Britain’s Spectacular (and Sometimes Mysterious) Hill Figures

It's become a popular pastime to dig up weird and wonderful topography using Google Maps. Shipwrecks, for example. Or massive airplane graveyards. But it can also be used to study a uniquely British tradition, the humble hill figure (or not so humble, if you're familiar with the Cerne Abbas Giant). Read More >>

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How to Cook Virtually Anything in a Rice Cooker

It's true! This magical device isn't just capable of cooking delicious rice; it can also be used to bake bread, make porridge, cook a mean chilli, a chunky frittata, and even chocolate cake. It's an ingenious way to prepare delicious food on a budget, with the added bonus that you won't make a huge mess in the process. Read More >>

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How to Get Even More Out of a Raspberry Pi

No doubt about it, the Raspberry Pi is nothing short of a homebrew phenomenon. Since its release in February 2012, the British micro-mini-computer has enabled legions of amateur inventors to develop projects both weird and wonderful. Here's a run-down of the most impressive applications, ranging from weather stations to retro arcades to a supercomputer array on a Lego rack. See if any of them inspire you to do the same. Read More >>

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Bypass Your PC’s Crummy Built-In Soundcard With an External DAC/Headphone Amplifier

If you consider yourself an audiophile, and have a large collection of digital music, you've probably spent a large chunk of change on a pair of headphones to plug into your PC or Mac. But here's the kicker: those headphones are only as good as the soundcard installed on your computer. And if you have a crummy soundcard, your music will sound lacklustre regardless of the luxury cans you slap over your ears. Read More >>

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How to Learn a Foreign Language for Free

In the modern hustle-bustle of 21st century living, there's every chance that work, study or romance will take you overseas into another country. If you want to make a good impression, it doesn't hurt to bone up on your foreign language skills, and what’s more, it’s easy to do without spending a penny. Read More >>

how to
How to Get More Out of Your Jawbone UP Using Third-Party Apps and IFTTT

So you've got a Jawbone UP. Congratulations. Now you’re rocking the dinky little fitness tracker on your wrist, you're well on the path towards healthier living. But did you know that, in addition to the standard UP app that is used to log your daily movement and sleep cycle (iOS/Android), there's a whole suite of apps to make it even more useful? Read More >>

The British Carmakers Who Fought a Polio Epidemic With Iron Lungs

Last month was the 100th anniversary of the first cars made by William Morris (1877-1963). The Morris-Oxford Light was a small car with a 1018cc four-cylinder side-valve engine, made in 1913. But William Morris wasn't just a titan of the British car industry; he was also a philanthropist who manufactured and donated over 5,000 iron lungs to hospitals across the UK. Read More >>

Radiation Shielding, and Ten Other Uses for Poop

Poop has been around for as long as there have been animals to produce it. It's a constant, brown, smelly presence in all of our lives. But over the long stretch of history, humanity has come up with some brilliant and clever uses for it. Advance apologies for spoiling your lunch. Read More >>

the dreamers
How the Curta Calculator, Intended as a Gift For Hitler, Kept its Inventor Alive During WWII

Before the arrival of the microchip in the 1970s, a maths boffin didn’t have the luxury of a portable electronic calculator. They carried an abacus, a blackboard, and a bit of chalk on their person at all times. But wait, we stand corrected – for a brief spell in the second half of the twentieth century, there was an alternative, an ingenious device known as the Curta Read More >>

the dreamers
Crowdsourced Transcription Project Discovers (Bad) Cookery Recipes By 18th Century Philosopher

Take a walk through University College London, and you may stumble across a wooden display cabinet containing a human skeleton with a wax head, wearing period dress. These are the remains of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Enlightenment philosopher and spiritual founder of UCL. And thanks to an online crowdsourcing initiative called Transcribe Bentham, his work has taken on a new lease of life. Read More >>

the dreamers
Harry Grindell Matthews, Madcap Inventor of the Death Ray and the Sky Projector

Many inventors qualify as dreamers, but precious few captured the popular imagination in the same manner as Harry Grindell Matthews. In the early twentieth century he produced a litany of devices that were the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, chief among them the "Death Ray" and the "Sky Projector". But his reluctance to explain how they worked caused him to frequently butt heads with a sceptical establishment. Read More >>

the dreamers
“A Rather Unusual Way to Write Books”: The First Literary Work Produced With a Word Processor

An Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland has identified the first literary work to be written with a word processor, instead of a typewriter. The book is Bomber, by Len Deighton, a World War II thriller published to critical acclaim in 1970. What follows is a magnificent tale which sees several fellow authors' names being put forward for this accolade, before Deighton himself was fingered. Read More >>

We Watched Twenty Minutes’ Footage from Alien Prequel Prometheus (And It Was Awesome)

We've just clapped our eyes on 20 minutes of footage from Ridley Scott's Prometheus. Nothing spoilerific, but enough to give us a better idea of the world and its characters. Already on the verge of a full-blown nerdgasm, we were also treated to a Q&A session with director Scott, and his cast of Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace. Read on for the full details. Read More >>

lightning review
Titanic 3D: Spectacular Visuals, But Also Spectacular Arse-Ache

It's an epic film, laden with eleven Oscars and one of the biggest box-office returns in history. It also has a running time of biblical proportions, and many backsides were irretrievably numbed by the experience. But do you really need to see Titanic in glorious, stereoscopic 3D? Director James Cameron thinks you do. Read More >>

A Scenic Tour of Wartime Britain’s Five Intelligence Hubs

There were many fronts of battle in World War II, and military intelligence had a part to play in all of them. Scattered all over the country were bases and labs where spies, analysts and technicians feverishly worked on cracking codes, studying photos, making maps and designing weapons. Here's a list of the five most important: Read More >>