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Monday, 4 May 2009

COLUMN: Acker's World

The French call them pissanlit

In a continuing debate in the Freethinker about the balance between Prince Charles’ cupidity and stupidity, Professor Edzard Ernst of Exeter University takes the Prince to task for flogging the Duchy Detox Tincture. Apparently it comprises mainly dandelion and artichoke extracts and doesn’t do nor can do what it says on the bottle, says Ernst. If you want to detox, he says, drink lots of water, take exercise, and get some rest. The detoxing properties of artichokes are non-existent, he says, adding conclusively: “I know everything about artichokes that there is to know.”

Well that’s a claim he might come to regret. Few scientists would say that about anything. As Ogden Nash once said: “Whenever you're right, shut up.”

But on the other hand, Prince Charles might counter this by an equally grandiose statement saying he knows everything about dandelions there is to know, a claim glaringly omitted by Ernst. I would be inclined to believe him. Surely something must have rubbed off after all those years of education, private tutoring, Navel College and travel, and I think it must be dandelions. Our future monarch must be a world expert in that field (sic) by now compared with his expertise on nanoscience or any other science comes to that. In fact, apart from this dandelion-yellow chink in his armour, I think he knows bugger all about science.

Esplorado substitui sabla for benzino in the benzinmotoro

Of course readers of TSR will be able to see at a glance the important implications of my paper (or “esplorado” as we international scientists call “research”) into the use of sand instead of petrol in the petrol engine (or “benzinmotoro”) published in Esperanto in 2002, and totally ignored by the scientific community. Well no; not actually published but written in Esperanto and offered to the world’s most prestigious journals including the Nature, The Motor Ship, Auto and Auto Car, Church Music Quarterly , Exchange and Mart, and the V-belt Journal. Not one of them responded.

I was astonished and embittered by this world’s rejection of a technology that has now become so necessary. Esperanto peers reviewed it and found it faultless.

This bitter episode in my life was revisited recently, when I was doing some research on the jet stream. It seems that the Japanese scientist Ooishi had postulated and proved the existence of the jet stream about sixty years before it was recognized and evaluated in the West. His understanding was so comprehensive that Japan, during World War II, managed to exploit the stream and used it to deliver bombs to the USA by a balloon. It was launched in Japan into the jet stream and carried at high altitudes to the USA without using a drop of benzino, where two bombs were dropped. One actually exploded.

His knowledge of the jet stream was largely ignored. Like me, he had published details of his research in Esperanto, which he thought might have had a wider readership than in Japanese. Had he published in his native tongue we might have learnt about this phenomenon many years ago. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are only 0.3 scientists who speak Esperanto in South London, while Japanese-speaking scientists outnumber this by a factor of 10 000 or more.

This has given me encouragement. Does anyone know how to say benzinmotoro in Japanese?

Fabian Acker