User talk:DOwenWilliams

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Welcome to Wikipedia, DOwenWilliams! I am EWikist and have been editing Wikipedia for quite some time. Thank you for your contributions. I just wanted to say hi and welcome you to Wikipedia! If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a message on my talk page or by typing {{helpme}} at the bottom of this page. I love to help new users, so don't be afraid to leave a message! I hope you like the place and decide to stay. Here are some pages that you might find helpful:

I hope you enjoy editing here and being a Wikipedian! Also, when you post on talk pages you should sign your name on talk pages using four tildes (~~~~); that should automatically produce your username and the date after your post. If you need help, check out Wikipedia:Questions, ask me on my talk page, or place {{helpme}} on your talk page and ask your question there. Again, welcome!

EWikistTalk 14:17, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Information.svg Welcome to Wikipedia. Although everyone is welcome to contribute to the encyclopedia, one or more of the external links you added do not comply with our guidelines for external links and have been removed. Wikipedia is not a collection of links; nor should it be used as a platform for advertising or promotion, and doing so is contrary to the goals of this project. Because Wikipedia uses nofollow tags, external links do not alter search engine rankings. If you feel the link should be added to the article, please discuss it on the article's talk page before reinserting it. Please take a look at the welcome page to learn more about contributing to this encyclopedia. Thank you. (talk) 20:06, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

Equation of time[edit]

Would you please add a citation to Equation of time to explain what reliable source you obtained the QBasic program from? Jc3s5h (talk) 19:46, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

(Reply copied to more appropriate place)

You sent me a note asking for a source of the QBasic routine I posted on the Equation of Time page. The short answer is, the source is in my head. I wrote the code myself. It is taken from a much longer program called ETIMSDEC, which can be found, along with a whole lot of explanation and other related material. at [Link]. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Run ETIMSDEC, and you'll see how accurate it is!
I have studied solar stuff for several decades, and also pride myself on being a competent programmer. I assure you that what I posted is good stuff.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 20:33, 24 August 2010 (UTC) David Williams
Thank you for your reply. Just so you know in the future, comments about other users should be made on the user's talk page, such as User talk:DOwenWilliams or User talk:Jc3s5h. I will look at the web site you provided to see if it is suitable to be cited as the source.
Please take a look at WP:Verifiability which explains the need to provide reliable sources. In this particular case, if a person had the capability of checking the program himself, he probably wouldn't need the program to begin with. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:58, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I am not sure how well known the Green Life Innovators site is, so I have asked if it is a suitable source at Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard‎#Source for QBasic program. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:14, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Actually, I wasn't suggesting that every user should check the program himself. I was suggesting that if an editor, e.g. yourself, has doubts about its reliability, he could check it by running ETIMSDEC, and then decide whether or not the routine should be in Wikipedia.

I have no idea what they'll tell you about Green Life Innovators. But I am quite certain that the code I posted is good.

Delete it if you want. I have plenty of other copies to use myself! Other people won't know what they've missed.

I'm not sure what you mean by referring to "comments about other users". I just replied to the note you sent me, which didn't refer to anyone else. I thought I put my reply on your User talk page, but I may have made a mistake. If so, sorry.

While I have you, let me ask you an unrelated question. Does anyone ever compare articles that are written in different languages? I can read several languages reasonably well, and have sometimes looked at articles in English, and also the corresponding articles in Spanish, French, Italian, and (with some effort) German. Often, they are nowhere near alike. It's like Spanish-speaking people live in a whole different universe...

DOwenWilliams (talk) 22:59, 24 August 2010 (UTC) David Williams

Computer code to calculate Equation of Time and Solar Declination[edit]

The following subroutine, here written in QBasic but easily translatable to other languages, calculates the Equation of Time and the Solar Declination on any day of the year. It is quite accurate. Its Root-Mean-Square error for the Equation of Time is only 3.7 seconds. The Declination is calculated with errors that are always small compared with the angular radius of the sun as seen from the earth (about 0.25 degrees).

I originally posted this on the main pages entitled "Equation of time" and "Declination", here on Wikipedia. However, it was removed by editors because I could not provide a citation to a previous publication, other than to ones I had written myself. I could, and did, refer to a computer program including this routine, which demonstrates its accuracy. But apparently direct observation does not satisfy the rules.

Anyone who wants further information should follow the following link: [Link] The program that includes the routine is ETIMSDEC. There are instructions how to run it. The article titled "The Latitude and Longitude of the Sun", which I wrote several years ago, describes the astronomical logic behind the routine.

DOwenWilliams (talk) 21:26, 29 August 2010 (UTC) David Williams

  ' Calculates equation of time, in minutes, or solar declination, 
  ' in degrees, on day number D of year. (D = 0 on January 1.) 
  ' F% selects function: True (non-zero) for Equation of Time, 
  ' False (zero) for Declination. 
  ' STATIC means variables are preserved between calls of function 
  IF PI = 0 THEN ' first call, initialize constants 
    PI = 4 * ATN(1) 
    W = 2 * PI / 365 ' earth's mean orbital angular speed in radians/day 
    DR = 180 / PI ' degree/radian factor 
    C = -23.45 / DR ' reverse angle of earth's axial tilt in radians 
    ST = SIN(C) ' sine of reverse tilt 
    CT = COS(C) ' cosine of reverse tilt 
    E2 = 2 * .0167 ' twice earth's orbital eccentricity 
    SP = 12 * W ' 12 days from December solstice to perihelion 
    D1 = -1 ' holds last D. Saves time if D repeated for both functions 
  IF D <> D1 THEN ' new value of D 
    A = W * (D + 10) ' Solstice 10 days before Jan 1 
    B = A + E2 * SIN(A - SP) 
    D1 = D 
  IF F% THEN ' equation of time calculation 
    C = (A - ATN(TAN(B) / CT)) / PI 
    ET.Dec = 720 * (C - INT(C + .5)) ' this is value of equation of time
    ' in 720 minutes, earth rotates PI radians relative to sun 
  ELSE ' declination calculation 
    C = ST * COS(B) 
    ET.Dec = ATN(C / SQR(1 - C * C)) * DR ' this is value of declination
    ' arcsine of C in degrees. ASN not directly available in QBasic 

December 2010[edit]

Thank you for your contributions to Wikipedia. Before saving your changes to an article, please provide an edit summary, which you forgot to do before saving your recent edit to Marlborough College. Doing so helps everyone understand the intention of your edit (and prevents legitimate edits from being mistaken for vandalism). It is also helpful to users reading the edit history of the page. Thank you. Trafford09 (talk) 18:04, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

I was a student at Marlborough during the 1950s, while Thomas Garnett was the Master (Headmaster). As I was glancing through the Wikipedia article about the college a few days ago, I noticed that his name had been mis-spelled in a link, with the result that an article about someone named Tommy Garrett was shown in error. So I simply fixed the spelling of the name. It didn't seem like a big enough deal to warrant a long explanation. DOwenWilliams (talk) 19:59, 31 December 2010 (UTC) DOwenWilliams David Williams

Hi David. Thanks for the reply (it's fine for you to just reply here - I leave people's talk pages on my wp:watchlist, if I've added to them). It was good of you to correct the misspelling, as you did. It's just that we are supposed to supply an edit summary with each edit - even if it's just (in this case) 'sp' which people will assume means spelling correction. And another tool we registered users have at our disposal, of course, is being able to set the 'wp:minor' flag. Both these actions mean that any edit-patrollers don't need to go into our edits to examine them for vandalism. Hope that makes sense.

Anyway, happy continued editing. Regards, Trafford09 (talk) 23:40, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

It must be nice to be able to rely on vandals not to write "sp" in the edit summary space or set the "minor" flag!
I just saw the edits you made on my main user page. Sure! I don't mind! Those ones where I had written "prosecutions's" were well worth doing. I must have read the words 100 times without noticing the extra "s". You made an edit on another page a few weeks ago where I had written something like "grass may be be green", and you deleted the extra "be". Again, I had read it many, many times without spotting it. Thanks!
I didn't actually sign those posts on my user page. I copied them there from User talk:Fountains of Bryn Mawr, on which I was having a discussion with him about the value of citations. I signed them there, and didn't bother to delete the signatures when I copied them.
Happy New Year.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 16:16, 2 January 2011 (UTC) David Williams

Reverting Heliostat Edits[edit]

What edit did I make to the heliostat article are you calling erroneous?Ywaz (talk) 16:52, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

See some paragraphs I've just written on the talk:Heliostat page. DOwenWilliams (talk) 22:37, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Regarding the use of "due to."[edit]

The example you cited from the Concise Oxford Dictionary is an example of the correct use of "due to." In the strict grammar that I was taught and taught my writing students "due to" is only properly used in a linking verb construction such as the phrase you provided: "the difficulty is due to our ignorance." "Due to" should not be used to introduce a clause; for example, "Due to the bad weather, I won't be able to work outside."

You are right, however, in that the use of "due to" as a synonym for "because" has become common usage. I always told my writing students that if they couldn't understand the grammar rule for the use of "due to" to avoid it and use "because."

My apologies, by the way, for not providing an authoritative source, as you did for your comment. I moved on to another career decades ago and gave away almost all my stylebooks and grammar guides.49oxen (talk) 02:45, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

The function of red links[edit]

Hello DOwenWilliams, I am writing to you to explain why I am reverting this undo.

I think what you meant by "Links should link to something" is that you wanted to get rid of the red links. While red links are of course not perfect, they do have a function at Wikipedia. As the nutshell at Wikipedia:Red link explains, "They serve as a clear indication of what articles are in need of creation, and encourage it." The way I see it is that the Wikipedia editing process is like diffusion; each editing step may go in a random direction and end up in an intermediate strange place, but there is an overall gradient that we're trying to follow. So, while I agree it's desirable to get rid of red links, the preferred direction is towards resolving them, rather than simply removing them. In this case, I agree with the IP editor that an explanation of the technical terms would be much more in order than links to the family of birds that happen to decorate the device.

So, what to do? There are several ways to resolve red links (these are described in the section Dealing with existing red links, but I find that section quite confusing, so here's my understanding): If there is an article that explains at least part of the "red" topic, then one can either change the link or create a redirect to that article or section.

For carriage pole, I was first thinking of making it a redirect to some appropriate section of carriage or chariot, but I wasn't able to find any such section, either. Those articles, while relying on the term don't even explain it. Encarta World English Dictionary defines it as "Shaft on a horse-drawn vehicle", so one might think a link to shaft might be in order, but that doesn't contain the correct item either, which is, as Encarta goes on to explain, "a single shaft projecting forward from the front of a vehicle between the animals that draw it and to which those animals are hitched". After I wrote this, I found that there also exists an article horse-drawn vehicle, which has at least a short explanation of the term. Maybe that could be clarified and expanded. (BTW, I just realized that the article seems to link to none of the articles, carriage, chariot or horse-drawn vehicle, which also makes it harder to find the explanation for such technical terms.)

The case of trip-mechanism is a bit more involved, as well. A google search yields a number of articles that might be relevant, but it seems they use the term in different meanings. Maybe instead of a redirect, a disambiguation page would be more appropriate here. I To decide which of these is meant here, I would have to spend more time understanding the mechanics here than I have right now. What do you think? You seem to be interested in and good at technical issues, so maybe you understand right away which one is meant here. If you have a solution, please don't hesitate to implement it as you see fit. Thanks, — Sebastian 01:32, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

Yes. I thought of changing the words "carriage-pole" to something like "harness-pole", since the function is to be something to which the horses are harnessed. However, since the passage is a quotation from someone else's text, I didn't feel free to change it.
The "trip mechanisms", I am sure, were devices that initiated something like the ringing of a bell when the road wheels had made some pre-set number of rotations. They are mentioned in the description of Wu Deren's vehicle, which functioned as an odometer as well as a south-pointing chariot. Ancient Chinese odometers were very different from the tame little devices that can be found linked to the speedometers of modern cars, telling how far the vehicle has travelled. Chinese odometers were more like travelling circuses, with gongs that sounded, horns that blew, figures that whirled on trapezes, and so on, all controlled by the revolutions of the road wheels. There was no numerical display that showed how far the device had travelled, but anyone who watched and listened to the circus acts could figure out the distance. However, all of this is only obliquely relevant to the south-pointing chariot as such, so I don't feel that we should go to great trouble, in this article, to explain what trip-mechanisms do. There is an odometer page. Maybe there is a description of these mechanisms there.
I dithered for several days before deciding to revert the edit you made that set up the red links. (At least, I suppose it was you.) If you're passionate about keeping them, I don't really object. There's a whole lot much worse in Wikipedia. I find some every day.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:52, 27 December 2011 (UTC)
Funny that you would think I was the same editor. Do you doubt the veracity of my statement "I agree with the IP editor"? Is it really so improbably that one editor would agree with, and stand up for another editor here?
That said, I will go with Hanlon's razor, and suppose you simply overlooked my statement. So, let me tell you what motivated me to write to you. It wasn't that I feel so strongly about these particular links.
Firstly I saw a familiar pattern. I've been around here quite a while, and I have seen many good and dedicated editors - just as you and the IP editor seem to be - run into black/white situations that ended with one or both giving up in frustration. That hurts because it's a triple loss - for the involved editors, for the readers, and for the other editors whose time is wasted cleaning up the mess. The most common start for this downward spiral are "I-know-better-than-you" reversions that disregard the intentions of the other editor.
Secondly, I needed to make you aware that thre simply is no such rule as "Links should link to something", and I don't think it is good to assert such made up rules towards editors who appear to be new and inexperienced. This is why I titled this "The function of red links" and why I tried to understand and address what I think you meant.
These two reasons are also why I'm spending more time than I should on this talk page again. As you rightly say, there's a whole lot much worse in Wikipedia. I am afraid that if you mistake this for a mere disagreement over one or two second-rate links, you are missing the point, and you will run into the same situation with the next editor soon. I would really therefore strongly recommend to consider that (apart from vandals, of course) other editors usually have a reason for the edits they do, and that simply reverting them often implies a negation of these reasons, which naturally doesn't go down very well with many people. So please take some time to think what the other editor intended, and look for a way to accommodate both her and your intention.
Finally, please don't take this personally. I am very happy that you care about Wikipedia; I am grateful for your contributions so far, and I wouldn't write this if I didn't have the strong hope that it will help you navigate some of the all-too-human cliffs in our waters. I know that you mean well, and I'll be happy to assist you when you need help from an administrator. — Sebastian 11:30, 27 December 2011 (UTC)    (I may not be watching this page anymore. If you would like to continue the conversation, please do so here and let me know.)

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Declination formulas[edit]

In Declination, you combined 360°/π × 0.0167 to the value 1.914, but given 360°=2π, this instead yields 2π/π × 0.0167 = 0.052 ≠ 1.914. Which one is correct? j.eng (talk) 21:49, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

360°/π × 0.0167 is correct. The eccentricity has to be multiplied by 2. But that 2 cancelled out with the one in the denominator. DOwenWilliams (talk) 01:36, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

External links (again)[edit]

Please note that the external links to fail to meet Wikipedia's inclusion criteria listed at WP:ELNO, specifically #12 "Links normally to be avoided .... Links to open wikis, except those with a substantial history of stability and a substantial number of editors." This is the same issue and for the same external site that I see an earlier warning (above) from 2010. --- Barek (talkcontribs) - 15:40, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

The amusing thing is that Wikipedia itself would clearly fail to meet the criterion of a history of stability. DOwenWilliams (talk) 16:16, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
"Laws are for the guidance of wise men and the blind obedience of fools." (Solon, the Lawmaker of Athens, d. 559 BC). DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:49, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Earliest / latest sunrise dates[edit]

Hi DOwenWilliams - thanks for adding to the sunrise page. I had a question for you about the analemma / equation of time / sunrise dates issue. My understanding is that the earliest sunrise and the summer solstice do not correspond because there is an "east-west" component of the analemma (really a left-right component of the figure-8 shape, I think). The equation of time article says that the east-west component of the analemma is caused by the obliquity of the ecliptic and the eccentricity of Earth's orbit. Your revision said that "Only the orbital eccentricity causes the earliest/latest sunrises/sunsets to be shifted from the solstices." Can you clarify this a bit more? Thanks. TWCarlson (talk) 12:13, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

You're right. I goofed somehow. I'll fix it. Thanks for pointing it out. DOwenWilliams (talk) 14:43, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
I hunted in the Analemma, Equation of time, Sunrise, and Sunset articles, and couldn't find the wording you quoted above. I did add a few words to the Sunrise article, mentioning the effect of the axial tilt where it should have been mentioned and wasn't. (It hadn't been mentioned in any version of the article for at least the last two years.) I would like to correct the sentence you quoted, but can't find it. Could you point me to it, please? Thanks. DOwenWilliams (talk) 15:20, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
I was referring to the edit summary, not the actual article content of your revision, when I quoted you as saying "Only the orbital eccentricity causes...".
Where did you add a mention of axial tilt where it wasn't mentioned before? TWCarlson (talk) 13:18, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Compare these two revisions, and you'll see it:

(cur | prev) 14:54, 29 May 2012‎ DOwenWilliams (talk | contribs)‎ m . . (15,066 bytes) (+29)‎ . . (→‎Time of day) (undo)
(cur | prev) 12:41, 26 May 2012‎ Velella (talk | contribs)‎ m . . (15,037 bytes) (+179)‎ . . (Reverted edits by (talk) to last version by Waldir) (undo)

Maybe that omission, which dates from long ago, misled me into making that stupid edit summary. Oh well.. DOwenWilliams (talk) 14:23, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Arclength of an ellipse as function of central angle[edit]

If you could add some info regarding the length of an arc of an ellipse considering the central angle, please do so. It would be appreciated-- (talk) 12:48, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

There must be a way of calculating this, but I can't find it in any book I have here. It looks like a fairly horrible integral, which I don't feel like tackling right now. Even if I did, and got sn answer, I couldn't put it into Wikipedia. That's called "original research", and is a no-no.
If I had to find a numerical answer, I'd probably write a computer program to add a huge number of terms, each representing the length of a tiny segment of the ellipse. That shouldn't be too difficult. I've done that kind of thing in the past. See, for example:
Good luck!
DOwenWilliams (talk) 14:56, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
See Elliptic integral
I'm more than ever convinced that I'd tackle this problem by programming a computer.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 17:38, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Long Branch[edit]

Hi David.

Looked at Long Branch today (moreso lately because of the recent vandalism) and saw your change.

I think that the section should go after the paragraph about Sam Smith and before the paragraph on incorporation (followed by the street naming paragraphs).

That keeps the chronological development of Long Branch in place early on the page.

Historical sites should refer to more specific sites in Long Branch. I kind of understand moving the paragraph where you did, but the page will read better if its moved above the street sections.

Paul — Preceding unsigned comment added by Paul Chomik (talkcontribs) 18:40, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

Hi David.

Have restored order to the chronological history under "HISTORY", so that there is continuity between Col. Smith's family and the Eastwoods.

The vandalism (the edit you refer to) is posted by Teksavvy Solutions Inc., under the names; Fwagent (currently blocked by Wikipedia), IP (currently blocked), HarrisArsenault,, and currently, Jason Steeven Peck.

Whoever that is is deliberately posting false content that does not apply to Long Branch.

The more people who monitor this page and reverse the vandalism, the better.

This guy is seriously compromising the integrity of Wikipedia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

I used to be a high-school teacher. I learned that when a kid is disruptive, constantly correcting him can be the worst thing to do. It rewards him by giving him attention. It's generally better to ignore him until he gets fed up and quits, then quietly correct whatever he has damaged.
Blocking vandals from editing is of limited usefulness. They can always just go to an internet cafe and sign on with a different address. It might be better to block everyone from editing this article, except a few selected individuals.
Fortunately, in the grand scheme of things, Long Branch is pretty unimportant. I imagine that almost nobody reads the article except those of us who live here, and know the facts from direct observation. I doubt that anyone is being misled by the vandalism.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 20:49, 1 November 2012 (UTC)


Hello DOwen,

I wanted you to see what I see when I'm flying around 8,000'. If you look at the horizon just above the clouds, you will see a clear curvature of our Earth. I'm not implying you substitute this photo for the one from NASA; I just wanted you to know I'm not completely nuts!..Thanks for all the fun and education.

Your friend....Pocketthis (talk) 19:23, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

Zero-g fire extinguisher?[edit]

  • Hello Dowen,

I'm here in reply to the question you presented to me on my talk page. I had to sit and think about it a bit, and in theory it sounds like something worthy of further thought. My only concern is the Oxygen factor. I don't know how much oxygen there is at 30,000 feet where Commercial Aircraft fly, however, I fly small single engine craft; and never above 10,000'. I can promise you there is still plenty of oxygen at 10,000'. Even with no gravity, logic would dictate that fire would not extinguish with just the lack of gravity with oxygen present. To discover if your idea holds water, you should contact NASA and ask them if someone in the space station has ever tried to light a match. Those guys float around in zero gravity with almost pure oxygen surrounding them. Of course that's why we see them on TV with no spacesuits on. Interesting subject I'll admit. I would tend to think that the match would light with oxygen present in zero gravity; however, I sold my Spaceship last week, and can't test it for you. :) Pocketthis (talk) 18:12, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

There are people (idiots, in my opinion) who climb to the top of Mount Everest, which is about 30,000 feet high, without carrying oxygen tanks. So there must be enough oxygen up there to keep them alive. Also, of course, there's enough to keep the jet engines of airliners running.
But the amount of oxygen in the air is not the important factor in my idea. The important thing is that there would be no convection if there were no gravity. I remember, at the time of the Apollo 1 fire, it was said that the fire would not have happened if the capsule had been in orbit, even though it contained pure oxygen at 16.5 psi pressure. Incidentally, one result of the fire was that later Apollo craft, including all the ones that were actually launched, had nitrogen-oxygen atmospheres, not pure oxygen. See Apollo program#Disaster strikes. I'm not sure about the space station, but I suspect it also uses nitrogen-oxygen. The Russians always used nitrogen-oxygen. They were very leery of pure oxygen.
I'll try to find out more....
DOwenWilliams (talk) 21:08, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
  • You might do yourself better conversing with a science editor than with me on this subject. I have a BA, not a BS. I'm artistic and logical; however, when the subject gets too technical, I don't have much to offer. I also repair watches. I'm a 3rd generation watchmaker; but if you asked how a mechanical watch movement would function in outer space, I'd have to guess and say it would run fast because of the lack of gravity. The key word in that last sentence is "guess". See what I mean? You're probably asking the wrong man to evaluate your theory. If however, you feel that zero gravity alone (even with the aid of oxygen) is enough to eliminate convection, then your parabolic path auto-pilot idea may be a lifesaver. It's certainly worth more investigation for sure. I wish you the best of luck with it; and if you become famous because of it, I can always say: "The Man ran it by me first"...:) Pocketthis (talk) 21:53, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
When John Harrison invented the first good marine chronometer, he used a balance wheel and hairspring because they are virtually unaffected by the varying accelerations of a ship at sea, unlike the pendulum mechanisms that had been tried previously. His balance wheel system is essentially the one used in mechanical wristwatches, so I am sure that a watch would continue to keep good time in zero gravitational acceleration. A pendulum mechanism would not work at all, of course.
I'll ask around about the fire thing... Thanks for letting me run it past you.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:59, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Well that one was easy to figure because the pendulum functions 'because' of gravity. If there was no gravity to swing the pendulum back down, the action would cease. The reason I think a watch with a balance wheel would run a bit fast, isn't because of the balance wheel itself. The balance is pushed with an escapement system from the maim spring, and the hair spring aids in the return action to the pallet. However, the tolerances in the movement are very touchy. One movement screw too tight, and the movement slows down. In zero gravity, the tolerances in my opinion would be affected slightly, and it may run a tad fast. Again, it's an educated guess. If the movement was assembled in zero gravity, the tolerances would be preset for that environment, and it would run just fine. The tolerances are so touchy in a mechanical movement, that if one was set up in a humid climate, and was shipped to an arid climate, the watch would run a few minutes faster; because the oils are affected by the climate change. I deal with it all the time. I personally had never heard about the parabolic path until you educated me on it, so I'm the wrong Pilot to ask. Sorry about that, but thanks for the education. P.S. You are now an apprentice watchmaker. :) Pocketthis (talk) 16:17, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
    • One more tad of info on my watch theory: Mechanical movements are set to "positions". The more positions a watch is set for at the factory, the more expensive the movement becomes. The arbors that the wheels run on (axles), are set between the jewels. When you flip the watch over, the arbor is now running on the opposite jewel. Gravity pushes the arbor down, and gravity dictates what jewel the arbor is gliding on. There must be some space between the jewel and the arbor, or the watch would freeze up. In zero gravity, there are no positions. When you flip the watch over in zero gravity, the balance wheel staff (arbor) wouldn't budge. It would be floating between the upper and lower jewels. Thus, less friction......more speed. Fun as always D0wen......:) Pocketthis (talk) 16:37, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Did some NASA research for us on this watch issue. NASA was concerned about three factors concerning the use of watches in space. #1: The G forces on the movement in take off are 9 times that of normal operation. #2: The lack of 'Positions' from zero gravity. #3 No Automatic movements, since the rotor that winds the watch operates on gravity to shift it from position to position. Solution: Electric movements are the official NASA watches. Bulova Accutron seems to be the watch of choice. Watch Case closed....:) Pocketthis (talk) 18:30, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes. I'm sure NASA uses electronic watches *now*. So do I. I own a few mechanical ones, mostly heirlooms, but I never wear them.
But what did NASA do at the dawn of spaceflight, in about 1960? I don't think electronic watches had been invented then. Those first astronauts (and Russian cosmonauts) must have worn mechnical watches, if they wore any at all.
I always assumed that there was enough springiness in a watch movement thet the staff could lightly touch both jewels, without producing excessive foces. Oh well... Live and learn.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 21:21, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
  • They made sure it was a Wind-up, and not an auto wind. I believe I remember reading the 1st model was a Sea Dweller, and there were self winding issues from zero gravity. Then they switched to manual wind, and eventually high end electrics. Nothing was ever mentioned about the timing issues, other than their concern for accuracy from 'positions'. The lack of positions was a major concern about whether or not the mechanical watch could be trusted in space. The NASA article was more of a history lesson in what watches were used and when, as opposed to any problems they encountered using them. Funny, typing all that text about mechanical watches in space, and I forget about the Rotor working strictly from gravity. Happy New Year D0wen Pocketthis (talk) 21:48, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
The rotor is not totally dependent on gravity. If the wearer shakes his wrist from time to time, the rotor will turn and wind the watch just because of the varying accelerations, even in zero gravity. Only if the wearer never moves vigorously is gravity essential.
I never trusted rotors anyway. I like to have several watches and choose which one to wear each day, but that means that each watch is unworn for several days. Rotor-driven ones stop.
My biggest complaint about electric watches is that they are often affected by static electricity. In cold, dry, winter weather, my clothes rub against my watch and produce static. If it has a digital display (which I like), I often find it telling ridiculous times. Analog displays don't suddenly jump to weird times, but I suspect they are affected to small extents. A digital watch with some kind of static protection would be good for me, but I have never seen such a thing for sale. Oh well...
DOwenWilliams (talk) 22:14, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
  • I have a few Rolex watches I switch between. They are all Automatics: A Date Just, Sub Mariner, and Daytona. I have a winder I bought on Ebay. Beautiful Wood box that holds 4 watches that spin at a slow rate constantly. My watches haven't stopped running since I cleaned them last....about 4 years ago. I wouldn't wear an electric timepiece unless forced to at gunpoint. :) Pocketthis (talk) 03:10, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Then you should come to Canada. Not many gunpoints here. Yes. Old-fashioned technology is often beautiful, but not as practical as newer things. DOwenWilliams (talk) 06:34, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Actually, the folks holding me at gunpoint would be my family, whom were put out of business by the advent of electric watches. There are some really classic beautiful electric watches, like the Cartier Panther. I would own one, but I would fear for my life...:) Pocketthis (talk) 15:54, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Maybe you should use your skills and put an electric movement into a case from a mechanical watch. It might fool your relatives. ;-) DOwenWilliams (talk) 16:15, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Funny, I did that once when my Dad was still alive with an old Rolex case I had left over from a repair job. , it took him all but 5 seconds to notice that the seconds hand wasn't sweeping....:)Pocketthis (talk) 18:24, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Hmmm... You should have used a movement from an electric watch which has a second hand that moves continuously.
Another advantage of electric watches, of course, is that the dial is easily illuminated for use at night. I used to have a mechanical pocket watch, with radium-energized luminous paint on the hands and hour marks. It worked just fine, and was very easy to read in darkness. But I tried leaving it face-down for a few hours on a piece of x-ray film. When I developed the film, the hour marks were clearly visible, along with a blur left by the moving hands. The radiation from radium easily penetrates a watch glass, and even the metal case. Nowadays, people are too paranoid to use radioactive paint, so mechanical watches have to be illuminated, e.g. with a flashlight, to be read. But electric watches can use electroluminescent backlighting, which works just fine. ::DOwenWilliams (talk) 18:52, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Ok Mr. Wizard. Hard to believe that you are such the experimental scientist, that you would actually place a luminous dial on a piece of x-ray film to see if it left its impression. This thread is now definitely out of control!! You need to get out more often. Or are you locked up by some chance? I know you're not in a straight Jacket unless you're typing with your nose. :) Pocketthis (talk) 19:09, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Long ago, I learned to type "by feel", with my hands tied behind my back.
I did that little experiment when I was working in an x-ray diffraction lab. We had lots of film, developing equipment, and so on. The experiment was very easy to do, and I found the result quite interesting. From then on, I wore the watch facing outward, even though the risk of breaking the glass was increased. Much less radiation came through the movement and case, and out from the back, than passed through the glass to the front.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 19:33, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
  • So your experiment ended having practical results. Did you do it initially to see if you were at a radiation risk from wearing the watch? Fortunately, none of my pocket watches have luminous dials. They are mostly Railroad grade watches. I love the movements in them, and it boggles the mind to see the technology involved in the manufacture of watches that were around just after the turn of the century. Pocketthis (talk) 19:45, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I did it to see if the amount of radiation was detectable that way, and was surprised to see how much there was. I had done some work with radioactive isotopes, and was used to wearing a radiation monitor, basically just a bit of x-ray film, to check my dose. The dose from the watch was, locally, well past the acceptable dose leval for long-term whole-body exposure. So I wasn't worried before doing the experiment, but I was, slightly, afterwards.
Other people must have been concerned, too. They stopped using radium, and switched to tritium, which is much safer, but is also more expensive and has a short half-life so the paint only shines for a few years. At about the time when electric watches came in, the use of radioactive paint was discontinued. Luminous paint is still used on some analog displays, but it isn't radioactive, and therefore does not glow for long after being exposed to light.
I wonder where that watch is. I haven't seen it in decades. I vaguely remember it getting broken. Oh well....
DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:33, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • If you ever find it, I'll fix it for you...if I can borrow your radiation shield..:) Pocketthis (talk) 03:50, 3 January 2013 (UTC)


  • Would like your opinion and comment (should you choose to leave one) here: subect at bottom of page= "Miles". I would find it interesting to see what a Brit thinks of this discussion. There is a certain Admin (you will see his name in the messages) that doesn't like to discuss anything. It's the "World according to him". I finally got fed up with his terrible excuses and total lack of communication, and put my two cents into this discussion at the bottom. Give it a read when you get a chance, then you can reply back here, and tell me how wrong I am. :) My logic is: If it's good enough for NASA, it should be good enough for Wiki. Thanks Pocketthis (talk) 23:23, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

I didn't appreciate the "Yanks dictating comment", and will never trust a Limey again. I am appalled at your reply there. You should be ashamed of yourself David. Won't be going to bat for you again anytime soon. Pocketthis (talk) 03:36, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

I have never previously heard an American objecting to being called a Yank. Most of them wear the title proudly. Likewise, Brits don't object to being called Limeys. It hearkens back to the useful discovery that eating fruit prevents scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency).
A lot of people in the rest of the world do feel that Yanks attempt to boss them around. It may or may not be justified. That's a different question.
OK. If you don't want to be friends any more, so be it.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:55, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
I looked up your reference about numbers of English speakers in India. Whether there are more or fewer thn in the U.S. is, according to that article, a matter of definition. There may be 350 million "English users" there. The total US population is about 315 million.
Certainly, if you add together the English-speaking populations of all other countries in the world, in almost all of which the metric system is used, they vastly outnumber the US population.
A few years ago, I was in Egypt, and noticed that a large percentage of public signs in Cairo were in English. I was told that more Egyptians are literate in English than in Arabic.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 04:10, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Well David, I guess I can't expect you to be a scientific genius and be socially acceptable as well. Geekhood definitely has its drawbacks. It's actually my fault for sending a candid geek like you over there in the first place; however, I didn't dream this trivial subject would end up hitting a cord, or sore spot with you. Funny, because in my opening post to you here, I mentioned a "certain Admin." saw the world as "according to him"... Then you show up and imply that Americans only see the world according to them. Quite an interesting turn of events; however, I'm pretty sure you have noticed in all of our communications, that I am an extremely open minded person. Actually, it's the only way we learn anything. I'm glad we all seemed to come to a consensus of agreement (except for that certain Admin. whom got lost after the discussion got too hot for'em). in the Miles and meters discussion. It really was just a matter of logic having both units of measurement, since there are as many or more that come to this Wiki with no meters education at all. See you in the threads... Pocketthis (talk) 23:27, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

I am, actually, a graduate of Oxford University, in England. That's a pretty good ticket to social acceptability, at least, over there! DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:30, 6 February 2013 (UTC)o

  • Someone scalped your ticket....:) Pocketthis (talk) 03:44, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

It certainly wasn't yours. Didn't you promise not to come back here? DOwenWilliams (talk) 16:20, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

  • Actually, I deleted the sobbing post here about you not knowing what a friend is, so as not to deface your talk page any longer. I figured we had put our differences behind us, and was trying to be funny here, and move on. But alas...I guess it didn't work. Our sense of Humors are from different sides of the world; and being sociably acceptable isn't a Ticket. It's an attained personality. If I bump into you in the threads, it will be in the utmost respect. Thanks for all the science education. I have learned much from meeting you. All the best. Pocketthis (talk) 00:56, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Almost everything is seen through the prism of local culture. In England, the criteria for social acceptability are different in many ways than in the States. Members of royalty, or the artistocracy, are accepted pretty well anywhere, regardless of attained personality. Members of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are similarly accepted by default, although to become a member one has to succeed in a fearsomely difficult exam, which in itself is an attainment. I'm not saying that this is a good sytem, but it's the way it is.



DOwenWilliams (talk) 01:50, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Talk Sun[edit]

  • David, in the talk Sun section: , there is a new fellow who makes a pretty good case to change some grammar and rewording in the composition section. I agree with his grammar suggestions, but not being a science editor, I'm not going to get involved in any changes. This is perfect for you. Why don't you take a look. Bottom of Talk Sun Page. Thanks. Pocketthis (talk) 16:26, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

I've taken a look at it. I agree with the "new fellow" and with you. I suggested that he should just cut and paste his revised wording into the article. Better that he should do it, and get whatever credit may be due, than that you or I should. DOwenWilliams (talk) 20:55, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

  • Actually, he couldn't, but it doesn't matter now. The reason he came to the talk section was because the article is "protected"; and he's too new to edit there. But it's fine, another science editor took care of it. Thanks... Pocketthis (talk) 22:48, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Oh yes! I didn't notice teh "protected" thing. DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:16, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

Parabola diagram[edit]

David, I answered your question on 'my' talk page. Thanks Pocketthis (talk) 20:09, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

  • David, there are plenty of nice charts on that page; unfortunately, I don't know which one he made for you....:)

What text is it opposite? Also, in reply to your comments about the page views in articles: That's how I determine what photos to keep in the galleries and articles; as you can also use that system to get the stats of any particular photo, and see how many folks clicked on it in any language, on any Wiki. That's why you might notice me changing photos in the galleries so often. Thanks Pocketthis (talk) 15:42, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Sorry. It's in the section called Parabola#Conic section and quadratic form. There's only one diagram there, and that's it. DOwenWilliams (talk) 16:13, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

  • The kid has talent. It's really beautifully done. Glad you guys finally got it worked out. With your science knowledge, and his art design abilities, you make a strong team. Now you can click the page views for the chart in a few days and see how it's doing. However, it's been my experience that most folks don't click on charts too often; but other Wikis will eventually pick them up from Commons and use them in their respective Wiki pages in many different languages. You can get that info by clicking on the chart and seeing where it is being utilized. Till next time....Pocketthis (talk) 17:13, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes. I've done that sort of thing, and have lifted diagrams from other Wikipedias and put them in this English one. For example, the diagram in Parabola#Proof of the reflective property came from German Wikipedia, via Commons, of course.

As far as I've seen, the English Parabola article is better than those in all other languages (that I can understand), though the Spanish one is also pretty good. I imagine that, eventually, quite a lot of it will be copied into other languages.

Fun stuff.

DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:02, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

  • The biggest kick I get out of contributing here, is when a foreign Wiki grabs one of my photos and uses it to headline one of their articles. Very fun stuff. Pocketthis (talk) 03:28, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Talkback: you've got messages![edit]

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Hello, DOwenWilliams. You have new messages at Theopolisme's talk page.
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This holiday season...[edit]

Festivus Pole.jpg Festivus for the rest of us!
Frank Costanza: "Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way."
Cosmo Kramer: "What happened to the doll?"
Frank Costanza: "It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!"
Kramer: "That must have been some kind of doll."
Frank Costanza: "She was."

This holiday season, have a fantastic Festivus!Theopolisme 16:00, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
Spread the Festivus Miracle by adding {{subst:User:Theopolisme/festivus}} to someone's talk page.

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March 2013[edit]

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North-facing vertical sundials[edit]

You are right about north-facing sundials in the tropics. It is a special case. I was actually about to add a footnote to that effect, when my connection crapped out (I am in Kuwait). When I got back online, I found your message! Waugh does say "No vertical dial can ever catch the sun's rays for more than 12 of the 24 hours in a day", Chapter 10, page 83 in my book, and that's the citation I gave. I'd say that his statement is generally true, and true even for north facers at latitudes greater than about 25º. I believe the maximum amount of sunlight possible for any vertical dial is about 13.5 hours, on a north-facing dial on midsummer's day right at the Tropic of Cancer. I don't think Waugh understands north-facing dials too well, actually, because he also says on page 86 that hour lines "below the horizon" need not be shown on north facing dials, which only shows that he never made one! I am actually just below latitude 29N at present, constructing a northeast dial that declines about 12º east, and even now, just a week before the solstice, with the dial declining to the east, the wall loses the sun around 10AM (and it doesn't really pick it up again till after 4PM). I'm not used to using the talk pages, so I hope I've done this the right way! Tyger27 (talk) 21:53, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

Good enough. some people insist on a whole lot of rules for postings on their talk pages. I don't care what people say or how they say it, so long as they are civil.
Yes. You're right about that quote from Waugh. I just checked it. You're probably also right in saying that his understanding is/was limited.
I have been just south of the Tropic of Cancer on June 21, and observed a north-facing wall being in sunlight for more than 12 hours in a day.
Fun stuff.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 01:34, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

From what I've read about Mr Waugh, sundials were his passion: he had quite a collection of old dialing books and kept voluminous notebooks on his own investigations, which I believe he bequeathed to the University of Connecticut, his employer. Even his wife found it a bit odd: "What a strange obsession for a grown man who owns a watch!" (Sundials, p. viii) But anyone can make a mistake, I guess, especially when one is only considering the majority of cases (or those closest to home), and not the exceptional ones. One thing that sort of threw me for a loop when I first started reading his book was his reliance on logarithmic arithmetic, but then I realized he was working in the days before cheap electronic calculation, when slide rules and trig tables were the order of the day. Needless to say we can "simplify" much of it these days: e.g. (p 79) his formula, log tan SD = log sin D + log cot ϕ, can more "easily" be expressed as tan(SD)=sin(D)/tan(ϕ). We no longer prefer addition to division now that we don't need to do the division by hand! Tyger27 (talk) 16:44, 14 June 2013 (UTC

I, too, was raised in the pre-calculator world. At school, we science types always carried a slide-rule in our breast pockets. It was like a badge of honour. Later, when I was a high-school teacher, I started using calculators in class, to the horror of the other teachers who wanted to keep to the old way. DOwenWilliams (talk) 21:19, 14 June 2013 (UTC)


You placed a rather specific paragraph in the lead to that article, which I moved to a more appropriate section. However, it is still unsourced and I would appreciate it if you added citations as soon as possible; Moon is a featured article and doing this is akin to placing it on probation for de-listing. Serendipodous 05:37, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

I noticed you moved that paragraph, which is fine by me. As for sources, I took an astronomy course at university some years ago, and found this information in the notes I took then. I guess I quoted a lecturer. But I don't have any direct sources from literature. If you want to delete the paragraph, go ahead. DOwenWilliams (talk) 14:45, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Parabola problem[edit]

About six weeks ago, you left a message on my talk page in response to a comment I had made on the Talk:Parabola page reporting a problem with some of the images. Please forgive me for not getting back to you sooner; I don't often log into Wikipedia, so I didn't see the message until this evening. I have taken another look at the page, and it does appear that you have fixed it. Thank you very much! LBourne (talk) 23:19, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

You're very welcome! DOwenWilliams (talk) 02:46, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Moon, final totality[edit]

Do you have a source that indicated how much the sun will expand over the next 1.4 million years to back up what you just inserted in the article? Thanks.  — TimL • talk 03:02, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

Look in the Sun article. There's a graph there that shows that, at present, the diameter of the Sun is increasing at a rate of about 5 percent per billion years. DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:15, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
Very cool. I have been long looking for a definitive answer to the question "How will the Sun's diameter vary over time?" This is the first paper I've come across to address this, and it's not for lack of trying. Most people seem to be under the impression the sun's diameter will be relatively stable for a billion years or so and then start expanding into red giant stage. I guess it depends on how one defines "stable".  — TimL • talk 08:16, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

A barnstar for you![edit]

Tireless Contributor Barnstar Hires.gif The Tireless Contributor Barnstar
I needed information about Parabolic Curves, and when I go to the page, it was filled with high quality work that I know you must have verified several times based on the stories on your page. I may have edited a lot less than you, but I think you deserve a medal. Keep up the good work! Coolastheothersideofthepillow (talk) 02:48, 11 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks very much. I used to be a high-school math teacher, so I am very familiar with this kind of stuff. I think many of the readers of the Parabola page are high-school students, so I've tried to include lots of things that they would find useful. I hope you find it useful too. Regards. DOwenWilliams (talk) 16:08, 11 January 2014 (UTC)

O cruel curiosity[edit]

Your tale of J.E. is tantalizing! I'm wondering how a criminal case can turn on "if a certain discovery had been made". Alas, I understand why you didn't make the story more explicit. —Tamfang (talk) 22:45, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

Ok. Since it was about 50 years ago, and it turned out that JE had not commited a crime, I'll tell you some more, without revealing his identity. He had been selling the hallucinogenic drug LSD. He had been buying it from a chemical manufacturer, perfectly openly, paying by cheque, and then re-selling it to his friends. This was in England, where, at that time, there was no explicit law against this. But the powers-that-be decided to prosecute him under a law that had been designed to stop people from causing miscarriages (abortions) by using lysergamide, a compound thst is chemically related to LSD, and causes contractions of the uterus, expelling any fetus. The law, as far as I can recall, prohibited possession of "ergot alkaloids or homologues thereof". Ergot is a natural fungus which contains various alkaloids, one of which is lysergamide. The prosecution claimed that ergot also contained another alkaloid, called lysergic acid amide, and that LSD wa a homologue of that, so it was prohibited. The question was, had anyone proved that ergot contained lysergic acid amide? EC and his colleagues had published a paper saying they had found it in ergot, but later realized that the process they used to extract it had accidentally caused a chemical reaction that produced it. When they used a different extraction technique, they no longer found it, so they published a retraction. But, as far as JE was concerned, the damage had already been done.
As soon as the government realized that JE was going to be acquitted, a law was rapidly passed, explicitly prohibiting possession of LSD. So this story is of historical interest only.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 00:19, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

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Your edit to Bracelet[edit]

Hi there. You're right about the cuff of a shirt not meeting the definition of a bracelet (the former definition could have been interpreted as such), but when you reverted me, you brought back the mis-punctuated version (should be a comma instead of a period). I'm assuming you didn't catch that. Don't get me wrong here; I have an eagle eye for typos, and I was little disconcerted to see one that I had corrected getting reverted right back.

Cheers! --Seven of Nine (talk) 01:52, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

I'm sure you're right. On my screen, and with my eyes, it's hard to see the difference between a comma and a period. Even now, I can't see the error you're referring to.
I used to work as a magazine editor. Catching other people's typos was a major part of my job. It led me to the realization that I needed reading glasses. That was several decades ago. Now, I need a portable microscope.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 02:12, 14 July 2014 (UTC)


Hi. I've removed some of what you added to Watch for two reasons;

  • It has no cite about the problem LCD watches have, so appears to be your own original research.
  • It contained speculation about the popularity of LCD watches.

I see you removed the speculation, but the original research remains. If you have a reliable source this, then please re-add. Thanks. --Escape Orbit (Talk) 19:17, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

You have demonstrated why Wikipedia is regarded as a joke in academic circles. Anyone who knows what he is writing about is not allowed to state it unless he can come up with a citation. But simple stuff is rarely covered in citeable literature.
A while ago, I edited the Wikipedia article about the neighbourhood where I have lived for 30+ years. By looking out of my window, or taking a short walk, I could see that the article was drivel. I improved it greatly, only to have my edits reverted because I had done "original research". I was NOT impressed.
Nor am I impressed now. If you don't know much about polarized light and liquid crystal displays, kindly find someone who does. You could even try looking at the relevant Wikipedia articles, providing you treat them with appropriate scepticism. Don't just hack away at my edits. Put a "citation needed" tag if you must.
I have contributed a lot to Wikipedia. Look at my statistics to see. But I am constantly teetering on the brink of abandoning it. My instincts as a retired teacher are to try to put correct information into it. My instincts as an academic who values integrity are to avoid it like the plague. Actions such as yours push me in the latter direction.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 21:03, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry that you are annoyed at my edit. Like you, my intention is to improve Wikipedia, and like you, I find it infuriating at times. But you seem to have a misunderstanding how it works, or how indeed encyclopaedias work. This is key to knowing how best to contribute to it and avoid frustration.
Encyclopaedias do not publish original content, they collate material already published by reliable sources. This is a good thing as far as Wikipedia is concerned, because if it simply was a matter of anonymous people turning up and saying "Listen to me, I know what I'm talking about, just take my word for it", we could forever be getting into fruitless arguments about who knows best. This is why Wikipedia needs cites and does not accept unpublished original research.
So in regards to your edit to the Watch article; you may well be totally correct, but why should the reader take your word for it? You're just some guy on the internet who may be mistaken. You may even be a mischievous prankster who likes misleading people. What you added made complete sense, but I am not qualified say. And nor should I, because I'm just some other guy on the internet. So I, like any reader, need a cite. If you are qualified to write this, your best course of action would be to get it published somewhere. Wikipedia, unfortunately, isn't the place for you to do that.
Better still, would be to utilise your knowledge to identify and cite the best sources in the right places. This is a skill in itself and, I appreciate, more work when you already know you are right. But it's the only way that Wikipedia can function. Verifiability is a core policy without which things would become anarchy.
Hope this helps explain things. Please don't give up! --Escape Orbit (Talk) 21:53, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Isis dab page[edit]

Until the RfC at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Request board#Talk:Isis is closed you shouldn't be removing the link to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant‎ - and we haven't made a decision there, the main article, as to whether or not to call it Islamic State. There's a move request open on that issue and it doesn't look so far that the name will be changed. Dougweller (talk) 14:56, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

I didn't remove it. Actually, I put it back, by reverting an edit that insisted on "Syria". DOwenWilliams (talk) 15:08, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
DOwenWilliams Apologies, I'd just seen [1] and overreacted. Sorry. Dougweller (talk) 15:37, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
No problem. I have a neighbour who thinks I have used a crane to move my house onto his property. I suspect he has Alzheimer's. Compared with him, everythong in Wikipedia is eminently sane and friendly. DOwenWilliams (talk) 16:10, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Part 2[edit]

Ping Dougweller - your initial reaction looks right to me. DOwenWilliams removed it here [2] and here [3] (as well as on the primary topic here [4]) Irrespective of the article name, this is an alternative title detailed in the article, so can be listed on the dab (see WP:MOSDAB / WP:DABACRO). The fact that this is one of the most read articles means this should be listed, arguably at both locations. Removing both in this context may be quite disruptive. Even if the article is renamed, these are valid historical titles and the disambiguation should stay. As the primary topic discussion is underway, this should be the status quo. For more opinions feel free to ping the dab project. Widefox; talk 01:24, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

August 2014[edit]

Information icon Thank you for your edit to the disambiguation page Isis (disambiguation). However, please note that disambiguation pages are not articles; rather, they are meant to help readers find a specific article quickly and easily. From the disambiguation dos and don'ts, you should:

  • Be familiar with the guidelines and style
  • Only list articles that readers might reasonably be looking for
  • Use short sentence fragment descriptions, with no punctuation at the end
  • Use exactly one navigable link ("blue link") in each entry
    • Only add a "red link" if used in an article, and include the "blue link" to that article
  • Do not pipe links (unless style requires it) – keep the full title of the article visible
  • Do not insert external links or references

please could you read MOSDAB before editing dab pages again, especially DABACRO. We prefer the ambiguous term, and links at the start which was all OK. WP:NOTBROKEN also handy to explain. Cheers Widefox; talk 01:31, 23 August 2014 (UTC)


As you note at Planetimer, the article is problematic promotion. I put it up for AFD, but no one else weighed in. If you'd like to see it removed, I encourage you to take it to AFD. --Nat Gertler (talk) 16:31, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

It's no big deal as far as I'm concerned SS also made an extensive (and virtually incomprehensible) edit to the Watch page, also extolling his invention. I reverted that. But I really don't care about the presence of a page that nobody will ever read. DOwenWilliams (talk) 20:17, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Lunar Eclipse[edit]

Hi! As part of a class assignment Victoria (talk), Andrew (talk), Kieran (talk), and I (Jordan (talk)) will be working on expanding the article about lunar eclipses ( We noticed that you have been writing on the talk page on the article, and we were hoping you might be able to help us out with getting started. For each of us, this is our first time seriously editing Wikipedia, but we wanted to add citations in the Lunar Eclipse in Mythology, Blood Moon, and Occurrence sections. We also wanted to add material to the Lunar Eclipse in Mythology section, Lunar versus Solar Eclipse section, and the Multimedia section.

In case you were wondering, the talk page for our class website is

Thank you,

Vmdavid (talk) 00:14, 2 October 2014 (UTC)


Please give me one example of such a change.[5] --JorisvS (talk) 18:16, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

In several places, you changed "which" to "that" or "since" to "because". There were others. DOwenWilliams (talk) 18:22, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
Those are not instances of British vs. American. Their original usage is common in both and perfectly normal English. However, these words have alternative meanings and the intended meanings can be conveyed using different words that do not have alternative meanings, which are therefore preferable in professional writing. --JorisvS (talk) 18:27, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
They are instances in which common British usage is usually different from American. There are many other such differences, such as the treatment of collective nouns and pronouns. Having been born and raised in the UK, but lived most of my life in Canada, I tend to be aware of these variations when I see them. No big deal. Revert my reversion if you really want to do so. DOwenWilliams (talk) 18:33, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

I took a look, today, at several dictionaries, some British, some American. They all say that both "that" and "which" are correct in the contexts we are discussing. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary also mentions a third possibility, to omit the pronoun altogether - "The book I bought today was expensive.") I was taught in my youth that in this kind of situation good style is to reduce repetition by using both (or all) available options, mixed together. Certainly, there is no justification for replacing all instances of "which" by "that". DOwenWilliams (talk) 01:39, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

Trajectory of a projectile - clarity[edit]

I think the derivations can skip some steps, mostly in Angle \theta required to hit coordinate (x,y), to make it Wikipedia quality. I aggressively trimmed the article in an edit; What do you think? Timetraveler3.14 (talk) 23:54, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

Sure. Some trimming is probably justified, though there is no real waste if a Wikipedia article is long. I reverted the edit because, in the "Catching balls" section, only some of the substitutions of v and h with vy and vx were done, leaving v and h unchanged in some places. DOwenWilliams (talk) 01:16, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

Notice of Edit warring noticeboard discussion[edit]

Information icon Hello. This message is being sent to inform you that there is currently a discussion involving you at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Edit warring regarding a possible violation of Wikipedia's policy on edit warring. Thank you. Andy Dingley (talk) 21:03, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

Go ahead. Discuss away. I have almost never been involved in any kind of edit war. Generally, people seem to think that I am a constructive editor. Only when I am very sure of my ground do I get involved in any kind of conflict. In the context of the nett/net dispute, I discussed it very civilly with reference to three dictionaries. I'm sorry if you find that offensive. Whem the administrators discuss me in this context, I assume they will discuss you too. Regards. DOwenWilliams (talk) 21:23, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

net nett nettt netttt[edit]

We have both started a discussion on net+ at Talk:Differential (mechanical device) within a few minutes of each other; we should probably consolidate. I'd refactor mine into yours, but the one I started has a reply, and I don't want to refactor someone else's comments without permission. Would it be alright if you folded yours into that one? Or do you have another suggestion? --A D Monroe III (talk) 22:58, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

Personally, I think we should let this die away. It's trivial, but some people (one person, anyway) are taking it personally. If you want to copy my text for any purpose, go right ahead. DOwenWilliams (talk) 23:17, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

interlanguage link[edit]

Dear DOwenWilliams,

Thank you very much for your many improvements to Wikipedia.

When words from some foreign language are crammed into an article in the English-language Wikipedia, the vast majority of the time, simply undoing that edit is the right thing to do.

Please forgive for re-instating just such an edit that you recently undid.[6]

In this case, User: Yoshi Canopus did the right thing. Yoshi added the appropriate link in the correct way to show up in the "languages" sidebar to the left of the English-language "Reflecting telescope" article. Yoshi was apparently using the "local links ... are required in order to link to sections of articles" exception described in Help:Interlanguage links. When I look at the English-language "Reflecting telescope" article and then click on the link Yoshi added to the sidebar, I go to the "reflecting telescope" section of the "optical telescope" article in the Japanese-language Wikipedia.

That's the way the "languages sidebar" is supposed to work, right?

Again, thank you for your many improvements to Wikipedia, and forgive me for nit-picking this one well-intended but counter-productive edit. --DavidCary (talk) 03:57, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Sundial references[edit]

I should have said Hello a couple of years back--I always regard your edits as safe and reliable. I see that today you have started on unravelling the spiders nest of references on the sundial page. Can I point you to User:ClemRutter/Citations#Citations where I have attempted to make sense of linkages when the paper has no author. Yes I have got it to work! I am a bit busy at the moment looking at Manuals of Style and setting Maths using <math> tags- prior to an edit-a-thon (where we will also be addressing sfnref! I hope that link is useful.-- Clem Rutter (talk) 10:08, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Hi Clem. Good to hear from you. I'm a bit puzzled about what you say I have done on the sundial page. All I have done there recently is improve and expand the little section on using a sundial as a compass. I put in some links to other pages, but didn't make any changes to external references. Thanks, anyway, for pointing me to your citations piece. I'm sure I'll use it in the future. Best wishes. DOwenWilliams (talk) 14:57, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
I looked at the history and found that User:Tom.Reding made an edit that was in the middle of the ones I recently made. I guess his edit was the one that worked on references. You unintentionally gave me credit for his good work. DOwenWilliams (talk) 00:04, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. I assume y'all're referring to |author=Sunshine in your pocket!? I simply changed it from the slightly more incorrect |last=Sunshine in your pocket!|first=. Fixing it any more is beyond my code (and normally beyond my interest level) and up to the next good editor :) However, upon closer inspection, the author appears to be Michelle B. Larson. Yes check.svg Corrected   ~ Tom.Reding (talkcontribsdgaf)  17:44, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
I am working on some big changes in my sandbox User:ClemRutter/sandbox/Sundial please have a look. Now the polling station have closed, normal life will recommence. I am planning to do the London meet-up on Sunday so I can reconnect. I am now testing various formula off-wiki with SVG code written in Python, - the NASS material is excellent and is inspiring many new articles-for example I now have 10 different ways for laying out a dial using straight edge and compass.
Michael seemed very keen to have construction instructions in the text- I have been looking at Wikibooks as a better way forward.. just tell me to stay on focus! -- Clem Rutter (talk) 22:18, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Am I the only person in the world to be totally unsurprised by he results of the UK election?
Stay on focus, Clem!
Albert Waugh's wife is said to have remarked to a friend that she couldn't understand his fascination with sundials since he had a perfectly good watch with which to tell the time. I feel the same way.
The first sun-related computer program I wrote, long before SunAlign, predicted the times of sunrise and sunset at any place on any date. Compared with published tables, it worked very well. I wrote it from first principles, based on my understanding of the earth's motions. The fact that it worked accurately confirmed to me that my understanding was correct. I had never seriously doubted it, but it's always nice to have confirmation. I suppose sundial calculations serve the same purpose. When a sundial is designed from theory and turns out to tell accurate time, it confirms that the theory is correct. Fair enough... Personally, I'm happy to take it on trust.
DOwenWilliams (talk) 18:35, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

I scanned your sandbox text. Obviously, it's a work in progress. There's a curious truncation at the end of the "sundials in the southern hemisphere" section. I guess that's a mistake. Also, I noticed you deleted the bit about sundials being less used in the southern hemisphere than the northern. I had written that, long ago. I couldn't find any good citations, but I'm sure it's true. In Chilean-Spanish dictionaries, there isn't even a word for "sundial". In Spain, it's well-known. There's a sundial in Argentina which was made by a Spanish immigrant. He said he wanted to show the people of his new country one of these devices, which can be found on every street-corner in Spain. I built a sundial in the back yard of a friend of mine in Santiago, Chile. It caused a minor sensation, being described on the radio. I had tried to buy a sundial there, but nobody knew what I was talking about. Unfortunately, mine didn't last long. An earthquake shook it down. There are a few sundials in Australia, but I'm told not many.

Waugh describes the empirical method of marking hour-lines, but doesn't mention the need to allow for the equation of time. Obviously, it's essential. I've put it in the article, but I'll probably be burned at a stake. Do you know of any citable texts that describe it?


DOwenWilliams (talk) 03:28, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

For relaxation- I found Giovanni Francesco Zarbula‎. while he was not known on enwiki- there were some lovely references on frwiki- and following those led to two ppt presentations on the left bar of Walking shadows. Then there are rest of his links... — Preceding unsigned comment added by ClemRutter (talkcontribs) 08:44, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

I read the article on Zarbula. The instructions for making a sundial reminded me of some instructions I was given long ago for making a heliostat. A retired carpenter had a hobby workshop in a garden shed, and figured that he could use a moving mirror to reflect sunlight into it. He had no knowledge of the theory of heliostats, but after a lot of trial and error he managed to come up with a design that worked fairly well. Lots of strings and pulleys were driven by electric motors and pulled the mirror around. It was quite impressive in a Heath-Robinson way. Unfortunately, he thought he had made a great invention that would make him rich.
Did Zarbula's sundials have any theory behind them, or were they similar products of trial and error? The article says that many of them worked within five-minute accuracy, which suggests they were not very precisely made. Theory should have allowed him to do better.
Are you in Lancaster again?
DOwenWilliams) 03:50, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
I am assuming he was an untutored peasant-who wandered the mountains between Savoy and Piedmont in very uncertain times. We have no DOB or anything- I am tempted to wander over that way this summer. I have drawn some practice dials using the method, before doing the svgs and it really is simple to do- but looks incredibly impressive. I have left out the description of constructing the style until I have run a few tests, there is ambiguity in the usage of the term style-height (length or angle) I want to be sure. I would suggest when your village is at 1600m up a single donkey track that 5 minutes is pretty good. When the kids were small, the sundial got put up before the tent and we survived all summer on that. The gnomen was just a tent peg driven into the sand, and we set it on magnetic north, and by folding a piece of paper to get the angle right. (Vendays-Montalivet) :)
The family home is Rochester, the kids are in Newcastle and Brighton. I grew up and worked in Manchester but studied in Lancaster. Happy times. -- Clem Rutter (talk) 10:17, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
My parents were both of Welsh origin, but met while studying medicine at the University of Liverpool. We lived around there until the end of WW2, when my father landed a good job in Birmingham, so we moved there. At age 13, I was sent to school in Marlborough, Wilts, which was the most miserable time of my life. After that, I spent 4 years at Oxford University, then lived in Leicester and London before moving across the Atlantic, first to New York, then here to Toronto. I have a sister who still lives in Poynton, near Manchester. My Chinese girlfriend has a couple of adult kids who are both in Toronto, and a bunch of other relatives in China. Small world. DOwenWilliams (talk) 19:50, 16 May 2015 (UTC)