Saturday, 29 December 2012

Building St Paul's Cathedral

One day during it's construction, Sir Christopher Wren was walking around St Paul's Cathedral. He stopped to speak to a stonemason and asked him what he was doing. In a rather matter of fact way he said, 'Oh, I'm just craving this stone'. Later, Wren stopped again. This time it was to speak to a carpenter. He asked him what he was doing. He too answered in a rather matter of fact sort of way saying, 'Oh, I'm just carving this piece of wood'. Still later Wren stopped to speak to a young boy who was sweeping the floor. Wren asked him what he was doing. 'I'm helping Sir Christopher Wren build St Paul's Cathedral', he said enthusiastically.

This is somewhat reminiscent of one of the Apollo astronauts I once heard interviewed. He said that he didn't know how it 'all worked' but that he knew his role and that it wasn't all going to be messed up on his account. Perhaps the whole of life is like that and that the whole edifice is affected by even the most humble of contributors. Rather like the butterfly effect perhaps but with real people rather than the inanimate objects with which we usually associate that effect.

It is always said that Sir Christopher Wren built St Paul's Cathedral but what does 'built' really mean? He did no carving so far as I know and I'm sure he did no sweeping. I remember seeing a television programme about the redevelopment of St Pancras railway station - a station I often used to walk through on the way home when I was a boy. When the station had its official reopening, I was surprised to see that at the ceremony the man who had had all the hard work of organising the day-to-day work was seated downstairs, somewhat out of the way of the proceedings, whereas the people who had drawn the plans were seated upstairs with all the dignitaries.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Happy Christmas

I heard this song a couple of years ago. I found then and continue to find each time I hear it something quite moving about. I don't know what it is; it just has some sort of effect upon me. You might reasonably call it a carol - a Christmas carol in particular - yet it has something else. It certainly has a modern feel but that isn't all. What do you think? Have a listen (and give it a like on YouTube too).


Monday, 17 December 2012


As a thinker, I can try to become famous and hope that my name will be remembered long after I am dead, or I can try, as part of my science, to probe deeper into the mind of God and trust that He alone will remember me.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Different angles on the Klein Bottle

A Klein bottle, although appearing bottle-shaped, is an object with a single surface that can take many forms. It gets its name from the man who devised it - Felix Klein (1849-1925) - and from a mis-translation of it's original name. Instead of a Kleinsche Fl├Ąche ("Klein surface"), it was called a Kleinsche Flasche ("Klein bottle").

While searching the web for different sized corks, I came across the following picture on the 'ways to mount a Klein bottle' page at

This is not the only way in which a Klein bottle can be 'mounted' - that is, orientated and held up. However, it is the one I somehow find most appealing. (Perhaps the Oxford English Dictionary in the background adds something to the bottle in the foreground.)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


It should be EveryBook's (or, if you prefer, every book's) ambition - in so far as a book can be said to have an 'ambition' - not only to be read but to be re-read, and re-read again and again until it falls to pieces.*

Similarly, it's ambition should also be for it's readers to disobey the copyright notice and to be scanned, copied and disseminated as widely as possible.


* For example, when I lived in South Wales, I once heard of a man who always got a Bible for Christmas.The reason being that by the time Christmas came around each year, he had worn out the one he had got the previous Christmas though over use.

 I once wrote a book which, when it was out of print, was sought out by somebody who then wrote to me saying how much he enjoyed it and how he had photocopied it in it's entirety. I didn't mind a bit. Had it still been in print, I still don't think that I would have minded - even though I would have missed out on a 27p royalty.