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Adolph for the Tenner…

The ten pound note has to be replaced soonish. There would appear to be a serious rick-rolling of Alan Turing here which made me think “Who else?”. Now don’t get me wrong. Alan Turing would be fine with me. As would, in principle, James Maxwell (a man who is nowhere near as publically honoured as he ought to be). A truly astonishing theoretical physicist.

∇.D=p

∇.B=0

∇xE=-∂B/∂t

∇xH= ∂D/∂t+j

That is electricity and magnetism for you – all of it – that is kettles and Tesla coils, EKG and lasers – our everything. That is one of the four fundamental forces of nature conclusively decked and so neat, so simple. Those equations are also pregnant with relativity. They are, anyway, awesomely elegant. That is why I studied physics. To see such beauties dance. Think on it. Reality that will fit on a small Post-It! You can derive the speed of light as a universal constant from those simple equations if you know The Calculus and vectors. Maxwell also made profound contributions to thermodynamics as did Josiah Willard Gibbs (with his “Grand Cannonical Ensemble” – available for birthdays, weddings and ba(r/t)-mitzvahs) who we have to thank for the modern vector notation those equations are written in. Maxwell’s original work is (and was) verging on impenetrable without it. If you are reading this with a mug of tea or coffee on the go then the number of accessible microstates of that beverage is e to the power ten to the power twenty three (roughly). Trust me, that is big. And might involve a demon. I sat through many lectures on ergodic theory and it was nails. I liked that. I knew students of the Farts and Shitterature. I learned hard reality (and how to duck and cover when Denver’s (yes it was his name) and the experiment with an unfeasible quantity of used cooking oil frequently went Pete Tong*. The others learned to say such and such about some book.

So, why not Maxwell? Alas, I feel that if we replace one heavily bearded bald Victorian gent on the tenner (Darwin) with another people won’t notice the change. I will, obviously. So, let us honour Maxwell otherwise – and he deserves it. Dear Gods he does! He easily makes the Holy Trinity of British Scientists along with Newton and Darwin.

As I said, Turing would be fine. The Daily Mash seems to be cheerleading for US rapper Will I Am (I think his mum still calls him “William”) which just makes me think, “Why not Ant & Dec?”. Crusty old bugger I am. But if we are to have a debate then why not Adolph? Obviously not the genocidal tooth-brush ‘tashed Austrian mono-orchid lunatic but this Adolph…

Adolph Gysbert Malan, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar (24 March 1910 – 17 September 1963), better known as Sailor Malan, was a famed South African World War II RAF fighter pilot who led No. 74 Squadron RAF during the height of the Battle of Britain. Malan was known for sending German bomber pilots home with dead crews as a warning to other Luftwaffe crews. Under his leadership No. 74 became one of the RAF’s best units. Malan scored 27 kills, seven shared destroyed, three probably destroyed and 16 damaged.

Malan survived the war – to become involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his country.

*****

With the rationalisation of 4 FTS to just two squadrons, 74(R) Sqn was disbanded on 22 September 2000.

In 2008, No.74 would have celebrated its 90th anniversary, however No. 74 (F) Squadron still lives on through the 74 (F) Tiger Squadron Association, which brings together former tigers from all generations for a yearly reunion dinner. Pending raising the necessary funds, plans are in place to create a museum dedicated to the Squadron’s history at their former base of Horsham St Faith, now Norwich Airport.

Hardly the same. Stick Sailor on the tenner. It is the least we owe him.

This is Group Captain Malan…

Sailor

Stick him on the tenner with a couple of Spitfires. Job done. We could do much worse. He fought like a tiger in a battle half a world away from his home and he kept on fighting after the war. A genuine hero.

*Denver was pouring used cooking oil down an inclined plane to investigate the connection between flow-rate and the way it “combed” at the “drip-end”. Well, I thought it interesting. Now you might think that dull but there is truly fascinating physics lurking. And useful for a huge number of industrial processes to boot!

4 Comments

  1. prog says:

    ‘Denver was pouring used cooking oil down an inclined plane to investigate the connection between flow-rate and the way it “combed” at the “drip-end”. Well, I thought it interesting. Now you might think that dull but there is truly fascinating physics lurking. And useful for a huge number of industrial processes to boot!’

    Not dull at all, and one to remember next time the missus accidentally knocks over the chip pan….although I guess this might produce a slightly different cone shape at the drip end of a 250 degreeC torrent of liquid beef dripping….

    Seriously though, I really wish I’d taken more interest in physics lessons.

  2. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    For some reason whem you said James Maxwell, I thought of James Murdoch and then thought … Nick’s lost his mind. I mean I like a bit of contrarian thought from time to time, but that might be pushing it a bit.

  3. John Galt says:

    Unfortunately for the Turingists and Malanista’s they all fail the test for appearing on the new tenner, in that they don’t have a whacking great amount of face fungus to defeat counterfeiters.

    Even Brenda (Gord bless ‘er Maj) has tenderly curled locks to set the heart of any Bank of England anti-counterfeiting experts heart a-flutter.

    Have you seen Maxwell’s beard? You could lose a heard of wildebeest in that damn thing!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/James_Clerk_Maxwell.png

  4. HSLD says:

    Malan is a very good choice, but there are so many – Tuck, Bader, Johnson…
    Or how about Dr RV Jones ?

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