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    Apres un long silence
    By Patrick Lockerby | April 14th 2013 03:12 PM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Patrick

    Retired engineer, 60+ years young. Computer builder and programmer. Linguist specialising in language acquisition and computational linguistics....

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    Apres un long silence

    Apres un long silence, dont je ne chercherai pas a m'excuser,
    j'ai le plaisir de vous communiquer ...

    After a long silence, for which I will not try to apologize,
    I am pleased to inform you ...

    On the Electricity excited by the mere Contact of conducting substances of different kinds. 
    In a letter from Mr. Alexander Volta, F.R.S. Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Pavia, to the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, Bart. K.B. P.R.S.
    Read to the Royal Society June 26, l800

    I have been absent from Science20.com for far too long, due to various reasons.  I shall try now to catch up with all of the various part-written articles I have on my computer.

    My first priority after the current article on ants will be "A letter from Mr. Volta".  As far as I am able to discover, the original paper has never been translated into English in its entirety.  I am trying to remedy that defect.

    A related topic: the invention of the lead-acid cell by Wilhelm Josef Sinsteden is far too often wrongly attributed to the man who - 5 years later - improved Sinsteden's design and made it a thing of greater practical value.  There is a world of difference between being the inventor of a thing and the improver of a thing.  I have observed that in many cases of misinformation or wrong attribution, the cause seems to be the (deliberate or accidental) omission of qualifiers such as adjectives.  An ice age predicted in the 1970s ?  Yes, but the missing qualifier in so many reports of this is: "in some thousands of years time." and/or "ignoring anthropogenic effects".  I hope to write an entire article on this interesting aspect of data transmission failures in human language.

    I have today written about ants, trees and earthquakes.  Enjoy!

    Comments

    rychardemanne
    Hi Patrick, I've been absent far longer than you, and came back about a month ago.

    Did Volta write in French? Not surprising as the posh lingua franca in the pre-Italian peninsula at the time was, indeed, French.

    One erroneous label that irritates me somewhat is the so-called Copernican revolution. Copernicus was a failure, by his own admission too, and stubbornly tried to fit circular orbits into a heliocentric system. The real breakthrough was made by Kepler, who somehow tried to write himself out of history by waving the Copernican flag. Viva Kepler!
    logicman
    Hi Richard.

    Yes, Volta wrote in French.  I was half way through transcribing his letter today when my computer crashed.  Non mea culpa - it was the Blue Screen Of Death.  From a large text file to a zero byte unrecoverable file in less than one minute.  Must upgrade my operating system to Tandy Basic.  :-)
    rychardemanne
    I've been getting those the last couple of days.

    Online advice seems to be (a) my RAM is fried, probably overheating, highly likely as here is edging 40 C highs, or (b) memory allocation problem. I've tried fixing (b) as had too many programs all using their own caching algorithms - no blue screen for 24 hours :-) And yes, it's a Win XP machine; perfectly fine for writing but the poor thing is weighed down by internet bloatwares.
    logicman
    yes, it's a Win XP machine; perfectly fine for writing but the poor thing is weighed down by internet bloatwares.

    Ditto!

    Good news: I recovered the file!  Phew!
    rholley
    Hello, Patrick,

    Great to see you back.

    To our readers elsewhere, we’ve been having some horrible weather here in Britain.  This is the daily maximum plotted from near the end of January to the beginning of April.  The trendline dropped 2.5°C over that period.




    But how the weather has changed over the last few days!  This morning, I heard a bird singing, and it brought to mind the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.  One “smale fowele making melodye!”  (Click here for a Modern English Translation of the poem, on thumbnail for full size version of the text.)


     
     
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    logicman
    Hi Robert.

    It snowed here in Kent on April 4th for the first time that I ever remember.  Previous latest that I remember was April 3rd in about 1954 / 1955.  I remember the date because it happens to be my birthday.

    My memory seems to be confirmed by reports that it was the coldest Spring for 100 years.

    By contrast, the last two days here have been remarkably warm.

    Spring is sprung
      the grass is ris
       I wonder where the birdies is
    They say the bird is on the wing
     but that's absurd
      the wing is on the bird.
    rholley
    Patrick,

    Do you remember the programme “Doris Day — A Sentimental Journey”?  Probably on the Light Programme.

    I received an invitation to a celebratory conference at the famous German Synchrotron:



    And it reminded me of this:

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    logicman
    My favourite Doris Day song:


    .