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Your Interesting Links

OK, so here goes with this month’s selection of links to interesting items you might have missed the first time around …

Science & Medicine

Those of you with youngish children … they might like the science magazine Whizz Pop Bang. I wish there had been such a thing when I was young.

Since the 1950s we’ve had the nuclear technology to provide power for perhaps millions of years, without creating humongous, and ever increasing, quantities of radioactive waste. So why aren’t we using it? [VERY LONG READ]

Most of us hate ironing clothes, but you’ll be glad to know that there’s some science which does make it a bit easier.

Changing tack … What is the world’s top predator? Well apart from humans it seems the answer is spiders!

New research suggests that fish evolved in a surprising way before they invaded the land – and it all started with their eyes.

The Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, has been extinct for almost 100 years – or so we think. But there are some new, and credible sounding, sightings in northern Australia (not Tasmania as one would expect). They are sufficiently credible that researchers are following up on them with camera traps. Watch his space; we might get some exciting news.

Those of us who have close relationships with cats know they have wonderful rasp-like tongues. And it turns out those tongues are indeed rather special. [VIDEO]

In a different study researchers are suggesting that cats sailed with the Vikings to conquer the world. As someone commented, I didn’t even know the Vikings had cats!

Still with cats, scientists are doing DNA sequencing on their faecal output to try to understand their gut microbiome. It turns out it is just as variable as the human microbiome.

It’s very unlikely the Neanderthals had domestic cats, but they did share one thing in common with us: dental plaque. By looking at their dental plaque researchers are working out the Neanderthal diet – and again it is highly variable.

While we’re on diet, it’s well known that eating asparagus makes your pee smelly. But not all of us can smell it, because genetics.

Now here’s another real oddball … it seems there is a connection between synesthesia and having absolute musical pitch.

And finally in this section, two posts about things feminine. Firstly Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel talk about their experiences of going through the menopause.

Secondly, news that scientists have created a “lab on a chip” device which mimics the female menstrual cycle, something which could help enormously with research.

Environment

Here’s a look at the environmental impact of pet food manufacture.

History

I love it when new work changes our assumptions about what we know. Here’s news of the archaeological discovery of a Greek tomb which did just that. [LONG READ]

Archaeologists in Egypt have found an unknown statue of Pharaoh Ramses II in the mud under a Cairo slum. Except they haven’t, because it turned out not to be Ramses II but another Pharaoh altogether.

An academic is suggesting that the writings of mediaeval mystic Margery Kempe contain an early recipe for medicinal sweets to cure her religious mania.

In another case of turning what we think we know upside down it looks likely that late medieval (ie. post Black Death) peasant houses survive much more often than we thought, at least in the English Midlands.

While on housing, here’s a potted history of the British bathroom.

Harry Mount, the newly appointed Editor of The Oldie magazine, writes indignantly in the Spectator about how he sees the National Trust dumbing down and spoiling its treasures.

Meanwhile a Dutch researcher has discovered a wonderful collection of 16th-century drawings and watercolours of animals hidden away in the library of the University of Amsterdam.

London

The Londonist takes a look back at photographs of London in 1907.

400 years ago this month Pocahontas died in Gravesend. Our favourite London cabbie, Robert Lordan, looks at six places in the capital which are associated with her.

And Robert Lordan is one of the people featured in a new book For the Love of London on what makes London great by the people who make it great.

Lifestyle

It has long been known that London cabbies have an expanded area of brain associated with mapping, but now it’s been shown that using a satnav switches off the brain’s mapping ability leaving users unable to navigate without their device.

OK, so it is American, but here are eleven everyday objects with unsuspected uses.

On the importance of public loos, and knowing where they are.

People

London Bridge is falling down. What happens when the Queen dies.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally, from the School of Shock Horror … enormous insects and where to find avoid them.

Phew, that was a bit of a marathon! More next month.

Your Monthly Links

They’re off! … On the quest for this month’s links to items you really didn’t want to miss the first time.

Science & Medicine

Many statistics are lies compounded by misleading graphics. Here’s a quick guide to spotting lies in visuals.

Queueing is quite complex, both psychologically and mathematically, so no wonder there are old wives tales about how to queue. But many are wrong, and the right answers are non-intuitive. The Guardian gives us some clues.

We don’t normally think of Winston Churchill as a scientist, but he certainly had a passionate interest in, and knowledge of, the science of his day, even down to writing with great foresight about astrobiology and extra-terrestrial life.

Black chickens. Not just black feathers, but black all the way through: meat, bones and organs. No wonder they’re a special, and expensive, breed. It just seems wrong that so many are bred purely for divination.

Social Sciences & Business

In 1944 the CIA wrote a manual on how dissidents can surreptitiously sabotage an organisation’s productivity and gradually undermine it. Now it has been declassified and released.

Language

So who was Gordon Bennett? The BBC looks at a few of the people behind famous phrases.

Writers, improve your text. Here are a number of filler words and phrases which are superfluous and serve only to bulk out your word count.

Polari is a British slang dating back to at least the 19th century. Used by a number of tightly knit cultures it is perhaps best known for its use by sex workers and the gay subculture. As you might guess the Bible in Polari is quite a hoot; here’s my blog post about it.

Art & Literature

Book blogger Karen Langley has rediscovered Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy. Here’s her blog post about it.

History

Construction of London’s Crossrail has unearthed a vast amount of archaeology. Here are two very different reports on the same Clerkenwell site which includes a completely lost river and a curious pair of plague victims: the first report is from IanVisits and the second from the Guardian.

London

Apart from the above item on Crossrail archaeology there is only one snippet on London this month …

Canals are well known for carrying water not electricity, but IanVisits, again, brings the story of how the Regent’s Canal ended up safely carrying both.

Lifestyle

Life is stressful. Things are continually conspiring against us. We all know that if we get too stressed we get sick. So it’s useful to have a list of major life stressors, with their relative values, so you can work out your likelihood of a stress-related illness.

Unsurprisingly the second most highly-rated stress is divorce. Here are four behaviours which appear to be the most reliable predictors of divorce.

Finally in this section is our favourite zen master talking about immigration and tribalism. It’s a perspective worth reading.

Food & Drink

And finally, finally … Garlic. Whether you love it or hate it trying to supress the resulting odour is far from obvious.

Be good until next month!

Monthly Links

Apologies that due to an incursion of lurgy this month’s collection of links is somewhat late. Anyway here goes …

Science & Medicine

Unlike most other animals, roughly 90% of humans are right-handed. But why?

Another peculiarity of humans is that we are one of only a handful of species which has an appendix. Again, why?

Evidence is emerging that women with severe PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), really do have an aberrant cellular response to their hormones.

How do doctors measure pain? Answer: inconsistently. And they’re trying to understand this better. [Long read]

I suspect most people don’t notice the pigeons around them, but there are three which are common in the UK: the feral pigeon (rock dove), wood pigeon, and collared dove. The first two are genuine natives, but the collard dove is a recent arrival from Asia which set out to conquer Europe.

Sexuality

Ten things you probably didn’t know about the clitoris.
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The here and there of (female) pubic hair through the ages.

On attitudes to masturbation in a relationship.

The BFI now has an archive of erotic films covering the late nineteenth century to around 1960s.

History

And bridging seamlessly into the really historical, it seems the Ancient Chinese were into sex toys, just as much as modern generations.

Researchers are getting really quite good at dating ancient objects and events. An ancient volcanic eruption has now been firmly dated using fossilised tree rings.

The myth of Medieval Small Beer — no, everyone didn’t drink beer, rather than water, in olden days.

Someone has found what is alleged to be the long-lost skirt from one of Queen Elizabeth I’s dresses being used as a church alter cloth.

A research student has been able to uncover the movements and exploits of a Renaissance spy, who successfully masqueraded as a garden designer to the rich and powerful.

London

Each year IanVisits provides a calendar of the gun salutes in London for the year.
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Crossrail have unearthed yet more archaeology in an unexpected place: jammed and pickled under the old Astoria nightclub.

There’s a section of tunnel under the Thames on the Northern line tube which was bombed and flooded in 1940. And it is still sealed shut.

To go with the previous item, here are a few vintage pictures of London tube stations.

And, just in time for your next pub quiz, here are a few things you may not know about London buses.

Lifestyle

Some thoughts on how to talk meaningfully with children. And not just children, I suggest.

Even the most macho bloke has his bit of feminine. Here are some on the feminine things men would do if they thought they wouldn’t be judged for it.

Unless you’re doing a really dirty job (like down a coal mine) it’s likely you’re showering much too often for the good of your skin.

And finally … Just what did those prudish Victorians have to hide?

More next month.

Your Monthly Links

We’re starting the New Year with our monthly collection of links to articles which have caught our eye over the last month. Science-y stuff first — it’s not hard, but it is downhill from there.

Science & Medicine

Scientists have been hard at work over the last couple of years reconstructing the evolutionary history of elves and elf-like creatures. Here’s a summary and here’s the original work. I note, however that they have not included the Common Garden Gnome!

Synaesthesia is a strange affliction where people see words as colours, or hear sounds as smells. Just to make things even more bizarre, here’s a story about a woman who sees the calendar as a hula-hoop.

It has long been supposed that women who live together synchronise their menstrual cycles. Kate Clancy lifts the lid on a total lack of convincing evidence.

Meanwhile at the other end of lady things, it seems that pregnancy causes long-term changes to brain structure. Which could explain a lot!

Sexuality

Some students at Bristol University have made a (very short) film to get girls talking about pubic hair and why the do (or don’t) remove it.

Why do we have orgasms? Apart from the obvious need in men, it is being suggested that orgasm is like a sexual currency — reward, payment and cementing the contract.

Environment

Deep in the woods there are still pagans living in Europe, and they’ve been there a looooong time!

Art & Literature

A rare painting of Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace has been acquired by the V&A for the nation and saved from export.

The Madras Literary Society Library is a 200-year-old circulating and contains unknown treasures which are decaying through neglect. Now a group of volunteer members are working on the task of conserving as much of the material as possible.

History

Anyone who has delved into their family history will no doubt have noticed more than a few Christmas Day weddings. Findmypast explains why this was so popular.

London

London Underground’s Piccadilly Line has been struggling recently. London Reconnections explains what’s happened.

­Here are 13 things you probably didn’t know about Waterloo Bridge.

So who thought the River Thames was filthy and lifeless? Not so any more as it seems there is a lot move going on under the surface than we think.

Anyone who knows Kensington High Street or Notting Hill Gate areas of London has probably been past The Churchill Arms pub because it is always decked out in cascades of flowers. Here are some other things you didn’t know about the pub. (One day I will stop and have a pint there!)

Lifestyle

This collection wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory piece on nudism, so here’s a piece on improving body confidence by going nude.

Which reminds me … why is it so popularly believed that at Christmas/Winter Solstice/Yule/New Year we should all get naked, drink mead and party like a Pagan?

Here is a collection of life-saving tips which are mostly obvious when you know them!

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally, the great German Christmas pickled cucumber tradition, Weihnachtsgurke. Rapido, where art thou?

More next month!

Your Monthly Links

Here’s this month’s instalment of links to items of interest, or amusement, you may have missed he first time round.

Science & Medicine

Who thought leprosy was only a biblical and medieval affliction? Well it ain’t, ‘cos it seems British red squirrels carry leprosy — only the third known species after humans and nine-banded armadillos.

Who’d be a scientist’s cat? Not content with abuse by Schrödinger, scientists continue to drop cats in aid properly understanding their self-righting mechanism.

Trees do it in secret. Communicate, that is. Ecologist Peter Wohlleben thinks he knows what trees feel and how they communicate. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

The Guardian has a very interesting page which (goes some way) to showing you how visually impaired people see the world.

So why is it that French mothers don’t suffer from bladder incontinence? It sounds deeply dodgy, but it does appear to be a thing.

So there was this contemporary of Isaac Newton who produced the foundations of the current Information Age. Yes, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

Sexuality

So here’s yet another article suggesting that women don’t actually know what orgasm is. I had hoped we’d got past all this by now!

Environment

So here are ten things about our cutest invasive species: cats. If they weren’t so cute they’d not get away with half what they do.

There’s an interesting new theory about how the brown rat has conquered every city around the globe.

Language

Oxford University Press have recently published a massive new dictionary. It lists every surname found in the UK (including imported ones like Patel) which is held by 100 or more people. That’s almost 50,000. Not just that, but the OUP and academics have done deep research into all these names to determine their origins, often finding previously unknown documentary evidence. Want a copy? OK, well it’s four volumes and will set you back £400. But they reckon there will be an online accessible version.

Art & Literature

Prepare to be amazed. Artist Charles Young has created a complete animated metropolis from paper.

History

It seems the Romans really were ahead of the game. Researchers have discovered metallic ink used on some of the scrolls from Herculaneum (neighbour of Pompeii). That’s around 500 years earlier than previously thought.

Birth by C-section is rather (too?) common these days. But in days of yore, before modern medicine, C-sections were only performed in order to save a child by sacrificing the mother. It was rare for the mother to survive. But new evidence suggests that Beatrice of Bourbon survived a C-section as early as 1337. The previous record was of a Swiss case in 1500.

London

London blogger IanVisits walks the route London’s Roman Wall.

In which Diamond Geezer considers becoming a London cabbie.

Many pubs have dutiful dogs to look after them, but there are London pubs with characterful cats too.

Lifestyle

Just in case you hadn’t realised, there are actually good scientific reasons why you should always be naked. What’s more I can vouch for this from personal experience.

It seems we have it all wrong about addiction. We need to build “rat heaven” for humans rather than prison cells, as this video explains.

To quote poet Philip Larkin: They fuck you up, your mum and dad / They may not mean to, but they do / They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you. So yes, here are 30 ways in which your childhood can affect your success as an adult. Which explains a lot.

I have a dream that one day the medical profession will make up their minds about alcohol consumption. Now some new research suggests a beer a day helps prevent stroke and heart disease.

Not content with London, Diamond Geezer takes an away-day to Lowestoft, Mrs M’s home town.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally … it seems that in the Middle Ages witches stole penises and kept them as pets or even grew them on trees as fruit. [The mind boggles over whether the fruit would be sold by the butcher or the greengrocer!]

More next month …

Monthly Interesting Links

You just can’t get the staff these days. This month’s issue of interesting links to items you may have missed is late again. Apologies. And there is a lot in this month, so let’s get going.

Science & Medicine

Our first item is a bit technical, but interesting … It seems that neural networks (models for what makes our brains work) have a deep connection with the nature of the Universe.

And now to some much easier topics …

We all get paper cuts from time to time, but why are they so painful?

Something else we all get from time to time is bags under the eyes. But why?

And in another BBC magazine story here’s something slightly scary … just what does live under our fingernails?

There’s a very odd and rare condition where people’s internal organs are arranged the wrong way round, in mirror image — it’s called situs inversus. This piece is about what it means and what it’s like if you have it.

One of the most demanding, important, and mostly unseen, medical specialisms is being an anaesthetist. No surgery can happen without them and your life really is in their hands. This is what it means to be an anaesthetist.

Sexuality

The clitoris is so often not understood and doesn’t get the attention it should (from its owner as well as from men). This piece talks about why this is important.

After a change in the law, Italy’s Supreme Court has ruled that public masturbation is not a crime as long as it isn’t done in the presence of minors. This could <cough> get interesting.

So why do polyamorous people fear ‘coming out’? Spoiler: mostly misunderstandings.

Lest anyone doubt it, sex workers are ordinary people like the rest of us. This was realised by a New York Times reporter who was investigating whether prostitution should be a crime (in the USA).

Environment

OK, so now for a complete change of tone. Here’s a forester and environmentalist who ​thinks trees talk to each other.

Things have always come in standard sizes, haven’t they? Well no, the concept of standard sizes really only starts with a German architect in the 1920s.

Social Sciences & Business

In case you’ve not caught up with it yet, here’s a piece on the UK’s new £5 note.

London

Did you know that London’s Monument (to the Great Fire on 1666) contains a secret laboratory?

Here are ten secrets about the Thames which you probably didn’t know.

And equally fascinating, just how do London bus routes get their numbers?

OK, so more secrets: here are ten places in London you’ll probably never visit.

Lifestyle

Not all of us see them as a necessity, so why do we bother with clothes? And no, it isn’t all about keeping warm.

Here’s another take on the health benefits of being a nudist.

Food & Drink

I bet we all do this, but here’s why you shouldn’t wrap food in aluminium foil before cooking it. Yes, its the appliance of science!

The Five Second Rule. Myth or not?

Here’s the latest finding: against all expectations it seems that hard-fat cheese is good for us.

Chris Leftwich is the one man in London who knows everything about fish and seafood. Londonist has the story.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally for this month, here are the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes for research which makes you laugh and then think.

Toodle, pip!

Missing Links

Here’s our monthly round-up of items you may have missed previously. Slightly late again — apologies! There’s a lot here, this month too!

Science & Medicine

Research is showing that magpies possess self-awareness to rival that of primates, dolphins and elephants.

Humans are practically bald and are one of the very few (almost) hairless mammals which may be why we thrived as a species.

Now here is something which looks odd … it seems that women who have had their appendix removed are more fertile. Ditto for tonsillectomy.

So, the age old question … do women’s periods really synchronise when they live together? Spoiler: no.

A pain in the guts? Research is suggesting that the range and quantity of microbes in our guts may have a powerful effect on conditions like depression, MS and obesity.

However eating yoghurt is not enough to keep those gut living microbes in balance. [Long read]

Just like I’ve always known, travel sickness is a glitch between the brain, the ear, the eye and the stomach.

Now here’s one for the lads out there … just how big is a fart? Answer: somewhere between a bottle of nail polish and a can of drink. Maggie Koerth-Baker has the low down.

Your dentist knows — but likely won’t admit — what you have suspected: flossing is a waste of time.

IFLscience looks at the theories as to why time seems to pass more quickly as we get older.

Sexuality

The French (only the French?) have created a 3D model of the clitoris as an aid to their schoolchildren’s sex education.

Environment

So what is it really like to drive a Eurostar train? Andrew English in the Daily Telegraph finds it’s more complex than one might imagine.

Social Sciences & Business

So here’s something else we’ve always known: people who don’t have children benefit our environment more than any campaign. And that should be valued.

Noreen and I have done jury service three times between us. What are your chances of being called more than once.

Here’s our favourite zen master, Brad Warner, on whether “White Buddhism” is cultural appropriation.

History

There is something special on the Parisian road outside La Santé prison … the city’s last vespasienne urinal (below).

When the US Army took control of Japan after WWII they confiscated thousands of secret Japanese military maps, covering much of Asia, shipped them back to the US and dispersed them to libraries across the country for safekeeping. Now they are being brought back together and their historical interest realised.

London

In this new section, we look at items about my home city.

Once upon a time there was a plan to build a ginormous “Pyramid of Death” in London. Luckily it never happened.

Time Out looks at the complete history of Paddington Station.

Meanwhile Londonist takes a look at the history of floods on the Underground.

In another item from IanVisits he looks at the old North London Line which ran from Broad Street to Richmond, and is now part of the Overground.

It always surprises me what people can find by way of historic artefacts washed up on the Thames foreshore.

Londonist (again) looks at the top 10 of London’s “spy sites”.

And finally for London, here are nine places that apparently Londoners never go.

Shock, Horror, Humour

The Atlantic brings us the unbelievable, mysterious and Byzantine story of Jesus’s wife. [Very long read]

I often think that academics and medics, more than most of us, get up to some exceedingly strange things. One Dr Bruce Ragsdale has developed a taxonomy of the Occlupanida — this little plastic clips that are used to close plastic bread wrappers etc. Very odd.

And finally, thanks to the Guardian, Yes Minister explains everything about Brexit.

Phew! More next month …

Your Interesting Links

Here is our monthly selection of links to articles you may have missed the first time around.

Science & Medicine

Honeymooning scientist discovers unknown giant, swimming, venomous centipede by accident in Thailand

Fur. Where did it come from, and why? Is it in any way related to feathers? It isn’t quite as obvious as one might think.

While talking about fur, cats are living much longer and healthier lives than ever before. When we first had cats, some 35 years ago, our vet said that living anything past 12 was a bonus; now it is increasingly normal for them to live into their late teens and even into their early twenties. Of the four cats we’ve lost over the years their ages at death were (in order) 12, 17, 16, 18. Apparently this longevity is in large part due to better nutrition and advances in veterinary medicine.

Although largely reviled, wasps should be valued instead. There are thousands of species, each in its own niche, but all are incredibly useful and efficient predators of other creepy-crawlies. They’re also very useful pollinators. Please cherish your wasps!

Some medics have managed to create a very simple, and very cheap, test for diseases like malaria. And it can be used anywhere, although the “test strip” does need to be mailed back to the lab.

Research from the US is suggesting that older people who use marijuana are actually saving the health services as they use fewer prescription drugs, and that opioid overdose rates are down significantly. Well, you don’t say!

Sexuality

Female athletes all too often have to undergo humiliating sex-testing. Here’s the low-down on an unacceptable practice that would never be tolerated if applied to males. [Long read]

Dr Luisa Dillner in the Guardian takes a look at whether it is more hygienic to remove one’s pubic hair. Conclusion: no it is likely to be less so — but then Fashion!

Social Sciences & Business

Here’s the Guardian‘s simple, nine-point, guide to spotting dodgy statistics and seeing through the obfuscation of politicians (and others).

It may seem incredible, but everyone on this planet is your cousin. What price racism and bigotry now?

Language

We have a perfectly good four-letter word beginning with C— and it’s use is becoming more common. So why is it still taboo? Rachel Braier in the Guardian (again) has some thoughts in its praise.

Art & Literature

We’ve covered miniature carvings from pencil lead before but this miniature landscape with elephants is just stunning!

History

Returning to the topic of marijuana, it seems that our prehistoric ancestors, those founders of western civilisation, were dealing in dope.

Archaeologists are using ‘personal hygiene sticks’ excavated from a 2,000-year-old latrine pit to uncover evidence of the transmission of infectious diseases along the Silk Road.

Over the centuries western civilisation has had some strange beliefs about nudity.

It seems there are a lot of mulberry trees in London and many date from the 17th and 18th centuries. Here’s a history of a few of them.

Charles Dickens was born in 1812, and when he was a teenager London already had horseless buses.

OK, so, Londoners … how much do you really know about Trafalgar Square?

And finally on both History and London … here are a dozen things you maybe didn’t know about St James’s Park — including the pelicans.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally … in Iceland they have had to divert a road so they don’t disturb the Elves. I’m told the same has happened in Ireland, but I find that much less surprising!

Your Interesting Links

So here’s this month’s collection of pointers to articles you may have missed the first time round. And you’ll be pleased to know there is (almost) no mention of the political omnishambles in the UK.

Science & Medicine

Ooo-eerrr. Did you know you can actually see the evidence for evolution on your body? Goose-bumps. Ear muscles. And more. [Short video]

Why do we have so much trouble with our modern reinforced concrete but ancient unreinforced structure don’t?

Bigfoot — the American version of the Yeti. What if it actually was real?

Sexuality

[Not for the faint-hearted] One man tells what it is like to have 90 degree bend in his penis. Apart from painful, that is.

[NSFW] Girls, have you got a pain in c***? If so it might be vulvodynia. And like bent pricks it can be just as painful and is often curable.

[NSFW] Female Ejaculation. Myth or reality? Here’s some more investigation.

Environment

Given that we should all be concerned to conserve water, mathematicians reckon that we should always pee in the shower.

Beavers. They’re definitely beginning to make a difference to the ecology down in Devon. And it’s all for the good.

Samphire, aka Glasswort. It’s that tiny green, succulent-like plant that is sometimes served with fish. And it is a superb defender, and stabiliser, of our coastlines.

Social Sciences & Business

I promised (almost) nothing about the UK political situation. This is the one exception, and it is really sociology we already knew. There are five lessons which have been brought into sharp focus by the current mess.

I find it surprising that apparently pet ownership is in decline. This article looks at some of the possible reasons.

No apology for returning to one of my regular themes: nudity. Jess Staufenberg in the Independent argues that nudity and naturism is ‘best way to teach sex education’ to children. I agree; and it certainly seems to work for the Dutch.

History

Edward Johnston designed his iconic typeface for London Underground during WWI and, although it has been tweaked over the years, Transport for London have brought it up to date for its centenary. This is the history.

Shock, Horror, Humour

Finally, not so much something shocking or amusing but something philosophical to make you think from zen master, Brad Warner. What if we’re wrong? About everything. And there’s good (if circumstantial) evidence that we might be. And there’s a follow up on life after death.

More next month.

Your Interesting Links

Slightly later than planned, and hence slightly longer than usual, here is my monthly list of articles you might have missed before …

Science & Medicine

Kazakhstan is a treasure trove of naturally wild and flavourful apple varieties.

Welcome the tiny ingestible origami robot which can be used for repairing wounds.

Ocean scientists have been using message in a bottle techniques for over 100 years, and they still are.

One mouse, two mouse, three mouse … Can cats count mice?

And still on felines … can a cat have an existential crisis? Spoiler: yes. [Long read]

Ear wax is very strange and mysterious stuff. [Long read]

Sexuality

OK, girls, so does the ‘G-Spot’ actually exist?

Do humans actually send out airborne aphrodisiac pheromones to attract potential mates? Erm … dunno.

Social Sciences & Business

On the social and design engineering of high heels. [Long read]

How many friends do you have? Are they really your friends?

Alain de Botton on why you will marry the wrong person. And there’s not much you can do about it!

Language

What’s it like learning to talk all over again? Learning Chinese as an adult.

Art & Literature

From mega-libraries down to nano-libraries … here’s the story of London’s smallest library.

Wow! The whole of Samuel Pepys’ Diary is now online.

History

It seems that Ice Age Europe wasn’t populated by who we thought.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge have discovered that one of their Ancient Egyptian coffins holds them youngest known mummified foetus.

Ancient toilets can tell us a lot about the lifestyle of their users, and it seems the flush toilet goes further back than we thought. [Long read]

The colour of monastic habits was much more fraught with controversy than one might suspect.

A plague on all your houses. New research suggests that the Black Death was even more devastating than we thought.

Ianvisits reviews the exhibition of the lost library of the Tudor magician John Dee.

Slowly coming more up to date, here’s a look at the background and organisation of the Gunpowder Plot.

An unsuspected mass grave in Durham is though to hold the remains of prisoners from the Battle of Dunbar.

Investigations into a 1661 document awarding £20 to Major Smith.

Lady Antonia Fraser on the sexy and scandalous truth about Versailles and the new BBC series about the same.

How old is that London house? Is it Georgian Or Victorian?

London was devastated during World War 2. The recently published LCC bomb damage maps reveal all. It’s a magnificent volume!

There have been lots of weird and wonderful proposals for building in London which have come to naught. Here are some, arranged by Underground station.

Food & Drink

How to tell real Parmigiano Reggiano from imposters. Science now has a way.

People

So here are two pieces about the forensic mysteries of identifying unknown bodies.

First the mystery of Saddleworth Moor: who was the man they’ve nicknamed Neil Dovestone?

And in the US, just as here in the UK, the identification of nameless bodies can take years before the mysteries are solved.

Shock, Horror, Humour

So here’s a little quiz to end with … What is London’s longest tunnel? It’s OK, I got it wrong too.

More next month.