Yet another year zooms past as we tip-toe precariously into 2018, in nervous anticipation of what the year bears and what surprises might be awaiting us. At this time of year, it becomes customary to look back and reflect on the year gone by; the good and bad experiences, the people that have had an influence on your life, the skills and knowledge gained, the goals achieved or narrowly missed. No matter where you stand and what you may be feeling, have comfort in knowing that we have all arrived here together, as fellow humans of the this little blue planet. I think it’s safe to say that we are all just as confused about this whole life thing as the next person. Here at the Nexus we hope that through our weekly scientific posts we are contributing our part to help understand this odd universe we live in just that tiny bit better.
A particularly story springs to mind when I think of the year gone by. Myself and Yanhao were still at school (ah, the memories), learning about astrophysics at the time. This involved studying things like the different types of telescopes and finding ways to measure distances to stars. For a relatively light-hearted practical, our teacher suggested we go out onto the field of one of the other school buildings just across the road from our labs where we normally had our lessons, since the weather was so appealing. The reason we had time for this is because our class only consisted of three students, two of whom you are already familiar with. Physics was clearly a very popular subject…
On the field, we conduct an experiment involving measuring the angles subtended by a point some distance away from us, with the aim of trying to figure out how far away that point was, using this weird thing called mathematics. We then determine how far away our result was from the ‘real’ distance, which was measured using a piece of apparatus known as a trundle wheel. For those unaware, this is essentially a tool composed of a wheel attached to the end of a long handle, which you roll along the floor and it tells you the distance you have rolled it by. Prior to this day, I don’t think either myself or Yanhao had seen or even heard of a trundle wheel.
Having completed the experiment and obtaining results, I decide to trundle the wheel back to our labs to see the distance away, just for fun and the simple pleasure of using the trundle wheel. As we cross the road towards our labs, our teacher says nonchalantly, “Oh look, there’s another guy with a trundle wheel”, which I originally take as a joke. Turning my head to look up the road, still wielding the trundle wheel, I see a man in his mid-40s perhaps strolling towards us from about 50 metres away and, in his hand, he holds none other than a high-tech professional-looking trundle wheel.
Our class (the four of us) stand there, utterly in shock by what we are witnessing. This man casually trundles past us without even a flinch, perhaps having not seen our own wheel. We burst into laughter for a good few minutes, and my eyes were watering. My mind had been completely blown, and I don’t think I could concentrate on any other lesson that day.
Here’s to an exciting, interesting, and bizarre 2018. Keep trundling.