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  1. #11
    Professor Jopp’s Remarkable Feats

    Number Eleven

    Small World

    We have long known that custom does not stale the infinite variety of Professor Ovis Jopp, any more than it did that of Cleopatra. Further proof emerged yesterday, when the lean, seven-foot-two, green-bearded ‘Sage of Trondheim’ entranced members of the world’s scientific community by telling of his latest exploit, triggered when he heard a British government minister say: “Nanotechnology will be huge.”

    “I suspected the fellow was trying to elicit laughter,” said Jopp, “but I took him literally, at once apprehending that what he spoke of is significant. However, it is trivial compared to what is possible. I refer to worlds far smaller than those he had in mind. You will know that nano is the prefix for ten to the minus ninth power. That is only a start. We descend in stages of a thousand a time. After nano come pico, femto, atto, zepto and yocto, the last being ten to the minus twenty-fourth power. Such an array would be far more than enough for most experts in tininess, but I hurdled the supposed obstacle in less time than it takes to tell, without working up a sweat.”

    The eminent egghead allowed a moment for the inevitable gasps, then proceeded: “The main problem was seeing what was what. As there was no instrument of sufficient magnifying power, I had to invent one, which I call the jopposcope. By the way, I have some pride in this tool, as it makes sub-atomic viewing quite simple. Having no particular objective, I contented myself with producing a soccer pitch on the yoctometre scale. That led me to think of the players, the football and so on. Plunging downwards, I reached the level of ten to the minus twenty-seventh power, for which I could find no prefix. Assuming that there is none, and without wishing to be presumptuous, I suggest that ovio might be adopted as a new standard.”

    Quickly subduing more expressions of astonishment, the professor continued: “I appreciate that there may be few at present capable of understanding what I have done, but the same could be said with respect to others who have vastly outpaced their contemporaries. Anyway, that does not matter now. After all, I speak of a world which I alone have seen. Let me just say that there seems to be no limit to what can be attained. As for the jopposcope, I need to introduce a few minor refinements and after I have done that, I shall be happy to invite anyone to inspect my latest work, which I believe matches anything I have done in the past.”

    Though the immediate audience was rendered near-speechless, a sharp observation came within hours from Jopp’s premier castigator, the rotund, follically-challenged ‘Swedish Savant’, Dr Terps Dunderklap. Enjoying his first sojourn in the USA, he was found loitering on the campus of one of the country’s most illustrious institutions – Vassar.

    Dr Dunderklap is usually acerbic, and on this occasion he excelled himself. “Hah,” he scoffed, “another proclamation from the Ass of Alkmaar. It saddens me to think that we were both born in that Dutch town, on the same day and in the same hospital. Just imagine two people appearing in the world, so close in time and space and so different in mentality. I calculate the IQ gap between us as 250 points. Jopp is, as usual, way behind me. I went beyond his primitive ovio level long ago, when I reduced smallness to what I call the dundo stage, which is ten to the minus thirtieth power, thus producing a polo ground, a vast number of which could be put into the torpid troll’s enormous megadrome. No matter how far he delves into the microscopic realm, Jopp will never find anything there as diminutive as his own brain.”

    A major rumpus seems likely.

    * * *
    Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    Hidden Content

  2. #12
    Professor Jopp’s Remarkable Feats

    Number Twelve


    It is increasingly difficult for many of us to keep abreast of the work of Professor Ovis Jopp, the lean, seven-foot-two, green-bearded ‘Sage of Trondheim’. Speaking yesterday in his fjordside home, he informed an audience of science reporters that he had proved the validity of the theory of Earth crust displacement, adding that it was probably this, rather than meteorite impact, that overwhelmed the dinosaurs.

    Supplying his listeners with wine made by his wife from Italian gooseberries and dubbed by him Vino Verdi (he is an opera lover), the wily warlock explained that he was inspired to investigate the conjecture in question while walking in his garden. He said that the theory in question had attracted Einstein, admitting that the father of Relativity, along with Archimedes and Newton, had ascended to within hailing distance of his own intellectual eminence. “For me, and doubtless only for me,” – he chuckled – “it was not too difficult. I took one of my spherical green cabbages, a sheet of polythene, a jar of my own recently developed super-lubricant, which I call Ovilube, and a wok. I sawed the last item through the middle, top to bottom, setting the two halves slightly apart and putting them upon separate supports, placed to match the curvature of the vegetable.”

    Pausing only to imbibe half a litre of wine, the professor went on: “I coated the cabbage with Ovilube, shrink-wrapped it in the polythene and placed it in the split wok, the inner surfaces of which I had also smeared with the lubricant. The cabbage represented the Earth’s main mass and the polythene its crust, while the wok was merely a suitable stand. I added putty to the top of my apparatus, little by little in a narrow ridge, recording the amounts. As I had suspected, a final increment caused abrupt inversion, my poles sliding through 180 degrees, the ridge of putty passing the slit in the wok and stopping exactly opposite its initial position. My calculations indicate that there is at present almost a polar equilibrium, and that an additional 800 million tons of ice to the North Pole would cause a half-revolution, analogous to that in my experiment. As a result, we in the northern hemisphere would find ourselves down-under. Briefly discarding my usual humility, I submit that this is the most elegant demonstration of its kind yet devised, and I cannot imagine that there will ever be a more convincing one.”

    Though the audience reeled, disapprobation was not long in coming. Leading the charge was Dr. Terps Dunderklap, himself verging on the globular. The hairless one was located at a fashion show in St. Petersburg. His guffaws must have been audible almost as far away as his homeland. “I believe I have finally established what is amiss with the fool of the fjords,” he said. “It is a question of height. A brain at such an altitude as his must be oxygen-deprived and therefore not working properly. If I did not dislike Jopp so much, I would pity him.”

    After interrupting his comments to view a little stuff-strutting on the catwalk – a blinding red and yellow number – Dunderklap continued: “I confirmed eight months ago that the notion of crust-inversion is nonsense, but did not publicise my finding, which was merely one result of several amusing experiments I carried out during an evening I spent entertaining some friends. My equipment comprised a medicine ball, a basin, a length of Cellophane, six ounces of petroleum jelly and some modelling clay. The test proved conclusively that there never has been and never will be such a swivelling as Jopp suggests. Further, his statement that so much mass would have to be added to the northern ice cap is as profoundly erroneous as the rest of his assertions. Anyone accustomed to delicate weighing would tell you that if there were a near-perfect balance, a minuscule addition to either side of the scale would be decisive. Incidentally, the ice around the North Pole is melting. What about that lot, Greeno?”

    This wrangle may well absorb many physicists for some time.

    * * *

    Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    Hidden Content

  3. #13
    Professor Jopp’s Remarkable Feats

    Number Thirteen

    Like Nothing On Earth

    The apparently inexhaustible Professor Ovis Jopp has done it again. Speaking yesterday to a select gathering at his home, the lean, seven-foot-two, green-bearded ‘Sage of Trondheim’ dropped yet another blockbuster onto the scientific world, revealing that he had discovered a planet circling, or perhaps one should say ellipting, the Sun in the same orbit as ours.

    “I must confess,” said Jopp, “that I got the idea while watching a film which purported to show that there was a ‘mirror’ Earth on the far side of the local star, but always out of our sight because it is constantly in precise opposition to us. Why not, I thought. You know that I am accustomed to discovering, even conceiving, planets, so this project was not a totally new experience for me. I worked on the Hardanger Plateau. My equipment comprised twenty skilfully arranged and ingeniously connected empty oil drums, painted green, a simple megaphone and an army surplus transmitter/receiver, in which I implanted the vital component, a piece of an isotope of my recently invented element joppium, which you may recall I used in an earlier experiment.”

    Calming his excited audience, Jopp continued: “Realising that any other body in our orbit must be regarded as leading or chasing us, I worked backwards to achieve the swiftest possible connection. Imagine my joy when I picked up the first message. I will not tax your minds by explaining the linguistics involved, but I established that there is what one might call a shadow Earth, matching our planet in size but consisting mainly of gases, so having very low density and mass. This body would not be observable by any of our space cameras, as it is enveloped in an occlusion zone, which both prevents direct sightings and neutralises gravity. The latter characteristic explains why the planet is able to maintain its course, despite its low mass. Incidentally, I have not yet given it a permanent name. Until I do so, Earth 2 will suffice.”

    Here, Jopp paused to light one of those mammoth green seaweed cigars which Captain Nemo might have envied. He then went on: “Our friends on the ‘other side’ are somewhat similar to us in appearance, though obviously rather less solid – ‘ethereal’ is the word. Happily they are not hostile. Also, I am delighted to say that they have among their number a scientist who is not so very far from being my equal, and who has perfected a method of sending messages in a direct line around our joint orbit, instead of spreading them in the usual electromagnetic way. I hope I am not being immodest in saying that the task of intercepting the transmissions seemed destined to fall to me. I feel sure you will understand why I have not indicated exactly how I used my apparatus. I do not believe the world is yet ready for mass extra terrestrial communication. These are early days and all will be revealed at the right time.”

    A response to Jopp’s words came quickly from the ‘Swedish Savant’, Dr Terps Dunderklap, who was vacationing in London, close to Holloway Prison. He was as forthright as ever, saying: “So, the cerebral Cerberus that protects Jopp from reality is still in place. I do not enjoy carrying out a further demolition job on him, but feel bound to say that I can refute his arrant nonsense. I investigated this matter a year ago, using twelve empty casks of Limousin oak, cleverly arrayed, a trumpet and a transmitting and receiving device, similar to the one Jopp employed, the difference being that my vital addition was a sliver of the element dunderium, which I produced a short time ago.

    As I had predicted, the result was negative. My messages zipped around the allegedly shared orbit, returning home without having encountered any obstacle. Jopp’s supposed planet could exist only if it occupied one of the Lagrangian points, which are places of gravitational equilibrium, allowing a small body to hold its position because of a balance between two larger ones. There is no such spot at the location Jopp suggests. Take more water with it, Greenie.”

    The professor riposted: “I have seen Twerpo’s figures which, if the champion chump could only see it, show that all of his communications took a fifteenth of a second longer than they would have done, had they not met Earth 2, which they were obliged to semi-circumnavigate. I’d like to know what Blunderklap makes of that.”

    Another lengthy dispute seems inevitable.

    * * *
    Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    Hidden Content

  4. #14
    Professor Jopp’s Remarkable Feats

    Number Fourteen

    Face To Face

    It has happened at last. Professor Ovis Jopp, the lean, seven-foot-two, green-bearded ‘Sage of Trondheim’ and his foremost detractor, the five-foot-four tall, five-foot-four round, tressless ‘Swedish Savant’, Dr Terps Dunderklap have had their first meeting since childhood. What a battle! There was never much doubt that the two men so often described as the Northern Lights would put on a spectacular show, but probably few guessed correctly how events would unfold.

    Long before it took place, the encounter was attended by problems, among which was the question of venue. Jopp was unwilling to visit Sweden, while Dunderklap was adamant about not appearing in Norway. Denmark came to the rescue by offering a space in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. Then there was the issue of a moderator. Jopp proposed his old friend Sir Dudley Stroan of Cambridge. Dunderklap countered by suggesting Dr Margaret Transpond of Harvard. It was finally agreed that, as both principals were born in Holland, a Dutch person would be appropriate. The job was accepted by the renowned palaeontologist, Ruud Djestiurs of Rotterdam.

    A last-minute obstacle arose when the tee-total, non-smoking Dr Dunderklap objected to Professor Jopp’s insistence on availing himself of his well-known greengage wine and green seaweed cigars during the event. This was settled by an agreement that the gladiators would sit a minimum of four yards apart.

    Those expecting a joust in the outer realms of science were doomed to disappointment, perhaps in part because a jarring note was struck at the outset by the master of ceremonies, who said he did not anticipate difficulties, as he was accustomed to dealing with fossils. That this attempt at light-heartedness discomfited the two behemoths of badinage was clear from their body language.

    Owing to frequent audience participation, a totally accurate record of the verbal exchange that followed cannot be presented. Perhaps the best course is to recount what was audible, omitting interruptions. This is done below, as far as possible verbatim, beginning with the professor’s opening comments:

    Jopp: The Sap of Stockholm and I have exchanged words only once since our formative years. That was when he phoned my secretary, demanding words with me. I gave him two, and there are no prizes for anyone guessing which ones they were. I suppose the reason why he persists in assaulting me is that he is resentful because, to use a stellar analogy, I outshine him by several orders of magnitude. Possibly the best comparison would be to think of us as featuring in the Hertzsprung-Russell star diagram, in which I would appear in the top right-hand quadrant – the supergiants – while Dundles would be at bottom-left, among the other dwarfs. Still, even such a body must have shone at some time, so maybe it is better to be a has-been than a never-was. As I recall it, the charmless cherub did once achieve fleeting notoriety by destroying his school classroom during one of his unfailingly catastrophic experiments. Pick the bones out of that, Your Hairlessness.

    Dunderklap: This is a no-brainer, so will be about right for my supposed adversary – I cannot call him a genuine opponent, for to reach that state he would need to rise unimaginably from his present level. As for his invariably disastrous efforts in his laboratory, let me say that Jopp got the green tint in that silly beard as a result of his farcical dalliance with what he mistakenly regards as science. The visier of vacancy remains in denial, refusing to accept my superiority. Mercifully, I have to think of him only once in a while, and when doing so, I usually also call to mind the famous comment that genius involves 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Jopp has surely raised the latter figure to 100%, thus eliminating the former. By the way, I recall that his parents considered naming him Zeno, after the Greek gentleman famous for propounding paradoxes. That would have been fitting, as the riddle in this case is how Joppie managed to avail himself of the highest level of tuition, from which he emerged as a mental vacuum. My point, I think.

    Jopp: The malignant microbe excels himself. He constantly snaps at the heels of his betters – how numerous they are – but never reaches their throats. Hardly surprising, as the poor fellow’s physique precludes him from eyeball contact with anyone of normal size. When called upon to refute the assertions of this querulous quack, I also call to mind the Arabian Empty Quarter. Compared with what takes place between the ears of the poisonous pygmy, that area is a hive of activity.

    I am told that Dundie the Dismal has a laboratory. Pardon my sniggers, but he needs that like a Trappist needs a telephone. I don’t wish to make a habit of descending to his level, but as he has alluded to percentages, I can’t resist mentioning the recent findings suggesting that we humans share most of our DNA with chimpanzees. Klappers may well be unique in having chalked up the whole lot. Incidentally, he is wrong about my name. My parents were not thinking of Zeno of Elea – the paradox man – but Zeno of Citium, founder of the stoic school, and goodness knows I need all the stoicism I can muster when dealing with the puerile pest here. Also, if Dunno were right about my education and its outcome, that would be an irony, not a paradox. Another foul-up for the uncrowned king of the faux pas.

    Dunderklap: Jopples is as arrogant as ever. He has more snot than a schoolboy’s coat sleeve. I don’t wish to go over old ground, but note that he recently spent some time addressing the vanishingly small. That seems appropriate, as it is a fair reflection of his mentality. Regarding the ridiculous jopposcope he claimed to have invented, I have proved to my satisfaction that ordinary electron microscopes, if connected cleverly enough – perhaps I am alone in being able to do this – produce perfect results, while avoiding the huge distortions inherent in Jopp’s absurd device. Incidentally, I find it quite amusing that he is always telling us that he needs to make further adjustments to his various gizmos and supposed findings. He reminds me – in that respect only – of Leonardo da Vinci, in that he has more unfinished work than a convention of builders. This is just a throwaway line, of which I have many. Are we now at forty-love to me? I am losing count.

    Jopp: There is no need for the mobile misery to keep score, as the result was always a foregone conclusion. I don’t care to speak ill of the brain-dead, but if this mordant mole insists on exhuming our past differences, I cannot avoid thinking of his recent comment about the disparity between our IQs. I concede that he may be right about a difference of 250 points. If the scale goes up so far, I will accept a figure of 300 in my case. This would place Dr Dummkopf at 50, and considering that the norm is 100, that would make him a half-wit. This seems reasonable. He may have occasional synaptic flickers, but they are similar to the death throes of certain heavenly bodies, which usually shed a little light over a limited area. In case he fails to get the point, this is a compliment of sorts – goodness knows he could use one.

    Dunderklap: The mindless mountebank is always offensive. However, as he has accorded me a little backhanded flattery, I will do the same for him. When he visited California a short time ago, I referred to him as the true San Andreas Fault. I now retract that remark, as it is clear that whatever may be produced by the geological feature concerned could not cause anything like so much damage as would result from the adoption of even the least maniacal of the jopperator’s demented ideas. I accept that he is a man of letters, the first ones that occur to me being d-o-p-e. Game, set and match, is it?

    Jopp: Ah, all bitter and twisted, are we? I hardly need to defend myself against so feeble a foe, but the odd joppservation would not come amiss. It is strange to think that in his adolescence, the dunce of dunces had the makings of a physicist’s gofer, but he was deluded all along in considering himself a man of science. That was pure wishful thinking. When one considers the places where he is usually found by the media – I mean the precincts of exclusively female establishments – one cannot but regard him as an actual or a potential flasher. In fact I once sent him a dirty raincoat, but he didn’t get the message and never thanked me. I suspect that pipette is a word he associates with someone he might find in a dance hall. Frankly, I have lost patience with Dunderpate and any day now I shall drop-kick him into orbit.

    Dunderklap: My self-appointed peer – surely no-one else could classify him as such – has an ego the size of all outdoors. It would save us all much trouble if he were to take on some mundane task. Just to protect everyone, I nominate him for the job of repointing the Great Wall of China. That would allow him to develop his crazy ideas without threat to the rest of us. He is bad enough with pencil and paper, so let us hope he never lays hands on a slide rule, let alone an electronic calculator.

    Jopp: My less than learned friend – if I may corrupt the language of barristers – continues to disappoint us. He is a legend in his own mind. Having no taste for trading insults, I wonder why he abuses me so. Possibly the reason is his failure to match my feats. His first love was local astronomy. He should have stuck to that, as he has such a predilection for moonshine. Regarding his fatuous attacks on my work, I catch them like a ten-armed goalkeeper. By the way, Dumbcluck got his toy degree from one of those universities which bestow their accolades without requiring anything as inconvenient as study. I speak of Bachelors of Bunkum, Masters of Mendacity and Doctors of Dissimulation. A month’s national average income in these parts is about the going rate for the title of one’s choice.

    Dunderklap: How sad that my antagonist cannot raise his game. As ever, his main handicap is lack of cerebral candlepower. I do not share his love of vilification, so with regard to our respective merits as scientists, I am content to let the public judge.

    J: And so it shall, you imposter.

    D: Humbug.

    J: Cad.

    D: Bounder.

    J: Blockhead.

    D: Ninny.

    J: Dolt.

    D: Booby.

    J: Numbskull.

    D: Jackass.

    J: Loony.

    At this point, the war of words and the attempts at mediation by the much-harried Ruud Djestiurs became unintelligible. A further confrontation seems unlikely, though the above-mentioned Ms Transpond has offered her services, on the basis that female intervention may impart a certain ameliorative influence.

    These are dark days for science.

    * * *

    This ends the Professor Jopp series.

    Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    Hidden Content

  5. #15
    A tear in my eye. CJ me old penmiester, you end on an explosive note. Thankfully I read this after coming up with my own variation on the half wit witticism or I would consider myself a plagiarist.

    It has been a long and trying week and I needed some humour to lift my spirits, thank you.

  6. #16
    Dear BC,

    Thank you for the comment, from which I note that you seem to have been pleased to see the professor going out with a bang. I think one should always try to recognise when a good run comes to an end. Perhaps neither Jopp nor Dunderklap will ever recover from the ghastly face to face encounter recorded above. Anyway, I fear that the jolly giant will appear no more.

    Best wishes – Cj
    Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky,
    You mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry.
    Spread a little happiness, as you go by.

    Hidden Content

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