The Anonymous Widower

The Diamond Light Source And COVID-19

Deep in the Oxfordshire countryside on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, there is this large building.

It is around twenty-eight metres across and is houses the Diamond Light Source.

When you are in a war, military commanders call up their largest and most powerful weapons, when they are up against it.

Think about Barnes Wallis‘s weapons of the Second World War; the bouncing bomb and the ten-tonne Grand Slam bomb.

The Diamond Light Source is described on its web site like this.

Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

Another section on their web site details the cost.

Diamond’s construction was funded by its two shareholders, the UK Government through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which has contributed 86% of the investment, and the Wellcome Trust charity, which has a 14% stake in the facility.

Diamond’s construction is taking place in phases. Phase I cost £263 million and included the synchrotron machine itself, the surrounding buildings and the first seven experimental stations or beamlines. This phase was completed on time, on budget and to specifications in January 2007. Phase II funding of £120 million for a further 15 beamlines and a detector development programme was confirmed in October 2004 and completed in 2012. Diamond can potentially host up to 40 beamlines so there will be continual construction within the main building.

In the first year of operations (2007/8) Diamond’s operational costs were £23 million, in 2012/13, with 22 beamlines the operational costs were £40 million. As we enhance the facility by adding new beamlines the operational costs will increase. However, the more beamlines we have, the more cost effective we become, as the cost of running the machine is shared by a growing number of experimental stations.

It looks like capital costs were nearly £400 million, with yearly running costs of £40 million.

Earlier in the week, The Times detailed the work that Diamond was doing with British scientists and Chinese samples from Wuhan to find out the structure of the the COVID-19. The article said this.

A beam of light in an Oxfordshire laboratory that is ten billion times brighter than the Sun has been illuminating an object ten billion times smaller than a pinhead (Tom Whipple writes). In the shadows it produces may lie clues to defeating coronavirus.

The Diamond Light Source at the Harwell campus near Didcot is one of the most sophisticated microscopes in the world. Gwyndaf Evans, the principal beamline scientist, said that over the past three weeks there had been one goal — looking for ways to thwart coronavirus.

And I thought, Gwndaf Evans was a successful Welsh rally-car driver.

The Diamond Light Source web sire has a page for the Public on its research into coronavirus.

Read this page and certainly the last section, which is entitled What Is The Scientific World Concentrating On With The Current Outbreak of COVID-19?, where this is said.

The COVID-19 outbreak is at a critical stage, the WHO suggests that China, through tough and effective containment has bought other countries more time. This is the third bat-derived coronavirus to cause outbreaks of human disease in less than 20 years, and the most serious. 

The response to COVID-19 has been remarkable: first reports of an unknown pneumonia were on 31st December 2019 and by 11th January, six virus sequences were made available. Structural biologists moved extraordinarily quickly, getting synthetic genes made immediately, rushing to pick them up the day they were finished, and in less than a month, on 5th Feb the first structure, of the main protease was released by the PDB, from Zihe Rao and Haitao Yang’s team at ShanghaiTech. By then these coordinates had already been distributed by the team to 300 groups. In addition by this point, the protein had been used for in vitro assays and a collection of licenced drugs with potential antiviral activity had been identified and made available publicly.

Indeed by now, 35 clinical trials have been started, with the first just closed, so the first results should start to emerge quickly. However, these are re-purposed compounds, the route to tailor-made molecules will be longer but scientists across the world are working to find these.

I am heartened by what I have read today and feel that we are making progress towards at least winning a battle against COVID-19.

COVID-19 Only Research Other User Operations Suspended

This is the headline on one of the latest news pages on the Diamond Light Source web site, where this is said.

Given the rapid spread of COVID-19 Diamond Light Source wishes to minimise travel and the number of people on site, and we have in the first instance taken the decision to suspend user operations from our facilities until 28th April. A further extension of that period might become necessary, and we will keep users informed during the coming weeks.

However, it is still possible to run sessions remotely but only with samples connected with work associated with combating COVID-19 either through an already approved BAG or through the rapid access application.

Is Diamond concentrating all its immense muscle on COVID-19?

Conclusion

It looks like to get results you need teams of brilliant collaborating scientists and lots of money.

And all backed up by sophisticated tools, like the Diamond Light Source!

Is the world planning a bigger one?

Surely, as each of these viruses seems to get more deadly and more difficult to combat we will need it.

 

March 22, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , | 3 Comments

Cambridge South Station To Be Developed

To me, this was one of the highlights of the 2020 Budget today.

As I lived near Cambridge for over a dozen years and regularly played real tennis at the University, I know the scientific heartbeat of the City better than most.

I have discussed the problems of running a business in the City, with many, who are associated with some of the City’s most successful businesses. I have also funded several ventures in the area.

The same basic problems keep arising.

  • Lack of premises, offices and workshops, of all sizes and qualities.
  • Lack of staff to work in the ventures.
  • Lack of suitable housing, where staff moving to the City can live.
  • Staff are being forced to live further out and the roads, railways and other pubic transport systems don’t have the capacity.
  • Inadequate connections to Stansted Airport.

In the last few years, the transport has improved.

  • A sophisticated and award-winning Park-and-Ride running to five large car parks ringing the City has been developed.
  • The Park-and-Ride also caters for cyclists.
  • Cambridge North station has been opened close to the Cambridge Science Park and the A14 Cambridge Northern By-Pass, with a 450-space car-park and space for a thousand bikes.
  • The Cambridge Guided Busway has been developed across the City from Huntingdon station to Trumpington via Cambridge Science Park, Cambridge North station, Cambridge City Centre, Cambridge bus station, Cambridge station and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
  • Addwnbrooke’s Hospital is a Major Trauma Centre.
  • The forecourts of Cambridge and Cambridge North stations have been developed to create good interchanges and meeting points.
  • Great Northern now has two fast and two stopping trains per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Cambridge and/or Cambridge North stations, with trains continuing alternatively half-hourly to Ely or Kings Lynn.
  • Thameslink has two tph between Brighton and Cambridge.
  • Thameslink also has two tph between Cambridge and London Kings Cross, which will be extended to Maidstone East station, within a couple of years.
  • Greater Anglia run an hourly service between Norwich and Stansted Airport via Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • Greater Anglia run two tph between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North stations.
  • Greater Anglia run an hourly service between Ipswich and Cambridge via Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket stations.
  • All Greater Anglia trains are being replaced with new and much larger Class 755 or Class 720 trains.
  • CrossCountry run an hourly service between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport via Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • The A14 and A428 roads are being improved between Cambridge and the A1.
  • The East West Railway between Reading and Cambridge via Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford is being developed and should open before the end of the decade.

But Cambridge still needs better links to the surrounding countryside and further.

  • Connections to Peterborough could be doubled to hourly.
  • Cnnections to Haverhill and Wisbech are poor.
  • East West Railway have ideas about improving connections to both East and West of Cambridge.
  • Better connections are needed at Addenbrooke’s to connect the rail system to the hospital and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Cambridge South station would be the icing on the cake.

  • It could be the Southern terminus of a Wisbech service.
  • It could be on a service of at least four tph between Ely and Cambridge South stations via Waterbeach, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • It would bring Addenbrooke’s and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus within easy commuting of London.
  • It would be well-connected to Bedford, London, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Reading, Stansted Airport and Stevenage.
  • There have also been rumours, that the station could be connected to the Cambridge Autonomous Metro, which would be developed from the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway and the Park-and-Ride.

Cambridge South station would be the hub, that ties all the various routes together,

The station could be a fairly simple station to build, by just building platforms and buildings alongside the existing electrified line.

This Google Map shows the hospital. and the West Anglia Main Line running North-South to the West of the hospital.

Note the West Anglia Main Line running North-South to the West of the hospital.

Station Design

This page on the Network Rail web site gives a basic design.

  • Four platforms with step-free access via a footbridge and lifts;
  • Platforms with seating and shelter for waiting passengers;
  • A ticket office and ticket machines, along with automatic ticket gates;
  • Taxi and passenger drop off facilities:
  • Facilities such as a retail/catering unit, a waiting room and toilets;
  • Blue badge parking; and
  • Cycle parking.

The page then gives various location options.

Services

These are my take on the initial services, based on the current ones and those proposed by the East West Railway.

  • 1 tph – CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport, via Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South and Audley End.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Norwich and Stansted Airport, via Wymondham, Attleborough, Thetford, Brandon, Lakenheath, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Whittlesford Parkway and Audley End.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Ipswich and Cambridge South via Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, A14 Parkway, Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • 2 tph – Greater Anglia – Cambridge North and London Liverpool Street via Cambridge, Cambridge South, Audley End, Bishops Stortford, Harlow, Broxbourne and Cheshunt.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Wisbech and Cambridge South via March, Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge.
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Cambridge and Brighton via Stevenage, London St. Pancras, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport.
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Cambridge and Maidstone East via Stevenage, London St. Pancras and Blackfriars
  • 2 tph – Great Northern – Ely/Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Stevenage.
  • 1 tph – East West Railway – Norwich and Reading or Oxford, via Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford and Milton Keynes.
  • 1 tph – East West Railway – Manningtree and Reading or Oxford, via Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, A14 Parkway, Newmarket, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford and Milton Keynes

Note.

  1. I have left out a few less important stations.
  2. I have extended the current Ipswich and Cambridge service to Cambridge South.
  3. I have added East West Rail’s proposed A14 Parkway station.
  4. I have added a Wisbech and Cambridge South service.

This simple service gives the following frequencies.

  • 6 tph – Ely and Cambridge North
  • 8 tph – Cambridge North and Cambridge
  • 10 tph – Cambridge and Cambridge South
  • 2 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Kings Lynn
  • 8 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and London
  • 2 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Ipswich.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Norwich.
  • 1 tph – Cambridge North/Cambridge/Cambridge South and Peterborough.
  • 6 tph – Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stevenage.

I feel strongly about the following.

  • If six tph is thought to be ideal between Cambridge/Cambridge South and Stevenage, then surely more services are needed between Cambridge and Ipswich, Kings Lynn, Norwich. Peterborough and Stansted Airport. Perhaps as many as four tph are needed to give a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The frequency through Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge should be as high as possible. With digital signalling ten tph must be possible.

At least Greater Anglia have plenty of Class 755 trains.

Conclusion

Rishi Sunak is right to build Cambridge South station.

You might even be able to argue, that the work done on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus could be key in fighting diseases like the coronavirus.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

One Line Spam E-Mails

I have seen a large increase in the number of one line spam e-mails over the last week or so.

Typically, the e-mail has the following characteristics.

  1. There is rarely a Subject
  2. The sender maybe someone you know and the e-mail address is not encoded.
  3. The e-mail is copied to lots of other people, who often are connected to the sender. I’ve just received one from Australia and it is copied to masses of people in the country.
  4. The body of the e-mail consists of a single complicated link. Don’t click this, as you’ll get infected with a virus or an advert for a drug you don’t need.

So what should you do if you get such an e-mail?

Ask Leo has the details here.  Read it.

He says that the sender’s e-mail account has been hacked, so contact them immediately and get them to run a virus check on their computer and change their password and account recovery questions.

I would also advise, that if they use HOTMAIL, GMAIL, YAHOO or any other free e-mail to move away from that account and get a new account.  I know it’s a pain, but they could use your account to send other things that you might not like, as they have your current ID and password.

Read Leo as I said and if you don’t believe me, believe him.

I have had five of these e-mails in the last couple of weeks; two from friends, a couple from Australia and another from who knows where.

The frequency seems to be increasing.

June 21, 2012 Posted by | Computing | , , , | Leave a comment

CyberCriminals Up The Stakes with New TDL-4 Botnet

According to this report on the BBC, an indestructable botnet called TDL-4 has been created. There’s another report on the BCS web site here.

If you read the BBC article, it would appear that the UK is quite infected, but that the botnet comes from porn and pirated film sites. So be sure what you look at!

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Computing | , | Leave a comment

Beware of Order.zip

I’ve got another of this nasty things this morning. This one was actually addressed to one of my main e-mails, so perhaps the spammers have modified them to make them more likely to get through. The structure of the e-mail always seems to be similar.

The title of those I have received is usually something like ORDER and a number.

All of the bodies are similar to this.

Dear customer.

Your order has been accepted. Your order reference is 94636.

Terms of delivery and the date can be found with the auto-generated msword file located at:

http://www.xxxxxxx.xxx/order2/Order.zip?to_client: zzz@zzzzzz.zzz

==
Best regards, Tel./Fax.: (168) 000 52 337.

Obviously the xxx’s and zzz’s obscure the danger. The zzz’s in one case were my e-mail address.

Note the phone number at the bottom, which doesn’t mean anything to me.

This form of the e-mail is the first I’ve seen.  It will change in the future, once the anti-virus companies get their systems updated to stop these e-mails.

The last e-mail I got used a domain registered in Germany.  The e-mail came from Russia.

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Computing, World | , , | Leave a comment

Another Scam Like The CFX Group

I have just received an almost identical e-mail to the one I received from the CFX Group.

Hello!

 

Your order has been accepted. Your order reference is 198668.

 Terms of delivery and the date can be found with the auto-generated msword file located at:

http:\creacioweb.net\xxxx.xxx

Best regards, Tel.: (734) 687 65 784

The e-mail I received was actually addressed to a legitimate company who supply milking machines. Note the xxx obscure the dangerous bit.

One characteristic of the e-mails is that they contain a link to a file called Order.zip.  This file probably contains some sort of virus.  There are more details here.

Interestingly, the web site http:\\www.creacioweb.net is registered in Spain.  The site containing the virus in the CFX Group case also was registered there!

May 10, 2011 Posted by | Computing | , , | 2 Comments

CFX Group

I’ve just had this e-mail from someone purporting to be the CFX Group.

Dear Customer

Your order has been accepted.

Order id: 879305.

Terms of delivery and the date can be found with the auto-generated msword file located at:

http:/www.noarconsulting.com/xxxx.xxx.xxx

Consult2 Group. Tel./Fax.: (831) 842 06 366

The link which I have replaced with safe xxx’s, pointed to a .zip file, which probably would have infected my computer with who-knows-what!

I have since heard from the owner of the URL and they have said this.

Our website was recently hacked by spammers to distribute malware.

You can safely ignore any email referring to an order placed with us.

 

We are sorry for the inconvenience caused.

So whatever you do, don’t click the link.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Computing | , , | 17 Comments

Something More Terminal

One of my computers suffered a terminal failure over the weekend, and I needed to take it to the menders yesterday. The symptoms were that it refused to even start, recycling round the login endlessly, but never getting near starting.

Before this a scan by Clamwin had shown that the computer was infected by the DroopTroop virus. There were several instances in a sub-directory where I had downloaded an old blog and Clamwin also flagged that winlogon.exe and Internet Explorer had been replaced by versions that had been modified by the trojan. The first explained why the computer wouldn’t start and the second, why Internet Explorer didn’t search properly and pointed me at a load of porn and shopping sites, I didn’t want.

The machine was completely unuseable.

So what caused it. Either the downloaded blog contained the data, so did someone find a way of commenting on the blog and adding the virus in that way?

But the machine had also been used by my late son to download all sorts of computer games from various sites. I would have thought that he would have been more sensible than to introduce a virus.

The computer has never been used for e-mail, so I doubt that route was possible.

On the other hand, the computer has been showing odd behaviour for months and I called the menders in to fix it. We thought that somehow McAffee was corrupted and this was causing the computer to stop. It looks like the virus was there then. I removed McAffee and replaced it with Clamwin. Another fault was that the computer wouldn’t run Windows Media Player. It just said it was an illegal win32 application.

This is a list of Drooptroop symptons from the PCThreat web site.

Modified browser homepage settings and search results
Hijacked Windows desktop wallpaper and strange desktop shortcuts and icons
Abnormal Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Drooptroop.cpt files in Windows task manager system processes, tower speaker error bleeping sound
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Drooptroop.cpt reactivates itself after been deleted manually, extremely difficult to get rid of
Legal registry keys, dlls and system files missing, causing “Blue Screen Of Death” error
Abnormal bandwidth use, slow Internet browser and Windows system
Pop-up blocker unable to block annoying porn and gambling related bulk pop-ups

What Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Drooptroop.cpt will do when embedded within a computer is as follows:

Records browsing habits, monitors Windows system activity to generates equivalent pop-ups
Bypasses security tools and forwards credit card, usernames, passwords and other private information to outside hackers
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Drooptroop.cpt downloads and installs diverse malicious programs via Windows and browser security loopholes

Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Drooptroop.cpt has also been seen to display the following behavior:

Adds a Registry Key (RUN) to auto start Programs on system start up
Registers a Dynamic Link Library File
Executes a Process
This Process Deletes Other Processes from Disk

 

So you can see it is an evil thing to get on your computer to say the least. Luckily, I only used this computer for developing Visual Basic programs and the odd bit of browsing of news and other respected web sites.

I suppose that I could have inadvertently installed something nasty in the last few months, becausev of my awful typing. But I hope not!

November 23, 2010 Posted by | Computing, World | | Leave a comment

Bloody McAffe

I have been trying to get this machine to work properly for months.  For instance, I was trying to get Google as the default search engine and no matter what I tried, it never got installed.  Eventually I gave up and someone came and diagnosed the problem as a broken McAfee virus protection.  I’d thought this might be the problem, but although I tried many times to remove McAfee from my computer, I’d never succeeded. With great difficulty the engineer eventually removed it and now I’ve got a working machine again.

So now I’m going to install ClamWin, which works so well on my laptop.

October 22, 2010 Posted by | Computing | , , | 2 Comments

Adobe Software Upgrade Scam

  I have had several of these e-mails, mostly to e-mail addresses that are only used to register domain names for clients.

ADOBE PDF READER SOFTWARE UPGRADE NOTIFICATION 

This is to remind that a new version of Adobe Acrobat Reader with enhanced features for viewing, creating, editing, printing and internet-sharing PDF documents has been released.

To upgrade your application: 

+ Go to [link removed]
+ Get your options, download and upgrade. 

Thanks and best regards, 
John William

Adobe Acrobat Reader Support 
Copy rights Adobe 2010 © All rights reserved
1022 Marrinbird Rd | Merryton | CA | 91523 | USA

Unless Adobe tell me that it is genuine in a secure and verifiable manner, I’ll assume it’s a scam or some form of trojan or virus delivery.

I did find this note in an Adobe forum, confirming my suspicions.

I also found this in the registration details for the domain.

Domain name:             ADOBE-ACROBAT-SOFTWARE.COM
Name Server:             ns3.nic.ru
Name Server:             ns4.nic.ru
Name Server:             ns8.nic.ru
Creation Date:           2010.10.16
Expiration Date:         2011.10.16

Status:                  DELEGATED

Registrant ID:           ZA5XXWT-RU
Registrant Name:         John Terry
Registrant Organization: John Terry
Registrant Street1:      1729 Park Way
Registrant City:         London
Registrant Postal Code:  H38LA92
Registrant Country:      GB

So it’s some form of Russian scam? Certainly, the UK address is not genuine and John Terry is just an infamous footballer, who most people have heard of the name.

October 17, 2010 Posted by | Computing | , , , | 1 Comment