"By being stubborn, Stars we will steer" - slapping you on the shoulder, shouting 'get it ? get it ?'
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I originally published this in the ARCADIAN RECORDER on October 31 2009 but it got deleted when I transferred all of that blog's old entries to MO goes PO.***************************
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
While everyone is ignoring the 300th anniversary of Copyright (sigh !) we are all supposed to be guyed up to mark the 200th B-day of C. Darwin.
Yawn - I just don't like the guy.
Ironically, the reason why I do not like Charles is because of the tireless efforts of Janet Browne, who went way down deep in the dusty archives and came up with biographic gold on Mr Darwin.
Ironically, because I believe Professor Browne was and remains a big fan of Darwin, warts and all.
Her two volume mega-kilogram bookstops ( "Voyaging" and "Power of Place") reveal that Darwin thought nothing of stealing valuable documents from grieving widows or of slandering opponents, through the use of surrogates ,so Darwin could keep his reputation of high moral character.
Worse of all, in his brief autobiography, Darwin denied any credit to his doting father for helping Charles to claw his way to the top of the world of science.
Doted upon ? Spoiled is a better word.
Charles Darwin was given extremely expensive scientific equipment for his hobbies as a child - such as a microscope that would cost the annual income of a half dozen farm labourers for example.
Without all the support that his mega-millionaire father and wife (mega-millionaire in in 2010 dollars) gave him, Darwin would never had been credited with discovering evolution.
Then he goes and denies that his unique access to these and other scientific aids gave him any leg up over his poorer scientific competitors.
Ingrate ! Spoil your child and he'll bite your hand in thanks, I always say.
Anyway , Janet Browne speaks at Dal's Ondaatje Hall October 15th 8pm --- and I will be there.....
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Yellow Snow Bad; Yellow Uisce Beatha Good
Saturday, August 22, 2009
"THE BUCK STARTS HERE"
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Perhaps much less attention that it deserves.
And what attention it does receive generally credits it too much for its impact on warfare and not enough for its impact on civil and economic life.
It could even be argued that its major impact on war was indirect, via its consequences for economic activities, including making materials for war.
Blackpowder is a Low Explosive (no one ever calls it LE though), it burns much more rapidly than an ordinary fire, thousands and thousands times faster than steel burns as "rust".
But it and its near cousins burn much slower than High explosives , somewhere between 10 to 10,000 times as slowly !
A pound or coal or petroleum will give off five times as much energy as even the most high tech of High explosives like RDX, but it will not explode, unless turned into a fine dust or vapor and mixed with lots of air.
Explosions are fast burnings, not necessarily efficient fast burnings.
Slow/low explosives are a form of rapid but controlled burning, propelling a human at the end of a rocket up into space without killing them with big G-forces.
They send a shell or bullet out of a relatively cheap, durable and low tech barrel without blowing up the barrel or the people near by.
In terms of power or work, they can adequately lift a pile of dirt up and away. (As can a crew of people with shovels, even before the days of blackpowder.)
But they have no brisance - they can not shatter or blast anything like hard rock.
For thousands of years, a segment of hard rock lying in the path of a canal or road had to be chipped away with tools generally much less strong than the rock they were hitting.
The best they could do was to chip at any little crack in the surface, fill it with fuel, light it till it burned white hot and then dash cold water on it and hope it shattered a big chunk away.
Then repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
Brisance, or the lack of it , is the major reason that long canal systems could take centuries to complete into early modern times - and the reason they were so narrow and shallow. The same could be said for early roads and early railways.
Brisance is the reason why so many potential mines couldn't be dug deep enough, cheaply and quickly enough, to reach potentially large rich ore bodies of iron ore and coal.
Without cheap plentiful iron and coal from distant places being married together at a mill, cheap, plentiful steel rail lines and cheap, strong steel excavating tools couldn't be made.
But without cheap rail transportation lines from those distant mine sites
and strong cheap steel tools to excavate the mine site, no iron or coal would reach the steel mill.
It was a form of Catch 22 and it ended only gradually.
High Explosives were invented early in the 19th century but took fifty years for them to be rendered safe enough to use routinely in construction and mining.
Perhaps for the reason of their non-dramatic entry into our life, we have overlooked their impact.....
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Perhaps we think of other,later, Atomic Tests from similarly dusty deserts in Nevada and Utah. And their assembly - wasn't that done in isolated big plants inevitably set on dusty plains or deserts somewhere in southern and western America ? Isn't it still being done out there, somewhere ?
We are certain of one thing - none of this is taking place - or ever took place - anywhere near the wet, green, heavily urbanized American north east - certainly not in the New York City area.
THE DEVILISHLY CLEVER GENERAL GROVES
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
but it is still the world's most important
The most power-filled city on Earth but
Friday, August 7, 2009
And while Fleming, finally, got to work doing something useful with penicillin in the latter part of the war, Florey devoted much energy in that same period to giving a similar-sounding historically oriented lecture, over and over, to various professional meetings.
Its sole intent seemed to have been to undercut Fleming's claim to be the first to discover and use penicillin, but to do so by means of an oblique attack so Florey couldn't be publicly seen as 'reaching' for fame - something too undignified for a FRS...
Its almost worth a book on its own - a prime example of how scientific and public acclaim is organized and manipulated.