I is for Kikunae Ikeda

Prof Ikeda

When I was a boy scout, one of our occasional activities would be the blindfold taste test. Blindfolded and holding our noses, things like sugar, coffee and fruit juice would be placed on our tongue and we had to guess what they were.

The point of the exercise was to demonstrate the importance of sight and smell to the taste experience, and also the way that our tongue has areas that sense the four basic tastes – bitter, sour, salt and sweet. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Cereal fix: East Ayrshire Council may have tripled its budget to repair road potholes but is still using Coco Pops as a temporary fix. I think someone may be having a laugh.

Snail’s pace: The cold snap put an end to the annual Snail Racing Championship at the Dartmoor Union pub because the ‘competitors’ have gone into hibernation. Read more ›››

H is for Matthew Henson

Matthew Henson was the first African-American arctic explorer and the first person to reach the Geographic North Pole.

He was born Matthew Alexander Henson in Maryland in 1866, the son of two freeborn black sharecroppers. His mother died when he was young and his father a few years later and aged eleven Henson left home. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Karma: An early example of the Indian snakes and ladders game from 1800 from The Royal Asiatic Society can now be found online. The game was originally a moral journey to achieve the supreme Brahman status of pure being.

That’s handy: A colony of the critically endangered red handfish (a fish that walks on its ‘hands’) has been spotted near a reef miles off Tasmania’s south-east coast. Read more ›››

G is for Thomas Blake Glover

Thomas Blake Glover was one of the first western businessmen to establish links with Japan and is remembered as the ‘Scottish Samurai’ responsible for bringing what was an isolated nation into the modern industrial and commercial world.

Glover was born in Fraserburgh, Scotland, in 1838, the son of a coastguard officer and, on leaving school, he joined the trading company, Jardine Matheson and first visited Japan in 1857. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Hanging out: Swiss Olympic skier Fabian Bosch has made a name for himself even before he goes on the piste with this escalator stunt on Instagram, not to mention his two-man bobsled run.

Reptile dysfunction: Iran’s former chief-of-staff has accused the west of using lizards to ‘attract atomic waves’ and spy on his country’s nuclear programme. Read more ›››

F is for Guido Franch

Like the secret of immortality or turning lead into gold, there are arcane legends as old as time, but none stranger than the magical petrol pill promoted by Guido Franch.

Franch was born in Livingston, Illinois, in 1910 and left school at the age of twelve to become a coal miner. He might have remained a blue collar worker except that in the 1950s he ‘discovered’ how to turn water into gasoline. Read more ›››

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