Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Galaxy Song (with metric conversions)

This morning at the breakfast table we were having a conversation about astronomy, moon phases and the like (as you do), and Yarrow wanted to know at what speed the Earth revolved. So I sang her Monty Python's "The Galaxy Song". The astronomical facts and figures in the song are tolerably accurate, but as they are not in metric, Yarrow couldn't get a 'feel' for the distances and speeds. So I promised her I'd convert the figures to metric.

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred [MW1] miles an hour,
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second[MW2] , so it's reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day[MW3] 
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour[MW4] ,
Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It's a hundred thousand light years [MW5] side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick[MW6] ,
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go 'round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute[MW7] , and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

 [MW1]1448 kph
 [MW2]30 km / sec
 [MW3]1,609,344 km / day
 [MW4]64,374 km / hour
 [MW6]Australian astrophysicist Bryan Gaensler has even stated that Eric's estimation of the thickness of the Milky Way, at 16,000 light years, is more accurate than the official 'textbook' figure of 6,000 light years :-)
 [MW7]By conversion, it’s 19,312,128 km/min, but according to google research, it’s 17, 987, 547.5 km/min

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Briony is on her HSC journey

Briony is in her HSC year and one of her electives is visual art. Last Tuesday John and I went to see the year 12 HSC visual arts exhibition held at the school. I was very impressed with the quality of the work!

Each artist provided an interpretive statement of their work. Briony's describes her collection of paintings (not all pictured):

"The encompassing concept for my body of work is of the girl represented through the series, and her passivity. Her situation is outside of her control, yet she does not panic. The octopuses represent negative emotions (depression, isolation), whilst the fish, representing positive aspects of life such as family, creativity and hope for the future, guard her form and lift her towards the surface and the light. The works in which there are no fish represent the nadirs we can reach; however, the final triptych is one of hope, as the girl and the fishes leave the octopus alone in the depths."

Gorgeous work, Briony!

Spring has sprung?

Our millefleur bantam hen has once again successfully fended off the rats and other predators and has hatched nine little babies. So cute ....

Here I am holding one in my hand: a sub-atomic particle of fluff that says "cheep-cheep-cheep". Note the fluffy feet.

On looking back over the posts in this blog, I notice that it was *exactly* a year ago that she hatched nine chicks. She's so consistent :-D

I now pronounce you ... Wife and Wife

Last weekend most of our local family travelled to Mittagong and Berrima to witness the gorgeous and loving wedding of our Oceane (nee Burckhardt) and her life partner Sarah Campbell. The statement "I now pronounce you Wife and Wife" was met with huge cheers, as was "you may now kiss the brides".

It was a very moving moment. The whole wedding was fantastic and beautiful and we had a lovely time. Thank you Oce, Sarah and families, for putting on such a joyful event!

And if you're wondering, no, alas same-sex marriage is not legally recognised in NSW. Not yet, anyway. (For those who are worried about gay marriage and are graphically inclined, you can view a graph of the consequences of gay marriage here). 

But we sure can recognise love.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Before and after ... the front door lock

Some of the original locks in the house are long gone, but some notable ones have survived. But my, the world was enamoured of paint in the 1900s! Most of the original locks on the house have been painted shut, as have many of the brass window fittings and locks. Even the elegant and cleverly designed window clips that hold the sash windows open have been painted over.

One of the notable locks on the house is the front door lock. It was heavily painted and was quite stiff. I pulled the lock off the heavy front door and had a go at cleaning it up & restoring it. Here you can see the results: before and after. One the back is embossed "Sargent and Co" - and when I googled the name it appears the company is still going strong. I have written to them in the hope they can tell me when the lock was made, which would help us date the house (1880s? earlier?), but alas no response yet. I'll add a comment to this post if I do get a reply!