Now, in retirement, you have embarked on a new scientific endeavor: an on-line, real time, experimental study of the aerodynamic behavior of small, white, dimpled spheroids. We wish you every success in this important venture.
I don’t doubt that the dimples on a golf ball can have a significant effect on its aerodynamic properties. Indexers love to relate the story of how a computer-compiled bibliography on the physics of golf failed to pick up the definitive article on the subject – “The Aerodynamics of Small Dimpled White Spheroids” ‒ because the keyword search term “golf” was not contained in the title.
This anecdote is intended to bolster the need for human analytical indexing over computer intelligence. The earliest mention of this story in an indexing context is in the Newsletter of the Australian Society of Indexers for June 1988. But I’ve often wondered if this story is true. I have just interrogated several research catalogues and online databases, and I can’t find a scientific paper with this title anywhere. What I have found is a citation awarding an honorary degree to Professor Nai Lin Chang on his retirement from the Institute of Paper Chemistry in 1987. Part of the citation reads as follows:
The Chang story, with its humorous academic reference to playing golf in retirement, dates to 1987 ‒ one year before the first appearance of this story in an indexing magazine. Was the Chang story the basis for this myth?
Right now I have so many things on the go I’m finding it difficult to put together anything substantial for the blog. This past fortnight I’ve been compiling the index to John Bennett’s forthcoming book on the Krays. It’s an important new independent study, and likely to become an essential text for anyone interested in the subject.
It’s funny: you think you know the Kray story – the gangster violence, the Blind Beggar shooting, the Lord Boothby scandal... but I soon realised I hardly knew anything at all. I know quite a lot now, though! I think the book is due out around Christmas time.
David A. Green is a freelance indexer living in Petersfield, Hampshire.
The Indexed Word
Random thoughts about books, indexes, and book indexing.