Monthly Archives: May 2011

Peter Llewelyn Davies, Alastair Grahame and Christopher Robin Milne

As an infant, Peter Llewelyn Davies’ nanny would take him for walks in Kensington Gardens with his older brothers, George and Jack. During one of these walks the boys befriended J. M. Barrie who entertained them with stories, including one … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Literature | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Eratosthenes Measures the Circumference of the Earth With a Stick

The ancient Greek polymath Eratosthenes of Cyrene was nicknamed beta because he was thought to be the second best in the world at every field of endeavour. A friend of Archimedes and head librarian at Alexandria, he was accomplished in … Continue reading

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Bread and Almonds

Marzipan There are some words in the English language that have shifted repeatedly through time, geography and meaning to reach us in their present form. Marzipan may have had the most interesting journey of all. It may be a derivative … Continue reading

Posted in Etymology | Tagged , , , ,

Clownfish, Pathology and Genius

Albert Einstein once worked as a voice actor for an animated film. He provided the voice of a clownfish searching for his son after he was taken by divers from the Great Barrier Reef. The plot might sound familiar since … Continue reading

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Quick Thinking

A useful anecdote for the next time you find yourself in a war zone, from Aidan Hartley’s The Zanzibar Chest, an account of his travails in Africa as a war correspondent. To me, the hero of them all was Patrick, … Continue reading

Posted in War | Tagged ,

Adidas, Puma and sibling rivalry

In 1924, in the German town of Herzogenaurach, brothers Adolf (Adi) and Rudolf Dassler formed the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. They specialised in sports shoes which were initially produced in the laundry of their parents’ home. The company prospered after … Continue reading

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The Gun that Began Two World Wars

On August 5 1914, shortly after the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, the German ship SS Pfalz attempted to leave Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne, Australia. A shot was fired across the ship’s bow from a 6 inch Mk … Continue reading

Posted in War | Tagged , | 2 Comments