One time, on a particularly cloudy holiday with friends, Feedback glanced up at the sky and noticed a dim ball of light floating not far above the horizon.
“Look at that,” we said, for want of anything more interesting to say. “It’s the day-moon.”
Readers, it was not the day-moon. It was, in fact, the sun.
What this anecdote serves to illustrate is that if something has been askew in the heavens of late, Feedback would be among the last to notice.
So you can imagine our surprise at discovering that a coven of “baby witches” has hexed the moon. Or, at least, so says the internet.
It appears that in an occult corner of the social networking app TikTok – known as WitchTok to its friends – a group of young witches decided to cast a curse on the moon. This appears to have caused all sorts of turmoil within the witchcraft community, and no little amusement outside it.
For, after all, we people of science know that the moon cannot be hexed. The moon isn’t some primordial reservoir of arcane energy to be used in witchcraft. It is a symbol for mutually antagonistic countries to race towards in an attempt to prove the relative superiority of their way of life. Much more sensible.
A worrying trend in the Feedback inbox of late is the amount of attention that nominative determinism spotters are devoting to New Scientist itself.
We pass no judgement on this, but point ominously at a drawing of a snake eating its own tail while muttering about infinite recursion under our breath.
This week, for example, James Haigh writes in to comment on the name of an expert quoted in an article on public health policy regarding obesity.
“Michael Lean interviewed for the ‘Public health’s hard problem’ article??” asks James, making excellent use of the lesser-spotted (well, double-spotted, really) double question mark. “You couldn’t make this stuff up.”
Some weeks ago, Feedback invited readers to send in the opening lines of limericks that we would do our humble best to complete.
Thank you to Ted Webber for throwing down the first gauntlet, based – in his words – on a New Scientist cover story. The opening line he wanted us to riff off was “If consciousness lies in our gut”. Well, Ted, here you go. Don’t say you didn’t ask for it.
If consciousness lies in our gut,
Then what is the role of the butt?
Neither Kant nor Foucault
Have pretended to know,
But to us it seems: open and shut.
Don’t be a square
Big news for geometry fans this week, as a German court has ruled that the Ritter Sport brand of chocolate can keep its trademark on square-shaped bars.
In its report, the BBC referred to the case as reinforcing Ritter’s “three-dimensional monopoly”, which – while being a charming phrase – perplexed Feedback. It goes without saying that the chocolates are three-dimensional: to our knowledge, no one has yet derived any pleasure from licking an atom-thick layer of chocolate spread off a graphene substrate.
But the trademark specifically covers square chocolate, not cubic chocolate. This, we are afraid, is a two-dimensional monopoly. And the reason we are afraid to say it is because the last time we checked, Hasbro had the trademark on that.
New chip on the block
While we are on the subject of chocology (chocolatey topology), Feedback was intrigued by a story this week about the quest to redesign the chocolate chip.
It turns out that the conventional tear-drop shaped chocolate chip, while effective in a brute force sort of way, lacks the geometrical finesse that chocolate chip cookie bakers wish it would have.
Namely, according to The Times, “it lacks a broad surface area to maximise taste and texture”. That is why Remy Labesque at Tesla – yes, electric car maker Tesla – has spent three years attempting a chocolatey redesign.
The new shape is a squashed diamond that tapers in three directions to maximise the textures it can achieve when melted. It is aesthetic, allegedly scientific and above all tasty. Feedback will be awaiting future updates with heavy and bated breath.
There have been times of late, what with all this plague business going around, that the world has seemed to take on a distinctly medieval hue.
If you find this state of affairs discomfiting, then Feedback’s suggestion is that you stay well away from the Swedish island of Gotland. According to a report in The Times, the powers that be on Gotland have commissioned a troupe of knights on horseback to patrol the area around the ferry terminal, reminding people to socially distance.
The article is sadly lacking in detail about how exactly these reminders are to be enforced. At the point of a lance, perhaps? Or through several layers of PPE chainmail? Either way, the convergence of Sweden, medieval knights and global pandemic has a certain The Seventh Seal-iness about it that is making Feedback shiver.
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