### When is a Kilogram Not Equal to One Kilogram?

When is a kilogram not equal to one kilogram? One obvious answer is when we are talking about weight: what we usually refer to as a kilogram in weight is more correctly a kilogram-force, representing the force exerted by a body of a certain mass in kilogram in standard Earth gravity. Then last week, the Guardianâ€™s science section ran a story by Gavin Haynes about the International Committee for Weights and Measures working towards redefining the kilogram as part of a much wider redefinition of units scheduled for 2018. The platinum-iridium cylinder that has been the standard definition for a kilogram for over a century, the International Prototype of the Kilogram (IPK) lovingly nicknamed â€˜Le Grand Kâ€™, will be replaced by a new system that will express mass in terms of Planckâ€™s constant. So this kilogram prototype would soon cease to be a kilogram in mass if one finds a more accurate and stable definition of weight from which this object may diverge. But there is another answer to this question, rather another way in which this question can be put, which yields an interesting philosophical problem.

### Picturing Deep Time

Note: All photographs used to illustrate this post are mine, all rights to which I reserve.

For the full album on Flickr, please click on the above image.

Last week, I went for a walk to Barns Ness to photograph some of the fossils that are embedded along the shore. While I was there, I was contemplating a rather vexing problem: how does one picture deep time? How does one capture in an exposure that is a small fraction of a second an expanse of time that spans several hundreds of millions of years into the past and perhaps an equal length of time into the future?

### The Marvin Problem: or Why Intelligent Robots will be Depressed

â€˜But Iâ€™m quite used to being humiliated,â€™ droned Marvin, â€˜I can even go and stick my head in a bucket of water if you like.â€™ â€” Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Earlier this week, a Knightscope K5 Autonomous Data Machine named â€˜Steveâ€™, a security and surveillance robot, fell into a fountain in an office complex in Washington, DC. What was probably the result of an accident or an isolated glitch led some media outlets and users of Twitter to speculate that the robot had drowned itself because it could not take its job. The resemblances to Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adamsâ€™ Hitchhikerâ€™s Guide to the Galaxy series are uncanny. K5s are designed to deploy them to monitor public spaces like shopping centres, schools or, funnily enough, car parks. Marvin, meanwhile, is a perennially-depressed robot who, after having been abandoned for over 500 billion years, ended up working as a parking attendant at the titular restaurant at the end of the universe in the second part of the series. Feeling really depressed at the thought of having to wait this long and performing menial tasks despite his formidable intelligence, Marvin telephones the protagonists threatening to stick his head in a bucket of water. Back on Earth in 2017, it would appear another depressed robot designed to work in a car park has gone and dunked itself in water.

### Female Doctor? Academia Needs More of Them.

The BBC announced through a new teaser this afternoon that the next incarnation of The Doctor in Doctor Who will be played by Jodie Whittaker. Setting aside the monumental significance of one of the best-loved and most iconic characters in British pop culture being cast as a woman, I think this will be interesting because it opens up new directions for the character to go. I also think she is a talented actor and will bring a great deal to the character through her performance, even though I personally was not too keen on Broadchurch as a programme. But to return to the obvious, the casting of Whittaker as the Doctor is a great first step for an equal representation of women on television. NHS Million, a non-profit campaign run by NHS staff, tweeted in response to the announcement that 77% of the NHS workforce is female, so they welcome a female Doctor.

### Working with Undergraduates: Why it Keeps Me Sane

Older PhD students and graduates and graduates have often told me that teaching kept them sane. This is an opportunity that I will only get in my third year, and while I understand why my department chooses to run its doctoral programmes this way, because of these accounts from these other students I sometimes feel disappointed that I will come into this late. Nevertheless, it gives me something to look forward to. In the meantime, I work with undergraduate students in capacities which, though not officially teaching roles, have involved a fair bit of training and engagement, and I can perhaps understand why many students feel this way about teaching.

### The Ethics of Smell: Corporeal Porosity and the Embodiment of Care

The aspect of office politics that I find most frustrating is peopleâ€™s attitude towards food, particularly food that has a strong smell. I am reminded of an episode of the Improbable Research podcast on smelly people in the office, in which Marc Abrahams and Nicole Sharp discuss a 2015 paper titled â€˜Smell Organization: Bodies and Corporeal Porosity in Office Workâ€™ by Kathleen Riach and Samantha Warren. For the most part, the paper is concerned with the practical management of an organisation, examining the ways in which smells are controlled in an office space so that they are neutral and the least disruptive. This empirical study relates to much wider ontological questions of how relations between people are mediated through the body and through bodily functions, and broader ethical questions of what implication these relations have in terms of the ways bodies care for each other. The term they use, â€˜corporeal porosityâ€™, can be quite useful in thinking of the ways in which bodies â€” whether they are human or non-human â€” relate to each other. Moreover, Riach and Warrenâ€™s emphasis of smell not just as a â€˜senseâ€™ but as an element of an â€˜experiential system that summons us to the world so that both the world and our selves are constituted through this experienceâ€™ (790) can offer a new way of thinking through these relations which are otherwise predominantly conceptualised as tactile, ocular or acoustic.

### Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey: Doctor Who and the Topology of Time

Spoilers!
â€” Prof. River Song

This post contains spoilers for the recent episode ofÂ Doctor Who, â€˜World Enough and Timeâ€™. (Although the events of the episode have been trailed in such detail that everything is obvious and predictable, and there are no surprises left in the episode.)

General relativity and gravitational time dilation in the Doctor Who episode ‘World Enough and Time’