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16/12/2011

Tim Harford hears how scientists and journalists reporting on the search for the Higgs boson misunderstand the concept of statistical significance. Plus, how to corner a market.

Higgs Boson:
In the week that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider announced that the most coveted prize in particle physics - the Higgs boson - may have been found, Tim Harford hears how everyone is getting confused about how to report statistical significance. Robert Matthew of Aston University says the meaning of 2, 3 and 5-sigma evidence is being misinterpreted by science journalists and some of the physicists themselves.

Medieval mathematics:
Tim Harford talks to author Keith Devlin about how Fibonacci revolutionised trade by introducing medieval businessmen to simple arithmetic.

How (not) to corner a market:
Performance artist Jamie Moakes is trying to corner the market in a 1980s plastic doll from cartoon series He- Man. Tim Harford explores the difficulties of Jamie's quest to push up the price of something that for many years no one has much wanted. He hears from Professor Eric Smith of the University of Essex who says that there is no saying why certain items gain value, although in this instance Jamie may struggle to achieve his goal. He also hears lessons from history from John Gapper of the Financial Times.

Producer: Ruth Alexander
More or Less is made in association with the Open University.

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