Monday, 20 December 2010

Royal Institution Christmas Lectures - Size Matters

The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures have been filmed earlier this month and will be shown on BBC Four on 28, 29 and 30 December at 8pm. Dr Mark Miodownik, a materials scientist from King's College London, will
explore the extraordinary world of size and scale.

There are ants mentioned in the description for the first show and I'm really hoping that there will be fleas too. If not I'll publish my own findings on why a human sized flea would not be able to jump over St Pauls in the New Year.


It has been confirmed that there is a good flea demonstration in the lecture by Tim Cockerill. Fleas generously provided by the hedgehogs at Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital


Thursday, 16 December 2010

A flea in her ear - La Puce à l'oreille

The Old Vic is showing a new play called "A flea in her ear". I say new but it was actually written in 1907 by Georges Feydeau. The play is a translation of a French Farce and from what the reviews are saying it's worth going if that's your cup of tea.

What interested me was the phrase, "a flea in her ear", according to one user on WordReference it's an old idiom going back to at least the mid-fifteenth century. Yahoo answers suggests, the real meaning of "mettre la puce à l'oreille" is "to arouse someone's suspicion", "plant the seeds of doubt", which sounds about right. There are suggestions in the press that the phrase is connected to "bee in her bonnet" which I have to disagree with although the free dictionary does suggest an alternative use of that phrase which is consistent with "A flea in her ear".