Me: Can I post this bomb to Scotland, please?
Postmistress: No problem. But I'll need to stick a HAZARDOUS label on it.
158 years ago today saw the publication of my hero Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Darwin was staying on the edge of Ilkley Moor at the time, just 13 miles as the curlew flies from where I type these words.
What better excuse could I possibly need for choosing today to launch my own medium opus inspired by another Yorkshire moor…
I’m delighted to announce that my book On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk is now available as both a paperback and Kindle ebook on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other international Amazon websites.
On the Moor shows how a routine walk in the countryside is enhanced by an appreciation of science, history, and natural history. It covers an eclectic mix of topics, with each chapter being inspired by something I encountered or was thinking about during one of my regular walks over the last 25 years on the Moor above my home. These topics include:
- Charles Darwin’s weird experiments and ailments;
- the 17th-century skeptic Sir Thomas Browne;
- Celtic languages;
- Bronze Age burials;
- evolution’s kludgy compromises;
- bird migration;
- DNA barcoding;
- skull anatomy;
- where Earth got its water;
- the mapping of Great Britain;
- grouse disease;
- Scott of the Antarctic;
- how to define a species;
- Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath;
- the Brontës;
- the Laws of Thermodynamics;
- why the sky is blue (and sunsets red);
- the Greenhouse Effect;
- the songs of skylarks;
- snipe courtship;
- vapour trails;
- rooks’ faces;
- the best way to cook a wheatear.
- …Oh, and there’s even a plane crash!
I appreciate I’m a bit biased, but I think you’ll like it.
But don’t feel you have to take my word for it. Here’s what nature writer Neil Ansell had to say about On the Moor:
Richard Carter’s fascinating exploration of his local grouse-moor in West Yorkshire digs deep into natural history, human history, prehistory, and the history of science. His writing is grounded, insightful, and frequently hilarious, and he shows how falling in love with your own local patch can be a gateway to the whole world.
Well, exactly, Neil! (The cheque’s in the post.)
…Are you still here? What are you waiting for? GO AND BUY MY BOOK, DAMMIT!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and order an Aston Martin.
I've just had a totally brilliant idea…
Why doesn't the UK stay in the EU, and leave the European Song Contest instead? That way, we get to make some sort of stupid nationalist point without actually doing something totally bloody insane.
You can thank me later.
BBC: Old £10 note to disappear next year
If you still have any old £10 notes, make sure you spend them before 1 March next year.
The Bank of England has announced that the old paper notes, featuring naturalist Charles Darwin, will no longer be legal tender after that date.
So, the Darwin tenner will become extinct next March. It had a good run, and was superior in all respects to the Jane Austen note that's replacing it.
Jen's brother almost hit the nail on the head the other week. He complained that the newfangled plastic notes can't be folded properly to slip into his pocket. Being plastic, they keep trying to unfold.
Close, but no banana.
The real reason the new plastic notes are so dreadful is that they frequently won't slip nicely into your wallet because some animal without fully opposable thumbs has tried to fold it to slip inside their walletless pocket.
So, everyone loses.
New Scientist: Half the universe’s missing matter has just been finally found
The missing links between galaxies have finally been found. This is the first detection of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe – protons, neutrons and electrons – unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space.
It had slipped down the back of the sofa, apparently.