A Psychological Tip

So here I am, then, in Copenhagen. Yesterday evening, as far as I’m concerned, at least, my wavefunction collapsed along with the rest of me into a definite location. Ibsen’s Hotel, in fact. I had a pleasantly uneventful journey to Heathrow by train. The plane thence arrived in Copenhagen twenty minutes ahead of time, and then I had the chance to marvel at wonderful Copenhagen’s wonderfully efficient public transport in the form of the Metro that took me to about 100 metres from my hotel. All very relaxed and stress-free.

This morning I got up bright and early, determined to avoid the queues at breakfast, but was inevitably foiled by dozens of uber-efficient Germans who were already there at 7am when it opened. Fortunately I managed to find a quiet place in the corner to drink my coffee while they basked in their own smugness and barked orders at the waitresses.

Anyway, it’s still pretty dark outside so I thought I’d post something before walking to the Niels Bohr Institute for the day’s business. Since I’m in Denmark I thought I’d put up one of the wonderfully witty little poems written by Danish mathematician Piet Hein. He called each of these verses a “grook” (or actually, in Danish, the word is gruk) and he wrote thousands of them over his long life. Many, like this one, are utterly brilliant.

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
and you’re hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.

No – not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you’re passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

by Piet Hein (1905-1996).

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8 Responses to “A Psychological Tip”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Are you following the Test match Peter?

    • Just caught up after lunch. Poor decision not to pick Monty, I think and I think England will lose this one by an innings.

      • George Jones Says:

        England are still cooking.

      • Yes, much better on Day 4. But they need at least another 150 to save the game…

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        This is the consequence of the England set-up mentally airbrushing away the 3-0 thrashing by Pakistan’s spin bowling early this year. Well done Cook though – that’s leading from the front.

  2. That’s a great ‘gruk’!

  3. […] ENGLISH RECAP: I’ve got a new poster in my office, that is not only decorative but also offers sound advice. Read the translation of ‘A Psychological Tip’ here. […]

  4. […] in Danish, the word is gruk) and he wrote thousands of them over his long life. I’ve posted one of these before but this one is even shorter but it makes a deep point, the tendency to be trapped by our own […]

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