A hoax from 1790

Sometimes enquiries come my way for the most obscure events. One recent example concerned a supposed earthquake at Ormside, Westmoreland. The source is the chronology of British earthquakes at the back of Peter Haining’s book “The Great English Earthquake” (published by Hale in 1976). Haining cites Gentleman’s Magazine and states that two fissures over 200 [...]

Hidden in plain view

There is a principle, famously exploited by Edgar Allen Poe, that the best place to hide something is in plain view – just make it appear that it is something else. There are many possible applications of this. For instance, suppose you have problems remembering a computer password. If you leave a piece of paper [...]

Probabilistic programming

Given the importance of probability to modern seismic hazard assessment, I found it interesting to discover the other day the world’s only probabilistic programming language. It’s called Java2K and was invented by Gerson Kurz. As the name suggests, it’s sort of an update on the Java programming language, with which it shares some features. However, [...]