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Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Friday, 27 August 2010 13:15 UK

Spirited debate

John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett
More or Less
Friday, 27 August 2010
BBC Radio 4, 1330 BST

"The Spirit Level", an influential book which uses statistics to argue that income inequality within rich countries is correlated with many serious social problems, has provoked a fierce argument over the evidence. We look - as always - at the numbers.

Life expectancy

Should we be surprised that after his release a year ago, with three months to live, the Lockerbie bomber is still alive? Perhaps not: the mean average life expectancy for people given three months to live is longer than three months.

Dr Ian Walker and Tim Harford
Tim and Dr Walker test the theory that cycling helmetless is safer.

Hard (hat) facts

The Mayor of London has described a new city-wide cycle-hire scheme as "helmetless", prompting More or Less to ask: what does the evidence tell us about the usefulness of cycle helmets?

Alex's adventures

Lindenstrauss, Ngo, Smirnov, VIllani
Lindenstrauss, Ngo, Smirnov and Villani - ICM Field's Medal winners.

The International Congress of Mathematicians is the most exciting - yes, exciting! - event in maths. We sent Alex Bellos, author of "Alex's Adventures in Numberland", to see if he could understand what's going on at the furthest frontier of maths. (Hint: he couldn't.)

Read more from Alex Bellos' blog

BBC Radio 4's More or Less is broadcast on Friday, 27 August at 1330 BST and repeated on Sunday, 29 August at 2000 BST.

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