Archive for September, 2009

I don’t always have something to say…

September 30, 2009


Quiet times at the Human Institute this week. It being a fresh term nonetheless, with many new eager faces waiting for their minds to be filled with the wonder and complexities of scientific teaching, I find I have little to impart.

No I really have nothing…

I thought I had something earlier but it turned out to be just a bit of wind.


How to tie a shoelace

September 22, 2009


Now this might not seem to many to be a subject related to Science. However it is inconceivable to me that we are still persisting with something so obviously flawed as the common shoelace knot.

Only yesterday on my morning jog  I was barely metres from the front gates of the Institute before the lace in my left training shoe had come undone.

This may surprise many of you I am sure – the very idea of my going for a ‘jog’, however I regret to say that the summer break has seen me over indulge in a few pleasures that are starting to make show round my mid-riff. Now I can’t stand the thought of working out in a gym (I have a childhood fear of female bodybuilders inherited in part from my mother) and I dislike taking part in competitive sport – if I am not going to win. I am the best there is in the scientific field should I expect any less in another?

So it is I found the only exercise left open to me (and the cheapest) was the humble jog. All I needed was an open space and I was good to go. Admittedly after my first jog I realised that my usual attire of lab coat, shirt and tie weren’t appropriate either and after rectifying the problem with a visit to a local sports shop, I was good to go.

However it was not long before I was held up once more by faulty design work in the lace department. Why might this be? Certainly it was not as though the laces hadn’t been competently tied. Indeed my housekeeper has being tying my laces for years with little usual problem. I can’t begin to tell you the inconvenience in having to stop every few minutes on a jog to wait for my housekeeper to find me and do my laces back up again.

But fear no longer reader, of errant laces coming undone on you anymore. It was merely a matter of applying the problem to science, of which nothing cannot be solved, and I have devised a foolproof new knot that will revolutionise the way people wear shoes. Except slip ons and sandals.


  1. Take the left hand lace (right hand if you are facing me) and hold it up. We shall call this Lace A.
  2. Now take the right hand lace and hold in a similar fashion. This is Lace B.
  3. Bring Lace A and Lace B together crossing one over the other (it doesn’t matter which, whichever you are the more comfortable with).
  4. Twist Lace A round Lace B, do this five times, creating a tight cord. It is important this is done in a clockwise manner (unless again you are facing me and should then be anti-clockwise).
  5. Take Lace B, and loop it under Lace A (back to note 3 if you did not cross Lace A over the TOP of Lace B you will have to completely unlace the shoe and start again). This should still leave you with approximately 4 metre length of Lace B.
  6. Now Lace A should be looped back on itself and held between the thumb of the right hand and the fore finger of the left.
  7. With your other hand take Lace B and tie three equally spaced knots in the lace at no more than 2cm intervals. (If you wish you may use a ruler).
  8. While still holding Lace A, pull as tight as you can, preferably till your foot starts to tingle, and quickly tie off round the ankle.
  9. With the remainder of Lace B, take a pair of scissors and cut off as close to the shoe as possible, discard the remainder knots and all.
  10. Repeat on the other shoe, in mirror. 

Voila! The perfect shoelace knot. I appreciate the above may seem overly complicated to some – so I have also devised a simple mathematical formula to explain the process.

A≈ 8 √∞ – B / 42 + 3

See you on the tracks!

TIME to draw things to a close

September 18, 2009


So at the end of the week – have I been able to rectify my time issue at all? Truth be told I learnt absolutely nothing from our brief history lesson on Sir Martin Marion Hilary. Ironically, what an utter ‘waste of time’ that turned out to be!

On a more positive note – since so many of my responsibilities were clashing, and distracted as I was by this weeks series of daily blog updates, I have found myself being variously suspended or ‘let go’ from a number of them. So in the end it’s all worked out rather well, much like Alexander Fleming leaving a petri dish by his window sill and returning only to have discovered he’d accidentally invented penicillin, I have found by actually doing nothing whatsoever, everything has resolved itself.

In fact I find myself now at something of a loss as to what to do, now I have all this extra free time. With this in mind if anyone would like some ‘free time’, I shall be giving it away all weekend here at the Institute. No students.

Don’t let me waste your TIME!

September 17, 2009




Concluding the further adventures of the visionary inventor of time Sir Martin Marion Hilary. Starting from where we left off (which seems a good a place as any) and having established a life of amnesia, Cotswold towns, and death by horse drawn carriage, that never actually happened – we suddenly find ourselves back on track and Sir Martin about to change the way we look at the world. Forever.

Having successfully papered over the means with which Sir Martin stumbled across his theory of time, it was now up to him to implement it. There was some initial resistance, some skepticism even.

People by this point had of course been using numbers for quite some ????, but nobody really knew what they were for, using them instead to varnish the underside of ships and catch small rodents – certainly nobody had considered they would prove to be the perfect vehicle for measuring and recording time. Sir Martin himself initially overlooked their use instead trying to categorize time with animals, and for a while different types of wood. All proved to be disastrous.

It was only when sat back at his work bench, pouring over his notes and scribbles once more, wondering how he could nail this remarkable new concept, that he caught, out of the corner of his eye, a rat tussling in the corner of the room with a number eight. That was it he thought. But of course rodents proved an equally ineffective way to mark definitions of time, and so he settled for numbers instead.

Happy that he finally had a workable model with which to present to the world, he only needed to know what to name it. What was it that he had invented? Marions? As it happens he came upon the name quite by accident. Up until this point Time was a small secluded Hamlet within Greenwich. The residents were known for their remarkable punctuality, even though no concept of time had existed up until this point. Duely however they were hounded from their homes and said residences were raised to the ground to make way for the Observatory and a celebration of Sir Martin’s genius. Any sense of guilt on his behalf assured by naming his invention after the hamlet, it’s inhabitants were never seen again (ironic in that they had been so punctual before).

And so named, soon enough this thing called ‘Time’ caught on like the proverbial wild fire with the definitions coming thick and fast. Minutes, hours, days, years. Everyone was assigned a birthday on a lottery basis, to stop the ‘popular’ dates from being hogged – suddenly some old people were surprised to find they weren’t actually all that old at all.

Sir Martin was an overnight celebrity. Bought before King George I he was duely made SIR Sir Martin Marion Hilary. Inevitably though his invention would come to overshadow all his other work in later years – even when presenting his concept for a box powered by lightening that could perform complex mathmatical ‘compu’tations, people would dismiss them wanting to hear more about ‘Time’ and what the next ‘Time’ would be!

History hasn’t in the intervening years been kind to Sir Martin, long forgotten, even to him his invention proved to be a great irritant in later years when suddenly his wife would demand to know what ‘time’ he was coming home. He died in bed, at his home, in  Denmark Hill, South East London, only a stones throw from his greatest achievement. He was surrounded by his wife and other people’s children, nobody was entirely sure how they got in….

We have all the TIME in the world….

September 16, 2009




Bringing you the further adventures of the visionary inventor of time Sir Martin Marion Hilary. Continuing on from yesterday, and the world in chaos with no way to measure or mark time – we find our esteemed hero pitched up in Greenwich, to make his way as a sailor. Fate however, was to deal Sir Martin, an altogether different set of  cards (he wasn’t going to become a sailor)…

Greenwich at the turn of ????, was a peaceful, small glade located in North West London. It was soon bought into question the wisdom of locating a Maritime College so far from the Thames though, and it was quickly and duly moved to the South East banks. They had initially intended to relocate to the Greenwich Peninsula, however the sight was being kept clear for an at the time unspecified venue to be built in celebration of a forthcoming global centenary, of which nobody seemed clear when was.

Rejected by the Maritime College for being too Scottish, Sir Martin was at his lowest ebb. He considered a return North, having experienced the bitter rejection and failure that marked so many that came to London with a head full of dreams.

Had that been the case,  it is often theorized that on the journey home he would have been accosted by bandits, who would have beaten him and robbed him of his meagre possessions. Left for dead in a ditch on a side road, he would have been found by a kindly Samaritan who would have taken him back to his homestead in the sleepy Cotswold town of Evesham. Temporary amnesia bought on by the struggle with the bandits would have seen him start a new life as the kindly stranger in town who would have been embraced as the lost son of a local resident –  the townfolk willing him to be a figure to reunite a community broken from loss of too many of it’s own in the Crimean War (unusual only in that the Crimean War was still some 150 years from having happened). Still eventually the goodwill he had generated would eventually be eroded by a mishap with the daughter of the town’s most affluent and influential figure and a herd of pigs. Hounded from the town he would have eventually died from malnutrition had he not been hit by a horse-drawn carriage.

Fortunately of course – this isn’t what happened at all. It is unclear how Sir Martin came upon his concept of time, what he had to gain from it personally. Nothing was written in the history books, there are no records. There is the theory that he couldn’t come up with a credible origin for his invention, that he didn’t now how to get from A to C, and so skipped B entirely! And fortunately that is where we pick up our tale tomorrow…. (to be continued)


Old father TIME

September 15, 2009


Sir Martin Marion Hilary


???? – 1736

In fairness to full disclosure I should really mention that the above image isn’t of Sir Martin at all – he was notoriously camera shy – even though at the time of his death the camera was still some one hundred years from actually having been invented.

Sir Martin was in fact a robust Scots man from the small Highlands town of Kinlochleven – often described by those that met him as big bear of a man and by those that hadn’t as a rather bookish and slight individual, not much is known of his early days. We do know that he came from a long line of beards – and an unfortunate combing accident in his teenage years left him with a rare alopecia that meant he could only grow hair in a small patch under his right eye that had the misfortune of coming out in the shape of a penis.

This was a shame that haunted Sir Martin all his life – not even finding peace on his deathbed, despite all of his magnificent achievements in the realms of time, he was heard to mutter his final words “why did it have to look like a penis…”

But nonethless we should be grateful that it proved to be the spur that drove him from his Scottish homestead to find a place for himself in the world. For it was that Sir Martin found himself in the year ???? freshly arrived in London and ready to make his fortune.

Now records show of course that before Sir Martin invented his concept of ‘Time’ the world was at this point in complete disarray. People didn’t know how to keep appointments, organised sports would often go on for weeks without anyone haven’t the faintest idea when to call time on them, and women were often pregnant for up four years.

Sir Martin had initially harboured some dreams of becoming a sailor – he spent many a ???? prowling the docks and banks of the Thames in the hope of being press ganged onto some long sea voyage to a far away exotic locale, invariably though he mostly suffered the ignomy of rape. But it took more than a rogering up the anus to keep Sir Martin down (he literally couldn’t sit down) and Sir Martin eventually found himself enrolled at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Many now find it a coincidence that he should have found himself in of all places Greenwich, so close to the observatory and what would become the meridian line. But by this point Sir Martin really needed to get his story moving along, and so logic and happenstance be damned…

TO BE CONTINUED…. (tomorrow)

I really don’t have TIME for this….

September 13, 2009


As a scientist I am not the kind to become stressed. I can always apply my superior brain to the problem at hand, be it in the workplace or the bed, and deal with the matter quickly and efficiently.

However my time remains very precious. There are any number of commitments that I have to honour in any given week – be they lectures, experiments, writing this blog, personal appearances or bingo nights.

And well quite frankly it is all begining to get a bit too much – there simply isn’t the time available to me to achieve all I wish, and my attempt to try and combine my biology lectures with the bingo have proved disastrous.

I am beginning to suffer what I have diagonsed as the first signs of stress on my body – an occasional flutter of my left ear lobe. With all of this in mind many colleagues have suggested that I should lighten my workload. Not accept every offer that comes my way.

This of course might be what the sensible person would do. But let us not forget I am a scientist. And if I don’t have enough time – then I’ll make some more.

Now devoting my ‘time’ to yet another seemingly fruitless task when I already have so preciously little – might to many seem  somewhat counter-productive – and I admit that I hadn’t really given it much thought, but it hasn’t stopped me before.

I have spent the last twenty four hours studying how we humans measure and draw time. The most obvious place to start of course is with the man who invented time, Sir Martin Marion Hilary….

Worrying news from the East

September 8, 2009


It is with some concern this week – that I get reports from a fellow Scientist and colleague abroad – that they have recently lost contact with a particular ‘special’ research facility located in the Ogasawra Chain of islands to the South of mainland Japan. This island houses a station to examine and study the unusual atomic aberrations that inhabit the preserve. Indeed I have had the pleasure of visiting the research facility on one occasion myself, as a guest of  the UNSC (United Nations Scientific Commitee). They were keen for my input regards the specimens contained on the island, and also to learn more about my research paper into the ideal constitency of biscuit to dunk into hot beverages.

Needless to say, those few days I spent at the facility were and remain highly CLASSIFIED, but I can reveal that the chief scientific officer Dr. Serizawa was suitably pleased with my gift of a packet of chocolate Hob Nobs.

What else I saw I am still not at liberty to disclose, but needless to say nature has not seen such creatures before but that corrupted at the hand of man. (Basically giant insects and a lizard). 

I have kept in touch with the facility in Ogasawra since, from time to time, and thus this break in communication is of some genuine concern. The Scientific staff based there are required to report via protected radio transmission to both the Japanese Government and the UNSC every 12 hours, due to the nature of the unusual aberations that they observe. (The giant insects and lizard). Now many may at least take comfort in the large invisible electro – magnetic field that keeps the island safe from both intruders and anything attempting to leave – however Dr. Serizawa did confide in me a little drunk one evening, that such an invention is clearly ludicrous. He had run out of funding so just told everyone that they had built an ‘invisible’ force field instead. I did always warn him he might come to rue the day he came up with that one…

What can be going on on that ‘monsterous’ island is now as good as anyone’s guess – but I feel the need to heed warning here now on my blog – for all nations, all major cities, all governments of the world to remain on the highest alert. And to the general public at large. To you my dear blog reader. Remain in your homes. Put the kettle on. Make yourself a cup of tea. And dunk a digestive biscuit for no longer than a count of two…

Any questions? Please….

September 1, 2009


Last week I may have been a little rash.  Tiring somewhat from the constant barrage of questions that inevitably make up my daily routine as a practicing professor at the Human Institute, I effectively called to close any line of questions addressed towards me.

Now I can be a stubborn man – so if I claim that I will no longer field ANY questions, be they Science related or NOT, then you can be sure through sheer bloody mindiness I will see that through. However this in itself can generate awhole raft of new problems.

So in an effort to clear some things up, and for any reading this, that might have tried to ask me a question in the last week.

The chemical element for gold is Au. The staff quiz night has been cancelled. Yes I would like some beans with that. No I won’t be seeing you at the weekend. Of course officer I knew exactly how fast I was driving. My name is Professor Charles Human. No I am not being beligerent. Yes I will climb into the back of the van with no fuss. Of course I will move over to make room for you. I am not carrying any ‘crack’. I am ignoring you. I would like you to stop punching me. Yes officer I did start it. Yes I would like some medical aid, quite urgently. No it won’t stop bleeding. Four fingers. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Things remain somewhat vague after this point. I hope however that that has at least answered some of the questions I chose to ignore these past 7 days. I now open up once more the doors of my mind – and invite you to come and graze on the grass that are my ideas. School is back in session, pending community service on Thursday afternoons…