Howard's Stuff


It's often said that if one understands something then one can explain it to an intelligent 10-year-old. A variation is that an explanation should be understandable to an intelligent 10-year-old. I agree with these sayings.

The result is that when I think I have learned something I test this by writing an article meeting the above criteria. I've also written similar articles for persons who have asked me for an explanation of something.

The following articles are some of those I've written. As an example the article on inertial navigation was written when I was learning avionics in the R.A.F.. Although the mechanisms are out of date now, the principles haven't changed. Another example is the article on car brakes. While working on mine one day my neighbour came over & asked me what I was doing. I explained as I worked, & that evening wrote the article. My neighbour was 11 years old, &, when he boasted to his friends that he understood how car brakes worked, I challenged him, & he did explain how they worked.

Some of the articles are merely for interest, like the one on inertial navigation, & some might be very useful. An understanding of how refrigerators work is necessary for anyone who has to choose one for a boat; the use to which the boat is put decides the type of refrigerator fitted.

HTML is the method of construction of Web pages. It is very difficult to put text in columns when using it, so the articles are available not just in HTML, but also in .pdf format which is easier to read.

Your comments, questions, requests for further explanation, requests for new articles etcetera, are welcome. Address them to

A note on units.

I use S.I. units. These are much easier to use than Imperial ones, so I make no apology. The U.K. made S.I. its official system in the mid-1960s. To Americans I point out that the Reformation happened centuries ago.

A note on English grammar.

I can be strict to the point of pedanticism in this matter. One can't choose words randomly & expect them to make sense, but this is what many people do. As an example: "The effect of the impact between hammer & bottle was to shatter the bottle.". Many persons use "impact" when they should use "effect". Substitute "impact" for "effect" in the above sentence. ("Impact": the force between colliding objects.) Some say that language changes. They don't realise that the changes are made by the lazy & ignorant.

The Articles

Astronomy (HTML) Astronomy (PDF)
Simple optics for laser diodes (HTML) Simple optics for laser diodes (PDF)
DNA and Proteins (HTML) DNA and Proteins (PDF)
The Fairey Rotodyne: An Appeal For Information (HTML) The Fairey Rotodyne: An Appeal For Information (PDF)
Ludwig Wittgenstein - Philosopher? (HTML) Ludwig Wittgenstein - Philosopher? (PDF)
Gyroscope Principles (HTML) Gyroscope Principles (PDF)
Inertial Navigation (HTML) Inertial Navigation (PDF)
The Length of Drive Belts (HTML) The Length of Drive Belts (PDF)
Setting, Planning & Achieving Goals (HTML) Setting, Planning & Achieving Goals (PDF)
Global Warming In Perspective (HTML) Global Warming In Perspective (PDF)
How Car Brakes Work (HTML) How Car Brakes Work (PDF)
Airship Lift From Waste Engine Heat (HTML) Airship Lift From Waste Engine Heat (PDF)

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