From Achtung Baby to AHK-toong BAY-bi.

I grew up in a home where the music played was mostly “classic” rock — The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones on the one hand, and the classics — Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin, Bach, and so on, on the other.

Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop, between ’91 and ’97 marked U2’s post-Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum innocence music. Idealism and the pure string-tones gave way to existential angst, self-indulgent narcissism and grandiosity and their experiements with dance and generally more expansive sounds.

I was 6 when Achtung Baby came out, and U2 were my first “own” favorite band then. So it’s totally awesome that Q-Magazine are doing an anniversary album of some other epic bands covering Achtung Baby.

Love all the tracks, my favorites though have to be Zoo Station, So Cruel, Mysterious Ways, Ultra Violet, Tryin’ to throw your arms around the World, Until the end of the World, and Love is blindness, in that order. (It’s *really* hard to decide. :))


Zoo Station, Nine Inch Nails



Even better than the real thing, Jacques Lu Cont



One, Damien Rice



Until the end of the world, Patti Smith



Who’s gonna ride your wild horses?, Garbage



So Cruel, Depeche Mode



Mysterious Ways, Snow Patrol



Tryin’ to throw your arms around the World, The Fray



The Fly, Gavin Friday



Ultra Violet (Light my way), The Killers



Acrobat, Glasvegas



Love is blindness, Jack White


On Bohr, Rutherford, and thinking different.

One of my favorite stories as a kid, because I often did stuff like this, in class and tests. Thanks to all the teachers who put up with me, and generally gave me good scores anyways. :)

The story’s been attributed to many people, the one I heard was this one:

The following concerns a question in a physics degree exam at the University of Copenhagen:

“Describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper with a barometer.”

 One student replied:

“You tie a long piece of string to the neck of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length of the barometer will equal the height of the building.”

This highly original answer so incensed the examiner that the student was failed immediately. The student appealed on the grounds that his answer was indisputably correct, and the university appointed an independent arbiter to decide the case.                                                           

The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but did not display any noticeable knowledge of physics. To resolve the problem it was decided to call the student in and allow him six minutes in which to provide a verbal answer that showed at least a minimal familiarity with the basic principles of physics.

For five minutes the student sat in silence, forehead creased in thought. The arbiter reminded him that time was running out, to which the student  replied that he had several extremely relevant answers, but couldn’t make up his mind which to use. On being advised to hurry up the student replied as follows:

“Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the roof of the skyscraper, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it takes to reach the ground. The height of the building can then be worked out from the formula H = 0.5g x t squared. But bad luck on the barometer.”

“Or if the sun is shining you could measure the height of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper’s shadow, and thereafter it is a simple matter of proportional arithmetic to work out the height of the skyscraper.”

“But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it, you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof of the skyscraper. The height is worked out by the difference in the gravitational restoring force T =2 pi sqr root (l /g).”

“Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the skyscraper in barometer lengths, then add them up.”     

“If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about it, of course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the difference in millibars into feet to give the height of the building.”

“But since we are constantly being exhorted to exercise independence of mind and apply scientific methods, undoubtedly the best way would be to knock on the janitor’s door and say to him ‘If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give you this one if you tell me the height of this skyscraper’.”

The student was Niels Bohr, the only Dane to win the Nobel Prize for physics. The arbiter was Ernest Rutherford, whose Atomic Model was improved by Bohr.