Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Inverse Square Law

Lots of things obey an inverse square law. That is, the effect goes down (inverse) with the square (square) of the distance; OK?! (law). Gravity is a real biggy. Gravitational force (F) between two objects is given by:
F = Gm1m2/d2
G is the "Gravitational Constant", m1 and m2 are the masses of the bodies and d is their distance apart.
Now, here's a funny one. Matter (the m1 and m2 stuff) distorts space. It distorts linear dimensions (so d will be altered by matter) and it distorts areas too (so d2 will be affected).
Which all adds up to the inverse square law being well dodgy for large masses.
This means that a lot of stuff to do with the universe could be wrong.
Tell your friends.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Antibiotic Letters - Update #1

Our previous communique released news of our first antibiotic letter: r. We have since refined the lexicochemistry of r so that it now neatly tucks in behind the first letter or diphthong. This gets away from the "fruck"/"furck" problem and also avoids "shirt" being produced. It produces "shrit" every time. The "bastard" problem is also resolved. It becomes "brastard" with 100% efficiency. This new verbicillin© is being called r+, with a certain lack of imagination.
We are hoping to release new verbicillins soon, but we need to iron out one small flaw with r+. It tends to react with the word "cap" with unfortunate consequences. Having people "doff their crap" or put "a crap on their head" seriously tampers with a story line.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Antibiotic Letters

As you will know, antibiotics often work by attaching themselves to bacterial cell walls and rupturing them so that the internal gubbins leak out and the germ dies.
A lot of people are put off reading when there is a lot of swearing.
Let's put those two thoughts together.
I have been experimenting with certain letters on the more odious swearwords words in our language and I am proud to release my first antibiotic letter: r
I am sure that r is just the first of a whole range of verbicillins© that we can use to clean up our language. When r is added to a paragraph of assorted words it can be programmed (using macros) to bind preferentially to conventional swearwords, rendering them harmless. Then, having neutralised these offensive words, the timorous reader can progress in safety. One assumes that finding fruck (or furck), crunt, shrit (or shirt - a potential problem) or twart will not offend at all. The word "bastard" is a little more resistant. We have found that the r inserts at position 3, making "barstard". A lot of people think it is spelled that way already. Witness 132000 entries in Google.
We're working on it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Land's End to John O'Groats

The caffeine tablets have worn off now. All eighteen of them. Washed down with Pepsi Max (the one with added caffeine). I have a chest infection and I'm coughing up phlegmy ash. My wrist joints are sore. My knees are wrecked. And I feel over the moon.
You see, I've done it. Far beyond what I thought I could do, I've done. In one day, on my trusty Triumph Bonneville, I've ridden from Land's End to John O'Groats.
I know it has all been done before. But not by me. Doing it on foot (a la Ian Botham) is awesome. On a pushbike, awesome. But only in a car or atop a motorbike could it be done in one day. In a car would be simply pathetic. It has to be the motorbike.
Meet my travelling companions. Boro lads all: Chris Bell (Belly), Barry Corbyn (Baz), Andy Harrison (Harry), Ben Timney (Ben, my 19-years-younger brother). We have a motley collection of bikes. Belly is on a Kawasaki Versys, Baz is on a Honda VTR, Harry on a Honda CBR, Ben on a Honda Hornet and me on the Bonnie.
At 00:00:01 on 13th June 2009 we gunned our engines at a deserted Land's End and headed north. At 18:25 we turned our engines off atop the "mound" at John O'Groats. 850 miles later. Knackered. Running on instincts only.
We had ridden south from Teesside on the Friday, starting at 04:00 and bedding down at the Commercial Hotel, St Just (5 miles north of Land's End) at 18:30. No mishaps. Just before bed we had rammed in a meal from the chippie. I was straight asleep, so was Ben. The others took longer to drop off, but I think I was up first.
So, with between 2 and 4 hours sleep under our belts (and about the same the previous night) we tore through a silent Cornwall and Devon. We stopped in Exeter to refuel (Baz and Ben were both short of tank range - 120 miles or so from full to fumes). We transferred to the M5 and headed north past Bristol and then parallel to the Welsh border. Sunrise was welcome. Warmth beating off hypothermia. You forget how cold it gets on a bike. Asleep riding a motorbike. Not to be recommended.
Breakfast was just north of Manchester. Then to Carlisle, across Scotland heading for Edinburgh but turning north before that to reach Perth by lunchtime. From Perth to Inverness was a slog through the most beautiful of countries (high praise from an Englishman). After Inverness we crossed Cromarty Firth and refuelled again. The weather, kind so far, was turning. Some 50 miles south of Wick, it turned. Fog. Rain. Driving hail. Almost-zero visibility. Twisty, turning roads where one mistake gets you a bunch of roses tied to some railings. In atrocious conditions we finally rolled into Wick. Refuel. Last 16 miles. In driving rain and freezing fog we released our pink balloons, just as we had at Land's End.
Why the pink balloons? Well, this was all for a reason. Sure, there were the laddish "can we do it?" reasons. But there were deeper reasons too. In 2007, Harry's daughter Jessica succumbed to cancer after a long, painful fight. Harry raises money for a charity set up in Jessica's name to help families in a similar situation. If you are reading this and you have a few quid you could add to the meagre support I am able to give please send it in to me.
My life has a lot of ticked boxes. I can now tick the "Land's End to John O'Groats by Motorbike" box.

Any support you can afford would be appreciated. Cheques to "The Jessica Jewel Trust", cash - you'll have to trust me. Post them to Dr John A Timney, INTO Newcastle University, Old Library Building, Newcastle University NE1 7RU. Thanks in anticipation.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pork Scratchings

They might be the most un-Kosher food on the planet*, but Pork Scratchings have an extraordinarily useful characteristic. Let me explain.
Firstly, let's make some... Get a pig. Kill it. Flay it. Carve up all the edibles. Turn everything else into sausages (inc. Black Pudding). You are left with the skin. Chop it up into little pieces and deep fry, with a few added spices and salt. Result. Edible gravel.
This is where the genius of Pork Scratchings comes in.
If you eat normal gravel you generate a huge amount of noise in your mouth (obliterating every other noise) but you smash all your teeth. With Pork Scratchings (although they do advise having strong healthy teeth) you get all the noise but none of the dental damage.
So, next time some drivel-sprouting politician appears on the old box, pop in some Pork Scratchings and crunch. You will hear nothing.

* Actually, Black Pudding might hold this title.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bad Day at the Office

Who would be Gordon Brown? Apart from the 300 or so MPs who wouldn't mind having a crack at the big chair and 60,000,000 UK citizens who know they could do a better job, nobody.
I fear that Mr Brown might be in for a bad day today. European elections; who cares, but he is going to get hammered there. Local elections; we will probably see Labour obliterated from all councils today. Half an hour ago I cast (lovely word) my vote. Mr Brown wouldn't find much to cheer about on my ballot paper.
Representative democracy is a really blunt instrument most of the time. In constituencies like Salford they could stick a red rosette on a gibbering ginger garden gnome and the punters would still vote Labour. They did, you say?
Yet today, throughout yet another bad day at the office for Mr Brown, I have the feeling that the British people are going to send out a ridiculously clear message to the Puritan Kakistocracy that we call a government.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Britain's Got Talent - The Final

I'm glad Diversity won. I'm glad Susan Boyle came second. The glare of publicity had already wilted her; being the winner would have killed her. I'm glad that Julian Smith came third. He was such a nice bloke and played his sax beautifully. Hopefully, he will get a career out of BGT.
A year from now, after their 15 minutes of fame, we will remember none of them.
Sad, really.