Sunday, July 15, 2007

Balderdash and multiverses

Every gland in Victoria Coren's body is devoted towards the secretion of sexuality. Even the thyroid. An Oxford graduate, and daughter of Alan Coren, she once tried, with Charlie Skelton, to make the greatest hard-core porn film ever. This, in turn, inspired them to write the making-of book, Once more with feeling. More recently, Victoria presents Balderdash and Piffle, a BBC2 programme tracing the provenance of well-known words and phrases. Throughout these programmes, Vicky emanates simmering sensuality like a nuclear reactor emitting Cerenkov radiation, about to go critical. Even in the simple act of walking, she gyrates each hip erotically around the other.

Now, I wonder if Vicky would like to trace the origin of the term 'multiverse'. I first came across the term in a Terry Pratchett novel in the early 1990s, where it was used less than seriously. These days, however, it's used very seriously by cosmologists to refer to a hypothetical multiplicity of universes. An article in Nature this week attributes the coining of the term to science-fiction author Michael Moorcock, but Wikipedia attributes its origin to William James, and suggests that Michael Moorcock merely popularised it.

Can Vicky discover the truth?

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