Archive for February 6, 2019

Banging the drum for ESO

Posted in Maynooth, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on February 6, 2019 by telescoper

It was a pleasure to welcome Rob Ivison, Director of Science at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) , to Maynooth this afternoon for a colloquium.

I was on my best behaviour introducing his talk and even refrained from pointing out that his native Lancashire is actually in the Midlands.

Ireland became a full member of ESO earlier this year and Rob has been touring Ireland giving talks to encourage Irish astronomers to make the most of the many opportunities membership presents. Having already visited Cork and Galway he passed through Maynooth today before ending up in Dublin tomorrow.

It was an enjoyable and impressive talk and very nice to chat with Rob afterwards over dinner.

Bon voyage to Rob and thanks for the visit!


Hyperbolic sine, shine or sinsh (or sinch)?

Posted in Education, mathematics with tags , , , on February 6, 2019 by telescoper

An important coffee-time discussion just revealed a significant cultural difference between members of staff here in the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University, which I wish to explore further via a completely scientific poll.

The hyperbolic sine, usually written sinh, is well known to be defined in thuswise fashion:

But the question is how do you pronounce it? Since my schooldays I have always pronounced it like `shine’ whereas I’m told others have pronounced it more like `sinch’. Yet others simply call it hyperbolic sine. What is your pronunciation?

This also gives me the excuse to tell a little story of when I was at school. One morning, which happened to be April 1st, our maths teacher started on the subject of hyperbolic functions, talking about `shine’ and `cosh’ and `tanch’. We all assumed it was an April Fool’s joke and although it was very clever it wasn’t all that funny, particularly as it went on for the whole class. We only realised it wasn’t a joke when he carried on in the same vein the following day…

And another thing, for bonus marks. In all European languages with which I am familiar (which is by no means all), the trigonometric function sin is pronounced `sinus’ not `sine’. Is English the only language to depart from sinus?

Answers through the comments box!