If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur
- Doug Larson
The logic in this quote is slightly askew, but I like it all the same. Because it points to the bizarre nature of the English Language, which makes it rich and diverse and interesting. And reveals it's history.
How many languages in the world are as global as English, and reveal it by their pure existence? By the words that make it up? English is nearly almost everywhere, and its 'vocabulary' so to speak is a testament to this fact. The words of English are actually an amalgamation of words from all over the world - or at least, too many nations and languages to mention.
And this is why English 'doesn't make sense', why it is the number one most difficult language to learn according to my father, who says that that is according to the SMH. But, as we verge onto this territory, I would juts like to point you toward this post. Enjoy, I did (hence why I posted it).
The other day I found Monqiue's tumblr (thanks Paul), and I liked it. But also, it made me appreciate how individual we all are. That you can give every person in the world a pen and paper (or a keyboard and blog) and they will all come up with something different. Similar, maybe, but with subtle differences in word choice, style, subject choice, openness. It's amazing.
So i read the other day on the net that you know a character is fully developed if the reader leaves thinking 'I wonder whatever happened to....' And I think we all actually know this. But never has this fact been used so tantalisingly by an author to me before today.
Let me explain.
About a month ago I finished a book called 'Barchester Towers', by Anthony Trollope. Now, apart from being comic genius this book has fully developed characters and is wholly engaging. So, I left and was like....hmm I wonder if those two had kids and whether.... But if Trollope had decided to present me with a lengthy and detailed list of later occurrences in the characters' lives I would undoubtedly hate him. So i was content with the book.
Then I decided to read the next in the series, 'Doctor Thorne' for those who may possibly be interested. This too is a good book, though not on quite a good a level as 'Barchester Towers.' So I was happy with it, despite the fact that it left the characters of the earlier book alone (see above reasons for not hating this).
Sorry for the length of explanation but here's the point. I got to the second last page of 'Doctor Thorne' and Trollope decides to casually mention that two of 'Barchester Towers's principle characters were invited to a wedding in 'Doctor Thorne' (did that make sense?). To make a slightly exaggerated comparison, it's as though J. K. Rowling wrote a story about a new wizarding family and on the last page casually mentions that they're good friends with Harry Potter, although he had been conveniently ignored for 498 pages.
And that has been the main occurrence of my day, so i thought I would share it with you, as we are due for a post here.
I read a book about James Clerk Maxwell, and now I am almost a Maxwellian. So I'm determined to tell you all everything you DON'T know about JCM.
Okay, so before I started this book I knew that Maxwell had come up with some equations and talked about light a little, and that this helped Hertz discover the photoelectric effect and....the consequences go on. But while Maxwell got ONE page in our textbook, he did SO much for physics that we didn't get told. Okay. Basic summary, Maxwell did for electromagnetism what Newton did for gravity.
Before Maxwell's equations, the only fully developed, complete and mathematical theory in physics was Newton's universal law of gravitation. So, everyone was trying to apply its basic form to electricity etc. And it worked, but they had this weird view. 'Newtonians' believed in action-at-a-distance. i.e. that the space around a magnet is empty with regard to the action of the force, which when iit acts between say a nail and magnet leaps across the space between them without affecting that space. Now, I don't quite get this, its a weird concept but, do you know why its strange? Because of Faraday and Maxwell.
So, Faraday, armed only with basic geometry, developed the idea of a magnetic feild, which Maxwell took and hammered away on to get his equations, and eventually the field idea was accepted, when proof came for Maxwell's equations i think, and now we get it, and don't get action-at-distance. In the process of developing a way to describe mathematically the relationship between electricity and magnetism and Faraday's fields, Maxwell took the recent idea of vectors and used it, thus naming many operations involving vectors, including the curl and divergence. Plus, the curl is pretty much the right hand grip rule - how you determine the direction of a magnetic/electric field. So awesome.
Maxwell was also the first to develop a completely mathematically based theory, or like one without a physical image or analogy. Whilst physicists are used to such use of maths now then they wanted more concrete images to work with. Maxwell's equations have had enormous ramifications too. They are behind many many technologies we now use, and play a vital role in quantum electrodynamics. Maxwell also came up with the basic idea for the Michaelson-Morely experiment, and his equations have been found to be applicable at relativistic speeds and on the quantum level.
I hope you followed all that. You really have to read the book to really get how significant this guy was, I think. Not that I really understand half of what I just talked about (quantum electrodynamics, for instance), but I have a new appreciation for this guy who appears to be on the same level as Newton and Einstein. Also, the book is like a biography as well, so you get a glimpse of what the guy was like which is also cool. One of the funniest things I found was his group of friends' nicknames for each other. So, Maxwell's nickname was dp/dt because dp/dt=JCM, JCM being his initials - as the author says a 'mathematical allusion or in-joke" which simply humorously understates the wonderful geekiness of it (for want of a much better word.)
And that is what I've learnt. I don't think I really communicated much of what I wanted to, spent more time on Newtonians etc, but whatever. My blog needed a post and I needed an outlet other than my family, wouldn't care, so you are stuck with this mess of facts instead. Sorry they're terribly organised, they just spilled onto the page, so to speak.
So, last night I thought "hey, whatever happened to my blog?" and then "what happened to all those other blogs i visited?" Well in my mind they'd all ceased to exist as I'd recently forgotten about them amongst everything else in life that had made me busy. But everyone else's blogs were still there and mine was too, so i spent half an hour reading what I'd been writing to virtually no one for two years and I was like, "yeah, this is interesting." Then - wait, that's arrogant, cos it was me writing those things!
But (and here's my point), sometime I forgot it was me and it was this other person talking about everything that came into their head. Weird, actually, because once you're distanced from yourself by time its like you see that past self as a different person, in a sense. Well to me anyway. And you can learn again from them things you'd forgotten or note the things that have changed. And that is what I think is really interesting about journals and blogs, that whole 'other-person' aspect, that the present self sees in the past self because we're continually changing.
So my advice for today? Keep a journal, because that way you can remember the smallest detail from 4 years ago that you'd otherwise have forgotten. It's sweet. And you can read over your life and say, 'yeah, that was good.' haha, perhaps. In any case blogs/journals can be rewarding.
Also, as a side note, I realised I used to do quite a lot of thinking. I was a crazy kid. I'll try and do some more for you now that I have 3-4 months of holidays in which i'm unlikely to get a job! So, I'll read the paper or get inspired by quotes, or by Maxwell or Lamb. Yes....Maxwell physicists! I'll tell you more about him on Monday!
So, I've got a blog that has a heaps of snippets of things I like and opinions and ideas of mine. Those things will probably give you a better idea of me than this little blurb. But three things will orient you as to my situation in life:
1)I'm a christian
3)I'm at Uni