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Journal of No. 118


July 27th, 2012

Rime Isle & Millergrams I @ 05:19 pm


Rime Isle by Fritz Leiber is pretty much the last of the Fafhrd & Grey Mouser stories [I refuse to acknowledge the existence of The Knight and Knave of Swords]. Even this one is not really one of my favorites, but it has some nice details. But the book itself is quite handsome... one I picked up at a book sale. It's an early book from Whispers Press, and has Tim Kirk illustrations. It's also actually one of the lettered presentation copies, so it's signed by Leiber, Kirk and publisher Stuart David Schiff.

Millergrams I by Julius Sumner Miller is an odd little book from an odd little dude. A hundred-some questions and mini-experiments designed to inspire some thinking about science, using mostly examples from common experience. His style is really idiosyncratic, and occasionally he refuses to give the answer to his question, preferring that you think about it more. Some of them are pleasant old chestnuts, some are interesting little problems, some are infuriating. I quoted one a little while ago. Here's another, that again shows a bit of his peculiar (and often irritating (to me, anyway)) style:
You know how very light cork is. When you have a cork stopper in hand -- just now taken out of a bottle -- it weighs practically nothing. If thrown into a bowl of water it floats hardly sumberged. The stuff is very, very light. So -- quick now -- we have a ball of cork -- a sphere of cork -- 5 feet in diameter. Question: What does it weigh? Could you lift it? No calculations! Just give us a quick guess.


Mirabile dictu! The ball of cork weighs nearly half a ton! Would you believe it! Now prove it to yourself. It's an elegant exercise in elementary mathematics and it goes to show how deceptive are the volumes of spheres. Which is something to remember when next you buy a grapefruit, say -- or a melon. Since the volume of a sphere goes as the cube of a linear dimension, a melon just a wee bit bigger gives you much more melon.



And in other news...

Story submitted before deadline.

Can enjoy weekend in peace.
 
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Journal of No. 118