All entries for May 2007

May 29, 2007

Will@Warwick episode 2

Just thought I’d give a quick mention of the 2nd episode of Will@Warwick. Two reasons for this

1. Lenny Henry is in it
2. Our very own Bardathon blogger, Peter Kirwan, starts what I hope will be a regular column talking about Shakespearean matters.

Plus – don’t forget Ian Stewart on The History of Symmetry –

May 21, 2007

Will@Warwick – new Shakespeare podcast

Writing about web page

Following on from the History of Symmetry comes the other podcast project I have been working on – Will@Warwick. This is a podcast drawing on Shakespeare research from across the University, bringing in insights from other experts and hopefully providing interesting insights into the works.

The first episode revisits the interview with Jonathan Bate on the Complete Works and also features an interview by Dominic Dean with the American artist Greg Wyatt who is the sculptor responsible for the statues in the New Place garden in Stratford upon Avon.

Future episodes will feature:

Lenny Henry and Barrie Rutter on Othello
Producing Shakespeare for the German theatre
Peter Kirwan on bardathon
Self-help and Shakespeare

And much much more!

May 14, 2007

Sheer bloody purgatory (with some fun thrown in!)

Writing about web page


if I had to pick a day to join my dad on his end to end cycle it would have to have been Sunday – wet, wet and more wet.

I think if we’d cycled to Weston Super Mare and ridden off the pier the impact would probably have been about the same. But even in the face of torrential rain we still went ahead with the cycle from Bristol to Ludlow.

We started at 9ish from the original suspension bridge – Breezy droplets – and headed over towards Chepstow. Cycling over the bridge was fab. I’ve a bit of a thing about bridges and rather like the two crossings. We headed around Chepstow and went towards Tintern.

There’s a great drop into Tintern – big well laid road with sweeping bends – which was immensely good fun. The climb out of Tintern less so and about 3/4 of the way up we both gave in and pushed the bikes up the last bit. A very steep and pitted road that was effort all the way.

The trees on this little lane however shielded us from the rain that was increasing at this point so it was only when we emerged on the top that we realised how wet it was becoming – moderate but persistent showery rain.

So, off to Ross on Wye which was a pleasant run but by the time we entered Ross it was really starting to get heavy. We stopped in Ross for 10 minutes trying to work out where to go next. Finally heading off my dad made the mistake of taking off his top jacket – oops. He spent the next few hours getting more and more wet. But then again, so did I.

The next bit should have been the best run of the cycle, on a dry day anyway. We followed the river Wye along a small lane which in better conditions would have been beautiful and fast. On Sunday it was wet, muddy, covered in loose grit run off the woods and bloody hard work. You couldn’t head downhill fast for fear of slipping so it was hands on brakes the whole way and pedaling through running water and mud which dragged on the tyres and made it nasty. By the end of this leg we were tired and sore.

By the time we edged past Hereford and headed towards Leominster it was lashing down – torrents of water on the road, absolutely soaked through and feet swelling up in sodden shoes. The rain was lashing hard against our faces and getting painful on the downhill sections. To top it off the good burghers of Herefordshire prefer to spend their money on things other than road signs. So not only were we wet, we were lost and wet.

Finally reaching Leominster, which is a ghost town on Sunday, we paused as my knee was playing up. On the final stretch the wind picked up so added to the stinging rain was a cold northerly wind – yumm. To top it off my dad’s front gear mech seized (we later found a tiny stone had jammed it) which left him stuck on the smaller cog. Lucky really as it meant he had the right gears for going up hill and could coast down. If it had been the other way round he’d have been screwed.

Finally we reached Ludlow and I have never been so glad to see a town. We eventually found the B&B and too much relief jumped in the shower. My feet regained feeling after about 15 minutes.

So to summarise -

91 miles (hah!)
6 hours
Wet wet and more wet

Did I enjoy it – absolutely, and I am chuffed at having finished and more chuffed for my dad who is doing a pretty amazing thing.

Was it hard work – absolutely. If it had been dry I think we would have added a cheeky 10 miles to get the 100, but it was just too much hard work in the stinking rain.

If you want to sponsor my dad you can do so at

If you check out that page and know of any shopping centres Liz could visit while she’s driving about as support please let me know – she needs much retail therapy to get her through this!

Finally, I also learned that two pieces of toast do not make good prep for a 91 mile ride. I made it but Lord only knows how. Any weight loss was balanced out by the quantity of water soaked into my body, so it all evens out.

May 11, 2007

End to End – Bob's Big Ride

Writing about web page

BobMy Dad started his end to end ride on Wednesday and I got the first report from him yesterday.

It went along the lines of: “I have never been so wet in my entire life”

Oh dear…

He does seem to be enjoying it so far anyhow. Bodes well for Sunday when I will join him for a day.

A quick reminder why he’s doing it – to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. A big thanks to everyone who has already donated – and if you fancy throwing a fiver to a good cause you can do so at

Muscular dystrophies are a collection of genetic muscle wasting conditions, some of which can be fatal in children. The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is the leading registered UK charity working to combat these conditions by pioneering the search for treatments and cures. The charity also provides support and information regarding expert medical care.

My Uncle Billy had MD, and he never let it bother him even though it was a horrible condition. Unfortunately he died just before my father started the ride – so this is as much a celebration of his life as a fundraiser.

More on Billy

May 08, 2007

After years of falling at the last…

Writing about web page

At last – Championship football for Bristol City.

Year after year we’ve seemed to fail at the last hurdle, but this year they made it on the last day, and in some style too.

After the Milwall result I did wonder…

Lucky for whoever made this banner that they did win. You’d feel a right plonker if they’d lost.

May 04, 2007

Beauty is Truth – A short history of symmetry

Writing about web page

I am very pleased to publish the first podcast mini-series we’ve done – A short history of symmetry with Professor Ian Stewart.

This is a series of 7 episodes (first two available today) focussing on key chapters of his new book, Why Beauty is Truth.

We’ve pushed the boat out a bit here – we have music!

It will prove to be a really interesting exercise – is this a format and approach that will be attractive; will it sell more books! We shall wait and see.

So, check out episode 1 and 2 – an introduction to symmetry in maths and physics and an overview of Babylonian mathematics, Greek geometry and a breif appearance by Omar Kyham.

In the next few weeks:

  • Renaissance Mathemeticians getting shirty with each other
  • Revolutionary mathematics in revolutionary France – a tale of tragedy, misunderstandings and an idea that reshaped most of physics and mathematics
  • What the physicists did next – Einstein and symmetry
  • Symmetry gets tough – quantum mechanics
  • An equation for every occasion – string, superstring theory and symmetry (plus a bonus track (cough) – what about an asymmetric universe?)

First cycle to work

So today was my first crack at cycling to work.

So what I hear you cry! Well, for me that means a 23 mile route from here= to here=

and obviously back again this evening.

Took just over 1hour 30 mins, which isn’t bad I think. The route is largely back roads and lanes except for the run through Warwick and out plus the last bit up Stoneleigh Lane, which isn’t that bad as the traffic isn’t really moving.

Interesting to note that this took me 1:30 to cycle and often takes 45mins in the car – so cycling only doubles the journey time. I though it might have been longer so that’s an interesting outcome.

May 03, 2007

Most important scientist you've never heard of…

I am just putting the finishing touches to my not so secret project with Ian Stewart, of which more later…

One of the things about this little project has been to focus on a few clever mathematicians that seem to have had a fairly significant impact on just about the whole of maths and physics – people i’d never heard of before (not surprising, what with me being an Arts student and everything, but there you go).

So let me introduce to you Evariste Galois and Carl Friedrich Gauss

Galois developed Group Theory, joined the revolutionaries in France, got fed up, imprisoned and then shot in a duel over the girl next door in which he died young and probably rather annoyed.

Gauss just seems to be the cleverest person ever to have existed.

Now, recognising that there are probably loads of people on Warwick Blogs who know all about these two and I am just sharing my ignorance of great figures in mathematics, I was wondering which other great figures in science don’t get the recognition they deserve? Who should sit next to Einstein at the table of very clever people indeed? Who are the unsung heroes of your subject?

Heat ray used for good, not evil

Writing about web page

Nice piece from the Beeb about how the Spanish are using a tower and a bunch of mirrors to generate electricity. Looks like a nice and elegant use of natural resources to power air-conditioning units for hot Andalucians.

Shame it couldn’t work here, though if the weather continues as it has done so far this year, maybe it would.

If we were looking for a system based on hot air, then perhaps we could turn the large tower at the Palace of Westminster into a power station.

May 02, 2007

Horizon – what a great programme

Writing about web page

Did you catch Horizon last night – that’s great science telly for you.

It told the story of the Large Hadron Collider and how it relates to the fundamental building blocks of the universe.

Beautifully put together it was one of those programmes that makes you sit back and go, wow. Brian Cox might be my new favourite academic celebrity!

Oh for the budget, time and access to seriously huge bits of machinery…

BTW – Seed magazine ran a nice short film about the same thing, also featuring the eponymous Mr Cox –

May 2007

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