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Fighting on the beaches

Fighting on the beaches
By Mark Mason on 04-06-19 13:26. Comments (0)
Did you know that the half-finished manuscript of one of the 20th century's most famous novels was carried around the battlefield during D-Day?

A pilgrimage to Lord's

A pilgrimage to Lord's
By Mark Mason on 09-07-13 10:22. Comments (0)
After the incredible first Test at Trent Bridge, the Ashes roadshow now heads south to the capital. The second Test is being hosted by the venue that, whenever I'm pushed to name a favourite place in London, often gets the nod: Lord's.

State Opening of Parliament - the rehearsal

State Opening of Parliament - the rehearsal
By Mark Mason on 08-05-12 12:12. Comments (0)
Tomorrow sees the Queen popping down from her home to the other famous palace in SW1, the Palace of Westminster. Yes, it's State Opening of Parliament time. Black Rod knocking on the door, the Lord Chancellor walking backwards and all that. (Unless you're Ken Clarke a couple of years ago - he forgot to walk backwards, and therefore turned his back on the Queen. Oops.) All very silly, and not really that interesting. What I found fascinating, though, was watching the rehearsals for the State Opening, which took place in the dead of night last Friday.

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Walks

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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Quizzes

Tailor made quizzes
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Podcasts

Aural delights from the world of trivia
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Content

Big Ben

On a visit to Big Ben, I was told that if you stand at the bottom of the tower with a portable radio and listen to the chimes on Radio 4 (they still transmit them live), you hear them on the radio before you hear them ‘for real’. I couldn’t believe it – but was intrigued enough to try it for myself. And you know what? It’s absolutely true. The bongs come out of the radio a fraction of a second before they reach your ears from the top of the tower. It’s something so silly, so counter-intuitive, that you have to tell people. (Well, I did.) Researching the explanation, I found that it’s because radio waves travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) rather than the 700 or so miles per hour at which sound waves travel. The signal travelling down the wire from the microphone to the BBC goes at the speed of light too. Hence the radio version overtaking the real one.

I realised that this would be the perfect way to teach the principle in school physics lessons. Instead of a boring teacher droning on that ‘radio waves travel at the speed of light’, illustrate it with this beautiful and quirky little fact. The kids will remember it then. I certainly would have done if my physics teacher had taken this approach. As it was I had to wait until I heard a piece of so-called ‘trivia’ in my thirties.