Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Woodward: The universe. I have to write up the universe by tonight.
Bernstein: Hmm, big subject. What’s in it besides you and me?
Woodward: Dark energy, dark matter, particles like neutrinos and atoms. Need a metaphor.
Bernstein: Quite a mix. Write it like a recipe. The particles are ingredients, apply a big bang to stir it up, it becomes a soup of dark energy, dark matter and neutrinos. Mix in atomic particles to become stars and planets to taste.
Would that astrophysics be as easy as cooking. Though some scientists might wish that cooking were as simple as astrophysics.
For CERN’s recipe go here
“Take a massive explosion to create plenty of stardust and a raging heat. Simmer for an eternity in a background of cosmic microwaves. Let the ingredients congeal and leave to cool and serve cold with cultures of tiny organisms 13.7 billion years later.”
Monday, August 24, 2015
Three scientists discuss purpose…
Museologist: A museum has to have a clear purpose, for example, to collect, study and present artifacts.
Botanist: A botanical garden’s purpose is to collect plant specimens for research, conservation, display and education.
Astrophysicist: A planetarium’s purpose is to educate visitors about the night sky.
Moderator: We might note that museums and botanical gardens collect artifacts and specimens, but planetariums are a kind of theater and focus on presentation and education.
Stephen Weil described successful museums as having a clear purpose, that they had resources to reach their objectives, that they were effective enough to reach their objectives, and that they were efficient in using resources economically.
So perhaps museums and botanical gardens have common ground, whereas the planetarium is not part of that group. Just as Pluto, the dwarf planet, is not regarded as a real planet.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Boy: Why do you have so many pumpkins?
Mother: To make pumpkin… oh, to make pumpkin marmalade.
Boy: Why did Franklin fly a kite in an electrical storm?
Mother: He wanted to become… to become a lightbulb.
Boy: Why did Lady Godiva ride on a horse with no clothes?
Mother: She wanted to… become a chocolate.
Children’s "why" questions sometimes never end. Some children are merely curious. Others use the “why” question to provoke. Parents need reserves of inventiveness and even flippancy to preserve their sang froid and to send the child away to puzzle over why they answered as they did. Or perhaps ask, “What do you think?”
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Spannerhands: The verdict is not good. Two small leaks: one from the steering, another from the transmission.
Huey: Can’t they be fixed?
Spannerhands: They can. But only by removing and disassembling the rack and the gearbox.
Spannerhands: Could be more than the vehicle’s value. Pity. The car runs good as new. You’d never believe it had a fatal condition.
Huey: Back in the days, the 60s, even the 70s, you could maintain your own car. Now you can’t. Not without specialized computer diagnostics.
Spannerhands: They’ve locked out the do it yourselfer.
And with 40% of new car costs being in the software needed to run the vehicle, Spannerhands hasn’t got much of a show of fixing it himself nowadays. Car runs perfectly but it’s headed for the scrapheap. Sent there because a couple of leaks. Shame.
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Ella: I bought a pocket wifi, ignoring the “Fools rush in” principle. Put a card in, no internet connection.
Bella: Did support help?
Ella: It took an army of them, four hours. First, they had to register the data card number with my passport number. Second, the data card was telephone, not internet data. Third, the card was upgraded, at extra cost, still no connection. Fourth, went to carrier helpdesk, the guys there couldn’t find the problem. Nice but hopeless. Fifth, called the pocket wifi helpdesk, no reply. Sixth, someone said the 4G card wasn’t compatible a 3G pocket wifi, did that, no result.
Bella: A litany of joyless frustration?
Ella: I was ready to leave the pocket wifi with them forever. Smiling nicely, of course. But finally a techie girl tweaked the pocket wifi settings and it came online.
Bella: Heaven comes to he who waits?
Ella: Patience did win the day.
Try before you buy, or buyer better beware!