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If you know of events, exhibitions, books, programmes or websites that ought to be included in Foresight, contact Karl Thompson, tel (020) 7505 6682, e-mail karl. thompson@ construct. emap. com

Thursday 12 December Material World

Understanding deserts is critical to the survival of those who live near them or farm off them. It had been thought that Middle Eastern deserts were fertile during Roman times because of a wetter climate, but researchers now believe it was due to efficient floodwater management.

Quentin Cooper investigates.

BBC Radio 4, 4.30pm

Battle Stations: D-Day's Floating Harbours

Perhaps the greatest engineering feat of World War II was construction of two giant floating harbours which made the D-Day landings possible. Named Mulberry Harbour after the codename for the operation, this is the story of the engineeers' achievement using archive film and interviews.

Interesting that Churchill, who beat Brunel to the BBC's Greatest Briton, wasn't too interested in how it worked, but only that it did.

Considering the D-Day landings were a turning point in the war, maybe an engineer should have won after all. We wuz robbed.

Channel 4, 8pm

Thursday 19 December Costing The Earth

London faces the fastest period of growth since the Industrial Revolution, with its population due to increase by the size of the city of Leeds within 15 years. Tom Fielden asks if London can cope and compares this to the capital's previous growth spurts from Roman times to the Victorian era.

BBC Radio 4, 9pm

Friday 20 December Building The Impossible: Foiling The Tomb Raiders

Structural engineer Chris Wise and materials scientist Carloine Baillie attempt to rebuild an Egyptian underground tomb using only the knowledge and technology available at that time in history.

Should they fail, the ancient Egyptian prince Im-Ho-Tep may well return to wreak havoc in the corridors of Broadcasting House, waving his Scroll of Thoth.

BBC2, 9pm

Sunday 29-31 December The 72nd Model Engineer Exhibition

Working scale replicas, clock making, restoration, electrical and mechanical, steam or internal combustion - all tastes and interests are catered for - this biggie also includes free daily lectures from the Society of Model & Experimental Engineers.

Tickets £5.50 in advance from (01353) 654422 or £6.50 on the door. Sandown Park Exhibition Centre, Esher, Surrey www.

Computer Game Pontifex II

Have you grown tired of playing Bikini Girls With Machine Guns In The Castle Of Doctor Nemesis?

Then look no further than Pontifex II for a little cerebral salvation. The game involves designing and building bridges - to varying levels of difficulty - which are then tested by trains and other vehicles crossing over them. Now is that an ideal present for the 24/7 engineer or what? Thank you to Darren Price for this timely stocking filler suggestion. Go to www. chroniclogic. com for more details

Books For Christmas

A little something to fill your stocking sir? A look at the top 40 titles may save you some time thinking up ideas but are they any good? What about a couple of sloanes offering up inane tips on what's oh so passé these days, daarling? Look no further than What Not To Wear by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine at number 2. Once upon a time a book about a comedian would be an excuse to run through old gags and engage the reader in a mirth frenzy. Not these days when the subject is Billy Connolly and the author his shrink missus.

Imagine a rainy Glasgow, tenements, and a difficult upbringing - sounds like the film Ratcatcher, but without the laughs.

Billy by Pamela Stephenson is at number 17. Delia's Vegetarian Collection is at number 21. But, let's face it, a plateful of Brussels sprouts on Christmas Day is a recipe for disaster - and may cause a family rift.

You've bought your crystals at Glastonbury, Clannad is playing in the background, the tarot reading bodes well, and you have to wear your sandals indoors until the weather improves. That's right, new ager Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents is at number 20.

Enough of this cobblers, what about the hard working, dedicated professionals who want something more by way of the written word?

Pray Silence For Jock Whittington: From Building Sewers to Suing Builders Described as a modern day Dick Whittington story come true, this is the tale a young lad from an impoverished Scottish family who became a civil engineer, went to Malaysia to build bridges and roads and ended up the friend of kings and political leaders. Returning to England he became a barrister and arbiter in building and civil engineering cases before becoming the Lord Mayor of London. The boy done good. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the autobiography of Sir Francis McWilliams, aka Jock Whittington.

£16.99 Malu Publications, tel: (01368) 850619 ISBN 0 9543332 0 9 All profits go to the Lord Mayor's charity The Square Mile.

Basic Water Treatment: The latest edition from Chris Binnie, Martin Kimber and George Smethurst is their best selling essential guide for water engineers at all levels and comes fully updated to include all the latest standards and regulations. Knowledge is a great thing, readers, and it's not always about knowing what colour Robbie Williams' Y fronts are on a Wednesday.

£25 from Thomas Telford tel: (020) 7665 2464 www. thomastelford. com ISBN 07277 3032 0 Utta Drivel Alan Pinkett's 'audaciously satirical work', as the dust jacket puts it, makes its way into the NCE reading list. Sex and civil engineering?

-surely not.

I've heard of the naked civil servant, so how about Nude Civil Engineer Magazine? You'll have to read it to see if the book lives up to its name.

£7.99 ISBN 1 84426 005 4 Well, as they say in the vegetable garden, that's shallot for the year of our Lord 2002.

The tripe that is thinly disguised as a listings column called Foresight will return on 9 January.

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