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Winds at twice the speed of sound

We’ve all got stuck out in or witnessed very strong winds here on Earth, from gusts that turn your umbrella inside out to tornadoes that rip up everything in their path. You might think these winds are a force to be reckoned with, but unless you’ve had a day floating around the gaseous atmosphere of ice giant Neptune you haven’t seen anything yet!

You might think that Neptune’s distance from the Sun, which creates temperatures as low as -218 degrees Celsius (-360 degrees Fahrenheit), would mean a world frozen solid by the subzero climate with not much going on in

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The team that started it all

Kepler space telescope

To date, a huge majority of exoplanets we know of have been discovered by the Kepler space telescope team. Launched on 7 March 2009, Kepler sits in an Earth-trailing orbit around the Sun. Before its launch it was considered possible that planets in the universe were rare. Now, however, its thought that almost every star plays host to at least one planet.

The telescope uses photometry to simultaneously observe thousands of stars. It watches for dips in the brightness of these stars as a planet passes in front, known as a transit, and measuring three of these

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The MT experts are hereto help…

DIY PREAMP BLUES

Can you recommend some decent units and tell me what to watch out for when doing these things? Tom Abbot Sheffield

MT The DIY scene has really grown in the last fewyears and when once there were only a few kits there are now dozens in all shapes and sizes. Seventh Circle Audio (www. seventhcircleaudio.com) has a variety of kits based loosely on several different classic preamp designs from the likes of SSL, Neve and API. However, you will also need to build a Seventh Circle Audio chassis for these preamps (single-unit chassis are available). In the

Continue reading The MT experts are hereto help…

TAKE APPS OUT TO THE BALLGAME

Enrich your ballpark trip with these home-run apps

We’re well into the Major League Baseball season, and the dog days of summer will soon give way to some truly thrilling divisional races. As someone who watches most of my games on TV (or streaming online), it’s amazing how much being at a game in person can make me feel so oddly disconnected. Where’s the commentary and the constant array of stats and trivia bits? I crave that extra layer atop the game when it’s absent.

An iPhone or iPad can really come in handy in these moments. As much as

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Spendor D7

£3500

They may not look it on the page, but the Spendor D7s are rather compact by floorstander standards. Yet, properly setup, these speakers deliver a full-bodied sound that’s a match for anything we’ve heard at this sort of price.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Spendor has produced an accomplished speaker — the A9, A6 and updated SP2 are all class-leaders after all — but what is surprising is just how dynamic and punchy these relatively small towers are.

Play something particularly complex — we’ve chosen Trent Reznor’s soundtrack to The Social Network — and the Spendors marshall

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ProAc Response D18

£2145

Almost everything about the Response D18 speakers screams ‘ordinary’. They’re fairly slim compared with some, and the optional ebony veneer (£400 extra) is a bit fancy, but no-one’s going to fall in love with the looks of these angular towers.

There’s nothing in the specification list that hints at greatness, either. So how did such a conventional speaker win our 2011 Best Floorstander £1500+ Award? By somehow sounding very special indeed.

A beautiful balance of abilities

As is often the case, it’s all about balance. These ProAcs sound sweet, smooth and refined while still delivering plenty of punch. They’re

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Practise action photo skills with these simple projects

Action photography often involves trying to capture a fleeting and sometimes once-in-a-lifetime moment, so it’s a good idea to practise your skills beforehand. Getting to know your camera and how to access its important functions will shorten your set-up time and speed up the shooting process so that you can capture unexpected moments with ease. There are plenty of ways to put your skills to the test at home using everyday objects, or by enlisting friends and family to help. Use these projects to master shutter speeds and focusing, and in the process prepare yourself for the fast-paced world of

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PMC Twenty 21

£1485

We’re big fans of PMC’s Twenty series. So far we’ve reviewed two of the four-strong range and raved about both. Now it’s the turn of the ‘entry-level’ standmounters.

The 21s have the same sloped-back design as the rest of the range. The uneven shape helps to reduce the build-up of internal standing waves, and it makes the speakers stand out on the shop floor.

Take time to get them right

Once given a couple of days to run in, these speakers shine. That wasn’t our initial impression though. Standing a meter or so from the rear wall and playing

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NATURAL SELECTION

Unique and eco-friendly, these distinctive pieces will create a stylish statement in your home

01 PAPER PERFECT

Designed by Debbie Wijskamp for Serax using recycled paper, these vases are versatile, strong, waterproof and sustainable, giving a new use to an otherwise throwaway material. serax.com

02 SUPER SISAL

Interfloor’s European Onyx black 100 per cent woven sisal rug with a 70mm-wide black leather binding is elegant and hardwearing — great for home or office. interfloors.com.au

03 PAPER CUSHION

Made by twisting together strands of softened recycled paper, Cuiora’s cushions are as soft as they are strong. cuiora.com

04 COOL STOOL

Wrapped

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Loving these Sweethearts

In resurrecting the Sweetheart brand, there were high hopes for Stanley. But with the Premium planes, while the No.4 smoother was by and large a good plane if lacking finesse in a couple of areas, the block plane was a different kettie of lobsters, suffering from some pretty poor engineering throughout which the initial design stages as well as quality control should have picked up.

So now the vintage 750 socket chisels are back in the range, and I am a little apprehensive. Having been sent a set of eight to have a look at, ranging from 1/8in to 1/4in

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