  in terms of route miles, after the Shanghai Metro.

In high summer, the tube trains can get very hot almost unbearable during rush crush hour!

Air conditioned trains are now being introduced on some lines.

It is more problematical to get air conditioning on deeper tunnel lines  like the Northern Line, but engineers are looking at this.

Over recent years, major engineering work on upgrading very old tracks  signalling, trains and stations has been underway.

Since the early 1960s, as a child, I have used the Tube going on outings with my parents.  So far, for the past fifty years, I’ve continued to use the Tube every day to commute to work and for travelling generally in London, I remember the inside of the carriages(cars) having wood effect panelling and domestic type light bulbs, which would go out for a few minutes as we entered the tunnel, plunging the car into utter darkness 🙁 Nowadays the lighting is more stable!

Tube Train station circa 1960s

Piccadilly Circus Tube Train station circa 1960s

Interior of Tube train carriage circa 1938

Interior of Tube train carriage circa 1938

Circa 1960s interior of a Tube train carriage (car)

Circa 1960s interior of a Tube train carriage (car)

Tube  train carriage Interior 2013, some trains have air conditioning(Photo by Peter)

2013 Tube train carriage Interior, some trains have air con.(Photo by Peter)


Around 19 000 people work at the London Underground and after the Tube stations close in the early hours , an army of engineers, maintenance workers  and cleaners descend the depths to work overnight to make the system ready for commuters and travellers by 5-6am every day.

I  like the underground and the stations, there is a buzz and vibrancy, generally friendly and helpful staff. I can feel the history of using the world’s oldest underground train system, some of the stations have unique atmospheres even their own ghosts!  Many movies and TV shows such as BBC’s ‘Dr Who’,  have used the Underground.  The latest James Bond Movie ‘SKYFAL’L features an exciting action sequence on the Tube!  Dedicated moves have been made on the Tube,  horror movies ‘Death Line’ and’ Creep’!

Horror movie made on the Tube 'Creep', what happen to fare dodgers :)

Horror movie made on the Tube ‘Creep’, see what happens to fare dodgers !

The Tube fares are among the highest in Europe however some discount can be obtained using the innovative prepaid ‘ Oyster’ cards.

Another recent innovation is the ability to use bank debit cards on Oyster fare machines to save queueing and paying at ticket offices.

Prepaid fare Oyster card denoting 150 years of the Tube (Photo by Peter

Prepaid fare Oyster card denoting 150 years of the Tube (Photo by Peter)

On Sunday 13th January, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, dignitaries &  international VIPs will travel  in coaches pulled by an 1898-built steam engine, known as Met Locomotive No 1. to recreate that first historic underground journey.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the travellers TUBE!


Sketch made in 1863 of the world’s first city underground train system at Baker Street


Steam trains on the early London Underground in the 1860s

Steam locomotive no 1 used on the early London Underground before electric trains

First electric tube  train circa 1890

1923 Electric Locomotive no. 12 “Sarah Siddons”

Electric and steam Tube trains together

One of the latest model London Tube trains with air conditioning

Flag flying from the top of the London Transport HQ in London(photo by Peter)

Flag denoting 150 years flying from the top of the London Underground HQ in St James’s Park, London(photo by Peter iPhone from work office opposite!)





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