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Did Nasa copy the invention
of a scientist from Sussex?
All the ideas, when
you get them are so
obvious that you wonder why
you never thought of them
before, but nobody had.
We know of a certain
companies that employ people
simply to go through newly
filed patents to see how
they could get around it.
Also Paul Mayhew-Archer tries
to find something funny to say about
My wife is no longer my wife,
she is my carer and when I told
my wife this, she said, "Well,
I don't care for you, Paul."
And we meet the inhabitants
of one of the Dorset's
It's a colourful patchwork
of small pastures
and a flower-rich hay
meadow, which I think
is pretty much unrivaled.
First, you might not realise it,
but the South of England is a big
player when it comes
to all things space.
We have world leading
companies, entrepreneurs and
inventors all pushing technology
to the absolute limit.
So, if you do come up
with the latest big idea, you'll get
the credit for, right?
JFK: We choose to go to the moon
in this decade and to do
other things, not because they are
easy but because they are hard.
Three, two, one, zero.
We have a liftoff.
Since the 1960s, the world's
greatest minds have been
racing to reach the stars
and expand our horizons.
This is the first
orbital test satellite.
It's the forerunner of all the comms
spacecrafts that you have.
This is the daddy of them all.
While Nasa often grabs
the headlines, an engineer
from Sussex played a major role
behind the scenes and
believes the Americans
have stolen his idea.
They never gave me
credit for anything.
It's so bad and it's not normal.
Back in the '70s, engineer
Alan Weinberg started
work at the European Space Agency
designing solar array power system.
What's more, they are still in use
today on almost spacecraft and
satellites in orbit.
When I arrived at the European
Space Agency, we had more
or less a clean sheet as far
as the power system was confirmed.
When you look at what the Americans
were doing it was...
And the Russians,
it was pretty basic.
He left the Space Agency
in 1995, three years later,
Nasa launched the International
Space Station powered by a massive
array of solar panels
and some of Alan's designs.
But the power system had a major
flaw, the original solar
panels could only survive
around 15 years in space.
At the time of the launch,
Alan was working as a
and came up with a solution.
They are past their lifetime now.
At the beginning of life,
they've got excess power and
my idea was let's use this excess
power, let's not keep the solar
array at constant voltage.
But let's vary the solar array.
I patented it because I felt
that it was a smart idea and
nobody had thought of that
and having said that,
it seems simple, but at the time
when I put it to
other people, it didn't
seem simple to them.
Alan spent £35,000 securing his
patent, but as he had
never heard from Nasa,
he assumed his idea to very
--vary the voltage had been ignored.
system should have
started to fail is life
continuing as normal?
I'm absolutely certain
that they are varying the voltage.
And this is the basis of my patent.
And they can do this easily
because they have all
the equipment to do that.
Nasa insists the voltage
is always kept
at a set point of 160 volts,
but data from the space station's
power station is broadcast on ISS
And that clearly shows
the voltage changing.
Intellectual property rights
like Alan's patent are a hot
topic in the UK right now.
Especially here in the south
where the space industry is booming.
Here at the UK's
Space Agency's research
base in Oxfordshire,
Catherine is the director of growth.
Space is a bit of a quiet
success story for the UK.
Making a big contribution to many
different sectors in the UK,
about 250 billion's worth.
When people want to do something
innovative in space, they often come
here to the UK and you know, we are
a nation of inventors and that's
what people like to work with.
So we're building...
One of our brightest
up-and-coming stars in the
business is Oxford space systems.
The space race is on.
We're seeing this
transition from space being
dominated by countries and large
agencies and flipping into
commercial space so, there is great
opportunities there for
For CEO Mike, ideas
are the firm's lifeblood, but
keeping hold of them can be tricky.
It's that delicate balance
between disclosing your intellectual
property to achieve sales,
but without giving away the crown
jewels of how you make your product
you formulate a material.
Because a patent in
the process of trying to
protect also almost shows your hands
of cards to the people who are
interested in your idea.
In fact we know of certain companies
that employ people simply to go
through newly filed patents to work
at how that can be replicated or how
they can get around it.
And there is another
problem because if a
government agency wants
to use your patented idea, legally,
you can't stop them.
Though, they are supposed
to pay you for it.
There is an argument
to be made if the
technology is so great,
than it is probably right
for a government to want access
to it and ownership of it.
And most governments generally
would look to strike a deal
with the inventor because clearly,
you are the guy who
invented the technology,
you are the real smart person that
knows how to exploit this.
It is better to have
you on side rather
than shut you out.
But, of course, there
are horror stories where
inventors do get shut out.
And shut out was exactly
how Alan was feeling
So, he'd lawyered up.
I did eventually find
a no-win, no fee lawyer.
They invited me to come over
and I spent the week with them
and we went through everything and
they started to dig for information
using the Freedom
of Information Act.
Alan thought he had finally got
the proof he needed when this report
from Nasa landed on his desk.
But they still weren't
giving anything away.
Redacted page after redacted page,
all of it labelled classified
under the US arms
export control act.
It's an International Space Station,
you can't claim an arms
agreement as a reason
for not giving information.
So eventually they came back
with some sort of information,
but it wasn't sufficient.
Alan's lawyers sought
Nasa, but Nasa said no.
They maintained they
had it copied his
patent and weren't
varying the voltage.
The live data from this space
station seems to show it does
vary and we have seen e-mails
to Alan from Nasa's employees
confirming they can vary the voltage
from back here on earth.
But that still doesn't
prove they are using
If Alan wants to take his claim
to court, he could be in
for a drawn out
and expensive ordeal.
In 2009, Nasa was
ordered to pay Boeing
$28 million for using one
of their patented ideas.
And a legal battle with an aircraft
company went on for --
an aircraft company over
another patent went
for 20 years.
In the end, my patent lawyers said
to me, look, we can't
continue with this.
Nasa aren't admitting
anything and it means we
have to take them to court
and that is going to
cost us a lot of money.
We contacted Nasa to ask how
they keep the power set at 160 volts
when their own data shows that it
and how they have managed to extend
the life span of the power system
without using Alan's idea.
After asking for more
time, not once, but
three times, Nasa eventually told us
what they told Alan five years
ago, that they don't
change the voltage.
The greater our knowledge
increases, the greater
Back in Sussex, Alan's
He is currently working on two
improved power systems.
He reckons they are ground-breaking.
But his fight with Nasa
has left its mark.
The eyes of the world
now look to space.
I'll be very careful
the next time and make
sure that I am fully
protected or try to be fully
protected if that's possible.
Is it possible?
No, currently not.
Sad, isn't it?
Now, don't forget,
as ever, if you want
to get in touch with the show,
then drop me an e-mail at...
Still to come...
Punch lines and Parkinson's.
My view is just make them think
something funny is about to happen
and then just when they realise it
isn't used left them.
Next, what happened next?
Time for an update on
some of our stories.
In September, we brought
you the story of Stevie,
the Southampton scaffolder whose
online alter ego is trapped.
I've caught two.
One just on the corner
there and then another one over
Stevie's a so-called
The police say paedophile
hunters are vigilantes.
They pose as children
online to catch predators
who arrange to meet them.
Following a recent sting,
a man he caught killed himself after
he was released from police custody,
pending further investigation.
On our programme, we showed
you a man who groomed
Stevie in just two days.
You arranged to meet a 14-year-old
boy here today.
Yes you have, mate.
Robert, the man being stung,
is a serial paedophile.
He pleaded guilty to attempting
to meet a child following
sexual grooming in Southampton
Crown Court last month.
And was sentenced to
seven years in prison.
Remember the locksmith company
across the South?
This company charged
a man from Swindon £730.
It's not what I asked
for, it is not like
When we caught up with
the owner Gary, he promised
to put things right.
The ones in your report,
we will refund them
A full refund?
And good news.
Ann got her refund
and a bunch of flowers.
We called Gary up to give him
a nudge because the
other two people in our report
had not been refunded.
They have now got their money back.
And finally, there is also
good news for the tower
block residents who were fed up with
being back of the queue for upgrades
My kitchen sink exploded.
It is just a nightmare.
Southampton City Council told us
that it has brought forward the pipe
replacement for this
block of towers.
We don't feel safe because how can
that be a fire door when the
other door is swinging open?
Residents were concerned
about the fire doors that don't
close in high winds.
Experts told us they were unsafe.
Heaven forbid, but if there
was a disaster here, this is
The Council has told us
that replacement door
sets for the fire doors
to the lift, lobby and staircase
have been ordered and as an interim
measure, stronger door closers have
been fitted to a number of doors.
Next, Paul Mayhew-Archer
is a comedy writer.
He also has Parkinson's.
Nothing funny about that
unless you decide to turn your hand
to stand up comedy.
And that is exactly what he did.
18 months ago, I stumbled in front
of a television camera to make
a little documentary called
Parkinson's: The Funny Side.
And now I've stumbled
back in front of the
same camera to make a little
follow-up, so follow me.
The groom is already married.
It was the funny side
because I am a comedy writer
who used to write something set
in a village called Dibley.
And it was Parkinson's the funny
side because well, because
I've got it.
Maybe she can cure.
Yes, it is gone, you see?
Isn't that amazing?
My brain was producing jokes,
but it wasn't producing
Which is the chemical it uses
to send messages to the rest of
No one knows why,
but in the programme,
we looked at some of the amazing
therapies now possible.
I also took a ballet
because music and dance
help to control the symptoms.
And I was experimenting heavily
with chocolate as a possible cure.
Since I saw you last,
stayed the same, the chocolate
addiction, but other things have
So one of the things I noticed
is that I'd take some pills
first thing in the morning
and as it is coming up to lunchtime,
I'm having to take some more
pills because I am...
They are sort of wearing off.
And my footsteps which are
normally quite normal have
turned in to sort of
David Suchet's Hercule Poirot.
What a pity Hercule never
used his little brain
cells to solve the mystery
Anyway, walking is something
I have done since...
Well, since I could
walk, but it is good
to try new things because back
in light of new bits in the brain.
So I've decided to
have a go at standup
But first, sit down comedy
or to give it its proper name, my
Parkinson's ballet class.
So, any tips on doing
standup comedy from my
Just don't freeze.
Just don't freeze.
One of the symptoms
of Parkinson's is freezing
where you just stop moving for
a couple of minutes or even longer.
I heard of someone who got
stuck on the Circle
to go all the way around.
Again and again and again.
Because they couldn't manage
to get off the train.
And if I use comedy
to keep my spirits up, what
do others do?
These exercises, these various types
of physical movements
are giving us an aid against this...
Some of these people
are keeping going and
keeping generally cheerful.
I mean, we are generally
My wife has
noticed the changes.
He did go to
the fridge the other day and he got
me something and I was cooking it.
He opened the fridge and then
went... And I think I said something
like, take all day! I just thought,
oh, I shouldn't have said that. So
it is that sort of thing he wasn't
used to doing.
Feeling pretty smug
that I got off the soaker line and
hoping that I don't freeze, I
shuffled to London's West End for my
first ever go at standup. Here I am
outside the renowned comedy store
and I think I will just go home.
if you think we don't care more
about dogs and humans, I will sum it
up, I went to get a use dog...
The comedy store has launched the
careers of some comedy great since
it started 38 years ago. The club
founder has some amazing stories.
Never heard of Robbie Williams.
Never heard of them. Robbie went on
to do five minutes and he a 45
And I am worried
about doing ten minutes mind you, I
have Parkinson's. Mind you, rumour
has it so did he. My first. Time to
get some tips. Starting with quick
fire comedian Tim Vine.
This is what
I do sometimes if I forget my act, I
go left leg, right leg, left leg, it
is a running order.
The RSPCA can
come around legally and check to see
if your house is big enough for the
dog and if it isn't they take the
dog away. But they leave you there.
Some very useful advice from John
Yes, phase forward and...
Get out there. That will do.
Generally works for me.
Porter tries to reassure me.
your first gig, it is sold out.
good going. No pressure. Tonight's
event is the brainchild of this man.
Whose father was diagnosed with
Parkinson's 17 years ago.
He is 75
now. It was quite early, early than
some people we know.
That is about
It is important to talk
about things. Doesn't matter what it
is, if you see something that is
difficult and challenging or even
just something people don't normally
talk about, you should talk about
it. Comedy store is cathartic. Isn't
it? I get a laugh. They are both
medicinal. Yeah, that is working
You're very kind. It is nice of you.
Unfortunately my medicine from
earlier are wearing off and I'm not
feeling freight. I'm a little bit
off at the moment. It hasn't kicked
in yet. I'm sort of slow and
perhaps... My hand so move very
You've just taken some pills.
I was feeling very dopey.
Hey, I am
on the front page everyone. Look.
I'm going to sit down again. That is
Ladies and gentlemen please
give a huge welcome for Mr...
next act has Parkinson's. So are you
ready to see? Please welcome to the
states, the fantastic Paul.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
According to the Parkinson's UK
website, every hour someone in this
country is told they have
Parkinson's. That is pretty serious.
That means some of us are being told
that the rear cog in the morning. --
are being told at three o'clock in
the morning. Wake up. What is a?
You've got Parkinson's. Go back to
sleep. I was diagnosed at 11 o'clock
in the morning by a friend. I went
to see him. I told him that I had an
arm that didn't swing very well. And
he said, I don't want to worry you,
but you either have Parkinson's. I
don't know what he would say if he
did want to worry me. I've always
seen my life as a bit of a sitcom. I
come from a sitcom kind of family.
Two years after my wife and I got
married, my father married my wife's
mother, which means I am married to
my stepson start.
mother, which means I am married to
my stepson And then when we had our
son he is my stepson. I've always
regarded Parkinson's as a new
episode in my sitcom life. Sometimes
the funny things that people says.
There was another neurologist he had
a delivery. My wife asked him does
Parkinson's expect life expectancy.
He said, well be used to think it
did, but then about six years ago as
we decided that it did not. But now
we think it does. My wife is no
longer my wife, she is my care were.
we think it does. My wife is no
longer my wife, she is my care When
I told my wife that she was my
carer, she said why don't care for
you Paul. I'm doing all right. I'm
doing some comedy and doing a right.
She said oh, Paul, it is good to
laugh I still can. In fact I'm going
to have a laugh tomorrow morning
when I would wake someone up at
three in the morning and tell them
that they have Parkinson's. Good
Come on, ready with a high
Paul, brilliant. Tells people
what it is really about. And tells
people not to be afraid. Just face
it. Love the man.
I love that. I
absolutely love that.
I think Paul
was absolutely amazing. I think he's
started big Emmys and extra big. And
he was even bigger in the middle.
He'll be here every Friday and
Leave something for
the rest of us.
I love him. He needs
to come back again.
Comedy. It may
not work for everyone, but my
goodness it works for me. Even
better than chocolate.
Nice one, Paul grey to have you on
the show. Our final story is about
an old-fashioned farmer who sat back
and did not much. All around him
grew the most wonderful landscape
ablaze so beautiful that it has
attracted a prince, a billionaire,
birds, bees and butterflies aplenty.
Nick Baker has been to the Meadows
and are set. -- in Dorset. A
throwback before times of pesticides
and chemical fertilisers. In June it
is buzzing with insect life. While
these flowers draw in the bugs in
their millions. 30 years ago, it was
a very different story. This whole
line scab -- landscape became very
close to destruction.
To a do I
By all accounts a lazy man.
His lack of innovation was a boon
for the wildlife here. The wildlife
trust bought most of the estate and
packages. Earlier this year, the
Prince of Wales came here to mark
its 30th anniversary.
This really is a meadow fit for a
prince. Check out the botanical
royalty in these rather splendid
orchids. There's loads of them here.
Amongst the orchids these flowers
are nectar for bugs. This is a real
beauty. This blackbird has a
mouthful of insects taken from here.
Here is a mosque taking pollen. --
we desperately need more places like
In the trees around, you can pick up
words like this one. This case it
dives after a fly. It is heaven for
sparrows as well. These wants, and
birds have declined by 70%. They
have not turned their back on
farming. These cattle lightly graze
the metal keeping the thicker grass
Running through the reserve a
different habitat. This time of
year, thousands of these flies hover
over the rivers. This one is a male.
When they slow down, you can see the
wings moving independently. They
powered these insects and give them
their extraordinary mobility. What a
place this is! I guess we have to
thank the folks from 30 years of was
for this vision of what it could
become. And also those who helped
out to secure its future. There are
very few places like this left. Long
may it prosper. Nick Baker there.
That is it for now. And for this
series. We will be back early in the
new year with plenty more stories.
Until then, goodbye.