Global Lab – New Episode – Seeing Cities

I edited the latest episode of The Global Lab, which features QMUL art historians, Emilie Oléron Evans (my wife) and her colleague, Hannah Williams, in conversation with Duncan Hay.

In this episode, Hannah talks about her digital mapping project,, which examines the changing pattern of where artists were living in Paris throughout the eighteenth century, and Emilie discusses the distinctive perspective of Nikolaus Pevsner, the architectural historian, best known for his ‘Buildings of England’ series of guide books.

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A Nice Function Puzzle

A nice little function/word puzzle here. Had me infuriated for some time.

You can find a list of all 110 words that were submitted on Twitter, along with their A and B values at M Shah’s blog, here (you need to scroll down to Activity #3). Be careful of spoilers though, because the solution is given just after the list of words.

Exit Strategy – A puzzle game

They say no one ever escaped from the New Reykjavik Penitentiary, probably because no one ever did, but as one of NeRP’s newest inmates, you’re hoping you’ll be an exception to the rule…

This puzzle game looks like a text adventure, but is actually something rather different. Make sure to set your frustration threshold to high before you give it a go.

At the end, you will get a score out of 1000. Obviously, nothing short of full full marks constitutes a victory.


This puzzle does not require any mathematical knowledge at all, though you will need Python 3, along with a couple of basic packages (numpy and random).

If you are new to Python, I recommend installing the Anaconda distribution (, then you can open and run the file in Spyder.

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How to fill Philbert – MINI-PUZZLE

Here’s a bonus puzzle inspired by a recent Christmas purchase.

I bought this jolly fellow in Covent Garden:

We named him Philbert, for some reason.

As you can see, Philbert has two cubes in his stomach (dice, basically), each of which has a digit on each face. By rearranging the dice, you can count the days until Christmas.

Puzzle 1 (EASY)

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More Christmas Maths!

OK, so I’ve come out of my long period of digital aestivation and returned to my blog and to various social media platforms.

Rather excitingly, a new version of Hannah and my Christmas maths book is out today! There’s a new chapter about cake, so that’s nice.

There’s also a US version this year, in which we spell things differently and provide extra info on bizarre British festive traditions (though how they get through the day without detonating a small explosive in a cardboard tube and fighting over a pack of mini-screwdrivers, I have no idea).

The UK Edition on

The US Edition on

Here are the two new covers, side by side:

UK Version

US Version