The following posts have no fixed theme or style, but I hope you enjoy reading them!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

This blog is getting longer by exactly one sentence on this occasion.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Advice #27

Follow your doctor's advice

Ear update

With a title like that I'm sure you'll be itching to read this.

But it's actually a cunning plan that only people who really like this blog will find out that I have a new job! I'm very excited, I'm going to start a proper career doing nice metallurgical things up north. It starts very very soon and I can't wait to meet some people, have a permanent place to live and a permanent job. It's the feeling of permanent that is so good I think. I am fed up of moving around and knowing things will not last forever. Even university was only going to last four years and I had decided that was all very early on. And jobs were terrible, filling summer holidays for only a few weeks at a time. Now I can get my teeth into something without worrying that my efforts will be forgotten in the blink of an eye. I think it's a career I want to get my teeth into as well, but only time will tell.

Anyway, you might have started reading this hoping for an update on my ears, following from this and this. I went to my medical for the job today and was told that the hearing in my right ear is worse than in my left. So my experiment has yielded a clear outcome... follow your doctor's advice

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Events in Rural Home-place

Went to church this evening, to find that there were two clergy and only three congregation. Well, once we turned up there were eight, but it was still a pitifully small service. It's so small that the organist doesn't turn up any more so we just read through the book of common prayer, take communion and leave. This is possibly the most interesting style of service ever devised. Actually, I am being mean. There was a sermon in which the vicar tried to go along the tightrope of whether to expect prayers to be answered or not. That was certainly worth seeing for the care with which he chose his words, even if not for his originality.

On the way out of church, we found a gathering of people chatting in an animated fashion. A large calf ran past. One man tried to stop it and the calf just ran past him too. The man looked slightly flummoxed by that. A second man came and waved a stick manacingly and the calf stopped. A minute later, it decided to go past the man with the stick. The man with the stick looked slightly flummoxed too. It headed along the road (speed limit 30mph, average speed 45mph) to the crossroads and went straight across and into a garden. Apparently the owner of the garden is very proud of his lawn thank you very much and could we please disturb it as little as possible. The chase went on regardless, into the next field. By this stage I had left the chase and taken up a spot near its home, hoping to guide it in when it returned (instead of it going straight past again). Ten minutes and a discussion of how best to cook beef later, my uncle appeared at the end of the road. He was waving the aforementioned stick and prodding the exhausted animal back to its field. It seemed to have enjoyed its run but decided it had had enough. It finally went back into its field, wagging its tail and looking pleased with itself with very little effort on my part. Then we left the farmer to check that he now had all his cows in the field.

We went home for a nice meal of roast beef, which had been delayed considerably by this. It was yummy.

Monday, 11 August 2008

My overdeveloped spirit of enquiry

Having been told by my doctor that putting anything in your ear to clean them (like cotton buds, fingers etc) makes them get blocked more easily (see here), I tested it out. I didn't really consider it, or decide to do it, but almost immediately after getting my ears unblocked last time, I started cleaning out my right ear using said "bad" methods, and following doctor's orders on my left ear. The doctor was right! My right ear is much more blocked than my left one and I am worrying that it'll block completely like last time! I have suspended all activities relating to the inside of both ears indefinitely. If only I could just take the doctor's advice, maybe I'd be healthier...

Sunday, 10 August 2008

A silly sign

I won't turn this site into a novelty picture site, because there are enough of those already. But just today I'll treat you to a novelty sign (there are plenty of those on the internet too) because it's in my village.

I could make you guess what it means and why it's there, but it's probably better if I just tell you. It is there to encourage people to park half on the pavement and half on the road. The pavement is very wide at that point because people are supposed to park there, but people found that cars made it difficult to walk past. So they put up the sign in the hope that drivers would leave more space for pedestrians. It's well-intentioned, but if I was parking there I wouldn't have a clue what the sign meant. And I'd probably park as much on the pavement as possible to avoid parking on the main street through the village

Friday, 1 August 2008

Mercury is Retrograde

That's the title of a new Bloc Party song. I haven't decided whether I like it or not. It's a kind of "bangin" track that I would sometimes jump around violently to in my room, and sometimes be utterly bored by. After all, it has a heavy beat, good rhythms, but only 3 words. In fact, put in those terms, the song Count Five or Six by Cornelius is similar. It has five and a half words in the entire song (those being "one, two, three, four, five, si...") and it's amazing because of the repetition and the good beat.

Another thing that those two songs have in common is that they are educational. I knew how to count to five or six. However, I was not entirely sure what retrograde meant. Well, I had some idea, but having found it on wikipedia, it turns out that retrograde motion is simply motion that is the opposite way to normal. So planets can spin in a retrograde way or move in a retrograde way relative to each other. Maybe it would make it clearer if I explained. If you are looking down on the solar system, you can see a planet going round it either clockwise or anti-clockwise. You can also see it is spinning on its axis either clockwise or anticlockwise. If these motions are different to each other, it is called retrograde spin. If the planet goes in the opposite direction round the sun to most of the others, then it is a retrograde orbit too.

I might be wrong, but Mercury is not retrograde in either sense. However, it can appear to have a retrograde orbit from Earth, because the motion we see is its motion relative to us, and we are moving too. Sometimes the stars can move across the sky from East to West, while Mercury will move from West to East. This looks like retrograde motion. But sometimes Mercury will go with the stars from East to West. It just depends where our orbits are relative to each other.

I think I might have complicated things so I apologise if I have... my conclusion is that saying Mercury is Retrograde is describing a temporary phenomenon as viewed from Earth.

I had hoped that it would be a universal truth. A song would be a wonderful way of remembering and spreading scientific knowledge. It's successful because the words sound cool. The question I'd like to ask you is this: if you could have any fact immortalised in a song so that people would remember it forever, what would it be? It should have cool words like "retrograde" and be an interesting fact. My initial suggestions would be

Atmospheric pressure is one BAR
Put your balls in a box to case harden my metal
Coke contains phosphoric acid
Martensite is diffusionless
Coble creep is along grain boundaries
Tungsten is amazing

PS sorry they are all materials science related and a bit obscure, maybe you have better ones

!EDIT! Apparently the song is called "Mercury's in retrograde" !EDIT!