Welcome to another late edition of my newsletter.
First of all, I would like to wish everyone a belated Happy Halloween even though I sometimes wonder how can one be happy about getting scared 😄.
Last week, we travelled to Marrakesh, in Morocco, to celebrate our son's 1st birthday. We wanted to go to someplace warm and a place with easily available visas for Indians with British visas. It was extremely nice weather and we stayed the first 4 nights at a riad and the last 2 nights at an all-inclusive resort. We visited beautiful gardens, did a walking tour of the Medina, went to a desert camp, ate at nice roof-top restaurants and enjoyed a siesta every day. The highlight of the trip was our son enjoying the pool at the resort.
Before travelling, I also watched the film Black Adam and enjoyed it. I really liked the character of Pierce Brosnan who played the character of Dr Fate AKA Kent Nelson.
The UK also changed its clocks on 30-Oct-2022, where we got an extra hour of sleep due to a weird time-keeping method followed in this country.
I just saw this video and thought what a marvellous piece of technology that can definitely inspire people to walk more.
We have all heard of e-bikes, e-scooters, etc. But what about e-shoes? Shift Robotics have created Moonwalkers, the world's fastest shoes. And the video is definitely impressive. It does mean you face the hassle of wearing an extra accessory and lugging around more weight but it also means you can walk faster than normal.
Something to definitely try in the future.
🏫📚 UK education system
My son has recently started going to a nursery. And we have been thinking about where to send him for his primary and secondary education.
Now, both me and my wife come from India where the education system is very different. At least it was when we studied back in the day.
So I wanted to explore the education system in the UK and see how it works. There are terms like reception, pre-school, nursery, 6th form, prep-school, GCSE, A levels, etc.
So I did my research and found some interesting articles and images (3 of them are mentioned below).
Stage 1 - Primary schools (5 - 11-year-olds)
The first level of the British Education system is known as primary education. These are almost always mixed-sex and usually located close to the child's home. Children tend to be with the same group throughout the day, and one teacher has responsibility for most of the work they do.
At the end of Year 2 and Year 6, pupils take compulsory SATs (Standard Assessment Tests).
Stage 2 - Secondary schools (11 - 16-year-olds)
Most children transfer at the age of 11 - usually to their nearest secondary school, though the law allows parents in England and Wales to express preferences for other schools too. A place has to be offered at the parents' preferred school unless the school has more applicants than places; in that case, it will admit the children who have the highest priority under its published admission arrangements which can vary a little in different places. Most secondary schools cater to both sexes. They tend to be much larger than primary schools.
Comprehensive schools: Nearly 88% of secondary school pupils in England go to comprehensive schools, as do all pupils in Wales. These take children of all abilities and provide a wide range of secondary education for all or most of the children in a district from 11 to 16 or 18.
Grammar Schools are selective, they offer academically oriented general education. Entrance is based on a test of ability, usually at 11. Grammar schools are single-sexed schools i.e. children either go to a Boys' Grammar School or a Girls' Grammar School. There are grammar schools in Northern Ireland and some parts of England.
During Year 9, students choose which subjects to study. These will be the subjects they take for their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams at the end of Year 11.
At the end of students’ secondary education, they can either pursue academic qualifications such as A-Levels or IB in order to go to university, or vocational qualifications such as NVQs and BTECs to prepare them for full-time employment.
Independent Schools, known as private/public schools, are part of the British education system. 7% of the children in England go to independent schools. Parents pay for their children to attend these schools. The most famous public schools are Eton, Harrow, and Winchester.
Prep Schools: A preparatory school is a school to prepare pupils to go to a public school.
Public/Private Schools: A public school is an independent secondary school. Public schools in England are not run by the government. The entrance exams used by most public schools are known as Common Entrance exams and are taken at the age of 11 (girls) or 13 (boys).
🧴♻️ 7 types of plastic
I recently started reading the book How the World Really Works by Vaclav Smil from where I last left it. I read in it about the 4 important materials that have transformed our planet and they are
So I thought let me share a bit about plastics in this newsletter. We essentially have got it all wrong about plastics. They do contaminate, and they are carcinogenic, but they are also durable and versatile and there is no alternate material that can compete with them. If we want to ban plastics altogether, we would need to re-haul everything in our life.
I learnt today about Greenwashing, during my personal training session with my trainer. And I do agree with him that many companies and governments want to reduce the usage of plastics without truly understanding the impact of these materials on our lives.
In short, there are essentially 7 types of plastic
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
AKA beverage bottle plastics. PET suits the job of keeping beverages shielded from bacteria inexpensively while keeping its glossy looks. Polyethylene Terephthalate is a lightweight plastic known for its excellent moisture barrier properties and resistance to alcohols, oils, and diluted acids. The common myth of leaving bottles in a hot car proves to be true, as PET contains the compound antimony trioxide, a carcinogen. Hotter temperatures stimulate the increase in the release of antimony trioxide to the contained liquid. This wrinkle-free plastic is non-biodegradable, due to its inert nature.
World’s most loved plastic. HDPE is the most widely used type of plastic due to its unbranched polymer chains, which makes it super dense and thick, but mouldable at the same time. Aside from that, it is malleable, long lasting, impact resistant, lightweight and mould resistant and is easily recyclable! What is there not to like?
Although its safety has been universally accepted, HDPE has been linked to contain oestrogen mimicking compounds that are stimulated to release when exposed under UV light. It is linked to hormonal imbalance issues.
Alias the killer. Found in toys, wraps, packaging, blood bags and water pipes, PVC is utilized in almost every industry. Water pipes in municipalities are often made out of Polyvinyl Chloride, because it is easy to install and odourless. Its base materials are: Chloride salts and Petroleum based ethylene. Chlorides are extracted from the seawater through electrolysis and ethylene is harvested through the cracking of petroleum.
57% of PVC is pure chloride, releasing chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), lead, cadmium, dioxins and mercury. It has been proven that PVC causes fetal development issues, hormonal imbalance, cancer and diminished lung function. It is advised that the general public use PVC only when necessary.
Wrinkly supermarket bag plastics. LDPE plastics are polyethylenes, polymers with simple and branched structures (4,000 - 40,000 carbon atoms/polymer), making them less dense and crystalline in form. It is highly flexible and cheap to produce. It has good resistance towards acids, alcohols, esters, and bases making it a suitable material for food and hardware applications. This type of plastic is deemed safe.
Polypropylene (C3H6)n, a hydrocarbon and a monomer of propene also known as PP, is a rigid thermoplastic addition polymer. Polypropylene is also known to be more resistant to heat and degradation from UV rays than any other plastics. Polypropylene is widely used in the automotive industry(car bumpers or the carpet fibres of the interior) and consumer goods(water bottles or food containers).
Same as LDPE, PP is safe for food and drink use because it does not transmit chemicals into the things humans consume due to its relatively high melting point (171°C). It is also recyclable giving every reason why it’s better to use this.
The foamy one. 95% of polystyrene is composed of air. Most polystyrene foams are incorporated and foamed with carbon dioxide. It is a polymer of the liquid monomer, styrene. They are excellent insulators and are lightweight, making their popular function as take out box packages. other than that, PS is also used in surfboards, car parts and stabilization systems.
The brittle and flammable property of Styrofoam is reduced by adding 5–10% butadiene rubber. So far, all styrene products are deemed safe.
*The image above should say PS instead of PC
Bioplastic is a type of biodegradable plastic that is formed from renewable biomass resources such as vegetable oil and corn starch rather than from non-renewable resources such as petroleum.
The other example is called polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a group of thermoplastic polymers containing carbonate groups in their chemical structures. Polycarbonates are typically used for baby bottles, Sippy cups, water bottles, water gallons and metal food can liners.
However, a lot of countries have banned the use of this plastic material. The chemicals inside PC can be transferred into the food or beverages, which explains the reason behind the numerous health problems such as decreased sperm production in males, various behavioural changes, increased risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and metabolic disorders.
✈️ In-Flight Wi-Fi
While flying back from Morocco on a British Airways flight, I noticed that they offered Wi-fi onboard the aircraft, which made me curious. How does in-flight wi-fi actually work and is it any good?
Basically, there are two systems available for an airline to offer internet to its passengers.
Air-to-Ground (ATG) Wi-Fi
ATG is the same operating system used to provide Wi-Fi to your home or mobile devices. Your mobile device or wireless router receives and transmits radio signals through its antenna to/from ground-based cell towers, and it’s the same on an airplane.
An antenna is placed on the underside of an airplane’s body so that it is positioned to receive and transmit signals to/from these cell towers. As the airplane’s journey progresses, these signals move from one available cell tower to the next.
The limitation of ATG is the lack of cell towers in remote areas of land or large expanses of water such as oceans, causing this type of connection to only be suitable for land travel, with the expectation of some black spots here and there.
Wi-Fi speed is slow with an ATG connection at around 3 Mbps, so it’s suitable for checking emails or messaging apps but wouldn’t hold up against any bandwidth-intensive actions such as streaming or uploading files.
With satellite operating systems, ground-based units transmit signals to a satellite in orbit, which then relays the signal to the airplane.
This system allows for better connections where no cell tower coverage is present, such as over large expanses of water, although due to the distance the signals must travel, latency issues can be experienced which can still affect Wi-Fi speed.
Ku-Band and Ka-Band are 2 types of satellite operating systems with Ku-Band utilizing 12-18 GHz and Ka-Band 26.5-40 GHz. The higher the frequency, generally the higher the available bandwidth.
Ku-Band speed is an improvement on ATG connections at around 30 to 40 Mbps; however, signals from satellites are shared with other airplanes so bandwidth reduction may occur depending on airspace concentration.
Although it’s not the fastest Wi-Fi available, it is the most consistent, with hundreds of Ku-Band satellites orbiting the earth, meaning that the airplane’s antenna will be more likely to maintain a signal. This bandwidth, when potentially split across many users, is generally not up to the job of streaming content.
Ka-Band provides the most advanced high-speed satellite Wi-Fi, boasting up to 80 Mbps per airplane; however, there are significantly fewer Ka-Band satellites in orbit with a smaller geographical coverage, so it’s only suitable for some airlines at present.
And recently SpaceX announced Starlink Aviation offering high-speed, low-latency, in-flight internet with connectivity across the globe. The video below shows how it's better and how it will work. Being Earth's biggest satellite constellation is a game-changer for SpaceX and this offering will be highly beneficial to many people.
Thank you so much once again for reading my newsletter this week. Please feel free to Buy me a coffee if you are enjoying what I am sharing.
Until we meet again next week, stay warm, be nice, offer help and keep learning.