A Brief History of Time Spent Thinking About Stephen Hawking

Someone once called A Brief History of Time the most popular book that nobody had finished, but in my case that wasn’t true: I was reading quite a few popular science books at the time it appeared, and there was none more popular than that, so I bought it and read it—all the way through. It was only a few years after my own peak science period, when I’d taken advanced maths and physics in grade 12 and moved on to a maths degree. (That eventually became a computer science degree, and then gave way to postgrad studies in political science, so thoroughly did I fall out with calculus and linear algebra at university—although I kept the stats going until the end).

Read More · 14 March 2018 · Comment · People

The Point of Percentages

The Commons Brexit committee has just published the official internal Brexit Impact study leaked to BuzzFeed last month, and it clears up a question I’d been debating with someone on Twitter the previous day. It started when MEP Seb Dance tweeted the list of Brexit impacts on regional growth of -2% to -11% and compared them with “Worst UK fall in 2008 crash: -2%”.

One commenter said, “You’ve confused a % reduction in growth with a fall in gdp. These are not the same.”

Read More · 9 March 2018 · Comment · Politics

The Hounds of Love

One of the greatest Google searches there is.

Read More · 5 March 2018 · Comment · Weblog

Edinburgh Drift

Today is the kids’ first day back at school since last Tuesday, after a Siberian weather system swept over Britain and blanketed Edinburgh with the most snow we’ve seen since 2010. It was unusual snow for us, too: dry and powdery, Rockies-style. Good skiing weather, if we only we could have got the car out of its snow-covered side street and driven to the hills.

It didn’t feel particularly cold once the wind dropped, but the whole place ground to a halt. It snowed for a few days in January, too, but that was fine—the kids went to school, we went to work. This time, not only were the kids off school for three days, but my university closed early on Wednesday and stayed closed for the rest of the week. I can’t remember it ever closing because of snow before.

Read More · 5 March 2018 · Comment · Journal

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