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310655.  Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:33 am Reply with quote

That rather scuppers the question, then.

310665.  Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:45 am Reply with quote


<goes and sits in the naughty corner>

312605.  Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:55 am Reply with quote

Flash mentioned something in the meeting about how space shuttles don't use the word "FIVE" when counting down, because it sounds too much like "FIRE".

Well, here's a note:

An economy drive requiring trainee Royal Navy gunners to shout "bang" instead of firing live shells has been condemned.

(from 2000)

312959.  Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:47 pm Reply with quote

My Naval correspondent says this:
The issue regarding the executive order to launch weapons varies slightly with weapons systems and changes from time to time.

In submarines the command 'Fire' is used for both torpedoes and missiles. (Fire Number 1 tube)

In surface ships the main 4.5 inch Gun on the fo'c'sle is fired using the command '45 Engage'.

The executive order to fire missiles is less crisp. For example, the dialogue in HMS NOTTINGHAM's Ops room when the Commanding Officer (CO) wishes to launch a Sea Dart missile at an aircraft would be:

CO to Air Warfare Officer (AWO) – AWO, Take track 1234. (he may say ‘with NOTT BIRDs as BIRD is the brevity code for Surface to Air Missile)

AWO to Sea Dart Director (SDD) – Director Take track 1234

Once Seadart has got the firing solution the missiles will launch and the SDD will report:


'Shoot' is never used.

The issue in the surface world is that reporting a conflagration (someone finding a fire will shout 'Fire, Fire, Fire, - Fire in the Galley') may be confused with the order to launch weapons during the heat of a battle. There is no issue with the number five.

Frederick The Monk
313010.  Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:45 am Reply with quote

If we're doing that things are made of perhaps we should do 'what are trees made of', which I think I posted last year, wait a minute, yes, here it is, post 157086 but I don't think we used.

Q: What do trees make wood from?

Forefeit: Water, nutrients from the soil, soil.

A. The answer is that whilst there's obviously some water from the ground and some nutrients from the soil, by far the majority of a tree's mass comes from the air via photosynthesis in which carbon dioxide is broken down to form oxygen and a bit of water to release the carbon from which the tree is largely made.

Q - What are trees made from?

A - air.

313866.  Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:26 am Reply with quote

On the general subject of fire ...

<<MYTHCONCEPTIONS: Petrol and cigarettes by Mat Coward

THE MYTH: If you chuck a lit fag end into a pool of petrol - as we all know from countless filmic explosions - it goes boom.

THE "TRUTH": Researchers at the Maryland laboratory of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms set out to test a common arsonists’ excuse: that the fire they’re accused of setting deliberately actually started accidentally when a burning cigarette came into contact with gasoline. Two thousand attempts to set fire to exposed petrol - which included spraying the stuff onto a burning snout - failed to produce a single flame. They tried different brands of ciggy and of petrol, they used a vacuum device to imitate a smoker drawing on a butt, they tried petrol both spread out and concentrated. Nothing. They’re not sure why, given that petrol ignites at 246C and cigarettes burn at 700C, but suggest it's because the fuel has limited contact with the hottest part of the fag. Other experimenters have had similar results, trying variations of air temperature and humidity. Forty cigarettes at once were thrown into a pan of petrol: it did not catch fire. All researchers reported that a match will set fire to spilt petrol, but a tossed cigarette just won’t.

SOURCES: _The Scotsman_, 28 Feb 07;,,329728298-3156,00.html;

DISCLAIMER: I haven't tested this one, I don’t intend to, and I suggest you don’t either. Experimenters stress that there are, obviously, circumstances in which a cigarette can start a petrol fire - but it can’t happen, they say, the way it’s shown in films. The experimental data seem clear - the theory less so. Your burning rebuttals and explosive explanations are awaited on the letters page.


314013.  Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:04 am Reply with quote

That would do for one of our filmic myths, for sure.

From student days I recall a legal case which was a precedent for some principle or other, which arose when the film of oil on the surface of the water in a dock in Australia caught fire and caused a tremendous amount of damage. It was common ground between the parties that the accident could not have been foreseen because the best scientific view at the time was that such a fire was impossible - oil on the surface of water just wouldn't burn.

317375.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:22 am Reply with quote

I want to say that "if it exists" Starlite (see here) is the most heat resistant material known to man.

Does anyone know of any other ultra-heat resistant materials which would make the question bogus? As far as I can see, Starlite's lowest claim of 2,700 degrees C far outstrips any asbestos fabrics.

Molly Cule
318394.  Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:54 am Reply with quote

Do we have any footage of smoke signals? In the question basket conflatus we have the question - 'What does this mean?" (smoke signal footage... can i go with that or was that wishful thinking.. ?

318583.  Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:55 am Reply with quote

Wishful thinking so far. Call Helen and see whether she has anything on the go.

Molly Cule
319109.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:12 am Reply with quote

okie dokey.

322855.  Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:09 am Reply with quote

As per e-mail, Helen does now have a smoke signal clip.

On the other hand there's been a ballistically-caused vulpicide on the subject of not using "five" in a countdown in case it sounds like "fire". This from the National Space Centre:
Dear Mark,

No, the number 5 is not skipped for this reason. During the countdown sequence for NASA’s Space Shuttle, ‘Main Engine Start’ is announced at T -6.6 seconds. By the time this has been said, the count typically resumes at around T -3 seconds.

Interestingly, the ‘Ignition Sequence Start’ announcement for the Apollo launches occurred earlier at around T -8 seconds. So, you can actually hear the number 5 in most of the Apollo countdowns.

Hope this is helpful.

Best regards,

Kevin Yates (FRAS)
Space Communications Manger
National Space Centre
Exploration Drive
Leicester LE4 5NS

322862.  Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:13 am Reply with quote

So it is transformed into a mythconception?

BBC7 use that countdown (as described in the email, or something very like) as their ident for their SF slot.

322898.  Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:52 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
there's been a ballistically-caused vulpicide

This is now my favourite phrase du jour.

323332.  Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:00 pm Reply with quote

I've been meaning to ask about this, ever since somebody put up a rather jolly little fox/firearms picture when something else turned out not to be true. Is there some extremely well known phrase about shooting foxes that an expensive education has mysteriously failed to aquaint me with?


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