Theatre of Science – World Tour

1. Alternative Medicine
2. Spring Lectures
3. A Couple of Great Websites
4. Nice New Quote
5. Winnie Trivia
6. Competition Winner
7. Puzzle Competition

1. Alternative Medicine

Much of February has been taken up with writing about the BBC TV series “Alternative Medicine”. I wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph criticising its approach, which I felt was subtly anti-science and below the standards I would expect from the BBC. The series is likely to be transmitted overseas, so keep a sceptical eye out for it. You can read my article at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2006/02/14/ecnaccupunct.xml

I don’t have time to answer any queries about this article at the moment, but I am working on a follow-up piece that expands on my concerns. More details in the next newsletter. In the meantime, Professor David Colquhoun’s webpage carries more information about the series (and alternative medicine in general), and Ben Goldacre’s excellent Bad Science column is always worth reading to find out more about the often exaggerated claims of alternative medicine. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Pharmacology/dc-bits/quack.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/badscience/

2. Spring Lectures

I am giving a few talks in the UK this spring, particularly as part of Science Week. I will be in Glasgow, St Andrews, Dundee, Cambridge, London and Milton Keynes, and Theatre of Science will be performing in Newcastle this Sunday and Monday. More information at: https://www.simonsingh.net/Simon_Lectures.html

3. A Couple of Great Websites

One site is a simulation of an electron microscope, http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/electronmicroscopy/magnify1/index.html

… and the other is a strange musical website. Just type in your own lyrics or message, hit play and listen to the results. http://www.sr.se/P1/src/sing/index.htm

4. Nice New Quote

We cannot pretend to offer proofs. Proof is an idol before whom the pure mathematician tortures himself. In physics we are generally content to sacrifice before the lesser shrine of Plausibility. Sir Arthur Eddington

5. Winnie Trivia

This is a surprising story that I recently came across: “As a child, actress Danica McKellar played Winnie on the TV show The Wonder Years. Later, she made many appearances on The West Wing. But she’s also a mathematician.” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5201825

There is an interesting mathematics section on her website: http://www.danicamckellar.com/

6 Competition Winner

In the last newsletter, I asked for a highly appropriate anagram for “APPLE MACINTOSH”. In fact, there were many, such as ‘Ah, not a simple PC’ or ‘A PC in posh metal’, so a runners-up prize (a set of non-transitive dice) goes to Sebina Mariadhas in Illinois. There is more information about these dice at: https://www.simonsingh.net/Rock_Paper_Scissors.html

In fact, the answer I was looking for was ‘Laptop machines’. Sean Peters from Kent wins a copy of ‘Miss Leavitt’s Stars’, an excellent biography of the astronomer Henrietta Leavitt by George Johnson.

7. Puzzle Competition

What is 1.79 x 10^12 furlongs per fortnight?

Send your answer to competition@simonsingh.net – put your answer in the subject header and your address in the body of the email. The closing date for entries is March 10. One of the correct entries will win a copy of ‘Dr.Riemann’s Zeros’ by Karl Sabbagh, a popular description of the Riemann Hypothesis.

Finally, thanks to everyone who emailed me about last week’s Enigma cipher story. Here it is in case you missed it. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4763854.stm

Cheerio,

Simon.

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