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Ringo at 75

Ringo at 75
By Mark Mason on 07-07-15 09:32. Comments (0)
Dear old Ringo Starr turns 75 today. Three-quarters of a century of peace signs, curious vowel sounds that sit halfway between Liverpool and LA, and an inescapable sense of naffness. Here are five facts about the man who was once accused (by Jasper Carrot, though you often see it credited to Paul McCartney or John Lennon) of not being ‘the best drummer in the world - in fact he wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles' ...

Apophenia - what's the one thing the SAS have in common with actors?

Apophenia - what's the one thing the SAS have in common with actors?
By Mark Mason on 13-07-12 10:44. Comments (0)
You wouldn't think actors had much in common with the SAS, would you? Apart from a sense of the dramatic, though in the SAS's case they back it up with a bit more than a vodka and tonic and a moan about how their agent just isn't getting them the right auditions. But there is one other thing shared by the two groups of people, and it's an example of a weird thing our brains engage in called ‘apophenia'.

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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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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.