One minor consequence of the global pandemic has been the many hours spent indoors waiting for the doorbell to ring – often, once we have made it from the office stationery cupboard, to be left with a card saying they are sorry we were out, and that the parcel we were waiting for is now being redirected to a sorting office in one of the less fashionable outer London suburbs.
This game of cat and mouse has been given an additional edge recently by the sort of text message sent by the UK’s Royal Mail to reader Martin Andrews, which states that his delivery is due to arrive “between 11:11am and 3:11pm”. “This made me wonder what function it serves to be so precise in their vagueness,” Martin writes.
The Royal Mail’s spread in ETA of exactly 4 hours suggests to us an origin in fundamental physics. Quantum uncertainty would dictate that if your parcel is at a well-defined location in relation to you, you can’t know how fast it’s travelling towards you, and vice versa, so time of arrival will always be, to a certain extent, moot.
Putting in the numbers, assuming a spread of velocities between zero and the UK’s national speed limit, only leads us to a truly huge value for a parcel’s wavelength of some 500 metres. Fundamental physics having failed us, yet again, we have put in an enquiry with the Royal Mail press office. We’ll keep you, ummm, posted.
Heard it here last
Stephen Jorgenson-Murray enjoys our Twitter account’s own mazy travels in the fourth dimension as it tweets “Partial solar eclipse will be visible in the UK and Ireland on 10 June” on 13 June.
Drowning out our social media guru’s dark mutterings about the algorithm going wrong – presumably, going by last week’s cover story, one of the ones that runs our life – we’re happy to accept Stephen’s charitable suggestion that a cutting-edge magazine like our own would naturally take the lead in catering to the time traveller market.
Love shine a light
As we write, the summer solstice is just passing in our northern hemispheric climes. Top of our list of concerns, as you might expect, is how to harness the energy of the sun at its zenith and what effect this might have on our relationships.
Only half of that question is ever going to be answered by a working nuclear fusion reactor, and we’re increasingly doubtful whether that will be in our lifetime. So we are grateful that both parts are tackled in what appears to be a PR email for a boiler installation website in consultation with “renowned psychic Inbaal”.
“During this time, those in relationships will enjoy increased attraction to their partners and will be keen to meet up frequently and passionately,” it burbles. “With this natural phenomenon bringing a new or stronger urge to be outdoors, it is the season of al-fresco amore.”
Fortunately, this being the UK, it was raining with fair commitment the other side of Feedback’s curtains this midsummer morn. We hope this will assist our fellow citizens in keeping their passions sensibly zipped up.
Head in the clouds
A delightful prospect is afforded by the bed spotted by Tony Cuthbert on eBay, promising “Height 820 mm” and “Height from under bed to floor 200 m”. Just beware of the sensation of falling you sometimes get as you are about to drift off.
Brighter than 160 GKet
Inappropriate measurement comparison of the week comes via various readers from various US news media. These quote oceanographer Gregory Johnson as saying that an increase in Earth’s heat imbalance (between what we gain from the sun and lose to space) from 2005 to 2019 was the energy equivalent of “four detonations per second of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, or every person on Earth using 20 electric tea kettles at once”. Apropos Johnson’s additional comment: “It’s such a hard number to get your mind around.” Latching on to the second of those numbers, that’s quite some tea party.
How many kangaroos?
Our contingent in Australia, meanwhile, pops by with the culturally attuned unit of the week, courtesy of an article on The Conversation from the discoverers of the country’s largest dinosaur, Australotitan cooperensis.
The description in the title that Australotitan spanned the length of two buses being deemed, we presume, too generic, the body copy goes on to describe it as having weighed “the equivalent of 1,400 red kangaroos”. “How many red kangaroos = one blue whale?” asks Carol Symington, while Libby Kerr bemoans the lack of a conversion into quokkas. Given the uncertainty we uncovered last week, we are wondering about Australotitan‘s volume in Australian pints.
Drink to that
It’s that time of day already – give or take 4 hours, anyway. And so, a toast. A. P. Dawid is a distinguished statistician, emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Royal Society, but that isn’t the reason we raise our glass.
No, that is because he is the first, although by no means the only, person to write noting the newly appointed deputy chair of the Wine Society, Eleanor de Kanter. Cheers!
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