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Volunteering

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014, 00:23

Not that much to say really. Just that having a stroke decided me to volunteer for the Stroke Association. I think it's an impressive organisation.

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Haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 9 Apr 2014, 00:36

Old man

Why do you still keep the big plates for the winter feast?

Time.

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My new blog

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If you find your way here stranger, I have become visually impaired and now blog about my experiences at

http://partialinsight.wordpress.com/

I hope you may like to follow me there.

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"After the rain"

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 29 Dec 2014, 01:42

After the rain

The stickleback

Came back up the stream again

And the hedgehog to the lane.

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New blog post

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 10 May 2012, 01:30

Spring rain,

And a frog on the path.

Tread carefully old man.

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a haiku

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I dislike the booted

gardener crushing snails.

But applaud the thrush.

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A swarm of bees in May

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 13 May 2010, 19:06

...is worth a load of hay, so the saying goes.

Here's a photo of a swarm of wild bees I saw today.  These bees live in the masonry of a church tower and generally swarm about this time of year.

Item Thumbnail

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haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 14 Apr 2010, 00:39

Spring

7cf30a1168f4c723e2366de8133614b0.JPG

First blossom petals,

On my remaining hair.

Spring again!

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Ultra and infra

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Mice can communicate using very high frequencies.

Elephants can communicate using very low frequencies.  Maybe dinosaurs did something similar.

Slight aside.

Here's a recording of human singers that I've always rather admired.

Volga boatmen


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Connections (2)

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 3 Apr 2010, 01:58

A  You got it!  Same middle name.

 

Now here are Netrebko and Villazon in a famous performance.  I wish I'd been there.

The connection with my post before last is - same singing gene.

And that's why birds sing too, and we think of it as song.

But do mice laugh?  Did tyrannosauruses sing?

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Connections

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 3 Apr 2010, 01:51

Q  What's the connection between Alexander the Great and Kermit the Frog?

 

(See next post smile)

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Mice that sing

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 2 Apr 2010, 02:08

Did you know that mice sing, a bit like birds?  Of course they are very high sopranos, higher than bats, so for us to hear them the song has to be artifically lowered in pitch.

Click here
Audio player: audioS1.mp3

(needs Quicktime)

Read more here

 

 


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Coloured Eggs

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 31 Mar 2010, 14:36

This beautiful picture was created using a mathematical design to colour the egg.

f5036afc519484668fb14024af6c9f79.jpg

This and lots more similar are found here.

They are animated (watch web preview at top right) and you can download the animations, but I can't show it here directly, the blog system doesn't support Flash Player as far as I can see.

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Spaghetti Snap

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 1 Apr 2010, 01:39

Take a stick of spaghetti.  Grasp the ends, one in each hand, and bend the stick until it breaks.  How many pieces?

Go on, try the experiment, was that what you expected?

[You may decide not to try the next variation in your own home though.]

What about a sheet of lasagne?

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Sun dog

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 17 Mar 2010, 18:55

Here is a 'sun dog' I saw yesterday evening.  The sun itself is just off to the left of the picture.  The sun dog is the bright feature in the middle.

These sun dogs appear when sunlight is refracted through hexagonal ice crystals which act as prisms.  They are quite common - much more frequent than rainbows for example - but usually people aren't looking out for them so they get missed.

4f3cc8f9c52321f961523d6072468e29.JPG

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Red giant

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 17 Mar 2010, 18:35
Last night it was very cold and clear here, near Cambridge UK. I looked up and saw the star Betelgeux, in Orion, and every time I see this star I remember seeing a TV programme long ago - maybe 'The Sky at Night' - where we were told Betelgeux is red giant and if you at even with the naked eye you can see it is red. We all ran outside to look and yes! It is visibly red. So next time you see the stars during winter months look for Orion - a bit like a giant letter H and see Betelgeux, the one at top left, is red.
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Yet another brainteaser

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I just remembered this one.

A tennis club with 200 members organises a tournament.  If a player loses a match they are out of the tournament, and there are no draws.  How many matches are needed to decide the tournament winner?

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Another brainteaser

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 27 Feb 2010, 01:17

In a cross-country run, Sven placed exactly in the middle among all participants.

Dan placed lower (i.e. did worse than Sven), in tenth place, and Lars placed sixteenth.

How many runners took part in the race?

(This is another mini-classic, I'll try to recollect where it was first published.)

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Minerals evolved too

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 21 Feb 2010, 15:30

That's the startling conclusion of an article in the March edition of Scientific American.

There are currently about 4400 different minerals on the Earth's surface but originally there would have been much fewer.  Volcanic action, tectonic processes and atmospheric weathering gradually increased that number to a couple of thousand.

But with the coming of life and in particular photosynthesis the atmosphere gained oxygen and this led to the emergence of novel minerals, oxides and so on.  About 2500 new species of mineral now appeared.

So is seems minerals co-evolved with life, and if there is extraterrestial life, perhaps on planets with quite different surface chemistry, it may be those planets likewise have a richness and diversity of minerals, compared with lifeless ones.

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Star dust

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 13 Feb 2010, 05:27

Hello stardust

For that's what you are, reader.  Here's the story, please read it, it concerns you and I.  Sorry it is a bit long but it took billions of years to happen, so it is hard to squeeze into one blog post.

Long long ago when the universe first began there was only hydrogen.  Later some helium formed.  Then some lithium and probably a little beryllium. Even a little carbon.  But nothing very heavy.

After quite a while some large stars formed.  In the heart of these stars helium was forged from hydrogen and the change threw off lots of energy. The helium could even form other elements by combining and this too produced energy. This energy flow kept the stars inflated, although gravity was trying to make them contract.

Over time these stars began to run out of hydrogen and helium, and eventually they collapsed.  This is what causes a supernova!  The star implodes violently in a short time -- days only -- but then as it smashes in on itself all sort of new elements are formed by the pressure -- including many necessary to life.  Before the implosion there might have been a little carbon perhaps but no iron for blood, or oxygen for breathing.

Now this explosion blew the heavy elements formed out at great velocities and over billions of year the atoms ended up with some other dust, and some hydrogen and helium, and gravity made it swirl together.  This formed a new star and some planets.

But some of the little planets were too small for their gravity to hold on to all the hydrogen and helium they began with. Part of their hydrogen combined with oxygen to make water, which has remained.  But mostly what was left was heavier elements -- think rocks. Still all the same the wet bits on the surface acted a home for the evolution of life.

Of course this life used many heavy atoms from supernovas billions of light-years away and billions of year before.  You and I would not exist without the dust from those ancient stars.

Literally stardust.

 

 

 

 

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Cats Owners Brainier, Scientists Say

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Well they didn't say that exactly, but in a study it was found that homes in which someone had a degree were more likely to have a cat.

Has this any connection with the suggestion some time back that Apple = cat lovers vs. Microsoft = dog lovers?

Here are some lynx

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/article7017260.ece

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2010/6826.html

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Red dwarf

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 7 Feb 2010, 01:06

Here's a red dwarf, courtesy of Swinburne University. Such an object might be stable for as long as a trillion years.

http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/cms/astro/cosmos/R/Red+Dwarf

How many red dwarf stars are there in the observable universe (very roughly) and what is their combined mass (even more roughly)?

(Only estimates required but we want to see you working!  Well roughly.)

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Brainteaser

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 2 Feb 2010, 02:26

A man is twice as old as his wife was when he was the same age as she is now.  She is 30, how old is he?

(Both OU students of course!)

 

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The Catcher in the Rye

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 31 Jan 2010, 01:50

J.D. Salinger has died.

The immortal novel he wrote way back (1960?), The Catcher in the Rye, is a magic book, probably the best or second best American novel of the 20-th century.  He wrote some other stuff - short stories - and they are good too.

Something I remember from these stories is an attachment to haiku, I think a famous one by Issa is there somewhere

Don't swat it!
The fly is rubbing
Its hands and legs

Salinger then gave up publishing any work and  famously became an extreme recluse, refusing all publicity and repulsing interviews.

That doesn't seem so surprising or unreasonable; he seems to have been drawn towards a contemplative life, and had an interest in Zen.

 

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I had a dream

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 29 Jan 2010, 02:28

Many years ago I heard a talk by Alan Kay, a pioneer of personal computing and a true visionary.

He was one of the best presenters I've ever heard and influenced my approach to speaking to audiences, ever since that time.

He had a dream:  a lightweight, sturdy computer, with no separate keyboard, no need to be plugged in all the time, that you could take anywhere, would let you communicate wirelessly with anyone, anytime, access all human knowledge, and read any book, right there on the screen, which would be oh let's say A4-ish.

So is the iPad the realisation of Alan Kay's dream?  Well I think comes pretty close.

 

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