Soon after I published the tale of the Radioactive Boy Scout, I got an email from a learned friend suggesting that I might actually be reporting a non-scientist’s interpretation. One of the lines therein was:
I think you might be reporting a non-scientist’s interpretation
I didn’t argue, because actually, that might well have been the case. But then a lot of my readers are non-scientists, so maybe that was ok. Yes, it was a story about science, but it was also a story about the human spirit, perseverance, adventure, and the triumph of 1990s American high school education. A tale of a Boy Scout gone rogue (or not, depending on your viewpoint of exactly what Boy Scouts are supposed to be like).
And so I went out and I found a piece that included a bit more science, but also a lot more of the human side of things. A more detailed account of the whole story, containing paragraphs like (but not limited to):
David still had to isolate the thorium-232 from the ash. Fortunately, he remembered reading in one of his dad’s chemistry books that lithium is prone to binding with oxygen—meaning, in this context, that it would rob thorium dioxide of its oxygen content and leave a cleaner form of thorium. David purchased $1,000 worth of lithium batteries and extracted the element by cutting the batteries in half with a pair of wire cutters. He placed the lithium and thorium dioxide together in a ball of aluminum foil and heated the ball with a Bunsen burner. Eureka! David’s method purified thorium to at least 9,000 times the level found in nature and 170 times the level that requires NRC licensing.
It’s a much better account of things from start to finish, and while it does corroborate much of that first version; the extra words allowing for more concise descriptions throughout. As I mentioned, there’s clearly more science in there too. Which is great.
Long story short then, should make everyone much happier. Especially the scientists.
Incoming comment from “kevin”. It actually incame a few weeks ago, but I’ve been otherwise engaged.
It’s on this post from last October, in which I detailed the latest work on the iconic sculpture at the Southernmost Point of Africa. The sculpture is now finished, by the way, and it looks great.
Indeed, with lines like:
A few teaser progress images were released this week, and I think it looks fantastic.
It’s very bold, very strong, very… Iconic. A really cool and important addition to the area.
I thought that I’d been pretty positive about a piece of industrial-scale artwork that was still a couple of months away from being completed.
Not according to “kevin” though, who hit back just four months later with this stinging retort to my thoughts:
Insulting article for such an amazing icon of space and geography.
Before going all ad hominem and telling the world everything about me:
The author is obviously an under educated liberal art fart who knows nothing of geography, space, time, or history.
Broad strokes there, kev. That’s assuming quite a gap in my general knowledge from a few complimentary words about a building site, mate.
Let’s break it all down, shall we?
Do I consider myself “under educated”? Well, I’m of the opinion that one can (and should) always improve one’s knowledge, wherever possible. But I’ve learned a lot in my time – both formally and informally. I’ve got plenty of qualifications from various educational establishments, and I also know not to pee into the wind. And I think that’s both sectors pretty much covered. I therefore refute his poorly hyphenated claim.
Am I liberal? Well, I actually wasn’t sure and so I did a quiz online: it turns out that I am “53% liberal”. Which apparently makes me pretty balanced in my political outlook and therefore very capable of annoying everyone, but not really “a liberal” in the same way that I’m not really “a conservative”, either.
Like the English cricket team often finds itself, kevin is 0/3 at the moment, so might he redeem himself with his next assertion? Could I be I an “art fart”? I had to go to Urban Dictionary dot com to find out what kevin meant by this one:
Absolutely none of this very specific definition accurately describes me. I have no idea what he was thinking.
And as for my knowing “nothing of geography, space, time, or history”, I mean, where do I even begin? How can you not have knowledge of time? Does kevin mean I’m often late for things? I’m not. I’m very punctual. But anyway, how would he know? Or is he perhaps suggesting that I don’t know how long a minute is? It’s 60 seconds, kevin. It’s not rocket surgery, dude. I don’t fully understand what it is that he’s trying to say here. Also, I’m not sure what this has to do with liking or not liking a half-finished sculpture.
Next up, I’m actually quite into my geography. I know it’s only really bordering on science, but I like to know about the world around me. My dad was/is a geographer, and so I think I’ve picked up a lot of his knowledge over the years (yes, I know what a year is, thank you). Also, I’m not sure what this has to do with liking or not liking a half-finished sculpture.
History. Right, I’m not sure what this has to do with liking or not liking a half-finished sculpture, but fair enough: I’m not a huge fan of history. You’ve got me banged to rights and no mistake, guv. Although, of course, not being a fan is rather different from having knowledge about it. I mean, I can tell you when the Magna Carta was signed and by whom, and I know the date of the Battle of Blood River. Does one need to have a good working knowledge of history to look at a building site and try to gauge whether what is being built will be “a good thing” once it’s completed? I don’t think it helps much, no,
Space. I love space. It’s actually one of the reasons that I love going to to Cape Agulhas. Cape Town is so very crowded. It’s nice to have more three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction around you. But I’m really not sure what this has to do with liking or not liking a half-finished sculpture, because it’s sometime nice to share a piece of artwork with other people.
Or maybe he means specifically the stars and planets and astronomy and that? In which case I really have no idea what this has to do with liking or not liking a half-finished sculpture.
Mmm. Bit harsh. Bit nasty. Wholly incorrect.
For someone who said my use of the word “Iconic” was “insulting”, pretty ironic capitalisation of “ICON” there, kev,
I think what I’m taking away from this comment is that kevin is a bit of an arse I need to be clearer in my appreciation when documenting things on the blog. More unrestrained, more gushing, more obvious; because clearly using adjectives like “bold”, “strong”, “iconic”, “fantastic” and “important” just aren’t making my feelings transparent enough when it comes to artwork that is ±9 weeks away from being finished.
Of course, maybe it’s not just clarity around my positivity that’s lacking, and I’d like to address that immediately by telling kevin right here, right now, that I think his comment was utter crap and a complete waste of time, effort, electricity and pixels. It was attempted punditry at its absolute worst: a seemingly deliberate misreading of my documented thoughts followed a tacky attempt at a personal insult, thinly veiled in presumptive bullshit, pretentiousness and unnecessary idolisation of a hundred square metres of concrete. He should be ashamed to put his name and email address (available upon demand) to those 107 words.
I like this sculpture a lot. Really, I do. As I wrote back on October 8th 2017, I even thought the building site looked great.
It’s been a week since we made some big changes to the appearance of 6000 miles… I still like it. It’s a good start.
One technical thing which changed along with the front end of the blog was the system for commenting. It’s moved over onto Disqus:
a worldwide blog comment hosting service for web sites and online communities that uses a networked platform
‘Disqus…’ = ‘Discuss…’ Because it’s a comments section. Geddit? I’m ashamed to say that it took me a while. I was thinking about the Olympic frisbee thing.
Disqus does require you to log in to use it, but it’s a once off thing (assuming that you click the “remember me” box when you log in) and I hope it doesn’t put too many people off. Also, if you’ve already commented since the change, you may have noticed that your comment was held for moderation. I get to them as quickly as I can (time zone differences notwithstanding), and you should see your opinion on the page within minutes in most cases. Regular commenters (you know who you are) have been and/or will be added as “Trusted Users”, and won’t have to endure the ignominy of joining the back of the moderation queue.
I hope this answers questions and puts minds at rest.
While we are having a rather wet and windy day in Cape Town, according to Sky News it seems that the UK is bracing itself for equally nasty weather over the days ahead.
Gale force winds and heavy rain are forecast to lash many parts of the country today as stormy conditions, usually only experienced in the autumn and winter, hit the UK. The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for south-west England from early afternoon, with gusts of up to 70mph expected on exposed coasts and headlands in Devon and Cornwall. Through tonight and Friday the centre of the storm will move slowly north east to south Wales and many parts of southern England as well as the South West, again with a risk of gales. Many places could see gusts of between 55 and 65mph, while as far north as Northumberland could be hit by the Atlantic storm. Heavy rain is also due to fall over much of England over the next 48 hours.
Sounds divine. Glad I’m not headed there anytime soon.
I’m no fan of seeing summers ruined, but some of the comments did make me smile:
Here’s coronakid with his/her take on it:
Nothing new here,the seasons are changing and have been over time.
The seasons are changing? Really? Hoodathunkit? But you’re right – it seems like they’ve been doing that forever.
Strega weighs in with:
I put all this down to the volcano erupting in Iceland last year. Unusually hot summer but when all the hot air rises and cools the ash becomes cold and rain and wind occur.
That’ll be last year as in 2010, presumably? Did you perhaps fall asleep and miss 2011 completely? And look, I’m no meteorologist, but I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I can find completely no scientific evidence that cold ash causes rain and wind to occur. I think you’re talking utter pants.
But what does the so called scientific world know anyway? Hit us with it, Joseph Bennett:
The globel warming lot will no dought blame it on us again but no one in the so called scientific world have never thought of the positions of the planets in the last few years they have been closer to us which will affect our planet
Where. To. Begin.
Well, for starters, I’m pretty sure that no astronomers (part of the so called scientific world last time I checked) have never thought of the positions of the planets in the last few years. That’s their job and I can’t believe that they’d be so remiss as to not not never think of the positions of the planets in the last few years. That’s an awfully long time span not to do your job for.
But, that aside, I’m also struggling with the link between the proximity (noted or not by the so call scientific world) of the planets and a bit of wind and rain sweeping across southern England. Could they not find somewhere else to make it happen? Or maybe even do something a little more significant? Massive galactic explosions? Alien invasion? Come now, if they’re going to make all the effort of being closer to us, I’d expect to see something a bit more spectacular than some gusty drizzle in Exeter.
Amazing. Here I am wondering what to blog about today and then it drops into my lap onto my screen, courtesy of News24 commenter Krolie, who took full advantage of an article on the wintery weather (which missed Cape Town almost completely) to vent his or her spleen over a long-standing issue which has clearly caused a lot of pent up frustration:
For the past 20 years I each year bought an umbrella in the hope that THIS time it will do what it is supposed to, but alas, if you exit the door and there is something just stronger than a breeze, your umbrella takes another shape whipping the other way round and well, your next best hope is for a bit of water to use this useless object as a boat of sorts. Anybody else find an umbrella pretty useless in the WC in the middle of winter? CT is well known for people hugging lampposts, even grabbing towards the closest human zipping past you as if hell bent to win a marthon. Yip, even your rainjacket ends up not being so protective as it is renowned to do – whipping up and down and all over the place, including the clothes you’re wearing underneath. You might as well put your clothes in a packet, tie it to your body and streak down Adderley Steet, because wet you will be to the skin, no matter what you do. At least you’t hopefully have some dry clothes at the end of your “flight”.
Just wondering what the use is of a umbrella/brolly really is in this kind of weather…
Is Krolie mad? Einstein thinks so:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
When May comes around, and Krolie heads for the local umbrella shop, is there not some small hint, some glimmer of a memory that when s/he is doing is utterly pointless and has been proven so on many separate occasions over the previous two decades?
I have to say too, that it appears some degree of artistic licence has been employed here. I have never hugged a lamppost in Cape Town – there are always too many posters on them for one’s arms to get a firm grip – nor have I ever grabbed the closest human to me. The latter is an extremely dangerous means of protecting one’s self from the rain anyway. South Africans know how to fight off muggers and you’re more than likely to find yourself lying in a pool of blood, not water, with your brolly stuck somewhere where the sun don’t shine (that’s PE this week).
So people, do not buy an umbrella in the misguided hope it will keep you dry in Cape Town’s wind. And do not streak down Adderley Street. It’s not clever, and in these sort of meteorological conditions, it certainly won’t be big either.