Einstein and the Weather

Einstein once described his theory of relativity like this “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity”.

Let me divulge my description of relativity: “The extra hour of sleep you get when you turn back your clocks at the end of daylight savings, feels like an hour. The hour of daylight that you lose at the end of the day, feels like despair”.

Ok so that’s not exactly relativity but with sun now setting at 4.30pm and getting rapidly earlier every day, I think I’m entitled to a little whinge (after all I am in England). Particularly, as abundant sunlight is not exactly a feature of most of the remaining daylight hours. Though to be fair, although it is definitely cold now, it hasn’t gotten really stupidly cold yet, but I’m sure that’s yet to come. However, seeing as every single building you walk into is heated, I’m hoping that even the depths of winter here won’t feel as cold as Tassie did, though ask me again in two months’ time.

At least for another week or so there are still all the beautiful autumn colours to distract from the air temperature. Oxford is truly a gorgeous sight at the moment. Every morning as I ride into work the leaves are a more brilliant shade of orange, and every day the carpet of red, orange, and yellow leaves grows under my pedalling feet. Throw in a little morning fog to shroud the old spires and gargoyles in a silent mist, and it really is a picture perfect scene.

As, a side note, I have to admit I find the weather forecast here to be endlessly amusing. I check the weather every day, which is a habit I picked up in Tasmania obviously, not in climate-controlled Brisbane where there would be no point because it would just say “28 oC and sunny” every day.

The first amusing thing about British weather is that they’re hopeless at it (the forecast for Saturday has changed three times in the last three days). Second, temperatures are colour coded; dark orange for 20-25oC, pale orange for 15 to 20oC, yellow to 10oC, green to 5oC, pale green to 1oC and it doesn’t get to blue until you’re at 0oC. I assume there is a red colour too but I never saw it this summer and I have no idea what colour it goes below 1, but I’ll keep you posted. The third British weather oddity that amuses me no end is that “grey cloud” and “white cloud” are two different forecasts, as are “scattered showers” and “light rain showers”. Hilarious! It’s almost as funny as the weather “line” that Southern Cross News used to predict the weather in Tasmania. The line moved around a bit but pretty much dissected Tassie from Burnie to Swansea. To the east of the line the forecast would read “Fine”; to the west “Rain”, ah so true.

One final amusing peculiarity about British weather: Mizzle. Mizzle is a term used to describe either very fine drizzle, a thick, heavy saturating mist or fog, or extremely fine rain (“while floating or falling the visible particles of coarse watery vapour might approach the form of light rain”). So it seems that just as Eskimo’s have many more words to describe snow, a persistent feature of their environment, so too do the English have extra words for rain, a persistent feature of theirs.


Mizzle in the UK

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