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Robert H OlleyRSS Feed of this column.

Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

I would describe myself as a Polymer Morphologist. I am not an astronaut,

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Tomorrow is Sunday, and as I prepare to mount my plastic pulpit I will take as my text the introduction to Chapter 5 (Complex Numbers) of A Survey of Modern Algebra by Birkhoff&Mac Lane.  This is a classic and accessible work, first published in 1941, which brought to the American-speaking world what was previously locked up in Van der Waerden’s Moderne Algebra (1931).  The chapter opens with the definition of a complex number and the field C [1], and then continues:

To the historian, English is a fascinating language.  Unlike most of the languages of Europe, it underwent an almost complete makeover following the Norman invasion (1066 and All That).  As a result, although or basic words and grammar are basically like German and especially Dutch, the lion’s share of our vocabulary is from French and Latin.  
Last night, I watched on BBC Television Natural World, 2008-2009 - 14. A Farm for the Future in which

Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.
“As a young boy I was always very curious.

My parents didn't like to leave me at home alone, because they knew I would dismantle the radio. . .”

So begins an interview with

Ghana's rocket man

who is now working at NASA.   It’s short, but very informative: read it here.
I have been working in research for 36 years now.  As the millennium turned, and our department found itself being starved of staff like the Hodja’s Donkey, I found myself being called upon to assume some small teaching roles.  I found two incompatible things: one, that I really enjoy teaching, even more than research; two, that there is so much physics that I never had learned properly.
Recently I read on this site Massimo Pigliucci’s articles on Hard and Soft Science.  As usual, though, I at first sailed over the main theme, and picking up one or two phrases went off on one of my tangents.  The first of these phrases was:
    the long interval on the question of the nature of gravity between Newton and Einstein.
which led me to think that: