Archive for July, 2009

MOON-age daydream

July 22, 2009

apollo-11

July 21st 1969.

Where were you?

Do you really not remember?

I’m pretty certain that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the other one do. 

It has come to my attention this week that it has been 40 years since Man first stepped foot on our orbiting satellite. And in lieu of my not being able to ascertain any type of celebration or commemoration of this momentous moment in human history, this 40th Anniversary – I thought to at least make mention of it here in my blog, even if no one else is going to.

It can not be overstated what a remarkable achievement this was for all involved. Although mostly it must be said for SCIENTISTS. Indeed when President John F Kennedy made the rather foolhardy claim at the beginning of the 1960’s that by the decades end America will have put a man on the moon – he had no scientific founding for this – and was quite clearly insane to come out with such a statement. (In fact it was a Scientist who was hidden behind the fence on the grassy knoll that fateful day in Dallas, there to stop the man, before it is claimed, Kennedy was about to announce that Science would also going to establish working matter teleportation before his second term was out!)

Nevertheless despite these extravagant claims – the idea had caught the public’s imagination, and Science had been thrust into the spotlight like never before. All eyes were on NASA and Cape Canaveral, somewhat overshadowing I can’t help but feel some of the fine work that our leading British rocket Scientists were up to at the time. Indeed for a short while I was lectured during my student days by the leading British Rocket Scientist of his age, Professor Bernard Quatermass – although he was something of a raging alcoholic by this stage and often subject to making wild claims about giant lettuces from outer space and Martians on the London Underground!

Still I often get asked nowadays why we have not returned to the moon. Indeed the last recorded mission to the lunar surface took place in 1972, now some 37 years ago. It does sadden me that such great scientific endeavour and achievement was not capitalised upon more immediately and effectively – who knows, had things worked out differently – if I might not have been writing this very blog to you now from the surface on another world.

There was a brief flirtation at the Human Institute to initiate a trip to the moon only a few years ago – but many of our students parents balked at the increase in their children’s tuition fees to fund such a field trip – we fell somewhat short of our £5 billion pound target – I even sat in a bathtub of Baked Beans for 24 hours to try and raise funds – nevertheless the resulting money raised did go towards providing a table tennis table in the staff canteen room.

Who do you think you are?!!

July 16, 2009

who

I like music as much as the next man. In small doses. Every so often. And I appreciate it may, possibly have some kind of vague medicinal (or at least placebo) qualities for those that feel they need it to cope with certain aspects of life. But when a band comes along and all of a sudden claims to be the undisputed experts in global pandemic viral situations such as the current spread H1N1 strain of flu or “swine flu”, I really do get all hot and bothered!

Yes, I’m not disputing that their music may have had calming and mentally healing effects on their no doubt massive fan base. But what makes “The WHO” believe that they’re also scientific health professionals, I’ll never understand. I’ve heard of Doctor Who and the good work he does around the world but he clearly knows his stuff and has been through the 6 years medical school to earn his qualifications, trust and respect. But these people are musicians for crying out loud!

Day in, day out, everywhere I look, I keep reading about their “recommendations” and “precautionary measures” that we should be following to avoid the spread of this virus.

I haven’t taken the time to listen to ANY of their music but I suppose I can assume they even try to preach such health advice in their lyrics? Maybe someone reading can confirm or dispute this.

But until they provide hard, solid, factual proof that their advice is in anyway useful, I intend to ignore every suggestion they publish. I mean how can we begin to trust the advice of any individual or group who doesn’t even sound sure of their own name?

I’m not even supposed to be here today!

July 15, 2009

ClerksB&WDanteAs many of you are aware I am a certified Scientist, Doctor, Professor and occasional Falconer. Today though I address you in the more surprising capacity of substitute teacher.

Whilst the Human Institute is primarily dedicated to the study and further advancement of scientific endeavour, and the eradication of badgers, to gain the requisite funding from the governments educational body – we are required as a school, to provide a cross section of other subjects for the students to waste their time with. With half my current staff all at home, bedridden with Swine Flu (something I actively encouraged them all to contract so they might develop a natural immunity – although some have lodged complaint at the means of administration – the staff  coffee machine – never touch the filthy stuff myself) I have stepped into the breach.

 I am now covering 90% of classes across the institute this week. In fact I am writing this very blog whilst attending to the creative writing class. I know nothing about creative writing whatsoever (dealing only ever as I do on cold hard fact) so my hope is that nobody asks me a question before the lecture is up. They do all appear to be looking at me rather attentively though as I sit here at the lectern and type away. There stupid gormless faces waiting for me to say something. Well they won’t get anything out of me. I can sit here all day. In fact I will be as I’ve got a French class coming through next…

In the Summertime when the weather is hot…

July 10, 2009

heat-wave

Like any reasonably sane person I am English. And with that fact subject to the vagaries of the British Weather system. It may not have gone unnoticed by many of my fellow countrymen that over the last few weeks we have been subject to a rather ‘unseasonably’ hot weather streak here in the UK. The sun has been shining, people have flocked to parks and beachsides, even the recent all England club’s annual tennis tournament in Wandsworth was beset with unusually good weather conditions for play (although as ever people seemed to be attracted to the tournaments more vuglar and excessive cousin down the road at SW19 – and as such I claimed victory by default for the fifth year running).

Used to, as we are the more grey and miserable day to day weather that usually bests these fair isles – as ever, we all seemed hopelessly unprepared for the summer warmth. Indeed my housekeeper seemed quite unprepared when she arrived for work one morning to find me making about my business in the nude. After all it doesn’t take a scientist (although of course it did) to reason that with the increase in temperature, the decrease in accompanying clothes would aid in general cooling. This did seem to take some explaining to the local authorities however upon my journey to work later that day.

Still if I was to be shackled in a pair trousers and double breasted shirt and jacket with which to perform my lectures – I was sure as Newton going to do something about it.

I have been tinkering for sometime with a localised weather machine – ever since the freak snow storms we were subjected to earlier this year (and which claimed the life of my former housekeeper as detailed in a former blog). It’s a relatively simple piece of equipment I have installed on the roof of the institute – anyone with a basic understanding of macro-processors, barometric pressure reading, epoxy-polyester coated stainless steel, Cryostor 180 liquid N2 supply vessels and lucky heather – could build one.

I put the machine to it’s first proper test in fact only this last Tuesday. The more cautious amongst you may be surprised to learn that I didn’t bother with any kind of prelinmary testing ahead of it’s activation, but I find all of these ‘safety checks and procedures’ rather tiresome – in the face of mans progression in Science, I don’t think you’ll find Robert Oppenhiemer wasted time ‘testing’ his ‘atomic bomb’ before giving it a go, and look what he achieved!

So I do have to confess the flash floods that beset London on Tuesday afternoon, delivering as reported ‘three months of rain in three hours’ may have had something to do with a few miscalculations on my behalf, I must remember to carry the factor of pi squared AFTER subtracting the power of six over the remainder.  Amateur!

So Wrong!

July 8, 2009

Coors

Today, I thought it would be useful for many of you to get a glimpse of what I teach in my institute. Admittedly it’s a bit of self promotion, but web advertising costs have gone through the roof recently and budget cuts in the institute mean I have to take what I can. And it’s less humiliating than standing around in shopping centre wearing a penis-shaped costume handing out promotional leaflets, which is how I spent last weekend.

The following lecture came about following one average morning’s drive to work. My car radio jammed on ‘Smooth FM’ and I consequently happened upon a song by a band known as The Corrs called ‘So Young’. I couldn’t believe my ears. For how long had such nonsense been piping out to the masses? I was so appalled by its wild preachings and irrational claims that I pulled over the car to make notes for a soon-to-be smash hit lecture, which seems to become more and more popular each year I hold it.

Lecture #342 – A deconstruction & analysis of The Corrs’ song So Young

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
We are taking it easy

 

PCH: Fine, I do too sometimes – once or twice a year.

Bright and breezy, yeah
We are living it up
Just fine and dandy, yeah

 

PCH: That’s all fine, no problem with those claims or pastimes – go ahead ladies, live it up!!

Now, on to the problem area…

And it really doesn’t matter that we don’t eat…

 

PCH: Yes it does ladies, YES-it-does. If for some reckless reason, you decide to stop eating, after around 32 hours your stomach will start to ingest itself and you’ll be dead within 10 days. Of course if you stop drinking too, that’s a different matter, and you’ll be a corpse within just 2 days.

And it really doesn’t matter if we never sleep…  

No it really doesn’t matter, really doesn’t matter at all

 

PCH: Well part of me agrees with this (see my previous blog on sleep deprivation) but if like yourselves ladies, you are very beautiful, then you can not expect to maintain such good looks and will become increasingly grouchy as the time goes on. The next thing you know, you’ll be threatening to kill someone just for pinching your seat on the train. It really is quite an unpleasant experience and I don’t recommend it.

Coz we are so young now, we are so young, so young now
And when tommorow comes, we can do it all again

 

PCH: This can not be true, nobody can be that young. Unless somehow you have pipped me to the post in finessing the first functional safe, non-destructive time machine. If you mean you can do things exactly the same as you did from one day to the next, then all manner of environmental and emotional factors will prevent such occurrences. Sorry to be a party pooper.

 

We are chasin’ the moon

 

PCH: You can try but you’ll be there all night, again trust me – been there, tried that.

 

Just running wild and free

 

PCH: No problem, this is really good fun actually and I can highly recommend it, around dusk. But please be aware, I am in no way condoning or encouraging madness.

We are following through
Every dream and every need

PCH: Fine to chase your dreams, but to actually follow them through could be very hazardous practice. I did once in 1988 when I dreamt of making friends with a bear. The whole episode left me in intensive care for 4 days, and a permanent scar on my forehead and left buttock (right, if you’re behind me – like he was). As for following through every need, depending on your definition of ‘need’, this can also lead to wanton destruction of the body as Matthew Haines demonstrated in 1994 when one morning, unemployed and left completely to his own devices, he killed himself after 5½ solid hours of masturbation. A messy but valuable lesson to us all.

The song then somewhat cheaply repeats itself (surely such songs should be half price?). So there you have it. Popular culture is all very well and good but when it dares to cross the borders of scientific fact, I’ll be there every time to defend the truth.

Class dismissed.