This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Nuts and Bolts: bob.

It's a little word, is bob, but sometimes it holds great meaning.

Have you ever heard English church bells? If there are six bells, and you call the highest-sounding bell Number 1, and the lowest Number 6, then they usually start off:

123456
123456
123456
123456
 
Then after a while they'll probably start mixing themselves up a bit, rather like this:
 
214365
241635
426153
462513
645231
654321
563412
536142
351624
315264
 
If you draw a line down the page joining up all the 2s you'll  discover a pattern - and you'll find basically the same pattern if you join up any of the other numbers, too.
 
If the bells carry on long enough, they will follow this pattern until they come back to 123456 again. If they want to, they can ring every possible order of bells (720 different ones) exactly once before they do it. That's mind-bogglingly clever - so clever, in fact, that's it's only possible with the help of some bobs.
 
'Bob!' calls the conductor, who's the man who knows at all times exactly which path every bell is treading. And at that moment two of the bells stop treading their own paths and switch to treading each other's.
 
The whole thing is done more or less instantly. It's extraordinarily complicated and difficult.
 
But all that's said is bob.
 
Word To Use Today: bob. This word is the same as several other moving-up-and-down bobs, but where the word came from no one is sure.
 

2 comments:

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