Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wimps Hold Galaxy To-gether

What could be more relevant to a blog entitled Centripetal Force than an article (The Guardian Weekly, 30.11.12, pp32-33) stating wimps are responsible for life on earth? Wimps mind you, not God, not Einstein nor Andromeda. These weakly interacting massive particles, yes you got it, are the subatomic particles which account for 85% of the mass of the universe. Without this mass, which creates gravitational fields, the gas clouds resulting from the Big Bang would not have coalesced into planets, stars and galaxies nor permitted life as we know it. Matter would have slipped away in unrecognizable shapes and forms and into the outer reaches of (an expanded?) space. The dark matter comprising wimps has not yet been measured, only induced. Detectable matter in the universe i.e. detectable by telescope and infrared sensors, has never been able to account for its calculated mass hence the conclusion that an invisible dark matter (which can travel through solids) permeates our environment. Its comforting to know lurking wimps do not cause a bump to the head on the way to the washroom in the wee small hours. Which begs the question, how did that bump ……?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Dover's Cliffs

White Cliffs of Dover

England is eroding at the edges, literally. A recent trip to continental Europe from Britain brought me to the ferry port of Dover. Since the bed and breakfast was so satisfactory I opted for an extra night which afforded me the time to scale the cliffs the next day. So you have images of me suspended from ropes digging in my spiked boots and clinging to clefts. Not necessary. The National Trust provides a nice set of footpaths which take you top to bottom. I made it all the way to neighbouring St Margaret’s Bay along the cliff tops where one can see the homes that used to belong to Noel Coward and Ian Fleming. Of even greater interest were the places where the chalk cliffs had actually slumped into the sea. And me within four feet of the edge at times! Gradually England is receding. Real estate prices are rising, at the seafront perhaps no so much. When in Dover a visit to the White Horse Pub is recommended. Its walls are covered in felt tip markings written by successful channel swimmers. The ferry takes an hour and a half. Record swim, in the seven and a half hour range. Good on you folks.

Slumping Chalk Cliffs

Channel Swimmer Markings