Main content


Tim Harford and the team return for a new series, exploring the numbers in the news. This week: higher education funding, traffic lights and Jack the psychic monkey.

We look at the numbers behind the increase in the cap on undergraduate tuition fees in England. Are the changes fair and progressive? Are they dropping future students into a deep hole of debt? Or are they both?

Do traffic lights do more harm than good? That's the suspicion of one listener with a professional interest - he's a London bus driver. As ever, we look for the evidence.

Wikileaks revealed last week that Britain and the US are concerned about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. And this week Iran claimed that it is now self-sufficient in the production of uranium - a necessary material for any aspiring nuclear nation. But how worried should we be? The physicist Richard A Muller gives us the numbers.

David Lammy - a Labour MP who was Minister of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills in the last government - published an article in the Guardian on this week in which he included a statistic that caught everyone's imagination: "Just one British black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford last year," he wrote. We check his sums.

Those of you who followed the World Cup might recall Paul the Octopus, who alerted us all to the miraculous and potentially world-transforming technology of using zoo animals to forecast the results of sporting contests. Paul sadly passed away in October but we remained curious about the phenomenon. So we asked Jack, a Newcastle-based monkey, to forecast the results of the Ashes.

Available now

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 12 Dec 2010 20:00


  • Fri 10 Dec 2010 13:30
  • Sun 12 Dec 2010 20:00

Explore further with The Open University

Explore further with The Open University

Visit The Open University’s More or Less pages on OpenLearn

Download this programme

Download this programme

Subscribe to this programme or download individual episodes.