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Archive for February, 2016

Going in to the 3rd weekend of the 2016 6 Nations  there were three unbeaten countries – England, France and Wales. With Wales beating France on Friday, and England beating Ireland on Saturday, the scene is now set for a showdown between England and Wales in the fourth round in a fortnight.

Wales v France

This match was the first of the weekend, being played on Friday evening in Cardiff. I am currently in Namibia (Southern Africa), but there was no problem finding a place to watch the match as all the 6 Nations games are being shown on a South African sports channel here. I watched the Wales v France game in a restaurant, but I have to say I found the contents of my plate far more interesting than the first half of this match.

Wales went in to half-time 6-3 ahead in a dour first half. Thankfully the second half was slightly better; Wales quickly opened up a 19-3 lead thanks to a try by George North and a conversion and two penalties by Dan Biggar. However, the highlight of the second half for me was the wonderful defence that Wales showed in keeping France out during a 15-or-so minute siege of their try line.

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Wales defeated France 19-10 in Cardiff on Friday evening

France did get a consolation try when the game was all but over, to leave the final score 19-10. This scoreline gives a slightly false impression of the game; a game in which France created nothing and looked even worse than a lacklustre Wales. Wales have now beaten France five times in a row, the last time we lost to them was the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup in November 2011. Additionally, Wales have now gone undefeated in seven straight 6 Nations matches; our last defeat was to England in Cardiff in the opening match of the 2015 6 Nations.

Italy v Scotland

I saw nothing of this game, but I am pleased to see that Scotland halted their abysmal run of 6 Nations defeats by finally registering a win, beating Italy 36-20 in Rome. They showed such promise in the World Cup, and I really hope they can use this win to start winning some 6 Nations matches and playing as well as they did in last year’s World Cup. The 6 Nations is better when playing against Scotland are not a guaranteed win, as it seems to have been for almost all the other countries for the last several years.

England v Ireland

I did not watch this match, but I followed it on the internet. England had a narrow 6-3 lead at half-time, and went down 10-6 through a try by Ireland scrum half Connor Murray. From what I read, in a short 10-minute period in the second half they scored two tries and went from 6-10 down to a 21-10 lead, which they never relinquished, despite having 2 players sin-binned. So far, they are the team that have most impressed me in this 6 Nations, they have found a new lease of life under the new coach Eddie Jones.

Twickenham callling

The fourth round of 6 Nations matches in a fortnight’s time, and the big match is England v Wales in Twickenham on the 12th. Thankfully I will  be back from my travelling for that match, so far I have been away for all three rounds. This game is massive for both sides. For Wales it is, of course, a chance to not only defeat the old enemy, but to win two matches in a row at Twickenham for the first time since the 1970s, and to scupper England’s chance of a Grand Slam and to leave us with the strongest chance of winning the Championships ourselves (with only Italy at home remaining).

For England, it is an opportunity to put the nightmare of their defeat by Wales and their exit from the World Cup behind them. There is absolutely no doubt that both sides will look upon it as the biggest match of the 6 Nations, and I expect a very fiery encounter. if Wales are to stand any chance of winning they will certainly have to play better than they have so far done in this 6 Nations. But, a sign of a good team is when they win and don’t play particularly well in doing so. I think this is true of this Wales team. We shall see in Twickenham!

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At number 12 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters is Brian Wilson. Wilson is the creative genius behind The Beach Boys, one of the most innovative bands of the 1960s. He has written such timeless classics as ‘God Only Knows’ (which I have blogged about here and here), ‘Sloop John B’ (which I blogged about here), ‘Good Vibrations’ (which I blogged about here), ‘Surfin’ USA’ and many others.

At number 12 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Brian Wilson.

At number 12 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Brian Wilson.

In addition to being a prolific songwriter, Wilson produced many of the Beach Boys’ records, becoming a master of multi-track recording in the days when most studios had a four-track recorder if they were lucky. His production of the Beach Boys’ seminal 1966 album Pet Sounds is considered one of the great works of the 1960s.

The song I thought I would share from Wilson’s vast songwriting catalogue is one of the Beach Boys’ early ones – ‘Little Deuce Coupe’. This song was released in July of 1963 as the B-side to the single ‘Surfer Girl’. It is also the title and first track on their fourth studio album, Little Deuce Coupe. Of course, the song has the Beach Boys’ trademark close-harmony singing.

One of the reasons I chose this particular song is that the title is essentially incomprehensible to someone from the Disunited Kingdom (and possibly most other places too!), until you find out what a ‘deuce coupe’ is. It is/was a slang term for a Ford Model 18, the 1932 model was called the ‘deuce coupe’. Another reason I chose this song is that it typifies the early 1960s Beach Boys’ “surfer sound”, which didn’t just glamorise the surfing culture but also cars and the car culture of southern California.

Little deuce Coupe
You don’t know what I got
Little deuce Coupe
You don’t know what I got

Well I’m not braggin’ babe so don’t put me down
But I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town
When something comes up to me he don’t even try
Cause if I had a set of wings man I know she could fly
She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got
(My little deuce coupe)
(You don’t know what I got)

Just a little deuce coupe with a flat head mill
But she’ll walk a Thunderbird like (she’s) it’s standin’ still
She’s ported and relieved and she’s stroked and bored.
She’ll do a hundred and forty with the top end floored
She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got
(My little deuce coupe)
(You don’t know what I got)

She’s got a competition clutch with the four on the floor
And she purrs like a kitten till the lake pipes roar
And if that ain’t enough to make you flip your lid
There’s one more thing, I got the pink slip daddy

And comin’ off the line when the light turns green
Well she blows ’em outta the water like you never seen
I get pushed out of shape and it’s hard to steer
When I get rubber in all four gears

She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got
(My little deuce coupe)
(You don’t know what I got)
She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got
(My little deuce coupe)
(You don’t know what I got)
She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got

Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite Brian Wilson song?

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Wales coach Warren Gatland has announced the Wales team to face France in Cardiff tomorrow (Friday) evening a day early. He has made three changes from the team who defeated Scotland on Saturday February 13, with one of his changes being to bring winger Alex Cuthbert back into the starting fifteen. I have to say, I am surprised by this decision as Cuthbert’s form of late has been woeful, but there is no doubt that Gatland is a fan of the big winger.

The other non-enforced change is to bring Dan Lydiate back in as blind side flanker, with captain Sam Warburton moving back to his preferred position of open side flanker. I think most pundits agree that playing Warburton at blind side and having Justin Tipuric at open side in our opening two games of this year’s 6 Nations has not really worked. Being at blind side, Warburton has been slower to the breakdown than he normally is, and as a consequence Wales have not been able to turnover possession as much as they usually do. We have also, in my opinion, missed Lydiate’s chop-tackling. But, there is no doubt that it is nice to have the flexibility of either playing Warburton with Lydiate or pairing him with Tipuric, and Gatland would argue that he sets the balance of the back row depending on who the opposition is.

The third and final change is enforced by injury to Luke Charteris, so Bradley Davies comes in to replace him in the second row.

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Coach Warren Gatland has made three changes to the Wales team to face France tomorrow (Friday) evening in Cardiff. Two are tactical, one is enforced by injury

Wales go into their third game of the 2016 6 Nations undefeated, with a draw away from home against Ireland in their opening match, and a win over Scotland at home in the second round. France, however, have two wins from two, with wins over Italy and Ireland. In my opinion, France have not looked very impressive in either of these two wins, and Wales have a good chance I think of racking up their fifth win in a row over them.

The other matches this weekend are both on Saturday, Italy v Scotland followed by England v Ireland. Ireland’s chances of retaining the 6 Nations title are all but dead after their defeat against France, whereas England (like France) are two wins from two. Should Wales and England both win this weekend then it will be certainly be game-on for our clash with England; the clash between the two at Twickenham on March 12 could be the title decider. So, here’s hoping that Ireland defeat England and do us a favour this weekend!

The full 23-man squad to face France is below.

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Wales’ 23-man squad to face France tomorrow (Friday) evening

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At number 27 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is their 1965 song “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”. This song was a John Lennon & Paul McCartney collaboration, which was pretty rare by 1965. It was the last song composed for their album Help! before they started filming for the movie of the same name.

“You’re Going to Lose that Girl” features wonderful harmonies. Lennon takes the lead vocal with McCartney and George Harrison harmonising in the responses to Lennon’s vocals. It was recorded in February of 1965, and appears as the 6th track on the first side of the album Help!, which was released in August 1965.

In the USA, the song was originally entitled “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl”, which is what the band actually say; but this was later changed to the same title as its British release. Incidentally, as far back as 1963 the Beatles were using “americanisms” in their songs, with “yeah, yeah, yeah” in their 1963 song “Please Please Me” being an obvious example. This was just following the American music to which they had listened whilst growing up, but at the time McCartney’s father remarked on this, suggesting that they should sing “yes, yes, yes” instead!

At number 27 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is "You're Going to Lose That Girl".

At number 27 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”.

You’re going to lose that girl
You’re going to lose that girl
If you don’t take her out tonight
She’s going to change her mind
And I will take her out tonight
And I will treat her kind

You’re going to lose that girl
You’re going to lose that girl
If you don’t treat her right, my friend
You’re going to find her gone
Cos I will treat her right, and then
You’ll be the lonely one

You’re going to lose that girl
You’re going to lose that girl
I’ll make a point
Of taking her away from you, yeah
The way you treat her what else can I do?

You’re going to lose that girl
You’re going to lose that girl
I’ll make a point
Of taking her away from you, yeah
The way you treat her what else can I do?

If you don’t take her out tonight
She’s going to change her mind
And I will take her out tonight
And I will treat her kind
You’re going to lose that girl
You’re going to lose that girl
You’re going to lose that girl

Here is a video of this lovely song. Enjoy!

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One of the physicists in our book Ten Physicists Who Transformed Our Understanding of Reality (follow this link for more information on the book) is, not surprisingly, Isaac Newton. In fact, he is number 1 in the list. One could argue that he practically invented the subject of physics. We decided to call him the ‘father of physics’, with Galileo (whose life preceded Newton’s) being given the title of ‘grandfather’.

Newton was, clearly, a man of genius. But he was also a nasty, vindictive bastard (not to mince my words!). He didn’t really have any close friends in his life; there were plenty of people who admired him and respected him, and of course he had colleagues. But, apart from a niece whom he seemed to dote on in later life, and two men with whom he probably had love affairs, he was not a man who sought company. He was probably autistic, but lived at a time before such conditions were diagnosed or talked about.

Isaac Newton (1643-1727), the ‘father of physics’. He relished in feuding with other scientists

One sort of interaction that he did seem to enjoy with other people though was feuds. In fact, he seemed to thrive on feuding with other scientists. He loved to argue with others, which is not uncommon amongst academics. He had strong opinions which he liked to defend; this is normal. But, Newton took these disputes to an extreme; if he fell out with someone he would do everything he could to destroy that person.

Although I am sure that he had many ‘minor’ arguments, he had three main feuds with fellow scientists. These three men were

  • Robert Hooke – curator of experiments at the Royal Society
  • Gottfried (von) Leibniz – the German mathematician
  • John Flamsteed – the first Astronomer Royal

In each case, he did his level best to destroy the other man. Each of these feuds is discussed in more detail in our book, but in this blogpost I will give a brief summary of his feud with Leibniz.

The feud came about because Newton refused to believe that Leibniz had independently come up with the mathematical idea of calculus. It was a recurring theme throughout Newton’s life that he sincerely believed that he was special. He had deep religious views (some would say extreme religious views). As part of these views, he believed that he had been specially chosen by God to understand things that others would never be able to understand.

Thus, when he heard that Leibniz had developed a mathematics similar to his own ‘theory of fluxions’ (as Newton called it), he naturally assumed that the German had stolen it from him. There then ensued a 30-year dispute between the two men, with Newton very much the aggressor.

Gottfried (von) Leibniz (1646-1716), German mathematician and co-inventor of calculus

It escalated from a dispute to a feud, and culminated in the Royal Society commissioning an ‘official investigation’ to establish propriety for the invention of calculus. When the report came out in 1713 it came out in Newton’s favour. But, by this time Newton was not only President of the Royal Society, but he had secretly authored the entire report. It was anything but impartial. Leibniz died the following year, a broken man from Newton’s relentless attacks.

One should, of course, be able to to admire a person for their work but not admire them in the least for the person that they were. Newton, in my mind, falls very firmly into this category. His contribution to physics is unparalleled, but I don’t think he was the kind of person one would want to know or even come across if one could help it!

Ten Physicists Who Transformed Our Understanding of Reality is available now. Follow this link to order

Ten Physicists Who Transformed Our Understanding of Reality is available now. Follow this link to order

What is your favourite story about Newton?

 

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Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, Chelsea played Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup. They thrashed a below-strength Man City 5-1, and so still have a chance to win some silverware this season. Quite a turn around after a disasterous start to their season, which saw José Mourinho sacked after players mutinied against him. 

 

It will be interesting to see whether there are any complaints or investigations into Manuel Pelligrini’s decision to field an under-strength team for this FA Cup clash. Certainly the Premiership takes a very dim view of such things, but maybe the FA accepts that the FA Cup is not a top team’s priority these days. 

Man City, of course, have their sights set on winning the Premiership and progressing in the Champions League. And, with Pep Guardiola set to replace Pelligrini in the summer, it is likely that they are a team which has a golden few years to come. Chelsea, meanwhile, have very little chance of finishing in the top four, so winning the FA Cup can provide some joy at the end of a tempestuous season. 

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At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters is American songwriter Hank Williams. Williams is probably better known and more revered in the USA than in the Disunited Kingdom, but no less than Bob Dylan referred to him in a 1991 interview as “the best songwriter”.

Williams was born in Alabama in 1923, and died in 1953 in a car accident at the tragically young age of 29 (***correction – he died whilst travelling in a car, not from a car accident***). But, during a brief recording history he had 31 songs in the US Country charts top 10 between 1947 and 1953, and is considered to be one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century. Some of his better known songs are “Hey Good Lookin'”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “I Saw the Light” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart”.

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Hank Williams.

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Hank Williams.

The song I have decided to share in this blogpost is his 1951 song “Cold Cold Heart”. This was released as the B-side to the single “Dear John”.

I tried so hard,my dear,to show that you’re my every dream
Yet you’re afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme
A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

Another love before my time made your heart sad and blue
And so my heart is paying now for things I didn’t do
In anger, unkind words are said that make the teardrops start
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

You’ll never know how much it hurts to see you sit and cry
You know you need and want my love, yet you’re afraid to try
Why do you run and hide from life, to try it just ain’t smart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

There was a time when I believed that you belonged to me
But now I know your heart is shackled to a memory
The more I learn to care for you, the more we drift apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

Here is a video of Williams performing “Cold Cold Heart” live on TV. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite Hank Williams song?

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