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02 April 2005

PizzaQs: faux Princeton, True Greenwich, drunk & topless

Nobody reads the Comments except Unhappy Bob, gripe groan complain whine, but we have an Active Vleeptron Pizza Slice Question, so I will pull it up out of the Comments and put it here:

JOHN NASH, the Game Theory pioneer who won the Nobel Economics Prize after recovering spontaneously from decades of schizophrenia, was (and is again!) a Princeton professor. So the movie "A Beautiful Mind" was filmed at Princeton, right?

WRONG! They used a Campus Double! That's not Princeton! When the movie's supposed to be at Princeton, what campus did they really use, what campus are you really looking at?

I will leave this VPS Question up until my USA East Coast Sunday Midnight ... for you One-Worlders, that should be

Greenwich Mean Time/UDT/Zulu
05.00 Monday 4 April 2005

Oh! And don't forget! This weekend it's Spring Forward One Hour!

I had such a dandy, electrifying time when they put me and my little South Park pals on the field trip science bus to see the Old Royal Observatory at Greenwich!

You know what I did there? The Greenwich Meridian a.k.a. The Prime Meridian, the world's Zero Longitude Line, they have an illuminated line set into the pavement there, and I got to jump and hop and skip back and forth between the Western Hemisphere and the Eastern Hemisphere! (I was 41 at the time.) At night they flash a laser beam for miles and miles above the Thames Valley sky that's the Greenwich Meridian! There's a big sign:


The Observatory itself was designed by Christopher Wren! It's unbelievably dreamy, it's just perfect! But if you don't like Christopher Wren, you can look downhill toward the Thames and see Inigo Jones' Queen's House! It's architecture heaven, if heaven isn't all angels on clouds playing harps, if heaven has buildings, heaven must look just like Greenwich!

Every day PRECISELY at Noon, a big red ball drops from the top tower of the Observatory, so ships anchored in the Thames can set their clocks. (Oh, just cause you got a $8 digital watch from Wal-Mart now, you think they should get rid of the Time Ball, or stop dropping it? How very Modern of you.)

When Tsar Peter the Great visited, his host was the second Astronomer Royal, Sir Edmond Halley (yeah, the Comet Guy). Halley was a sailor, and they got drunk one night (trading gin and vodka shots, I guess) and pushed each other around the grounds of the Observatory in a wheelbarrow (invented by Blaise Pascal, the Triangle guy, I think). What a night! Salty old sea captain and the Tsar whooping it up totally betronken over The Line (which hath one dimension) Where Time Begins!

Who says Spherical Trigonometry isn't fun?


What amazing fantastic revolutionary still-working but very old machines are on display inside the Greenwich Observatory? There's a wonderful book about these amazing machines that they made into a TV movie starring Jeremy Irons.

There are absolutely no attractive topless young women in the book, but somehow they put topless attractive young women in the TV movie version. I think the attractive young women are playing Strip Whist with dissipated aristocratic young and old men. It wasn't Fox or the WB or UPN or MTV, it was Arts & Entertainment Network. When you make movies about Important True Historical and Science Stuff, it's okay to be topless, because that's just the way Historical Folks were.

Oh and One More Pizza Slice Question:

Any foo on the field trip science bus knows that the Observatory's LONGITUDE is Zero Zero Zero. (If you don't know that, your friends will give you a wedgie.)

But what's the Old Royal Observatory's LATITUDE? (I need Degrees Minutes AND Seconds, or no pizza slice for you.)


Blogger Mamagiggle said...

Punctuology is an exact science.

Blogger pat's pub said...

G'day there
According to IMDB various locations were used. The Harvard scenes were shot at a Manhattan College

the instruments Bob is looking for are the infamous H1, H2 and H3 by clockmaker John Harrision. Whit these clocks Harrison helped to solve the Longitued Problem (others who helped to solve ths mystery include my fellwo contryman Leonhard Euler of Basel) for the full sory on that please check out Dana Sobel's book "Longitued"

The latitude of the Old Royal Observatory is 51° 28' 38". If my memory is correct the observatory was built in order to solve the Longitude problem as well
Do I get a free beer now?

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Hey Pat!

Okay I want the PRINCETON scenes. No beer, endives or pizza for that.

Yes, the Harrison Chronometers! A Free Old Vleeptron Beer for you! Irons played Cdr. Gould, the former Royal Navy officer who spent a decade (the 1920s-30s) restoring these magnificent 18th century nautical timepieces from a pile of junk in the Observatory basement to the sublime ticking order you can see today.

But with enormously successful test voyages to Jamaica, Spain, and the Pacific under such masters as Captain Cook, the Harrison Chronometers SOLVED the problem of finding the longitude at sea.

Eventually the self-taught clockmaker reduced his superaccurate timepieces to the size of a pocketwatch. The hearts of the clocks were made of wood -- self-lubricating lignum vitae. Solution of the problem saved thousands of sailors' lives from starvation and shipwreck.

mamagigle ... what's punctuology? (I'm lazy today.)

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Oh Pat got the LATITUDE of the Royal Observatory right, too! Chalk up a beer!

Yeah, if anything was going on in math -- like the 7 Bridges of Konigsburg -- in those days, Leonhard Euler was at the center of it. The main competitor to solve the Longitude problem to Harrison's clock-based system was Galileo's system to use the position of the moon as sighted from a ship to find the Longitude. Newton believed the lunar system would prevail as a practical solution, and without Newton's blessing, Harrison spent a lifetime being denied the prize and credit. (The moon system is very impractical and complicated.)

In the 18th century and the 20th, most of the action of "Longitude", Dava Sobel's wonderful book, and the spiced-up A&E movie, takes place at the Royal Observatory. From the start they were charged with using astronomy to advance Britain's Navy and merchant fleet.

Blogger Mike said...

If I'm not mistaken, and I very well might be, punctuology is the art of being on time. Basically, mamagiggle was answering your question about what was in the Greenwich Observatory. She didn't say so in so many words, but to be on time, most people need a watch, which is a different type of chronometer. Of course, I could be pulling all of this out of my posterior orifice. You never can tell these days.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Oh, okay, hmmm ... well, I think mamagiggle is being a Visual Artist again. I celebrate that. I'm just having Verbal Artist trouble verifying that she answered the pizza/endive question about the machines in the Observatory. I can't find "punctuology" in my Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th Ed.). "Horology" is probably the exact science I would have used.

Knowing the exact time has its values ... Harrison proved that knowing the exact time will tell you exactly where you are on the surface of a featureless ocean.

But being exactly on time all the time ... this is a very dubious virtue. Faulkner said Time dies when it is picked apart by little ticking wheels. I'll try to find his exact quote.

Blogger Roger Schneier said...

The campus scenes were, of course, Bronx Community College, nee NYU Heights of sainted memory.

Blogger Roger Schneier said...

The campus used was, of course, Bronx Community College (nee NYU Heights of sainted memory).

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Yes! Yes! Roger wins a Vleeptron Pizza Slice, even though he's a ringer! NYU University Heights in the Bronx it was -- mine and Roger's Alma Mater (well, mine if I'd ever graduated)! Home of The Hall of Fame of Great Americans, which, if you Google that, you can see a way cool panoramic moving cam view of my campus, which has since been sold and is now Bronx Community College.

The Princeton-like Greek revival campus was designed by Stanford White, who also designed Grand Central Station, and was a dirty old goat who had an affair with a gorgeous and very young Flora Dora Girl named Evelyn Nesbitt, who used to get nekkid in their love nest and swing on the infamous Red Velvet Swing. After she married the deranged millionaire Harry K. Thaw, Thaw shot White to death in front of about 800 people one night at Madison Square Garden (then NYC's ritziest restaurant). This happened around 1900, and it was Bigger Than Michael Jackson! Norman Mailer played Stanford White in the movie "Ragtime".


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