Letter to “Times,” Thursday June 16 (2016), re food and Brexit.

Posted on June 16, 2016

At Theodore Zeldin's suggestion, supported and promoted by Paul Levy, here is a letter that I and 59 others signed, with food-related reasons for Britain to stay firmly in the EU. Sir, As people engaged in the food world, concerned about the cultural, nutritional and environmental effects of our food supply, and especially the quality of our diet, we urge Britons to vote to stay in the EU. Who would want this country to return to the time ...

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116. Einstein’s sock (continued)

My latest 15 min radio broadcast in the Ockham's Razor series begins with the story of why Einstein decided not to wear socks (see Mini Story #7), but goes on to encompass how we can make the best decisions in our complex world and how Governments and big business are using automated decision making processes to make decisions vital to our future, and what we can do about it. I have to say that I am rather pleased with how it came out. You ...

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My submission to the House of Commons inquiry on science communication

Posted on April 28, 2016

PERSONAL BACKGROUND I am a practising scientist, writer and broadcaster who has spent the last two decades working to make science more accessible and more a part of our culture by showing how scientists think about everyday problems, from the trivial to the profound ( In recent times, I have been involved in developing strategies for coping with slowly developing catastrophic risks (e.g. http://len...

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Books To Read Before Going To University

Posted on April 14, 2016

Books To Read Before University Thursday, April 14th, 2016 The Times Education Supplement and the Times Higher Education Supplement have combined to produce a feature article on books that students should read before going to university ( I was pleased that my contribution to the discussion was used pretty well in full. Here it is: Len Fisher, visiting fellow in ...

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Are you a polymath? What’s your Erdös-Bacon-Sabbath number?

Posted on February 17, 2016

Here is my article for the Times Higher Education Supplement on how I worked out the closeness of my creative links to the mathematician Paul Erdös, the actor Kevin Bacon, and the heavy metal music group Black Sabbath, and found myself to be in the same category as Brian Cox, Buzz Aldrin and Einstein. Stephen Hawking has me beaten, though (EBS=8), as has Lawrence Krauss, with a remarkable EBS=7. Lawrence's achievement was the stimulus for my ...

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The real dangers of Australia

Posted on December 16, 2015

Many of our European friends have expressed apprehension at the idea of visiting Australia on account of the ferocious sharks, poisonous snakes, spiders and jellyfish, etc. But the real problems lie elsewhere: Some birds laugh at you: Others look sideways disapprovingly: Some spiders won't let you near the toilet roll: Others try to steal it: and some can even dance: They are all bastards though (classific...

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107. Terrorism and the refugee crisis

Posted on December 4, 2015

The journal Nature has been taking a strong interest in terrorism and the refugee crisis, even publishing an article of mine on the latter (see As a leading scientific journal, Nature has been particularly concerned with identifying underlying causes – a way of thinking that is familiar to scientists, but which many politicians have been slow to embrace, preferr...

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Australian politicians need to understand how science can REALLY be made profitable

The Australian Government is seriously considering radical changes to research funding where the major criterion would be the potential applications of a project, rather than its scientific value and rigour. This crazy idea, so intuitively appealing to politicians, has long been shown to be without foundation (e.g. Sir John Cadogan's report at, but speaking truth to power seldom changes bull-headed ...

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Will Turnbull reverse the cuts?

Nov 4, 2015  Here is the text of an open letter (submitted to Sydney Morning Herald but unpublished) to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, drafted by me on behalf of the Royal Society of New South Wales. In a recent speech, Turnbull promised to “invest in science and put it right at the centre of our national agenda”. We ask just what this means in practical terms. Will he reverse the recent savage cuts? We'll see.   P...

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Why we should make refugees welcome

Posted on November 4, 2015

November 4, 2015 My World View article “Avoid major disasters by welcoming minor change” has now been published in Nature (Vol.527, p.9). Here is the link: Here is a summary of the main points: The article focuses on the growing refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere. A recent editorial in Nature (Vol.525, p.157) suggests that developed nations should ...

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