04 May 2016

From Sports Detectives to Napoleon (and two stories in between)

It is a beautiful day in Sheffield right now.  The temperature is around 13 C (about 55 F), which feels great accompanied by a steady breeze.  My sabbatical journal has been a bit more sporadic than I originally thought, but that's fine.  It is what it is.  For now I'm enjoying life in Sheffield on a gorgeous spring day.  I spent 75 minutes working out at Ponds Forge this morning, followed by an hour teaching quantum mechanics to three of my tutorial students who showed up for an optional class.  Before getting back to the several upcoming talks I need to prepare for, I'll touch on a few items that have piqued my interest of late.

In May of 2015, I was flown up to New York City for three hours of interviewing for a show that is now on the Smithsonian Channel.  The show is called the Sports Detectives, and I provided sports physics commentary for a few of the topics that will be discussed during the six-part series.  For all the time I spent in front of a camera, the show will likely use just a few seconds here and there.  But that's okay by me!  Because I don't get the Smithsonian Channel here in Sheffield, my cousin was kind enough to send me a screen shot from this past Sunday's episode on Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception (click on the image for a larger view).
I'll have to wait until I return to the US in August to see the entire series.  But for now it's neat thinking about being on a television show for a few seconds.

The biggest sports story of the year just unfolded here in England.  Leicester City defied 5000-to-1 odds and won the Premier League Championship.  I've seen single-game upsets in my life that shocked me, but having a team with 5000-to-1 odds against it go through an entire season and win it all is something I've never seen.  I simply can't think of anything comparable in all the years I've watched sports in the US.  Check out the photo I took of the front page of the Metro I picked up on the bus yesterday morning (click on the image for a larger view).
Unless one has a rooting interest in another football club, who can't love this story?!?  Now if I had only put £20 on The Foxes at the beginning of the season ....

In other sports news, Sheffield once again played host to the World Snooker Championship.  The Crucible Theatre was the venue.  I confess that I know very little about snooker, but I couldn't help but get interested with the world championship being played in the city I currently live in.  I snapped the photo below a week before the tournament ended (click on the image for a larger view).
I love that topiary!  I'll miss seeing it when I walk from my bus stop to work in the morning.  Mark Selby won the championship, his second in the past three years.  I suppose it's only fitting that he was born in Leicester.  This is definitely Leicester's year!

I'll end this hodgepodge of a blog post with a short story about a book.  When we arrived in Sheffield last August, I bought In These Times by Jenny Uglow.  The book's subtitle is Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815.  I just finished the book, and before I'm criticised for reading a 600+-page book at a snail's pace, let me explain.  Uglow tells the story using many letters written by people who lived in Britain at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.  I got a real sense of what common people's lives were like at that time.  Sure there were stories about famous individuals like Horatio Nelson, but I was fascinated by the words common people wrote two centuries ago that described their struggles, joys, hopes, and fears.  The reason it took me nine months to finish the book is that I only read it while travelling, mostly on trains.  I loved reading about Britain while stealing glances out a train window and seeing the British countryside.  It was the first time I purposely experienced a book on history by reading it only while out in the places discussed in the book.  Only a couple of times was I lucky enough to be reading about a place that I was visiting, but there were many times I was reading about a location near where we were.  It was a fun way to read a great book!  Check out my copy of the book after I finished it (click on the image for a larger view).
It's certainly a worn book now.  But that's the best kind of book, isn't it?

This has been fun getting a few items off my mind and into a blog post today.  But now it's time to get back to talk preparations.  I'll write more on my upcoming talks in the not-too-distant future.

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