Friday, November 12, 2004

rodcorp: At the exact centre of London, Britain's smallest police station

rodcorp: At the exact centre of London, Britain's smallest police station

This is lovely - the tiniest policestation imaginable. And also a discussion of the centre of continents and cities, which is one of those idle memes that pops into my head every now and then.

Actually, it brought back a memory. There was a Professor at the University of Kent, called Cyril Eisenberg - I don't know if he's still there. His specialism was, I presume, fluid dynamics, as once in a while he would give open lectures for my dad's young scientists organisation about things like bubbles, rainbows and smoke rings.

It was from him I learnt, age 7 ish, how to make a smoke ring machine out of a cardboard box and a condom. These are now marketed as Airzookas - wish I'd made that leap earlier. Although I doubt they're still made out of condoms.

Anyway, at his bubble demonstrations he would show a method he had devised for determining the centres of irregular shapes, and ways to determine the shortest distance between a number of points on their perimiter. It, of course, invovled bubbles.

He would trace the irregular shape in pins, stretched between two sheets of perspex. When dipped vertically into a bucket of bubble concentrate, the sheets of bubble automatically fall into the most efficient arrangement of planes and vectors between the points around the edge - by simple dint of surface tension. The patterns can be simply measured to determine the precise geometric centre of the shape.

So elegant, and also quite beautiful. And a huge ammount of fun if you're a 7 year old geek, as you can imagine.

Hey, Cyril still gives his lecture - check him out.

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