Skip to main content

Being a geek has its just rewards

When I was at school I was a bit of a swot, I admit it. Now, usually, this doesn't result in immediate rewards. The geeks in the science club might be the heroes of some teen TV shows (have you noticed, cheerleaders are always evil?), but in reality life isn't like that. But just once... I want to take you back many years to when I was about 13.

It was an English class, I think. At the end, the teacher held us back. 'I need a couple of people to write letters for me,' he said. No response. Eventually I and one other did volunteer. 'What a mug,' I'm sure I heard someone mutter. Yet seconds later, they would all have their hands up, begging to take our places.

'You see,' said the English teacher, 'two Swedish girls have written to the school asking for penfriends in England. So these two will be writing to them.' No, really.

And so it began. It was a strange pen-friendship (this was before emails, children). Rather bizarrely we both quite liked science and stamps, but Ann Oldman of Skelefteå otherwise lived in a very different world. We were the same age, but they seemed... a bit more advanced over there. Not to mention having a habit of putting crowns of candles on their heads, something we rarely did in Rochdale.

It lasted a couple of years. We never met, but I still fondly remember receiving those letters - and occasionally wonder what happened to Ann Oldman.

(Science Geek t-shirts available here.)

Comments

  1. Good for you! I used to hate being a geek, and now I'm out and proud of the science closet!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was never mathematically or scientifically proficient to be a geek, so I settled for evil cheerleader. What a cute story. There is nothing like talking to people from different countries. Even the ones where both peoples supposedly speak English!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lynn - I'm sure you were an angelic cheerleader. It's just in the sort of youth TV shows that teach us over here what US culture is like, from Sabrina to Buffy, the cheerleaders tend to typify 'lovely on the outside/horrible inside.'

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe it's me but I have great difficulty in reading the word Geek on this T shirt; it's either the combination of colours or the expectation by my brain (what's left of it) that yellow should be marking out the word on the red background and not vice versa.

    Is there any science here, Mr Geek?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I see what you mean - there is plenty of science on the readability of different colour combinations.

    This isn't ideal - but it has to be these colours as it's a pastiche of the S on Superman's costume. I suspect for most geeks, this makes it easily readible because they expect that format - maybe you are demonstrating your lack of geek qualifications!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Mirror, mirror

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Royal Institution in London - arguably the greatest location for science communication in the UK. At one point in the talk, I put this photograph on the screen, which for some reason caused some amusement in the audience. But the photo was illustrating a serious point: the odd nature of mirror reflections. I remember back at school being puzzled by a challenge from one of our teachers - why does a mirror swap left and right, but not top and bottom? Clearly there's nothing special about the mirror itself in that direction - if there were, rotating the mirror would change the image. The most immediately obvious 'special' thing about the horizontal direction is that the observer has two eyes oriented in that direction - but it's not as if things change if you close one eye. In reality, the distinction is much more interesting - we fool ourselves into thinking that the image behind the mirror is what's on ou