Lip, eye, and nose

Researchers in one field do not always pick up on good suggestions from those outside their speciality. Take, for example, the case of the Hapsburg lip. “I do not propose to deal with one of the most famous inherited features, the ‘Hapsburg lip’ … because it could almost be described as a medical condition, about […]

Move over, Einstein

The new version of Portfolio of a Genius has just arrived. For the better part of a decade, I have been receiving the laboriously crafted, increasingly thick versions of this wondrous work. They arrive in my mailbox, always unanticipated, always surprising by their very existence…. So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian. […]

Devilish Digits

In 1988, Robert W Faid solved one of the oldest and most famous problems in mathematics. Yet almost no one noticed. Cracking the nut that was nearly two millennia old, Faid calculated the identity of the Antichrist…. So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian. Read it here.

Dead Good

When, if ever, does a person stops learning? Stephen Rushen, an educationalist based at Penn State University in the United States, conducted an experiment, or says he conducted an experiment, to find out…. So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian. Read it here.

On Drying of Laundry

“It is striking that the drying process familiar to most people, namely, that of drying laundry hung from a clothes line, does not seem to have been investigated in a quantitative, scientific manner.” With those words, and many more, Eric B Hansen introduced a generation to the subtle mathematical pleasures of damp cloth…. So begins […]

Klutzing at Straws

Ten tons of foresight (assuming you can measure foresight in such units) is no match for 160 pounds of klutz. Well-engineered products must withstand the unintentioned slings and arrows, the unforeseen slips and stumbles, the accidental kicks and elbows, and the regretfully overturned coffee cups that only a first-class professional klutz can deliver. So begins […]