This month I have been doing a few last Turk-related things before my next book comes out. First I appeared (or perhaps spoke would be the more accurate word) on Adam Hart-Davis’ Radio 4 programme, “The Eureka Years”, which looks at the inventions from a particular year — in this case, 1769, the year of the Turk’s creation. Then I gave a talk at the Oxford Museum of the History of Science, as part of their “Between the Lines” series, in which authors explain the stories behind their books and the challenges they faced in writing them. So I talked about the difficulty of separating Turk-related myth from fact and the help I received from the various Turk enthusiasts around the world (whom I have collectively dubbed the Turk mafia).
Perhaps the most unexpected (or even, to some people, offensive) analogy I have written about is that between the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries. I chaired a pharma conference in Philadelphia this month — not my specialist subject, but someone else dropped out, and it turned out to be very interesting. The drug giants currently face an unprecedented onslaught of class-action lawsuits and public scrutiny; industry bosses are being grilled by lawmakers asking who knew what and when. It is all reminiscent of what happened to the tobacco industry in 1994. So who better to advise them how to handle the crisis than a man from Philip Morris? Also this month I looked at the overused analogy between the games industry and Hollywood, and new figures showed that my predictions last year about wireless number portability in America not being a big deal — based on comparisons with Hong Kong and Australia — were correct. Finally, I have updated my “Other stories” page with some old analogy stories, including one on the hypertext of Leonardo, and another looking at the economics of Babbage’s mechanical computer versus Moore’s Law. OK, enough with the analogies already. (Yeah, sure.)