January 03, 2008

New year – Does it mean anything?

The original title of this entry was/is 'New year - Does it mean anything?', it may or may not survive by the end.

On a purely time based level, entry into the New Year is neither here nor there, it simply means nothing. It’s about as significant in the same respect as a birthday, or Christmas (don't get me started... oh wait no one is bothered).

The point is though, that entry into the New Year does mean something, not particularly this one, although it may do for some, but each New Year means something to some people at least. A purely rational argument would be the fact that regardless of ones culture, the location on the globe or the language one speaks, celebrations of a new year occur in every culture all around the world and throughout every language there is a word describing the celebration. The idea is that if everyone is celebrating it, then there must be something we hold close to our hearts about entering a new age, a new time.

Time is a funny thing. It’s totally different to any other quantity one could ever imagine given an unlimited amount of it. A subtle difference. Unlike the number of apples in a basket or the distance down a road it is possible to walk, time is different. The difference is, you can't take some of it away, and it only goes in one direction. Even since the ancient Egyptians the notion of time has puzzled some of the greatest thinkers. Until recently (early 1900's) it was thought that time was absolute; everyone lived in the same time, and moved through it at the same rate. This of course is not the case; it is possible to demonstrate the effects of time dilation dependent on ones speed relative to other observers. Perhaps this is getting too deep. The point I am labouring over is although people perceive the rate of time differently, endeavours to move in the opposite direction are simply futile (it doesn't stop people trying though).

Perhaps just as the building blocks that make us who we are, governed almost completely (I use almost - leaving room for belief of course) by the laws of nature, there is engraved into our pre-birth memory or software; a definition and an idea about what time is and how it works. [Remember, time isn't something we have invented, it has always been there, we just know how to measure its behaviour, and out interaction with it. The most obvious interaction we have with time is the affect of ageing, there is no escape]. If this is so, the act of moving into the New Year should not be so much a celebration as much as a simple realisation, its inevitable isn't it? Of course not, did you know a year ago you would be reading this today? No, it didn't exist, and neither did you. You don't exist in the future; you are merely a thought process, a fabrication of intertwined memory structures in your brain. As we move into the New Year we celebrate life, celebrate being here, having the consciousness to realise your movement through the ongoing time line of life.

I wish you all the best of luck for this up coming year. It really won't be here in one year time.


The White Spider

Title:
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

This book I found truly fascinating. It starts with an introduction from Joe Simpson (author of "Touching the void"), and carriers on into the first section about the history of the north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps, of which this book is about.

I liked this book because it gave me an insight into the mind of a true mountaineer. I say mountaineer, what I really mean is mountaineers, my point is that they all seem to follow a similar mentality as described by Harrer. Shear determination is sort of the theme throughout the book which is portrayed by the endless list of personallities described throughout it. 

I have only rated this book mid-range because I feel it was a bit long winded. Without the detailed descriptions of almost every climb, or attempted climb, on the face, I can't imagine the book being as intriguing as it was to read. However, this aspect of the read did make it rather tedious at points and I have to say quite monotonous. Still, a few adventures recounted in the book are simply gripping, and has one literally sitting on the edge of a seat, reading as fast as possible to discover the fate, and sometimes tragic ones at that, of some of the bravest people to have ever lived. 

Not only does this book recount numerous accidents and such like, it also details from time to time the mentality of the climbers involved. This is the part I enjoyed the most; trying to understand the motivation behind such feats. At first I thought such a motivation was quite simple to understand, but after reading this book I now realise there is a lot more to climbing at this level, than pure exploration.

Overall a great read, I would recommend it to anyone who is into climbing or outdoor pursuits, or even those who enjoy reading about interesting people.


November 12, 2007

University wastes energy

As I go about my day on campus I am constantly reminded by an abundance of posters and handouts that we should cut down on our energy consumption to preserve the environment, not only for ourselves but for others around the globe and for generations to come. I think most people would agree that it has now become almost trendy, fashionable perhaps to be labelled as a 'green' person. I can imagine that for some this would encourage a more environmentally friendly lifestyle - brilliant. For others, peace of mind prevails and has a similar effect.

It is possible to 'play your part' in the global battle against climate change by changing your lifestyle, but there is the common consensus that, what I do won't make much difference at all. However, collectively it is possible to make a change, as a community, and this is something that can be done for example by organisations such as the University of Warwick. One might imagine then, an institution such as the University of Warwick may wish to take this notion on board, aiming to reduce its energy consumption. 

This is not what I see. The amount of energy needed to run five water fountains outside the mathematics dept. doesn't bear thinking about. The Warwick Arts Centre is flood lit by night with fancy colours, as is an elevator shaft opposite the Warwick Manafactuing Group. These all may be pleasing to the eye, but are they necessary? I am aware that these views are very kill-joy, but is it not time we all started to think about the people who will really be affected by climate change, namely those living in undeveloped counties, instead of creating pointless exhibits, on show purely for our want of aesthetically pleasing surroudings? The icing on the cake came as I walked past a perfectly lit seating area (ok that is sensible) outside the humanities building, but the seats had implanted in them, ultraviolet lights... lighting up the floor, what is going on? Has this university completely forgotten what it should be stanting for as a leading educational institution in this country?



November 10, 2007

Caps

This is just for all the people who laughed at my cap today.

I would just like to add that this was no ordinary cap, if you google, "Ilkley Moore Bar T'at" you will see what I mean. This is of course besides the point. I am entitled to wear whatever I please, whenever I think suitable, like it or lump it, it is called freedom of choice... you know who you are!!

In addition to this I would just like to emphasise a particular point I made to Andy earlier on today in "Standard Model". I can take the cap off whenever I like, unfortunately the same isn't true for all your ugly mugs, sorry.

Hope you all have a nice weekend, I will continue to keep my head nice and toasty, whilst you guys follow the conga of trendiness.

G'day


October 25, 2007

Lecture styles

Quite frankly any lecture who thinks it is ok to present examinable material through PowerPoint needs a good hiding!

Problems:

i) It is hard enough trying to keep up to date with what is being done in a lecture without having to read and listen at the same time! For example, it is expected of course that we as students should take notes. Yes that is reasonable, but how are we supposed to do that whilst listening to potentially important information that is being said by the lecturer? You can't. So it seems to me that what you actually write down as notes is a bit of a gamble. If I write what they say perhaps it will come up in the exam, if I don't and chose to write something from the slides perhaps I will not know what to do for a particular question in the exam. I thought exams were about testing a students knowledge on a subject rather than testing whether or not they can write down the important facts in lectures.

ii) There is no interactivity. I like to understand a lot of what is presented to me in a lecture, in the lecture. This normally is the case, as with derivations and such like they are written down with an overhead projector - this is good, as you write the derivation down you understand what you are doing. However, when you see a huge equation on a PowerPoint slide the only feeling you get is "Where the hell did that come from". That is simply no good.

Solution: Scrap PowerPoint and any lecturer who insists on using it.

It should be renamed to Not-very-PowerfulPoint.


October 24, 2007

Basics Dark Chocolate

I have conducted an experiment (a crude one at that) just with two random people. The experiment took two types of dark chocolate, Basics from Sainsbury's priced at £0.23p per 100g, and Green and Black's prices at around £1.30 per 100g.

Each person was given a piece of each chocolate - I simply won't dwell they both preferred the cheaper version.

This really isn't surprising. As it is very tasty, sweeter and less bitter. However, this was a bad experiment, so I went and found the most popular brand of chocolate in the UK, Cadbury's. When I compared the actual coco mass in the Bornville brand with that in the Basics I was astonished to find that there is more coco mass in the basics! Only by one percent but still... Even the Saisnbury's Basics Milk chocolate had more coco mass than the brand name of Dairy Milk. The Figures are shown below.

Basics - Dark      40%      Basics - Milk      29%

Bornville             39%      Dairy Milk          20%

This is purely an observation and I just thought I would bring this to the attention of the world around me. I will carry on the buy Basics, but each to their own I suppose.


First entry

   I suppose what I really want to say is; why didn't I think of this earlier?

   This sort of question is in fact one that I ask myself quite frequently. Problem: I seem to be involved in an ever increasing violent battle, with myself, between the things I have to do and those I want to do. Albeit a losing one currently, I have decided to take heed of my subconscious and control of my desires. Today I start my quest to remember the world.

    As I see it, the world, or if you like, the universe is a personal reality. A concoction of each individual's opinions, reckonings and beliefs through their observations, knowledge and understanding respectively, of the world in which they, yes they, live in.

    I suggest to myself then, that I have a lot to think about if I wish to remember the world. If I start today I reckon I will be finished by tomorrow. However, my opinions may have changed by tomorrow, and who knows about my beliefs. Solution: stay calm, attempt every question and please stop writing at the end of the test.

 


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