Eunoia

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About
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 after the death of his old dog, Kosmo, he also has a new bulldog puppy, Clara, since September 2018 :-)


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Monday, October 14, 2019

My mathematical mega-mug :-)

Amongst the various nerdy articles for sale in the HNF museum's shop are several new ones. One of these is a huge (850 ml) coffee mug, enough to wake even the geekiest of us (Hi Renke) which is covered in various formulae familiar to the people who did STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) studies. So I lashed out the whole nine Euros, and here are the photos :-

Left view and right view.

Centre view and source info on the box. However, looking at their website, it seems they don't sell to individuals, merely in bulk to wholesale purchasers who then retail them. I got mine from the museum shop at HNF, Fürstenallee 7, D-33102 Paderborn, Germany, for just 9 Euros. It'd be a great Xmas present for geek friends :-)

This photo shows it in use, so that you can see the scale. I positioned myself carefully to get the halo from a ceiling painting into the selfie, just to irritate amuse religious friends (like Liz and Yasmin) who know I'm an Atheist ;-)

The challenge of this mug to the geeks and nerds is to see if they can identify each and every formula on the mug. If not, you'll know why German STEM students abbreviate their field of study as Maths, Informatics, Science & Technology (MIST).

Finally, Doug sent me an explanation of why 29% of us drink lots of coffee ;-)


Thursday, October 10, 2019

You shall not pass! - the Maginot Line.

While we were down in the Alsace area (NE France, near Bitch) my intention was to take a look at the fortifications of the Maginot Line. The Maginot Line was a series of underground bunkers and forts built by France in the 1930s along their border with Germany as their primary line of defence. The intent was - to put it in Gandalf's LOTR words - You shall not pass! However, the line was not completed and the Germans merely went through the gaps, e.g. in The Ardennes, on the French-Belgian border.

France has restored the fort at Schoenenbourg to its state at the outbreak of WW2 as a national monument and it is open to the public for 3 hours each afternoon. The entrance is tucked away in the woods of a national park. Set your car's GPS to N48° 57' 59" E7° 54' 44" to find the (ammunition) entrance.

Just outside this entrance is a war memorial, to pay your respects.

The fort of Schoenenbourg was the most heavily bombarded structure of the Maginot Line. From May 14th 1940 it was under heavy German attack. The German artillery even used a giant 420mm howitzer, whose shells weighed a ton, to fire 56 shells at it. From June 20th 1940, Stukas dropped 160 tons of bombs on it; in total over 3000 bombs and shells of different calibres were used. All unsuccessfully. Retaliating, the fort fired over 17,000 shells from its 6 combat blocks. Unconquered, the fort only surrendered on order of the French high command, six days after the armistice.

I didn't come to see the guns though, I was more interested to see the undergound infrastructure. This is half of the hospital ward, next to an OP room.

All of these rooms and corridors are about 30m (100 feet) underground. This picture below shows the main kitchen with its 3 huge cooking pots.

Outside the kitchen, the menu board shows what was being served to the soldiers on sunday 24th september 1939. Pork chops and beans, mmmmm :-)

The sleeping quarters showed hot-bunking, three shifts of soldiers sharing the same beds for 8 hours each. Reminded me of my submarine days :-)

The power plant had two 160 hp diesel generators with a 400,000 liter fuel tank.

The whole tunnel fort was kept above atmospheric pressure to keep any poisonous gases out. These brown round drums are air filters, to remove any mustard gas, chlorine etc the Germans might have used (but didn't) from the air drawn in. Active charcoal filters can be seen in the cut-away drum.

The personnel corridors are two miles long, narrow, with just enough room for a narrow gauge railway. At the end of each section is a guard room with a machine gun pointing along the corridor to defend it should the enemy get into the tunnel system. That dark square at the end of this tunnel is the machine gun post.

At the tunnel entrance is a plaque honouring the soldiers who manned the fort.

The main corridor has storage space and train tracks for taking the ammunition to the main guns under the hill 2 miles away from the infrastructure stuff shown above. The cables transmit 22kV AC and 800V DC (for the train) from the generator shown above. Other, smaller, wires are telephone cables.

Huge 50cm dials show the voltages and airflow, visible along the main corridor.

This cross-section sketch shows the combat stations inside the hill 2 miles away from the infrastructure quarters. They contain four 75 mm model R32 guns, two 81mm morters, four 47mm model 34 anti-tank guns, ten 50mm model 35 grenade launchers, two retractable grenade-launcher cupolas, nine 7.5 mm Reibel machine guns and four chutes for lobbing hand grenades.

I spent a couple of hours exploring the fort; impressive indeed.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Not so Nobel prizes

This week sees the Nobel prize committee in Stockholm announcing the prizewinners for 2019. Tension amongst geeks and nerds abounds ;-)

But sometimes it turns out the prizes were awarded although (retrospectively) undeserved. Some of the claimed "discoveries" were just plain wrong. Oops. Here are some undeserved prizes :-

  • 1918 : Fritz Haber was awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry for his method of making ammoniak fertilizer. However, humans being what they are, his method was mostly used in WW1 for making explosives; hardly in the line with the aim of rewarding discoveries of great service to mankind.
  • 1926 : Johannes Fibinger, medicine, alleged that worms caused tumors (cancer) in rats. Coincidence, because he wasn't keeping the rats under pristine lab conditions.
  • 1938 : Enrico Fermi, physics, claimed to have created an atom with the atomic number 94, which he called Hesperium, by firing neutrons into uranium nucleii. Wrong! Actually element number 94 was not discovered until two years later. We call it plutonium.
  • 1946 : Wendell Meredith Stanley crystallized virus proteins in tobacco and claimed these contained the information need to be passed from generation to generation. Turns out his samples were impure and also contained RNA, later discovered to be the real information carrier.
  • 1949 : Antonio Egas Moniz was awarded a Nobel prize for his lobotomy operations to "cure" psychically ill patients. However it turned out that this was premature, as lobotomies cause severe brain damage leading to vegetable lives :-( One flew over the cuckuck's nest :-(

But apart from these genuine mis-awards, there are also the The Ig Nobel Prizes which are a satiric prize awarded annually since 1991 to celebrate ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. My US readers can watch the ceremony on the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving, on the public radio program Science Friday. It will also be available via the Internet :-) Before you dismiss this prize as ridiculous, there is one individual (Andre Geim) who has won both the IgNobel prize (for magnetically levitating a frog) and also a real Nobel prize (for his work on graphene) :-)

Comments(1)
Cop Car wrote " It is documented in Wikipedia that, "Nobel held 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him. Known for inventing dynamite, Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments." This does NOT negate the rest of your statement, " - hardly in the line with the aim of rewarding discoveries of great service to mankind." The YouTube version of this year's Ig Nobel awards ceremony is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfzs8ZIPVIA. It runs for nearly 1.5 hours. To quote "The Goodbye, Goodbye Speech" which is a tradition with the Ig Nobel awards ceremony, "Goodbye, Goodbye". " I think Nobel had a bad conscience which is why he specified "rewarding discoveries of great service to mankind." Oh, and yes, the video of the IgNobel awards ceremony is as juvenile as ever ;-) ;-);-)


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Bitch !

Despite the title of today's blog, it is not at all misogynistic. In fact, Bitch(e) is the name of a small town (pop. 5300) in the north-eastern corner of France, about ⅔ of the way from Strasbourg to Saarbruecken as the crow flies. We went there to see its famous citadel.

The large citadel originated from a castle built at the beginning of the 13th century. Now the citadel covers the whole hilltop, as shown in my photo.

The cart-ramp up to the main entrance is defended by a huge solid wall on the left here. The entrance contains at least NINE gates and portcullisses and a drawbridge, so it was almost impenetrable. It dates from about 1670.

During the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71) it was under seige but was never taken. 3,000 men defended it against 20,000 Prussian/Bavarian soldiers until the French government surrendered it after the ceasefire in 1871. What my photos don't show is the internal depth. It goes down many storeys, about 80 metres (260 feet) into the solid bedrock, with soldiers' quarters, messes, etc etc and a couple of groundwater wells. Narrow, ill-lit, twisty passages.

Weapons displayed in the internal museum were flintlock rifles and sabres. Earlier armour and helmets from around 1670 are also on display there.

Down in Bitche village, on the roundabout at the old town entrance, a wooden play castle has been built, two storeys high, with the lower storey being a wire chicken coop. During the seige, the town had to feed the 3000 soldiers defending the citadel for all eight months of course, mostly on chicken.

What we also liked in the Bitch area was the fact that almost every house had flowers along its roadside. The town belongs to the Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park and is rated 4-flowers (4 out of 5) in the towns and villages in bloom competition. All very pretty for September/October :-)


Recent Writings
Mathematical mega-mug
You shall not pass!
Not so Nobel prizes
Bitch !
Oktoberfest opens
Yellowhammer
Airpower 2019 videos
I don't understand Time
Time Travel Tales
I saw Uranus :-)
Bad poetry day ;-)
Tool tips
A book for bikers
I'm no botanist
Nostalgic cable car
Building the Bomb
Cold War border museum
Signed books
Record heat here :-(
Hold the front page!
First words from Moon
About Andre´ Wiersig
Day of the Dinosaurs
Stade, a Hanse town
Sickeningly embarrassing

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All hat no cattle
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Finding life hard?
Greg Laden
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Hullabaloo
Infidel753
Mockpaperscissors
Mostly Cajun
Observing Hermann
Pergelator
Starts with a Bang
Yellowdog Grannie

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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 ;-)
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