Also, if you do visit Torness and you have an interest in science (which seems likely) then you might want to visit the nearby Hutton's Unconformity at Siccar Point - this is one of the places where 18th century geologist James Hutton first found evidence of the tremendous age of the Earth, as his travelling companion John Playfair put it:
"The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far back into the abyss of time"
This was a "psst, wanna come visit where I work?" tour from one of the guys who built and ran the plant.
Either pre-9/11 or very shortly post-9/11 -- with the rise of the post-9/11 security state there's no way such a tour would happen today. Indeed, the friend in question said some time later that he didn't have that kind of access-all-areas pass any more.
Might be worth booking an appointment to see what the British government's internet slurp has on one. At least one would know if they thought one were dangerous or not. And if one finds out one is not a terrorist after all, one can celebrate by having a rather cool day out.
Previous discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2140900
Seems like quite the evergreen.
Edit: and archive.org has an even earlier snapshot from December 26, 2002, under a different URL.
We have a fantastic example of that near Edinburgh:
One interesting thing if you like Science Fiction is that Iain (M) Banks grew up in North Queensferry, which is right under the north end of the Forth Bridge - which completely dominates the wee town. I remember hearing in an interview that Iain claimed that his fascination with megastructures (e.g. Culture GSVs and Orbitals) probably came from growing up in an environment dominated by a Victorian megastructure.
He even set one of his novels on a fictionalized mega-sized version of the Forth Bridge:
It just feels like these structures were built to last a lifetime and then some. Most of the stuff being built nowadays appears as though it already has a due date of "the not to distant future" to be torn down and replaced.
At least here in the US, the architecture just feels like everything else around me - it's disposable.
If you look at the last 400 years of bridge design you can see the transition from overbuilt compression structures to gossamer suspension bridges. This is a good thing, but it's easy to mistake old, overbuilt structures as being more "robust" when what they really are is an inefficient design meant to avoid failures due to a weak understanding of how the materials and structure will perform under use.
But you cannot ever convince me that our steel suspension bridges are going to last for centuries like our stone bridges from the 15th century and onwards.
By the 1940s, a stone bridge that might take 100 man-years of labor to create could be replaced by a bailey bridge that goes into place overnight. I'm sure if we wanted to create a bridge that lasts 300 years, we could dedicate more resources to it, but it would be grossly wasteful to do so - you don't know how long the current requirements are going to even be relevant. It's better to build a bridge that lasts for 50-60 years, and have the option value of replacing it with a better structure down the road.
And then we get to where we are now a lot faster. . .
"Over 90,000 miles of roads and 71,000 bridges are in dangerous disrepair, according to a 2010 U.S. PIRG study."
That said, I still find modern day mega engineering projects similarly impressive. The Large Hadron Collider and the current construction of the ITER in France come to mind....
 Say what you like about Thatcher, at least she had a halfway coherent energy story.
Let's see - within a few miles of Edinburgh we have being built:
- 65000 ton aircraft carriers
- A new 2700m road bridge over the Firth of Forth
- Eurofighter work
- A new railway being open to the Borders (OK - reopening an old line)
OK, I won't mention our trams, but there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of "engineering" going on in the immediate vicinity.
Maybe Edinburgh is unusual in having such a burst of engineering activity in our vicinity?
NB Even the crane built to build the aircraft carriers is an impressive bit of engineering:
I rather like the fact that the huge crane has another crane on top of it - which looks tiny but is probably quite large!
Edinburg sounds a lot like Hampton Roads, VA, where we build lots of defense stuff, including the 100k ton Gerald Ford class nuclear carriers, with the largest gantry crane in the western hemisphere - fun fact, they hoist the island of the carrier onto the flight deck. Amazing engineering work going on there!
...is that really true? The UK is currently home to Europe's largest civil engineering project (Crossrail), my hometown produces Trent jet engines and designs wings for all Airbus aircraft. And there's the cars that are both manufactured (BMW, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc) and designed (Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover, McLaren...) here.
The engineering we do has changed, and maybe there is less of it than there was forty years ago, but it's a bit hyperbolic to say we simply "don't do" actual engineering.
On an unrelated note, some of the social issues we complain about these days seem to be a direct consequence of the off-shoring of manual labour.
"A 2009 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, citing data from the UK Office for National Statistics, stated that manufacturing output (gross value added at 2007 prices) has increased in 35 of the 50 years between 1958 and 2007, and output in 2007 was at record levels, approximately double that in 1958."
Our problem is that we got too good at manufacturing!
What do you mean by "actual engineering"?
- the UK makes and develops satellites
- designs, develops and produces a huge number of jet engines - is home to nearly all the Formula 1 teams
- the Nissan car plant in Sunderland produced 500,000 cars last year which is a huge engineering challenge and is now the home to the main production of the LEAF electric car
- Teeside is still the home of chemical processing
- companies like Alert Me are leading the charge in smart energy consumption
- last time I checked Arm were stil based in Sheffield and Cambridge and scaring the pants off Intel
- last, but not least, BAE systems is in the midst of producing some of the best and most advance submarines in the world and commissioning nuclear reactors in the process.
I do however agree with your first point - although there are a lot of wind farms around now which is nice to see
His dig about a Frech company was just a fashionable quip that is doing the rounds right now - yes they are better at some things than us but likewise we sell them planes etc so each nation plays to it's strengths
In terms of pure engineering I agree it doesn't matter who owns the company; in terms of whether engineering is having its full impact on Britain (other than by providing jobs) I'd say it does - if profits get moved to other countries and taxes paid elsewhere, we're losing out and I'd like to see more UK owned companies for that reason.
Citation needed. They are Coca Cola manufacturing plants all around the world. From Bolivia to India and from Germany to Albania, and they don't have any interesting manufacturing/engineering problems.
Nothing that wasn't already solved in the US HQs anyway.
My citation is a friends Dad who was a lead engineer on CocaCola's line. Your citation the Bolivia etc not having interesting problems would be?
Sure, but you wrote that (the UK one) "has some very interesting manufacturing/engineering problems". What you describe is perfectly normal engineering problems, that kind that any kind of factory has.
Nothing out of the ordinary, or anything that points to any special UK engineering in the UK CocaCola factories (which was what you provided it as an example of).
>My citation is a friends Dad who was a lead engineer on CocaCola's line. Your citation the Bolivia etc not having interesting problems would be?
Having visited two of them and seen the production process. Pretty much standard stuff all around. Back in the day (it's now closed) we had one even in my hometown in Europe (in a place of around 120K people).
I think our definition of interesting is different as I find nearly anything in manufacturing interesting, standard or not, and making them better/faster is always a problem to me - I recently toured one of our suppliers who supplies our extruded parts and I was fascinated about how they use their machines, not one of which was less than 25 years old, to make useful shapes and multi material extrusions - on the surface everything was standard and run of the mill but below the surface it was much more interesting.
(Speaking of plant inspections, the job of inspector is one of those high-stress but über-high pay seasonal jobs you never hear about. $200k+ for 6mo/yr of work, but it's ~2000hrs of work compressed into that period.)
Anyhoo, growing up I was privileged to tour a number of different power plants in the US, and -- besides the scale of things Charlie notes in the blog post -- the thing that struck me most was that even though the designs were often very similar (all PWRs of some sort), the implementations were very different. Even though reactor design may be identical between plants, all the peripheral support infrastructure and all the wiring & plumbing is unique to each plant, and keeping track of everything is hugely complex.
As an aside, and the bring relevance to HN, because of the complexity of nuclear power plants -- particularly the plumbing and backup systems -- there is a huge market for simulation services (which is something Areva pretty much owns globally at this point), which consists of both electrical/mechanical engineering and software work. They literally build a control room for a specific power plant, identical to the actual control room but with software simulating all the inputs/outputs and allowing them to run all sorts of scenarios (and to train new operators). My dad had a few job openings for software engineers who had some nuke background, and positions requiring only a few years experience were paying $100-120k base, and this is in small city Virginia (Lynchburg) where you can buy a decent house for $150k.
You missed discussing the why, which was north sea natgas. Why, we'll have natgas so cheap we won't meter it, and we'll grow rich exporting it. So why not replace every electric plant with a natgas turbine?
Wot you say its 2005 and the fields have declined so much that we're now net importers and the lights are going to go out pretty soon? In fact we need to import more than we can physically be supplied with given current infrastructure?
Whoops! Its a pity really, we may be witnessing the first "first world" country to have its electrical grid shut down in a couple years. Brownouts in summer suck, but brownouts in winter can be lethal. Its not going to be pretty.
Other highlights for me not mentioned in this article: a great video showing a high speed diesel train (not just the locomotive) crashing into a waste transport container; climbing around a whole fleet of tiny decontamination trucks with radiological protection gear for the drivers and manipulator arms for picking up material; and getting hands-on with the security system (not part of the tour; my dad made a friend) and broadcasting over the plant tannoy. No chance of any of that stuff happening for my kids, sadly.
I was happy to read this even if it is a repeat. A great write up that took me back.
It's one of the leading sites for new-build nuclear in the UK, and if Hinkley Point C does happen, it'll be a PWR. Right now, the only operating civil PWR (naval reactors are a rather different matter) in the UK is at Sizewell.
I also had the Hinkley Point tour as a child and remember it fondly.
Do you remember whether you toured A or B? I am pretty sure we only looked around one.
Wow, I don't know where to begin with this one. Either the engineers have completely lost all knowledge about how their controllers operate, or nobody has the right mind to think about putting opaque labels on the EPROM chips or over the controller board itself?
This kind of stuff borders on urban legend / cargo cult engineering territory.
Belt and suspenders.
And the conclusion?
"They also confirmed that the light from the Canon flash and the Polaroid flashbulb could be effectively blocked by "black bagging" the flash, or by blocking the EPROM window with "tin foil" held in place by clear cellulose tape, or by blocking the EPROM window with "standard electrical tape."
> This paper's findings suggest that an arbitrary Chinese policy that greatly increases total suspended particulates (TSPs) air pollution is causing the 500 million residents of Northern China to lose more than 2.5 billion life years of life expectancy. The quasi-experimental empirical approach is based on China’s Huai River policy, which provided free winter heating via the provision of coal for boilers in cities north of the Huai River but denied heat to the south. Using a regression discontinuity design based on distance from the Huai River, we find that ambient concentrations of TSPs are about 184 μg/m3 [95% confidence interval (CI): 61, 307] or 55% higher in the north. Further, the results indicate that life expectancies are about 5.5 y (95% CI: 0.8, 10.2) lower in the north...
To me one of the coolest things was the complexity of the (pre computerization) monitoring/control room and systems.
Yeah, because we should never, ever be subjected to the same content twice. After all, this is Hacker News, not Hacker Olds, amirite?
(Sorry for the snark. I have been reading Hacker News for several years, and I don't recollect having read this article before. I enjoyed it, I upvoted it, and I'm glad it was reposted.)
In any event, there's no way to block resubmissions programatically: the site owner could just change the name of the file.
No need to change anything on the webpage.
page content hash
What if you resubmit a blog post that's picked up 150 more comments since it was last posted? How would HN tell the comments apart from the article text?
What if someone submits a blog post that heavily quotes another article that's been submitted, in the process of rebutting it, and ends up being a 80% match?
Most resubmissions are submitted by people other than their authors, who are typically not in a position to change any bytes of the content.
In the present case, speaking as the last person to submit this one (more than two years ago), I don't see that there's any harm in it at all. If this is still interesting two years since it was last discussed on HN -- which clearly it is -- then good for the submitter, who has provided the HN audience with something interesting to read.
[NB I carefully avoided making any reference to The Wasp Factory]
Possibly just metal oxides or dimethylsulphide, as ozone is odourless.
Since hydrogen is so light it makes for less aerodynamic drag on the moving parts.