H.I. No. 40: The Oval Office of Science

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"The Oval Office of Science"
Hello Internet episode
Episode no.40
Presented by
Original release dateJune 17, 2015 (2015-06-17)
Running time1:33:36
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"H.I. #40: The Oval Office of Science" is the 40th episode of Hello Internet, released on June 17, 2015.[1] The episode additionally has a section that was cut and uploaded to the podcast YouTube channel, entitled A Berg of Great Magnitude.

Official Description[edit | edit source]

A very special episode this week as Brady and Grey go on a field trip to The Royal Society.

Show Notes[edit | edit source]

Fan Art
Hello, Internet. Don't freak out. Yes, I'm talking to you, the listener, right now. Today we're doing something a little different. This is a very special episode of the podcast. Brady set up something cool that we actually recorded in person together and filmed. That's right, there's video. And it's video of objects. And we're going to be talking about those objects during today's show. Now there will be photos and links in the description of today's show. But if you want more, we've actually released this episode as a video at the same time on the Hello Internet YouTube channel. So if you want to watch the video live, you can either search for the Hello Internet channel on YouTube or click the link in the description below. And for those afraid of certain kinds of spoilers, the video is close up shots of our hands mostly, although Brady does get in the way of the camera sometimes. So don't worry, this is primarily a podcast. So if you just want to listen to this episode, you are already doing that, presumably. And so you can just keep listening. Either way, onto this very special episode of Hello Internet. I'm actually looking at your face and we're in the same room and it's completely freaking me out. Yeah, I was going to say, I'm really freaking out because I can literally reach over the microphone and touch your face. Do you know what's strange? While I've been setting up, I haven't actually looked up at you yet. I've just looked at you and I feel really weird. So if it's all right with you, I'm just going to look at my feet the whole time. We have probably spent more hours talking to each other, not looking at each other than an hour's actually looking at each other. That, I mean, that definitely, definitely. Yeah. Anyway, let's explain why we're in the same place because this is a very special episode of Hello Internet. We're doing something completely different and we are sitting in an amazing place. Well, you tell people where we're sitting because I think a suspicion I'm going to be doing a lot of talking today. So I'm going to give you every opportunity I can. We are in the Royal Society building right now. Just outside the window, we're actually sitting in the president's office in the Royal Society and looking out the window is on to the Mal as English people say it or as I would say it, the Mal. And that's not a shopping mall, by the way. Yeah. It's the big street. So down the road from us is Buckingham Palace just slightly up the road is to Fulgar Square. And you may hear a lot of ambient noise because minutes before we started recording, it was the changing of the guard so we could hear all of the horses going down the street just in front of the building. So we are in the president's office in the Royal Society. I think you're down playing this whole president's office thing. This is the oval office of science. Like in terms of ceremonial science jobs, president of the Royal Society here in London, I can't think of a ceremonial science job that is a bigger deal. I can't think of one. Can you think of one? It's not the biggest deal in science. Like winning a Nobel Prize is probably a bigger deal for a scientist. And by the way, the current president of the Royal Society did win a Nobel Prize. It's a duper. Yeah. But like in terms of like, you know, like like posh jobs, I think president of the Royal Society is it and we are in, although it's not oval shaped, I'm calling this the oval office of science and you could almost reach out and touch his equivalent of the resolute desk. We are looking at his desk right now. It does kind of look like the resolute desk. It does a bit. It does a bit. So the current president of the Royal Society is so poll nurse, Nobel Prize winner, Nobel Prize in medicine, big expert on cells and such things, genetics does a lot of cancer research now. He is away today. He's not sitting here watching us. That would make an awkward situation even more awkward. Yes. Yes. So we've been given his office mainly because it's one of the quieter rooms in the building. And we're going to do something very special, very shortly. But first of all, we should do with a couple of little housekeeping matters, I believe. Firstly, because this is a special edition of Hello Internet, we are not going to be doing our usual follow up and banal talking for an hour about what happened in the episode before. No, it will do be in a place like this and then to do. Oh, let's just talk about whatever happened last time for 45 minutes. It would seem almost disrespectful to the office and the room that we are in. And to also aggravate that is that we just put the last episode live last night. So we haven't even had a chance to kind of really go through much of the feedback or anything. So we're skipping our normal follow up, which is probably a good thing. So follow up from episode 39 and this episode, which I think will be episode 40. Might as well. Yeah, we'll take place in episode 41. So for those diehard fans who love listening to us go over everything in minutia, you're going to have to wait. I'm sorry, because we're dealing just with our, just with Royal Society business today. Now I want to talk a bit more about where we are. Let's talk about the presidency of the Royal Society first. Okay. I just want people to understand what a big deal this job is. And I made a couple of notes here of some past presidents of the Royal Society. Let me just hit you with a few names and I want to see if any of these names mean anything to you. This is from the long list of previous presidents. I just been interrupted already and I already feel like, like, like you have prepared for today. I have shown up and I'm feeling massively outgunned right now. You are. You have, you have notes, you have preparations, you have people, you have people helping you today and I just feel like, oh God, I don't know what I'm exactly. You have no idea what's happening. And as you'll find out, that's part of the point where deliberately dropping grey in it today. But let me hit him with a few names and see if this is not test. This feels like a test. None of this will be a test. I feel like it. But I just want to hit you with a few names because I want you to understand the power of the office you're in at the moment. Christopher Ren. Mm-hmm. Ring a bell. Yeah. Architect St. Paul's. Yes. Superstar Architect of London St. Paul's Cathedral, which is that big dome to church you always see when you see the iconic pictures of London. He was a president of the Ross Society. A little guy called Isaac Newton. Hmm. Sounds familiar. It's Ring a Bell. Yeah. Ring a Bell Isaac Newton. Something with apples, maybe. Yeah, yeah. Orchard, orchard. It's always Apple with you. Yeah, I think I know Isaac Newton. You might, I don't know if you know this one but it will mean a lot to our Australian friends and it means a lot to me. The longest serving president of the Ross Society is a guy called Joseph Banks. Does that, would you know that one? You might not. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. I can't say anything about this person. He's a botanist and he was quite a distinguished botanist. He had a lot to do with Australia and he was on our five dollar note for a long time. So he means a lot to me but I'll let you off that one. Thank you. Humpry Davy. Oh, I should know that. This is where it starts to feel like a test. I know this one. Oh, no, no, no. I just want to see if you know the name. It doesn't, it doesn't. I know the name but tell me what's Humpry Davy. I know, we're not going to do that. We're not going to do that. People can look it up. You have it right there. Look at it. No, no, no. Lord Raleigh. Raleigh scattering. Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Pass president. I think it's an email. I always read as Ray Lee. That probably is correct. I'm Australian. My pronunciation of everything is terrible. Erinus Rutherford. Rutherford. Rutherford. Yes. Now the president. Bragg. Flory. Flory I don't know. Flory Penicillin. Again, I'm being biased there because he has an Adelaide connection. That's where I'm from. Flory was involved with Penicillin research. So, wait. You're thinking of Fleming. Yeah, I'm thinking of Fleming a little bit. He gets a lot of credit to you. But because I'm from Adelaide, we'd be up Flory in the past. Also on Australian money. I'm very biased towards people who are here. I'm just saying, can you see already where this is going? Well, when you're young and you want money and you can't have it and your parents like in their wallet and purses have notes which you dream of having like a $50 note or even a $5 note. The people on those notes, the pictures on them, become these iconic people. I'm sure it's for you like presidents on your American money. They're like, so now when I walk around the Royal Society and I see these portraits of these people's faces, I'm like, that's the guy that was on the $50 note. I would have killed for a $50 note back in the day. Anyway. So Fleming though, never a president of the world. No, I do not believe Fleming was. Flory was. I'm saying, so Fleury involved in penicillin and president of the Royal Society and Australian connections. It's like a hat trick. I think I don't know if he won the Nobel Prize. That was a word reference, by the way. It was. Well done. Just wanted to point that out. Well done. I was preparing for that. So having gotten you all excited and talked about these past presidents and we're sitting in the presidential office now comes the slightly disappointing part. Those presidents did not sit in this office. No. They sat in the previous offices in previous buildings because the Royal Society has not been in the building we're in for all that long. We're in a building called Carlton Terrace House. I believe. Carlton House. Yes, Carlton Terrace House. I think it's one of these things. And it's one of these houses, everything in the UK is a house. It's a grand old building. Again, I have a little bit of information. You're prepared. I have a bit of information. When we were in the Fellows room before having a cup of tea before we started, I noticed you ordered a very specific type of tea. What did you order? I ordered Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey tea. Do you know this building used to be the house of Earl Grey? Did it really? Yeah. Earl Grey, the Grey. A Grey even more famous than you. Former Prime Minister of this country, he used to live in this building. Really? Lady Grey. She also has a tea. Really? I didn't know. What's nicer out of Earl Grey and Lady Grey? I've actually never had Lady Grey tea. I just know that it exists. I've never had it. I've never had it. Anyway, so former home of Earl Grey, a number of Prime Ministers have lived in this building in the days of your. It was built on some gardens that used to be owned by someone called Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert of Prince Rupert's Drop Fame, which is a famous science experiment, which you made even more famous by allowing Desmond to perform it in your hand, an exploding piece of glass in your hand. Yes. Yes. That was at the Random Acts of Intelligence Show in Alabama. Much against my better judgment, I did convince Desmond to allow me to do his famous. This glass explodes into a million pieces of experiment with my hand wrapped around it. Did we talk about that last time? I cannot believe you let him do that. Did you know he was going to do that? We discussed it beforehand, the possibility of it. Because you were so sort of safety conscious and I always think of you as quite not a risk taker. Then when Desmond said, I'm going to explode this piece of glass, can I do it in your hand, CGP Grey? You got up and said, yes, I almost fell out of my chair. Let's put it this way. If you had asked me, I would probably have said no. But if Desmond asked me to walk across a pit of fiery coals, I would trust Desmond enough that I would put my safety in his hands. I don't know what to say to that. I'm just telling you. Where I feel like Desmond knows he's only going to be able to ask me for so many favors maybe. So basically, if I want to get you to come on the trip to Everest, I just got to get Desmond to ask you. Desmond asking would make it more likely. But the reason that I'm willing to go along with Desmond's requests is I feel very confident that he knew that was actually a safe thing to do, if you see what I mean. I don't know if Desmond would vouch for the safety of an actual trip to Everest. Do you think I'm not a safe person like I would put you in danger? I don't think you'd intentionally put me in danger, Brady. You think I'd be reckless. I would reckless is such a strong word. But I think the call of adventure is louder in your mind than it is in my mind and you might be more willing to overlook some things. I don't know. I kind of like the sound of that. So I'm going to let you say that. I like that this call of adventure. Yes. That's the way to put it. It ties in with my whole heart of now's image that I'm trying to work on at the moment. With great success at saying, everyone seems to associate that saying with me now, which is quite ridiculous because I'm on beat of a lightweight. Anyway. We are Carlton House. Another one final interesting piece of trivia. This used to be the German Embassy, but before the wars. And it was really interesting. Before World War I, I believe this was the German Embassy, this part of the building we're in here. And obviously when the war kicked off, the Germans were quite politely actually asked to leave. So the building was sort of left empty. But it was still considered German territory during World War I. And the British are so polite and it was so respectful that they actually didn't do anything. And apparently when the Germans came back after the war and came back into the building, all their pipes and cigarettes and ash trays and everything were exactly as they left them. The building was completely untouched through the war, which was really interesting. World War II, just before World War II started, it sort of became the Nazi Embassy. And so obviously that's not so good. Not so good. And so it was after World War II and they didn't come back to this building after World War II and it was appropriated and that's now a government-owned building and whatnot. Anyway, interesting fact. Former German Embassy, former Nazi Embassy, now home of the distinguished Royal Society. And one other little interesting piece of trivia about it is there is actually the former German ambassador had a much loved dog called Giro, I believe, which died. And its gravestone is still here in what were the guards and you can actually go outside later on and see the gravestone of this old German dog. Oh yeah, you'll have to show me. Oh, I will show you. Because you know, I know you like dogs. I don't know if you're that dead dogs, but... You know? Did Giro have a Facebook page and slow motion videos? I don't. It was my dog at WDR, but I don't think the German ambassador was so big on social media, so anyway. Well, it's probably why they lost the war. Oh, that's exhausting. All that trivia, isn't it? It's exhausting being in front of you. I know. I'm not going to lie. This is very strange. You steal a bit freaked out, so I'm hoping you would chill out, so... I'm very relaxed. You're relaxed. I'm not relaxed. Now, I know you are a great lover of London. You often just walk the streets aimlessly. Yes, that's right. Thinking about new ways to get things done no doubt. Is this a part of London that you do much wandering? Are we in familiar territory here for you around this part of London? Yes, I would say not the most familiar area, but more familiar than most. OK. So, rank your most familiar areas. In your peak wandering times, what would you rank as the more familiar areas? The area that I'm most familiar with starts at Trafalgar Square and heads over towards London Bridge Station. That little stretch I'm extremely familiar with. But I would say the second most area is Trafalgar Square and then working backwards through Green Park, which is what we're against right now, and then up into Hyde Park as well. So that's an area that I'm really familiar with. So, maybe second if I have to rank it. OK, well, that's up there. And I know that you used to take photos of parts of London in another life. Like it. It became a bit of an obsession of yours. Did you ever photograph this building or anything around here? Or it's quite a famous old building. It's got a Wikipedia page. It does have a Wikipedia page. So, would this, but you never snapped this one in your days? I don't think that I did because this is slightly off the main road. Yeah. It's just a little bit back. So, I'm not sure that I ever did, but I have to go back through on my flicker photos back when I had time to actually have hobbies and things. It's served. It's served no purpose really. Like, oh, I just wander around and take pictures because I have spare time. It's part of who you are. To me, I think that probably fed in quite a lot to what you became. You know, you sort of see that obsession with London and places and that. I think, I don't think you should feel bad about that era. No, I don't feel bad about it. I just think it's funny. I probably wouldn't. I always toy with the notion of getting back into photography, but I don't think it's ever. It's not a real possibility. I'd have to look back through my old flicker photographs and see if I ever did. Take a picture of this place. Okay. All right. Maybe we should come onto the point of today. Right. The reason we're here. The reason we're here. The reason, as I said, the reason we're in the president's office has nothing to do with the presidency. It's just because it was one of the quieter rooms in the building and he happens to be out today. Right. But you know I have bit of an obsession with old objects. Indeed you do. And I like a bit of science. So what's happened is with a bit of help from my friends here, particularly a gentleman named Keith Moore who I may mention again because Keith is the head librarian here and is a fountain of knowledge. Sorry, a fountain of knowledge. I should say people tell me off of a fountain of knowledge. He's a fountain of knowledge. Very helpful. He has conspired with me to dig out some items of interest from the archives. There's an incredible archive here at the Royal Society. And I have dug out a number of items which I want to show to you. I just want to charm to you. All right. I don't know how you're going to feel about this because you famously are not a big fan of objects and stuff. But you like a bit of history. I feel like you always misinterpret this. Go on, go on. Go again. I always have to do this disclaimer. I don't necessarily want objects in my house. I am happy that objects exist in the world. I am very happy that a place like this exists and that it archives all of the history of science that it has all of these things. I really love that these places exist. I'm not hearing what word you say. All I'm thinking is this guy hates objects. I know. I know that's all you're here. I might as well be one of the parents in Charlie Brown right now. Every time I try to explain this, it's just waltz waltz waltz. You just hear nothing. You just hear nothing. So one by one, I am going to reveal objects to you. Now, we are recording podcasts. Podcasts do not lend themselves very well to visuals. I feel that we have a history though of doing subjects that are terrible in audio form of this issue, but plowing forward anyway. We do. So for those of you listening, we will do our best to really vividly describe what we're looking at without incredible mastery of the English language that we have exhibited over the last year or so. We are trying something else. Hopefully this will have worked, but what's going to happen is you can look at pictures of these items as well through the show notes. But possibly, and if you're not hearing me say this, we didn't do it. Right. But if you are hearing me say this, we did do it. We are running a video camera on the table and we are going to put the items on the table and try and sync up the video somehow with the podcast. So you can look at these things as we look at them. So I don't know. People can go to our YouTube channel. There will be links and stuff and you can figure it out. You're a bright people. You can figure it out. So if you are hearing this. I like the way you say there are bright people they can figure it out when we clearly haven't figured it out. We're not quite so bright. But you can go to the YouTube channel and kind of for once we're going to put this podcast up on YouTube at the same time as the podcast goes on iTunes. We don't normally do that. Normally, it's a month or two behind. But you can watch this podcast now and look at these items with us. But you don't need to, if you're on a plane, Tim, you can, you will not need to see these items. We are going to describe them. Or if you're performing surgery right now. You don't need the nurse to bring in a monitor so that you can keep one eye on the video. Exactly. This will be an audio first experience. Yeah. We're going to paint a picture. And our words are worth a thousand pictures. So let's do this. I have some items. I haven't actually planned what order I'm going to show you them to you in. So I'm just going to make it up in my head now. I'm going to start with a bang. Okay. I know you've got to sort of save the best for last. But you're not going to do that. Well, I've got what I'm most looking forward to showing you. And I will save that for last. Okay. Because I'm really excited about this one. Okay. But I'm going to start with a bang as well and a real showstopper. I'm also starting with a bit of a banker though because, Greg, you have been to the Royal Society before with me. Have you talked about other podcasts while back? Yes. Yes. And we talked about this. We talked about this. The archives. You normally are pretty low-key. You're not a guy who likes being photographed from my experience. And when you saw this item, you insisted on getting to touch it. And you asked me to take a photograph of you holding this item. So this is clearly an item that means something to you. And we've got it now. So I'm going to go and get it. And I'm going to put it on the table. And I'm going to reset the camera so the people watching can see it. And then we're going to talk about this item. So let me go and get it. Brady's walking away. He's making exaggerated comical walking gestures. That's what Brady's doing. In the meantime though, I'm very thirsty. I'm going to grab a quick drink of water. But the pro tip here is that if you have valuable items, you don't keep water in any place they could ever spill on them. So we have water physically separated from all of the objects we have today. So I'm going to go get my water. I have placed this item in front of you. Yes. Tell everyone what you say. Talk us through it, what the colors, what it's on, what it looks like. Pinter picture with your famous syrupy voice. No pressure here. First you have an excellent book stand here. I remember when we walked in the room, you were more impressed by this book stand. We're in a room full of paintings. And I remember when we walked in and you went, oh, I love that book stand. You never know what catches the eye. Yes, we have a book stand which is one of those kind of fancy ones where you can have a book open to two pages at once. It's a kind of thing that's in a museum where the book is tilted forward so that onlookers can gaze upon the magnificence of the book. And on this book stand, we have a very old looking tan book. I guess you've Brady's touching it right now. You're allowed to touch it. We're allowed to touch it. And we've been instructed to touch it without gloves. Yes. This is deliberate. So anyone who thinks there's an item later on for which we will wear gloves. Oh. Yeah, but for this item, we have told no gloves is better because we're going to leaf through the pages. And if you try and leaf through pages wearing gloves, it increases the likelihood that you would do something clumsy and rip a page. So the archivists prefer you not to wear gloves when dealing with an item like this. So you are free to touch it, but continue describing it. So looking on the side, it is the manuscript of Newton's Principia Mathematica. This is like the book of physics in my mind. This is like, this is the Bible. Yeah, I think that is not a bad way to describe it because this book is the place where at least in my mind, I've never actually read the book. I have to do a confession here. We're not going to assign to Principia's homework or anything. This is you're getting things done. It's actually not very interesting to read directly. We're waiting for the ODE book. I hope they can get the author. But yeah, so the Principia is the place where I would describe it as physics kind of became like a real grown-up science because it's the place where instead of just describing like we are now with words, the physical world. Let's describe all of these things. If we roll a boulder down a hill, the boulder gets faster as it goes on. This is the kind of state of science before this, which is good. It's better than nothing. But the Principia is the place where Isaac Newton brought the power of mathematics to bear upon lots of problems with motion in particular in the physical world. And it is where the calculus was, I mean, someone else co-invented it at the same time. This is the way ideas work. But Isaac Newton also independently came up with calculus and applied it to the science of how objects move. If you learn physics today, the subject of kinematics is where you tend to start. That's where real physics begins. You learn the physics students out there. We'll know very well. So, you're analyzing the kinematic equations, the five of them, and having it to isolate one of the variables. All of that kind of stuff falls out of the Principia and that is where physics really starts in my mind. Indeed. You have summed it up beautifully. This is no ordinary Principia though. Let me tell you about this one. So this is the manuscript. So it's handwritten. Isaac Newton's manuscript, handwritten. This is kind of like the final draft before it was printed. This is the one that was sent to the printers and the compositors for them to then make sort of a type set proper printed copy. So I'm going to open up a few pages here. Here we go. Oh man. So, as you can see, all these pages, we're looking at a handwritten. Now these weren't handwritten by Isaac Newton himself because apparently Isaac Newton had pretty shorty handwriting and he had an assistant called Humphrey Newton. He's ambiguous as to whether or not he's a relation on that. No one seems to really be sure as far as I can tell. But Humphrey Newton wrote this for Sir Isaac Newton and he has much better handwriting than Sir Isaac. But apparently Isaac Newton was always a bit pissed off about Humphrey Newton because apparently he didn't know much about physics on mathematics. So he had no idea what he was writing about. And I imagine that would lend itself to mistakes. So we're looking here at this final copy. But the thing that's really special about this is because this is like the final draft, you'll see along the way here in the margins, handwritten notes, things that are underlined, occasionally you'll see things that have been crossed out, little notes here and there. You'll also see thumb prints. These inky thumb prints are probably from the compositors who are working in the printing press, putting it together. You still see all these messy thumb prints everywhere. But the handwritten notes and the corrections are by the hand of two people. One of them is Sir Edmund Halley of Halley's comic fame, who was the man who was really instrumental in convincing Isaac Newton that man, you need to get this thing published. So and he was a good friend of Newton. So Halley's made a few little comments and corrections. But the other notes are by Sir Isaac Newton himself. So Sir Isaac Newton himself has written notes all over this document. Look at that. There's some spilled ink. There's like ink blots on the pages. And this is like, it's so old and musty. It seems so alive to me in many ways. Do you like it? Oh, of course. I mean, this is, it is interesting to be close to an object that, and historical person has handled. And for me, turn a few pages. Yes. For me, I have this particular feeling about history that I'm not always so interested in the kings and the queens and the particular, that's great. There's fingerprints everywhere. From the printer, you get the feeling of this guy in a workshop somewhere. And with it, like an apron constantly rubbing his hands on his apron. Oh, God, we got to change this and got to change that. What is this rubbish? Yeah, exactly. I don't understand a word of this rubbish. It's like getting things done. For me, I think people like Isaac Newton and other scientists are the truly important figures in history. Because they are the ones who advance civilization forward. Without the progress of science, you would just always have different kings battling over territory in the mud forever using rocks and sticks or whatever, right? But when you have, when you have things like calculus, when you have advancements made, that's how things get better. That's how things improve. And so I look at a lot of what people tend to focus on as history, as like minor details that fall out of scientific and technological progress. So that's why this to me is an amazing document to actually be able to touch with my hands like I'm doing right now because Isaac Newton touched it at one point. So that does, that does, look at this. There's like bits being crossed out and words rewritten and things like that all the way through. I'm looking for one thing in particular, but I don't know if I'm going to find it. Yeah, it's a big book. It is quite a big book. It's volume one of three. Yeah. The thing I don't quite understand though. Well, I do understand because you just said so. But like, Principia exists. You can go online and read it and the polished final version with all the corrections and without the mistakes and without the thumb prints exists. And for you, I would have thought maybe that's all that matters. As long as the knowledge is transferred down the generations and we know what he wrote and what he said and how it's been built on, why the thumb prints and the the muckiness appeals to you is not aside of your personality. I hear you talk about much that kind of dirty behind the scenes way that it was made. I always think of you more as a come back and show me when you finish your book. I don't want to see how you made the sausage. I just want to eat the sausage. So. Well, civilization depends on the knowledge being transferred. Yeah. If I had to pick, do we get to keep the original book or have the knowledge be transferred? Oh, wow. Yeah, there we go. Yeah, look at this. So all the right hand facing pages have sort of the manuscript on there with little notes next to it. But occasionally on these left hand pages that have been left blank, you sometimes see like a bit of working out or a note and we've just turned to one page, which has just got a whole bunch of equations on it. Little sums that are being done and actual mathematics by these people. Yeah, I mean, this looks like the kinematics equations are some early variant of them. Like this is, yeah, this looks like a gravitational force calculation. Ah, this is interesting to see. It's very interesting to see. It's pretty exciting. It's pretty exciting to me. It's so all that the ink is flaking off almost in some of these additions that have been made. It's such an honour to be allowed to look at this and be left alone with it. Here we go. This is what I want to define. Oh, there you go. Perfect. So I'm going to turn the book around here so that those who are looking at the camera can see it. This is the handwriting of Isaac Newton. There's Keith who is very familiar with Newton's handwriting. And basically he's written there, James II by the grace of God, King of, so he's writing some sort of crawly, brown nosy thing about the king there, obviously. Right. And he's like, he's drafting what he wants to write. And he's just stopped me way through. Like he stopped writing. But let's Isaac Newton's handwriting, you know, making another note on the side. They're writing about the king. So you always have to get politicking and brown nosing done no matter what time it is. Exactly. So there we go. We could look at this. I mean, I could look at this all day. We won't read any of it, too, because I believe it's probably written in Latin. I haven't even looked. Yeah, I can't read any of that. I was trying to see. I mean, there's a few things that pop out, like I can see the words angular momentum, even if we could read it. It's going to be very hard to understand or follow. These old documents, even when they are written in English, handwritten. I'm rubbish at reading them. I really am. Anyway. That's just because, again, because of certain kinds of people, the language changes over time. But also, it's more the handwriting. Like, once I sort of see through the handwriting, this isn't a good example because in Latin, but once I see through the handwriting of these old documents here at the Royal Society, I find the language quite. I can understand the language. I just can't see through the handwriting. I think I'm bad at reading handwriting anyway, but. Do you ever write in cursive scripts? No. Do you know I write in all capital letters? I write natural handwriting. Yeah, I'll show you. That's how I write. All capital letters. Yeah. Just all the time. Do you know how to write lowercase letters? Did you ever learn? Yes, but I stopped when I was in about year five at school. If you see my writing in normal, not capitalized letters, it looks like a year five student writing. It's like my handwriting's frozen in time. If I try to write cursive or just normal writing, it looks like a little kid. There's my adult writing, my whole capital. It's unusual, but it looks like an adult writer. It's all caps. Do you hold the pen just with a fist? Yeah. Just, that's how. The claw. Right. Good. Anyway, there we go. Prinkipia. Have I started well? Have I started with a bank? It's quite an object to start with. The thing that I always think about with Prinkipia, it's kind of an amazing when you deal in the world of physics and mathematics, is just how long lasting it is. It's this calculus and these equations that were used in no small part to put a man on the moon, which now connects to your favorite passion. I always find that remarkable that you think, oh, someone did work a couple hundred years ago. It's true, and it is useful. You can use it a couple hundred years later to accomplish something. It's just very impressive. Let's put that one away then, eh? We've managed to look it up without ripping it or breaking it. As we haven't broken anything yet. That is a good start. I'm going to take this away. I'm going to walk across the room, put this back in a safe place, and I'm going to get you another object. OK. The Royal Society is all about preserving forever things that are important. They have seemingly endless collections of important historical documents and paintings and tools and letters. It's a literally invaluable collection. But as we all know, physical things will decay over time. But digital lasts forever. If you back it up, and that's what today's sponsor of this very special episode of Hello Internet, Backblaze, is for. I backup stuff you might be thinking to yourself right now. I made a copy of some of my important files on a USB key, so I'm totally covered, right? 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This really is possibly one of the only services I can say that every single person who's listening to this podcast needs to get because having online backup is almost like going to the doctor. Everybody thinks, oh, I don't need to go to the doctor. I don't need an annual checkup, but everybody does. And everybody thinks, oh, I won't run into any problem with my digital files, but everybody does. And Backblaze solves that for you. They solve it for you for just $5 a month for unlimited, unlimited, unthrottled backup. How can you say no to that? I don't think you can. This very instant, go to Backblaze.com, slash Hello Internet and sign up. Of course, when you go to that URL, you're letting Backblaze know that you have enjoyed this very special episode of Hello Internet that they have brought to you with their support, but you're also doing it for you, for you and all of the files that you have on your computer. Please do this. These guys are the experts. They have an enormous amount of data backed up in their system. They've restored 10 billion files for their customers. 10 billion problems averted. That's what these guys do. I don't even know what to say anymore. Except Backblaze.com slash Hello Internet. Do it right now. What is this? You're bringing over a whole platter. My very first thought, which is embarrassing, is, oh, it looks just like this. I'm going to take the maps and the Lord of the Rings. It does. So the map is a secondary item here. Basically, when I was talking with Keith, I wanted to find things that I thought would appeal to you. So I had them on the case of flags. Now we didn't have as much luck as I hoped with flags, but we have got a flag here. This is actually a flag that's been featured on Objectivity, which is a channel I do all about objects here at the Ross Saudi. So some people may be familiar with this, not that many, unfortunately, but some people. So this is a flag. Here we go. I'm going to unfurl it for you. And as you can see, it's been through some challenges. There's a flag. There's not a whole lot of it left. This is a flag that will be familiar to you. It is the Union Jack. It is the Union Jack. You're saying Union Jack, you're just inviting controversy. I am not. All right. It's the Union Jack or the Union flag or whatever you want to call it, but it has really been ripped to shreds. This is Union Jack right there on the label itself. It's got its own tag here. In fact, you can read the tag to everyone. I guess this tag says Union Jack flown on tower at Penguin Leap, Halley Bay, raised by advanced party in 1956, taken down 3rd September 1957. So look at that. We've got a flag and penguins in the one thing. Wow. This is a Halley Internet perfect storm. So as Great has told you, this was a Union Jack that was swarming. It was flown in Antarctica. Okay. So it's what, yeah, Halley Bay is in Antarctica. It is. The Ross Society sent a science expedition down. This flag flew above the base there for, well, we see there. What's that? We don't know exactly. About a year. A year and a half, yeah. So this gray gives you an idea what happens to a flag after exactly a year flapping in the Antarctic wind. And it looks like a well-made flag. You know, it's well stitched and it's like it's a real, it's a good flag, but it has really just, it's just been taken to town by the wind. So is it happens to flags? If you're looking at the flag, the masked side, I'm probably going to forget all my property flags terminology here, but the side that would be against the mask is mostly okay. But then as you go toward the side that flaps in the wind, it's just gotten torn to shreds and I forget exactly what it is, but I believe it's now off the top of my head, so it may be wrong. I believe that that snapping sound from flags is partly a result of that under the right wind circumstances. It's actually breaking the speed of sound, that it's cracking in the air. Like a whip. Yeah, and that's why it gets so afraid at the end is that you don't tell you, you think, oh, there's flag, it's just up there in the wind, but it's actually under a lot of stress and strain at the very edge. So that's why flags kind of looking pretty rough. And I imagine Antarctica has some pretty strong winds. So there's the flag and you mentioned this Lord of the Rings map, which is underneath. So I'm going to move this tattered, but special flag out the way. And basically this is just a map showing you where this expedition took place and where the flag flew. As Gray said, this map doesn't look, it looks just like the Lord of the Rings maps, doesn't that? The raiding on it could not be more Lord of the Rings. And a nice little touch on the map is someone's drawn like a little whale in the sea with like water coming out of its blowhole and they've written next to it whale blowing October 31, 1956. So obviously saw a whale blowing one day and decided that was worthy of going on the map. Although I don't imagine that's a particularly permanent fixture. No, but you have all of the space, which is just going to be the water. So you might as well fill it with things that you've seen. And I do like that they have done an adorable little, like a child would draw the water coming out of the top of the whale kind of going up in a straight line and then going over the sides. But there are a few other touches on the map that do give it that Lord of the Rings feel like they're talking about distant cliffs and things like that. So we'll take I'll take some extra pictures of this map and put it in the show notes so people can really absorb it the way we're absorbing it. Yeah, this is a big one. You have a whole portfolio. It looks like you're carrying over. It's a big book. A book. I mean, it's as big as your torso. It book is. It is a. It's huge. It's not. It's only just going to fit on the table. So great. When I was preparing for today, I really wanted to make it more about you than you. It's not just me. So I was sort of saying to Keith, let's find things that will be of interest to grow in. I was thinking of, you know, your little Picadillos and interests. Anyway, we walked past this book and I had a name on the side which said Matthew Flinders, which is a name that will mean nothing to you. It means nothing to you. But for an Australian and particularly a South Australian. Here we go. Here's this thing. For a South Australian, it is a big deal. Almost everything in Australia and particularly South Australia is named after Flinders because he was an explorer who discovered a lot of that part of Australia or, you know, did a lot of the early. He discovered it in the white man sense of the word and I will not even get into debates about who found what first. But Flinders did a lot of the mapping of Australia. So I said, can I have a quick look at that book just for personal interest? It's a massive book. Keith got it out. He opened up to a particular page and by luck, he opened up to the page that I've opened up to here, right? And I looked at him. And I've never, I cannot tell you the emotions this made me feel. This scent chews down my spine and I've, the excitement I felt was something quite extraordinary and I still feel it now to look at this. Now again, this won't mean a tremendous amount to you. I'm just looking at this and I can't even tell where is the water. So the water is here. The water is your side and this is the land. This is the bottom of Australia. This is South Australia where I'm from. And here where my finger is is where Adelaide, the city I'm from, is now located. But this is the first time anyone had ever gone there. Whole parts of the coast, for example, this is a famous island here called Kangaroo Island. This island hasn't even been fully mapped. It's like those maps that have got pieces missing where they assume land will be. This is like my home being discovered for the first time and nothing, nothing's there. And he's come and he's sailed along these waters in this land. And he's, he's writing down what he's saying for the first time. On this peninsula here where there is now the huge city of Adelaide, there's just nothing. There's nothing there. And he's sailing along and he's writing notes about the things that he's seeing like, oh, I saw a fire here. Obviously, you know, some of the natives, the aborigines were lighting fires because this is the Ghana plane where the Ghana people, aboriginal people lived. And I'm seeing smoke here. I saw much smoke here. And most exciting of all, overlooking the city of Adelaide is a, you could call it a mountain maybe. It's a very large hill. It's a mountain. It's called Mount Lofty. On top of the other television towers that are broadcast into Adelaide and you go up there, there's a restaurant up there. It's a scenic place to go. It's like an iconic pie of Adelaide. And here, he's seen it for the first time and given the name Mount Lofty, like on his, on his first map, because it's the tallest map, the tallest mountain, I'll call that Mount Lofty. So here, like, this is like, this is the discovery of my home. I cannot tell you how much it excites me to look at this. And then I did say this has to be on the podcast tomorrow. Grey's going to have nothing to say. Grey's going to have nothing to say about it. But it just, it actually makes me really emotional. It's amazing. So tell me, why does it make you really emotional? I can't explain it. I'm looking at you right now and I can tell that you are genuinely emotional. I can't explain it. I mean, Australia hasn't even, it's still, on the map, it says terror, Australia isn't even name-jump. It's still just the southern land. This map has become like the back of my hand. Like if there's any map I know, it's South Australia, my home state and the cities and the towns and all these familiar things. And here it is still being half drawn for the first time. Like it's not even, they don't even know what's there yet. It's like, it's amazing to me. I wish you were from Adelaide right now. Because if it was someone else from Adelaide, we would just be here like salivating all over this and getting thinking how amazing it is. Well, that's why I wish, this is where I always wish I was a better interviewer because I would love to be able to have you articulate why you heal this way. I can't, you ask, there's nothing wrong with what you ask. You just said, you ask the perfect question, what do you feel? Why do you feel that? There's just no words for it. I don't know. I'm trying to think of the nearest thing to it is occasionally when I see a photo of my wife when she was like a little baby or a little girl. And whenever I see that, I also feel the same way. It's like, oh, wow, you know, you existed before me. You had this whole thing, you were once just a little, you were once a baby and now you're this important part of my life. And I never knew you as a baby. And this is kind of, this is like seeing where I'm from as a baby. This is seeing where I'm from, in the womb almost. It's like, wow, it's not even, it's not even match it. There's nothing there. This part of the map on the peninsula here between the mountain range, sorry podcast listen, there's like a mountain range and there's a thin plain of land and then there's the sea, all the beaches of Adelaide. This is just a huge city now. And here Matthew Flinders is sailing up into this Gulf of St Vincent. And there's nothing, there's nothing there. He's like, oh, there's a mountain and there's trees and all look, I think I see some smoke over there from probably the natives, lighting a fire. That's all there is. And now that's my home. But one day this will be home to the mighty Black Stump. And the one here is the mighty Black Stump, which is about there where my finger is. It's where the Black Stump is. You can see the kind of, I don't know what to call it in art language, but the kind of etching almost or the very fine lines that are making up all the details of the mountains is just, you know, it's just the amount of human labor and effort that used to have to go into producing things like this. And I think modern people can't understand that amount of time and effort. And that's why in movies that have vaguely medieval settings, people are always really careless with the old maps. Right? They're like, oh, setting them on fire, right? They're just slamming a knife through the middle of them. They're like, no, it took a team of monks on for years. You know, just to produce that map. It's like so many man hours. We don't just have a stack of them to pass out to the troops, but sometimes you'll see that in a movie. They're like, oh, hand in out maps to everybody. It's like, where'd you get all those maps? You have the riches to buy 20 maps. You know, why are you even, why are you even waging this war? The riches to buy 20 maps. I'll tell you a good story about this passage of water here. This is the boy. Yeah. This is called the backstairs packet. The backstairs passage, which sounds kind of rude. That's because it sounds extremely rude, right? It does, but anyway. But backstairs passages, you know, it's the servances, and that's what they're using. Explaining never makes a rude thing sound less rude. No, it doesn't. No, yeah, that's what the servants use. That sounds like the worst. So anyway, this waterway between the city of Adelaide and this island called Kangra Island, which is a tourist destination, many years back when I was still working Adelaide. A southern right whale died, and sometimes when a whale dies, it floats to the surface. And there was this whale floating there in this passage that ferries used to get tourists across to the island. So people will get a know about this because they've got boats and you don't want to crash into a whale. But the other thing that often happens when you get these dead whales floating in the water is great white sharks, which inhabit these waters. This is brilliant. This is like an all you can eat buffet. So what happens is you'll get 10, 15 great white sharks, basically just camp there for a week, and they'll just sit there, gnawing on this whale, like a dog gnawing on a bone. These massive great white sharks all around in a circle, like spokes on a wheel. So this just attached and chomping away and sleeping and then jumping. Pretty much, pretty much like like leeches or something to sit there. And it's extraordinary sight. It's not that common to happen in such a well populated area. So it became a real tourist thing and tourist boats were going out there to go and see the great white sharks, not the dead whale that's disgusting, but everyone wants to see a great white shark. So seeing a dozen of them in one place. So people started flying in from all around the world to come and be taken out in boats into the backstair's passage to go and watch the great white shark and helicopters were going up. But it started getting crazy. And one guy who was the craziest of all, he became like known as a national idiot for this. He was watching it on a boat next to the whale and he got a bit excited and stupid. And he jumped off his boat onto the whale and like stood on the whale, which is like an upturn boat in itself standing on this big fleshy whale, surrounded by great white sharks. National idiot. No, it gets better. He did it holding a young child, like a baby. He was holding a baby, jumped off his boat onto a wobbly floating whale, being eaten by sharks, because he just saw it would be caught and was filmed by everyone and photographed and he became a real pariah. But I always look for video footage and photos of it, but it was so long ago that you can't find it on YouTube or the internet. So it's kind of burned in my memory. If I actually see it, I'll probably be really disappointed, but it was such an extraordinary thing. If anyone's got footage of it, tweet grey. No. No one's going to have footage of that. There we go. Let's put this map away. This very special episode of Hello Internet is brought to you by igloo, an internet you will actually like. That's an intranet, not an internet. If you don't like the internet, well, there's not really much you can do except get off of it. But if you don't like your intranet, the thing that your company uses to let you access all of the files at work, you can fix that. igloo lets your company share news, organize your files, coordinate calendars, and manage projects all in one place. And igloo's latest upgrade, Viking, revolves around documents and how you interact with them, gather feedback, and make changes. They've even added the ability to track who has critical information and keep everyone on the same page. It's like read receipts in your email, but less annoying to help you track who's read what and who's acknowledged what. What agreements have been signed off on and confirmed? And who's seen the vital and important update to a document that you've just made? This kind of thing is almost impossible on most companies' intranets. I certainly know when I worked at the various schools that I did, all of their intranets were piles of dogmas. Is the best way to put it. Just endless folders of word documents with folders and word documents and no kind of structure. This idea who's looked at what, no idea who's in charge of what or who's working on what, had I known about igloo I would have begged the IT departments at my various schools to switch over to this. If you're listening to me and you're one of those IT departments in a company somewhere, just go to igloosoftware.com slash hello so they know you came from us and rest your eyes on the much better looking intranet that you have the power to bring to your company. And then look back at the horrible intranet that you are using that looks like it was built in the 1990s and give igloo a try instead. You can sign up for a free trial at igloosoftware.com slash hello. Once again, that's igloosoftware.com slash hello or click the link in the show notes to give igloo a try. Once again, we would like to thank igloo software for their support of this very special episode of Hello Internet. It's glove time. Oh glove time, okay. Yeah, we're going to put on the gloves. Oh, these are the objectivity gloves. These aren't the objectivity gloves. Oh, they're a special set that's sitting my camera bag, but these are similar to them. Now why do we have to wear gloves for this one? Because it's time for Apple Watch Corner. We love talking watches. You love your Apple Watch. I love my speed master, which I'm not wearing at the moment actually because I didn't want to tap it on the table because that's over in my bag. I should have taken my watch off. No, no. I'm busy tapping on the table and making all kinds of fidget noises that Brady keeps giving me silent hand gestures to stop. I know, it's my turn to tell you off. Yeah. So that's time for our watch. In front of us is a box. I'm opening the box and I'm taking out a small golden pocket watch. Oh, wow. I'll hand this to you. You can have a look. Here we go. Ooh, that is solid item. You like it? Yeah. What do you think about pocket watches? They're nice objects, aren't they? Yeah. I'm just looking at it. I'm just looking at the design of the watch face. The whole thing is very, very gold. And as the Roman numerals going around the edges for each of the hours, the hands are gold. There's a kind of gold spiral pattern in the center of it. Around the edges there's lots of gold detailing. I do like it. If I was getting a pocket watch, so I want a little bit more contrast between the hands and the background as I've ever wanted. I would want a higher contrast for glancing at it quickly. Presumably while I'm trying to catch a train in the 1800s or something, I don't know if that's what I'm using this watch for. A bit earlier, maybe. A bit earlier. What would you think if I told you you were holding Isaac Newton's watch? No. Would you be impressed? I would be quite impressed. There is a famous painting of Isaac Newton. Is it really Isaac Newton's pocket watch? I'll show you. So here's the painting. Wow. Here's the painting. Pointing at a gold pocket watch on the table. And then the Isaac Newton's pocket watch was donated to the Royal Society. So Isaac Newton's pocket watch. Lovely. Impressed? I am very impressed. What I'm wondering is how accurate a pocket watch from that time would be. Here's a better question, Gray. How accurate is the claim that it's Isaac Newton's pocket watch? Well, this is always the thing with historical objects. Let us investigate further. I've given special permission to take off one glove to handle the watch. Oh, wow. We're going to open up the watch. OK. I need a finger to get... Here we go. I've opened up the gold case that it is in. Oh, OK. That's interesting. The thing that I was thinking was the whole pocket watch. It has a case around the outside of it. And inside of it is actually a much smaller object. That is the actual pocket watch. So now I've taken the smaller watch out. And I'm turning it around. And we have an engraving on the back. Mrs. Cath Condjert, who was a relative in care of Isaac Newton, to Sir Isaac Newton, January 4, 1708. So this is seeming quite promising. The engraving seems to be interesting. Yeah. It's a relative and close friend of Newton, giving something to Newton on a date when he was still well and truly alive. There is a problem with this, though. And there is a hallmark from the watchmaker on here, which all gold and jewelry has. Do you mean like the tradesmen mark? Yeah, the tradesmen stamp a hallmark into any jewelry. So any piece of silver or gold usually will have a hallmark stamped into it. And when you check the hallmark on this watch and investigate other things like when that face was manufactured, which people in the know can do, it turns out this watch was manufactured after Sir Isaac Newton died. So pretty much, this is a fake. So it's a fake. This is bogus. If it's fake, why are we being so careful with the gloves? Well, it's still really old. And it's still really, really valuable. It's still a gold watch from the 1700s. So people would pay a lot of money for it. So let me put this down. Ah, but it's not Isaac Newton's. But it's not. But in some ways, in some ways, the fact that it has gone all these years purporting to be Isaac Newton's and is not is part of the fun of it as well. Sometimes, sometimes these hoax objects like the Hitler diaries and things like that. In themselves, take on a story and a personality of their own. I feel that way a little bit about this watch. It would be better if it was Isaac Newton's watch. But the fact that it kind of got, it was donated to the Royal Society as he's watching. This is, and it was kind of promoted as this and treated like this and treated with all this reverence. And then people start investigating. And I have a paper that was written here. And the title of the paper is a bogus Newtonian curiosity at the Royal Society. And when was this written? This was written in 2001. OK. I'm going to leave. He writes a big long paper. I'm not going to go into all the detail. But he investigated all the things like the hallmarks, the inner case, which is the watch part itself is hallmarked 1729. Newton died in 1727. So it was the watch was made at least two years after Newton died. Later on, they thought possibly it was made even later. And then all sorts of other issues come into play as well, including the change between calendars. Really throws it to the table. Oh, yes. And some of the things to do with changing between calendars, Gregorian and the like, make them think that maybe this watch is even newer. Is even newer? Is even newer than claimed. Perhaps the sort of the 1750s, 1740s. So presumably someone was trying to cash in on Isaac Newton at the time. It seems like that. I mean, it seems like someone has put that engraving on. Well, obviously, someone has put that engraving on saying this was given to Isaac Newton, et cetera, et cetera. And Newton was long dead. Right. So that's a bit naughty. It is naughty, Brady. But sometimes people will do things for money that are naughty. Are you about to admit something? I'm just saying. I'm just saying. You're looking at me with these innocent eyes of like, oh, I can't believe someone would have fake a watch. Someone would fake a historical object. Oh, my. Is it? Well, yes. Sometimes these things happen. I thought though, this would quite appeal to you. Because here's me saying old objects are brilliant. We should all bathe in the glory of old objects. And this is an opportunity for you to say the older something is, the more chance of things like this happening, fakery, things being duped, things are less reliable, the older they get. I mean, this is a valuable lesson. And not a lesson the Ross Society needs to learn. I mean, they've got experts that spend all their time writing papers about these things. Yeah, of course. This is an entire field of trying to determine the authenticity of old objects. And trying to remember, I may have this book wrong, but I remember reading a book a while back. I think it was called The Man in the High Tower. In there, one of the characters discusses that he has like a cigarette lighter that prevented through just accident, like the assassination of a historical president. And he has this little cigarette lighter. And he goes, oh, I know that it's real because I have like the letter of authenticity that goes along with it. And then he pulls out an identical cigarette lighter made at the same time at the same year and he says, what is the difference between these two objects that one has the letter of authenticity with it and one doesn't? But I can just switch these two when you're not looking. And then do you know which one is which? I think the whole notion of trying to keep track of particular objects is a surprisingly difficult one. And in many ways, I think it's reasons why places like museums exist is you try to collect things at the time and keep them under your control and keep passing them on because otherwise when things turn up, it's very hard to know. Is this a real claim or is it not a real claim? However you like to pronounce that there's one thing we can agree on surely. Hover is a great service for registering domains. 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The code is object because we're talking about objects today obviously. It's 10% off hover.com, use the code object. And a huge thanks to hover for supporting this special episode of Hello Internet. We have another book looking thing, but it actually looks like it's going to be a collection of papers. It is. It's a big portfolio. It's like a faux book, but it is a book with sheets that are almost like someone's taking a print stick, like a glue stick, and as fixed a very large number of individual letters into this book. These are an assortment of manuscripts and papers and letters and speeches. And this is all written in English now. These are things that people like you and I can just read and find little gems in. So who knows what gems you may find. And I'm going to show you a real gem. Oh, look at this. This is not what we're looking for, but look, here's a pictures of jaw bones. Yeah, so we're just scrolling through. We're flipping through this book. And yeah, suddenly there's very detailed pictures of jaw bones. Looks like they're focusing on the teeth placements. Yeah, it's a some scientist has obviously written in about jaw bones and sentinies, observations of the sun. There's all sorts of things here. Oh, look at this. This is amazing, isn't it? You can see why I started objectivity because you come to the Royal Society for one thing and you think suddenly you're thinking, oh, what's this thing? This looks like it's plants that are being drawn. It looks like a stem cross section. Yeah. Zile them up, flown them down. Oh, no, you're getting fancy. I love all this stuff. I love it. What's this? Look at that. Oh, this one is telescopes. Oh, I'm sorry. Brady will get lost in diagrams and old letters. So easy. I love this. I just love this. This is what I could spend all my life just looking through these old papers. So the thing that we're flipping through right now, is this all from one person or is this just a random assortment? No, no. I think it's almost a bit chronological. So I think this is the stuff. What year does it say on this? That's what I was trying to see here. Letters and papers 18, 1801. So this is just this is just the stuff that was coming into the Royal Society in 1801. It's all just been filed. It's a fan mail to the Royal Society. Do you know what? I did find the other day a letter that someone wrote in asking for William Hershaw's autograph. Mm-hmm. I was amazed that people were asking for autographs back then, that you would write in and just say, oh, can I have? You can't do it, selfie. What are you going to do? Yeah. I didn't know what a grass dated back that for as a thing like that. I'm sure people were asking for the Farrow stamp. I know they want to know. Ooh. Yeah. Look at this. There's some amazing diagrams and pictures here of an ear of the human ear. Mm-hmm. Look at this stuff. This is gold. Looks like there's some kind of device being inserted into the ear. Oh, yeah. And this drawing. A needle being stuck in an ear. That is way past the ear drum. On the way into this office, we went past a portrait of Thomas Young. Mm-hmm. And you were like, Thomas Young, I know that name. You had a little mental black. Mm-hmm. We are now going to talk about Thomas Young. This is a paper he sent in. Well, it's not a paper. It's a lecture he gave. There's a famous lecture of the Royal Society. It's called the Bakerian Lecture. And this is the Bakerian Lecture that Thomas Young gave in 1801. The date's written here at the top of the paper. Mm-hmm. It says he read the lecture in November, 1801. And here's the lecture handwritten that he gave. What's a cold? Let's see what it's called. The lecture is titled on the theory of light and colors. OK. So he gives this big odd lecture. To be fair, it goes for a fair while. He rabbits on a bit. Yeah, this doesn't look like it's a snappy 10-minute video kind of lecture. No. This is more Brady style than Gray style. He's gone. I was thinking 10 minutes is already Brady style. Yeah, he's gone for a quantity here. There's all sorts of propositions and hypothesis. And I'm not going to get you to read what it's about. But I think when you see, this is the first time this was discussed. And when you see the picture at the end, you'll realize why this lecture was a bit ever big deal. This is a long, long lecture. Yeah, it was a long lecture, wasn't it, gosh. Wow. You wonder how many people made it to the end. Here's the pictures to go with it, though. Tell me if this looks familiar. Oh, it's the diffraction patterns of light. This is Slitz. Yeah. Young of young Slitz fame. Hmm. Who went on to do double slit experiments? This is a single slit experiment. This is the young who did double slit. So anyone from school will know all about young slits and defraction of light going through slits. Of course. This is the man. And this is the first time that he revealed to the world what he'd found. What he was learning about how light travels. So this is the first lecture on the kind of wave nature of light, I guess. Yeah. The fact that when light passes through a narrow passage, instead of just going straight through like you can't, like you might think it would, you can observe that it diffracts. It sort of bends around the curve, bends around the whole ever so slightly. There is. He's drawn. He's shown it. He's telling people about it for the first time. He's writing it with his hand and telling people. And now this is like for a physics teacher like you, this is, you know, this is. We don't even bother with the single slit, right? He's just, you sort of jump right into the double slit experiment and try to talk about the strange things that are going on there. It's like a single slit. I don't know very enough. So anyway, I just thought it'd been nice to show a physics teacher the moment that young gave his own lesson and sprung on the world. This fundamental iconic demonstration. And the other thing I love about this, we were talking about how there are all these disparate papers one after the other, you know. One minute we're looking at a needle being stuck in someone's ear, the next minute we're looking at a plant, the next minute we're looking at young telling the world about the wave nature of light. The next paper straight after this young lecture that has been stuck into this folio is actually all about the discovery of nobium, a new element. So this is what a golden time for science. Like, I know every, I know science is always golden and there's always things happening. No, look at this. One minute we've got young discovering this wave like nature of light. We've got new elements being discovered, like fundamental things. This is, yeah, this is amazing. I'll disagree with you there. There is definitely a kind of golden age of science between, you know, this, say broadly like 1700 to the end of the 1800s. And the reason why you can say that's a golden period is because of a bunch of overlapping factors. One, there was enormous amount of stuff to still be discovered. So like there was fruits just waiting for those who were going to look. Low hanging fruit. Yeah. Two, just as we started with this one, you have Isaac Newton and a bunch of other people starting to bring in more rigorous processes to how do we do science? Like, what can you start applying mathematics to? And oh, like, there was way more to be discovered. And three, the things that were available for people to discover. A lot of it is what we kind of call in science like tabletop science. Like a guy who, like, and it was like in the 1700s, you had a spare time and money and a room in your house. You could discover something about the nature of light that nobody had ever discovered. And sure, you had to be a smarter person than the average person. But there was just so much there to be found that that people could go and look and like discover things if they're willing to put in a lot of time. And if they were basically noble people in the 1800s, who had money in spare time, that they didn't have to tilt the fields. So that's why I do think that that's a real golden age of science. Whereas now, I mean, some of the stuff that I worked on when I was in university, some of those research projects, I mean, they were even the stuff that I was working on. Like, teams of several dozen people who were working on, like, just, like a very small part of one machine that was part of this enormous facility up and up in Rochester, that all told would have a thousand some odd people working on it. And it's because, well, now, we're probing the real edges of reality. And so you can't just be a guy in your room going, like, maybe I'm going to discover something. You know, that work is still available in theoretical physics, but that age of practical physics is over, I think. I know this is something I asked you about before, and I can press halfway predict what your answer is. But I know, you know, I always bring up things like, would it be better to be a bear? Or would it be better to have lived hundreds of years ago? Now, I know you're going to say to me, sure, as long as you're not telling the field or dying of dysentery or something like that. But if you were lucky enough to be, you know, a person of means, would it not be a better time to be living when you could do things like discover Pluto, map Australia for the first time, discover an element? Like, is that stuff gone? Is it, would it not, would it, for someone who is excited by discovery? You know, I'm obsessed with Apollo and the Moon missions, and I missed out on that golden time of the late 60s, early 70s. But for someone who has a mind like that, would it not have been more exciting when all this stuff was unknown in almost every few weeks? It was like, oh my goodness, they found a whole other continent. Oh my goodness, they've just found another planet. Now it's kind of like, oh, look, they've now discovered the chromosome or the protein that helps the cell do this and it's a bit like, it just doesn't seem quite as exciting anymore. The problem is a sense of scale because a lot of the 17, 1800 science is science that you can explain to an interested person. Whereas almost everything that's discovered in science now is very hard to explain what's actually occurring because the base knowledge required is just huge, it's absolutely huge. And it's why so many popular books you ever read on physics, they kind of cover the period from like 1700 until like Isaac Newton and then we kind of stop after that point because it just gets to be too much. It's like, well now you need to be an expert in this field to a large extent. What's a great time for a scientifically interested person to be alive? And you're ignoring things like the dysentery and the horrible poverty everywhere. If you're putting aside all of the reasons you wouldn't want to live in the 1700s, you can say yes, for certain kinds of people it may have been more intellectually satisfying to live than to live now. In particular, I wonder about a guy like a Lord Kelvin who was a very scientific guy who was involved in lots of different areas that he was involved in, temperature, he was involved in the early telegraphs, he was involved in a whole bunch of stuff. I wonder his kind of mind, how would that fit in a modern world? Like maybe he wouldn't have been as useful at Surn, as like he was just the right guy with the right mind at the right time. Can I quote you on that? Kelvin would have been rubbish at some point. Says CGP. I am postulating that it's possible. Yeah. Right? That the... Wouldn't Newton be a dunce these days? Newton... I pick Kelvin in particular because Newton I think is a real singular weirdo. There's no way around it. Newton was a very strange person. And I think one of the side effects of the kind of strangeness that he had was a particular sort of intelligence. At least what I've read about Kelvin struck me as, he's way more like a resourceful guy at the time. He may not have been the smartest scientist in the room, but he just had lots of interests and was discovering a bunch of things. So he may have been better suited in that time. He was productive. He was productive in a bunch of areas. Yeah. So that's why. Science now versus science then are two very different things. And also to touch on and back up what you just said, I was reading last night a bit more about Isaac Newton, because you were saying how you don't know how many scientists died, and you couldn't remember how Newton died. So I actually looked up last night how did Isaac Newton die. And it sounds like he actually died a pretty horrible death. He was having a lot of health problems, a very extended period. He was in lots of pain. He was having all sorts of different ailments. And that's the thing you forget as well. You think God would be nice to be Isaac Newton and have my painting up at the Royal Society. But the guy was living in agony probably for years. And they couldn't fix him because they didn't know how to fix people. Right. Because they just had leeches. That's all you have. That's why I will always take living now or in the future as the options. But it's a different question if you're asking about the nature of science. There was just more for more people to discover than. Time for the peace to resistance. Oh yes. Yeah. We've got one more item. I love workflows. You love workflows. And what other types of systems are you very interested in? I love voting systems. You love voting systems. Uh-huh. We've got voting. You have an object related to voting? Yeah. Oh, what is it? Oh, this is a ballot box of some sort. This is. This is. With a fancy crest on the front. Yeah. Big, big wooden, very heavy voting box. This is the current official Royal Society voting box. I was going to guess. This has to be the, let's vote for the president of the Royal Society box. I don't think it's used for voting for the president. I don't think so. Because I don't think that's done in person. I haven't been able to establish exactly what it's used for. But I think it's more kind of business-y thing. So if they need to do a vote on something like, are we happy with the annual report? Are we going to do this business decision? If it's anything that involves bits of paper, that they need to take and cross and things like that, this is their ballot box. So. Yeah. It's nice. Big slotting the top for putting in the papers. Of course. If we look at the back. It's nicely angled at the top to help the papers go in. That's a nice little detail, right? Nice. Instead of just having it flat across the top. Nice sliding angles. It's good. It's good. Good point. Okay. So there we go. Nice crest on the front. If we turn it around. Here's the back. And if we turn these keys, I think. It's about not turned. Does not turn. It should. Oh, wait, it goes in and then turns. That's what it is. Oh, good call. It's like we're on a submarine right now and we're opening the nuclear launch codes. I have an unlocked mind. Oh, wait, it's lefty Lucy Friday, tidy. So lefty Lucy, yeah. Yeah. Well, we'd be rubbish at running an election. Oh, there we go. Okay. So there we go. And there we go. There's where you open it and take out the ballot papers. So. You know what you want at a ballot box? You want something that looks official. This looks official. This is much better than sort of cardboard you want. You see it at real elections. And ballot booths generally don't look that impressive at elections. But this is lovely. This is great. You couldn't have one of these at every polling station in the UK, though, they're pretty expensive. You could if you took the voting seriously. Yeah. You could have, you definitely could if you take voting seriously. Okay. Anyway, don't be disappointed. Things are about to get a whole lot more interesting. What? Yeah. This is just a ballot. This is just a, you know, this is just to show you something nice to do with voting. Okay. Now I'm going to show you something awesome. Okay. Do you have to handle that? Yeah. Before I show you this next item, don't get confused straight away. There is, there is unresolved matters here, which we may have to figure out. And I haven't figured out yet. Okay. But before we do deal with what confuses us, let's just revel in the loveliness of the item. Okay. All right. All right. Let me get the camera right. This is the previous voting machine that was used here at the Royal Society. Oh. Let me, let me, let me start with this. Okay. Yeah. I'll try to, they, before you even do anything, I'll try to think of how to describe this before the listeners. What does this look like? You know what it looks like? It looks like the top quarter of a periscope, like stuck on top of a box. There's a, there's a big circular opening that is facing perpendicular or parallel to the floor. It has yes, no written across the top of it. But there's no obvious thing to do with the yes or the no. It just says yes or no above this big circular opening. There's a little drawer on the bottom, which is also labeled Y and N below the, below this big opening thing. It really would pay off to look at a picture of this if you're not watching the video. And we will make a picture available on there. But I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna cast a vote here. Uh huh. I'm gonna cast a vote. Now on top of this box, there is like a slot that's been, that, a groove in the top. And I imagine that is where you would put the question or the issue at hand. So for example, it could say at the top, they're in the slot. I could put a piece of card or something in there saying, should CGP Grey be made a fellow of the Royal Society? Right. Do I want him to become a fellow? Then what I do is in my hand here, I have a small bowl. Uh huh. And now with this tiny bowl, I put my hand into this giant hole at the front that you described as looking like a periscope. And if you put your hand in there and feel, put your hand in there and have a little feel. I, I see where this is doing immediately. You can drop the bowl to the left or the right for yes or for no. Yeah. So when I put my hand in, I can feel there's a little, a little triangle kind of sticking up in the middle. And I can feel there's space on either side to drop a marble into yes or into no. Yeah. So there we go. So if I was decided, I want, I think Grey, he's a good bloke. He should be made a fellow of the Royal Society. I would put my hand in. Everyone else in the room will have no idea what way I'm voting. I could, they'll just hear the little plop of the bowl. So they would know I voted. I will be held accountable. Yes, Brady did cast his vote. I heard the bowl plop, but I don't know if he went left or right. Right. So this is a machine designed to ensure that voting occurs and that it is also anonymous. Yeah. Because you can't see which way the person dropped the marble. So if we be quiet, if we're quiet here for a second, I'll drop my bowl to the left. There we go. There's it. And then at the end of the vote, this drawer at the bottom can be pulled out. And the drawer is split into. So there'll be a whole bunch of bowls in the left and maybe a whole bunch of bowls in the right and you win the vote. Right. So that's how it's counted in the end. Very simple. I like this thing. Here's the complicating factor. That's quite a very simple. Yes or no. And you can decide whether it's a simple plurality to win or you could say two thirds of the votes or whatever you need. But here's the thing that I find interesting. Because there's another type of voting that I don't know if you've dealt with before but I'm sure you have. You've certainly heard of it before because if you have a look at the bowls there, not all the bowls are the same. Yeah. You have. So the, I'll get to the two types basically that we're talking about here. Look, I mean looking into the box, there are, it looks like there are multi-colored ones. But overall, if you're going to divide them into two schemes, we have light colors. Colorball? Yeah, there's a light colorball and there's a dark, a black one. A black ball. And they are different weights. It feels like. Oh, they're. Yeah, possibly. But the point is some people may have heard of the term being black balled, being emitted. This is another type of voting that can be done using something like this where you don't even necessarily need a yes or a no. And what this type of voting involves is there is no yes channel and no channel. What you do is you go up to the voting machine with two bowls in your hand, a black ball and a white ball. You put your hand into the machine or into this hole, into the box and you release one bowl. And normally what it would be, it would be I will release my light colored bowl if I want gray to become a fellow of the Royal Society for example, or whatever I want. And you release the black ball if you don't. And then you open up the drawer at the end and you then have options you could count up the yes balls, the light balls versus the no balls, black balls, or a more dramatic way of voting and a more common way and where the term black ball comes from is if just one person drops in a black ball, or sometimes they would make it two people if they don't want, you know, grudges to play too big role. If you have one black ball in the drawer at the end, you're out. You've been black balled. You've missed out on your fellowship because you got black balled. Right. So this is a way, this is basically a veto system where we say to two people if we're using two black balls, no matter how many people say yes, a veto is able to override all of the yeses. And you'll never know who black balled you because he is Brady with his light ball and his dark ball, puts his hand in, puts his hand in, which ones he's going to drop. Then he takes his other one away. You never see the one who took away. Did I just black ball you or did I drop a light ball? I would hope that you black balled me because I'd never know. I would just be a terrible fellow. I have I have done nothing to earn that honor. So the thing that has been open your hand or what? I did. You did black ball. I've like, I've like, even though I wanted you to know I suddenly feel really angry about it. I didn't even know what that's half the problem. Knowing me, I would put the black ball in the light ball in my hand, put my hand into the box and then not know which one was which. Oh, sorry. I meant to drop the white ball. I think that's why they have the rule that you need to maybe sometimes. Maybe because there's always a Brady in every group. No, I thought he was a stand-up bloke. I thought I dropped the black ball. Yeah. So the thing that confused me last night when I was seeing this machine for the first time and I didn't figure out the answer, although I've come up with a theory now, if we have this yes-no machine with a yes channel and a no channel and you can just drop your ball left or drop your ball right down these two channels. Why do we also have white balls and black balls? It doesn't quite make sense to me. Well, presumably because not every single vote is requiring of a veto. Right. That's what the machine can be multipurpose. You have figured out in half a second what I spent a good half-hour to an hour thinking about last night. That's what I think. Well, maybe. I mean, I'm just guessing, but that's what I would presume. My guess, or this is true, but my guess could also be you could use both purposes at the same time. It could be, should Grey be become a member of the Ross Society? Yes or no. And we all got to the machine, dropped it, and he's got to pass, he's got to get 50% of the yeses to become a fellow. But you could also add a veto component to it. So if he gets over 50% of yeses, he's in. But if he gets one black ball, he's also out. He's also out. So you could double the complication. The reason why the weight of them struck me immediately is I was wondering, there's another thing that you could do with this as an old fashioned way of doing this. But in many situations, votes are not equal. So you'll have several tiers of members where you'll have, say, like the inner council and their votes are worth three times as much as the next tier out. And then you'll have the bottom tier members whose votes are maybe only worth 50% of a standard vote. And there's a machine like this to do what many corporations do where they calculate the weight of various people's votes. You could do it with the literal weight of different balls if you wanted. So you just take the balls out of the end, put them on the scales and see if you've got enough mass to win. That's his art. You could do that as a way to to approximate how powerful each person's vote is. Endlessly, endlessly interesting. It never says, never says this to amaze me how much you think about ways of voting. You've thought of ways I hadn't even thought of just looking at the polls. You could use this as a conference on the spheres, multiplied. You could do it volumetrically as well. You know, you can have them. Yeah. Then you put them in a back in a cylinder, right? And you'd have some sort of post that they need to get past or you know, there's different ways that you could do it. Oh man, you're enjoying this way too much. What do you think of this as an object? It's really interesting to see this kind of thing. This is like... And this is the one they were using to vote for fellows way back. Not anymore. This can sound really boring. But this to me is like a little piece of bureaucratic history. Like there's just stuff that we need to resolve. Like there's votes and passing, yes or no. And you know what, you need equipment to help you with that kind of stuff. So this to me is a very practical little device. I also think it's kind of cute. It looks kind of cute. It's like a little droid, doesn't it? Could be a Star Wars droid. Yeah. Or I mean just from the side, it's like a little stylized duck. You know, it's like a duck bill in the head and... Yeah. Very nice. Well pictures as always on the site, if you want to have a look at the voting machine. But I thought this was a nice finale, a bit of voting for you. This is good. It's good. So that's it. That's all I've got for you. This has been an interesting, an interesting day. Interesting? Yeah. That's not something you say when you enjoy something. That's something... Your wife came home and said, what do you think of my new hairstyle? And you said, interesting. You wouldn't say that, I hope. Would you ever describe... Are you asking if I like her if I don't like it? Actually, she literally just came home last night and asked me about some new lipstick that she was wearing. Did you describe it as interesting? What I said is that I am a reserving judgment for the moment, which means that I don't like it immediately, but I might like it later. And she was totally fine with that because she was a reasonable person. I feel like the whole world is divided into things that are either interesting or not interesting. And maybe I use this in a different way than most people do it. But interest is something that you can't control and you just have or you don't have. And I have found this day very interesting. I find everything interesting. I don't divide things into two. Everything is interesting. That's why, to you, it sounds like I'm just using some sort of filler word, like, oh yeah, whatever he's just saying, interesting. To me, the opposites of interesting are boredom and indifference. It's actually a little triangle, I think, is the way that works. So I would say this is interesting because I have been interested in the things that you have brought forward. I think you've done an excellent job at selecting stuff to look at. Well, all the thanks goes to Keith Moore and the people in the library at the Royal Society. I'm super grateful that they let us do this today in this amazing room. Yeah, I kind of can't believe that you pulled this off. And this has happened relatively fast. You just tossed the idea out just a couple days ago and said, oh, maybe we can do this. And it feels like, shwam, lightning speed. All of a sudden, I'm here and we're talking about voting machines and flags and Adelaide. We don't miss about, sorry about the Adelaide section. That was a bit so effing dogent. I swear, there were tears welding up in your eyes. It's an emotional thing. It's an emotional thing. So anyway, I thought we might get some tears with the voting machine, but you managed to remain stoic. So and thank you to any listeners who persisted with our rather unusual format. It's still two dudes talking, but it's two dudes talking in touching distance. If you look, that's me. That's me touching CGP Greg. Yeah, he's touching me right on the hands. I'm slapping his hand. So can he get some lunch after this? I need to wash my hands first. Oh, sorry, I forgot. I should have touched you. So we've done two dudes talking in person in an amazing place. And I'm sure next episode will be business as usual and will be locked safely in our offices doing our upon our follow up back to the usual nonsense.

==Episode List==

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "H.I. #40: The Oval Office of Science". Hello Internet. Hello Internet. Retrieved 12 October 2017.