Thursday, 27 July 2017

Drivetime Drama... the results!

Over the past 4 days West Herts Drivetime have been running a competitive radio drama feature where five up and coming playwrights have been pitted against each other.  Each playwright had one part of their 4 scene play, written around the theme 'the Switch', performed each day, with one playwright being knocked out each time.
On Monday, the first scenes were performed, with Belinda Canham's play being knocked out. On Tuesday, three playwrights remained.  The second scenes of the plays were performed, and Ned Ray was knocked out. Wednesday saw the departure of Suzy Cripps, and on Thursday only Rosemary Foster and Matilda Tempest remained in the competition, when they battled for the title of winner.  In the end it was a very tightly contested competition, but Rosemary Foster emerged as the winner.

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 21st July 2017

hello and welcom to SIMON'S LOVE ISLAND BLOG and this weak on the island that good lookin man got with that good lookin woman again and they did naughty stuff tehehehehehehehehe and then there was that other good lookin one (not that one) who was with that other good lookin one and they then did some naughty stuff teheheheheheheheheh and then there was that one who didnt get with nobody and so just sunbathed it was a good episode.

Ok, I don't know what that was, but Simon was in the studio to talk about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.

10.15pm – 1.05am

4.20pm – 6.15pm

Legally Blonde
3.45pm – 5.35pm

The Day after Tomorrow
8.00pm – 10.25pm

The Hangover
9.00pm – 11.05pm

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
7.45pm – 10.00pm

9.00pm – 11.15pm

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Chris' Film Club: Zombi 2

And to wrap up a Film Club week of 'Schlocky but fun', today Chris looks at 1979 Italian zombie movie 'Zombi 2'.

Released as a sequel to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (which was called Zombi in Italy) it was considered a ‘video nasty’ at it’s release in the UK. It also features a scene where a zombie fights a shark. What’s not to love?

Image result for zombi 2

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Bake It Easy with @heavensacupcake Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies

Lucy Clark and Hannah Coone joined us in the studio this week to talk all things baking! They even brought us some chocolate chip cookies and macarons.

This week Hannah talked us through oatmeal raisin cookies! Here's how to make them

Start with creaming (or thoroughly mixing) 310g butter, 280g light brown sugar and 140g caster sugar. Then mix in 2 eggs, followed by 290g plain flour, 2tbs cinnamon, 3tsp bicarbonate, 2tsp salt. After these are bound together, add the most important ingredients - 310g oats and 310g raisins. Give it a final mix!

Cook them in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees (gas mark 4). After they come out, leave the cookies to set for a few minutes as they will seem really soft at first!

Not following any of these tips will result in a confused cookie, and as Hannah says, there is "nothing worse in life than a confused cookie".

If you want to hear the recipe first hand, head on over to and navigate to 5:30pm.

Drive Time Sessions with @Hidden_Jules_ sponsored by @FightingCocksSA

On this weeks Drivetime Sessions we were joined by the acoustic duo Hidden Jules. They performed their singles 'Can You Return' and 'Thorn Inside You' and performed a cover of 'Put Your Lights On' originally by Santana.

For more information on Hidden Jules, including details of their album "Spirits In My Wine" which is available now, you can visit their Facebook for more information about upcoming gigs.

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Chris' Film Club: Bad Taste

Schlocky Films continue to be the focus of the Film Club this week, with Chris looking at 'Bad Taste' today.

This 1987 Science Fiction/ Horror/ Splatter Comedy sees aliens invade the fictional New Zealand village of Kaihoro to harvest humans for their intergalactic fast food franchise. They find themselves having to face off against a four-man paramilitary force, of which at least one member appears to have gone insane.

Best known for being Peter Jackson's foothold into the film industry.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Chris' Film Club: They Live

Continuing to look at films Chris deems 'Schlocky but enjoyable', today on the Film Club we look at 'They Live'.

This 1988 John Carpenter film is about a drifter who discovers an alien presence across the world, controlling the populations thoughts and impulses through the use of subliminal messaging.

Stars Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Chris' Film Club: Black Sheep

This week on the Film Club Chris looks at 'Schlocky Films'. Fun but trashy!

Up first is 'Black Sheep', the 2006 New Zealand horror-comedy. A sheep farm crossed with a secret genetic laboratory succeeds in an experiment to turn sheep from docile herbivores to wild carnivores, whose bite can turn people into weird human-sheep hybrids.

Fun, gory and with great effects from the Weta Workshop.

David Widdowson from the Ovo Theatre Company was our guest tonight providing an update on local events that are part of the fringe festival.
The Birds - at the Roman Theatre Verulamium Monday & Tuesday 17th/18th July
A Midsummer Nights Dream at the same venue from Thursday 20th to Saturday 22nd July at
At the Alban Arena tonight[Monday] and Tuesday a puppet version of a Midsummer Nights Dream
further details can be found at

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 14th July 2017

hey hey hey everyone i has sum reallllly exciting news to tells you all i got an email the other day on my computer and it was from a prince from an african country telling me that they need sum one to help them get sum money out of teh country but 1st they neded mee to send them some money 1st but then they wuld pay me more money than i sended them so i did and so soon i will be soooooooo rich richer than the queen and bill gates and gordon ramsey the money shuld arrive soon which is gud becoz my new russian gf natalya (gal gadot is sooooo not my gf anymore becoz i fought i cud do better) shuld be arrivin soon too becuz she sent me an email to and i sent her some money so that she culd come over and stay wiv me. everythings coming up SIMON.

Ok, I don't know what that was, but Simon was in the studio to talk about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.

Django Unchained
10.00am – 1.20am

9.45pm – 12.30am

Machete Kills
11.10pm – 1.20am

Mamma Mia
8.00pm – 10.10pm

The Iceman
9.00pm – 11.05pm

Snow White and the Huntsman
7.35pm – 10.00pm

The Jewel of the Nile
7.55pm – 10.00pm

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Drivetime's very own @floodette is appearing in @CityAcademyUK's production of Legally Blonde - The Musical

Florence Cook, a member of the West Herts Drivetime team, will be performing in a production of Legally Blonde - The Musical at the Polish Theatre in Hammersmith, London, this weekend.

She is part of the 'Monday Company' performing on Friday and Sunday evening as well as Saturday matinee.

Legally Blonde - The Musical, based on the hit movie starring Reese Witherspoon, tells the story of Elle Woods' journey to Harvard Law School to win back her boyfriend and things don't quite go according to plan.

For more information and tickets click here.

Chris' Film Club: Raw

Finishing up a week of 'Damn Good Films', Sam (our resident Science Consultant) has to jump in to save Chris, who thought it was smart to recommend a Film he hasn't even seen! Fortunately, Sam has plenty to say about French Horror/Drama 'Raw'.

When a lifelong vegetarian arrives at a Veterinary school to continue her education, she forces herself to eat meat as part of a hazing initiation to fit in. She soon experiences dramatic consequences to this, learning a lot about her true self.

Dawn and Abbey from the Breakaway Theatre Company @BreakawayAmDram join us to discuss their new production, The Merry Wives of Windsor

This afternoon we were joined by Dawn and Abbey from the Breakaway Theatre Company to tell us about their new production of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The popular comedy is on at the Inn on the Park in Verulanium Park from 20th-22nd and 27th-29th July 2017.

For more information and to book tickets click here.

Missed the show? Catch up online at and navigate to Thursday at 5:30pm.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Drive Time Sessions with @TomCraven!

On this week's Drivetime Sessions we were joined by local singer and songwriter Tom Craven. He performed his singles 'Atlantic Bells' and 'Matinee Epitaph' and performed a cover of 'Stitches' originally by Shawn Mendes.

For more information on Tom Craven, you can visit his website for more information about upcoming gigs and EPs.

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Chris' Film Club: We Have a Pope

Chris continues to bombard us with a variety of good film recommendations this week, with today's choice being Italian drama/comedy 'We Have a Pope' from 2011.

This film looks at the death of a previous Pope, and the struggles of a Cardinal who has been elected to replace him, against his will. With only a psychoanalyst to prepare him for his new position, how will the new Pope handle things?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Chris' Film Club: John Wick: Chapter 2

Chris races through a week of 'Damn Good Films' with his next choice of blood pumping action-thriller 'John Wick: Chapter 2'.

Keanu Reeves' retired super-assassin 'John Wick' plans to resume a quiet civilian life after the events of the first film, but Italian gangster Santino D'Antonio shows up on his doorstep with a gold marker, compelling him to repay past favors. Ordered by Winston, kingpin of secret assassin society The Continental, to respect the organization's ancient code, Wick reluctantly accepts the assignment to travel to Rome to take out D'Antonio's sister, the ruthless capo atop the Italian Camorra crime syndicate.

Ruby Rose, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo and Lawrence Fishburne are just some of the stars appearing alongside Reeves.

Health Matters - How Will NHS Cuts Affect You?

One issue in tonight’s DriveTime – NHS Cost Cutting! Dr Richard Pile, a GP Partner at Parkbury House Surgery in St Albans (and also a Commissioning Group Board Member) gave us the answers on DriveTime this evening.

1.     Background
Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (“HVCCG”) is responsible for healthcare provision in our area, and they need to cut costs! They must make £45m in savings APR 2017 – and that’s over 5% of the annual budget! Money was tight in the last Financial Year (16/17); around £10m in savings. That puts the £45m into context!

2.     What is being done?
These proposals are about:
* Tightening up existing rules so that people who smoke or whose weight is classified as ‘obese’ are required to make bigger improvements to their health before non-urgent surgery – unless a longer wait for surgery would be harmful 
* Limiting routine prescription of medicines and products that can be bought without prescription for short-term conditions and minor ailments
* Restricting the prescribing of gluten-free foods
* Stopping the routine funding of female sterilisation procedures
* Stopping the routine funding of vasectomies
* Restricting the availability of NHS-funded IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and specialist fertility services, other than in exceptional circumstances
The NHS wants your opinion on these changes – go to
3. What will the impact on Patients be?
These proposals seek to introduce changes that will have a minimal impact on the patient experience; although the £45m is a huge saving to have to make it is hoped that patients will barely notice any impact!

4.  What about Hospitals?
The HVCCG board finally approved the strategic outline case produced by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) which proposes the redevelopment of existing hospital sites at Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital with as much new-build as possible.

5. Have Your Say
There are a number of upcoming events you may like to attend
There are a number of upcoming events you may like to attend
·         Wednesday 19 July, 11am to 1pm - Drop-by session, St Albans Hospital
·         Saturday 22 July, 9am to 12 noon - Drop-by session, St Albans market
·         Monday 24 July, 7 to 9pm - Public meeting, Stanborough Centre, St Albans Road, Watford
·         Monday 31 July, 7 to 9pm - Public meeting, Rothamsted Centre, Harpenden

The consultation period ends in late SEP and we’ve invited Dr Pile to come back on Health Matters in OCT to tell us what they learned!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Chris' Film Club: I am Not Your Negro

Chris brings us back from the depths of the 'film dump' this week, instead choosing a selection of 'Just Damn Good Films' to look at over the next few days.

To begin, this week we look at 'I am Not Your Negro'. In 1979, American Novelist James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his project, "Remember This House." The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript.

Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished.


Advice on funeral costs, unwanted charity communication and deferred payment schemes with @CAStAlbans

Elizabeth Crampton from the Citizens Advice Bureau was in the studio today, and talked about funeral care, charity communication opt-outs and deferred payment schemes.

On the topic of charities, Elizabeth explained how it's now possible to stop unwanted
letters and calls from charities, which some people receive in unacceptably large numbers. By going to and filling in your details, or doing it on someone else’s behalf, you can block communications from up to 3 charities at a time.The following number can also be used: 0300 3033 517. The charity has 28 days to process the request. It's worth remembering that you can opt out of communications and still give money to the charity!

Deferred payment schemes were the subject Elizabeth’s second topic. It is important to remember that these are credit agreements which have charges if you miss the payment deadlines - often in the small print, and which can be combined with interest fees of up to 60%. Being careful around these deals is important, if only about their repayment deadlines. Remember that you won't necessarily get a reminder when it's time to pay!

‘Sadly we all have to die at some point’, and funerals can often be expensive. Some people take out funeral plans, even though they are often not registered by financial service authorities or covered by ombudsman claims. There are two types of funeral plan- guaranteed plans, which cover most or all of the funeral costs; and contribution plans, which often cover funeral directors, but not other costs - such as cremation fees. Make sure to look at exactly what is covered by these plans, and remember that there are other ways to make plans for funeral costs. Generally, if anyone has concerns about funeral costs, it worth taking some advice from the citizens advice bureau: head on over to

Elizabeth will be back in September! If you missed the programme, head on over to and navigate to Monday from 5:30pm.

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 7th July 2017

ok, so kris wasnt in last weeke becoz he was off somewhere else being a stupid bum bum face so i didnt really feel like righting a blog post for the film guide becoz i has like nuffin to prove to anyone but now that hes back i definitely have summint to prove to peeps. i was in the studio today wiv my new girlfriend gal gadot aka SUPERMAN BATMAN WONDER GIRL WOMAN (she is totes my new gf and i can prove it i totes have pictures and youve got nothing to say that she aint my gf youre so stoopid) gal is sooooo grate and she finks im well funny and laffs at all my jokes shes better than my last gf scarlett johansen aka CAPTAIN AMERICA IRON MAN BLACK WIDOW yep thems two are my gfs i had to let scarlett go because she loved me too much and said that i was just too good lookin for her, can you believe that? OF COURSE YOU CAN BECOZ ITS THE TRUTH.

Ok, I don't know what that was, but Simon was in the studio to talk about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.

Begin Again
11.10pm – 12.50am

2001: A Space Odyssey
11.15pm – 1.30am

The Great Caruso
1.15pm – 3.30pm

A League of Their Own
7.30pm – 10.00pm

X-Men: Days of Future Past
9.00pm – 11.35pm

Ever After: A Cinderella Story
7.40pm – 10.00pm

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
7.35pm – 10.00pm

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Super Size Me

Last on this week of 'Food for thought' is 'Super Size me', the documentary covering a man's social experiment, which consisted of eating only McDonalds food.

Director Morgan Spurlock's experiment saw him eat only McDonalds for an entire month. In the process his weight balloons, his energy level plummets and he experiences all sorts of unexpected -- and terrifying -- side effects. At the same time, he also examines the corporate giant's growing role in the lives of American consumers, and its methods of indoctrinating young people while contributing to America's obesity epidemic.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Drivetime Sessions as sponsored by @FightingCocksSA with @Abbie_Gathard

Abbie Gathard joined us on this week's Drivetime Sessions! We asked her to perform one cover as well as two original songs; she played a beautiful rendition of 'Hopelessly Devoted To You', originally by Olivia Newton-John, along with her own 'Coming Back' and 'I Waited All This Time'.

To find out more about Abbie as well as her upcoming performances and music, then head over to her Twitter and Facebook pages.

If you missed the show and want to hear Abbie live, visit

Charlotte's Film Club: The Founder

Our week of 'Food for Thought' continues today, as Charlotte picks 'The Founder', a biographical on the well known McDonalds food chain's foundation, to enter the Film Club hall of fame.

The film retells the true story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a struggling salesman from Illinois, met Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman), the owners of a burger operation in 1950s Southern California, and saw franchise potential in their speedy business. Kroc soon moves himself into a position to be able to pull the company from the brothers, and create a multi-billion dollar empire.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Local Literary Feature with Marie Kemplay and @revpeterlaws

Today Marie talked to the author Peter Laws about his new crime-horror book 'Unleashed'.  This book is the sequel to the acclaimed first book of the series 'Purged'.  In this book we reenter the world of  University Professor Matt Hunter, ex-vicar turned atheist who helps the police investigate religiously motivated crimes.  This book will be released on 20th July.

Peter Laws' links:
Peter's Website
twitter: @revpeterlaws

Coming up in the Local Literary World:

The Summer Reading Challenge 2017- this challenge will be launched on Saturday 15th July in Hertfordshire Libraries.  This year's challenge is themed around 'Animal Agents' and challenges children to read 6 books and talk about them.

"The Summer of Impossible Things" book launch- on 13th July at 7pm, join local author Rowan Coleman at the launch of her new book.  There will be a talk about the book and a free glass of fizz; it's free, but you do need to book in advance at Harpenden Books.

Julia Woolf at Welwyn Garden City Waterstones- join author Julia Woolf for a free event on the 23rd July at 2pm, where she will be reading her new book 'Lazy Cat'.

Berko Speakeasy- The Berko Speakeasy will be holding a stylish, theatrical evening on the 18th October at 7pm in celebration of the short story.  Listen to live readings by Speakeasy actors and enjoy a glass of wine or two.

Jane Austen's London- Go to Hitchin Library on the 19th July at 2:30 and enjoy an illustrated talk on Regency London and the places Jane Austen visited with period expert Louise Allen. This event costs £7 but concessions are £5.

Charlotte's Film Club: Chef

Charlotte returns to helm the Film Club this week, making things flavoursome with the theme of 'Food for thought'. Up next is 'Chef' from 2014.

Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) quits his position at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant, and as he tries to figure out what his next step in life should be, he finds himself in Miami. Carl joins forces with his ex-wife (Sofía Vergara), best friend (John Leguizamo) and son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food-truck business, and the venture provides a chance to reignite his passion for cooking -- as well as his zest for life and love.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Burnt

Charlotte is back to head the Film Club this week once more. This week we look at Films with great food for thought. Today's pick is 'Burnt' from 2015.

This comedy stars Bradley Cooper as a once great chef, who's career fell apart after his rough and diva-like behaviour. Given a second chance by a former colleague, the chef finds himself working in a prestigious London restaurant, where he works hard to earn the third Michelin star he has always wanted.

Daniel Brühl, Sienna Miller and Omar Sy also star.


Friday, 30 June 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 30th June 2017

Chris is on holidays this week, sorry for the lack of comedy service for the blog post this time round. Normal service will resume next time.

Simon was in the studio to talk (proof! ^^) about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.

Dr No
9.00pm – 11.15pm

Marvel Avengers Assemble
10.00pm – 12.25am

11.20pm – 1.10am

Monsters: Dark Continent
9.00pm – 11.20pm

Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story
11.20pm – 1.15am

The Imitation Game
9.00pm – 11.15pm

9.00pm – 10.30pm

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Chris' Film Dump: Transformers: Age of Extinction

The last Big Budget mess on this week's Film Dump is 'Transformers: Age of Extinction', the almost 3 hour long 4th installment of a series that consists of explosions, gratuitous shots of female characters, and crude racial stereotypes.

Mark Wahlberg is Cade Yeager, a struggling inventor who finds the damaged body of Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, and brings him back to health. Then stuff happens and I don’t know how it ends because I stopped watching.-Chris

Cost $210m and made over $1.1b at the box office, proving humanity is doomed.

Annie Lawrence (@annielawrencee) joins us to discuss her amazing project, Code the Globe

This afternoon on Radio Verulam we were joined by local student, Annie Lawrence, as she discussed her project, Code the Globe, an organisation that aims to spread modern technology to children in developing countries.

Annie, a former studio assistant at Radio Verulam and Computer Science student, hopes to improve the lives of children across the world using technology that we take for granted in this country. Her organisation also wants to encourage more girls to study and enjoy STEM subjects (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), which are typically associated with boys.

To find out more about Code the Globe head to or you can follow Annie on twitter @annielawrencee.

Missed the show? Catch up online at and navigate to Thursday at 5:30pm.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Chris' Film Dump: Catwoman

Chris condemns another superhero flick to the 'Film Dump' in his week of big budget calamities, with today's choice being 'Catwoman' from 2004.

A shy fashion designer discovers the revolutionary anti-ageing product her company is releasing hides a dark secret, and when she gets in too deep finds herself developing a life changing set of powers.

Made for $100m, this dreadful film made back only $82m and won Halle Berry a Razzie Award, which she collected in person.

Chris and Danny made the smart choice to discuss the Marvel/DC film series as a whole instead, in this podcast-exclusive episode,

The Drivetime Sessions with James Carol

On this week's Drivetime Sessions we were joined by James Carol, author and musician. He performed his own single 'Raining in Hollywood' and 'The Dark before the Dawn' and covered the Beatles' 'Come Together'.

For more information about James Carol, including details about his books, visit  His twitter handle is @JamesCarolBooks

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Chris' Film Dump: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Our Film Dump week of 'Big Budget Calamities' continues today with last years 'Batman v. Superman'. Yay.

This joyless and great big muddled mess of stupid plot points and ridiculous character decisions is about, you guessed it, Batman and Superman deciding to fight each other. Spoilers, the two make-up and decide to work together because their mothers have the same name!

Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams and Jesse Eisenberg star in this $300million gloom-fest.

Interior Design Feature with @ga_interiors- Fabulous Flooring

Today we talked with Gwendoline Alderton, our interior design correspondent about flooring.  Yes- today it was all about getting laid! 

With the weather being very hot recently, many pets have been overheating on unsuitable floors.  Dogs in particular have been overheating on ceramic floors, which are easily heated by sunlight through windows.  To combat this issue cooling mats and cooling pads for pets are available. Small children can also find these types of floor hot if they are crawling on them often. In addition, carpets tend to attract pet hair and will need to be vacuumed regularly.  

People with dust allergies might also want to avoid carpets because these attract dust, and might instead want to consider wooden flooring.  People with disabilities might need level flooring if they have a wheeled mobility device.  Thick carpets would not be useful because it would be hard for the wheelchair/mobility scooter to work on these.  

Another thing to think about is that in rooms with a higher traffic, you may need a harder wearing type of floor.  For example, in the lounge you may want to opt for a longer-wearng crpet but in the bedroom, where thereis less traffic, you may want to have a shagpile carpet. 

Gwendoline's Links:
Twitter: @GA_interiors
Gwendoline's website :

Monday, 26 June 2017

Chris' Film Dump: John Carter

This week the Film Dump continues, as Chris looks at some of the greatest (or worst?) big budget calamities to hit the big screen. Up first is 2012 's 'John Carter'.

Costing upwards of $350m to make and based on a Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, the film tells the story of an American civil war soldier who wakes up on the planet mars unexpectedly, and finds himself embroiled in a similar huge conflict.

A massive box office flop. the film was meant to make Taylor Kitsch a star. It did not.

Millions of colonists on #Mars by 2062, #SotM @ProfSaraSeager and Night Sky July/Aug with @smrolfe

A summary of the Radio Verulam West Herts Drivetime Science Feature broadcast 26/06/2017 5:30-6:00 pm BST

City on Mars of a million colonists by 2062

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and helped create PayPal and set up the Tesla electric car company has suggested a colony city could be set up on Mars by 2062, with the first flight to Mars in as little as 4 to 5 years, in 2022.
His suggestion includes warming up the atmosphere and planting plants, he suggests that warming Mars up there would be a thick atmosphere and liquid water at the surface.

The Dragon craft which currently resupplies the International Space Station (ISS) is being modified to make an unmanned mission to Mars, possibly in 2018. However, it has also been said that there could be a manned mission sent beyond the Moon in 2018 by two private customers. Depending on the number of craft that can built within in a given time frame, a million people could live on Mars between 40 and 100 years from now (1 spacecraft would have to make 10,000 trips, 100 people per trip (more ideal 1,000 spacecraft, only 1,000 trips)).

Problems addressed: propellant (can you make a propellant on Mars?)

system architecture (launch manned craft, booster stage returns to Earth, propellant loaded on reusable booster, craft fuelling in orbit, booster returns to Earth, manned craft heads to Mars)

vehicle design and performance, rocket engine, interplanetary spaceship (capable of transporting 100 + passengers to Mars plus an unpressurised compartment for cargo and materials. Heat shield technology extremely important.)

ticket cost - ~$140,000 possibly dropping below $100,000 with optimisation over time.  

timeline Red Dragon mission to launch in 2018 and then launch something to Mars every time there is a launch window (~ every 26 months), already making rocket engines at a rate of 300 a year and require 51 per Mars vehicle, so rate is sufficient. 

carbon fibre tank, difficult to cool which would occur with the cold fuel storage – cracks/leaks could mean catastrophic failure… so far have developed a prototype for testing, seems to have positive results.


Problems to be addressed (not mentioned in above source paper): space junk, cost per person once living there, radiation protection, one-way?, planetary protection.

Scientist of the Month

Professor Seager’s main research goal is to find and identify another Earth, including the search for signs of life by way of biosignature gases.

“Sara Seager is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT.
Her science research focuses on theory, computation, and data analysis of exoplanets.
Her research has introduced many new ideas to the field of exoplanet characterization, including work that led to the first detection of an exoplanet atmosphere.
Professor Seager also works in space instrumentation and space missions for exoplanets, including CubeSats, as a co-investigator on the MIT-led TESS, a NASA Explorer Mission to be launched in 2017, and chaired the NASA Science and Technology Definition Team for a “Probe-class” Starshade and telescope system for direct imaging discovery and characterization of Earth analogs.
Before joining MIT in 2007, Professor Seager spent four years on the senior research staff at the Carnegie Institution of Washington preceded by three years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.
Her PhD is from Harvard University.
Professor Seager is on the advisory board for Planetary Resources.
Professor Seager was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015, is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, the 2012 recipient of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences, and the 2007 recipient of the American Astronomical Society’s Helen B. Warner Prize.
She has been recognized in the media, most recently in Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential in Space in 2012.”

She developed the Seager Equation, which is a variation on the Drake Equation, but rather than estimate the number of planets with intelligent life, this equation focusses detecting the number of habitable planets, where (any) life could be detected.
where: N = the number of planets with detectable signs of life
N* = the number of stars observed
FQ = the fraction of stars that are quiet
FHZ = the fraction of stars with rocky planets in the habitable zone
Fo = the fraction of those planets that can be observed
FL = the fraction that have life
FS = the fraction on which life produces a detectable signature gas

Night Sky this Month

We’ve just gone through the summer solstice, but the long summer evenings will continue with sunset at the end of July not until about 8:50 pm.

29-30 July - Peak of the Delta Aquarids meteor shower, 20 per hour, best viewed from a dark location after midnight.

30 July - Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation – look for the planet in the western sky just after sunset.

11-12 August - Peak of the Perseids meteor shower, 60 per hours, bright fireballs, best viewed from a dark location after midnight.

Look out for ISS, use this link to get information on sighting opportunities: