Today I popped into the library at Manchester, which has temporarily relocated to Deansgate while the Central Library building is being renovated. Hopefully that renovation will involve removal of the ‘reading-room echo’ which turned creaks into gunshots under the central dome.
Having selected three interesting books to read (Stuart Diamond, David Hewson and Amir Aczel) I decided to browse thru New Scientist in case the latest issue carried any exciting job adverts.
Alas, it did not; but one of the news articles concerned a peculiar biological defect, the reverse of colour-blindness; it seems that a small fraction of the female population has superior colour vision and is able to discern four different primary colours. The author helpfully pointed out that they eye has receptors for red, blue and green, which combine to give the entire range of colours – just like the printing process. No! I cried: surely a magazine like NS would expect their readers to know about three-colour printing, and how it is subtractive not additive.

Then I went for a look round the Museum of Science and Industry, which may have to close due to proposed reduction in funding. Some of the exhibits are a bit dull and scruffy, with little in the way of explanation. It occurred to me that there is a basic problem with this kind of museum, in that it is devoted to technology and production – unlike art galleries or concert halls, which belong to the world of cultivated leisure. The large, heavy exhibits (aircraft and Model-T cars) need to be positioned to make use of the room available, and cannot easily be moved afterwards; because of this, maintenance of the building is neglected and the place begins to look shabby and forlorn. But I was looking at the caption on one of the items on display, and read that “Frank Whittle developed the world’s first jet engine in 1937.” What towering significance lies in those four words!




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