New website & Theatre of Science goes to Edinburgh

1. is up and running
2. Theatre of Science in Edinburgh and London
3. Win a crypto CD-ROM
4. Second-hand crypto books for sale

1. is up and running

Apologies for the huge delay in sending out this newsletter, but I have been busy working on the revamped version of my website. It is on-line at last, with lots of new content and features.

For example, I made a BBC documentary about Fermat’s Last Theorem, and at the new site you can read the transcript and find out what went on behind the scenes. These TV doc pages sit inside the Fermat Corner, where you will also find mathematical and historical material, a quiz and some pages about the wacky side of Fermat, including a feature on Fermat’s Last Tango, a musical based on the story of Andrew Wiles. In other words, there is much more content compared to my previous website.

In the new Radio section, you can find out more about my Radio 4 series entitled “5 Numbers”, and you can even hear the entire series via the Internet. And in the same section you can find out more about my other Radio 4 series, “The Serendipity of Science”. By the way, last year’s Serendipity series is going to be transmitted again at 9pm on Thursdays, starting on August 15.

The amount of content has increased five-fold, and there is even more to come over the next few months. The existing Articles section already has a few of my articles, such as my bizarre piece about Erdos-Bacon numbers and a piece on A Beautiful Mind, but this is only the start. This Article section will gradually build into a complete archive.

I hope that next month the Black Chamber will be in place, a part of the site where you will be able to play with interactive encryption and code breaking pages. And the bookshop will soon be able to take credit card payments. At the moment, signed copies of The Code Book and Fermat’s Last Theorem can only be paid for by cheque and they can only be sent to UK addresses.

A big thanks to Mina Varsani, my new assistant, who has been an enormous help in revamping the website.

2. Theatre of Science in Edinburgh and London

In my last newsletter I announced my stage debut in Theatre of Science, performing alongside Richard Wiseman at the Soho Theatre. The reviews were brilliant – comedy and theatre critics thought that watching a couple of science lectures was a hot night out! The Evening Standard comedy critic said we “almost make academia sexy.” What’s On magazine called the show “an uplifting, thought-provoking and frequently hilarious alternative to the usual theatre fair.”

The show was such a success that we are taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe. Come along and see us at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, 6.30pm, August 23-26. Call 0131-226 000 for tickets.

And Theatre of Science is also coming back to London’s Soho Theatre, but this time it will be the Sleek Geeks who will be performing on September 4, 5 and 6. They are a fantastic Australian double-act who I saw when I was in Sydney. You can find more details here.

3. Win a crypto CD-ROM

I am in the final phase of developing an interactive CD-ROM version of The Code Book. The first limited release is available to 25 people who tackle the Fermat trivia quiz, which you will find at:

[Apologies, CD-Rom no longer available]

Answers must be submitted by August 9th, and the winners will be the first 25 correct answers drawn out of the hat.

There is a slight catch – I am hoping that the winners will give me some feedback on the CD-ROM, so that I can polish it before burning 10,000 copies. Once the CD-ROM is generally available, I will let you know via the newsletter.

By the way – the answer to the last quiz was that Thomas Midgely (who also invented CFCs) came up with the idea of putting lead in petrol to reduce ‘knocking’. If anybody deserves a Nobel Prize for damaging the environment, it is Midgely. To be fair, both ideas seemed good at the time. Congratulations to John McKay from Quebec, Canada, who knew the answer and who won a copy of “It Must Be Beautiful” edited by Graham Farmelo.

4. Second-hand crypto books for sale

Finally, I thought that you might be interested to know that a few second-hand cryptography books have just come up for sale. The bad news is that they can only be bought as a job lot, and the asking price is £145,000.

Bernard Quaritch Ltd, the rare book dealer, has put together a collection of historic cryptography books and manuscripts, including a 1587 edition of Vigenère’s “Traicte des chiffrees” and Trithemius’s “Polygraphiae libri sex…” If you have some spare cash, then you might want to pay a visit to their shop, which is 5-8 Lower John Street, Golden Square, London, W1F 9AU.

Alternatively, you can buy copies of The Code Book by visiting my bookshop.

All profits go to ActionAid.


Simon Singh.