There are little jokes about science all over the roads in France. I have no idea whether they’re intentional or not.

Last week I was gallivanting around Provence.  I know; somebody’s got to do the dirty jobs, right? On the departmental routes (like state roads in the USA), there are little rest areas where you can pull off. Like on the New Jersey Turnpike, they’re named in honor of people. They aren’t symmetrical, the way Americans do them. Instead, the northbound rest area ends where the southbound begins.

french rest areas look like sine waves

Rest areas on french country roads

The result is that the areas look like a sine wave.  On the road through the Camargue, one of them, to my delight, was named “de Broglie“. If we consider the rest area as a quantum-mechanical system, estimate its wavelength, and use de Broglie’s formula to calculate its momentum, the number will come out to be unmeasurably tiny.  That’s good; we want civil-engineering projects to stay where we put them.

map to the Parking Lagrange

Parking garage on the Rue Lagrange, Paris Vme

Once a person with a couple of years of physics is sensitized to them, these little landmark jokes appear with suspicious frequency.  The first one I noticed was a parking garage called “Lagrange”.  Makes perfect sense, since it’s on the Rue Lagrange in Paris. But you don’t even have to formally study physics in this case.  Just read enough science-fiction, and you’ll know the Lagrange points by heart.

Also, the Rue Coriolis is a one-way street, running counter-clockwise around a big apartment building.  As it must, since it’s in the northern hemisphere.

Am I just imagining there’s a pattern here? Probably.  But the elves distinguish two things that English calls “hope”.  Amdir is when you express a desire that some event with a calculable probability will come out in your favor. Estel is when you’re expressing faith in the divinely-ordained course of the universe. The modern world doesn’t have much call for estel, usually. But that’s exactly the word for my hope that somewhere there’s a civil engineer doing these on purpose.