Nav Tools

--> Most recent Blog

Comments Policy
Maths trivia
Search this site
RSS feed for Stu Savory's Blog RSS Feed

Site Meter

Stu Savory School report for Stu Savory
Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of 2014 : your choices

Been looking at my website stats to see what articles have been most popular amongst my blogreaders this last year. Here are the links :-

Thanks for reading my blog and for looking back with me on 2014 today :-)

Now help fine-tune this blog by mailing me to say which article YOU liked best this year (2014) please, and/or which you thought were real crap! :-)

Comments (4) :
Jenny (Ibiza) opines "I like the humour and the trip reports, but I skip the maths bits. And I just love that retrospective selfie photo :-)" OK, thanks.
Schorsch (D) wrote "As expected, I like the biker stuff & trip photos. Cut the complaining stuff, give us more laughs!" OK, thanks too.
Klaus (Alaska) wrote "I like the "planet hopping savior" the best in 2014, off course I like your aviation related blogs too, Happy New Year" HNY 2U 2 :-)
Ed (USA) warns "OT: Do NOT go to see the movie 'The Interview', its trash!" OK.

Friday, December 26, 2014

For Eleanor Rigby ;-)

41% of all the households here in Germany are singles' households, so over Xmas they play a 1966 Beatles song called "Eleanor Rigby: all the lonely people " (lyrics here).

Over Xmas of course, various Xian vultures take the opportunity to knock at everyone's door, missionaries using maudlin myths about "lonesome times" to "spread the Good News" ; and incidentally beg for money :-(

They came to the right household here!

Let it be said that - as an Atheist - I am fairly fit in quoting the Bible, having actually read various versions. Most of the Christians I know, regardless of denomination, haven't actually read it at all, they see it more like a software licence, where they just sign off at the bottom, saying "I agree", obviously having never read Revelations 3:16 ;-)

Sowhen the Jehovah's Witlesses came around, waving their Book and asking if I had read the Good News, I decided to outquote them :evil grin: ;-) Here's the conversation, citing from memory :-)

JW : Have you read the Good News? It's all in the New Testament! Just live your life as Jesus tells you to for eternal happiness!

Me : (Grabbing the initiative, to avoid them waving John 3:16 in my face) : Well, I'm alone and very depressed at the moment, so let's pick a verse of your Good News at random and you can read it to me, I'll start with Matthew 27:5, the last sentence will suffice please.

JW (reading) : "And he [Judas] cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went out and hanged himself."

Me : Well that wasn't very cheerful! You call that the Good News? Try again, with Luke 10:37, last sentence again please :-

JW : To improve your life, just live your life as Jesus tells you to! (Then reading and stuttering) : "Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise!"

Me : So you're telling me to commit suicide? That doesn't sound like very Good News. Try again, with John 13:27, final sentence once more :-

JW (reading & then realising I'd been pulling their legs) : "Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly."

Me : So your Good Book is telling me to commit suicide immediately? What kind of Islamic suicide bomber instruction manual are you hawking? Get lost!

And verily, they did depart forthwith, mightily humbled and confused ;-)

Comments (4) :
Cop Car (USA) wrote " Unlike you, I can't quote very many biblical verses; but, like you and most of the Atheists of my acquaintance, I certainly know a lot of what is written therein, having read every word in the King James version. Well - I may have fudged by skipping a few of the "begats". When I was younger, much younger, perhaps 45 years younger, I used to tell door-knockers that I was Taoist. Since the men (never a woman!) who arrived at my door were fairly ignorant of non-Christian religions, they hadn't a clue what to do with that piece of (false, but they couldn't prove it) information, shortening the conversation, considerably. Thanks for the entertaining dialogue." Of course it's never a woman at your door! Exodus 22:18 explains;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "Who are Hastur & Ligur in the text of the goat photo?" 2 Dukes of Hell, servants of The Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Lord of Darkness and probably sundry other titles I have forgotten ;-)
Ed (USA) aks "What VARIOUS versions? Surely there's just one bible?" No. There is no single "Bible", and it's not just different translations because there are many Bibles with varying contents. 66 books for the protestants, 81 for the Ethiopian orthodox church. And when you quote "chapter and verse" remember that chapters were not introduced until the 13th century and verses not until the 16th century; the OT is in a different sequence from the Hebrew version too. Then there are all the notorious misprints :- the Unrighteous bible says in I Corinthians that the UNrighteous shall inherit the Earth, the Wicked bible (publ. 1632 by Barker and Lucas) even left the NOT out of the 7th commandment ;-) etc. etc. So, no single version then :-)
Barbara (UK) wrote "... and I'd just like to point out to Ed that in 200 AD the early Christians arbitrarily set December 25th as Jesus’s birthday. Happy Xmas, Ed ;-) . Oh, and this John Cleese Podcast too ;-)" Heh, heh. Thanks for the heads-up :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

- Three Wise Men ;-)

The Xmas story would have us believe that the newborn JC was visited by 3 "Wise Men". I'm not sure that this is a correct translation. The word used in the original Aramaic could be translated as "Wise Men", but also as "Philosophers" or even - dare I say it - "Mathematicians".

Let us assume they were mathematicians, for thereby hangs a tale which was related (somewhat drunkenly) at a local university bar last week ;-)

Arriving at the inn, they were shown an empty room. After all, they were rich and carrying gold with them, the Book tells us. So the greedy hotelier - probably called Hilbert - would have made a room available for them. Then these 3 mathematicians went into the empty room. Seconds later FOUR mathematicians came out of the room (to go visit the manger). But the fourth mathematician said "Hey that's peculiar! If one of us now goes back into the room, it will be empty again!"

After the laughter subsided, I put on my best deadpan Sheldon Cooper nerd face and objected :- "But negative numbers were not accepted until much later! The Greek mathematician Diophantus (in the third century A.D) even called them absurd. The first and only known medieval (Islamic) text from that region that uses negative numbers was about 10th century AD. Most european mathematicians resisted the concept of negative numbers until the 17th century, Leibnitz being an exception. Even in the 18th century any negative results derived from equations were ignored, on the assumption that they were meaningless. So your joke - which is based on mathematicians using negative numbers in 1 AD - is an anachronism :-("

Needless to say, my scholarship went down like a lead ballon. At Xmas people prefer a good narrative to the truth. C'est la Vie :-(

Monday, December 22, 2014

Quantum Mechanical Santa ;-)

©Stu Savory, 2014

Hallo children :-)

I hear that some of you are worried because you heard that some classical physicist had proved that Santa cannot exist :-(

Well let me assure you that is not the case; I will show you how Quantum Physics comes to the rescue :-)

It turns out that such fizzy cysts assumed the rules of Newtonian physics :-( Doing so, The Human Neutrino (aka Linda Harden) has calculated that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. The loudness of the sonic bang alone would wake up all the children otherwise sleeping through his visit! The sleigh with all the presents would weigh 353,430 tons at the start of the trip. At this speed, Mach 3000, the air resistance would heat the reindeer up like a spaceship on reentry. They would burst into flame at once (5 milliseconds), as would Santa, even if he could survive a 40 thousand Gee acceleration and deceleration at each stop. So, yes, classical physics denies the existence of Santa :-(

However, back in 1998, Fermilabs published a paper taking Einstein's Theory of Relativity into account. The Theory of Relativity states that all your relatives will come to visit at Xmas, and gain so much mass that they must arrive at near lightspeed; if they appear to change colour due to over(h)eating, that's just a remnant of the Doppler effect of their approach ;-)

But now let me tell you the REAL story. It has some imaginary bits too, which makes it so complex, it's theoretical fizzix from here on ;-)

Santa is actually a quantum mechanical phenomenon.

Perhaps you have heard about Schroedinger's Cat? Let me tell you a qbit about it, but DON'T DO THIS AT HOME KIDS. Schroedinger's Cat was put in a box with a phial of poison that would open if a radioactive decay took place, killing the cat. And the radio is always active at Xmas (well, nowadays its the TV, but Schroedinger wrote this up in 1935). Anyway, the cat be regarded as both dead AND alive until you open the box and observe it, whereupon the wave function collapses and it is one or the other, alive OR dead. The cat was in two superimposed states (like Italy and the Vatican).

Extending this analogy, Santa is actually a quantum phenomenon, existing in 91.8 million superimposed states at the same time, one in each household he visits (i.e. limited to good Xian households only, sadly he's a religious segregationist). So Santa is in YOUR house too as long as you DON'T observe him! If you DO observe him, you will cause the wave function to collapse, whereupon he will only be in 1 of the 91.8 million households, WHICH MIGHT NOT BE YOURS!!! So you must be very careful NOT to observe him!

Generally, the grown-ups will be very helpful here. Your Dad or your uncle Jimmy or some male relative will disguise himself as Santa, even eating the biscuits you left out and drinking the whisky, so you can't be certain whether you observed the real Santa or just a relative clone :-)

Anyway, if you do observe him (or a relative clone), be sure to measure EXACTLY how fast he was moving - accurate to at least to one part in 91.8 million. Then Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle tells you that if you know how fast he was moving, then you cannot know exactly where he was - he could be any of 91.8 million places, probably the H-bar, or walking the Planck :-)

So you see, thanks to Quantum Mechanics, Santa can be everywhere all the time, subject to the provision that you never actually observe him!

Rather like the Baby Jesus in that respect ;-)

Comments (2) :
Cop Car (USA) wrote "Shouldn't the weight of the sleigh be given in metric tonnes? Every teachable moment should be employed. (Cute tale, BTW!)" And I didn't even mention the three ladies of ill repute just along for the ride (Ho,Ho,Ho) ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "Nice QM explanation. Sometimes I don't get your throw-away jokes (H-bar???). Who is Uncle Jimmy?" Just a throw-away joke about a scottish expression (See you, Jimmy), nothing to do with the blond guy drooling at a line of pre-pubescents, that'd be the Savile Row joke. H-bar is the Planck constant. Like the dessert you store in the side of your mouth, it is measured in Joule-seconds (jowl seconds, geddit?)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Giger's Gravestone

What a magnificent tombstone! H.R.Giger was of course the Swiss artist who gave us the Alien in the movie series of the same name. I have a couple of photobooks of his art, e.g. Necronomicon. Fantastic!

Here in catholic Paderborn, and, I imagine in the U.S. Bible Belt, conservatives would probably protest at a non-standard tombstone. The standard being either R.I.P [Name] or (in the US?) a torture-symbol such as a cross. Freemasons (in the UK at least) have a skull and crossbones, leading some American tourists to e.g. Melrose Abbey to wonder why so many pirates are buried so far inland. I told them they were probably bankers ;-)

Historically though, some tombstones have even been funny, e.g. nameless tombstones reading "I told you I was sick" :-)

But a true memorial isn't erected because someone has died, but because they have lived and achieved things. So I like Giger's kind of tombstone, which documents his life's best-known achievement. There are a few which do this, e.g. in the church in Leyden (NL) is a magnificent tombstone , recently restored around a column in the nave, of Ludolph van Ceulen (1540-1610) who calculated PI manually to 35 digits over 400 years ago! Here's a photo. Seeing it made the 345 km trip to Holland worth the ride :-)

On next summer's motorcycle trip we will be sure to take a look at the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora in the middle of the Czeck Republic, about 600kms east-south-east of here. I hope to get some good photos for y'all :-)

When I go, I'd like to have QR-code linking to the static remnants of this blog. But that's hard to combine with an anonymous urnhole :-(

Comments (3) :
Pergolator (USA) asks "Is there any practical use for calculating pi to more than say 5 or 6 digits?" Yes. NASA says that calculations involving pi use 15 digits for GNC code and 16 for the Space Integrated Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (SIGI). SIGI is the program that controls and stabilizes spacecraft during missions. NIST use quadruple precision (32 digits) in their standards calculations. Even I have used ten million digits in a test of my normality software :-)
Klaus (Alaska) points us to this article on PI.
Cop Car (USA) wrote " Tombstones: We who live in the bible belt see a lot of "non-standard" tombstones; but, nothing like Mr Giger's. That stone is far out! Sorry that I can't tell you whether people in the bible belt protest "non-standard" tombstones; but, I don't recall ever hearing/reading about such protests. As an unproductive member of society, I think my tombstone should be a blank slab. Hunky Husband and I intend to be cremated with ashes scattered. Why I succumbed to a friend's plea and talked HH into buying the two burial spaces that she bought for her and her husband (who died in 1999), I'll never know; but, a blank stone sounds right. Unusual in these parts, HH's grandparents are buried where photos on the stone are usual." German anti-pollution laws mean scattering is prohibited here, use of graveyards is compulsory, although there are now non-denominational burial grounds in the woods too. In Austria, there was a tradition in some places of having wooden head'stones' with text painted on. When the texts had weathered away to illegibility or the wood become blank, enough time had elapsed that the grave space could be re-used.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Lego®-based Interferometer :-)

Schools have increasingly tight budgets and so sometimes they cannot do science experiments because the equipment costs so much :-( For example, buying regular physics-lab equipment to build a simple optical interferometer would cost you €2870 of which €1400 are for the optomechanical pieces alone :-(

Now Prof. Imlau and two of his Master students (Lager and Klompmacher) at the University of Osnabrück have come up with a solution, making an optical workbench from Lego® so that e.g. the aforesaid interferometer would cost only €142. If the school already has Lego® available, the incremental cost of the interferometer would only be €42 (sic!). Way to go!!!

Obviously, the various adjustable optomechanical stands are reusable and so many different experiments can be constructed, but I just took a photo of their Michelson interferometer, see below. Let's see how it works :-

They use an optional (€577) solid Lego® breadboard as an optical bench (labelled J) as this is more stable than just positioning the components on (say) the classroom floor. At position A you see a 1mWatt Class 2 green laser (532 nM wavelength), too weak to endanger skin or eyes and thus freely available (e.g. from Laserfuchs, for just €15). The laser beam is reflected through 90° by the mirror on the adustable mount at position B.

From there, the beam goes to the beam-splitter (€5.90c) at C. Half the beam goes straight through the beam-splitter to the mirror at D which bounces it straight back. The other half is turned through 90° and sent via the lens at F to the mirror at E which reflects it straight back towards the beam-splitter at C where it recombines with the beam coming from mirror D, then half goes via lens G and is projected in an interference pattern on the screen at H.

The interference pattern, once all the various adjustable optomechanical stands are aligned correctly, will show a set of concentric rings.

They have a parts-list online as a PDF file here. The whole project is generously done as Open Source Hardware. The mirror holders D,B,E etc can be assembled by the schoolchildren in the class, each in about 20 minutes. They contain a worm-gear (at K) to enable users to make the fine adjustments of mirror tilt and rake needed to get the beams parallel. Thereafter, once the various adjustable optomechanical stands are assembled, it takes about 15 minutes for the 16-18 year-old schoolkids to align the interferometer, Lager and Klompmacher told me.

I've written this up in English because I think it is an idea well worth spreading, but Imlau's website is only available in German, so I can help spread this good idea internationally maybe with this blogpost, whose permalink is :-)

If you want to learn how an interferometer works and what are the applications it is used for, here's the Wikipedia link :-)

I might just build one of these, without the expensive baseboard. Then also buy a toy DC-electric windmill, calibrate it in a graph of revs vs. voltage applied, then use it to measure the speed of light, effectively for peanuts :-)

Way to go!!!

Comments (4) :
Klaus (Alaska) wrote " After I read your latest blog about "Lego based interferometer" I goggled about "cheap interferometer" and found this system (Cal-Tech) the report claims it would cost less than $ 150, but I like the Lego based system better it looks more solid, " Thanks for the heads-up, Klaus. $150 is €120 nowadays.
David (IL) wrote "I was half expecting you to write something funny about "Hannukah in the OTC®" today :-;" OK then, Shalom vobiscum ;-)
John (UK) decries my toy windmill idea "A toy windmill to measure c? Unlikely! In the original experiment (Fizeau, about 1850) he had a wheel with a LOT of blades and saw a reflection from a mirror 5 miles away, not on your little Lego-board. Even with a good cats-eye reflector, I wonder where you would find a place dark enough nowadays to see the 1 milliwatt laser's light after a 10-mile round trip." Hmmm, good point. A place on land looking across open calm water to another place on unpopulated land during a dark night maybe? After all, astronomers have detected a reflection from a cats-eye reflector on the moon left by Apollo astronauts for that very purpose. There was even a TBBT episode on TV about that :-)
Pergolator(USA), in his blog, has a 7 min explanatory video about interferometers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Impractical custom bikes :-(

Eight days ago I went with 3 friends to a large Custom Bike show and took 40 photos, but don't worry I'm only going to share a half-dozen ;-)

Few of the customised bikes are street legal, my favourite was this Cafe´ Racer Ducati, but it is still impractical as it has no rear mudguard and even the front one is far too short, no blinkers and the mirror is far too small :-(

Of course most of the bikes shown were Hardly-Ablesons and for display only, not being street-legal (so what's the point of building them?)

Some of the non-Harleys were just as strange and impractical :-

However, one stand showed some of the WW1 era participants from this year's trans-USA Cannonball Rally, like this ancient in-line four :-)

Not a bike there that I would have bought, even if I had the cash. In fact the best eye-candy on display was the pole-dancer on the Harley stand :-)

But if I'm restricted to bikes, this Fiat-based bike was one of the prettiest :-)

All in all, I shall stick to my own Triumph Street Triple Streetfighter, fast enough, very agile, legally loud, all mods street legal and practical! :-)

Comments (3) :
Renke (D) asked " lemme guess - of the remaining 33 photos 20+ are eye-candy? :P" Surprisingly, no! I must be getting old ;-)
Schorsch (D) suggests "There are grips with transparent ends which function as blinkers. But those could be mini-blinkers below the seat hump. However, the shallow angle of the number-plate looks illegal (at most 30° from the vertical allowed)." But when you sit on the Ducati, the seat descends and the number plate angle may be less than 30° from the vertical???
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "So how loud was illegal?" Several tuners were running their bikes' engines so you could hear the straight through (=shotgun) Harley pipes. And one bike had a bullhorn from a railroad engine. Nearly shat myself when it went off right next to me :-(

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Name Game ;-)

Fellow blogger Mostly Cajun, blogging from Sulphur, Louisiana (USA), often has a category called The Name Game in which he ridicules the often exotic names people assign to their children, at least in Louisiana. Follow my links to his blog and read some of them. Hilarious anarchy!

But I promised to compare that with the situation here in Germany where we have the registrar of births, deaths, marriages and divorces applying burocrappy rules to decide what are permissible names and which are not.

Some rejected name-wishes this year were Lightning : rejected for being an everyday word, Celle rejected for being the name of a town, Shogun rejected for being a military title, and Jürgenson rejected for being a surname, or, I presume, possibly a reminder of the father's name ;-)

Some of the new names - not in the database of acceptable names until recently - were Ismawanto, Shakur, Loona and Letty all presumably from immigrants. In total, almost 400 new names were added.

Some names are permissible but seldom, Adolf being an obvious example. Others - the names of gods - such as Jesus or Cthulhu (also fictional) are not allowed although Thor and Wotan are, funnily enough. So if you meet a German called Jesus he's probably a naturalised Spaniard etc. However, the most popular boys' name this year was Mohammed which says something about the size of our Muslim immigrant population (Turks, etc), not the least a certain lack of inventiveness or the fact that they breed faster ;-)

I haven't found any ruling on the permissibility of click-consonants (which are used in Xhosa and Zulu tongues) or intra-word capitalisation or any other possible pronunciation aids, nor on the use of letters not in the 30 letters of the German alphabet, such as certain Norwegian diacritics and letters like ø which you or I might mistakenly pronounce PHI ;-)

Although single hyphens are allowed e.g. Hans-Peter, I'm pretty sure numerals are not, e.g. R2D2 or C3PO (unless they are Roman numerals) ;-)

What worries me more is that we are "only four (missing) meals away from anarchy" (quoting MI5). Please read Marc Elsberg's iBook "Blackout" :-(

Comments (4) :
Klaus (Alaska) wrote " I found this on the internet, so the "name game" is even more complicated in the US, a bakery in New Jersey refused to put "Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler" on a birthday cake for a 3 year old child, see "introduction" in this article" Ah yes, a 43 page 2011 legal paper by Carlton F.W.Larson on "Naming Baby: The Constitutional Dimensions of Parental Naming Rights". Larson is Professor of Law at University of California, Davis, School of Law. Informative and quite amusing it is too :-)
Thomas (D) tells me "AFAIK, Marc Elsberg's iBook "Blackout" is only available in German and in Dutch :-(" OK, thanks for that important rider.
Susan (UK) sent a link "The Daily Mail had a list of the weirdest US names in 2013." OK. Thanks for the heads-up, but IMHO Mostly Cajun has better ones ;-)
Schorsch (D) tells me that "...some registrars seem to still think that names are restricted by the gender of the child, but don't believe them, because in 2008 the High Court (=Bundesverfassungsgericht) decided that unisex names are permissible (BVerfG vom 5. Dezember 2008, AZ: 1 BvR 576/07)."
OK, folks, note that court decision reference if you are likely to need it :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Now try the torturers!

Now that the official U.S. Torture report has been published, let's see if the U.S. has the guts to put the war criminals who ordered the torture (not just the low-level ones actually doing it) on trial!

What do you mean, no Grand Jury would press for a trial because they are old white guys? It's not as if they're just low-down street cops!

Or have they waited until the crimes 'expire' (according their own rules) ?

C'mon America, now you can REALLY regain the moral high ground!

Fat chance :-(

Comments (5) :
Paranoia : I have not posted the 3 savage comments, in order to protect y'all from possible reprisals by US CIA operatives :-(
David (IL) tells me "That'd be the prequel to Dick Cheney's autobiography? Now expected to sell even better when it is published soon :-(" And I have a suggestion for the cover photo thereof ;-)
Ed (USA) tells me "The US does not recognise the ICC." Nor the words "responsibility" and "accountability" :-(

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Science Night @ HNF

Our local computer museum hosted a Science Night on the last saturday in november, with the intention of motivating kids and teens to pursue careers in the sciences because we have too few engineers in Germany. So Frank and I went along to take a look. Here are some photos.

Many of the exhibits were aimed at the 8-12 year old age group, like this car simulator using an Oculus Rift to demonstrate virtual reality. Sadly the Oculus Rift was not connected to a display screen so that spectators could see what was going on. They hadn't thought the "public use" things through either, because if any of the kids had had hair lice, then so would all the kids in the remaining queue by now :-( Plus, some kids are now motivated to become drivers rather than scientists???? The follow-through was inadequate.

Next along was another 'game' for pre-teens who could play "4-in-a-line" against a manufacturing robot. The 'eyes' were programmed to look where the robot was placing its chips. Out of interest, I set my camera into "facial recognition" mode, but it didn't recognise the robot's "face". The man on the right has an emergency button maybe, in case the robot starts flailing around? Again, the follow-through was inadequate, I don't see how this motivated the kids to study science/engineering.

The next exhibit was about chemistry. Kids could don rubber gloves and develop contact negatives on photo paper onto which they had made "shadow" shapes and skylines. For users who had only ever used a digital camera this came as a revelation. The science was explained (verbally) well, I can imagine some becoming interested in chemistry maybe. Personally, I would have given the kids - and the front row of spectators - protective glasses as well; just in case any fluids got splashed around!

Moving up an age group, say the 15-20 year olds interested in electronics, there was a high end graphics card on display. I was surprised at how much cooling the GPUs needed. The real-time non-blocking, non-pixelating video game display on a HUGE screen was impressive, although the juniors were more interested in playing the game and took the excellent graphics display for granted :-( Nevertheless, some of the more senior teenagers may have been motivated to study electronics. Reminded me of my Ham days :-)

Getting around to the more serious applications of mechatronics, the local university(?) had a display of hand prosthetics. These varied from the simple hook (not shown) to the yellow-anodised thumb-and-4in1-fingers "grasper" (shown on the right) to a prosthetic hand with individually moveable fingers (painted black, on the left here). The person demonstrating it had ECG-style electrodes attached to his upper arm and showed how he could move the prosthetic hand synchronously to his own real hand. Might well have motivated people to study medical mechatronics. Impressive :-)

There was also a neat optical-bench, but that deserves it own blogpost at a later date. Meanwhile, let me point you the CoolMint, Paderborn website (unfortunately, only in German), aiming to get kids into the sciences.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tora! Tora! Tora! Re-enactment display.

This movie is shown today because it is Pearl Harbour remembrance day today, coincidentally also a sunday, back in 1941.

I've put it up for all my aviation friends. I recommend you watch full screen :)

Boy, I bet that's fun to fly in those formations :-) Apropos formation-flying, here's a photo of me flying my PA28 in formation with Anton's Bölkow 207.

Photo by his copilot Rosemary, to whom thanks :-)
D-EHFS in this incarnation is sadly no more, the guy who bought it off me crashed it in Portugal. The registration letters are recycled though and it is now a flying-club's Cessna based in Egelsbach afaik.

Comments (4) :
Klaus (Alaska), who flies a D.H. Beaver, sent me a link to the NZ WW1 Vintage Aviator Ltd Museum writing " Every once in a while we find SOMETHING OLDER than we presently are; ENJOY!" We had that link to James Fahey's excellent photos awhile back, but it's always worth repeating :-)
Sarah (UK) asks "Why did you formate below on the right, that's unusual (here)?" For the photo. His photographer co-pilot was sitting on the right which is why I formated right so she could get a clear shot. I formated below so that she'd get a top down shot with the pilot (me) visible, rather than just a shot of my undercarriage. Besides, it helped with wing clearance, keeping my tail below his wingtip :-) Don't try this at home folks, tight formation flying needs practice and skill!
Renke asked " there are standards for formation flights?!? will you write something about the defaults for all the non-pilots reading your blog?" Well, §91.111 (Operating near other aircraft) is too general to be of real use, but FAST provide more detailed training, see 97 page PDF file.
Renke took a look at that document and replied " haha, one of the first sentences is "Good luck on your journey." :D If this monster is a short introduction it's a wonder aircraft function at all with all the dead tree on board ;)" No, that's just the stuff we commit to memory ;-) We always have a pre-briefing and a debrief after every formation flight. In fact we probably spend more time in briefing than in flying the formation :-) Anyway, the most important rule as wingman is "Never take your eyes off the Leader!" which is why I would normally be at 30° behind him, just for this photo I moved in front, as pre-agreed. But as you see, I'm still watching him!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Space stuff auction, next friday

Nerd that I am, I've always wished I could go to space. Basic qualifications were there, I have a degree in physics, own my own telescopes, am a government-certified flying instructor, can pull over 6 gees without black-out, push over -3 gees without red-out, speak several languages etc etc. However, I also have filled teeth, an appendix, and wear glasses, things that ESA and NASA etc are not really so hot on :-( Plus I'm over 70 now.

So, if I cannot go to space, maybe space can come to me? At least in part, second-hand, and only symbolically. And if the same applies to you, or you are just interested in things astronautical, let me point you to an auction of space memorabilia being held in Hamburg (Germany) on december 12th at 14:30 CET by the art auctioneers Hauswedell and Nolte, at Pöseldorfer Weg 1.

The catalog is even available online as a PDF file here. Interesting articles include a tile from the heat-shield of the Endeavor, listed at €1500, a signed copy of Juri Gagarin's book, listed at €1000, and (listed for only €280) the inner gloves from Sergej Krikalyov's spacesuit, interesting to me because he is one of the cosmonauts I have actually met. Sergej has spent more time in space than any other human: over 803 days including over 41 hours of EVA, he said :-)

So, see you there maybe? Then we could go for a beer or three :-)

Comments (4) :
Xtreme English (USA) wrote at length " So sorry you can't qualify for a space trip. fillings in your teeth? can't you yank 'em out? glasses? I can do pretty well without glasses since the last lens they stuck in my eye to replace the one with cataract works pretty well. but I'd never qualify. where would I put the dry box for my cochlear implant? I'm way too old, too, even though I don't get periods any more! I think they should make an exception for you, Stu. Which of the former space travelers can write like you? "that's one step for a man...." gah. and who else knows so much about all of it? einstein is gone, so is galileo. Stu for Space! figger out a way for us to contribute to your campaign. all the politicians do it. great stuff in your blog this season!! " Thankyou for your support,XE. (I shall always wear it ;-)
John (UK) quips "Let's all vote to send Stu to Mars!" OK, at my age I'd even take a one-way ticket and a place in the history books ;-)
Ed (USA) crows "Orion test successful, but all 6 rides are only for us Americans!" Anything that gets Americans like you, Ed, off the planet six at a time is OK by me ;-)
Karel (CZ) wrote "A bit off topic, but you should know that Princeton have now put Einstein's collected papers online :-)" Thanks for the heads-up, Karel!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pharisee of the One True Church ® :-(

The head honcho of the One True Church ® was ranting again last week about the need that all countries should grant asylum to refugees and migrants. Well, I have news for him, all countries in Europe do exactly that; except for one. Guess which one! Right, the Vatican does not!

There is none so blind as he who cannot see! [≈Jeremiah 5:21] :-(

The One True Church ® (aka Vatican) has no laws about granting asylum, has no address to which refugees may apply for asylum, has no quarters for refugees. Indeed, has no refugees. And when a couple of dozen homeless Romanies in St.Paul Outside-the-Walls asked for asylum, they were coldly turned down because St.Paul Outside-the-Walls was extraterritorial! Not only that, the OTC® offered each of the homeless €1000 to go home(sic!).

Name me a country which has NOT signed the UN Human Rights Convention. Yes, it's the Vatican. Name me a country which has 50% of its area dedicated to landscaped parks. I wonder how many refugee tents could fit in those 22 hectares of parks? We may never know, we may indeed never know :-(

To the hypocrite hiding behind the white mozetta, I say "Matthew 7:3-5, and then Matthew 7:1-2". You know what I mean! :-(

Comments (2) :
David (IL) grins "I love your rants. You are at your best when you rant :-)" Thankyou, that's because they are heartfelt :-)
Karen (D) points out "It's not as if they couldn't afford it either :-( " Indeed!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bikers' Advent Garland :-)

My good friend Norton-Paule is a motoholic, he owns nine (or more) motorcycles, including one each of all the Honda CB fours (350,400,500,550 and 750cc) He is also a very handy man with a camera :-) For the first sunday in Advent, he sent me his bikers' version of an Advent wreath, featuring the carburettor array of one of his Honda fours :-)

Traditionally, the first candle is lit on the first sunday in advent, then two on the second, three on the third and finally all four on the fourth sunday in advent. Imagine the month-long mechanic's-soul-destroying sound of a Honda four running on one pot, then two, then three, before it finally runs on all four :-( FWIW, a real biker's xmas carol sounds like this (speakers on LOUD!).

What a genial photo Paul, thanks for sending it! And happy riding in 2015; keep the rubber side down! :-)

Comments (3) :
Doug (Canada) tells me that "He's missing the CB 650 - I know as I had one :)" I shall ask him why; I know they were sold over here, so I'll ask what his criteria are, after all, the CB650 was the last SOHC model.
Norton-Paule (D) replying to Doug's question (I translate) : "All a question of budget and storage space. I've just bought an old CB 900 Bol d´Or F2 (which is DOHC). The SOHC CB650 was a smooth runner, I saw a perfect one in Stoke-on-Tent(UK) which I might get later. Currently down to 8 bikes, there's too little time :-("
Schorsch (D) said "I feel the need to explain Paul's visual pun to your non-German readers : The word "Kerzen" means not only 'candles' but also 'sparking plugs' :-) " Indeed it does; I'd missed that pun, shame on me :-(

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Evolution Man :-)

Well, I was wondering how there could be a humourous book about Darwin's theory of evolution, so when pTerry recommended this 1960 masterpiece, I just had to go online and buy it :-)

It is the story about the early evolution of hominids on the plains of Africa. But written from the point of view of the caveman himself (albeit using a well-educated modern vocabulary).

All very plausible step-by-step progress and written very funnily too, Kafka's oddities burnished with the humour of a pleistocene Monty Python :-)

I had to look up some of the extinct animals in Wikipedia, just to fill some holes in my knowledge. But it's a thoroughly amusing 214 page read; I can recommend it too.

The more modern paperback reprint has ISBN : 978-0-679-75009-3.

Comments (5) :
John (UK) takes me to task "I've read that. It's misleading to call it Darwinian though. But it is a funny evolution fantasy, so I'll credit you for that." OK, you're right. But it's still a good read!
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "You seem to read a lot. How many books/year?" I try to read 2 new books per week, 100/year. And sometimes I re-read good books. Obviously, the tips I give here are for the better books, the mediocre stuff never mentioned and the really bad ones saved for bonfire night :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) replied, shocked "What? You actually BURN books?" That has a tradition in Germany :-( But yes, if I think they are so awful that noone else should pick them up second hand from my discards. OTOH, there are several good books with which I disagree, but that doesn't make them bad. One has to separate content/ideas from the author's execution(sic!) thereof, especially on a dark and stormy night...
Pierre (F) gives a book tip "..."Sade". Une athee´en amour. Sous la direction de Michel Delon. Par Albin Michel. Because I know you speak French." I do so badly, Pierre, badly! Ils sont fout, les Bloggeurs ;-) Update : Ah, the penny just dropped, Pierre, sorry I'm so slow, but I'm not a great reader of SM literature. You recommended that book because today (tuesday) is exactly the 200th anniversary of the death of the Marquis du Sade, right?
Pierre (F) replied "Right!"

Recent Writings
Best of 2014
For Eleanor Rigby ;-)
Three Wise Men ;-)
Quantum Santa ;-)
Giger's Gravestone
Lego Interferometer
Impractical custom bikes
The Name Game ;-)
Try the torturers!
Science Night @ HNF
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Space stuff auction
Pharisee of the OTC :-(
Bikers' Advent Garland
The Evolution Man
Smell my nuts!
Ferguson coincidence?
Testing Prime
A bang-on book :-)
Murphy multitasks :-(
Illegitimi non carborundum
Astrostump :-)
RIP Alex Grothendieck
40 years on . . .
Jonas Jonasson's books
USA : a nation of losers

Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Echidne of the snakes
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Hattie (Hawaii)
Making Light
Mostly Cajun
Murr Brewster
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
Rants from t'Rookery
Scary Duck
Spork in the drawer
Squatlo Rant
The Magistrate's Blog
XE Express
Yellowdog Grannie

Archive 2014:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov
Archive 2013:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Archive 2012:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Archive 2011:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Archive 2010:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Archive 2009:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec

Link Disclaimer
ENGLISH : I am not responsible for the contents or form of any external page to which this website links. I specifically do not adopt their content, nor do I make it mine.
DEUTSCH : Für alle Seiten, die auf dieser Website verlinkt sind, möchte ich betonen, dass ich keinerlei Einfluss auf deren Gestaltung und Inhalte habe. Deshalb distanziere ich mich ausdrücklich von allen Inhalten aller gelinkten Seiten und mache mir ihren Inhalt nicht zu eigen.

This Blog's Status is
Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
Books I have written

Index/Home Impressum Sitemap Search site/www