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16 hours ago, assault said:

 

The Most Serene Republic of San Marino begs to differ.

 

 

 

Fair point.  I still found the general point that that our elderly republic might be a factor in our slow transition interesting though

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9 hours ago, Starlord said:

FYI, the 'headlights at the speed of light' comment is an old Stephen Wright joke.  :)

It was also a question in the "Ask Doctor Science National Science Quiz" TV special. And Doctor Science gave the answer: Your headlights come off the car and chase you down the road.

 

Much better than one of the other suggested answers, "The universe ends."

 

Ah, Doctor Science. I learned so much from him, including the thin line between intelligence and arrogance. Just remember: He's not a real doctor. He has a Master's degree... in Science!

 

Dean Shomshak

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Even the present Imperial system is just a fraction of the farrago of weights and measures that once existed. Isaac Asimove devoted an essay to this called, IIRC, "Forget it!" He'd obtained a Colonial-era math textbook. A large section in it was devoted to weights and measures. For instance, back then liquid measure went far beyond cup, pint, quart and gallon. There were also measurements such as gills, tuns, puncheons and firkins. Actually, three firkins: "A firkin of ale in London," "A firkin of beer in London," and "A firkin of ale or beer" -- presumably, Asimov speculated, for the less-discriminating provinces. Or, cloth wasn't measured in yards, it was measured in ells -- but you had to specify whether you meant an English ell, a Dutch ell, a Flemish ell... The joke about "getting the ell out of business" was obvious but irresistible.

 

So just remember that things were once much worse.

 

Dean Shomshak

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Almost certainly behind a subscriber wall, but there's a teaser article in Science giving a discussion of a paper in a different journal about the discovery of a probably rather recent (in the last 100,000 years) impact crater discovered under the ice sheet in Greenland.  The crater size is 31 km in diameter ... not Chicxulub-class, but big enough to make you happy you were't nearby:

 

Quote

The impact would have been a spectacle for anyone within 500 kilometers. A white fireball four times larger and three times brighter than the sun would have streaked across the sky. If the object struck an ice sheet, it would have tunneled through to the bedrock, vaporizing water and stone alike in a flash. The resulting explosion packed the energy of 700 1-megaton nuclear bombs, and even an observer hundreds of kilometers away would have experienced a buffeting shock wave, a monstrous thunderclap, and hurricane-force winds. Later, rock debris might have rained down on North America and Europe, and the released steam, a greenhouse gas, could have locally warmed Greenland, melting even more ice.

 

The time of the impact seems not to be well established yet, and so people are being rather cagey about that; there are some interesting suggestions of the strike happening about 13,000 years ago, which would tie in with the end of the last Ice Age, the invasions of humans into the Americas, and so on, which seems to be driving most of the publicity around this discovery.

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3 hours ago, Hermit said:

 

Fair point.  I still found the general point that that our elderly republic might be a factor in our slow transition interesting though

 

I wish that argument would work for me every time I'm forced to update my computer OS. I mean, I'm elderly and contrary, dagnab it! :angry:

 

I suppose if there was another three hundred million of me I'd have more leverage. :(

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8 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

I wish that argument would work for me every time I'm forced to update my computer OS. I mean, I'm elderly and contrary, dagnab it! :angry:

 

I suppose if there was another three hundred million of me I'd have more leverage. :(

 

I direct you to the Political discussion thread for the fun three hundred million voices can create in an elderly republic

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9 hours ago, DShomshak said:

Even the present Imperial system is just a fraction of the farrago of weights and measures that once existed. Isaac Asimove devoted an essay to this called, IIRC, "Forget it!" He'd obtained a Colonial-era math textbook. A large section in it was devoted to weights and measures. For instance, back then liquid measure went far beyond cup, pint, quart and gallon. There were also measurements such as gills, tuns, puncheons and firkins. Actually, three firkins: "A firkin of ale in London," "A firkin of beer in London," and "A firkin of ale or beer" -- presumably, Asimov speculated, for the less-discriminating provinces. Or, cloth wasn't measured in yards, it was measured in ells -- but you had to specify whether you meant an English ell, a Dutch ell, a Flemish ell... The joke about "getting the ell out of business" was obvious but irresistible.

 

So just remember that things were once much worse.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

I thought firkin is what the kid from Christmas Story said instead of saying the F-dash-dash-dash word.

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