On the Closed Universe

“The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination, but the combination is locked in the safe.”

– Peter de Vries


On Curing Boredom

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

– Ellen Parr

Brougham [Noun.]

A four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage, designed in 1839. It had an open seat for the driver in front of the closed cabin for two or four passengers. Named after its designer Henry Peter, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778–1868).

‘Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,’
– Gerard Nolst Trenité, The Chaos

On Viticulture

“The people of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learnt to cultivate the olive and the vine.”

– Thucydides

Unbelievable Truth: Aeroplanes

This is a short lecture that is entirely false save for five pieces of true information which are cunningly concealed amongst the lies. Today’s subject is aeroplanes, heavier than air flying vehicles with fixed wings which are usually powered by propellers or jet engines.

Since the dawn of time, man has gazed up in the sky and dreamt of what it must be like to sit in it somehow eating Mini Pretzels and half-watching Paul Blart Mall Cop. Well, today we can answer that question in two simple words: aero planes.

Aeroplanes have existed in the wild, of course, ever since pterodactyls. But the first man-made aeroplane was built by a pair of simple Ohio biscuit salesmen, Wilbur and Orville Wright. The Wright brothers were, as I say, pigeon farmers by trade and it was watching these majestic creatures take flight that inspired Orville to turn to his brother one morning and say:

“Wilbur, I wish I could fly! Right up to the sky! But I can’t.”
A curious light came into Wilbur’s eye as he replied:
“Orville, you can!”
“I can’t!”
“You can!”

And so, financed entirely by their day job which, you remember, was running a bike shop, they set to work designing an aeroplane.

So they set to work designing an aeroplane. Tensions ran high. As Orville was keen to build an ‘F-16’ fighter whilst Wilbur had his heart set on the ‘Boeing-747’. When such arguments arose the brothers would deliberately swap sides midway and argue the other’s point of view. At first, Orville thought this was a stupid idea but then Wilbur made them swap sides and after that Orville convinced Wilbur it was a good idea, so they did it.

Aviatress Lilian Bland built the first aeroplane in Northern Ireland using a whiskey bottle as a petrol tank and her aunt’s ear trumpet to feed it. It had the engines of a lawn mower, the wheels of a pram and the wings of an albatross. Earning her a lifetime ban from Belfast bird sanctuary.

And she called her aeroplane the ‘Mayfly’ as in ‘it may fly or it may not’. In 1929 Elsworth W. Bunce became the first man to walk along the wing of a plane in flight. In 1930 he became the first man to milk a cow on a plane. And in 1931 he became the first man to realize that no matter what wacky things he did on planes his parents would still prefer his brother.

Since then aeroplanes have been designed in every imaginable shape and size. For instance, the Lockheed McDonnell 3-12, which had both wings on the same side of the fuselage and was consequently very good at turning right but very bad at not turning right. Then there was a Caproni Ca.60 which had nine wings and eight engines and contained a cocktail bar, a swimming pool, a racecourse and an aerodrome.

See other: Unbelievable Truth Posts

PS Consult the comment section to find out the truths.

Control Of Fire

Burn stuff
1 million years ago?

Nobody knows when our ancestors learned to control fire. The oldest direct evidence comes from Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa, which contains ashes and burned bones from 1 million years ago. But there is evidence hominins were processing food even earlier, and that might have included cooking with fire.

See other: What Makes Humans Human?

Rubik’s Cube

The Rubik’s Cube is a 3D combination puzzle. It is the brainchild of the Hungarian professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, who invented in it 1974. Since then, over 300 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold worldwide. If they were stacked on top of each other, they would reach the top of Mount Everest, twice.

It is estimated that in the mid-eighties about a fifth of the world’s population had, at some point, handled a Rubik’s Cube. And because of its simple design, people continue to be astounded by its devilish complexity. The percentage of people that has ever solved the Cube, is more somewhat more difficult to ascertain.

Obviously, there is only one solution in which all six sides of the Cube have the same colour; as for all the different unsolved states, the original 3x3x3 Cube has 43252003274489856000 (that is to say, over 43 quintillion) possible Cubes. If there was a Cube for every permutation, they would cover the Earth with 273 layers – a sea of Cubes 15,5 meters (50 foot) deep. If there was a cube scrambled for every permutation and they were laid end to end then they would stretch approximately 261 light years – from Earth to Alpha Columbae.

Because of the vast amount different Cubes, algorithms (a sequence of moves that has a desired effect) are used to solve the Cube. Without algorithms to solve the Cube, it could take ages: if you made a single turn of one of the Cube’s faces every second, it would take you 1371,51 billion years to go through all the possible configurations. The universe is only 13,82 billion years old. If you had started this project during the Big Bang, you still would not be done yet.

Amazingly, the best speed cubers (people who take part in speed cubing – a sport where competitors try and solve the cube as quickly as possible) can solve the cube in under six seconds. At the time of writing, the world record is 4,90 seconds; the record for blindfolded solving (including memorization beforehand) is 21,05 seconds.

Mike: Look I don’t know, ok; it’s like a fucking Rubik’s Cube! I mean, it’s impossible at this point.
Selina: What? Mike, a Rubik’s cube is not impossible to solve.
Gary: Yeah, I saw an Asian kid do it in like ten seconds.
Selina: Ten seconds Mike.
– Veep (2012) Season 1, Episode 3; “Catherine” [No. 3]