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More observations on changes in the UK since we last lived there in 2002..

One noticable theme of our stay in England was that every newspaper seemed to have a Sudoku puzzle in it. Asking around and this is a very recent phenomenon. Even Wikipedia notes that the craze started in the Spring of 2005.

It seems that the Sudoku puzzle craze is just another meme – take a look at this article from The Observer Sunday newspaper from 15 May 2005:

If the first week of May 2005 will be remembered for a general election, the second will go down as the week of Sudoku.

National newspapers scrambled to advertise the puzzle on their front pages, while websites devoted to it sprang up and TV and radio stations caught the new global bug.

Numerous articles have attributed the puzzle, which has a Japanese name, to the mysteries of the Land of the Rising Sun. But its true modern origins lie with a team of puzzle constructors in 1970s’ New York, from where it set off on a 25-year journey to Tokyo, London – and back to New York.

Scientists have identified Sudoku as a classic meme – a mental virus which spreads from person to person and sweeps across national boundaries. Dr Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine, said: ‘This puzzle is a fantastic study in memetics. It is using our brains to propagate itself across the world like an infectious virus.’