The Anonymous Widower

Happy Hundredth Birthday To Isotopes

I was having a cup of tea in a cafe, when the geologist I was talking to, said that isotopes, were first discovered a hundred years ago, and that there was a bit of a celebration.

I learned about isotopes in my physics many years ago, but now all that I seem to remember is that two isotopes of the same element, have the same numbers of electrons and protons, but differ in the number of neutrons. Carbon for example has three forms, Carbon 12, Carbon 13 and Carbon 14. The three forms all contain six protons and electrons, but 6, 7 and 8 neutrons respectively. If you ever have heard of the Carbon 14 dating of objects, there is an article here, which describes the process.

I used the different isotopes many years ago, in one of the first pieces of decent software I wrote.  I was trying to analyse the compounds in the output of a mass spectrometer. The samples contained lots of carbon compounds and I was told that the two common isotopes of Carbon 12 and Carbon 13, were in the ratio of ten to one, which meant that if you had a compound with several carbon atoms, you got a particular pattern. Experienced operators could identify the patterns.  So I worked out how to calculate the patterns and match them to the compounds.

So that is how I learned about one of the uses of isotopes in the analysis of compounds.

This was in 1969 and the mechanics of writing the program on a machine with only 4 Kb of memory, were much more difficult than the methods involved.

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Computing, World | , | Leave a comment

Now You Can Take A New Bus For London To Romantic Clapton Pond

Since the weekend, some of the New Buses for London on route 38 are now going all the way to romantic Clapton Pond.  I rook this picture today.

A New Bus For London To Romantic Clapton Pond

A New Bus For London To Romantic Clapton Pond

There can’t be many ponds, which are the destination of bus or train routes. Clapton Pond incidentally, isn’t that bad as this post shows.


June 26, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 5 Comments

The Dalston House

I went to look at the Dalston House Art Installation by Leandro Erlich, this  morning.

The idea is basically very simple.  a fake house front has been created on the ground and a large mirror at 45° has been placed so that if you say sit in the windows of the house, you can  see yourself sitting in the reflection.

It was fascinating and many of those exploring it, seemed to feel they were children again.

One of the best things, was seeing the expression on a three-year-old’s face as he walked towards the mirror, seeing himself  sticking out of the wall.

I can see that this simple idea being replicated all over the world.

My mother used to work at Reeves just round the corner and she used to tell a tale about how an enormous German bomb in the Second World War, destoryed a lot of the area.  I checked at the library and the whole site, where the Dalston House has been built was a bomb site.  They have a copy of the LCC Bomb Damage Book, which is a must-read book, for anybody, who lives or is thinking of living in an area of London that suffered bombing.

And to make everything even better, there is no entry charge to see this unusual work of art.

You just turn up and play! But they do limit the time you spend walking up and down the house to five or six minutes!

June 26, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments

A Decision Day For HS2?

HS2 is a project that I think will never be built.

I  was listening to the debate on Radio 5 this morning about George Osborne’s £11. 5billion public pending cuts and one guy phoned in to question, why with the obvious need for cuts, we are going to spend £33billion on HS2.

There is so much opposition to HS2 amongst the Nimbys, that I suspect that at some time parliament will chicken out and vote the project down.

I have never heard so much opposition to a project, in my lifetime. But then the general public doesn’t want new railways, they want new roads on which to drive their gas-guzzlers.

I also think HS2 is probably going about things the wrong way, but as to what the right way is, I do not know.

But we do urgently need the following.

  1. More capacity on passenger trains from London to Manchester and onwards to Scotland. The case for Birmingham may be less important, especially, if services to Marylebone can be improved.
  2. More freight capacity through London and to the North, especially after London Gateway becomes fully operational.
  3. A rebuilt and more efficient Euston station.

The freight capacity cannot be increased without creating a substantial new railway.

It will be interesting to see the way that MPs vote.


June 26, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

What A Performance!

I’ve watched tennis and especially at Wimbledon for over fifty years.  I can remember the dominance of the Australian men in the 1960s and in all that time since, I’ve been waiting for good British players with a chance to come along. We had a few possibilities in those years, but only recently have we had anybody good enough to win the men’s title. I’ve seen a couple of British women win, but that was all a long time ago.

But never in those years have I seen a performance by an up and coming British player, like that I saw yesterday from Laura Robson. She didn’t just defeat Maria Kirilenko, she demolished her. British players don’t do that!

Afterwards, Virginia Wade said this.

She can do something really incredible in this tournament! 

Virginia also lost her cool and showed a lot of emotion.

In some ways, Robson’s performance, reminded me of that amazing run and win by Boris Becker in 1985, when he won unseeded. Winning at the highest level in sport, depends a lot on confidence and Robson showed that in bucketfuls yesterday.

As I do in situations like this, I decided to waste four pounds on a bet, she wins the Championship.  I got odds of 90-1. Let’s face it, the bet is only a couple of drinks in a cafe and if it comes off, I’ll have the last laugh.

But then I had Terimon each way for the Derby at 500-1.  And he came second!

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , | Leave a comment

Sensible Station Opening Hours

I saw this notice at Kings Cross station yesterday.

Sensible Station Opening Hours

Sensible Station Opening Hours

Copenhagen please note!

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment