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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

...and on the subject of bombs

24 August marked the 60th anniversary of the destruction by a flying bomb (nicknamed the doodlebug!) of Staple Inn Hall.

I think members might like to know that in 1946 Mr RD Clarke, in a short note to the JIA (vol 72, p481) submitted an analysis of the bombs falling on the central area of Greater London. During the period of the attack it was often asserted that the points of impact tended to be grouped in clusters.

In his note he selected an area of 144 square kilometres which he divided up into half-kilometre squares, a total of 576 squares. He then applied the Poisson distribution to the 537 bombs, which fell in the selected area and obtained the following remarkable result.

[To see the table, please see the Letters page PDF”

I think it will be agreed that there is no evidence of clustering and the bombs fell in truly random fashion, one however being that which destroyed the Institute Hall!

We sometimes read in the press of suggestions that a clustering effect is present with respect to certain diseases and I am often reminded of Mr Clarke’s excellent little note. Perhaps some statistician ought to repeat his exercise in other areas.