Easter Physics Quiz

Over the Easter holidays the newspapers seem to be full of quizzes and other distractions, so I thought I’d join in with a little quiz of my own.

So for a negligible prize can anyone point out the mathematical connection between these two pictures?








Answers via the comments box please.

15 Responses to “Easter Physics Quiz”

  1. If you want to understand windmills, you had better know the mathematics of fluid dynamics. If you want to understand the mathematics of fluid dynamics, you had better be a human!

  2. telescoper Says:

    No, that’s not it.

    And it’s not that the guy’s hat looks like the top of the windmill either…

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    On the left, Green’s mill, of Green’s functions. George Green, miller, went up from Nottingham to GONVILLE and Caius College, Cambridge (after, not before, he did his best work). On the right is Michael Caine playing Lieutenant GONVILLE Bromhead in the film ‘Zulu’.

    Do I get a chocolate egg?


  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    If that is indeed Caine in Zulu then I reckon you don’t have a uniqueness theorem…

  5. Anton Garrett Says:

    Gonville Bromhead’s son Edward was a (lesser) mathematician and patron of Green’s early work. Does that get the ball over the line?


    • telescoper Says:

      Well, you’re so close I’ll have to give it to you. Lt Gonville Bromhead was the character played by Michael Caine in the film Zulu. Bromhead was second-in-command at Rorke’s Drift in January 1879 and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during the two-day long action in which about 100 British (mainly Welsh) troops held off repeated attacks by upwards of 4000 Zulu warriors.

      The windmill, as Anton correctly spotted, is Green’s Mill in Sneinton, Nottingham which was the birthplace of George Green, mathematician, physicist, inventor of Green’s functions, and son of the miller. When his father died, George sold the lease of the mill and used the money to go as an undergraduate to Cambridge at the age of 40. He did indeed go to Gonville & Caius College, but that wasn’t the connection I was looking for.

      While Green was still in Nottingham (i.e. before starting his undergraduate studies) he published his famous Essay (1828) which includes many astonishing results he discovered independently. During this time he received considerable encouragement and support from Sir Edward Bromhead, 2nd Baronet of Thurlby Hall in Lincolnshire, himself a mathematician of some repute.

      The connection is that Gonville Bromhead was the youngest son of the 3rd Baronet (also called Edward Bromhead), making him the grandson of George Green’s patron.

      Not a lot of people know that.

  6. Anton Garrett Says:

    Thanks Peter,

    After your first knockback I took a punt by looking up the Bromhead family in the index of Mary Cannell’s biography of George Green. I found that Green’s sponsor Edward B was son af Gonville B, and wrongly assumed that this was the Gonville B of the Zulu wars, hence my inversion of the familial relationship between the two. Consideration of the dates would have put me right. In fact Mary Cannell suggests it is not a coincidence that Gonville is a Bromhead family name and so is a college at Cambridge… they claim to be descended from the founder.

    Many thanks anyway.


    • telescoper Says:

      Yes, you were so close to getting it right but the chronology let you down a little. The date of Rorke’s drift couldn’t really have been right for the father of Green’s patron otherwise Michael Caine would have been equipped with a bath chair and an ear trumpet.

  7. Sorry that this question/comment is not really about this post but I have a question and I think you might know the answer.

    I’ve just been reading about the “Pioneer Anomaly” and was going to Blog on it when it reminded me of something else I read several years ago that I haven’t seen reference to recently and I’m wondering if it too has a catchy name like the PA.

    Supposedly, point source light from far enough away in the universe should begin to exhibit blurring once the distance get great enough. I can’t remember the exact cause but I think it has to do with the various froth of sub-atomic particles popping into and out of existence along the light’s path. But, in actual fact, this blurring has not been seen and light from all distances seems equally unblurred. Do you recognize what I’m referring to? Does it have a catchy name like PA and can you point me at a beginner’s level article or Wiki about it?

    Many thanks!


  8. Bryn Jones Says:

    Isn’t the question above referring to weak gravitational lensing by galaxies/dark matter between the observer and some distant object? There were some estimates some years ago that suggested that images of high-redshift galaxies would be distorted by weak lensing by the intervening objects, but I can’t remember who did the work or what assumptions they made to get their conclusions. Or for that matter, why they got the wrong conclusion (assuming too large a cosmological mass density?).

    I didn’t have a go at the quiz because, as a former Nottingham resident, I recognised Green’s Mill. It seemed like cheating.

  9. telescoper Says:


    It doesn’t sound like weak lensing to me. It sounds more like some sort of quantum-mechanical thing. Weak lensing is a big industry these days.


    P.S. It’s not cheating just because you know the answer…

  10. There is something about the wind “propeller” (not the windmills wings) and the star on the helmet.

    Mind you, this is from an intuitive point of view, since I now nothing about mathematics.

  11. White reflects radiation efficiently keeping the topmost part of the windmill.and his head cool.

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