Thursday, 29 July 2010

Einstein's Cosmos by Michio Kaku

Published by Orion Books in England 2004
ISBN 0-297-84755-4
Einstein's Cosmos by Michio Kaku

Yes, it's taken me this long to get round to reading it. I bought it as cheap, damaged stock around 2005. Yesterday I slid it off the shelf, blew off the dust and started reading. I finished it a few minutes ago.

The blurb on the back says, "You don't have to be Einstein to understand Einstein." And that is spot on. A wonderful read giving easy access to Einstein's science. We start with him trying to understand a light beam by imagining himself running along side it, and end with his unfinished attempts to unify all the universe's forces by describing them as arising from different geometries of space time.

Michio Kaku does a great job. It's very easy to read, no elaborate fomulae to contend with and flows along giving an excellent insight into Einstein's contributions. I particularly like the way Einstein's work is rooted in context: other physicists and mathematicians and their contributions are discussed. Kaku also does a great job in helping the reader visualise some of the principles discovered: the Bose-Einstein Condensate suddenly became easy for me to visualise, for example.

An excellent read for anyone slightly interested in Physics, the great man or the history of technologies.

The curse

Having the intelligence to realise I'm not intelligent enough is a real pain the arse sometimes. I need my blinkers. I wonder where David Cameron buys his ...

Monday, 26 July 2010


Mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, misteak, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake.

Its what you're left with when you take the make from mistake.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Are you anyone? Or everyone ...

Are you your brain? Is your conscious self born from your grey-matter? Let's be radical and assume it is. For the sake of a little thought experiment.

A viable brain is born. It's structure determined partly by inheritance and partly by chance. Then another. And another. A train of brains. Conscious folk being produced one by one. You are to be number 57. But wait. Something happens. The brain that was to be number 57 is squished before it can develop. Kicked off the line. Ejected. Does that mean you never exist? Or are you now the one that would have been number 58?

Finitely Yours

The other day I asked Brenda the barmaid, "How many different images can your laptop display?"
"Display or store?"
"Simultaneously or one after the other?" she asked.
"One after the other." Jeeze!
"Ummm ... loads," she said. Then, after some thought, while polishing a wine glass, she added, "Infinite?"
"Not quite," I said, referring to the doodle pad next to the crossword in The Northern Echo. "Because of its fixed number of pixels and the fact each pixel has a limited number of colours, my old laptop can display just over 16,000,000786,432 unique images."
"Sounds like one hell of a slide show," said Brenda.

Loads of images indeed, but still finite.

Finite ... interesting.

My humble laptop's screen is capable of displaying images of long dead dinosaurs, planets yet to be discovered, formulae for wondrous new materials, poetry yet to be written, faces of folk yet to be born, far flung nebulae, leaves on trees yet to evolve, car accidents that haven't happened yet, murders yet to be committed ...
A very long list. But a finite one nevertheless. Does this mean the universe can't be infinite after all. Or if it is, there's repetition?

How about writing a computer program that simply marched through every possible pixel combination? Would be simple enough to write. Let it sit there as an art installation called, 'Everything'.
The screen would, if given enough time, display every possible picture. How much time depends, of course, on the speed of the computer. (Is there enough Time in the Universe? Hmmm ... going to need a bigger doodle space ...)

Set up another camera to 'watch' the images produced. If something 'interesting' appears ... ring a bell? Sound a klaxon? Awoogah! Snake doing hoola alert!
But don't watch it too long. Something you probably don't want to see may appear: your own demise, a fat bloke in a skin tight lycra cat suit. But then again, you may spot next weeks lottery numbers.

Or how about this? Limit the colours to black and white. That's a mere 2786,432 images to glance through. It could start generating black and white text: recipes for amazing chocolate chip cookies, how to build a cold-fusion reactor, ten sure fire ways to get your teenage daughter to actually listen and not ... don't get me started.

Brenda thinks I need to go home and lie down.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Little red bus

I took a picture of this little white bus with the 'little red bus' sign, not because I'm a sneering pedant, but because it's a reminder of a train of thought in my latest wip. It's badly printed and stuck on my cork-board. The picture, not the wip.

Sometimes the label is right despite our first impressions. That's not a red stripe underlining 'little red bus', that's where they haven't painted the bus, that's where the little red bus underneath is shining through.

Sometimes, small acts show true character more certainly than any grand gesture.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Giving advice is so much easier than taking advice. Likewise, helping someone reveal their true selves is way easier than dropping my own mask.
The lucky ones will disagree.

A wip character had thoughts and wants which I recognised twenty-four hours later as my own. Selfish emotions for which he will be ... rewarded. This business is so weird, isn't it?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Even I had a boss once. Such a jerk. I smiled knowing he had to live with his jerkness twenty four-hours a day. I didn't.

Drove him nuts seeing me smile.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Short-fruited willowherb

The short-fruited willowherb - on Sundays it goes by the name of Epilobium obscurum - has to be one of my favourites: pleasing dabs of purple / pink in among the buttercups.

Like many of my likes ... shunned by many.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Sparrows and hawks

A sparrowhawk had tiffin on my lawn. The sparrow's cries were not cries for help. They were warning cries.

'See, see, see?! What's happened to me, me, me!'

A final, unselfish alarm call.

You don't have to be the hawk. Just don't be the sparrow.