Peter Lynch

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Flight plan: the geodesic arcs – one northerly, one southerly – show the shortest routes between Singapore and Quito. They are shorter than the line of the equator between the two points as Earth is not a perfect sphere

Geodesy is the study of Earth’s shape and size, and of variations in its gravitational field. Earth was originally believed to be flat, but many clues(...)

Joseph Fourier helped solve many of the equations of physics.

Joseph Fourier, born just 250 years ago, introduced a wonderful idea that revolutionised science and mathematics: any function or signal can be broken(...)

Italian mathematician Gerolamo Cardano, the founder of probability.
Cubic skulduggery and intrigue

Western civilization woke with a start after the slumbers of the medieval age. Universities in Bologna, Oxford, Salamanca, Paris and elsewhere began t(...)

The flu vaccine: Vaccination strategies are pursued with a view to ensuring cases do not increase exponentially
Stemming the spread of epidemics

We are reminded each year to get vaccinated against the influenza virus. The severity of the annual outbreak is not known with certainty in advance, b(...)

Galileo: One of the “giants” upon whose shoulders Newton and others stood.

In 1971, astronaut David Scott, standing on the moon, dropped a hammer and a feather and found that both reached the surface at the same time. This po(...)

Stormy weather:  Ophelia pictured as the storm was about to hit Ireland last year

The atmospheric temperature at a fixed spot may change in two ways. First, heat sources or sinks may increase or decrease the thermal energy; for exam(...)

Photograph: iStock

At five litres per minute the average human heart pumps nearly 200 megalitres of blood through the body in a lifetime. Heart disease causes 40 per cen(...)

‘Starry Night’: it seems probable that Van Gogh was gifted with a profound intuitive feeling for turbulence and that this is reflected in his paintings.

We are all familiar with the measurement of speed, the distance travelled in a given time. Allowing for the direction as well as the magnitude of move(...)

Sunrise on the morning of the winter solstice, at Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. We might expect that the latest sunrise and earliest sunset also occur today. In fact, the(...)

A photograph of a supernova explosion: after the star blows off the lighter material outside it packs down into a neutron star that becomes a pulsar.

People of old were more aware than we are of the night sky and took a keen interest in unusual happenings above them. The configuration of the stars w(...)

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