Tuesday 25 May 2010

Deeply Profound and Profoundly Deep at Mach 49.3

Why use one syllable, gentle reader, when you could use six? Why use words that other people will understand when you could be incomprehensible and ever-so-slightly impressive? Why talk of deep voices when you could talk of bathypelagic tones? Why be a profound thinker when you could be an abyssopelagic one? And why not trump both with the extreme of hadopelagic which derives from Hades and refers to those strange canyons that loiter beneath the abyss, filled with Krakens, cabinet ministers and cast off ideas for Inky Fool posts?

Which is all the excuse I need to quote The Kraken by Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Which is how I feel when I have to get up early in the morning. (I must do something about the unnumbered and enormous polypi in my bedroom. I'll begin by numbering them).

Incidentally, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea does not refer to depth. A French league is about four kilometers, so that would be 80,000 km or 50,000 miles. As the earth's diameter is a bit under 8,000 miles, that would mean that Captain Nemo et al would be out the other side and floating around in space. But Jules Verne was not talking about depth, he was still harping on about travelling around the world. The point of the book is that the Nautilus can travel long distances (about twice round the earth) without rising to the surface.

Even more abstrusely (and I promise I'll stop after this), in A Midsummer Night's Dream Oberon sends puck to fetch an ingredient for a love potion and adds:

Fetch me this herb; and be thou here again
Ere the leviathan can swim a league

To which Puck replies:

I'll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.

This tell us two things. First, as the English league is three miles and Puck understands this to be forty minutes we can calculate the leviathan's top speed as being four and half miles per hours, which is about jogging pace and Not Very Impressive. However, as the circumference of the earth is just under 25,000 miles Puck has a top speed of about 37,000 mph, which is more than forty-nine times the speed of sound.

The Inky Fool takes a cruise


  1. Oh no, please, don't ever stop.

  2. A sailor from sunny Dushanbe
    Once crashed his ship into a lanby,
    Which left that poor Tajik
    (Which is almost as deep as you can be).

    And before you ask: a lanby is a Large Automatic Navigation BuoY.

  3. Every time I read one of your posts I think to myself: That'll be really useful to know this. The mere fact that none of it has proven useful YET is just a temporary status, I feel sure.

    Ooh - and quite the most erudite limerick I've come across in your comment above - but then most of the ones I know are rude ones about various ecclesiastical personnel.

  4. Ugh, I'm so thankful you cleared up that Jules Verne business for me! What a fool I was! Of course he meant around the earth, and nother necessarily through it! Nemo never attempts to pierce earth's innards, why would my mind jump to that assumption so quickly?
    Well sir, thank you for correcting that blunder of logic for me.