Desert Island Discs or DID's are the strange phenomena of floating, disc-like desert islands found all over the world, except in Birmingham where nothing of any interest ever occurs.
Desert Island Discs were discovered this week, by a playwright. He also had a distinguished career in the militaries of both the British & Roman Empires. Coming from an impoverished childhood where he was, you'll be no doubt amazed to learn, mentally, physically and sexually abused by his parents and extended family. After being sent to a boarding school at the young age of twelve and having no contact with humans again until he was nearly thirty, it is astounding that he ever made it into the London Philharmonic Orchestra let alone going on to lead the suffragettes into one of the most over hyped victories in all of human history; winning women the vote. From there he became a parent himself to seven boys and three girls in perhaps the most cruel sentence ever handed down by a US Court ruling, but this did not deter him. Toiling for a further seven years in obscurity, and breaking several nails in the process, he has returned, not as the broken man who faded from our screens in the ill fated El Dorado, but as the towering figure he is today, we welcome the inevitable luvvy duvvy softly spoken right brained person you've likely never heard of, Oliver Letwin
edit The Lumpy Hypothesis
For many centuries nobody knew or cared about how these islands stayed aloft and anyone who tried to explain them found it so nonsensical that they never told anyone what they found (or rather didn't find). The first person to have a proper, bona-fide stab at it was the 18th century Surrey cricketer, Edward "Lumpy" Stevens. He philosophised that the objects were defying gravity by means of very difficult to see strings that went up into the sky and were attached to...well he never got that far in his explanations. After he formulated his idea he constructed a piece of apparatus (Now fondly known as 'Lumpy Shears') which consisted of a large pair of blades, half mile in length, bolted to the end of long beams that were attached to a mobile base station that allowed him to move and operate the apparatus on his own. He would sit with this apparatus atop Glastonbury Tor (where a DID had been seen since 1702) waiting patiently for the Island to enter the sphere of influence of his device. On St. Swithin's Day, 1769 lumpy got lucky and was able to make one sweeping cut with his sheers across the entire diameter of the island. When the island didn't come crashing to earth he is reported by local reporters to have simply exclaimed, "Arse!" and walked to the local Inn and got very drunk. The next day he opened the bowling for Chertsey against Hambledon and bowled the entire team out without conceding a run, or so the Chertesy Chronicle reported.
edit Gaussian Gravity
The second great Didologist (and the first to call his kind such) was Carl Friedrich Gauss who did all of his work on DID's in the early 19th century. As Gauss was so busy with everything else he was doing he didn't spend a lot of time thinking about DID's, however he did try to explain them scientifically. Even though most of Gauss's writings on DID's were discovered as doodles on other pieces of work, and that scholars have believed them to be random daydreams of "it would be cool if they worked like this" scenarios, his thinkings are still valid and serve as the foundation of modern DID theory. Gauss believed that DID's emitted an anti-gravity that cancelled out Earth's gravity giving them an acceleration due to gravity value (or g value) of -9.8 m/s2 and allowed them to float. He believed this anti-gravity (or Gaussian Gravity) to be generated by an undiscovered material inside the Island.
Gauss doodled the equation:
gE can of course represent the acceleration due to gravity of any host body or planet.
gD is the acc. due to gravity of the DID
edit The Honey/Skenska collaboration
On the 3rd of April 1984 the renowned geologist Kevin Honey was the first recorded person to witness a Desert Island Disk being created. Whilst carrying out a survey on Mt. Trentmore, an active, erupting Volcano in the Berkshire region of the United Kingdom, he noted an abrupt halt to the eruption followed by a swelling in the body of volcano. The swelling increased in size for about 20 minutes and then there was a sudden violent release of the accumulated magma. The pressure that had built up inside the volcano had generated enough energy to send the huge blob miles into the air. Honey reported that the magma blob (or Honey glob as it is known in Didology) slowly decreased in speed during it's descent. It completely crystallised about 100 ft off the ground and remained there as a hovering lump of rock. In a paper following the event, Honey states that as the magma blob didn't defy gravity until it began to crystalise and that meant that the gravity defying aspect of the Island had to be due to a product of the crystallisation of the magma. He went on to say that perhaps Gauss was right, though strongly enforced that his physics wasn't very good and he was just guessing. In the paper Honey also described how the rock lump, through years of weathering would become a desert island.
After reading Honey's paper the Finnish Physicist Slevlyn Skenska was firstly shocked that a phenomena such as Desert Island Disks existed and then delighted that no-one had figured out how they float. After completing Baldur's Gate on the PC he immediately headed to England to meet Honey and observe this mysterious floating island. Honey's paper was well received and as a result he had earned a grant for DID research from the Royal Society and when Skenska and Honey first met, Honey had only reached the stage of analysing rock samples from the DID by means of hot-air balloon. It is to be noted that, as a precaution, Honey's first investigation on the island was for any moorings that could be used to attach hard to see strings. Though Edward "Lumpy" Stevens had disproved his own theory, Honey just wanted to be sure. Skenska immediately began taking geophysical gravity measurements of the DID and of the rock samples from it. He found nothing special about the samples from the DID but the measurements he took from the underside of the DID showed that it was indeed emitting some kind of radiation, but not anti-gravity, Instead the island seemed to be emitting an energy that is now known as Skenska's Heavy Light.
edit Why Desert Island Discs Float
Ordinary light, which we use to see things and make lasers with is now correctly known as Light Light for it has no mass and only responds very slightly to gravity. Its counterpart is Heavy Light and it is 100% mass, and exerts it's own force akin to gravity but which has no effect on anything.....except Light Light. When Heavy Light and Light Light interact the Heavy and Light elements cancel each other out and you are left with Light that is doubly light as it was (called Light V2.0).
Of course Light Light is hardly effected by gravity. However if you were to reduce Light Light's speed to 0 then it would fall to earth at 9.8 m/s2 (g). Now if Light Light become twice as light then, it is safe to deduce that its gravity becomes -9.8 m/s2, exactly the value DID's need to be to float. The force exerted by Light V2.0 must be what is keeping the Islands aloft. This was the remarkable deduction made by Skenska and published in his 2000 paper How light is light anyway?.
edit The Geology of DID's
After extensive research (half an afternoon on a Tuesday) Honey concluded that the free falling motion of the Honey Glob allowed the crystals on the bottom of the island to form a very porous structure with many filaments, much like the teeth of comb. Because of this they are known as Spiky Things. The filaments are mainly composed of very pure Quartzite and due to their structure they cause light to bounce around the underside of the Island endlessly. The only way the light can escape this timeless torment is by willingly becoming Heavy Light and trying to sink towards the Earth. But of course the Heavy Light reacts with the Light Light before reaching the Earth. The rest of the island has the internal structure of a volcanic bomb, ie very porous, which aids in reducing the density of the island and helping it to float.
Honey and Skenska received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. Although Honey wasn't a physicist the board though he deserved one and Skenska agreed to share. The prize was awarded to them by the late Fred Dibnah.