People are sheep

Let me explain.

If you’ve ever walked between Piccadilly Train station and Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, you’ll have noticed that the lines on the pavement outside the station follow the curves of the building front.

This means that, although the shortest route from the station exit as you round Greggs is a straight line to the pedestrian crossing of Ducie Street, 99.999% of the people going to and from the station walk a longer route following the curved path of the pavement lines, even when in a rush.

Once you notice this, it seems like ridiculous behaviour. But it happens all the same!

The lines on the pavement seem to subconciously channel the flow of people. I wonder if there are any other deliberate or accidental designs in town planning that influence us.

Prof. Brian Cox (aka The Science Sexpot)

The ‘Wunders’ of the Universe is on again tonight. Saw the Prof. on Sunday morning telly, I agree with him that academics deserve recognition (and nurses, social workers, firemen, etc.). I also really like Jon Culshaw’s impression of him. And why was Total Wipeout presenter Amanda Byram squirming and blushing when the Prof spoke to her? πŸ™‚

Just had a look on his facebook page, (which I have “liked”) and noticed that the postings on his wall show his fans fall into the following main categories.

1) Women (usually of a ‘certain age’) fawning over him.

“I wouldnt mind learning about particle physics off you, haha”

2) People trying to sound clever by asking questions about “The Universe, duh” that just highlight their lack of understanding of some basic tenets of physics. (I know there are supposed to be no stupid questions, but we know better).

“Hi Brian, was just wondering how come earthquakes tend to always be in the same parts of the world, especially the type of earthquakes we’ve seen in Japan yesterday. Are earthquakes seen as a weakness or simply where the earth is most active or alive meaning not particularly a weakness at all? I’m assuming parts of the UK thousands of years ago had active earthquakes as around Cornwall we have massive rocks sticking out of the ground. One such rock is called Roche Rock”

3) An intersection of the sets 1) and 2) containing both of the above.

“brian u was awesome on question is what is happening in inter stellar space beyond are universe..does it ever end or is it infinate…”

4) People with some personal agenda who think their comments are actually being read by anyone except the sad people (temporarily including myself) who cruise this page.

“i have a son who is studying astro physics at york university he is just finishing his 3rd year in june he wants to do work experience can you recomend anywhere at the moment hes applied to serbia to do a month there and he hopes to canada to a masters degree then somewhere to do his phd”

5) Genuine scientists and science-lovers.

It’s encouraging to see that a large cross-section of society is getting interested in science.
It’s disheartening to see that a large cross-section of society knows fuck-all about science and spells atrociously: ‘our’ spelt as ‘are’, ‘infinite’ as ‘infinate’, and ‘symmetrical’ as ‘semetricle’! (I won’t even begin on the poor abused apostrophe).


p.s. reference quotes taken from Prof. Brian Cox’s facebook page.

My Life in Books

It wouldn’t seem like an idea that would get the nod from a TV producer nowadays: a programme with people just sitting and talking about books. No special effects, no loud shouting, no insane plot lines. Just two notable people coming on each week and talking about the five books that they feel influenced their life the most. But of course, this is the BBC; maker of the best programmes in the world. see My Life in Books

Anne ‘Weakest Link’ Robinson plays the host, walking the two guests through the books that were significant to them at various stages in their lives; childhood, puberty, adulthood; joy, sorrow, hardship. Guests included Alastair Campbell, Peter and Dan Snow, Robert Harris, P.D. James, Sue Perkins, Sarah Millican, Larry Lamb…

Some really great books cropped up, books that I’ve enjoyed and love as well i.e. Richmal Crompton’s Just William series, Robinson Crusoe, The Count of Monte Christo, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Hungry Caterpillar…

As a bibliophile myself, it was beautiful and moving to see people really cherishing their books; author Robert Harris had his ‘Just William’ from when he was 7, with his name and address on the flyleaf. And he’s almost 54 now!

It obviously led me to think what books I would choose, so I’ll randomly write the first books that come to mind, and then maybe rank them.

Frank Herbert’s Dune (The series), Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, David Attenborough’s My Life on Air, J.R.R.Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father, Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Steph Swainston’s Castle books, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, Martin Amis’ The Rachel Papers, Richmal Crompton’s Just William (The series), Herge’s Tintin, Goscinny & Uderzo’s Asterix and Obelix, Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun also Rises, Iain (M) Banks (all), Charles Bukowski’s Factotum, Irvine Welsh (all), G.D.Roberts’ Shantaram, ……..(to be continued).