Last week I appeared on radio and in print, both in heavily edited forms. The editing process is like looking through glass: it distorts but you can still see what was meant. Tamsin Hughes, a BBC Radio 4 producer, telephoned me in October, and interviewed me two weeks later, for a couple of hours. The interview was used in a half-hour programme, “3D in Perspective,” broadcast on 7 December. Our two-hour conversation was edited down to four snippets, interwoven amongst three other interviewees and the presenter’s script. Tamsin put enormous effort into weaving a compelling story from hours of source material. I think she recordedRead More →

At midnight on the morning of Friday 1 October, I change from Dr Dodgson to Professor Dodgson. No ceremony. No fanfare. Just a quiet switch of title. It feels most peculiar. When I changed from Mr to Dr, there was a ceremony, in Latin, in a fancy building. I went in a Mr and came out a Dr. When my wife changed from Miss to Mrs, there was a ceremony, thankfully not in Latin, in a beautiful church. She went in a Miss and came out a Mrs. But this switch from Dr to Prof has no ceremony: it just happens. It has been aRead More →

In 1955, Tom Lehrer wrote The Elements, setting the names of all the then-known elements to the tune of the Major-General’s patter song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Lehrer’s song is prevented from being a useful pedagogic tool by the fact that he does not list the elements in order. When my daughter was one year old, I decided to see if I could entertain her by singing the elements, to the same tune, but this time in order. It certainly entertained me and had the beneficial effect that I can now remember the first four lines of the table perfectly. My daughter, nowRead More →