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University Of Birmingham

Jim Riordan: Russianist and children's author

James Riordan, a self-proclaimed "working class oik from Portsmouth" and known to everyone as Jim, rose to become a respected Russianist, translator and author of over 20 books, including the standard studies of sport in the Soviet Union. He also claimed to be the first Briton to play for a Russian professional football team.

Sir Alan Cottrell: Government's Scientific Adviser who worked to

For some 70 years the impact of Sir Alan Cottrell's work on the basic understanding of materials and its application to engineering structures, his academic leadership, his role of Scientific Adviser to the Government, and his contributions to safe nuclear energy, have been immense. He was the most influential physical metallurgist of the 20th century. Through his pioneering researches, and as an educator, he influenced countless students, scientists and engineers and will continue to do so. His papers and books are remarkable for their clarity.

MI6 death: Murder most strange

Jonathan Owen tries to determine the facts about the death of intelligence officer Gareth Williams, and asks experts for their views on a real-life spy mystery

Tooth decay: Take the acid test

Decay isn't the only threat to our molars and incisors. Dentists are now fighting tooth erosion, caused by fizzy drinks and fruit – and the damage begins in childhood. Steve Connor reports

Shakespeare's 'first theatre' unearthed

The theatre where "The Merchant of Venice" and "Romeo and Juliet" likely debuted and where William Shakespeare himself may have trodden the boards has likely been discovered in east London, archaeologists at the Museum of London said.