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My name is Saima and I live in London, England. Welcome to my blog where I have been writing since November 2000. Please make yourself at home.

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August 16th, 2010
Witch hunt: My adventures in Swimming and Science

Today my two loves came together: music and swimming. My love of music is no secret; I reckon about 70% of my tweets are about music and I often write about it on my blog too. The love for swimming however, you may not know about. So let me tell you. I LOVE swimming.

I recently joined a gym, begrudgingly shelling out over £66 a month so I can use their pool and partake in exercise I actually enjoy for a change. It’s been great fun and I’ve really enjoyed being back in the water; slowly building my lap endurance back up. There was only one thing that could make me work harder. MUSIC! And so I bought an iSwim. It cost me £8.99 from eBay and is not the most sophisticated solution on the market but the alternative from Speedo is around £70 so I thought if nothing I’d give this a go since I already have a perfectly functioning iPod Shuffle.

Today was the first day I used it. IT IS A BLOODY REVELATION. Honestly, having some awesome tunes streaming into your ears while you’re submerged in water is one of the best feelings ever. I was happily swimming along, almost oblivious to the curious stares I was getting from my fellow swimmers. At least I thought they were curious. I didn’t think twice about the man and woman who literally jumped straight out of the pool, heading for the hydrospa.

I was resting after some laps, humming along to Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black when the janitor came up to me, pointed at my earphones and said, “Not good for you”. I had seen this chap talking to another swimmer only moments ago so I should have guessed what he meant but I was thoroughly confused. I asked him what he meant but he kept repeating that they’re not good for me and by now I had gathered that this was as far as his grasp of the English language was going to take us. For a second, I thought he was telling me that listening to music in the holy month of Ramadan was going to send me straight to hell but I quickly dismissed that, surely he wouldn’t be so presumptuous. It felt like forever but I’m sure it was only seconds when I realised he thought the earphones and water combo was somehow hazardous so I explained to him this was specially designed for the water. He seemed happy with this and sauntered back to the chap he was previously talking to. The pair of them disappeared behind an opaque glass screen but I could still see their feet and the fact that they were still talking lead me to believe that this issue was not resolved.

Much to my annoyance I had to get out of the water and clear this issue up with this guy directly. “Is there a problem?” I asked. This guy told me he didn’t “know (me) from Adam” and that he was afraid I was going to electrocute them all. “All I see is an iPod on your arm and I got worried,” he explained. I was polite as possible and explained again that this was specially designed for swimming and even if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t get electrocuted by an iPod, the electrical charge is simply not strong enough (“Trust me, I’m a scientist!”). What’s more, I’d completely ruin my iPod! “Well I didn’t know that did I? That it’s a special thing for swimming,” he replied, quite defensively. “You should have asked me,” I told him, more annoyed that he’d reported me to the janitor than anything else.

I carried on swimming after that but felt very self concious, like I had a toaster strapped to my arm or something. This felt like a bloody witch hunt. “Let’s throw her in the water; if she electrocutes everyone she’s innocent, if she doesn’t, she’s a witch!” That guy never came back into the pool and I didn’t know whether this was because he was done swimming or that he didn’t believe me. Either way, I felt quite awful about the whole thing. More so that I might have to stop using it. Just as I started to get more relaxed and into the flow of swimming, two staff members came into the pool area and pulled me over. Someone had called them to complain and I had to defend myself once again. They were very lovely about the whole thing and more curious as to where I got it from and how cool it was than worrying about their patrons’ safety. I felt a bit better about the whole thing and again tried to get back into the groove.

Did I mention I was using an iPod Shuffle with the iSwim? Drawback: You can’t skip songs because you’re using the iSwim waterproof headphones and not the special Shuffle ones that have the controls on them. This meant for a good part of my session I had to listen to fifteen minutes of Anil Dash‘s Business Blogging podcast from Fast Company! As much as Anil has a lovely voice I wanted music dammit! I didn’t realise I had put my entire iTunes directory on the iPod rather than a select few playlists. You live and you learn!

When I had finished my session, I kept thinking about how wonderful it was to have music whilst swimming and hoped the encounter today didn’t spell the end of it. To sort it out, I went to see the duty manager who happened to be one of the ladies who had come to see me earlier. Apparently, it was a lady who had reported me, more concerned with my safety than her own. I suspect it was the one who had vacated the pool when she saw me earlier. It would be easy to write off the guy I had spoken to earlier as a douchebag who didn’t understand science and didn’t have the social skills to come and voice his concerns to me directly. But the fact that someone else was also concerned means I probably shouldn’t be so harsh on him. Long story short, the duty manager said I am free to continue to use it. I just hope no one else is frightened by it. I wonder if I can swim wearing a sandwich board that says “I will not electrocute you!” on it? Probably not, a sandwich board might actually be a health and safety hazard.

Posted at 8:40 pm | 2 comments | Category: Gadgetry, Music, People Are Annoying, Science

June 19th, 2002
Go web go

I watched Spider-man this past Sunday and was too embarassed to tell everyone that what really fascinated me was the science aspect of it all.
However I’m glad I’m not alone. Tomorrow’s World did a whole programme dedicated to the subject and if like me you missed the show on the BBC check out the site. Answers to questions such as “could a spider bite really transfer genes?” and “does ‘Spidersense’ exist“? There’s also some information on spider silk.
You also may want to check out the Science of Superheroes.

Posted at 11:30 pm | 2 comments | Category: Science

May 2nd, 2002
Was there a Scientific Renaissance?
(Or don’t read this unless you have lots of time on your hands)

[Printable Version]
The Renaissance has been defined as a rebirth of knowledge and revival of art and literature originating in Italy in the fifteenth century. This revival led to the revolution in the arts, which had an immense effect on the “understanding of the world of nature”. A revolution in physics and astronomy changed Western cosmology and greatly influenced the development of modern science. “Measurement, observation, experiment and classification” were beginning to be used on a much wider scale. Debus states that the period between the mid-fifteenth and end of the eighteenth century saw an important growth in “cultural and political influence of Western Europe over all other parts of the globe”. It can be said that science gets invented in the Scientific Revolution. The word scientia had long been in use, but it meant something like “knowledge.” There was no notion of a discipline called Science, and no one described themselves as being scientists or scientific. By the early 1700s, there were Academies of Science, and the word “science” had the specific definition we use today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted at 12:15 am | 2 comments | Category: Essays, Science

April 24th, 2002
Cool Cousin

My cousin sent me three links today and all three are blogworthy.
Elmo testifies in favour of school music education. Elmo in a suit?!? How cute is that?
Oh bugger, I missed the Channel 4 programme, “The Truth about Gay Animals”. But here you can find out if your pet is gay and also how gay you are yourself. I am 33% gay: “You’re a straight-laced girlie girl with just a hint of your butch side sometimes poppingup”. I’m sure this test is 89.5% accurate too.
If you’re interested in Forensic Science and/or love the programme CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, check out their site. The Handbook and Crime Lab sections are particularly informative

Posted at 8:12 pm | 5 comments | Category: Science

April 11th, 2002
Right on, right on

Monique has expressed precisely my feelings about the web lately. Let’s start a revolution. When I can be arsed.
Note: Sea monkeys are an anti-climax.
Song Recommendation of the Day:
Title: Rock the Boat
Artist: Aaliyah
The mood created: Sudden urge to take a ferry ride from Dover to Calais and proceed in making a prat of yourself by painfully describing what ice cream you want in ‘French’ and not realising the person working there is in fact English.

Posted at 11:03 pm | 2 comments | Category: Music, Science, WWW

April 8th, 2002
Under the Sea

We bought Sea Monkeys! One minute we were looking them up along with seahorses, catfish and dogfish on the internet and the next thing you know, we’re at “Pets at Home” buying them. I’ll let you know about the progress.
On a related note, I learnt some interesting things about those beautiful creatures, seahorses. Did you know the male seahorse incubates the eggs laid by the female in a pouch? Seahorses also have a vertical mating dance that can last for hours. Oooh la la.

Posted at 7:40 pm | 1 comment | Category: Science

April 7th, 2002
Same old brand new me

Well it looks like I’m back. But why the boring old page you may ask. And an answer ye shall receive. Mainly because I came up with about five fancy schmancy designs that just didn’t do it for me. It got to a point where I gave up but then thought all I really want to do is write. So here you have it. My ramblings without all the fluffiness. When I have more time I might jazz this place up a bit but for now, it’s just you, me and a white page. I still love you.
While I was away, I figured out that large tongues freak me out, mini people dancing on my computer screen please me and that the periodic table isn’t as boring as it may seem. It’s a shame it took me so long to figure the last one out considering I’ll finish my degree in chemistry in a month or so.
Q: Do the questions in the brain of your icon indicate that it’s missing?
A: Yes.

Posted at 3:46 pm | 14 comments | Category: Freak, Music, Science

April 5th, 2002
Why was Galileo’s Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems condemned by the Roman Catholic Church? Was this confrontation inevitable or could it have been avoided?

[Printable Version]
The conflict between Galileo and the church is a well-known incident in history often portrayed as a battle between the tyrannical Catholic Church and a heroic scientist. As recently as 1992 the Roman Catholic Church admitted they had made an error in their persecution of Galileo at a meeting of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome, much to the ridicule of the media who interpreted this as obvious result which had taken a Papal commission thirteen years to derive. To fully assess the reasons behind the condemnation of Galileo’s Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems we shall examine the events that preceded it’s publication and also the condition of Italy at the time.

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Posted at 1:51 pm | 1 comment | Category: Essays, Science

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