March 8th, 2003

Fishy Circumstances

Crystal revisited

Recently I posted on the origin of the English word crystal. In its earliest forms, it refers to petrified ice. Rock crystal, i.e. quartz, was used to make most of the earliest lenses. All evidence seems to show that pre-Medieval lenses were only used for starting fires and the like, not for looking at small things and making them look larger. Since the lenses made for starting fires were made out of what was considered petrified ice, it seems only appropriate that you can entirely skip the bit where the ice petrifies, and just make a lens directly out of ice for your fire-starting needs.

At least, this is true as long as you have a good quality water supply. This might not work if you live in Belgium.
Fishy Circumstances


Yesterday was social and educational and tiring. I learned new ways in which the "new" library catalog is messed up, and how, no, the librarians can't correct the location of a book which is stored in Gerstein, not in Engineering, so yes, unless I go directly to the cataloging people, this book will continue to be listed as being in Engineering when it isn't. I learned a great deal about the use of Terrence in sixteenth-century classrooms and later understood a great deal more of how concepts of time permeated scholastic thinking.

I went to the CRRS pub night for the first time, and had one of those sadly rare conversations with peers which was highly academic, full of Ideas and Thoughts and Interesting, Useful information. Afterwards, unexpectedly, I ran into Patrick over a fast food dinner, and we spent time catching up - that was good. I haven't seen him in ages since I don't have class with him anymore.

During the late evening reception after John North's talk, I met lots of people, and talked to many more I already knew. Here is the best excerpt from last evening's conversations:

R. "It is not known..." (pauses thoughtfully)
G. (turning to me) "What did he say?"
Me "It is not known."
G. "What?"
Me "We don't know!"