Knotty problem

Learning by doing is faintly unfashionable at the moment, so it was rather nice to hear fragrant scientist Mary Archer explaining to an audience of girls' school heads last week about one of her early experiments. "My father discovered me, at the age of 10, tying a worm into a knot. I wanted to see whether it could untie itself. It was a perfectly good experiment."

And the outcomes?

1: the worm sadly proved unable to extricate itself from its predicament.

2: it was one of the few occasions when the young scientist received a parental smack. Still, it obviously didn't deter her.

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