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Showing posts from December, 2013

What if your washing machine instruction manual was like the Bible?

Some people say that the Bible is a manual for life. I'm not so sure it's that clear cut. Suppose the manual for your washing machine was like the Bible. What would it be like?

Genesis The birth and early life of the founder of the company. His/her first job. How they founded this small company manufacturing domestic appliances.

Exodus How the company survived a recession and grew from strength to strength. How early washing machines were to be treated, the type of detergent that was suitable in those days. (However many of the rules for these early washing machines still apply to day.)

Judges and Kings etc. After the founder dies (this is not an analogy, this is a washing machine manual), there are a number of takeovers by other companies. At the end of the process the company is experiencing steady growth.

Songs about washing machines Lots of them, mostly written by one person.

The modern age The first electronic washing machines with fancy electronic displays (really, this …

What would you call the fans of historical scientists?

New words have been invented for the fans of people/films/TV programmes - so we have Twihards for Twilight, Gleeks for Glee and Beliebers for Justin Bieber.

If scientists and engineers from the past were still around today what would we call their fans? We could have the Newtonians (not very clever), Coperniclan, Lacelovers (sounds a bit dodgy), Curios, Pasteurites, Brunelles. Any more?

Motor bike and pedal bike

Since our office move I've been cycling to work from time to time instead of going on my motorbike. The new office is only slightly closer to home than the old one, but there was a hill at both ends of the journey, so I never fancied it. Now I only have a hill as I go home in the evening (which I'm walking up apart from the first bit). I only cycle when it's not raining, and it's not icy, and I don't have to be home promptly, and I'm not too tired. I'm the cycling equivalent of those people who only ride motorbikes in the summer so they keep their bikes nice and shiny. (I ride my motorbike all year round, apart from when it's snowy or icy on the main roads.)

There are number of differences that have struck me between the two different modes of transport.

Sound On my motorbike all I pretty much hear is the noise of the engine, and on roads when I can do 50mph (it's not a very powerful bike) the wind noise. I'm wearing ear plugs so the roar is dul…

Going to church and a quote from Hitchiker's

Uncommon is an interesting community. As well as the website that they're working on for paying members, there's a weekly newsletter. It asks a question each week and reports back some of the answers the following week. The question last week was "where are you a regular", so I wrote this:
I'm a regular at church on Sunday mornings and fortnightly in the evenings. There's a bit in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that goes like this:

"There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] suggests, and try it.

[...]

"If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinty, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species o…