Visiting Professor, Dept of Mathematics
Aston University, Birmingham B4 5ET UK
Tel. +44 (0)121-204 4549 (Press office)
One June day in 1981, I woke up to find myself in the middle of something called “Natural Science Finals” at Oxford. Apparently, I had gone up to Corpus Christi College three years earlier to read physics, but for the life of me I can’t remember anything about it. They grudgingly gave me a degree anyway, and I left before they called Security. I then set about trying to turn a pathological loathing of boredom into a career. The result has been two simultaneous careers: one in academic research, the other in the media. On the face of it, they may seem antithetical, but they’ve proved very synergistic: research projects often trigger ideas for articles or columns, and vice versa. And when one half threatens to get a bit dull, I switch to the other for inspiration.
The results of my attempts at dodging boredom can be found in the tabs above; they include:
- The development of Bayesian methods to assess the credibility of new research findings – especially “out of the blue” claims;
- A 20 year study of why research findings fade over time and its connection to what’s now called “The Replication Crisis”;
- Investigations of the maths and science behind coincidences and “urban myths” like Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will” ;
- Applications of Decision Theory to cast light on the reliability (or otherwise) of earthquake predictions and weather forecasts;
- The first-ever derivation and experimental verification of a prediction from string theory (yes, really).
In addition to my research interests, I’m a writer and columnist for, among others, BBC Focus, and work as a consultant on both scientific and media issues for clients in the UK and abroad. And my latest book is just out: Chancing It: The Laws of Chance and How They Can Work for You (Profile £14.99). Click on the cover for reviews, Amazon link etc.
All content copyright 2016 Robert A J Matthews