General Interest

The Shakespeare Graphite Mystery 14 April 22

William Shakespeare was born the same year as graphite was discovered in Cumberland. Which raises an interesting question.

Morse Mysteries 7 March 22

Morse code has a bizarre connection to a famous comedy theme tune, and to another famous pattern too.

A Special Relationship 17 August 21

It's exciting to discover you have a famous relative or ancestor and the good news is that most of us have one.

Dr John Haigh, RIP 10 March 21

John Haigh was an inspiration

Who should be vaccinated first? 1 January 21

How do you decide on who should be vaccinated first? It's an unenviable task.

Thanksgiving 26 November 20

Expressing gratitude makes you feel happier.

Jeremy Wyndham 2 August 20

A tribute to my friend and co-author Jeremy Wyndham

The hidden maths of the coxcomb chart

The hidden maths of the coxcomb chart 18 May 20

Florence Nightingale has been celebrated for her use of statistics to fight disease, but one clever feature of her charts has had little attention.

A silver lining to Coronavirus? 23 March 20

Amid the justified gloom and worry about coronavirus, there are signs that there might be a silver lining.

Errata and proof-reading 22 September 19

How does a blatant typo make it through at least five proof-readers?

A Lucky Egg-scape* 14 February 19

A cautionary tale involving a caramel egg and my trouser pocket.

The Magazine Keys of Ypres

The Magazine Keys of Ypres 11 November 18

Unlocking the mystery of some WW1 family memorabilia

Arguing About Climate Change 4 August 18

When there are arguments about global warming and climate change, there is often a frustrating vagueness about which part of it is being disputed

Predicted Grades 3 January 18

How a history teacher may have messed up a promising maths student's future

A bit of magic in Chester 9 November 17

This week I experienced a delightful act of generosity from a stranger.

Need some good consultants? Call in the Children 27 March 17

In a world infested with jargon and corporate-speak, children are the best remedy.

Venus is brilliant 23 January 17

Until this month I knew almost nothing about our closest planet.

Argon but not forgotten 12 January 17 chemistry O Level is coming back to me.

A Curious Coincidence 24 November 16

Tomorrow I'll be performing on the set of an award-winning West End play. How did that happen?

Wurzels 20 July 16

If a version of a folk song becomes too famous, it kills off the variety that is part of folk's charm

Can I have a volunteer? 3 May 16

The perils of getting helpers on stage.

When did Pupils become Students? 6 February 16

A generation ago, anyone who attended school was called a pupil. Now even children at primary school are called students. Why the change?

How do YOU remember your PIN ? 6 November 15

You aren't supposed to write your PIN down, so how do you remember it? Here's the method I use.

Making things Complicated: Jardin's Principle 2 October 14

A universal syndrome that is often observed but doesn't have a name. Well it does - but hardly anyone knows it.

It's all the fault of my Inner Chimp 22 August 14

How motivational speakers make use of pseudo-neuroscience