GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XXXI)

Focused Learning

The Danny Lim Professor of Engineering at the university is a certain Ian Doubleday. I know this because I spoke to Dr. Doubleday quite recently. He was a very helpful man, friendly, and willing to do all he could to assist with my enquiry. It was a complex matter and all other sources of information had been exhausted. An expert opinion was required. We conversed on the phone, he had cut short a lecture to speak to me, and he made sure I was fully informed about all the issues before he made his apologies and said goodbye. Said something about tea with the Vice Chancellor and the Education Minister.

Titus was listening – the conversation was on speaker phone – from his position sitting on the Andraskan rug in the middle of my lounge room floor. He made the occasional thoughtful note in his Moleskine notebook as the professor and I talked. The little chap was building a model of the Cathedral of Beauvais out of Lego and he wanted to get the structural weaknesses just right in construction so that his model would begin to gradually collapse just like the real building has been doing for the last 800 years. He has become fascinated with gothic architecture recently. With Chartres and Limoges cathedrals completed he thought he’d move onto something really challenging, but the cracks weren’t appearing in his model, and it seemed that the thing was built too well. Beauvais refused to fall down.

Until he applied Dr. Doubleday’s advice, and when he did the structure visibly weakened almost immediately. Titus clapped his hands and is face beamed. Then he collected himself and declared that he was “satisfied” with that “result”. I knew he was excited though. But instead of running to the kitchen when his grandmother called him for a bowl of afternoon ice cream the little chap continued observing and making notes. When he dragged himself away and sat with Nancy and I at the kitchen table he explained that the walls were now too thin and too tall and that was the mistake that had been made in the thirteenth century. He then concentrated on the bowl in front of him, enjoying the chunks of chocolate and the swirl of raspberry which our friends at The Ice Cream Emporium do so well. Or at least that’s what I thought he was thinking about. That’s what I was thinking about. It tastes so good.

You may understand my surprise when the boy opined that the swirl of raspberry, made by Laszlo and his team of former Albanian refugees who learned the ice cream business in Italy, resembled the spirals formed by magnetic fields in spiral galaxies. In particular the Milky Way. (He wasn’t referring to the chocolate bar.) The boy has also become interested in the stars of late. We’ve looked at the heavens using my telescope on the roof. I’ve tried to encourage him in whatever pursuits appeal to him, however this was going too far. First engineering, and now astronomy.

I led him by hand to the lounge room and we watched an episode of Rumpole Of The Bailey on DVD. It got his mind back on the law, and put my mind at rest. You can have too much science.

Published in: on September 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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