Monday 22 June 2015

Nosh in The Belgian Café, in the clockworks of the bookshop engineering and science.

Here is the sketch from tonight in Ramsgate’s Belgian Café

This is what happens if you sit in low light drawing towards the light reflected off The Royal Victora Pavilion, basically you can’t see what you are trying to draw or what is going onto the paper, if anything useful.

The food was excellent, ham and cheese salad with everything fresh and crispy, steak you didn’t need a steak knife for, came to £22.something or other.

The fish looked good too. But looking at light is a funny old thing.

I bought some clock books for my bookshop in Ramsgate over the weekend, which when added to what we have in stock, means we have a whole shelf of them, something of a record, please look at them carefully if you are considering selling me clock books, as there are clock books and clock books.  

I have been called many things over the years, I don’t mean names here but before I was a shop assistant, engineer, scientist and even occasionally mechanic.

I worked for a while at the optical bench, which did have something to do with the clockmakers bench and the quantum mechanics toolbox.

Back in the early confused period accurate clocks when used with telescopes had as much to do with where you were as when you were.

This is to do with knowing the precise time, which can be determined by observing the rotation of the moons around planets through an optical telescope, this looks the same where ever on earth you are. So a moon that appears on the surface of a planet does so at the same time in Greenwich as in the newly discovered Americas, allowing you to set your clock accurately enough to determine the height of the sun at noon, which after a few sums tells you exactly where the newly discover Americas are.

This playing with clocks and light has lead to all sort of things, because looking at the way light behaves, which is a wavicle that can be waves or particles – depending on how you observe this light – gave us enough understanding of how electricity - could behave to invent the transistors that make your computer compute. 

Back in the swinging 60s bashing away at the optical bench we found that we could produce holograms, which are a sort of three dimensional TV, (oddly enough some peole could see them in colour and some only in monochrome)  there has been a delay in this appearing in your living room, partly because it uses lasers and the spies and the warriors became very interested in lasers and partly because inventions take ages to get into production.

Quite recently some scientists playing with the sound that you can’t hear that comes from the sensors that help park your car, discovered this can be focused into something you can feel, and I guess the chemists will find something in the air that will temporarily solidify, so don’t be surprised if we soon have a holodeck on starship earth.        

But what about these wavicles and why can’t we look at them properly. First we need an orange on the football pitch analogy because they are small and there are lots of them, well the football pitch isn’t big enough for this one.

How far is the furthest star you can see with the naked eyeball? About sixteen thousand light years away (V762 Cas, in Cassiopeia at 16,308 light-years away) and you can still see it if you shut one eye, so different wavicles are arriving at each eye.

As the wavicles are travelling at the speed of light, time, our time and maybe any time, isn’t happening for them, so if you do something to it/them, it was always done for the about sixteen thousand years, since an electron changed its energy level on Cas and made light.

The only thing we know we can do to light is polarise it, so if you were standing on Cas about sixteen thousand light years ago exciting the electrons that were reaching my eyes now, and you had the equipment to see which way the light was polarised, if I kept taking off and putting on polarised sunglasses in morse code, I could communicate with you back through time.  

Anyway we are now entering the age of the quantum computer, which allows for computers circuits to have three states instead of two, 1, 0 and peppermint sorry wosisname, not random but uncertain. 

I think I had better stop this, reality, especially the bit that isn’t experiencing time may be fragile and anyway I have been, wots the word – processing – nah not in a secondhand bookshop wosisnameing Enid Blyton books today.

But seriously looking at something that is baby baby out of time and expecting it to look like something…    

These titles may help 


  1. I used to love Enid Blyton stories fifty odd years ago.

  2. Another thing in a Different time dimension Don, my parents disapproved of Enid Blyton, Beano and the like, although for some inexplicable reason Rupert was OK. My grandfather, a veteran of the trenches and so cunning, used to smuggle them in and we would read them together. I would smuggle one in for you if I knew how.

  3. The 3 state modern ternary computer (0 +1 -1) dates back to 1958 when the first one was made. Called Setun it was built in the Soviet Union at the Moscow State University

  4. Ah that one Dave, when I started using computers in 1968 the rumour was that it was still trying to calculate the square root of its third state, so it could get started on the sums.

    I think the a possibility with quantum computing is that it will be a bit like debating with mother in law, inasmuch as once the state of uncertainty has reached the state of certainty, it will have always been.

    My guess is that a big problem will be associated with coils of fibre optics allowing the computer to talk to itself last Thursday and all the post docs winning the lottery, giving up their disruptive love affairs and going off to lie in the sun drinking beer.


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.