|Bits & Pieces
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
On my commute I was privileged to overhear the conversation of a woman who seemed to be the embodiment of prejudice. Every sentence that came out of her mouth was a complaint about the injustice of the world, as inflicted upon her by the following people: her son's teachers ("He was sent home for having his shirt-tail hanging out"), e-mail spammers, travelers/gypsies ("They pinched four of my chickens"), the Japanese woman her brother married, South Africans and the Irish. In fact, I think the only people she left out were asylum seekers, and if the train ride had been longer I'm certain she would have gotten there eventually.
Perhaps not only in Cambridge (or Oxford) would you hear the announcement, "If there is a Professor Evans on the station, please return to the ticket office. Professor Evans, return to the ticket office." But I'd be willing to bet that only in Cambridge (or Oxford) would you see not one, but two people - who weren't together - on the platform turning around to go to the ticket office.
The mathematicians with whom we share our building periodically put problem sheets in the lifts. The mag team packed ourselves into the lift on our way out to Friday lunch one afternoon. We perused the problems. One caught our eyes. It read, "Is it possible to fit a bigger cube through a hole in a smaller cube?"
Me (chemist): "It depends on the materials. If the bigger cube is made of aerogel, then yes. If it's a solid block of stainless, probably not."
Her (mechanical engineer): "No, it depends on the quality of the design for the collapsible frame of the bigger cube."
Him (physicist): "How big is the hole? Or is it black?"
Me: "Why do I get the feeling we've somehow missed the point?"