2017 Blog Stats

This year, you – dear 6000 miles… reader – have been served a total of 420 posts (an average of 1.15 per day) comprising of an incredible 95,957  words (an average of 228.5 per post) from 4 different countries (an average of 1 every three months, dur!) on this site.
I know – the countries bit seems a bit lame with amongst all those other big numbers – but they were actually often the most exciting bits.

November was (for some reason) my most prolific: 11,337 words in 40 posts. (Only one country though.)
What was I thinking?
Mainly stuff about nurdles, apparently.

Join me then next year, when there will be plenty more letters arranged into generally correct and meaningful order.

Have a safe and enjoyable New Year.

6000 out.

2017’s 100 “Top Tweets”

There’s still over a month of 2017 to go, but Buzzfeed has already gone for something of a Top 100 with their:

100 Tweets That Made British People Piss Themselves In 2017

list, boldly proclaiming that:

These tweets were the only good things to happen this year

I am not a fan of these sort of listicles, but I was irritated to find myself actually enjoying some (or more) of these. And in the vast majority of cases, you don’t have to be a British People to find them funny.

Stuff like (best done in Stephen Fry voice):


Plenty of fun for all the family. Go and have a look.
(And note that you’ve still got the whole of December to get yourself a place on the list!)


There was a total solar eclipse yesterday. These things happen on a fairly regular basis, but this one was important because it was visible from the USA, so we all had to take a whole lot more notice of it than we did of the one in Indonesia last year, or the one in the Faroe Islands in 2015.

But for the rest of the world, the day (or night) went on as normal. So, I’ve collected together the best bits of eclipse ephemera so that you don’t feel that you have missed out.

Most exaggerated emotional response (written):

I was lucky enough to experience a total solar eclipse in the Britain in 1999. It’s a weird experience, sure, but it’s brief and it’s not something that I really dwelled upon after the event. So I think this description by Dr Francisco Diego of University College London is a bit lah-di-dah:

It steals your soul and it happens in complete silence.

Apart from whooping Americans. Lots of them.

Best photo

This much-shared image from NASA, featuring eclipse, sunspots and the ISS in transit.

Worst photo

Lots of competition for this one, but this cellphone pic from Trisha O’Farrell in Oregon is really appalling.
I’m not being rude; I’m being honest. I mean, she must know, right?

Most interesting phenomenon

We all knew what was going to happen. It was going to go dark for a couple of minutes and then it was going to get light again, so we’re actually after secondary phenomena here. This image of traffic congestion from Google Maps, perfectly matching the path of totality across the Southern US states, hits the spot:


Least interesting phenomenon:

Unaffected goats.


Best live reaction from a broom cupboard somewhere in a South American embassy in London:

Which is almost the same as this (satirical) article from last week. But real.

Next total solar eclipse

July 2nd, 2019 19:24:08 – visible across central Chile and Argentina.

Next total solar eclipses visible from South Africa

November 25th, 2030 06:51:37
August 2nd, 2046 10:21:13
July 24, 2055 09:57:50

See you there.


A nasty wallop

Ah, remember back in 2011 when the Chinese Tiangong-1 space station was launched from the Gobi Desert, setting off on its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone bef… Look, they launched a big space station.

Why is this relevant to you or I? Well, now it seems that they have lost control of said space station and it’s going to plunge back to earth “sometime in 2017”. And if that seems vague, then understand this:

Not knowing when it’s going to come down translates as not knowing where it’s going to come down.

Those would be the words of Jonathan McDowell, renowned Harvard astrophysicist and space industry enthusiast. He continues:

You really can’t steer these things. Even a couple of days before it re-enters we probably won’t know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it’s going to come down. A slight change in atmospheric conditions could nudge the landing site from one continent to the next.

But thankfully, between us and the stricken satellite is the atmosphere: all round lekker ding and protective blanket around our flimsy planet with its fragile residents. And we all know that things entering or re-entering the earth’s atmosphere generally burn up harmlessly.

Generally. Some bits might get through though.

Little bits. Like the super dense rocket motors:

There will be lumps of about 100kg or so, still enough to give you a nasty wallop if it hit you.


Yes there’s a chance it will do damage, it might take out someone’s car, there will be a rain of a few pieces of metal, it might go through someone’s roof…

A 100kg chunk of super dense metal, falling from 450km up “might go through someone’s roof”? I’d suggest that Jonathan McDowell has been astrophysicating so long that he’s forgotten about the 9.81 m/s² force of gravity pulling things (like 100kg chunks of super dense metal) mainly downwards towards us.

Of course, you’d have to be pretty unlucky to be hit by any of this debris, but – without wanting to cause any sort of panic – I’d think that “a nasty wallop” might be a slight understatement as to the effect it might have if it was to land on you.

Hang on. What’s that strange noise? Part shriek, part holler…

Oh – it’s Wu Ping – Chinese space official, who tells us:

Tiangong-1 is currently intact and  authorities will continue to monitor it and strengthen early warning for possible collision with objects.
If necessary, China will release a forecast of its falling and report it internationally.

How very generous of them.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this story over the next 3 to 15 months (seriously – no-one has a single clue when this thing is going to crash), and keep you informed of what we learn and the location of the best caves in the expected landing area.