Sunday, May 01, 2005

Things Change

Wow! That was the fastest I have ever made it through Customs!

My plane was early into the UK. I made it to the head of the line at Customs less than fifteen minutes before I had left the plane. I then arrived at the carousel to see my bag already on it. With no delays, I was out into the main terminal before my car service arrived.

Armed with a couple hundred pounds in my poke, I headed to the hotel in Hampton Court. With a slight detour through the countryside to miss an accident that had the motorway snarled, it was a lovely drive. The weather here is wonderful. The wilderness has changed with the seasons. Where a month ago were the profusion of daffodils, snowdrops, and other spring flowers, there are now tall grasses interspersed with tiny yellow flowers, looking like drops of sunlight in the grass. There are also a profusion of daisies, tulips, and other flowers of the early summer. There are lovely yellow and purple flowering vines everywhere.

Hampton Court Palace: The Wilderness
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. The King’s Arms is still the pub I have come to love spending time in. Last night, after doing a few first-minute priority things, unpacking, taking a walk into Kingston, etc., I went to the pub for a pint and a conversation. The topics ranged freely from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (in all its various incarnations), to The Simpsons, to Physics.

I cannot remember exactly how we got onto this last topic, but it was the part of the conversation that lasted the longest. We discussed physics, specifically gravity. As is (fairly) commonly known, Newton’s law of gravity states (in practical terms) that when an apple falls to the ground it is really not doing what we commonly believe. Not only is the apple being pulled to ward the earth, but the earth is (no matter how minutely) being pulled toward the apple. The amount of the pull being dictated only by the mass of the objects involved (the apple and the planet) and the inverse cube of their distances from each other. The part of the conversation that was so fascinating was whether the starting state of the apple affects the amount of the pull that the apple has on the planet.

If the apple is on the branch of a tree, does the apple still pull the earth towards it? Is there an action that imparts any inertia to the earth that must be reacted to when the apple falls? Yes, I know that it is a geeky kind of conversation to have at a bar, but this is the kind of thing my friends from the bar discuss while there. Last trip the heady conversation winner was probability. Oh well, to each his own, I guess!

I hope you are having a lovely day wherever you are!
Don Bergquist – 01-May-2005 – Hampton Court

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