Procrastination aid: A punt on the Cam

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Mathematical Bridge, originally uploaded by bridgink.

Radio National had a delicious program last week:

This week on The Science Show Cambridge virologist Chris Smith takes us punting along the Cam River. As he weaves around the old stone colleges, scientists jump on and off the punt, discussing their work as they go. A local guide describes the intriguing history of Cambridge, its colleges and the beautiful bridges across the river. The punt traverses The Backs, a one-mile stretch of river that supports some of finest examples of architecture in England.

You can listen online, download the program, or read the transcript at the ABC Online. I particularly enjoyed the local guide’s telling the tale of the urban myth surrounding the Mathematical Bridge belonging to Queens College:

Chris Smith: Where are we now?

Sarah Castor-Perry: We’re just about to go under Mathematical Bridge which spans the river between the new and old bits of Queens. It’s the only wooden bridge on the Cam, as you can see, and it’s held together by metal bolts between the bits of wood. There’s a bit of a legend about this bridge which quite a lot of the punters tend to tell the tourists which is that it was originally built by Newton without any bolts at all and that the bits of wood, because he designed it so perfectly, just held together without any bolts, and the students took it apart to see how that worked but then couldn’t put it back together again. The engineering department couldn’t do it, so they had to rebuild it with bolts in it. But this, sadly, is not true.

Chris Smith: Why not?

Sarah Castor-Perry: Because actually the bridge was first built 22 years after Newton was already dead. It was rebuilt twice in Queens’ history but it’s always had metal bolts in it.

Categories: arts & entertainment, education, history, media, Science

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4 replies

  1. Agh. I’m already terribly homesick after returning from the UK, and you have to post that picture.

  2. It’s rather a classic, isn’t it? There were various others of the Math bridge on Flick that were more reflection oriented, or more mysterious misty stuff, but this one seemed to capture it most typically.

  3. Oh, I listened to that on the radio. The bit about schizophrenia was particularly fascinating, I thought. Radio National in general is just brilliant though – they had a program on a while ago about hetero male escorts and the (very anonymous) women who hire them. Where else?

  4. My faves are The Science Show and The Health Report. There are many other RN programs to love, but I try to catch those when I can.

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