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October 18, 2017, 06:35:12 PM
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: Weird News!  ( 5648 )
« : January 27, 2010, 02:23:13 PM From Poonam»



Weird News!


Moon’s rotation

If the moon orbits the earth, always presenting the same face to us, does it rotate on its own axis?

It seems a simple question, but its appearance in the London Times in April 1856 set off a war among the English intelligentsia:

    * “A ship sailing round the world presents to the fishes always the same face as the Moon does to us. Coming home again, it will surely not be said that the ship has performed a [rotation].”
    * “Let him perforate a small ivory ball to represent the Moon, pass a wire through it, and bend this wire into a circle of a foot in diameter, and then push the ball round the circumference. Will there then remain any doubt of her not rotating on her axis?”

The answer, as William James would note in his parable of the squirrel, is that “which party is right depends on what you practically mean” by the term in question. Today we’d say that the moon rotates about its axis in the same time it takes to orbit the earth.

Incidentally, Lewis Carroll submitted two letters, but the Times didn’t print them. Perhaps it’s just as well — he was far ahead of everyone else: “I noticed for the first time the fact that though [the moon] only goes 13 times round the earth in the course of the year, it makes 14 revolutions round its own axis, the extra one being due to its motion round the sun.”



Curiosities of Idiom

Breaking both wings of an army is almost certain to make it fly; a general may win the day in a battle fought at night; a lawyer may convey a house, and yet be unable to lift a hundred pounds; a room may be full of married men, and not have a single man in it; a traveler who is detained an hour or two may recover most of the time by making a minute of it; a man killed in a duel has at least one second to live after he is dead; a fire goes out, and does not leave the room; a lady may wear a suit out the first day she gets it, and put it away at night in as good a condition as ever; a schoolmaster with no scholar may yet have a pupil in his eye; the bluntest man in business is generally the sharpest one; Ananias, it is said, told a lie, and yet he was borne out by the by-standers; caterpillars turn over a new leaf without much moral improvement; oxen can only eat corn with the mouth, yet you may give it to them in the ear; food bolted down is not the most likely to remain on the stomach; soft water is often caught when it rains hard; high words between men are frequently low words; steamboat officers are very pleasant company, and yet we are always glad to have them give us a wide berth; a nervous man is trembling, faint, weak, while a nervous style and a man of nerve is strong, firm, and vigorous.

– John Walker Vilant Macbeth, The Might and Mirth of Literature, 1876



The Streetcar Singularity

‘If a man followed the directions of a street-car company,’ said Jones, ‘he would never enter one of its cars. Once in, paradoxically, he would never leave it. Just read that sign; it says, ‘Passengers are forbidden to enter or leave this car while in motion.’ Now, how in the name of Lindley Murray can a passenger do otherwise than get in motion, while leaving or entering a street car?’

– Marshall Brown, Bulls and Blunders, 1893



Less is More

As part of a modern dance program, Paul Taylor once stood motionless on stage for four minutes.
For its review, Dance Observer magazine ran four inches of white space.



Got it?

There is no Pope John XX. In numbering its pontiffs, the church skipped directly from Pope John XIX to Pope John XXI because confusion in the records led Pope John XX to believe that Pope John XIV had been succeeded by a second Pope John XIV, but that Pope John XV to Pope John XIX had overlooked his existence. So Pope John XX ordered his designation changed to Pope John XXI so that Pope John XV to Pope John XIX could be renumbered Pope John XVI to Pope John XX. But there was no second Pope John XIV, so Pope John XV to Pope John XIX were correctly numbered and the new Pope John XXI should have remained Pope John XX.
Worse, Pope John XVI was a disputed claimant whose number should have been reused, moving all subsequent Popes John back a notch. That hasn’t happened either.
The bottom line is that there’s still time for you to be Pope John XX if you want to. You just need to be elected by the College of Cardinals.

 
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