Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A bogler's daughter

I know that all of you (AMToNW) come here to make sure that no matters of consequence that may have occurred have escaped your notice. Indeed, I pride myself upon the accurate and timely dissemination of wisdom. This time, however, I feel I may have let you all (AMToNW) down a little.

Tonight, I am reminded of my schooldays, and am conscious of many of the reasons that resulted in my failure to achieve what was expected of me in the world of academia. Of course rampant laziness was prominent in that conglomeration of reasons. It may be even the reason that I never learned the collective noun for ‘reasons’. (An accumulation, perhaps? An ostrich? A settee? I’m sure Christopher will know).

Getting sidetracked was another reason. In fact had there been a course in getting sidetracked I would have gone to Oxford. I didn’t take kindly to plain boredom, and looked for distractions in those classes where the subject matter seemed of little consequence and the presentation even less interesting.

It paid to be inventive – the hours flew by, as did all of the course content. Sometimes it could be as simple as looking out for the quirks of the teachers, for example, would Mr A. say “as it were” more times than “as I say” in this particular lesson? At other times the game became more complex; my very good friend, who, in order to protect the innocent, I will call Neil Ritchie, would sit next to me during one particular subject where most of the time we seemed to be simply taking dictation, and interject colourful nonsense, which I would dutifully record in the midst of the narrative in my notebook, caring not a jot for the consequences when the time came to revise for examinations.

The most enjoyable ways to avoid education, however, came as a result of spontaneity, usually by being amused by something that the teacher said. Looking back, it all seems very silly. Silly in a good way. The example that springs to mind is during A level geography when Mrs Williamson used the phrase “tortuous meanders”. No, I can’t explain why it was funny, and even were I to attach a sound clip to this piece, I doubt my ability to imitate said lady. If, for example, you think of Edith Evans saying “a handbag”, there is no reason why it should be risible. It just was, all right? Anyway, a very naughty girl, who, in order to protect the innocent, I will call Pam Wright, turned round and gave a very mischievous look, which caused me to lose concentration for the rest of the lesson, and possibly for the rest of the term, and I still remember that phrase, if nothing else, from the two years devoted to the works of some dude called Monkhouse.

That was all by means of a prelude, and to give some background as to why my report on this week’s episode of “Horizon” on the electric television, may not include all of the salient points. For those of you wanting a more informative report, go over to our dear friend I,LTV.

You see, even in the midst of writing this, I have been distracted and written a very silly comment on a photograph on facebook. I will never learn.

Within the first two minutes of the Horizon program, young Sam West (son of Bradley Hardacre and Sybil Fawlty) the narrator, for it is he, mentioned “Dark Flo”. I spent much of the rest of the hour wondering about this young lady, and her importance to cosmology. Flo, of course, features in a famous Derek and Clive song, and in another ballad carefully alluded to elsewhere on this page – there will be house points for spotting that one – and so the name is inherently given to ribaldry.

Anyway, the point of this what-may-have-been-an-interesting documentary was to assess the state of the understanding of the universe. In short, “Do we have a fucking clue? Of course not!” Much time was spent discussing “the standard model of cosmology” (SMC). In order to try to convince us that the SMC is not just the babblings of a lunatic, the programme was interspersed with film of some chap writing equations on a white board. This was intended to convey the idea that the SMC was the result of careful mathematical calculation. Unfortunately, the equations portrayed were actually part of an ideal recipe for semolina pudding and proof that the word “boobs” is funny in any language.

There were two other really irritating visual effects used throughout. Whenever someone said “Big Bang” there was film of an explosion. I am fairly certain that, with the exception of some marijuana addled students in Glossop who thought they were watching an episode of Star Trek, anyone choosing to watch a programme about particle physics would be bright enough to grasp the concept of a “bang”. I am pretty sure, also, that the bang portrayed was nothing like the “Big” one; at least it probably wasn’t as big. Whenever someone mentioned the theory of inflation (why the universe expanded phenomenally very early on), they showed a large cloth balloon being inflated. FFS. This happened so many times that I was tempted to join the Glossop students.

Without exception, all of the scientists represented had very silly names. I would propose that in any attempt to prove that physics is not all nonsense there should be at least a representative proportion of people whose surnames are likely to be credible to a majority of the audience. One gentleman was called Alan Guth (to rhyme with ‘tooth’) Obviously a contraction from his original name of Godstruth, which is no doubt sighed by all of his colleagues whenever he speaks.

Anyway, I think the point of it all was to convey the idea that the SMC does not make sense without inventing a load of stuff to make the physics work, in the same way that some bright spark in Geneva has decided to spend a sum of money enough to keep Dave in cream cakes for ten years on finding the nonexistent “Higgs Boson”. Our physicists/cosmologists have said that in order to fill the gaps left in the SMC, there has to be “Dark Matter”, “Dark Energy” and “Dark Flo”.

This is the good bit (at fucking last, Ed.). Dark matter is invisible, undetectable, and everywhere. It is needed in the SMC to provide gravity, otherwise bits at the outer reaches of the universe, such as the Thatcher fan club, would spin away at vast speeds. There was a chap in Minnesota or some such place, who had built an underground laboratory to try to detect dark matter, which is invisible, everywhere, and capable of passing through ordinary matter, which I believe is what his laboratory was constructed from. In order to make the SMC work then, boys and girls, we need something that is omnipresent, beyond our comprehension and invisible. Shall we call it God, perhaps?

I can see that I am losing the attention of some of those at the back of the class. Dark energy fills a similar hole in the scientific theory and Dark Flo is anything you want her to be, the slut, in order to explain stuff that you don’t understand.

I hope that you have taken careful notes during this lecture. I would hate to think that any student of mine would be tempted to write “This is all bollocks” on their GCSE examination papers.


zIggI said...

I watched this last evening somebody having saved it and thus losing me the beginning of House - such a sacrifice demanded my attention therefore.

However, I couldn't concentrate on this rather lovely physicist for wondering what you dear Vic, would have to say about it. I haven't been disappointed.

tom909 said...

Vicus, as you know, I don't believe in anything without cast iron scientific proof. Actually I hope they hurry up and get this sorted because I am at a point in my life where I need to know that I exist.

Dave said...

I can't believe I read this from beginning to end.

I wondered, when reading about this at ILTV's (I had more important things to do than actually watch the electric television) at the coincidence of scientist discovering/inventing/making up something which seems to have many of the properties of God, and telling us that we must believe in it without real evidence; take it on faith, perhaps.

I was, however, interested to learn in today's just short of War and Peace in length essay that you went to a mixed-gender school.

Rog and I, alumni of Gravesend Grammar School for Boys, only found out that there were girls when we left school. Still, at least we had nothing to distract us in lessons, and hence our subsequent careers in the ivory towers of academe.

The collective noun for 'reasons' is, I am lead to understand, an excuse.

I am trying my best to give this comment the sort of rambling insubstantial quality that befits the original post.

I hope this helps.

I, Like The View said...

I was shocked at how dumbed down the whole thing was

I reckon if you take out the special visual effects (wobbling faces), the fillers (people walking around empty floors of old warehouses)(sorry, scientsist walking around empty floors etc), the totally irrelevant (special effects crews being filmed by the film crew), the special effects (black sludge being mixed, black sludge being dropped in a pile, black sludge being sprayed blacker, balloons being blown up and deflated etc etc), fillers (blackboards with strange equations)(SMC you say? do any of us acutally know enough about physics to vouch for that?) and so on and on and on. . . you'd only have about the minutes of actual useful footage

not that that would shed any light on Dark Flo

Richard said...

Thank you, the Reverend Ike.

I went to an all boys school which used to be and has returned to being, a grammar school. That Oxford it too late?

Libby's Library said...

Yeah - you lost me, but that sidebar:
Carefully crafted cornucopia of crap - now that's a hoot:-)
Found you via Ladybird World Mother.