Getting that EPQ feeling

I was at my desk one evening, with both the Resident IT Consultant and Daughter in the room as well. They were talking funny. I mercifully missed most of it, but distinctly recall hearing the phrase ‘adjusting the mass of Jupiter’. As you do. The hearing, not so much the adjusting of anybody’s mass.

I must have started taking notes, or there’s no way I’d remember all this. I believe they went on to ‘which moon are we starting with?’. Quite. Jupiter has a few of those. Four biggies and some smaller ones, not worth mentioning.

You’ll be wanting to know about EPQs next, won’t you? They’re really horrible things people do in their A-level year, at least if feeling even a little ambitious. Goes down well with universities, that EPQ does. Extended Project Qualification. (I had to look it up. Again.)

‘Ours’ is about Jupiter’s moons.

When I hear things like ‘blahdiblah to the power of something-or-other’ I feel like Trillian in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, minus the brain cells.

I have just proofread the EPQ. That is, I checked the English plain-ish text for obvious howlers in a linguistic sort of way. But honestly, twenty pages of that and you lose the will to live. Reading about a sine curve is no sinecure.

EPQ moons

But it’s awfully nice that Daughter has taken to astronomy even more than I did. There is no way that I could have done anything other than the laywitch’s fun astronomy, which in those far-flung days didn’t offer anyone like Professor Cox. Or Brian, as I prefer to think of him.

Although, should Terry Pratchett ever invite me to visit his private observatory I’d be there like a shot. Just as long as I don’t have to talk complicated.


19 responses to “Getting that EPQ feeling

  1. Yikes, this post gave me a headache.

  2. Clucking bells, me too. It scares me that there are people who understand this stuff (though I suppose I should be more scared if no-one did). I mean, I think I’m quite… clever, y’know. I’m not thick. Not too thick, on a good day, when well rested and fed. And astronomy is on my list of ‘really interesting things’. But honestly.

    It reminds me of when I was shown the book a distant relative had just published, a medical tome on some study of immune systems (I think). I looked at it and COULD NOT UNDERSTAND ONE SENTENCE. Not one sentence out of a book 400 pages long. Someone WROTE that, for heavens’ sake.

  3. I have paracetamol. With and without codeine. Just pop over and I’ll sort you out.
    Yes, it IS interesting. Very. But those little number things…
    It’s when your child looks at you pityingly, and not because you haven’t heard of the latest in music or clothes, that it feels wrong.

  4. It is a fast orbit (well done Witchgirl). I would love to stand on Jupiter and watch the juggling of the moons.
    Prof Cox. He smiles that beguiling smile and tells us all will end in dust.

    Which, let’s face it, is only a finer form of landfill.

  5. Are you just pretending to understand, Hilary?

  6. I got an E in A level physics and so of course I can understand practically anything.

    Also I live surrounded by a great deal of physics. In fact, in a state of accelerated entropy. We get an awful lot of it going on around here (especially in the cupboards). I understand that this is not part of the Swedish heritage and I would suggest that this one factor contributing to your reluctance to accept the inevitability of L F.

  7. I´ll be back when you write in one of the languages I understand ….

  8. OK, Dorte.

    Hilary, I have no entropy in my cupboards. Should I? (I’ve already forgotten what it means, despite hearing it from the lovely smiley lips of Brian himself, only a week ago. He was playing with sand. I wish he’d just sing a pop song and be done with it.)

  9. It’s lovely for you that you don’t and when all else is scattered into infinity it is pleasant to think of the inside of your cupboards enduring past the end of time.

    Don’t think the prof should be encouraged to sing. Didn’t he sing that Things Can Only Get Better song and then we invaded Iraq?

  10. ‘adjusting the mass of Jupiter’

    Well just to confuse you even more you must have misheard or they had that wrong as the only way to change the mass of Jupiter would be to knock a bit off it or crash something into it as mass is an instrinic property of an object – something’s weight can change depending on the gravitational field it’s in but the mass will always be the same.

    I knew that Open University Physics would come in handy someday.

    Hello – o you’ve gone.

  11. Know-it-all! I suspect maybe they did a banker thing and adjusted the figures for the mass.

    Isn’t Prof. Cox the third member of Oasis? Or something?

  12. Yep, Dare and then D:Ream – not quite as big as Oasis although the combined mass of Dare and D:Ream is the same as one of Jupiter’s smaller moons

  13. Hehe!! 🙂 I love the fact that lots of people don’t understand what’s going on! So much fun!

    And sorry Mike, but you are quite right about the mass. Mum just, well… doesn’t understand exactly what I AM doing. 🙂
    Basically, I’m calculating the mass of Jupiter by looking at the orbits of the four Galilean moons. Using their approximate radius and time period you can do that! 🙂

  14. (For Helen)

    Reason Has Moons

    REASON has moons, but moons not hers.
    Lie mirror’d on the sea,
    Confounding her astronomers,
    But, O! delighting me.

    Ralph Hodgson

  15. Helen, daughters are put on this earth to make their mothers feels dazed and confused and stupid. You get an A+ for that example!

  16. I was always a lovely daughter, myself. Polite and, erm, well, generally quite good.

  17. I had a two-term science requirement at the esteemed institution at which I (eventually) gained my degree in English and Fine Arts. Astronomy! thought I, That sounds cool! And signed up. It was a full year course, but I begged on my actual knees to leave the course at Christmas, not having understood a single word since the first lecture. Not one.

  18. Surely they must have mentioned stars at some point? I’m sure you have stars in Astronomy. Twinkly little things.

  19. Actually, there’s much worse. Try reading Finnegan’s Wake, which – ostensibly – is written in a language I speak. I prefer the equations.

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