correlations

Way back in the distant past, I studied maths. In fact, due to some bad choices early in my life, I actually got as far as starting to study maths at university, although I moved to a less challenging course after the first year.

Despite not completing the maths degree, I remember enjoying the history of maths module and I have fond – though somewhat blurred – memories of learning about relativity through stories of stick figures who chased each other across the blackboard, one of them flashing a torch at the other with the light never arriving as they were travelling so fast.
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stars and stats

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.

plum blossom

flying visits

This isn’t the busiest blog in the world, and I don’t suppose it will ever have a huge audience, but WordPress send me notifications of new followers and likes, and it’s always nice to think that a post has appealed to readers, even if it’s impossible to know exactly why.

I check the stats page to see if I can find out a little more about who is reading and clicking, but this often poses more questions than it answers. I happened to look just after midnight the other night, just after the numbers had been reset, and this is what I found:

blog visits & views stats
Dear visitor, whoever you are, can you tell me how you managed to travel half way round the world in a matter of minutes and why you read six pages of my blog from three different countries?

nothing more than feelings

autumn tree
Procrastinating as usual before starting work, my attention was caught by the BBC headline Why feeling guilty may make you a better boss. Having read the article, I don’t feel any the wiser or better informed – so I feel guilty that I wasted my time.
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the weight of the world

clock, thermometer, tape measure, kitchen scale...

I suspect I’m one of the few women of my age group who has never been on a diet; I was a skinny child and my mother used to tell me I wouldn’t put on weight until I got “a contented mind”.

I’m not sure that’s what happened, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to ignore all the media hype about obesity and health: what used to be reserved for the pages of women’s magazines seems to have spilled over into the general press, and I’ve been aware for a while that my BMI is up at the top end of the acceptable range.

The latest article to catch my eye is on the BBC Health page, entitled “Where are you on the global fat scale?”.
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millions and billions

Rabbit reading by Lance Tooks
drawing courtesy Lance Tooks

I was intrigued by the BBC website Magazine story entitled Do the dead outnumber the living?

My attention was caught in particular by the table at the end showing a total for the number of people who have ever lived as 107,602,707,791.
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from this week’s news

A couple of things that have caught my eye on the BBC website this week.

First, from the ‘most popular’ links, comes this:

Study links parenting to drinking

Sadly, it doesn’t mean that having children can drive you to drink, which is what I imagined. It actually linked through to a story with the headline “Parenting style strongly affects drinking, Demos says”.

The second is from a story about UK social surveys and comes under the headline Why state surveys asked about bras and haddock.
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