The woman who bought The Woman Who Died A Lot, a lot. That would be me. I had pre-ordered Jasper Fforde’s latest Thursday Next novel ages ago from Amazon.com. When I saw it was already out in an English edition, I quickly ordered it from Amazon.co.uk. I got home last night to find both editions had just been delivered. Hurray! Oh, whoops, was I supposed to be unpacking now?
Entries Tagged as 'funny'
October 10th, 2012 · Comments Off
October 6th, 2012 · 1 Comment
Back in 2005, Uppsala Castle hosted a gala physics dinner where two MIT physics professors, Frank Wilczek and Janet Conrad got into some jokey trash talk about the existence (or not) of Higgs particles. Years later, neither one could clearly remember all the details, but one scribbled notepad recorded details of a bet between Frank and Janet about when, whether, and at what energy, a Higgs particle would be found.
Frank bet Nobel chocolate medals, at 100 to 10 odds, that CERN would find a Higgs before the end of 2012 with a mass less than 150 geV. And in July 2012, ATLAS, CMS, and Fermilab all announced finding the same Higgs-like signature at about 125 geV. So Janet conceded and gave Frank his prize: 10 golden Nobel chocolates, at another lovely festive event at Uppsala Castle.
And I even got one of these pieces of chocolate for having suggested the second Uppsala Castle Higgs particle party, as recorded in this YouTube of Frank’s talk there.
Although Frank was dubious about this party idea, I sent email to Uppsala physicist Antti Niemi, asking if he didn’t think Uppsala might enjoy being part of the end of this story — and the rest was history, by which I mean hard work by Antti and by Uppsala University’s Tord Ekelof to bring this idea to fruition. A very good time was had by all the participants, including an audience of about 500 people who came to hear talks by Tord, Frank, Janet, and Fabiola Gianotti, the head of ATLAS at CERN.
September 25th, 2012 · Comments Off
Not far from our Copenhagen hotel is an open-air market, where some of the stalls have evolved into covered small food shops, including a bakery, Sweet Valentine.
I love the artfully artless thrown-on looking frosting of this wedding cake. Of course, such insouciantly slapdash visual effects can only be created by someone very skillful. Similarly, the tousled bedhead hair that looks amazing on young Julia Roberts probably took her hairdresser an hour to create — nor would the same look, even crafted by the same hairdresser, look expensively elegant if I were to go downtown wearing it.
May 29th, 2011 · Comments Off
I saw this poster this morning, in a small beauty shop in Richmond. I couldn’t wait to show it to Mickey — and how we both laughed!
A few minutes later, walking along, she remarked, “I’ve experienced that, of course, but I’ve never paid for it.”
Yes, up in NH lakes you can get your toes nibbled by cute little fish at completely no charge!
May 25th, 2011 · Comments Off
William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850, as we say in Wikipedia) has strong opinions on the moral value of scenery. His poems celebrating the Lake District inspired poets who inspired the Romantic Age. Less well known, but also deserving of some mention, was his absolute hatred of a particular tree that had been introduced to the Lake District during his lifetime.
The larch. Yes, the larch, a tree that figures heavily in one much-loved Monty Python episode, was to Wordsworth simply despicable. For example:
… as a tree, it is less than any other pleasing: its branches (for boughs it has none) have no variety in the youth of the tree, and little dignity, even when it attains its full growth: leaves it cannot be said to have, consequently neither affords shade nor shelter. In spring the larch becomes green long before the native trees; and its green is so peculiar and vivid, that, finding nothing to harmonise with it, wherever it comes forth, a disagreeable speck is produced. In summer, when all other trees are in their pride, it is of a dingy, lifeless hue; in autumn of a spiritless unvaried yellow, and in winter it is still more lamentably distinguished from every other deciduous tree of the forest, for they seem only to sleep, but the larch appears absolutely dead.
And so on, and so on, at very great length in his instructive and often quite funny book Guide to the Lakes. I hope that he would not have disapproved any of these greens, however.
May 23rd, 2011 · Comments Off
Not many people have seen a rear view of Botticelli’s Venus, but, as a reader of my blog, you are one of the few!
A hotel/pub where I had lunch in Workington yesterday has transformed the famous painting into a giant shiny plaster statue. Progress marches on.
Purely in a spirit of service to you, dear reader, I walked around to the back to take this photo.
August 9th, 2010 · Comments Off
"Hairy" nematode (Stilbonematinae), Bocas del Toro, Panama
Originally uploaded by artour_a
Why does peppermint-stick ice cream have to taste so darn good, when everyone knows that calorie restriction is Better? Or at least, calorie restriction makes nematodes live a long time, which surely must mean it could turn every one of us into a sleek superfit suntanned sexy sextillionagenarian.
Now consider this shortcut to glory: a diet of nematodes. Calorie-restricted nematodes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — with some crunchy nematode cysts for between-meals snacking.
If my nematode diet does not motivate you to eat a lot less than you do, I will be very very very surprised.
September 5th, 2009 · 1 Comment
Yes, an entire calculus limerick, resurrected from my 1992 joke book, has been made into a YouTube video by my old friend Stu Savory. (Calling him my “good old” friend would make him sound older and less good, so I’ll leave it there.)
The limerick is a fine old mathematical chestnut, most likely created by a real practitioner who invoked Gausswhen trying to tie his cravat and thought of Klein bottles when he heard the milkman’s cart rumble by. With blessings upon Stu’s head, I am not that old.
I hope all my readers will show their support for YouTube’s new adult content by favoriting Stu’s video early and often.
June 14th, 2009 · Comments Off
From today’s NY Times Tierney Lab blog:
Dr. Wilczek, an M.I.T. physicist who grew up in Queens, sang a Gilbert and Sullivanish song, centered on the frustrations of an oxygen molecule in love with a human being.
The big revelation is that this physicist isn’t a bad a singer. He may have a bit of vibrato, but he’s also got a lot of bravado. And he definitely stayed on key for the entire performance.
After a while, he was so engrossed in what he was doing, that he began to move–though, I must report, he’s no James Brown. Nevertheless, the audience where I sat–heavy-duty academic types– had to repress their own desires to start dancing. Who says that scientists have to be solemn and boring?
And there was more Tierney Lab news from Frank’s appearances at the NY Science Festival–or perhaps I should say instead there was Nothing.
June 2nd, 2009 · Comments Off
Those familiar with this blog may have noticed that ducks tend to float through its pages like a theme, perhaps, I hope, from a dreaming composer and not so much, I hope, like that annoying drum riff that the worst guy in the band loves to play.
Sinister ducks, rubber ducks, ducks in and out of water, even (way back in 2003) my first Flash animation Quack-Don’t-Quack.
So it is understandable that a clever person who knows me well, such as for instance a Nobel Laureate who is married to me, would think of me as somebody who would like this video making fun of Pat Robertson for comparing gay marriage to sex with ducks.
And I cannot resist in turn passing this on to you also, but let me just say that as much as I do like ducks, I do not like them THAT way.
But I do really, really like this song.