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What geeky fact have you 'dined out' on for years?
Lisa Miles
1287 Posts
After yet again telling someone that the earth is 93 million miles away from the sun and them being somewhat impressed that I know this information (with, as usual, the subsequent comment  of  'you’re such a geek'), it got me thinking about what other snippets of geekiness I’ve accumulated over the years and how often I bring them forth from the darkest depths of my brain and drop them into conversation.

Like the time I was over at Stansted Airport waiting for a flight and watching a thunderstorm rolling in over the airfield when I could hear a fellow passenger sat a couple of seats away as we were waiting at the gate, starting to worry and saying to her husband that surely, they will cancel the flight as it may get struck by lightning. The conversation went on for a short while and the poor lady was becoming more and more anxious as the clouds blackened and the flashes of lightning could be seen on the horizon. 

As I could tell from the conversation she was rather nervous about thunderstorms in general, I leant over and said “Actually, being in an aircraft during a thunderstorm is quite safe as even if it is struck by lightning it behaves like a large Faraday Cage. The electrical charge arcs through the outer shell of the plane protecting the electronics and the passengers inside” and then sat back in my seat. 

“Really?” she said looking hopeful at first but then quickly her brow furrowed in distrust. “How do you know that?” 

I was rather proud at that moment to tell her that I work for the IET and that I had many volunteers who work in the Aerospace industry. One of them who in fact worked (at the time) for BAE researching lightning strikes on aircraft. 

I’d like to think that it’s a 'snippet of geek’ that she remembers and perhaps ‘dined out’ on it on many occasions herself.

So what geeky engineering, technology or scientific snippets do you find yourself frequently dropping into conversation? What piece of info makes your friends and colleagues say "How on earth do you know that?" 😊
 
13 Replies
Zoomup
3166 Posts
I recently came across an old book entitled "Electrical Precipitation" by Sir Oliver Lodge D.Sc., F.R.S. dated 1925.  I have only started to read it. When I have mastered the salient facts I will use the info to obtain free lunches and dinners. The illustrated book comes under the sub heading of "Physics in Industry." The book contains a lecture given on 29th October 1924 given in The Hall of the Institution of Electrical Engineers London. (Thunder and lightning is mentioned.) 

The second thing that I am an expert in is, The Life and Times of Carrie Bradshaw and Big, from Sex and the City, the series. But that subject is difficult to introduce in polite circles.

Z.
Which of these is true?

a)  I have ridden on the top of a moving lift, about six floors worth.

b)  I went to the same school as Nigel Farage.

c)  I once piloted, from the right-hand seat, a bomber aircraft over the capital of a former iron curtain country.

Clive

 
Zoomup
3166 Posts
AncientMariner:
Which of these is true?

a)  I have ridden on the top of a moving lift, about six floors worth.

b)  I went to the same school as Nigel Farage.

c)  I once piloted, from the right-hand seat, a bomber aircraft over the capital of a former iron curtain country.

Clive

 

All of them I reckon. But was (b)  on a day visit or for a school concert just for one evening?

Z.

Lisa Miles
1287 Posts
AncientMariner:
Which of these is true?

a)  I have ridden on the top of a moving lift, about six floors worth.

b)  I went to the same school as Nigel Farage.

c)  I once piloted, from the right-hand seat, a bomber aircraft over the capital of a former iron curtain country.

Clive

Oooh I think they're all true Clive... 😉

Tell me more about riding on the top of a lift. That sounds like it may have a bit of a story behind it! 😂
Yes, all true.
For Zoom, we were not there at the same time; I am about 14 years older than Nigel!

For Lisa, more of a story with the bomber!
As for the lift, would have been in 1998 when I was on the Newport Bay, a P&O Containers ship http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=39492
It was for routine checks of lift-shaft lighting and the control panel on top of the cabin which allowed slow-speed control from that position. There were two of us there, myself and the Chief Engineer.
The "bomber" flight was in 2007 when my wife and I went to Budapest to watch the Red Bull Air Race. Well worth it. Cheap flights via Easyjet and a cheap hotel in the Castle District where you actually looked down at the race along the river below. Amazing.  Besides the actual race, there was a good airshow as well.
http://ancient-mariner.co.uk/public/Budapest%20August%202007%20089.jpg

Anyway, besides visiting the Elektrotechnikai Muzeum http://ancient-mariner.co.uk/public/Budapest%20August%202007%20122.jpg we found that there were light aircraft flights over the city.  We couldn't resist, so booked a flight. The pilot picked us up at our hotel and on the way to the airfield asked if we had been in a small aircraft before. (This is pilot speak for, "are you going to be sick?") I said that we were both fine in light aircraft as I had a UK PPL and about 120 hours. Good he said, you can fly. He did the take off and directed me to the river, then the standard phrase, "you have control",  then it was simply follow the river - well past the point where had it been London I would have been flying in company with the RAF.
http://ancient-mariner.co.uk/public/Budapest%20August%202007%20135.jpg

http://ancient-mariner.co.uk/public/Budapest%20August%202007%20141.jpg
We turned back just before the Hungarian Government building.
The aircraft was a Zlin 43 a Czech 4-seat trainer; used by the Hungarian, Algerian, Cuban and East German Air Forces. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zl%C3%ADn_Z_43 This one, HA-FBG owned by the now defunct Hungarian National Airline's flying club.  
http://ancient-mariner.co.uk/public/Budapest%20August%202007%20146.jpg with my wife and rear seat passenger standing by.

A bomber?  Well, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka operated the Z-143 version, modified to carry four bombs mounted on the undercarriage.

If you go to http://ancient-mariner.co.uk/public/ you can find an index. I did not make any claims about being a Red Arrows pilot, that would have been untrue, but if you go to RAF Photo.jpg I am the guy on the front row a bit grey round the edges......
Clive
 
Lisa Miles
1287 Posts
Awww Clive! And there was I thinking you were going to tell us about how you'd accidentally found yourself on top of a lift that was supposed to be out of service... 🤭
I went to school with Wendy James from Transvision Vamp - does that beat Farage? Apart from that I should have won a tenner from our workshop foreman for being the only one that knew the speed of light but since I answered in m/s and he wanted miles/s (him not understanding the difference) I never got the prize. I've been a bitter and twisted shell of a man ever since...
Lisa Miles
1287 Posts
HoxtonHockler:
I should have won a tenner from our workshop foreman for being the only one that knew the speed of light but since I answered in m/s and he wanted miles/s (him not understanding the difference) I never got the prize. I've been a bitter and twisted shell of a man ever since...

 

So just how fast is the speed of light in m/s HoxtonHockler...? 🤔
mapj1
3760 Posts
answered in m/s and he wanted miles/s (him not understanding the difference)

I feel your pain. Despite many years I'm really quite shocked when I find people who inhabit the planet who really cannot be bothered to find out even the basics about how the stuff they depend on to keep them alive actually works.
Perhaps knowing c and a few other basics like the size of the planet to the nearest Mm (*)  and why the sun rinsing in the east  is the same as our time being ahead of New York should be made the entry criteria for nightclubs or something.
Mike
* yes I do mean Mm not mm, and the answer is a radius of about 7 of them.
Lisa Miles
1287 Posts
mapj1:
... and why the sun rinsing in the east  is the same as our time being ahead of New York 

Definitely know where you're coming from with that one Mike! I've lost count of the amount of people I've come across that don't quite understand the workings of the earth's time zones. 😕

hertzal123
75 Posts
AncientMariner:
Which of these is true?

a)  I have ridden on the top of a moving lift, about six floors worth.

b)  I went to the same school as Nigel Farage.

c)  I once piloted, from the right-hand seat, a bomber aircraft over the capital of a former iron curtain country.

Clive

Were You delivering Cadburys Milk Tray to the 6th floor Clive?

 

hertzal123:
Were You delivering Cadburys Milk Tray to the 6th floor Clive?
No, not on that occasion, plus I would likely have had half the box on the way up. But there was one memorable time when I was in bed with the Captain's daughter.  There was a knock on the door and in came the Captain....
Clive

 
To answer the unasked question, "What did he say?" He said, "Good Morning" 
His daughter and I had been married for about 3 years!

My father-in-law was at that time, Captain or Master to give the correct title of one of Shell Tankers' methane carriers: Methane Princess and Methane Progress in rotation. We had gone down to Canvey Island, where the methane gas terminal was, on a visit.

I have been asked a couple of times to give a talk on my time at sea, and this story usually wakes a few up. So, I have in fact dined out on it.
Clive

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