Archive for the Television Category

Searching for Synge

Posted in History, mathematics, Television with tags , , on November 14, 2019 by telescoper

John Lighton Synge (above; 1897-1995), who was an expert on geometrical approaches to general relativity, was regarded by many as the most eminent Irish mathematician and physicist since Sir William Rowan Hamilton. Synge (whose uncle was the famous playwright John Millington Synge) was born in Dublin and had spells at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Toronto and various universities in the USA before taking up a position as Senior Professor at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) in 1948 from which he retired in 1972.

I have been asked by a friend to find out if there are any video recordings of Synge talking or lecturing. A quick google search turns up nothing, so I thought I would put this request out into the blogosphere to see if anyone is aware of anything.

Given the dates it seems likely that any recordings of him would be originally on film (or perhaps television) which would have to be transferred to digital format. Perhaps there is archive material at Trinity College or DIAS that could be suitable?

Irish Regional Accents – Niall Tóibín

Posted in Maynooth, Television with tags , , on November 14, 2019 by telescoper

I heard yesterday that renowned actor and comedian Niall Tóibín passed away yesterday at the age of 89. I knew him best from his role as the priest Frank MacAnally in Ballykissangel which I watched occasionally in the 1990s. This morning I heard a tribute to him on the radio and discovered that he was a bit of an expert on Irish regional accents, so I thought I’d share a clip here.

Living and working in Maynooth, which is not far from Dublin, the accents I hear most frequently are those of the Greater Dublin area. I say “accents” rather than “accent” because, as the clip demonstrates, there is quite a wide variety even in this region. At Maynooth we do have students from as far afield as the North of County Donegal and the South of County Cork (where Niall Tóibín came from). I’m better at identifying accents from the North than the South, and can at least tell the difference between Belfast and elsewhere in Ulster, but other than that although I can spot different accents I’m hopeless at identifying where they come from.

One final thing. Niall Tóibín mentions in this clip that the Cork accent sounds a bit like a Welsh accent. This is not the first time I’ve heard someone say that but I have to admit I can’t hear any resemblance myself!

Memories of the First Moon Landing

Posted in Biographical, Television, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on July 20, 2019 by telescoper

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, and I’m feeling very nostalgic as I recall my childhood memories of that historic event:

As a matter of fact I was six years old at the time which is easily old enough to have been aware of what was going on, but I don’t remember seeing anything to do with Apollo 11 and the Moon landings on 20th July 1969. I do recall bits and pieces of later Apollo missions but, unlike many colleagues of roughly my age who went into astronomy astrophysics or space science, I can’t really say that it was these events that inspired me to become a scientist. What did was something quite different!

But just because I wasn’t very aware of the significance of Apollo 11 at the time, doesn’t mean that I don’t think it was a spectacular achievement that is well worth commemorating fifty years on. Happy memories to all those who remember it, and enjoy the celebrations!

P. S. Interesting actuarial factoid: of all the people who were alive on 20th July 1969, only about 20% have not died yet.

The Astronomer and The Hat

Posted in Television with tags , , , , on May 4, 2019 by telescoper

There’s been a lot of activity recently on social media, and perhaps even between real people, relating to Game of Thrones (which is, apparently, a television fantasy drama series of some sort). I don’t have a television at home so I haven’t seen any of this series at all. I do have a laptop with a DVD player so I suppose I could watch it that way but I suspect I’d find it rather childish. Being more interested in serious programmes I have instead in recent evenings been watching a selection of episodes from my complete boxed set of Ivor the Engine, a gritty documentary series about life on and around the Merioneth and Llantisilly Railway Traction Company Limited, which operates in the `top left-hand corner of Wales’.

Not many people seem to know that there is an astronomical connection with Ivor the Engine, seen above in the form of Professor D. Longfellow. He lives in Observatory Villa, Llaniog, has his own personal telescope and is sometimes consulted for answers to various problems. He thus provides an excellent illustration of the wider impact of astronomy in everyday life. In the screen grab above he is being interrupted by Dai Station who needs to know the location of the nearest volcano as he has found some dragon eggs that need to be kept warm.

Professor Longfellow makes an extended appearance in the following Episode, entitled The Hat, the central character of which is Mrs Porty, who is rich – so rich, in fact, that she has new hats sent to her all the way from London. At the risk of upsetting people with a plot spoiler, Mrs Porty goes around with a telescope cover on her head because she collected the wrong box from the railway station thinking it was a new hat.

P.S. If anyone knows where I can buy an outfit like Professor Longfellow’s please let me know. I feel I could
advance my career in astronomy even further if I wore more appropriate clothing.

The Best Men Can Be Unshaven

Posted in Beards, Biographical, Television with tags , , on January 16, 2019 by telescoper

This advertisement by the Gillette company (purveyors of razors and other shaving products) has been causing a social media meltdown among the male snowflake fraternity:

It seems that the message conveyed in this short film – that men could do more to tackle bullying and harassment – is proving unpopular with certain men. I think it’s a reasonable inference that those men who feel the need to rant about this commercial actually think that they should be entitled by virtue of their gonads to engage in the kind of behaviour challenged therein and indeed threatened by any suggestion that they should not behave like prats. in my opinion the fact that there has been such a reaction demonstrates beyond any doubt how important the message is that toxic masculinity is a problem.

As a recent winner of Beard of the Year I feel it is important to point out that because I have a full beard, I never use Gillette (or any other shaving) products. My continuing not to use Gillette products should therefore not be interpreted as opposition to the message contained in this particular advertisement nor should my refusal to be upset by a commercial be interpreted as an endorsement of Gillette products. If, on the other hand, the Gillette company were to find it within their capacity to introduce a range of beard care products then, in return for receipt of an appropriately generous free supply of said products, I would be willing to advertise them on this site. Indeed, given the ever-increasing numbers of men preferring to be unshaven, it would seem to be a good idea from purely business grounds to diversify its range in order to cater for the hirsute market. I hope this clarifies the situation.

P.S. Another idea would be for Gillette to develop a range of toxic shaving products, specifically for those men who think toxic masculinity is just fine….

What are we going to do now?

Posted in Politics, Television with tags , on January 16, 2019 by telescoper

After another tumultuous day in British politics, this blog is once again proud to be able to show exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the Cabinet discussions at Number 10 Downing Street:

What are we going to do now?

Posted in Politics, Television with tags , on November 15, 2018 by telescoper

On this tumultuous day in British politics, this blog is proud to be able to show exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the Cabinet discussions at Number 10 Downing Street: