I had some time to spare in Oxford last week and visited the Treasury in the Weston Library again (see my post entitled ‘The Red Crane‘ on July 26th, 2017). I was amazed to be confronted by an eight-hundred year-old copy of the Magna Carta. No fuss, no fanfare, just sitting there behind a glass screen as close as you are to your screen as you read this blog. But the Bodleian Library has four copies of the Magna Carta; so, maybe it’s nothing special to them! This one is slightly dogged-eared, or to be more precise, rodent-nibbled – there were a couple of small holes where an animal had gnawed it while it was folded up and stored at Osney Abbey from its issue following King John’s death in 1217 until the Abbey’s dissolution in 1539. The equivalent documents in the USA, the declaration of independence, the constitution and the bill of rights, are housed in the grandiose building on the National Mall, shown in the picture.
After the Weston Library Treasury, I went to the bookshop next door and could not resist buying a couple of books: ‘Signs Preceding the End of the World‘ by Yuri Herrara and ‘The Wandering Falcon‘ by Jamil Ahmad. Hopefully, I will not succumb to tsundoku (see my post on ‘Tsundoku‘ on May 24th, 2017) and will eventually read these novels. BTW – you can read the Magna Carta here.
It’s October and the start of university term, which also means that once again I am teaching thermodynamics to first-year undergraduate students. I have blogged on thermodynamics frequently; so, I am going to provide links to these posts during the next couple of months. Primarily for those of my undergraduate students who find their way to this blog, but hopefully these links will also be of interest to regular readers. My opening lecture set thermodynamics in the context of the more familiar sciences as described in my post entitled ‘And then we discovered thermodynamics‘ on February 3rd, 2016. Last week’s lecture started with the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics, which I have discussed in two posts entitled ‘All things being equal‘ on December 3rd, 2014 and ‘Lincoln on equality‘ on February 6th, 2013 – now I’ve gone in a full circle, if somewhat shakily!