Issue Twenty-one

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Editorial

Chief Editor

Peter He

Not long ago, I was invited with a group of friends to a dinner down in Kingston at the recently-opened-but-not-overtly-hipster gastropub The Canbury Arms. Having tucked into our starters and engrossed in conversation, we were roused by the ding-dinging of a glass – it was time for the dinner speech. The speaker was none other than the (I for one would describe as ‘legendary’) classicist, John Taylor, author of the disappointingly little-read but much-loved Greek to GCSE duology. Among other things, he began recounting the story of a certain thief out of Herodotus’ Historiae which I shall now share with you in brief.

A certain king named Rhampsinitos realises that his wealth was so great that there was no chance that he’d be able to keep it all safe in his palace. He therefore commissions a builder to construct a secure room such that he would be able to avoid cluttering up his palace while having peace of mind that his treasures weren’t being stolen. Little does he know that the builder had left a single loose brick in the wall of the keep. Sometime later, the builder falls ill and, on his death bed he tells his two sons about the brick. The sons find the brick and begin emptying the king’s keep. It doesn’t take long for the king to notice and become troubled at the fact that his mountains of gold were being reduced to mere hills while at the same time there was no signs of a break-in. He thus orders that traps be set up to capture the intruders. When night comes, the two brothers sneak into the keep, only for one of them to become ensnared in a trap. Wishing not to blow their cover, the ensnared brother begs that he be decapitated, a request met by the other with surprising robustness and gusto.

The next morning, the king discovers a headless corpse in his keep but is unable to identify to whom it belonged. Angered, he thus displays the corpse in the market square and orders his guards to arrest anyone seen weeping nearby. At the same time, the remining brother returns home bloodied carrying the head of his late sibling. Naturally, his mother isn't overly impressed and orders him to bring back the rest of his brother lest she report him to the magistrates. The young man thus comes up with a plan.

On a hot day, he loads some donkeys up with wine and walks them to the market square. As he passes the corpse of his brother, he kicks one of the donkeys causing the wine to spill out onto the ground. He begins cursing and the nearby guards come down to try to console him. They help the donkey up and he offers them wine in return in a sort of oh-well-we-mustn’t-let-good-wine-go-to-waste fashion. The guards draw wine cups they just happened to have on them (as they did back then) and are soon dissolved in sleep and wine. The thief uses this as an opportunity to take down the body and hightail it back home.

The king is now infuriated and, in a last-ditch attempt to capture the thief, he orders that his daughter goes down to the royal brothel and make her lovers reveal to her their most evil deed. Fuelled by what were the king’s riches, the thief now lives a lavish lifestyle that involves going down to the royal brothel from time to time. It doesn’t take long for him to get things on with the princess and, in the dark, he reveals to her that he is the fabled thief. She grabs onto him and calls the guards.

You might think that this is how the story ends, but it transpires that the thief had somehow anticipated this move and thus brought the severed arm of his brother to the brothel with him, allowing him to escape while the princess clutched onto the decaying body part. The king, now confounded at the sheer cunning of the thief, gives up and publicly offers him his daughter’s hand in marriage which he comes out and accepts. They live happily ever after.

I’m now going to draw an incredibly tenacious link between this allegedly-true story and the journal. While many would agree that the moral of the story is that those in power are morons, I for one see it as a strong message that we should award innovation. It’s an absolute no-brainer - whenever someone makes a tangible contribution to the workings of the journal, whether it’s developing our all-new in-house article management system, absolutely slaughtering the article backlog or rekindling our marketing team, we should acknowledge them and encourage others to two the same. In light of this, Stewart McGown, Lydia Sebastian and Wietske Holwerda, well done and thank you for your respective efforts and contributions to the journal (mentioned above) – goodies will be headed your way shortly!

And, on that bombshell, I open this 21st issue of Young Scientists Journal. Enjoy!

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Art By Julie Dosad