Sunday, 16 March 2008

Eddington number


The Eddington number, E, is the number of days in your life when you have cycled more than E miles.

It originates with Arthur Eddington, who was a physicist, who reached an E-number of 87 by the time he died in 1944.

Counting from the beginning of this year, my Eddington number is 11. Ouch.

The thing is that you have to plan ahead to reach higher numbers. I could increase my E to 15 fairly easily by doing a few trips of 15 miles, but after that, none of them would count, because an E-number of 16 only counts trips of 16 miles or more.

I have already "banked" seven rides that will count towards an E-number of 20, five rides that will count towards an E-number of 30, and two that will count towards an E-number of 40.

At the moment I am finding it quite a neat measure for stretching the distances I am covering, but like all these things if you start thinking too far ahead, it all gets a bit discouraging.

9 comments:

Martin. said...

Four, working on five.

edgemaster said...

Wow, really awesome scheme, coming here after reading your latest blog entry (via OSM Planet).
I did watch the BBC drama about Eddington and found it very inspiring that I should get out cycling more.
I really only manage the 1mile to and from school each day, and the occasional (seemingly mammoth, but not really due to the slowness) OSM survey,...

Jeff said...

Thanks for your post about this! I just found the link to your blog through Wikipedia. But I'd like to clarify that Eddington didn't call it the Eddington Number, nor refer to it as E -- it's a quantity one of my thesis advisors brought to my attention long ago. It's indeed a fun way to track progress, though since I got into trail riding, my distances have been shorter and my number has stalled out. I hope you won't mind if I add a link to my original article about all this, including Chandrasekhar's description of Eddington's biking. Eddington Number. The "E" is a great motivator!

gom1 said...

Of course you can Jeff - it's a nice article on Eddington, and much more deserving of a read than my little post.

How are things in Flagstaff? I have happy memories of passing through on the way from Phoenix to the canyon, and other attractions, back in the 80's (in a car, not on a bike!)

Jeff said...

All's well in Flag; it's a great town. Perchance, I was trying to push my E from 27 to 28 Monday and got caught in a hailstorm. I'm trying to get back to some longer rides as well as trail work, but so much for that attempt. Some other time!

Anonymous said...

My parents lived in Eddington's house in Cambridge shortly after his death and acquired some books that had been left behind including a couple of cycling guides. I thought you might be interested in these scans from one of them - these pocket books will be what he was actually carrying with him as he accumulated that Eddington number ...

http://www.jbsc13407.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/oddments/edcycle1.jpg

http://www.jbsc13407.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/oddments/edcycle2.jpg

regards
John Butler

gom1 said...

Many thanks for these John. I hope you don't mind if I use one of them for another post (with credit).

Anonymous said...

Please do - the books are wonders of compactness having about 250 pages each in a thickness of about 3/8"

John Butler
Edinburgh

gom1 said...

More about all this on a new post here