Saturday, 30 November 2013

Do you know your counties from your countries?

How good's your Geography of the UK? More to the point, can you locate the counties of England on a map?

Well, can you? Follow this link to find out...

Monday, 21 October 2013

What each country leads the world in

Controversial? Definitely. But also quite a lot of fun, if viewed with tongue firmly in cheek.

For a close-up version of the map, follow this link.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Saturday, 20 July 2013

10 Urban Legends about Famous Scientists

We've all heard stories about killers in the back seat, but hapless heroines aren't the only ones who spawn urban legends. There are a number of urban legends about famous scientists. Some are funny, some are mere inaccuracies, and some are about committing murder by accident.

To find out more click this link.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Precision: The Measure of All Things

Professor Marcus du Sautoy - who is effectively a numerical evangelist, as well as a master storyteller - once again takes an unappetising premise and turns it into educational gold. 

'Precision: The Measure of All Things' explores humanity's obsession with compartmentalising the environment into ever-more-precise units of measurement - from the first cave paintings of the Cro-Magnons, to today's atomic clocks. In the first edition, du Sautoy charts the history of the metre and the second, and examines scientists' continuing efforts to redefine how time and length are quantified.

To find out more about the series, follow this link.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Bacterium-sized Bunny the future for Bionic Brains

Scientists in Japan have created a new material that can be shaped into complex, conductive 3-D structures. Get ready for your custom brain electrodes.

To read more about this story, click here.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Modern Periodic Table

Ten questions on grammar

Grammar is in the headlines with the arrival of a new test for primary school children, but how much do you know about apostrophes, semi-colons and dangling participles?

Find out by following this link.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Commander Chris Hadfield - Space Oddity

Commander Chris Hadfield - the first Canadian to walk in space and surely the coolest man in space* - released this version of David Bowie's  Space Oddity on 12 May 2013, after handing over command of the International Space Station before returning home.

* And described by Forbes as "perhaps the most social media savvy astronaut ever to leave Earth".

Friday, 3 May 2013

More Maths

School of Hard Sums

If you're not watching this, you should be.

Dara O Briain on the importance of Maths:

“Maths is the language in which the universe is written. It’s innate to the human brain and is a spectacular thing that we’ve discovered/invented. Also it permeates our lives. If you have to discuss something in terms of its utility, we’re moving increasingly to being a technological society and therefore you need to be conversant with it. But in all honesty, I am over discussing things in terms of their utility, as if education is just training for jobs – it isn’t.

"I encounter the same argument in teaching obscure languages: it fires neurons in different ways, helps you with problems. The example I quote is if people really understood probability, they’d save a lot of money on lottery tickets.”

Monday, 29 April 2013


That's a lot of changes in just over 1,000 years of history. And only in Europe too...

The Map of Europe:
AD 1000 to the Present Day

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Beowulf - The Gamebook!

“Listen! We of the Spear-Danes in the days of yore, of those clan-kings, heard of their glory, how those nobles performed courageous deeds!”

I am delighted to announce that BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER has been mentioned today on In fact, there's not just a mention - there's a full-blown interview with me about the project.

You can read the interview for yourself here (and thanks to Dave Bradley for making it happen).

In other BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER-related news, it looks like I have both a publisher and an artist on board for the project, so the Kickstarter to fund production of the gamebook is gradually moving closer to launch.

And in case you'll still wondering just what exactly BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER is, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure-style re-telling of the Anglo-Saxon epic. In the book you will play the part of the eponymous hero battling such monsters as Grendel, Grendel's mother and a dragon, as well as sea serpents and all manner of other creatures along the way. Will your adventure follow the course of the original story or will you carve out a new epic all of your own?

To express your interest in this project, please visit the BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER Facebook page, click 'Like', and share the link with all your friends.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath - Competition Time!

A while ago I threatened to run some sort of competition or other if (or more accurately when) I ended up with both 1,000 followers on Twitter and 1,000 friends on Facebook.

Well that magic number was exceeded a while ago now (as of writing I have 1,018 followers on Twitter and 1,030 Facebook friends) so I thought it was about time I made good on my promise.

Your Part of the Bargain

I want you to do all you can to promote the Kickstarter project I am currently running with the artist Tom Brown and publisher Ian Whates, Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath. I don't care how you do it - blog posts, social media campaigns, YouTube videos, get in mentioned in the press, on the radio, on TV! - just do whatever you can to get word out to the masses about this exciting adventure in publishing!

You have until the end of the month (11:59pm on Sunday 31 March) to enter - in other words ten days - and email me a link to whatever it is you've produced at

Be imaginative, be creative, be prolific, be persistent! But whatever you do, to be eligible for the big prize, you must let me know about it.

Our Part of the Bargain

The three of us (Jon, Tom and Ian) will decide who has mounted the most effective campaign and, as long as the project funds on 13 April, you will be invited to the grand London launch as our guest, with all that that entails (book, goodie bag, drinks reception, etc.) but without having to stump up £100 for the privilege yourself. (You must arrange and pay for your travel to London.)

And that's it!

So check out the Clemency Slaughter Kickstarter page, Facebook page, and blog, get thinking, and good luck!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Happy Pi Day!

Did you know that today - 14 March - is Pi Day, an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi)?

"Why's that?" I hear you ask.

Well, it's because 14 March is 3/14 (in the confusing, American-favoured month/day date format), and 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of π in the decimal form. That's why.

To find out more about Pi Day, follow this link. And to mark Pi Day, why not buy yourself a T-shirt? :-)

Larry Shaw - a.k.a. the Prince of Pi - the organiser of the very first Pi Day. What a guy!
(At least now we know the answer to the question, "Who ate all the Pi?")

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath

Today - 13th March 2013 - marks the beginning of the Big Push for the Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath Kickstarter.

Artist Tom Brown, publisher Ian Whates, and myself, want to bring you the tale of Miss Clemency Slaughter, her ill-fated family, and the legacy of Lord Daedalus Drummond D'Eath that awaits whoever is lucky (or unlucky) enough to inherit in the end. But we can only accomplish this task with your support, via Kickstarter.

We have a host of wonderful rewards on offer, including original artwork, invitations to a launch party, signed books, and bespoke jewellery. Bids start at only £2 and there's even going to be a digital version of this macabre picture book, as long as we achieve our funding goal of £7,500.

So now it's up to you. Please 'Like' our Facebook page, pledge your support via the Kickstarter page, and then tell all your friends via the medium of social media - and not just today, but every day! That's how we'll draw in the new backers we'll need to make this project happen.

We have until 1.00pm (1300 hours) on the 13th April to achieve our goal, or Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath may never see the light of day at all...

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Friday, 15 February 2013

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Genius of Invention

"What does the name Thomas Newcomen mean to you? Not much, I’ll bet," claims the Radio Times website.

Now if you've read Match With With the Kids, then you will already know that Newcomen’s Engine was the first practical steam engine, devised to pump water out of Cornish tin mines.

Newcomen was a Devon ironmonger in the early 18th century who designed the first reliable steam engine but because James Watt improved the design half a century later, Watt is the name that most people remember.

How their ideas evolved and what they led to (i.e. the Industrial Revolution) is the subject of a wonderfully educational programme, The Genius of Invention, and it starts tonight on BBC2 at 9.00pm.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

YOU ARE THE HERO - 24 hours to go!

That's right, we're down to the last day of the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter, which means there's not long left in which to make sure you're a part of history. The History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks!

Tell all your friends, blog about it, post on Facebook and Twitter, and make sure you've pledged to receive one of the unique rewards on offer. Oh, and don't forget to add the correct amount of postage. ;-)

See you again at 3.00pm GMT tomorrow!