Friday: Hili dialogue

November 29, 2019 • 5:48 am

by Matthew Cobb

A frosty morning on the picket line today – better than yesterday, when it was chucking it down and I thought I might end up with a case of trenchfoot.

In Poland, Hili has some important news:

Hili: I sat down here to tell you something.
A: Tell me what?
Hili: That I’m sitting here.
In Polish:
Hili: Przysiadłam tu, żeby wam powiedzieć.
Ja: O czym?
Hili: Że tu siedzę.
Down on the farm, it’s a lovely morning and the fowl are all very keen to have breakfast:

A quarter-century anniversary of an amazing find:

UK readers of a certain age will recognise the two quadragenarian entertainers here – it’s Eric Morecambe (with the specs) and Ernie Wise (with the wig). They were a mainstay of UK television in the 1970s, and regularly did skits like this one with Tom Jones, including famous people like André Previn (“I’m playing all the right notes, just not in the right order”) and Glenda Jackson.

Some lovely otters:

Even fossils can be ephemeral:

The widest moth in the world:

Love a bittern. What’s the difference between the American and the European versions?

Bad news for moths:

A cosmic perspective. The Universe is very very very big.

This looks fairly terrifying:



30 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. I’ve seen some fine examples of the Wollemi Pines at Wakefield Place in West Sussex. Seems odd to me that these trees, which seem perfectly happy in the clay and cold of the Sussex Weald as well as an Australian valley, would die out.

    1. Their Wikipedia page says they’re susceptible to Phytophthera (like many Chestnut trees) so that might be some of it.

  2. A celebrated TV appearance of the Beatles playing live & undubbed in front of a small & unseen studio audience.

    The Morecambe & Wise Show, ATV’s Elstree Studio Centre in Borehamwood, Monday 2nd Dec 1963 & broadcast to the nation on the ITV TV network on Saturday 18 April 1964 at 8.25pm.

    Songs: This Boy, All My Loving & I Want To Hold Your Hand followed by the golden oldie Moonlight Bay.

    1. Lennon is playing his short scale 1958 Model 325 Rickenbacker Capri [5/8 scale, hollow-body electric] serial number “V81”, bought by John at Steinway’s in Hamburg, Germany in 1960:

      It looks almost like a lute in the video as the black body [natural finish when new, but painted black in 62?] hides against his dark suit. This is the Beatles instrument if you had to pick just one.

      He learned to play fretted strings on a banjo tutored by his Mum Julia & I think you can see it in the way he plays his Rickenbacker here. IMO he was more comfortable with short scale guitars as I’m fairly sure his Mum’s banjo was too.

      Sean Lennon owns this priceless instrument – the Holy Grail of guitars! The banjo of course is double priceless, should it ever be ‘discovered’ as so many lost artefacts mysteriously are.

      1. Yes, the sound is amazing for 1963 – it must have been taped from the line feeds, mixed & prepped for broadcast – the advantages of playing in a TV studio environment. The venue was called the ATV Elstree Studio Centre [now BBC owned] opened two years before & it freely copied/stole ideas & kit from American film/TV studios – for shows they thought they could sell to the US they recorded using both US & Brit TV cameras with separate crews – both at once. Imagine the cables & chaos!

      1. LOL. Nicely edited CopCam video – a talent at Livermore PD, CA knows their movie horror/thriller tropes. Good stuff.

  3. I enjoyed seeing the speed of light depicted. Einstein must have had images like this in mind while developing his relativity. As humans begin to move farther out, the communications delay becomes more significant. At some point it will likely increase any sense of loneliness. Don’t send anyone without a cat or dog.

    1. EXPANDING UNIVERSE NEWS & SNAIL SPEED LIGHT: Even if we had light speed travel today, over 98% of all the galaxies we’ll ever see are already beyond our reach & with every year that goes by, approximately five entire galaxies cross over that threshold from being reachable to no longer being reachable. It’s as if Einstein’s Old One rigged the game so no single civilisation can sweep the board – a good thing for us & our pets probably. 🙂

      1. I can imagine all those little green men (and I suppose little green women and little green cats and dogs) heading out for planet Earth, only to see us slip away over the event horizon. We could, in principle, fire light beams in all directions with a message such as: sorry we missed you.

    2. The speed of light is also amazing at small scales compared to the speed of modern computers. I remember from years ago that some computers used a loop of wire around its cabinet as a timer. I forget which model. Light travels approximately one foot per nanosecond. A modern desktop computer CPU can do about 3 instruction cycles per nanosecond. Most instructions take several cycles.

      1. The loop sounds plausible, but I assume you can do the same thing inside a chip. I’m guessing that’s basically how a clock chip works. It would count up to some large number of repetitions or oscillations of current and then trigger a pulse.

        1. I’m not sure computer cycle times were so consistent. I’m speculating that a length of wire was a really cheap way to measure a length of time. On the other hand, most computers of the day had some sort of quartz crystal oscillator which has to be more accurate.

          I mentioned it only because, like the astronomical light travel video, it brings the speed of light down to earth.

          1. I remember Grace Hopper used to show students a 9 inch piece of wire and explain that it took one nanosecond for current to traverse it.

            1. Light must have speeded up since then as now people are saying a nanosecond requires 12″. Perhaps it’s the difference between the speed in a vacuum vs wire. Google tells me “two-thirds of the speed of light, which is typical of the speed that electric signals travel along wires.”

      2. An off-the shelf 100m coil of co-axial cable (a couple of house’s worth for an antenna installer) and an off-the-shelf oscilloscope can show the speed of current in an electrical system, which is related to the speed of light in a vacuum. Any signal higher than about 3MHz will show the transit time between one end of the cable and the other. That’s one state transition per 333 nanoseconds, for comparison with modern chip speeds.
        That’s one of the things which limits the length of network cable segments at the physical layer.

    3. Cast the mind back to communications between the first UK prison colony in Australia and “Head Office” in London. The “ping time” for the physical layer of the communications link would be around a year, composed about half “time of flight” (ToF) of the messages across the bounding main, and about half of “handshake” (loading, unloading, re-stocking, waiting-on-wind) at the harbour, and however much time was devoted at each end to message processing and replying. A year-long ping – something to cause even 1970s network pioneers something to think about. Which is one of the reasons that Vint Cerf (one of the designers and implementors of Internet Protocol) is still working with NASA on how to re-design IP to work in the inner Solar System with up to several hours ToF and the consequent buffering, need for multiple transmission routes, resend tom complete packet sets … it’s not a simple question.
      Learning to cope with a 1yr ping time would get us a little over a quarter of the way to the nearest star. The level of communication that can be anticipated is comparable to that between (say) Venice and the court of Kublai Khan.
      Don’t send travellers with a cat or a dog. Send them with a breeding pair, and resources to support the companion animal colony.

      Actually, revise that down to a bitch (queen) and a stock of several hundreds of sperm samples. Feeding sperm samples on liquid nitrogen is probably less resource-demanding than keeping the entire phenotype active.

      1. “a bitch (queen) and a stock of several hundreds of sperm samples”. Good idea. Come to think of it, maybe the humans could just be frozen embryos. Robot caregivers could make sure they are thawed and allowed to develop when they reach their destination. It would save resources and avoid the nuisance from the back seat…”Are we there yet?!”

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