Friday, 26 February 2010

Buried by books

So, this was my desk this morning...

What's on show here is just some of the books I've been using to research Scottish Miscellany. There's a whole pile not on display here because they've already gone back to the local library. (The eagle-eyed among you will noticed that I've even been using another book I wrote, Match Wits with the Kids, to help me write this one!)

Anyway, the book's coming on apace now, but before I can carry on this afternoon I think I'm going to have to tidy some of this lot up, if only so I can find my mouse again.


Thursday, 11 February 2010

To Infinity... and Beyond!

Do you know what this is?

No, it's not a drunken number 8, it is, in fact, the symbol for infinity.

Last night's Horizon (BBC 2, 9.00pm) dealt with the concept of infinity - and what a concept it is!

Infinity (symbolically represented by ∞) is a concept in mathematics and philosophy that refers to a quantity without bound or end. (The word comes from the Latin infinitas, meaning 'unboundedness'.) People have developed various ideas throughout history about the nature of infinity. In mathematics, infinity is defined in the context of set theory.

In mathematics, 'infinity' is often used in contexts where it is treated as if it were a number (i.e., it counts or measures things: 'an infinite number of terms'), even though it is not really a number. Oh and there's more than one kind of infinity.

Confused yet? Me too.

So you might want to sit back and watch Horizon's attempt to unravel the mysteries of the infinite. It's is older than time, bigger than the universe and stranger than fiction, and it's on BBC iPlayer here.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

How the Earth Made Us

If you have an interest in Geography, or Geology for that matter, and how our planet formed, then you should watch How the Earth Made Us.

In it Professor Iain Stewart tells the epic story of how the planet has shaped our history. With spectacular images, surprising stories and a compelling narrative, the series discovers the central role played in human history by four different planetary forces.

Part 4 (which focuses on Fire) is on BBC 2 tonight, at 9.00pm.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Chemistry - A Volatile History

If you have an interest in science, or chemistry, or simply very well produced factual TV, then you should watch Chemistry: A Volatile History, that's been on BBC 4 recently.

In this three-part series, professor of theoretical physics Jim Al-Khalili traces the extraordinary story of how the elements were discovered and mapped. He follows in the footsteps of the pioneers who cracked their secrets and created a new science, propelling us into the modern age.

Chemistry: A Volatile History is available through BBC iPlayer here.