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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tempus fulgit

A couple of thoughts engendered by my sundial musings at the emd of the last post.

1. I remember when I lived in London visiting the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and being mightily impressed by one of the sundial kits on sale. Much Googling has failed to turn up anything similar now, though I suppose it would be easy enough to make one from scratch. Ingredients: a glass cylinder filled with water, and a white scale, suitably calibrated. You mount the cylinder at the appropriate angle for your latitude, and facing in the right direction (!), whereupon it focuses the sunlight (even on an overcast British afternoon) into one of those gull-wing-shaped loops known as a caustic curve. You arrange your (non-flammable!) scale so that the point of the curve lies on the scale, and voila! A sundial. Moreover, the only kind of sundial I have ever known that works perfectly well when it's cloudy. I knew I should have bought one at the time.

2. Hilaire Belloc wrote a few amusing verses on sundials:

I am a sundial, and I make a botch
Of what is done far better by a watch,

I am a sundial: ordinary words
Cannot express my thoughts on birds.

And my favourite:

I am a sundial, turned the wrong way round:
I cost my foolish mistress fifty pound.

3. This must be one of the most stunning sundials in the world.

4. You have to give me a little credit for a half-decent Latin pun in the title, no?