Archive for November, 2009

Tell me why I don’t like Tuesdays…

November 28, 2009

Previous reader’s of my blog will be well aware of my frustration at the alarming inconsistencies in our current calendar and how obviously flawed it is. I have on a number of occasions approached Greenwich with my model for a new calendar and time system and have always been met with rejection. Even if the rest of the world have yet to embrace my model however, I have now for a number of Humonths been living my life accordingly, although this has resulted in my lecture timetable being somewhat erratic – and the tardiness of my students quite unacceptable when I am there in the lecture theatre prompt at 3.17am and no one else is to begin their day.

What I would put forward here is an idea of the radical thinking I am proposing, with the hope that my faithful readership might at least start to follow. As it is some of you then may be surprised to learn that I have long stopped recognising Tuesday as an offical ‘day’. The rational is straight forward enough, not least the preposterous idea that there should be an odd number of days in the week. In this respect Tuesday is obviously the most flawed day – and thus the most obvious to eliminate altogether.

I am often told that people don’t like Mondays. Well a week has to start somewhere so my feeling is just deal with it. At the same time a week should have a middle and Wednesday serves that purpose at best quite adequately (although I have always felt Sunday would do a better job). Thursdays are close enough to the weekend for you to start dismissing the week as over, and I regularly skip the Institute altogether on a Friday as my head is already in it’s ‘weekend’ space by Thursday night and is of no use to anyone.

So as you can see, Tuesday just sits there, a little bit at the beginning of the week, and a little bit in the middle, prolonging the working week, when we’d all be happier that much closer to the weekend (starting on Thursday night). It is with this rational that I stopped  recognising Tuesday’s some time back – but which  now of course means my head starts to turn towards the weekend at a much earlier point – around Wednesday at 1738, and I switch off for the weekend. Which does bring to mind why I am here telling you this during the middle of my four-day weekend. I’m off to the local swimming baths, they turn the wave machines on in half an hour….

 

When it’s on your doorstep…

November 22, 2009

I have been based at the Human Institute in South West London now for a number of years. I maintain a modest homestead just up the road and generally commute back and forth by foot, or sometimes even feet.

What may surprise some, being that I work in the country’s capital, is it that outside of the modest borough of Wandsworth where I reside and make science, I have never ventured into the centre. I have never seen the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Nelson’s Column, the apple store or even met the Queen – all the things many people might take for granted of us London residents.

Now of course when I do take myself away for the twice annual Charles Human holiday expedition I often make the most of exploring new areas, often meeting with fellow scientists and trading amusing stories about Bunsen burners. So why should it be that I have all the alleged wonders of one of the largest and most exciting cities in the world, a mere stone’s throw away and I have never attempted to rectify this obvious deficiency in my cultural learning.

Well I could argue that you reading this have never visited the Human Institute, you probably don’t even know where it is, so I do have that one up on you.

I suppose the theory might go that when it’s on your doorstep, there is the feeling that you could go anytime, and so then by default never do. I’m not so certain that applies in this case however. As it stands I am currently running an experiment where I have inserted a small electronic chip in my wrist. The idea being that when I approach doors at the institute they will automatically open for me without the rather tiresome business of using door handles. The technology is fairly rudimentary at the moment, and so my movements to and from the institute are hampered some by the fact the small chip inserted in my wrist is powered by a 5K generator that I have to wheel around behind me. Don’t ask where the power cables enter my body.

Still if this prototype is a success (there are a few teething problems at the moment, and I have walked straight into a number of doors in anticipation that they will simply open up for me) I can though see this type of tech applied for more general use by the public. My hope is by this time next year for us all to have these chips inserted in our wrists and franchise the technology out to major retailers (supermarkets for instance) and opening and closing doors will become a thing of the past.

 

I twitter, therefore I am… (Professor Charles Human)

November 16, 2009

I’ve done it! I’ve joined the twentieth century and am officially a twitterer-er. If any of you want to “follow” me (and if you’re in any way curious about yourself, please do – just not physically, I am armed) then you will find me @professorhuman.

After some initial scepticism (I was led to believe it involved hanging around car parks, naked), I thought I’d give this new social phenomenon a go – especially after I got wind that Winston was thinking of becoming a user. He’s always trying to get ahead of me and will try anything to get the upper hand: even if it does involve visiting his nearest NCP in the buff. So I thought I’d beat him to it! (by joining up, not stripping off)

I’ll be honest, I’m still not entirely sure how twitter/tweets/twatting works – a student tried to explain it to me as being a cross between faxbook, S&M and face-texting. But I think they got the hint I was bored out of my cranium when I glazed over and reached for the Bourbon. They then massively simplified it for me as essentially being a great opportunity to self-publicise myself using bite-sized ‘factoids’. Once they had clarified this further, I couldn’t refuse the chance to spread my knowledge instantly with the masses and hastily signed up.

So stand back fellow tweets, here I come! Or rather, here I tweet! No, that sounds absurd – what I said first.

There is no ME in team!

November 15, 2009

TeamworkTeaser

What does it mean – team work? For many of us in our working lives we will have to form part of a ‘team’ with which to achieve the job set out before us. In some areas of industry and service we can more readily see this practice and the practical application it has. After all how can we achieve anything if we don’t all work together. This doesn’t necessarily mean however that the working team need be particularly harmonious. Sometimes great achievement and invention can come out of creative friction, when all parties have the interests of the end product best in mind.

There have been many successful partnerships over the years. I think to Crick and Watson, Cannon and Ball, and, well, the other ones.

I however, have always stood apart from the rest – I find there is very little that others can teach me, or indeed that I can’t figure out on my own – this is the reason that under the legal eyes of the law I ‘can’t drive’. But I have been happily getting around ever since as a thirteen year old boy I taught myself how in my first car, much as I still enjoying learning things in my 43rd.

And it is no different in my own very singular devotion towards science. Of course in the laboratory I may well work with others, but I never look upon them as equals. If I had to give you an analogy, I shan’t.

What has really got my blood boiling this week is the accusations levelled that this very blog, might be the end product of some kind of collboration between two minds, rather than my own, again of which we dismiss as utter nonsense.

I’m still here…barely!

November 8, 2009

sorry-no-internet-today-2

One of the pitfalls of having to regularly post a blog on the internet – is that if you find yourself without internet access, your laptop is about as useful as a social scientist.

I suppose in this day and age now of ever faster broadband connections, e-bay and twits it seems unimaginable for the young baby sat at a keyboard updating his or hers facebook status – that some fifteen years ago we didn’t even know what the internet was. It is often claimed that people always remember where they were when they heard the news that the US President John F Kennedy was assassinated or even indeed when man first set foot on the moon. Those flash card memory moments imprinted on your brain. Not too dissimilar I remember well as do others here, September 11th 2001 – the first time the wonder of the world wide web was bought into the Human Institute and changed the way I worked forever.

It has been a companion, a confidant, and on occasion a lover – so I am sure you can imagine how distressing it is for someone in my position to feel so suddenly, brutally castrated as I have been these last couple of weeks, having recently moved addresses – where I have been forced to intermittently ‘share’ my internet privileges with that of the common man in cafe’s and tea rooms.

Even now as I write this whilst supping from my usual choice of triple espresso with a shot of syrup, I can feel the eyes of everyone on me. I cannot gauge whether this is more through my general dislike at finding myself mingling with the general public, or that I have chosen to walk down to the local coffee emporium with laptop to do my weekly blog in nothing more than my dressing gown. Still I see the police have arrived so I am sure this should sort out the matter at hand in no time at all…

Working Up North

November 1, 2009

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Well as you may have surmised I haven’t returned to London just yet. Indeed after my Scottish bound Wedding last Wednesday (it was a disaster I might add – I was sat at the table for the reception with most of the older relatives of the bride, all of whom failed to comprehend any of my even simplistic conversational topics about basic quantum physics when applied to Newton’s theorem. I think the lady sitting next to me may have even been dead – certainly she didn’t protest when I helped myself to a second slice of pudding by taking hers). I digress – but it was only as I was boarding the train back to the nation’s capital, that suddenly my mobile phone was summoning me to none other than Newcastle Upon Tyne. Not my actual phone you understand but the person on the other end.

Up until this point I had never been to Newcastle, indeed I have managed for the larger part of my life to avoid ever going any further north than Luton. But a former star student was in need of help and who was I to turn down such an offer. I should mention that I am Charles Human – and so of course turned him down without hesitation. However I was told there was a free meal in it, and was duly pulling into the station before you could utter the charming Northern phrase ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’.

The student in question was embarking on an ambitious research programme to examine the social grouping and movements of the hordes of young revellers that regularly descend on this city’s centre of a weekend. As many of you are probably aware – and as I pointed out to him, I have always considered social science to not really count – and I can never truly take seriously someone who bills themself as a social scientist. We would often laugh and throw things at Social science students when I was but a young student myself.

Still upon observing the myriad of bodies and their sometimes attached faces that would pour out of the doors of pubs and nightclubs here, usually with next to nothing on, bar the lining of their stomaches now bought up for all to see, I was intrigued to see for myself how the various groups interacted. I wondered if I were to place myself amongst them, would these barely dressed barely adult creatures throw themselves at a rakish, handsome, but distinguished science professor who had failed to copulate at a recent wedding.

In the name of science I am off to find out. I may be some time…