Are you over-exerting your brain?

Are you over-exerting your brain?

In the days when I was an enthusiast for competition bridge, I read a book by the British writer Victor Mollo which featured a character called The Hideous Hog. One sentence from that book, describing the Hog’s excuse for making a mistake, has always stuck in my mind...
Rabelais in the modern world

Rabelais in the modern world

Rabelais’s rumbustious romp with the brief title  The Heroic Deeds of Gargantua and Pantagruel was written in the sixteenth century, with the first part being written in 1532. I am lucky enough to own a limited edition illustrated by the Australia artist Francis...
118. Gassing on about neon

118. Gassing on about neon

A recent article provides an exciting glimpse into one way that scientists think, although you might not think it is so exciting at first glimpse. Let the scientists speak for themselves: Neon is an abundant element in the atmosphere, but it is much scarcer on Earth...
Brain cutlets, anyone?

Brain cutlets, anyone?

In celebration of the “offal” theme at the 2016 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, here is the wonderful brain cutlet story from Lawrence Durrell’s Prospero’s Cell, a semi-fictional diary of his time on Corfu. The Count is “Count D” (probably an invented character,...

115. A New Theory of Vacuum Cleaning

It is said that Pierre Curie could never enter his own laboratory while an experiment was in progress, because his body had become so radioactive that his mere presence discharged the sensitive electrometers. It was while pondering this story that I came up with my...
Food and Desire

Food and Desire

Here are the talk notes and accompanying Powerpoint Slides for the keynote talk that I gave on “Food and Desire” at the second Biennial Dublin Gastronomy Symposium (DGS) that (3-4 June 2014, Dublin Institute of Technology). It was a wonderful meeting, full...