Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Cockroaches and digital watches

I don’t often utter the name of Einstein, mathematical genius and social rascal. The most recent time I did was when I ordered a beer in a bar in Munich. There I attempted to ask for a beer in an accent that left the barman wondering and my origins in no doubt.

“Einstein danke!” I said, which apparently means ‘one stone thank you’. But frantic waving of an empty stein in his face did the trick and a ‘bier’ was duly placed in front of me and a huge number of euros changing hands was my penalty.

However, idle minds will wander and so mine did in the early hours of this AM to pose a question that has serious implications for watchmakers and timetables, so dear friends, I share it with you.

I am presuming sea levels will rise because we are too dumb to take climate change more seriously than repayments on our shiny new digital plasma TV’s, so let’s presume it will happen for the sake of the exercise. Put aside for a moment what sea level rise will do to our coastal cities and land, and come with me on a short foray into Einstein’s playground, Academia. Here we can share a bit of irrelevant research.

Most researchers and activists seem hell bent on writing papers on the sulphur crested long toed purple tongued tit or what planting the equally threatened daggy barked acacia in someone else’s back yard will do for the speckled bummed laughing frog, but we are serious. We are about to solve one of the last BIG questions still unanswered. Viz, ‘How much slower will the earth rotate when sea levels rise by one metre (projected to occur between the years 2050 and 2100’)?

Disclaimer: If you can’t follow the math, don’t look to me for erudition. I have no idea what I am doing or even if the premise has merit.

However, here is the raw data:
Diameter of Earth (average) = 12742 km.
Diameter is increased by 1 m sea level rise, but as surface is 2/3 sea, average increased diameter is 1x2/3 m or 0.0067 km (rounded).

The math.
Ratio of amount of change to old diameter: 0.0067/12742 = 5.258201224297598e-7
So to express that in time change per day in seconds, we convert to circular motion by dividing by Pi, then multiplying by 24x60x60 giving us longer days by 0.0144552731838872 seconds.

Now, that might not seem like much, but if you added up a whole year's worth it would come to 5.279788530414806 seconds. It is about how long it takes to exclaim ‘Well! I’ll be damned!’ But if you are serious about being on time, you are probably already on E-Bay looking for a digital watch that automatically adjusts for climate change. Apart from cockroaches, watches are one of the pitifully few things that can.


  1. I was with you right until the 'maths' paragraph - then my eyes glazed over. I was never much chop at maths at school, and that was a long time ago and I've never felt the urge to improve on the basics.
    It's funny how these things enter your brain in the middle of the night, isn't it? I haven't worn a watch for years and I hate digital clocks (I like to hear them tick), but I'm sure the horologists will be onto this in a flash.

  2. A brilliant post with a great ending (and the beginning was pretty funny - need to brush up on your German mein freund) - 'Apart from cockroaches, watches are one of the pitifully few things that can.' It is becoming apparent that humans cannot adapt as flexibly as we once thought and some humans of the Abbott/Monkton variety can't adapt at all. I am very impressed Stafford.

  3. Where's your tweet button Stafford - how else am I going to spread your great post. I'll have to do it the cut and paste of URL way.

  4. I'm with Sue ... glazed eyes over and all! Where DO you come up with all of this brilliance ... how do you have time?

  5. Stafford is a * Man With Hundreds of Hats *
    He Was Born * Brilliant *

    He Will No Doubt Be A * Brilliant Cloud Playing Guitar Player When He * Goes Off To Heaven *

    * Lucky Those Who Know Him *
    * Unlucky Those Who Try To Keep Up With Him **

    Creative ,Versatile , Witty and Eternally Wise


  6. I can only add CHEERS to Zany's comment! Now, where's my champagne?

  7. Thanks you of the 'converted'. Sue J, I am coming back as a horologist! Is that how you spell it!

  8. How erudite (or gelehrt in German ;)

  9. Hummmm... perhaps I drowned as the seas rose, can't seem to wrap my head around this. There are many changes coming... and I'm sure the cockroaches won't be bothered.

  10. The time has come,
    my little friends,
    to talk of other things

    Of shoes and ships and sealing wax,
    of cabbages and kings

    And why the sea is boiling hot,
    and whether pigs have wigs


  11. I'm hoping that my home will become oceanfront property!

  12. Came over via Goddess...and read your post. i think I'm going to need therapy. I just got back from an Alaskan fishing trip where it never, not once, got dark.

    It jacked me up.

    And now, this? I don't even wear a watch. And I hate cockroaches!

    Help me! And I like my straightjackets in fashion colors please.


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