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The Name Game

The Name Game
By Mark Mason on 16-09-15 11:39. Comments (0)
Today is the 50th anniversary of David Bowie assuming his current name. On September 16th 1965 the man who had been born David Jones decided that his current stagename of Davie Jones might lead people to confuse him with Davy Jones of the Monkees. So instead he adopted the surname of Jim Bowie, he of knife fame. Here are some other ‘name change' facts:

Who put the Graham in Alexander Graham Bell?

Who put the Graham in Alexander Graham Bell?
By Mark Mason on 10-03-13 13:57. Comments (0)
This weekend saw the anniversary of the first ever telephone call, made by Alexander Graham Bell on March 10th 1876. Leaving aside the tricky issue of who actually invented the device (others claim the patent), I was fascinated to learn recently that until the age of 10 the appropriately-named Mr Bell was just plain ‘Alexander'. But he felt left out - his two brothers had middle names. So he asked his father if he could have one too. Told that he could, he chose ‘Graham', and received the name for his 11th birthday.

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Inspired by my book Walk the Lines: the London Underground - Overground, each of these trivia-packed walks uncovers London’s history by following a section of a Tube line ... at street level.
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Rubik's Cube

A Rubik’s cube has more combinations than light travels inches in a century. This is my favourite illustration of how a very small number of factors can produce an absurdly complicated situation. A silly little toy, with only three squares in each of its three dimensions. How can that get complicated? Well, as anyone who's ever tried to solve one just by guessing will tell you, it gets very complicated. The number of possible combinations is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. Forget billions - that's 43 quintillion and change. (In fact the cube's manufacturers just said ‘billions' in their advertising, figuring that no one would know what a quintillion was. It's a billion billion.) The number of inches light travels in a century, meanwhile, is a mere 37,165,049,856,000,000,000. Or thereabouts.