Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Puzzling Names for Elusive Entities

I've been reading some theoretical Physics and thought the names of the various quarks most misleading.

Up and Down are the pair that make up most of the matter we usually encounter, but there are also Strange, Charm, Top and Bottom quarks. The names are entirely arbitrary, but four of them misleadingly suggest some geometrical significance..

It would be much better to use names that are clearly arbitrary. I suggest  the names of foods.

Up and Down could be replaced by Bangers and Mash, Strange and Charm by Strawberries and Cream, and Top and Bottom by Haggis and Nips.

If we want to make  a concession to transatlantic tastes we could replace one of  those pairs by Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Innumeracy in High Places.

M. Jacob Rees-Mogg has commanded his minions to use only Imperial units for measurement, and to avoid the word 'equal'.

Imperial measurements may amuse people who enjoy vague chatter about quantities but they are quite unsuitable for calculation. Compare the conversion of litres to cubic centimetres with the conversion of gallons to cubic inches. Anyone asked to make the latter conversion is likely to start by asking 'which gallon?' and to struggle even when that question has been answered

Abandoning the notion of equality would make Mathematics extremely difficult.

I find it even harder to believe in Mr. Rees-Mogg than in the other Westminster Folk.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Westminster Folk

I no longer believe in British Politics.

I don't mean that I don't trust British politicians - I don't but my disbelief is much more profound than that.

I've lived through many governments and political leaders outside government. I've disagreed with most of them about one thing or another, and have disagreed with some of them about almost everything, but until now I never struggled to believe in their existence.

Now public affairs look and sound like a comedy act mostly performed by distinctly mediocre actors.

Perhaps we could call the sit com 'Westminster Folk'

If someone wrote a computer game we might call it 'Confidence and Supply'

Thursday, 25 July 2019


As hot weather arrives, people start to tell of sleepless nights spent surrounded by fans. The fans may be more of a problem than a solution.

Fans consume electrical energy and release it as heat, partly in the mechanism of the fan, and partly in motion of the air. The stream of air generated by a fan quickly dissipates into eddies and soon fades away into random motion of individual molecules, what we usually call 'heat' So a fan is likely to make the room as a whole warmer.

Sometimes parts of a room may be cooled. If one part of a room is cooler than another a fan could be set to move air from the cooler part of the room to the warmer thus changing the distribution of heat but the cooling effects of a fan usually depends on evaporating water, so a fan blowing air over a moist sweaty body may cool that body. That will only take place while the sweaty body exposes itself  to the output of the fan. Sometimes sweaty bodies leave fans switched in their absence, expecting the room to be cooler when they return. They are likely to be disappointed.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Sorting Out Ireland

Concern about the status of Northern Ireland is the principal impediment to persuading Parliament to approve arrangements for Britain to leave the EU.

I propose a referendum in Northern Ireland to decide whether or not to accept the so called 'back-stop' Were Nothern Ireland to approve its partial separation from the rest of Britain, there would be less reason for the rest of Britain to object.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Confusing Abstraction and reality.

I wince every time I hear someone say something like 'hot temperature' or 'expensive prices'

I suspect there's a name for such confusions, but I can't recall it. Perhaps some reader of this blog will enlighten me.

There is one context in which there's case for calling a price expensive. People who trade in financial futures buy or sell the right to trade in stocks or commodities at a certain price. If the cost of a particular option seems rather high, one might say' that's an expensive price', but so far as I know futures traders never do say that.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Chats with cats

I often talk to the cat, even though she is deaf. Perhaps she can lip read!

In her way she talks back.Sometimes it's clear that she wants something - either food or a door opened, but sometimes I think she's just acknowledging my existence. A meow then signifies something like 'I see you and accept your admiration'.

We humans often struggle to think of something to say in circumstances when saying something is considered polite. It would be so much easier if, instead of having to formulate a vacuous sentence that just appears to say something, we could simply meow.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Breach of Copyright ?

The debate about a newspaper's publication of an ambassador's emails has not so far mentioned copyright. I imagine that copyright belongs to the Foreign Office, so that publication without their permission would be grounds for at least a civil action.