I have had cause to applause enthusiastically on two recent occasions. We went to see ‘Dead Dog in a Suitcase’ at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. It was fantastic and we joined in a standing ovation at the end. It’s a beggar’s opera that throughly deserved the rave reviews that it has received. It is full of energy, music, wit and spectacular performances.
The second occasion was my son’s graduation in Durham Cathedral. The programme asked us not to applaud as each graduand’s name was read out and they walked onto to the podium to shake the hand of the Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen, but to hold our applause until the end. So, the last graduand walked off the podium to thunderous applause. Sir Thomas is an opera singer with a sonorous speaking voice and he gave a theatrical entertaining speech that we applauded enthusiastically and appreciatively. It is the tradition at Durham to applaud the new graduates as they walk down the aisle to leave the Cathedral. It’s a long aisle, there were a lot of graduates and we clapped energetically so that by the time the end of the line reached the door our hands were smarting.
You are right. There has been no mention of engineering, yet. However, here it comes. The heat and stinging sensation in the palms of my hands as the last graduate left the cathedral reminded me briefly of an example from my first year thermodynamics lectures in which I estimated the temperature rise in the skin of the hand from vigorous clapping ten times. This was more an exercise in estimating and problem definition than thermodynamics as you will see from the attached worksheet (clapping_example.pdf), but those skills are as important to an engineer as a knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics. Its also another Everyday Example and the experimental part can be performed at home.