Dear Mr Key, *writes Andy Martin,* I recently read (or tried to read) a textbook on recent developments in mathematics. Its pages are littered with sentences and phrases which often sound as if they’ve been swiped from one of the earlier pamphlets by that chap [Norman Davies] who wrote ** Further Science**.

*Mr Martin then lists some of the inexplicable, yet curiously compelling, phrases he has digested, all quoted verbatim from the text:*

…degeneracy on a manifold…

…lemmas on ordinary differential operators with parameters…

…sharp regularity estimates for the solution of the oblique derivative problem…

…instability modes in Benard systems…

…codimension-two bifurcations…

…the basic boundary value problems for operators with VMO coefficients…

…time dependent and time independent wave packet approaches to reactive scattering…

…laser excited wave packets in semiconductor heterostructures…

…Feshbach resonances and singular Hodge theory…

…elliptic complexes of pseudodifferential operators and to stratified media…

…singular interaction problems with distribution and hyperfunction data…

…polar materials without director symmetry…

…the mechanical fragility of smectic bookshelf structure…

…quantum dot heterostructures…

…eigenoscillations in diffraction theory…

…molecular integral evaluation…

…material tensors of ranks 2 to 7…

…multiconfigurational self-consistent fields and coupled clusters…

…orientational aspects in pair transfer and multichromophoric systems…

…the Stokes parameters in nonlinear media and self action polarisation phenomena…

…canonical quantization and stochastic wave functions…

…quantum states of bosonic systems…

…phase space distribution functions and the density operator…

As a lover of books, *adds Mr Martin*, I assume you, too, are profoundly concerned about the mechanical fragility of smectic bookshelf structure. Perhaps you’ve already noticed it. I know I have.