Virtual food

Virtual food

The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery is my favourite indulgence – old friends, good wine, great food. But this year it has to be virtual, and here I will keep a running diary of events to share. Enjoy! The header picture is from last year. That’s me...
Casimir and me

Casimir and me

This mini story is about me and my last (maybe really my last) scientific paper. It is also a story of how science really works – through people, rather than structures or organizations or committees. It started with Twitter, which is a major way that I keep in...
143. Mercury, Shakespeare and me

143. Mercury, Shakespeare and me

Very proud to have been awarded a prize in the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s competition for Stories from the Periodic Table. Here is my winning entry: Mercury, Shakespeare and me Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature, and it...
142. A mad magnet tale

142. A mad magnet tale

This story of the generation of an ultra-strong magnetic field (https://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/nanotechnology/magnetic-field-record-set-with-a-bang-1200-tesla) and the subsequent disaster reminds me of a story that I was told by a very prominent...
141. A world made of blueberries

141. A world made of blueberries

My good friend and cooleague (cool colleague) Anders Sandberg has calculated what would happen if the world suddenly turned into blueberries. I offer it as an example of how scientists think; one that might be used to help schoolchildren, and even beginning university...
Life, REF, and the half-loaf principle

Life, REF, and the half-loaf principle

One of my favourite writers is the Russian-born Englishman S.J. “Skid” Simon. Unless you are a bridge player, you have probably never heard of him, although he wrote many murder mysteries in the period before the Second World War, the best-known being...
A scientist looks at philosophy

A scientist looks at philosophy

My first (and only) genuine philosophy article published in a genuine philosophy journal. Twenty-five years on, I am still quite proud of it! All about models and what they really mean (and don’t mean). A scientist looks at philosophy IMAGE: Wikimedia...
The logical way to cut a round Christmas cake

The logical way to cut a round Christmas cake

Sir Francis Galton was a Victorian explorer, statistician, student of intelligence and heredity, and all round polymath. In his role as a statistician he came up with a way to analyze the power of prayer by arguing that royalty, being prayed for so frequently in the...