Newsletter 31: Preliminary hearing and lots of lectures

1. Preliminary Hearing

2. Lots of Lectures

3. Fermat’s Last Theorem online

4. Climate Numpties
5. Night of 400 Billion Stars

6. Competition Winner

7. Puzzle Competition
1. Preliminary Hearing
The libel case brought against me by the British Chiropractic Association reaches the High Court on May 7 with a preliminary hearing. The Contempt of Court Act applies so there are severe limitations on what anybody can write on the subject until after the event. However, bearing in mind the constraints I hope to post a quick update prior to the hearing explaining the sort of issues that will be at stake.

2. Lots of Lectures
Coincidentally, the paperback of ‘Trick or Treatment? is published on May 7, the day that the preliminary hearing starts. It is going to be a busy month, particularly as I also hope to be lecturing and debating on the subject of alternative medicine at half a dozen venues across the UK (e.g. London, Edinburgh, Cheltenham).
The first event will be a major debate on the pros and cons of alternative medicine run by Kings College medical students on April 28. Professors George Lewith and David Peters will be arguing that alternative medicine does more good than harm, while Professor David Baum and I will be arguing the opposite. The debate is open to everyone, so please do come along if you are interested.

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/events_details.php?event_id=1635&year=2009

More information about all the events is available at:

https://www.simonsingh.net/Simon_Lectures.php

3. Fermat’s Last Theorem online
People often ask when the documentary that I directed about Andrew Wiles and Fermat’s Last Theorem is next on TV. I rarely get any warning, but you can watch it online in relatively high quality at:

http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=fermat%27s+last+theorem&emb=0&aq=f#

4. Climate Numpties
I have just started writing a monthly blog on the Guardian website. My most recent blog looked at that odd population of people who doubt manmade climate change. The one before that discussed the ability of Prince Charles to understand science. And the first one looked at an overlap between football and mathematics.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/apr/01/climate-change-sceptics

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2009/mar/16/prince-charles-global-warming-detox

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/feb/27/tottenham-hotspur-david-bentley-symmetry

(And I have just posted an article about homeopathy and pets:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/apr/24/homeopathy-pets-vets-animals-placebo)

5. Night of 400 Billion Stars
Following on from the hugely successful Godless shows, Robin Ince is organising another night of music/science/comedy on 29 June, this time to mark the International Year of Astronomy. Tickets disappeared very quickly last time, so I would recommend contacting the Bloomsbury Theatre now to avoid disappointment. Alongside Robin, there will be me, Lucy Porter, Helen Keen, Chris Addison, Martin White and many others. You can find out more at:

http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2009/04/night-of-400-billion-stars-bloomsbury.html

http://www.thebloomsbury.com/event/run/1322

6. Competition Winner
In the last newsletter, I asked: “Which American president quoted the third derivative in a speech during his re-election campaign?” The winner was Shekhar Sathe from Mumbai, who correctly identified the answer as President Richard Nixon, According to Hugo Rossi: “In the fall of 1972 President Nixon announced that the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing. This was the first time a sitting president used the third derivative to advance his case for re-election.” Shekhar (and others) also pointed out: “Actually John McCain also used the third derivative in his election campaign when he called a school boy a jerk. Jerk is a derivative of acceleration. But McCain was not on a re-election campaign!”

7. Puzzle Competition
On average, which planet is closest to Pluto?

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 30. The winner will receive a copy of “Quirkology” by my friend and psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, who has just started a blog at:

30 second introduction

Cheerio,
Simon.