Appliance of science to stripy bow ties

Share
Related Topics
Ever since Melvyn Bragg started being interested in science and having lots of scientists on his Start the Week show, lots of ordinary people have started being interested in science and asking scientific questions that they have never asked before, such as, "Why are there so many scientists on Start the Week and, statistically speaking, is it against the odds to have so many, especially geneticists, on the programme?"

The trouble is that there is nowhere the ordinary person can turn to in order to get the answer to this sort of scientific question, as you will know if you have ever tried ringing up the Start the Week office, which is why I have today hired Dr Vernon Goldtooth, professor of science and media studies at Milton Keynes University, to answer all your science- oriented queries. Take it away, Vern!

Every spring the earth is laden with blossom from countless cherry trees, not to mention those strange sickly greeny-yellow flowers from the springtime sycamore tree. Every autumn the earth is laden with the falling leaves, whirling down dead and discarded by the first fierce winds of numb-fingered November. What I want to know is: Is the earth heavier in spring and autumn because of all this deposited stuff from trees?

Dr Vernon Goldtooth writes: What a ridiculous question, and may I also advise you to go easy on the assonance? The answer is no. The total weight never changes because a leaf weighs the same whether it is on the tree or on the ground. You might as well say that when people travel to the sun for their holidays, the transference of all these people changes the weight distribution of the planet and makes it heavier in certain places.

Well, does it?

Dr Vernon Goldtooth writes: No, of course it bloody doesn't. The weight of the planet never changes because matter can neither be created nor destroyed.

Who says so?

Dr Vernon Goldtooth writes: I say so. Every reputable scientist says so. Everyone says so.

Go on, then - prove it.

Dr Vernon Goldtooth writes: No, I won't! If a scientists had to prove basic principles every time he had a discussion, we would never get anywhere.

All right, then - if matter cannot be created or destroyed, can ideas be created and destroyed?

Dr Vernon Goldtooth writes: In what way?

Well, in the way that ideas become fashionable for a few years and are then exploded. Are they literally exploded? Are they destroyed? Fashion ideas, for example.

Dr Vernon Goldtooth writes: Ah, no - fashion ideas are never destroyed, they always come back again. However ridiculous they seem at the time, whether flared jeans, black berets, odd-coloured socks, stripy bow ties or T-shirts saying "Che Guevara". They always come round again.

What about ideas discussed on 'The Moral Maze' on Radio 4? Aren't they destroyed during the discussion? Or at least left very badly damaged?

Dr Vernon Goldtooth writes: Ah, but The Moral Maze is not a programme about ideas. It is a soap opera about four or five people who can't stand each other shut up in a room together. The interest lies in seeing who gets on whose nerves. The other day I came home and my wife said: "You should have heard The Moral Maze today - Martin Bell, who was one of the witnesses, rounded furiously on Dr David Starkey, and Starkey hardly spoke again in the rest of the programme!" I asked her what they were arguing about, but she could hardly remember the ideas involved - what had struck her was the personal relationship. You see? We only think it is a discussion programme because it has a name like The Moral Maze. Name-changing changes the nature of the object.

I don't think I quite understand.

Dr Vernon Goldtooth writes: Oh, it happens all the time. Sinn Fein, for example, have always denied any connection with the IRA, which rather strains credulity, so the Ulster Unionists rather wittily have recently taken to referring to Sinn Fein as "Sinn Fein/IRA" as if there were no difference. Similarly, John Prescott has recently started referring to Dr Brian Mawhinney as MISTER Mawhinney, as if Mawhinney were not a real doctor, which indeed he isn't, any more than Mr Ian Paisley is. It may be only a coincidence, but the fortunes of both Sinn Fein and Brian Mawhinney have gone down since then.

Got any questions you would like half-answered? Then send them in to Dr Vernon Goldtooth! And don't forget - Dr Vernon Goldtooth would VERY much like to be invited on to 'Start the Week'.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Personal Finance Editor: Cutting out the middle man could spell disaster for employees and consumers alike

Simon Read
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch  

Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes tell you what to think. Don't let them

Memphis Barker
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week