Useless but fascinating information, Schrödinger’s cat, unexpected cures and a little Buddhist wisdom

19 January 2020

Here’s some useless but fascinating information:

  • Setting fire to a cupful of petrol releases as much energy as lighting 15,000 matches simultaneously, but much more quickly
  • Increasing the precision of measurement doesn’t increase the accuracy of predictions based on the measurements, which is how meteorologists contributed to the development of chaos theory
  • Tossing a coin doesn’t always give a 50:50 chance of either heads or tails because, on many coins, one side is slightly heavier than the other, but don’t bet on it because it only changes the odds to about 51:49. In fact never bet anything that you can’t afford to lose – how many times do you see someone cash in a winning scratchcard and immediately spend the winnings on more cards?  Logical this ain’t – remember my piece some years ago on the chances of winning the top prize in the lottery?
  • When MIT was researching symptomatic and prognostic medical information available from sewerage in 2016, it discovered en passant* that most people poo around 9 am
  • Big Ben won’t toll at 2300 hrs GMT on 31 January – that’s another of Bonzo’s promises out of the window – because, it’s rumoured, it’d be too expensive to muffle the bell
  • Sajid Javid was a director of Deutsche Bank, one of the major participants in the mis-selling scandal that unbalanced the global economy
  • Roberto Firmino, a Liverpool footballer, has Ο ΘΕOΣ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΙΣΤΟΣ tattooed across his upper chest; this transliterates as O THEÓS EÍNAI PISTÓS and, for those who know as little Greek as I do, it apparently doesn’t translate as “The gods are drunk”.

You know Schrödinger’s cat?  The one shut in a sealed box with a device which, if triggered, will kill it, and the cat is neither alive nor dead until the box is opened and it can be seen.  This has subsequently been linked in quantum science to things like atoms and photons that can exist in a number of states but it isn’t known which until they’re observed when they ‘collapse’ into one of the possible states.  What I’ve always wondered is whether the cat is actually in the box until it’s observed – we know it was there when it was shut into the box and will be there when the box is opened but what happens between these two events?  (Does a falling tree make a noise if there’s nobody there to hear it?)

On a more serious note, you’ll remember that Jolyon Maugham QC clubbed a fox to death on Boxing Day while wearing his wife’s green satin kimono.  Do we yet know why he was wearing his wife’s nightgown?  Or do we just assume they’re consenting adults so what the hell?

What we’ve also heard this week is that Ivanka Trump’s sister-in-law Karlie Kloss (her husband Jared Kushner’s brother’s wife – are you still with me?) has said she’s going to vote Democrat in the presidential election later this year.  In the report I read, the writer suggested that “Perhaps she can have a word or two with Ivanka and persuade her to defect” but I’m not convinced about the wisdom of having Ivanka on your side.

Weren’t we all moved to tears to see poor little old Harvey Weinstein hobbling into court on a walking frame!  Poor old chap, we said to ourselves, remembering when Ernest Saunders, who had been CEO of Guinness, was charged with crimes like fraud and theft with three colleagues after manipulating the Guinness share price.  Saunders was sent to prison for 5 years (though this was halved on appeal) but was released early when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which is incurable.  He subsequently made a full recovery, the only known recovery from Alzheimer’s.  What are the chances that, if Weinstein is locked away, he gets released early on medical grounds and subsequently recovers?

Last summer, a survey showed that staff at the Alzheimer’s Society believed that the Society’s leadership was out of touch and “performing poorly”.  The charity said it was putting an “action plan” in place and Jeremy Hughes, the chief executive announced he would be leaving at the end of the year after 10 years with the Society.  The charity emphasised that his resignation was not connected to any Twitter allegations and had “been planned for some time”.  Samaritans has just appointed Hughes as its new chief executive.

In an extraordinary announcement, Bonzo has just revealed one of his early steps in his mission to convert Britain to a dictatorship by telling the cabinet to do what they’re told or face the sack.  This was, coincidentally, released just after Harry & Meghan give up their right to be called ‘Royal Highness’ (I still have a feeling that should be ‘height’ – we don’t say “what’s the highness of that mountain?”) and will repay the £2.4m spent on doing up their Windsor house.  Well done, kiddo, start moving while the royals are on the ropes.

And a final thought from Buddhism:  “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”


*          I originally wrote “in passing” but my brother-in-law thought people might misunderstand it …


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