Monday, 14 July 2008

Visible strings and the lasting effect...

For those of us with acute and fond memories of the late 1950's and early 1960's, a selection of personally meaningful images and links... If ever there was an argument for 'Smellyvision' this would be it. Just think..

Cherry Lips.. Bassets Sweet Tobacco.. Sherbert Pips.. Kunzel Cakes..
Bazooka Joe.. Creamola Foam..
Birds Instant Whip..
Walls Neapolitan Ice Cream..

Twizzle.. Torchy the Battery Boy.. Supercar..

Dixon.. (I remember this very one!).. Tales of the Riverbank.. Hamster abuse of the lowest order!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Biblical routes. A rant.

'If we let go of our biblical roots, what have we got left? Just peoples opinions..'

(BBC News, tonight. In an interview with an anti gay clergy parishioner outside a church where Gene Robinson had tried to preach).

Isn't this a lovely question? We are left with clear routes for argument and decision making..

Out walking yesterday.. near Harbottle Castle in Northumberland. Following a path between the modern evocation of medieval England and the hard contested borderland.. Taking easy delight in the form and function of the flora and fauna. We were commenting on the simple fact that seems to elude those bent on cul de sac philosophy. There simply is no need to limit one's wonder at the patterns and purposes presented to us daily. No need to stop at a creationist road map. There are tremblings in the foundations..

I think creationism is, in a sense, a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories. Whatever the biblical account of creation is, it's not a theory alongside theories. It's not as if the writer of Genesis or whatever sat down and said well, how am I going to explain all this... 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...' Rowan Williams in The Guardian, 21 March 2006

A good try, Dr Williams but no cigar..

When will influential, articulate leaders admit their secret courage and speak plainly about the wonder that is bigger than the concept of god? The acceptance of Not Knowing beyond what can be proved? The anticipation of knowledge to be gained and the part we can all play in that process?

Rant over! For now....

Anyway, the walk through heath and moorland was a little wonder in itself. we deliberated over the potential toxicity of low lying purple fruited bushes, only to discover them to be Bilberrys and great for pies!

The Ministry of Defence was out for a bit of a fight in the hills when we arrived at the Drake Stone.

Puffs of smoke and the unexpectedly deep thumping of a machine gun rolled and wafted across the heather. A helicopter looked as if it was interested in our process through the bracken.

It was all very exciting. Until we realised that somehow, the constant bombardment had faded into the background. The surroundings, the pillow mosses, the lichen and the tiny flora, getting smaller as we looked were more interesting by far. We acknowledged then that were it not for the MOD, this area may well have fallen to farm. And suffered at the hands of commerce.


It's small but undeniable compensation.

We went behind the Red Flags though. Hah!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Constants.. Falling Through... Douglas Adams keeps surprising us!

Thinking about constants today. Wondering about how many we could identify as understandable in the quest for a Universal Theory Of Everything. Until this arrives, I would settle for a small kit bag of simple constants.


The Speed Of Light. How remarkable is it that this is Constant under usual circumstances but a movable feast when played with in Quantum Physics.

The realisation that two different elements will fall at the same rate.

That there is a Terminal Velocity at all. As a sky diver plummets, he may reach a speed arrived at by the congruence of Gravitational Force and Drag Factor.. approximately 200 miles per hour.

Go on, have a go. It's ok. It won't bite..
F = m g - q A C_d \,


m is mass of the object
g is the acceleration due to gravity
q is \frac{1}{2} \rho V^2 , which is commonly known as the dynamic pressure, where
ρ is the fluid density (e.g. density of air)
V is the fluid (or air) velocity
A is the cross-sectional area of the object
Cd is the drag coefficient of the falling object

The terminal velocity is reached when F = 0, so

m g - q A C_d = 0 = m g - \frac{1}{2} \rho V^2 A C_d .

Solving for V to obtain the expression for terminal velocity,

V_t = \sqrt{ \frac{2mg}{\rho A C_d} }


Broccoli by numbers!

Absolute Zero. Where weird things happen to elements at around −273.15 °C. If it were possible to achieve, then the Bose–Einstein condensate state appears. Something bonkers called the de Broglie hypothesis also happens and the world becomes unpredictable... *gulp* Fluids that spontaneously leave thier confines.. Plasma is no longer the final state..

But best of all is the apparent constant that governs the speed at which we fall through the earth.

Drill a tunnel from Morpeth to Aukland. (This is remarkably close!) Then drop through it head first. In a vacuum. With a pressure suit and thermal underwear. You will arrive on the other side, briefly topping the hole before disappearing back the way you came. The one way trip will take you.... 42 minutes. It's tempting to abandon scepticism and ask, did Douglas Adams know that this would eventually become common knowledge?

It gets better. Drill a hole from Morpeth to Cern. This trip will take.. 42 minutes. Wherever you go from and wherever you arrive, it will take 42 minutes to get there.
It's all about the variables of gravity, distance and the most universally applicable constant of all, Pi.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Walking on water is it?

I have discovered a new way home from the Turner Herb Garden in the park.

I have egg on my face. It wasn't this Turner!

Rather, an adventurous herbalist..

who served the local population and made a name for himself as an efficient diagnostician and therapist.

On the way back from the garden, in a bid to beat the rain, I walked over the Wansbeck..


and chanced upon the local Heron..

Out for a bit of a stand around....

Friday, 4 July 2008

Rapprochement (Brief return)

How wonderful is Peter Blegvad and the Leviathan Strip..

I wish I had remembered it when I wrote about the Rapprochement Sub Phase!

See the mix of 'Little Prince' and Bunyan...


Prompted by an Over The Pizza conversation with a good friend, I am sitting in consideration of belief.

It is hard to maintain scepticism and employ the scientific method when discussing other's beliefs. I am struck by how much thought I put into my own hard earned understandings. How little they seem in comparison with the Great Truths that are held as self evident by religeous believers. I am envious of the wonder that accompanies these truths.

My tenets, however small (and sometimes, small is very beautiful!) are held in a shared cradle of science. I don't understand the nature of the uncertainty principle but I revel in it's likelihood. The utter simple beauty that is the moment of creation, resulting in a mere three elements (well, two and not much lithium at all really) is preposterous.

In terms of the magnitude of energy expended in that effort, all the acts of a vengeful god over a period of a few thousand reported years are as nothing. But the stories are good.

Imagine if those gifted with the transcription of the word of Jehova had been party to the facts. How monumentally important their version of the Big Bang may have been. Imagine the resultant world wide shock of realisation that, not only have maths and divinity combined but that maths has prevailed. That God need not have spent so long in the amusement afforded by inventing original sin and punishing the innocent. The true terrible beauty of his works would be far less comprehensible by the uneducated but no less a mystery.

That's where we are. I feel the urge to ring the boffins and say, 'Go on, it might not be quite ready yet but just turn the bugger on and let's all see what happens!'

In the words of another good friend, 'We can only be wrong!'
(thanks Bill).