On Saturday I went with a friend to BAHFest London. The Bad Ad Hoc Hypothesis Festival is a celebration of bad science presented as good science with graphs and everything. The London version is held at Imperial College and so this seemed fitting to spend my birthday in the grounds of a place I have spend previous birthdays.

After dinner out with Mazza we arrived in the Great Hall to be seated in the second row as we were running slightly late. I’ve not been to one of these before but I have been a fan of Zach Weinersmith for a long time as he writes the SMBC online comic. There are quite a few of these printed out and on the wall in the maths office. BAHFest was slated to start at 19:00 and so, this audience is one of the nerdiest I have ever been part of. An event about science in a science university at 7 on a Saturday! You have to go some to beat that for qualifications and jokes about i.

The host was Matt Parker and the judges are below, but Tim Harford was the one I recognised the most although only his voice. I have listened to his radio 4 show More Or Less for many years. The other judges were Lindsey Fitzharris, Dr Jen Gupta and Sydney Padua.


There was a keynote speaker, a cartoonist from France, Boulet, once the six bad ideas with good science were presented the crowd voted on them and the applause was rated using a sound meter. It was lovely to spend time in a geeky environment and have intelligent discourse.

For an example about the presentations one of the plans was how to mitigate or reverse the current global warming trend line of increasing temperatures by inducing a small nuclear winter. The discussion was then based on where to explode the nukes and it turns out that the middle bit of Canada where no-one lives was just perfect, forest with a low population. This idea was backed up with graphs and diagrams and calculations.

After the event the panel were available to sign books they had published. Mazza and I didn’t go to that. I’d already bought a couple of the books and have ordered another. The rational part of my brain tells me that having a squiggle of ink added to a book doesn’t change that book. The financial part of me is aware of the actual value people place on such objects.

Mark and I then went to the Student Union Bar. It’s just over Prince Consort Road inside Beit Quad. Both of us have Life Membership of the SU, mine is Honorary, I can’t remember if Mark’s is. I hadn’t got my HLM card though and Mark signed me in. Our purpose was to have a drink using one of the pots / tankards that live in the Traditional Bar. I had a choice:

  • Aerosoc Chair
  • Departmental Society Officer
  • Spanner Bearer
  • Deputy President Clubs and Societies

My tankard of choice would be Spanner Bearer but it wasn’t there! I’m not sure what has happened to it but I was a little saddened. So, I chose DPCS. I had a lovel ypint of an IPA and it was good. As far as I could tell the Traditional Bar hadn’t changed. The main bar was quite different and as we walked through it I can tell you there is nothing to make you feel old as walking through a student bar when you are in your mid-forties.


There’s another tradition that if someone named before you on the pot comes into the bar then it is your duty, as the junior, to finish your pint and then buy that person a fresh pint and relinquish the pot. As I am the second person on this pot, the post being new a year before, there is very little chance that I get “potted”.

FYI, the Bolt Bearer pot is still behind the bar.