Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms


September 2016

Two cultures: the constant of time

By Chris Atkins

Just as “characteristic times” exist in science, they may have their cultural equivalents. The best-known example of a “characteristic time” in science is the half-life of a radioactive isotope, such as carbon-14, which is used in the dating of archaeological artefacts comprising organic matter. The idea is that a radioactive isotope will decay by half in a given time, irrespective of how many atoms you start with. This phenomenon gives rise to the often-misunderstood term “exponential decay” and the more commonly abused related term “exponential growth.” Continue reading “Two cultures: the constant of time”

That one recipe

By Patricia Lightfoot

I have two cookbooks that I bought because I thought one recipe in each book was particularly enticing. The first of these books was Lucy Waverman’s A year in Lucy’s Kitchen. It was an excellent purchase. I have made almost every recipe in the book and have been very pleased with the results. The recipes are well-written, designed for the home cook and clearly extensively tested, so that they always work. The arrangement of the book by month means that key ingredients will be in season at that time. The “paella of the Caribbean” is a particular favourite, being easy to prepare and size up or down as needed. It is almost a one-pot meal, though the chicken stock and saffron have to be heated separately. That first recipe, cannellini bean and arugula crostini, featuring a roasted head of garlic and smoked paprika, is an excellent hors d’oeuvre or contribution to a potluck that I regularly make. Continue reading “That one recipe”

Show me the data!

By Chris Atkins

I have lived, studied and worked overseas for just over 20 years and have recently moved back to the UK, where I was born and brought up. Not much has changed in that time – certainly not the famed British weather – but having settled into living back “home” I have noticed one thing: there seem to be a lot more fancy cars around than there were before I left. In particular, the Audi marque seems to be much more common on UK roads than in the mid-1990s. Continue reading “Show me the data!”


by Patricia Lightfoot

Prague was the first stop on our recent self-guided tour of three capitals of Eastern Europe, the others being Vienna and Budapest. In addition to sharing a history of Habsburg rule, all three cities featured numerous Art Nouveau buildings, beer, amazing home-made lemonade of various flavours, ranging from raspberry to mint and cucumber (I am inspired to try these at home), Segway tours, music and substantial food. Continue reading “Prague”

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