Technology development and News Quiz cuttings

In the 1970s, when I was at university doing research, I used a fairly esoteric piece of equipment and technique that gloried in the name electron spin resonance spectroscopy, ESR for short (or even EPR for reasons I will not go into here). The equipment was specialised, very expensive, needed special water cooling and electricity supply, and was so large that it had its own moderately-sized room. Since then, I have not taken much notice of developments in this field. But, a few days ago, I noticed an advert for an ESR machine that would fit into a 30cm (1 foot) cube. I know I should not have been staggered – because everything electronic has shrunk enormously – but I was. How did it get to be so small and so readily available? At this rate I can imagine, in just a few years time, picking up a portable ESR machine from a dump bin in Aldi.

I enjoy listening to The News Quiz on Radio 4. A new series start this Friday. I thought I might apply for tickets for the audience so I took a look at the BBC website. Of course, they had all been booked. But the website had a link to “news cuttings”, where people can send in funny stories from newspapers etc for possible broadcast in the programme. A few of these are on the website and I thought some of them were funny enough to bear repeating.

Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because they cannot issue a description. It’s a special branch vehicle, and they don’t want the public to know what it looks like. (The Guardian)

A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth was rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coastguard spokesman commented, “This sort of thing is all too common”. (The Times)

Commenting on a complaint from a Mr.Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, “We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It’s possible Mr.Purdey has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that blew his house to pieces.” (Bangkok Post)

Would the congregation please note that the bowl at the back of the church labelled ‘for the sick’ is for monetary donations only. (Churchtown Parish Magazine)

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