31 March 2011

Posted by DMC on 1 April 2011 in Diary |

Barton and Judith W-P came to tea today .I think it’s about the first time we have seen them this year and it was only last June, on our way down to Cornwall to see my in-laws, that we stopped off, for lunch, at the W-P’s family home, Caddy.. They were sighing with relief at the return of their youngest son Tom, and his family, who had just returned from a stint of teaching in New Zealand. They were, in fact, living between Mt Cook and Christchurch and experienced the first of the two recent earthquakes-the minor one. Fortunately they left a few weeks before the recent massive earthquake.

The W-P’s go back a long way. In fact, they were probably the first of the ‘old faithfuls’ that we came to know in this village. When we returned from Aden, in Southern Arabia, in 1964,. we decided to rent. whilst we looked around the area for a suitable house. We ended up at the Od Police House in Little Hadham, Hertfordshire. At that time we were sent details of a number of houses in our area of search, including some in this village, one of which we were particularly interested in, only to find that the W-P’s had beaten us to it. Those two coincidences forged an early friendship which has continued ever since.

It also helped that our children were of a similar age and went to the same primary school. I recall that none of us were very enamoured with the little primary school in Clavering, at the time, and decided that we would prefer to send our children to a much more avant-garde primary school in a nearby village, Great. Hormead. Gaining consent from the local council, to make this move, meant that we had to jointly complain about the lavatories!. A subterfuge. admittedly, but one that worked. Today, Clavering has a very fine new primary school with an excellent reputation.

Judith is an absolutely smashing cook. Learning early on about my love of rich fruit cake she has generously baked a wonderful traditional Christmas cake for me every year since..

After the WP’sr left. I watched the last episode of the BBC programme, Wonders of the Universe, a programme I thoroughly recommended . my readers to watch, a week or two ago. I have gained a great deal of superficial knowledge about the universe from these four episodes which I found absolutely fascinating. For example, recognising early on that sound travels at a certain speed, which was observable to thr human ear (I think it is 12,000 km/hr, known as Mach one) . Most of us today have observed this for ourselves in hearing the sonic boom, when a supersonic aircraft goes through the sound barrier.

The fact that light also travels at a certain speed throughout the universe and was discovered about 350 years years ago and then subsequently that speed. ultimately calculated.. Prof Cox illustrated this in the simplest of fashions.. He explained that Galileo observed that Jupiter’s innermost moon, Io orbited the planet in exactly 42.5 hours. Sometime later, a Swedish astronomer realised that, depending on the time of year, Io appeared to emerge from behind Jupiter at different times. This, of course, could not be so as it was known that Io orbited at a constant speed. The explanation turned out to be quite simple. Depending on the time of year, the closer earth was to Jupiter, the earlier Io appeared and the converse, the further away the earth was the later Io appeared. This gave a clue that there was a finite time which, light travelled and from this observation. it was eventually possible to calculate that speed close enough to 300,000 metres/sec, or 186,000 mi./s, or put another way, 10,000 million, million kilometres per year, which is near enough, for our purposes, to what’s known as a light year. This clearly can be translated. therefore, into distance – the distance light travels in one yea. From this it has been possible to calculate the distance of any distant star or Galaxy within our observation and using such instruments as the Hubble Radio telescope in space, observe stars at the very end of our known universe.

From these observations, it became clear to the astronomers that the universe was expanding at a constant speed. Therefore< ipso facto if the universe is expanding and has been since time began by reversing the calculation it was possible to ascertain that the”Big Bang’ occurred 13.7 billion years ago from a single speck in a void, or the beginning of time itself. I must not go any deeper into this subject as I know superficially very little about, except I hope to have enthused at least some of my readers to watch this wonderful program. which is essentially about, Who we are and Where did we come from? I do hope that I have not bored too many of my readers with my own enthusiasm and interest in this subject stop I know that’ my lovely’s’ eyes glaze over whenever I get onto that topic!

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