Eighteen Months of Silence

1. Eighteen Months of Silence
2. Trick or Treatment?
3. Quirkology
4. James Randi in London
5. Free Finnish Big Bangs
6. Competition Winner
7. Puzzle Competition

1. Eighteen Months of Silence

It has been eighteen months since my last newsletter, and my only excuse is that I have been busy writing a new book – more about that in a moment.

Last year I also managed to get into a spat about the terrible Channel Four documentary entitled “The Great Global Warming Swindle” – this has now been broadcast around the world and is still very influential. If you want to know the real truth about this documentary, then I would strongly recommend visiting: http://www.climateofdenial.net/?q=node/3

And if you want to get up to speed on the issue of global warming, then I would suggest reading “Hot Topic” by David King and Gabrielle Walker, which I reviewed for the Sunday Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/02/02/bokin102.xml

A recent project has been a programme for BBC Radio 4 entitled “The Computer with a Poker Face”, about the first serious poker match between a computer and humans. Unfortunately the programme has already been broadcast and is no longer available online, but you can read about the match at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/26/business/26poker.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/M/Markoff,%20John

2. Trick or Treatment?

It was a long time ago, but my last newsletter explained that I had been involved in investigating homeopathy. This sparked a curiosity in me about the claims of other alternative medicine, which has now turned into a book called “Trick or Treament? Alternative Medicine on Trial”. This will be published on April 21 in the UK and in August in America, with other translations to follow soon after.

There will be more about the book in my next newsletter, but (in brief) I have co-authored the book with Professor Edzard Ernst, the world’s first professor of complementary medicine. Our goal has been to examine the scientific evidence surrounding each form of alternative medicine in order to find out what works and what does not, as well as what is safe and what is dangerous.

As many people have already pointed out, I wrote at the end of the Big Bang that it would be my last book, but I became so obsessed with alternative medicine that I could not resist putting pen to paper again. Having written about mathematics, cryptography and cosmology in the past, it is a major change in direction to write about alternative medicine, but the issues it raises are so important that I could not refuse the challenge.

3. Quirkology

Richard Wiseman, my Theatre of Science partner, published Quirkology last year. To tie in with the book, he created a series of fascinating YouTube clips, including this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voAntzB7EwE

4. James Randi in London

April 19 sees an “An Evening with James Randi and Friends” in London. There will be series of short talks, including one from me, followed by a rare chance to see the Amazing Randi lecturing in the UK. Tickets will disappear soon – to find out more, please visit: http://skeptic.org.uk/randi/

5. Free Finnish Big Bangs

Big Bang is being translated into various languages and I have just received the Finnish editions. If you live in the UK and if you read Finnish or know someone who reads Finnish, then just send an email to fbigbang@simonsingh.net and tell me your address. I will despatch copies to the first six emails that I receive – if you do not receive a copy, then please assume that you were sadly not one of the first six. (Unfortunately I cannot extend this offer outside the UK because of the high cost of postage.)

6. Competition Winner

In the last newsletter, I asked: “What is the longest word that you can make from the letters that appear in the top row of a typewriter keyboard?” I thought that the answer was, appropriately, TYPEWRITER, but some of you knew better. It seems that TEETERTOTTER (a seesaw) is the true champion word, and Ashok Argent-Katwala was one of several people who pointed this out. He wins a copy of Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8) by Sandy Balfour

7. Puzzle Competition

Which children’s book touches on mathematics and has Milo as its central character?

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 April 21. One of the correct entries will win a signed copy of The Great Escape by Natalie Haynes, which Julie Burchill called: “Funny, fresh and feline – this is a strange, sinister, shimmering story which will appeal to cats of all ages.”

I will write again soon with more information about “Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial”.

Cheerio,

Simon.

Ps. If you need to email me, then please do not reply to this address, as your email will not reach me. Please go via the website https://www.simonsingh.net and click the contact button. It takes me ages to answer emails, as I am struggling to keep up with my correspondence, so please be patient.

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