Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Quantising Coffee.

It always strikes me as odd when someone asks for 'a coffee'

It would usually suffice to ask just for coffee, and if quantity needs to be specified one needs units, as in 'a pot of coffee', or 'a large cup of coffee'.

Coffee is a fluid, to be measured not counted, unless we invoke the quantum theory according to which everything may be counted provided the quantities are small enough.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

A Triumph for Oxford

In the recent election for leader of the Labour Party, Oxford graduates took the first three places, leaving the fourth and fifth places for Cambridge graduates.

Each of the two largest parties is now led by an Oxford man, leaving Cambridge with just the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Muddle for Free

Sometimes something may be free; when it is we get it for nothing, but we do not get it for free.

Is there some lust for circumlocution that impels some people to insert redundant words ?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Tangled Black Leads

I wish that fewer computer accessories had black leads. I'm often confused by the tangle on my desk.

Take the seven colours Newton saw in the rainbow, add black, brown and grey, and we get ten - I have a special job for white.

Leads connecting something to the computer could be in one of the ten colours, and the power lead for each device could use alternate stripes of the device's colour and white.

Useful categories could include the computer itself, the monitor, the mouse, the keyboard, the cable modem and network cables, external memory devices (including USB hubs), loudspeakers, microphones, printers and scanners are often combined and could share a colour, and that leaves one colour spare for other things. If desperate we could add pink as an eleventh colour.

It is too much to hope for such order, but it would help if manufacturers would just choose a colour at random from a large palette for each type of device they make.

Monday, 13 September 2010

One Hundred Years of Relativity.

Browsing the library today I spotted a book with that title, and reflected that the Theory of Relativity has now been around for rather more than 100 years, yet I suspect it has yet to appear in school courses in Physics. I wish the writers of syllabuses would try harder to keep up.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Elastic Theology

Radio 4 recently broadcast an interview with some A Level students at a Catholic school. One boy said:

"The thing about being a Catholic is you can pick and choose what things you believe, provided you worship God"

I hope he gets a chance to tell the Pope that!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Casket or Coffin

Recently I came a across a reference to someone carrying the casket at a funeral.

'Casket' made me visualise a dainty little box suitable for storing cuff-links or rings. Do people usually carry the jewellery of the deceased in state at a funeral? Then I thought the casket might contain the ashes, but it's unusual to have the cremation before the funeral.

I suppose one could bury a pet hamster in a casket, but a human needs more space. I hope I get a coffin!!!