Parliamentary election in Cambridge

BBC radio Cambridgeshire held a debate with five candidates who have declared they will be standing for the member of parliament for Cambridge.

Julian Huppert – Liberal Democrats
Patrick O’Flynn – UKIP
Rupert Read – Green Party
Chamali Fernando – Conservatives
Daniel Zeichner – Labour

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Use of science-babble in No Highway in the Sky

In No Highway in the Sky some science babble is used to explain the nature of fatigue. The explanation given depends on quantum mechanics and the metal becoming crystallised. It seems this science babble is used to avoid any controversy about the actual mechanism of fatigue. Since the author was an aircraft designer he could easy have become familiar with the contemporaneous explanation. Since the details are a topic of enquiry, inserting something outlandish is probably a very clever thing to do, it prevents inserting information which will mislead specialists and it doesn’t spoil the story for anyone else.

James Stewart in No Highway in the Sky

James Stewart in No Highway in the Sky

 

The outlandish explanation also fits well with the main characters fascination with topics such as the  mathematics of the ancient pyramids, part of the plot is that those with higher authority attempt to discredit him as a nut. They don’t want to believe there is a problem with the planes.

 

There is deeper point which is interesting to explore — it’s not necessary for the mechanism of fatigue to be known to have a predictive theory. It would be quite possible to predict the fatigue failure from the assumption that there is some form of damage accumulation. The mention of quantum mechanics probably means the hero was familiar with the statistics of stochastic effects. Another plot point in the story is that the damage to the material cannot be seen by observation, so that inspection of the aircraft puts the main characters explanation into doubt.

 

The failure of an aircraft by fatigue occurs by nucleation and growth of a crack. Since aluminium can be quite a tough material the size of the crack which can be tolerated before failure can be very large. Modern aircraft can be designed so that cracks can be detected by routine inspection before they reach a size which would cause failure.

No Highway in the Sky

‘No Highway’ is a book dramatising fatigue in metals, the story was made into the movie ‘No Highway in the Sky’ staring Jimmy Stewart. This is the only movie I know which is about metal fatigue. The book was published in 1948, and the movie appeared in 1951.

The author Nevil Shute Norway, was a pioneer aircraft designer. The story centres around Theodore Honey, a middle-aged widower and boffin at the Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough (site of much fundamental work on aircraft and fatigue).

Theodore is sent to investigate a previous air crash, but he realises that his theory applies to the plane he is travelling on, which he forces to land. After inspection of the aircraft on land, the much annoyed pilot is ready to take-off again, leaving Theodore Honey behind. However, Theodore’s conviction in his theory leads him to ground the plane by retracting the landing-gear. Everyone is left perplexed by his actions, except the air-stewardess and an actress aboard the plane who Theodore had convinced.

Therefore, go forth, companion: when you find
No Highway more, no track, all being blind,
The way to go shall glimmer in the mind.

Interestingly the book, in which a new airliner design being subject to mechanical failure due to metal fatigue, came before the failures of the de Havilland Comet airliner just six years later (1954).

James Stewart in No Highway in the Sky

James Stewart in No Highway in the Sky

As well as the book “No Highway” and the movie, there is also the radio play made by CBS. The radio play also stars Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Making a welded Damascus Knife

John Neeman Tools have posted a beautiful video of manufacturing a welded Damascus patterned knife.

5 layers of 3 different steels were forge-welded, folded, and forged. With each step being repeated 8 times. This produces a patterned with 320 layers. Finally twisting and forging the steel produces a more complex pattern.

Just checking the number of layers, I get their total to be different. My calculation of the number of layers is 5 × 28 = 1280, that is 4 times more than claimed (320 layers should be the result of folding 6 times (6 folds 5 × 26).

With 1280 folds, if we assume the thickness of the knife is 2 mm, that means each layer is 1.6 μm, 320 folds would be 6 μm layers. These are both lower than what can be resolved using the naked eye. It’s very close to the wavelength of visble light — if the metal were folded one more time, or the final thickness of the knife is less than 1 mm you would be there.

Correlation is not necessarily causation.

A lot of science stories reported in he media confuse correlation with causation. Here is a typical example about sexism:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7625173.stm

The article says that men who exhibit sexist attitudes are more likely to earn more.

Alternative explanation, in couples were the man is earning more, it would be more likely for the women to stay home?

Train Manners World Tour Continued – Japan.

Train manners can also be a subject of controversy in Japan. Kanadjin3 recently uploaded a video showing the new public information signs for proper train manners in Japan.

Here we can see that manspreading also exists in Japan (see previous article on manslamming and manspreading.)

Manspreading in Japan

Manspreading in Japan

But they also point out that applying make-up on the train is also very rude.

Screenshot from 2015-01-13 13:31:05

Don’t apply make-up, possibly more manspreading.

Don't be a douchebag

Don’t be a douchebag

Don't karate kick the train

Don’t karate kick the train

Kanadjin3-sans video:

Manslamming

Arwa Mahdawi has published a joke story on the guardian about the phenomenon of ‘manslamming’ in New York. You can tell it’s a joke because they conflate experiment with anecdote.

Is manslamming a true phenomena? It seems reasonable if manspreading is real. Manspreading sounds like something more testable. It is easy to imagine that collisions on the street are a result of both parties, so it seems more difficult to design an experiment — maybe mass observation would be the way to test this claim.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2015/jan/12/manslamming-men-more-likely-to-bump-into-people

The original article can be found here. http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/01/manslamming-manspreading-microaggressions.html