Sunday, 24 October 2010

(How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World?

1998 was the only World Cup I can recall for which, amongst the flood of songs released to cash in upon it, there were any half-decent tunes. Of these was one that was certainly less than half-decent and it asked of the unfortunate listener the question: how does it feel to be on top of the world?

This is not my first post to mention football or the World Cup, and I've no desire to talk about either, ever, as I hope the last post on the subject got across. I was simply inspired enough to write an answer to "England United's" question:

Riding my bike through suburban Surry on a sunny Sunday with nothing but positive vibes and good feelings coursing around my mind is, it turns out, how it feels to be on top of the world.

Sure not everything's perfect and I've a thousand things I'd like to resolve and many friendships and places I'd like to restore and revisit, but, heck, you do what you can, you can't do much more than that.

For now, it seems my time will have to be occupied by study and the new friends and faces that that's bringing - and what a wonderful way to have one's time occupied! It's so good to be amongst like-minds and fellows who are as confused as I am about the trickier aspects of algebra and trigonometry. Brilliant!

The subject of like-minds brings me on to a fascinating coincidence! I was chatting to a coursemate over the course of a couple of ciders yesterday evening, following a day of "Study & Research Skills" at college, and the subject of "perhaps we shouldn't do scientific research that has the potential to cause untold destruction" came up. Her example was the concern over the starting-up of the LHC where various people thought it might lead to the creation of a black hole or two that would consume our solar system. (It was a valid point: safety first and all that, and even led to studies being done to calculate just how risky it would be to play with the fundamental fabric of matter. These studies concluded that, actually, there was no risk of the worries becoming reality.)

(Bear with me, the coincidence is coming.)

I recalled, not from personal memory, that similar end-of-the-world scenarios had been proposed before the Trinity test. These concerns too were studied before the event and found to be nothing to be perturbed about.

(In retrospect, perhaps I should have some out with an example that linked science to something less evil than nuclear weapons... Incidentally, even before yesterday's chat, I was writing an article for here that touched upon both the LHC and the early days of nuclear weapons. That one is still under construction, but I think it's quite interesting, so hold your breaths!)

The conversation moved onto whether we should do any scientific experiments because, by their very purpose, we don't know what the result will be. Tricky one that, but science plods on, thankfully, and hasn't lad to a completely scorched Earth yet, rather more thankfully.

(A winding road later, let's get back to the remarkable coincidence.)

So, after spending an afternoon having the trigonometry of vectors drilled into us (SOHCAHTOA: get it tattooed kids, your GCSEs will come quicker than you think!) and an evening of scientific doomsdaying, I rode home to find this:

Best read in its original location for the mouse-over and with the last phrase of the 'Test Predictions' paragraph in mind...

Yup, some might say that I'm guiltier than most of spending too much time reading (into...) xkcd's strips, but they are often insightfully witty and, as last night demonstrated to me and one other person at least, pertinent to everyday life, even if only because of a remarkable coincidence.

(Actually, in rereading, we could have visited the "remarkable coincidence" MUCH earlier by replacing vast tracts of this entry with the simple statment: "Today we did some trigonometry and I had a conversation about early nuclear testing, then I saw this comic" but where's the art in that? Unless conciseness is an art... Ah, screw it, the short version is what I would have wrote if I was under a visitation from my other self. Today is an arbitarily happy day!)

To sum up: this time we've learnt that science probably won't destroy the world, no matter how 'out there' the experiment. Next time I might get around, as kinda promised, to looking at the how & the why of certain aspects of humankind's innovativeness.

For now, I'm off to Lidl and will try to impart some good feelings to its less-than-happy employees by continuing to to feel on top of the world.

(Disclaimer: despite the inclusion of some great artists on the record, you should only click the above link if you feel the need to regurgitate your breakfast. It's shite - you have been warned... A similar level of mindless patriotism, but with better entertainment, nostalgia, bass and drums, can be found here.)