Hi there

"   "  !

Hello and welcome to my 'Personal Space'.

smiley - biggrinsmiley - biggrinsmiley - biggrinsmiley - biggrinsmiley - biggrinsmiley - biggrin

since 8th May 2004 Member of the Wessex Researchers Group

Next to be updated 3rd of March, 2021.

Last updated: Ides of March, 2020 .

Why have I called my space "All Kinds of Everything"? Well, I guess that as I develop My Space you will find that I have a very eclectic range of interests, and this is reflected in the multi-disciplinary content of many of my Guide Entries

"Da mihi intellectum ut vivam"

One of the earliest people thought to have known 'everything' was Aristotle (350 B.C).

The last person on Earth, and presumably in our Galaxy, said to have known everything (for his time) was the Dutch humanist, Erasmus, who died on July 12th 1536. After this the sum total of human knowledge was just too much for any one person to know.

I am now retired. However, prior to joining the teaching profession in 1994 I was a research smiley - scientist (Virology) with the Health Service.

The Symbol of Caduceus used (mistakenly) to signify the medical profession, in place of the Wand of Asculapius which is not winged

Join the The Campaign to Promote Respect for Microbes: An Awareness Program:A1001854

Why 'BigAl'? Well,IRL my first name is Alan, and a former colleague of mine suddenly started referring to me as Big Al. Couldn't quite understand this as I'm little over 5ft 7" tall - although I regret to say that, being of a certain age, I have started to get 'Executive Spread'. However, at the time 'Walking with Dinosaurs' was being screened on television, and I noticed that an allosaurus was being referred to as Big Al.

The allosaurus was a truly awesome and a mighty hunter, being the biggest and most fearsome flesh-eater of its time. The allosaurus grew to about 15m long and weighed in at up to 3 tonnes. It had more than 70 dagger-like teeth with serrated edges like steak knives. Decided to use BigAl as my 'handle'.

Visit the h2g2 Natural History Museum:Natural History Museum.

Why not join The H2G2 International Academy of Sciences, for stimulating scientific discussion.

If you consider yourself to be eligible, why not join the h2g2 Grey Hair Society: H2G2 Grey Hair Society

Some Favourite Quotations

If it squirms, it's biology; If it stinks, it's chemistry; If it doesn't work, it's physics and if you can't understand it, it's mathematics. Dr Magnus Pyke

It is only the superior intellect of the adult brain which can appreciate the paradox of putty that bounces. Paraphrase of Peter Hodgson (1950) by one of my chemistry lecturers.

For unto every one that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance.... Paraphrase of Markownikoff's Rule, first enunciated by St Matthew who had the prescience to realise that, in the case of addition reactions to alkenes, it is the negative part of the addendum that adds on to the carbon atom with the least number of hydrogen atoms: Matthew 25 (29).

Biology is the study of living things. The study of dead things is the province of pathology, which you will study at medical school. (I don't know. Perhaps myself)

When you have them by the short and curlies their hearts and minds will quickly follow.A former colleague of mine.

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.Goethe.

I often say that when you can measure what you are talking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind. Lord Kelvin (William Thomson). In a lecture to the Institute of Civil Engineers, 1883.
Grammatical pedantry is something up with which we should not put.Sir Winston Churchill.

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.Sir Isaac Newton in a letter to Robert Hooke. 1675/6.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.Anonymous.

Life is what happens when you're busy making plans.John Lennon.

What I cannot create, I do not understand.Richard Feynman (for example, ’life’

Statistics in the hands of an engineer are like a lamppost to a drunk -- they're used more for support than illumination.AE Housman.


The Random Quotes Guild

'I am enormously suspicious of all these date labels. My generation said that if you can scrape the mould off and it is not growing green hair, you can probably eat it.. That was certainly my mother's policy and she lived until she was 93.'Esther Rantzen in the Daily Mail. 16 Sept 2011.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C.Clarke

Current (top of the heap) favourite quotes

"...but for some reviewers, no doubt, the sight of Nigella's prize embonpoint will be a Christmas treat in itself". Daily Mail TV Correspondent. Dec 2008
"I defy anybody who went to the Chelsea Flower Show, or who watched it on the box, not to have been impressed by the size of Medwyn Williams' comestibles". Alan Titchmarsh, writing in the Radio Times (Special Edition for NTL Customers (UK), 25/06/05.

(I first read the word 'comestibles' in a 'Billy Bunter' book. I always remember using this word in an English Essay and the English teacher scrawling in red ink, "No such word". I argued with him but to no avail. I have since continued to be appalled at the impoverished vocabulary of many teachers of English)

'You interest me very much, Mr Holmes. I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a skull or such well-marked supraorbital development. Would you have any objection to my running a finger along your parietal fissure'. James Morimer (the surgeon who brings the problem of the Baskerville Hound to Sherlock Holmes' attention'). The Hound of the Baskervilles. Arthur Conan Doyle.
"The important thing about gardening is the little things. There's as much pleasure in a snowdrop as in a successful career." Monty Don writing in the Daily Mail 'Weekend' magazine.

Quotes pertaining to education and teaching

Here I've chosen quotes that chime with my particular view of what education should be about.At some stage I may write a treatise to accommodate these thoughts and ideas.

Note that Aristotle, often credited as the tutor of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) thought that knowledge was empty unless communicated to others.

"When children walk two miles to school, you remember that education is a privilege, not a right". Tracey Seagrott, a teacher in West Bengal, writing in 'Teaching' (GTC Magazine, Autumn, 2004)

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for life. Ancient Chinese proverb.

In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less.Lee Iacocca. Former boss of General Motors.

All men by nature desire knowledge. Aristotle. (The paraphrase of this is that people who are not interested in developing their knowledge are sub-human!)

We cannot learn without pain. Aristotle

Teaching is the highest form of understanding. Aristotle

Education is the best provision for old age. Aristotle

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. Janine L. Goddard. One-Line Philosophers, Daily Mail, 03/02/06.

"The obsession with personal freedom created 'child centred' education, where pupils were regarded as having equal if not superior talents to their teachers and thus effectively abandoned to develop their own ignorance". Melanie Phillips writing on 'Why I loathe the Sixties' in the Daily Mail, 12/06/04.

"If you want to know something you have to learn it yourself". Pathology professor at GKT (Reported in In Touch, Spring 2004).

"When children start school they stop learning".Trainer at an INSET Course, 2003

This resonates with a quote from Mark Twain that one should, "Never let school interfere with your education".

These last two quotes resonate with a column I read in the Mail on Sunday (UK) on 8th July, 2001.

I wish I could remember the background to it, but it must have been something to do with teaching swearing in schools. It said,

I thought they already taught swearing in schools. Children these days all seem so good at it. But, of course, when you think about it that cannot be right. If they actually taught bad language then few of their pupils would be able to use it, just as hardly any of them can spell or add up, let alone multiply. In the same way, after 30 years of sex education, the young seem mystified by the connection between intercourse and babies. So perhaps we should all rejoice that rude words are now being put on the National Curriculum. After a few years of this, everyone will be as hopeless at spelling expletives as French Connection, and possibly unable to pronounce them as well.

"The important thing is what we teach and how we teach it. I think there's far too much emphasis on accountability rather than the curriculum we are teaching". Brian Lightman, Gen Sec of Assoc of School and College Leaders. May, 2011.

Misguided teachers who constantly tell their pupils to sit down and be quiet imply a preference for working with a group of trees, not a classroom full of young people. Robert Sylwester, Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Oregon.

Quotes pertaining to Exams

'Knowledge is important, not degrees'

View of Jim Hopkins, an academic philosopher at King's College, London; cited by a former student in the Spring 2005 edition of In Touch magazine.

"Exams have become the master of education, not the servant". John Dunford. (General Secretary of the Secondary Heads Association).

Click on the following link for more quotes and sayings on the importance of teachers.

Quotes pertaining to Science

"Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attributable to science" Bertrand Russell. (He pointed to 17th Century science as beng the turning point, but there is every reason to suppose that the pace of scientific discovery will continue throughout the 21st Century!)

"Chemists are architects of the microcosmic world". Prof Sir Harry Kroto, who, before becoming a scientist, considered a career in architecture (Relevant to nanotechnology).

Quotes pertaining to Safety

The only way to be absolutely safe is never to try anything for the first time. Magnus Pyke

Quotes which I would do well to remember and abide by

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit

Comments made of me during Lesson Observations (of which I'm secretly rather proud)

'You're rather frenetic in the classroom. One minute you're here, the next you're there....' (Will the real Mad Boffin please stand up!)

'You don't behave like a normal teacher; the children don't know how to take you'.(This is because, as mentioned above, I haven't always been a teacher; it's a second career)

Profound Thoughts

'Life is negative entropy'

Motivational Thoughts

Apparently the Chinese ideograph for a 'problem' is identical with that for an 'opportunity'.


(Alphabetical order)


"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body".Sir Richard Steele in The Tatler, No. 147.

Favourite author, Wilbur Smith .

I am impressed by the amount of technical detail he puts into books such as The Diamond Hunters and Goldmine, probably because I'm a chemist.

Not really into Sci-Fi (what a terrible admission for a member of this site!) but I have read and enjoyed Isaac Asimov. I'm sure I'll return to him at some stage.

smiley - bookThe h2g2 Wodehouse Societysmiley - book

Why not join the h2g2 Bookworms Club?

I've applied for membership at the Cult of the Dictionary Readers. Aimed to find random words that will aid you on your hike across the galaxy. If you've ever looked up an entirely useless word just for the sake of it, this place will intrigue you. Head over to the Cult's page and share some of your favourite and obscure words. I always remember startlig a teacher early in my schooling when she asked what my hobbies were and I answered 'Reading the Dictionary'. This was true as I have always been interested in the origin and meanings of words and found that looking up one word would lead me on a fascinating and absorbing trail. Mrs BigAl sometimes feels that I have swallowed the dictionary and frequently tells me off for using vocabulary that 'none of my friends understand' smiley - laugh.

Cameras Obscura:

I became interested in cameras obscura after I used to demonstrate the one that they had at the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, UK Sadly, the C.O. at Middle Wallop was dismantled in about 2002 as the management found it a liability!. Even more sadly, the lens has gone missing. I would like to locate this lens for a new C.O. elsewhere.

Visit the h2g2 Astronomy Society:h2g2 Astronomy Society

Charting the Uncharted Backwaters of the Universe

A really cool site on the net is NASA's
Astronomy Picture of the Day


A chemical experimentFor those who don't understand what chemistry is, it has been defined as, "The study of the behaviour of the electron" (Definer unknown). (Obviously this is a rather more 'high tech' definition than the one used by Dr Magnus Pyke - see earlier).

The following link is an interactive Periodic Table from Sheffield Hallam University:

Visit the h2g2 'A' Level Chemistry page:

Visit the AQA 'A' Level Chemistry site.

Visit the Salter's Advanced Chemistry website.

The researcher U220654 has written several Guide Entries on chemistry topics. His specialism is organometallic chemistry


Brooke Bond Tea Cards; cigarette cards.


Especially the historical and scientific basis for The Bible and Egyptology. Some of this manifests itself in the content, if not the titles, of some of my Guide Entries.

Local Knowledge

Like to attend guided walks and tours around towns, villages and places of archaeological, botanical, historical or scientific interest.


I enjoy folk music, especially of the 'Traditional English kind and 'working songs' e.g. sea shanties such as 'Cape Cod Girls'.


Mainly nature strand and science strand programmes. Also John Peel's 'Home Truths' programme


I would like to to be considered eccentric, in true smiley - scientist fashion. However, to my mind, I am boringly normal. When I once expressed my desire to be considered eccentric to a colleague though, he commented that I was the most eccentric person he knew smiley - smiley. I was rather flattered by this but, unfortunately, at the same time, too modest to ask what he considered to be my eccentricities. So, I am still in the dark. However, my colleagues and acquaintances are always impressed by my collection of colourful ties, so perhaps this is an eccentricity smiley - erm.

Things I dislike

Please leave ignorance, intolerance and bad grammar at the door!

Acknowledgement: I pinched smiley - thief the above banner from Elentari. Thanks Elentari!


Especially amongst car drivers. I was once walking along one of the main through-routes in the town where I live, when I heard some persistent hooting on the horn. I looked around to see an English car following a foreign car which was driving exrtemely slowly whilst he was trying to locate a particular side-road. How would this driver have liked it if he was trying to find his way around a foreign city and people kept hooting at him? smiley - grr

I once read an amusing anecodote - in the Reader's Digest I think - concerning a lady whose car had stalled at traffic lights. The driver of the car behind started hooting impatiently, whereupon the young lady went around to his car, tapped on the window and said, "Excuse me. Would you mind starting my car while I toot your horn".smiley - rofl


For example, sports commentators who say things to the effects of, "such and such is the (something superlative) in history". I.M.O. Team sporting achievements are insignificant when mapped against the record of human achievement since the dawn of recorded history by the Sumerians some 3500 years ago. Hence such statements guarantee to engender in my being the armchair equivalent of roadrage.smiley - grrsmiley - steam


Just deleted what I had here, as I don't hold a grudge for long. Waits for something new to turn up that I can smiley - grr and smiley - steam about.

Most likely to say

"Has anyone seen my [keys, Planner, green pen....]?"

Least likely to say

Hmm smiley - erm.... (I'll leave this for others to suggest.

Keeper Titles

I am the Keeper of Mnemonics, Keeper of the renowned Glowing Pickle and Keeper of Monobrows.

The Glowing Pickle

The history of the pickle dates back to 2030 BC when preserved Indian cucumbers were discovered in the Tigris Valley. Aristotle praised their healing powers and Cleopatra used them as a beauty product. Queen Elizabeth 1st liked them and Napoleon's army marched on them. BigAl was the unwitting catalyst to the emergence of 'The Glowing Pickle' thread when, in an effort to sabotage 'The Most Boring and Banal Thread on h2g2', he mentioned the spectacle that is observed when one passes an electric current through a pickle smiley - disco.

See 'MIT Scientist Electrocutes a Pickle.'


I am the Keeper of Mnemonics. I had hoped to get this Entry into the Edited Guide but, apparently, it's too similar to an Entry that's already there. Another problem with this is that my Entry is designed to be continually updated, also making it inappropriate for the EG. Hence, in the meantime, please send me any mnemonics to incorporate to my Entry, which will probably end up in the Unedited Guide. Get your keeper title here:A441596

BigAl is also the owner of a h2g2 cyberpet:

Adopted PetThe face of a green gecko.Spiderman

Not a lot of people know this but....

The H2G2 Crest

Useful Links to h2g2 Sites

Campaign to Promote Respect for Micro-Organisms - Common Room

The Post

Fancy an smiley - ale and a chat? Why not pop along to the Crossed Purposes Pub?

h2g2 Jargon and Abbreviations Page:

h2g2 Update Forum

GuideML Special Characters Page

Editorial Feedback

What's coming up on h2g2


List of h2g2 Clubs and Societies:

Spicing up your Use Page:

Visit the 'All New Researchers' Birthday' Page

Other favourite h2g2 places

h2g2 Handedness Registry. Why not add yourself to this list?

h2g2 Grey Haired Society.

ICARUS (Individuals Campaigning Against Rampant Stupidity)

BigAl's Useful GuideML Tools

BigAl''s Ideas for Guide Articles

BigAl's Edited Guide Entries

The Thoughts of BigAl

BigAl's Name Tag Preferences

BigAl's favourite similes and metaphors

...and some other things...

BigAl is a Field Researcher which means that I have written a University Project, with five or more Entries on a related theme. Mine is about 'Some Prominent 19th Century German Chemists' and has 8 Entries.

BigAl is a Sexpert, here to explain any scientific queries you may have. If you have a query of a scientific nature, which you would like to have explained in a friendly manner, please post it at the Science Explained Forum.

NEXT EINSTEIN Encouraging kids to explore Science.

Science Explained

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