Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What goes around, comes around

I've just been listening (courtesy of the BBC's "Listen Again" facility) to tonight's episode of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. It contained a line (as does the book) describing Sir Isaac Newton as the inventor of the cat-flap. I'd always taken this to be Adamsian rhetorical excess, but a little Googling suggests that in fact the great man did invent the cat-flap. At least, the Science Museum seem to believe he did, and as a child I was so knocked out by my first visit (aged 10) to the SM with an aunt that I went back twice alone in the next week. This confirmed me in my love of (a) science (b) pottering around museums by myself. I have retained both.

One of the things that blew my ten-year-old mind was the Foucault pendulum: seeing actual proof that the Earth had turned while I was in the museum just knocked my socks off. I've seen a similar one in the Louvre. There's also one in the Manchester student residence (near the Renold Building) where I have stayed twice for health & safety conferences. This last one, however, obstinately fails to rotate relative to the building, meaning either that the planet ceases to rotate during Hazards conferences, or that the pendulum's pivot is fucked (and that the building maintenance people have no understanding - despite all the signage - of what it's supposed to do).

My own student residence was a 1960s block, but our college (University College, Durham) was based in a medieval castle, and I ate all my meals in college in its medieval great hall (not unlike the Hogwarts one in the Harry Potter films). Unlike Dirk Gently, my college tutor (Gerald Brooke) lived out of college, in the village of Shincliffe. He was, however, just as eccentric as Prof. Chronotis, as I discovered when he interviewed me. I drew his attention to an envelope on the floor and was told "Oh, I always leave letters on the floor - it reminds me to post them". The logic is impeccable (and in fact as a student I adopted exactly that system for things I needed to post) but it's definitely unusual.

Which brings us (I suppose) by a commodius vicus of recirculation, by swerve of shore and bend of bay, back to Dirk Gently and environs.....


At 01 November, 2007 12:52, Blogger Chip said...

I have to try this method of posting letters and they seem to sit on my desk for ages...

At 27 March, 2009 16:04, Blogger Clare Sudders said...

How infuriating that Manchester pendulum must be! But how utterly cool to eat in a castle whilst at Uni. I am very jealous. I bloody love castles. I'd live in one if it wasn't so stupidly wasteful. And if I wasn't a bit too poor to afford one.

As for letters... but I do that too! I leave them on the floor by the front door. That way, the next time I leave the house, I'll pick them up on my way out. Makes perfect sense.

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