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Friday, April 14, 2006

Sad Loss...

Found out yesterday that my dad's dog Jessie has to be put down as she was very old and had lung complications and have pretty much gotten blind over the past few months... :(

The vet said that her time was almost up so Dad decided it was best for her to be put down yesterday. Jessie has been a faithful companion to my dad, and we have had her since she was 6 months old. I've always wanted a dog since I was a little boy, however Mum was not very keen, and we even had a short stint in Singapore with a dog, but had to give it back as it didn't work out. I remember as a child, my dad and I went out for a walk in our local neighbourhood in Singapore, and we found an abandoned dog at a building site, so we took it home, but had to take it back after Mum refused to let us keep it... I remember wailing and crying my eyes out when we had to take the dog back.

Anyways, Jessie entered our lives when one of Dad's collegues at the furniture place he was working as had to move, and the new place he was renting did not allow pets so he took Jessie to work to see if anyone would be happy to take her, so my Dad took her home. Even though I was at Uni then, I was quite happy to finally have a dog, even though I was quite busy, so I told Dad that it'll pretty much be his dog.

We have fond memories of Jessie as a young dog, and as she was a Kelpie/Cattle Dog cross, she had heaps of energy, so much so she would chase down every ball, every frisbee and even hopped gates to get out of where we confined her. She'll be sorely missed, especially by my dad, and even though I'm not as close to her as my dad, I know how sad my dad feels right now as now that we have Max, I can imagine what loss we would feel when his time is up...

Dogs are such great companions, and more loyal and loving than alot of people, and are such great fun when they are puppies... "A puppy is but a dog, plus high spirits, and minus common sense." - Agnes Repplier.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Interesting Physics Problem...

I normally do not post things I get from email seeing I get heaps and heaps of interesting emails from people, however this one (below) tickled my fancy, and is an interesting read as it rings true of the age old adage that "There is more than one way to skin a cat..."

In our day and age, even though we are taught to thinking freely and 'outside the box' we do tend to usually take the prescribed route when solving problems, and with the onset of the Internet, we tend to not try and solve problems, but rather research the problem, then do what someone else has done to solve the problem. This tends to reduce innovation when solving problems, and people conform to a narrow minded view of how to go about solving the problems of the modern world...

Anyways, just food for thought...

The following concerns a question in a physics degree exam at the University of Copenhagen:
"Describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper with a barometer."

One student replied: "You tie a long piece of string to the neck of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length of the barometer will equal the height of the building."

This highly original answer so incensed the examiner that the student was failed immediately. The student appealed on the grounds that his answer was indisputably correct, and the university appointed an independent arbiter to decide the case.

The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but did not display any noticeable knowledge of physics. To resolve the problem it was decided to call the student in and allow him six minutes in which to provide a verbal answer that showed at least a minimal familiarity with the basic principles of physics.

For five minutes the student sat in silence, forehead creased in thought. The arbiter reminded him that time was running out, to which the student replied that he had several extremely relevant answers, but couldn't make up his mind which to use. On being advised to hurry up the student replied as follows:

"Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the roof of the skyscraper, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it takes to reach the ground. The height of the building can then be worked out from the formula H = 0.5g * t squared. But bad luck on the barometer."

"Or if the sun is shining you could measure the height of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper's shadow, and thereafter it is a simple matter of proportional arithmetic to work out the height of the skyscraper."

"But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it, you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof of the skyscraper. The height is worked out by the difference in the gravitational restoring force T = 2 pi sqr root (l / g)."

"Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the skyscraper in barometer lengths, then add them up."

"If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about it, of course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the difference in millibars into feet to give the height of the building."

"But since we are constantly being exhorted to exercise independence of mind and apply scientific methods, undoubtedly the best way would be to knock on the janitor's door and say to him 'If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give you this one if you tell me the height of this skyscraper'."

The student was Niels Bohr, the only Dane to win the Nobel Prize for Physics.

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field." - Niels Bohr