3 March 2012

Sister ships The Costa Allegra, sister ship of the Costa Corcordia, suffered a fire off the Seychelles. Are families of ships jinxed? —The Titanic had two sister ships. The Olympic… Read more

25 February 2012

Animals in court A group of US scientists has demanded that a Declaration of Cetacean Rights be incorporated into law. There have been animal welfare laws since at least 1635,… Read more

18 February 2012

Cradle to grave The Health Bill is one of numerous attempts to change the administrative make-up of the NHS. What did it look like on its first day, 5 July… Read more

11 February 2012

Long to reign over us The Queen has become only the second British monarch to spend 60 years on the throne. To overtake Victoria, she would have to reign until… Read more

4 February 2012

Bonus culture Some have called for an end to a ‘bonus culture’ in banks and big firms. But bonus culture has been around a long time… — Around the year… Read more

28 January 2012

Lords spiritual The bishops in the House of Lords, who led a successful rebellion against plans for a benefits cap this week, are a remarkable survival of Lords reform. —… Read more

21 January 2012

Condemned A Norfolk woman was given the honour of pressing a button to demolish a tower at the Campbells soup factory where her father was scalded to death in 1995.… Read more

14 January 2012

War horses Steven Spielberg’s film War Horse was released this week. How many horses were killed in British Army service during the first world war? — According to the Official… Read more

7 January 2012

State of uncertainty The Iowa caucuses create much excitement in the US presidential race but the winners do not have a good record of winning the presidency. — In the… Read more

31 December 2011

100 candles Some of those who are due to be celebrating hundredth birthdays in 2012: 3 February Mary Carlisle, US actress who starred alongside Bing Crosby in Doctor Rhythm 8 April Alois… Read more

10 December 2011

Let the Games begin The budget for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics has been doubled to £81 million, the government has announced. The move has ignited fears that… Read more

3 December 2011

Gross domestic products The Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded UK GDP growth for 2011 to 0.9 per cent, down from 1.7 per cent. How many extra manufactured products does a… Read more

26 November 2011

Cook’s recipe Shares in Thomas Cook fell 60 per cent after the tour operator entered talks with its banks. — The company’s name has been synonymous with package tours since… Read more

19 November 2011

• Found in the trash The Information Commissioner warned Oliver Letwin that he has broken the law by dumping documents, including letters from constituents, into litter bins in St James’s… Read more

12 November 2011

Another world Six cosmonauts have completed an experiment in which they were isolated inside a container for 520 days to simulate a voyage to Mars. A similar experiment, the Lunar-Mars… Read more

5 November 2011

• Initial problems The leaders of the eurozone countries have hatched a plan to bundle up dodgy Greek government debt and sell it to the Chinese. Without any apparent sense… Read more

29 October 2011

•  Rebels, rebels 81 Conservative MPs defied a three-line whip to vote in favour of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Some other big rebellions. Number of rebels… Read more

22 October 2011

• Mummy’s secret recipe A terminally ill taxi-driver from Torquay has volunteered to be mummified for a Channel 4 documentary. Here is what Egyptian mummification involved, according to Herodotus: —… Read more

8 October 2011

Late winners The Nobel Prize is not usually given posthumously; but an exception was made this week for Ralph Steinman, a cancer scientist who, unknown to the Nobel committee, had… Read more

1 October 2011

Up in smoke A coroner in Galway has passed a verdict of spontaneous human combustion on a 76-year-old pensioner whose body was found burned in a house otherwise largely undamaged… Read more

24 September 2011

Objects in space — The six tonne US Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite was due to fall to Earth, with Nasa calculating that it has a one in 3,200 risk of… Read more

17 September 2011

The comedian David Walliams performed the impressive feat of swimming 140 miles of the River Thames from Lechlade to Westminster. That is still a long way short of the swims… Read more

10 September 2011

A judge has described squatting as ‘good for society’ and called for lists of empty homes to be made available to an agency for squatters, while the Justice Secretary, Kenneth… Read more

3 September 2011

The taxes of sin Bonn has introduced a flat-rate tax of €6 a night for prostitutes working in the city, payable at a ticket machine. Attempts to tax prostitution have been… Read more

27 August 2011

A Red Arrows pilot was killed when his plane crashed, the first fatality in the RAF’s aeronautical troupe since 1988. — Aeronautics were once more hazardous. They were pioneered by… Read more