Yesterday evening, the clock on my phone tried to convince me that the New year was here hours before it was due. Then time appeared to whizz by and what seemed to be a mere minute later the display read 2018, 31st December.
The poetry course that I’m taking started with a discussion of sand and stars. More precisely, with the statement that there are ten times as many stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth. (If you’re interested, here’s the maths that backs up the estimate.) I don’t think we mentioned, though, that there are more atoms in a single grain of sand than there are stars in the universe.
Either way, macrocosmos or microcosmos, a number that big is hard to comprehend, and the human brain tends to look for simplifications and ideas closer to home.
I’ve just been out in the garden and, unlikely as it seems, I suppose I’ll just have to assume there are more stars in the universe than there are blossoms on the plum tree.
Although I was brought up surrounded by poetry, I don’t remember being aware that any of the adults around me actually wrote poems; not even light verse. Not until I was studying for A levels, that is. Continue reading “of poetry, maths and cars”
When I went to university, it was still obligatory for all students to have basic maths and English qualifications, whatever they were going to study. Even today, I’d be surprised if you could become “a scientist” (whatever that might mean) without knowing some simple arithmetic.
So how come the Madrid Science Week is scheduled to last from 8th to 21st of November? My calculations make that 13 nights/14 days, which is a lot longer than a week.
(Note that isnt really a ‘fortnight’, though, as that would be 14 nights, equivalent to the Spanish quincena which is 15 days.)
After yesterday’s “race day“, it seems only fair to spend a few moments thinking about winners. Specifically about Nobel prize winners. And, more specifically, about mathematicians who have won Nobel prizes. (Note that there is no Nobel prize for mathematics.)