The value of an Oscar, and the science of sequels

The annual Academy Awards ceremony take place this Sunday, 26 February. Nominees for one of the coveted Oscars will be hoping to leave Hollywood's Dolby Theatre with a gold statuette in hand. But other than professional pride and bragging rights, what exactly is an Oscar worth?

Who said it?

The Royal Statistical Society's Christmas Quiz is highly regarded for the level of challenge it provides. But if you are looking for something a little less taxing at this time of the year, the Significance Quotes Quiz has you covered. Our thanks to Jim Norton for putting the questions together. Have fun, thank you for reading, and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2017.

Is Christmas really coming earlier? Maybe, but not as early as August

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article in which I examined the evidence for the prevailing notion that the Christmas season is kicking off at an earlier date each year. My findings seemed to give credibility to the idea: by analysing Google Trends data for key Christmas search terms, I concluded that people start getting into the festive spirit as early as 25 August.

Lost in the crowd? A statistician explains how to find your friends at a music festival

While mobile phones have all but eradicated the fine art of getting lost, there are still times where they may prove useless. With the summer music festival season upon us, you may find yourself in such a situation before too long. Consider the following scenario: you’re at Glastonbury with a group of friends. You’re all enjoying a performance by Beck or PJ Harvey, but then you feel the call of nature, or a pang of hunger. You head off to the toilets, or go grab a burger and a beer, trusting that your friends will be in the same spot when you get back.

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Is 'you know who' dead? Predicting the future in Game of Thrones

The narrative cliff-hanger is a fiendish device – ramping up drama and tension only to leave important details unresolved, guaranteeing fans of the story will return for more at a later date. For readers of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, make that “a much later date”. Martin’s high-fantasy novels, on which the Game of Thrones TV series is based, are lauded for their detailed world, large cast of compelling characters and intricate plotting. But all of these elements take time to write, and Martin’s books appear only at wide intervals.