MAKE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE FOR VOLUME 3 COMING NEXT MONTH!! Volume 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aZoVJKAdtg Frankie Boyle presents the first instalment of his eight volume Promethiad.
Views: 150805 BBC Podcasts
Are we living in a simulation? Elon Musk thinks we definitely could be, and it seems he is not alone. The idea that we might simply be products of an advanced post-human civilisation, that are simply running a simulation of our universe and everything it contains, has taken hold over the last few years. Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Phill Jupitus, Philosopher Professor Nick Bostrom and Neuroscientist Professor Anil Seth to ask what the chances are that are living in some Matrix like, simulated world and more importantly, how would we ever know? Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 2065 BBC Podcasts
Series in which physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince take a witty, irreverent and unashamedly rational look at the world according to science. Robin and Brian are joined by alien abduction expert Jon Ronson and Seth Shostack from the SETI Institute in California to discuss science conspiracies, UFOs and the search for ET.
Views: 2170 BBC Podcasts
Physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince take a witty, irreverent and unashamedly rational look at the world according to science. Physicist turned comedian Ben Miller joins Brian and Robin to discuss quantum physics, and if astrology really shares its roots with more scientific pursuits. They also discuss the largest scientific experiment ever undertaken, currently storming ahead in a large underground tunnel just outside Geneva.
Views: 3772 BBC Podcasts
The Infinite Monkeys, Brian Cox and Robin Ince, are joined on stage by special guest Stephen Fry and science writer Simon Singh to find out whether we really are only 6 degrees of separation from anyone else? What started as an interesting psychology experiment in connectedness, back in the 1960's, has not only taken on a life of its own in popular culture, but in the last 10 years has begun to influence everything from mathematics, to engineering and even biology. Brian and Robin look at how the concept of 6 degrees has influenced a whole new field of science and whether, in this age of social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook, we are in fact, far more connected than ever before. We also find out what Robin's "Bacon" number is. Whether Brian has an "Erdos" number, and whether, like Russell Crowe, any of the panel have successfully managed to combine the two. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 7867 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The Bronze Age Collapse, the name given by many historians to what appears to have been a sudden, uncontrolled destruction of dominant civilizations around 1200 BC in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia. Among other areas, there were great changes in Minoan Crete, Egypt, the Hittite Empire, Mycenaean Greece and Syria. The reasons for the changes, and the extent of those changes, are open to debate and include droughts, rebellions, the breakdown of trade as copper became less desirable, earthquakes, invasions, volcanoes and the mysterious Sea Peoples. With John Bennet Director of the British School at Athens and Professor of Aegean Archaeology at the University of Sheffield Linda Hulin Fellow of Harris Manchester College and Research Officer at the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Oxford And Simon Stoddart Fellow of Magdalene College and Reader in Prehistory at the University of Cambridge Producer: Simon Tillotson.
Views: 1442 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Cathars, a medieval European Christian sect accused of heresy. In 1215 Pope Innocent III called the greatest meeting of Catholic minds for a hundred years. He hoped that the Fourth Lateran Council would represent the crowning glory of a Papacy that was more powerful than ever before, and it laid down decrees to standardise Christian belief across the whole of Western Europe and heal the papal schism of a generation before. But despite the wealth and power of the Vatican, all was not as it should have been in the Catholic world; Jerusalem was lost, the Crusades were failing, and in the regions of Europe the spectre of heresy moved over the land. It loomed largest in the wealthy Languedoc region of Southern France, where celibate vegetarians called Cathars were proving more popular than Jesus. The Pope moved against the Cathars but why was Catharism such a threat, what were its beliefs and what was the intellectual and spiritual climate that made the high middle ages the era of the heretic?With Malcolm Barber, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Reading; Miri Rubin, Professor of Medieval History at Queen Mary, University of London; Euan Cameron, Professor of Modern History at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Views: 1663 BBC Podcasts
Physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince take a witty, irreverent and unashamedly rational look at the world according to science. Robin and Brian are joined by Victor Stock, Dean of Guildford Cathedral, and science journalist Adam Rutherford for a special Christmas edition of the programme. Adam explains why religion really could be good for your health, and can Victor convert Robin and Brian in time for the festive season?
Views: 1816 BBC Podcasts
Physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince return for the third series of the witty, irreverent science show. In the first episode of the series, Brian and Robin are joined by comedian Andy Hamilton to discuss some of the wackier apocalyptic theories, as well as those more grounded in science fact. Did the Mayans know something that we didn't with their prediction of global annihilation in 2012, or should we be focusing our energies and scientific know-how on some of the more likely scenarios, from near earth asteroids, through to climate change and deadly pandemics, or even the more long term possibilities of our sun burning out....although we have got roughly another 5 billion years to ponder the challenge of that problem. Recorded in front of an audience at the Drill Hall in London.
Views: 1940 BBC Podcasts
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by author and journalist David Aaronovitch, psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman and neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott as they tackle the science of deception. They'll be asking why we seem to be so good at telling lies, but not very good at spotting them, and why being good liars could be the secret to our success as a social animal. They will also be carrying out their own act of deception on the monkey cage audience. They reveal the results of an experiment to test the idea of subliminal advertising, carried out by David Aaronovitch for the Radio 4 documentary, "Can You Spot the Hidden Message" . Will they manage to secretly persuade a section of the theatre audience to pick one type of soft drink over another by secretly flashing the name of a certain brand on a screen? All will be revealed. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 979 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the reign of terror during the French Revolution. On Monday September 10th 1792 The Times of London carried a story covering events in revolutionary France: "The streets of Paris, strewed with the carcases of the mangled victims, are become so familiar to the sight, that they are passed by and trod on without any particular notice. The mob think no more of killing a fellow-creature, who is not even an object of suspicion, than wanton boys would of killing a cat or a dog". These were the infamous September Massacres when Parisian mobs killed thousands of suspected royalists and set the scene for the events to come, when Madame La Guillotine took centre stage and The Terror ruled in France. But how did the French Revolution descend into such extremes of violence? Who or what drove The Terror? And was it really an aberration of the revolutionary cause or the moment when it truly expressed itself? With Mike Broers, Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall; Rebecca Spang, Lecturer in Modern History at University College London; Tim Blanning, Professor of Modern European History at the University of Cambridge.
Views: 2089 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg examines the British Empire. It was officially created on 1st January 1877 when Disraeli had Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India, and it formally dissolved into the ‘Commonwealth’ in 1958. But imperial passions stirred in Britain long before Victoria’s investiture and the ethos of Imperialism lives on.At its height in 1919 the British Empire stretched from East to West, incorporating one quarter of the globe and included such diverse colonies as Canada, Australia, parts of South America, the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and China, New Zealand, much of Africa and of course India. By 1960 it had all but vanished off the face of the earth. What drove Britain to build such an immense Empire, why did it all disappear so quickly and what kind of legacy was left behind? With Maria Misra, Lecturer in Modern History and Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, Peter Cain, Research Professor in History at Sheffield Hallam University and Catherine Hall, Professor of Modern Social and Cultural History at University College London.
Views: 1094 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the culture, history and legacy of the eastern Byzantine Empire. In 453 with the Barbarians at the gate, through the gate and sacking the city of Rome “the wide arch of the ranged empire” finally began to fall...Or did it? In AD 395 the Emperor Theodosius had divided the vast Roman Empire between his two sons. The Northern and Western Europe provinces were governed from Rome, but the Eastern Empire became based on the Bosphorous in the city of Constantinople. And when Rome crumbled and the Dark Ages fell across Western Europe, the Eastern Roman Empire endured, with its ancient texts, its classical outlook and its Imperial society…for another one thousand years. How did the East survive when the West fell, were they really Romans and why do we know so little about one of the most successful and long lived Empires ever to straddle the globe? Did its scholars with their Greek manuscripts enable the Western Renaissance to take place? And why has it so often been sidelined and undermined by history and historians? With Charlotte Roueché, Reader in Classical and Byzantine Greek, Kings College London; John Julius Norwich, author of a three part history of Byzantium: The Early Centuries, The Apogee and Decline and Fall; Liz James, Senior Lecturer in the History of Art, University of Sussex.
Views: 2090 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how history has struggled to explain the enormity of the crimes committed in Germany under Adolf Hitler: we have had theories of ‘totalitarianism’, and of ‘distorted modernity’, debates between ‘intentionalists’ and their opponents the ‘structuralists’. The great political philosopher Hannah Arendt said, “Under conditions of tyranny, it is far easier to act than to think”. But somehow none of these explanations has seemed quite enough to explain how a democratic country in the heart of modern Europe was mobilised to commit genocide, and to fight a bitter war to the end against the world’s most powerful nations.With Ian Kershaw, historian and biographer of Hitler; Niall Ferguson, fellow and tutor in Modern History at Jesus College Oxford; Mary Fulbrook, Professor of German History at University College London.
Views: 1727 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Stoicism, the third great philosophy of the Ancient World. It was founded by Zeno in the fourth century BC and flourished in Greece and then in Rome. Its ideals of inner solitude, forbearance in adversity and the acceptance of fate won many brilliant adherents and made it the dominant philosophy across the whole of the Ancient World. The ex-slave Epictetus said "Man is troubled not by events, but by the meaning he gives them". Seneca, the politician, declared that "Life without the courage for death is slavery". The stoic thoughts of Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher emperor, provided a rallying point for empire builders into the modern age.Stoicism influenced the Christian church, had a big effect on Shakespeare and Renaissance drama and may even have given the British their 'stiff upper lip', but it's a philosophy that was almost forgotten in the 20th century. Does it still have a legacy for us today?With Angie Hobbs, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Warwick; Jonathan Rée, philosopher and historian; David Sedley, Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy, University of Cambridge.
Views: 1424 BBC Podcasts
Brian Cox and Robin Ince transport the cage of infinite proportions, for the first of 2 programmes from the Edinburgh Festival. They are joined on stage by cosmologists Carlos Frenk and Faye Dowker and actor and comedian Ben Miller and comedian and fellow physics PhD alumnus Richard Vranch.
Views: 1905 BBC Podcasts
The Need for Speed The Monkey Cage returns from its tour of the USA, as Brian Cox and Robin Ince take to the stage of the BBC Radio Theatre to look at the science of speed. They are joined by comedian and former motoring correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, Alexei Sayle, Land Speed Record Holder Andy Green and Professor Danielle George from the University of Manchester. They'll be looking at the engineering challenges of creating the fastest vehicle on the planet, and whether the limits to human speed are engineering or the laws of physics themselves.
Views: 1732 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The Odyssey by Homer, often claimed as the great founding work of Western Literature. It's an epic that has entertained its audience for nearly three thousand years: It has shipwrecks, Cyclops, brave heroes and seductive sex goddesses. But it’s also got revenge, true love and existential angst. The story follows on from Homer's Iliad, and tells of the Greek hero Odysseus and his long attempt to get home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what has given the Odyssey such a fundamental position in the history of western ideas, what are the meanings behind the trials and tribulations that befall Odysseus and how the Odyssey was composed and by whom. With Simon Goldhill, Professor of Greek at King's College, Cambridge; Edith Hall, Leverhulme Professor of Greek Cultural History at Durham University; Oliver Taplin, Classics Scholar and Translator at Oxford University.
Views: 712 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Four Quartets, TS Eliot's last great work which he composed, against a background of imminent and actual world war, as meditations on the relationship between time and humanity. With David Moody Emeritus Professor of English and American Literature at the University of York Fran Brearton Professor of Modern Poetry at Queen's University, Belfast And Mark Ford Professor of English and American Literature at University College London Producer: Simon Tillotson Jeremy Irons will be reading TS Eliot's greatest poems, from Prufrock to The Waste Land to Four Quartets, across New Year's Day here on Radio 4.
Views: 1649 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Neoplatonism, the school of thought founded in the 3rd century AD by the philosopher Plotinus. Born in Egypt, Plotinus was brought up in the Platonic tradition, studying and reinterpreting the works of the Greek thinker Plato. After he moved to Rome Plotinus became the most influential member of a group of thinkers dedicated to Platonic scholarship. The Neoplatonists - a term only coined in the nineteenth century - brought a new religious sensibility to bear on Plato's thought. They outlined a complex cosmology which linked the human with the divine, headed by a mysterious power which they called the One. Neoplatonism shaped early Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious scholarship, and remained a dominant force in European thought until the Renaissance. With:Angie HobbsAssociate Professor of Philosophy and Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of WarwickPeter AdamsonProfessor of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at King's College LondonAnne SheppardProfessor of Ancient Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of LondonProducer: Thomas Morris.
Views: 955 BBC Podcasts
Special guests Jonathan Ross, graphic novelist Alan Moore and string theorist Brian Greene, join Brian Cox and Robin Ince on stage for a special edition of the science show that boldly goes where no other science show has been before. In a special science fiction themed programme, recorded in front of an audience at London's Southbank Centre, Brian, Robin and guests discuss multiple dimensions, alternate universes and look at whether science fact is far more outrageous than anything Hollywood or science fiction authors could ever come up with. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 1375 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how, in the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) sought to define the difference between right and wrong by applying reason, looking at the intention behind actions rather than at consequences. He was inspired to find moral laws by natural philosophers such as Newton and Leibniz, who had used reason rather than emotion to analyse the world around them and had identified laws of nature. Kant argued that when someone was doing the right thing, that person was doing what was the universal law for everyone, a formulation that has been influential on moral philosophy ever since and is known as the Categorical Imperative. Arguably even more influential was one of his reformulations, echoed in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which he asserted that humanity has a value of an entirely different kind from that placed on commodities. Kant argued that simply existing as a human being was valuable in itself, so that every human owed moral responsibilities to other humans and was owed responsibilities in turn. With Alison Hills Professor of Philosophy at St John's College, Oxford David Oderberg Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading and John Callanan Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at King's College, London Producer: Simon Tillotson.
Views: 1067 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the highs and lows of the Third Crusade. In 1095 Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade and by the end of the 11th century an army of Franks had driven what they called the ‘infidel arab’ out of Jerusalem. The Crusaders held the city for over eighty years until Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria, seized it back in 1187. The Muslim world celebrated as the Christian world shuddered and Pope Gregory VIII issued a Papal Bull for restoring the Holy City to Christian Rule. The Kings of Europe clamoured for the honour to take up the challenge. However, the Third Crusade did not get off to a ripping start. The Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, set off at the head of the greatest crusader army ever assembled but drowned whilst crossing a small stream in Armenia. This left Phillip of France and ultimately Richard of England to take on Saladin’s supremacy in the Middle East. What happened in that famous encounter? How did the names of Saladin and Richard the Lionheart come to bear such a weight of reputation across the centuries and were the crusades racial, imperial or religious wars? With Jonathan Riley-Smith, Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University and author of many books on the Crusades, Carole Hillenbrand, Professor of Islamic History at the University of Edinburgh, Tariq Ali, novelist, playwright and author of The Book of Saladin.
Views: 1235 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Neanderthals.In 1856, quarry workers in Germany found bones in a cave which seemed to belong to a bear or other large mammal. They were later identified as being from a previously unknown species of hominid similar to a human. The specimen was named Homo neanderthalis after the valley in which the bones were found.This was the first identified remains of a Neanderthal, a species which inhabited parts of Europe and Central Asia from around 400,000 years ago. Often depicted as little more advanced than apes, Neanderthals were in fact sophisticated, highly-evolved hunters capable of making tools and even jewellery.Scholarship has established much about how and where the Neanderthals lived - but the reasons for their disappearance from the planet around 28,000 years ago remain unclear.With: Simon Conway MorrisProfessor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at the University of CambridgeChris Stringer Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum and Visiting Professor at Royal Holloway, University of LondonDanielle SchreveReader in Physical Geography at Royal Holloway, University of LondonProducer: Thomas Morris.
Views: 540 BBC Podcasts
In the last of the current series, physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince look at the notion of perfection and whether the latest advances in the biomedical sciences could ever lead us to the perfect body. What are the limitations of science, and can we visualise a future where we transcend the human form that evolution has led us to, and would we want to? Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 1494 BBC Podcasts
Science's Epic Fails Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by actor and comedian Rufus Hound, Professor Alice Roberts and Dr Adam Rutherford to discuss some of the great scientific failures, and mistakes made by some very well known scientists. They look at how some of the greatest scientific thinkers of all time, from Darwin to Einstein, got key elements of their own theories wrong, or in the case of others, followed a path of understanding that would later be completely disproved. They discuss why failure in science is no bad thing, and ask whether getting it wrong, is a fundamental part of the scientific method, and should in fact be applied to many other areas of life. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 4183 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the rise and eventual downfall of the Roman Republic which survived for 500 years.Around 550 BC, Lucretia, the daughter of an aristocrat, was raped by the son of Tarquin, the King of Rome. Lucretia told her family what had happened to her and then in front of them, killed herself from shame. The Roman historian Livy describes what was believed to have happened next:"Brutus, while the others were absorbed in grief; drew out the knife from Lucretia's wound, and holding it up, dripping with gore, exclaimed, "By this blood, most chaste until a prince wronged it, I swear, and I take you, gods, to witness, that I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and his wicked wife and all his children, with sword, with fire, aye with whatsoever violence I may; and that I will suffer neither them nor any other to be king in Rome!". The King was duly expelled from the city and the Roman Republic was founded and lasted for 500 years. But in what form did this republic evolve, what were its values and ideals and what ultimately caused the end of the world’s first true experiment in constitutional government?With Greg Woolf, Professor of Ancient History at St Andrews University; Catherine Steel, Lecturer in Classics at the University of Glasgow; Tom Holland, historian and author of Rubicon: the Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic.
Views: 1185 BBC Podcasts
The Immune System Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Shappi Khorsandi, Prof Dan Davis and Prof Steve Jones to look at our amazingly complex and clever immune system. They look at how the human body fights disease, and why it has been so little understood until now. Fear not though, a new revolution in understanding is underway, with some extraordinary insights into the cunning of our little white cells. The panel look at how this new understanding is already leading to some real breakthroughs in treatment for diseases such as cancer, and Shappi reveals the crucial role she played in one such discovery. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 801 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Muslim Spain. In 711 a small army of North African Berbers invaded Spain and established an Iberian Islamic culture that would last for over 700 years. Despite periods of infighting and persecution, Muslim Spain was a land where Muslims, Jews and Christians co-existed in relative peace and harmony. Its capital, Cordoba, although not unique amongst Spanish cities, became the centre and focus for generations of revered and respected philosophers, physicians and scholars. By the 10th century Cordoba was one of the largest cities in the world. But what some historians refer to as Cordoba’s Golden Age came to an end in the 11th century, when the society was destabilised by new threats from Africa to the South and Christendom to the North. However, it was not until 1492, when Granada fell to the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, that Islamic Spain was well and truly over.In that same year the Jews were expelled from its shores and Christopher Columbus set sail to lead Spanish Christian expansionism into the new world. But how did Muslims, Jews and Christians interact in practice? Was this period of apparent tolerance underpinned by a respect for each other’s sacred texts? What led to the eventual collapse of Cordoba and Islamic Spain? And are we guilty of over-romanticising this so-called golden age of co-existence? With Tim Winter, a convert to Islam and lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University; Martin Palmer, Anglican lay preacher and theologian and author of The Sacred History of Britain, Mehri Niknam, Executive Director of the Maimonides Foundation, a joint Jewish-Muslim Interfaith Foundation in London.
Views: 1416 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century. In 1696 the Edinburgh student, Thomas Aitkenhead, claimed theology was "a rhapsody of feigned and ill invented nonsense". He was hanged for his trouble - just one victim of a repressive religious society called the Scottish Kirk. Yet within 60 years Scotland was transformed by the ideas sweeping the continent in what we call the Enlightenment. This Scottish Enlightenment emerged on a broad front. From philosophy to farming it championed empiricism, questioned religion and debated reason. It was crowned by the philosophical brilliance of David Hume and by Adam Smith – the father of modern economics. But what led to this ‘Scottish Miracle’, was it an indigenous phenomenon or did it depend on influence from abroad? It profoundly influenced the American revolutionaries and the British Empire, but what legacy does it have for Scotland today?With Professor Tom Devine, Director of the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen; Karen O’Brien, Reader in English and American Literature at the University of Warwick; Alexander Broadie, Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at the University of Glasgow.
Views: 1025 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the shift that has gone on through the 20th century from our being an industrial society to what is often called ‘the information society’. Francis Fukuyama’s book, The Great Disruption talks of the third great shift in the whole history of humankind. Along with all the technological and economic changes, in the past thirty years we have seen massive social changes. What has been the cause of this shift and how will we recover the social cohesion that preceded it? With Francis Fukuyama, Hirst Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University, Washington DC and author of The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order; Amos Oz, author and Professor of Hebrew Literature, Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva.
Views: 1266 BBC Podcasts
Former cosmologist Dara O'Briain and Dr Alice Roberts join physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince for a witty, irreverant and unashamedly rational look at the world according to science. They'll be asking why so many comedians seem to start life as scientists, and begin their quest to put science at the heart of popular culture.
Views: 1654 BBC Podcasts
Robin Ince and Brian Cox are joined on stage by V for Vendetta author and legendary comic book writer Alan Moore, cosmologist Ed Copeland, and science broadcaster Dallas Campbell to ask whether Cosmology is really a science? Do scientific theories need to be testable to make them, well - scientific? And if so, where does that leave some of the more mind-bending theories that Cosmology has postulated over the last few years? From String Theory to the idea of multiple universes, the maths might work, but if there is no way of observing whether it is correct, is it science or science fiction? Does Cosmology have more in common with the fantastical stories dreamt up by fiction writers such as Alan Moore, and will science ever progress enough to really get to the bottom of some of the more weird and wonderful theories about the way our universe works? This programme was recorded as part of the Cheltenham Science Festival. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 2297 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the story of human evolution, which stretches back over six million years. It is not the story of one species but of several diverse species, some of whom walked the Earth at the same time. From the earliest hominids to the early Homo sapiens, there was nothing inevitable about the course of human evolution. But what conditions created the opportunity for diverse human species to thrive? What environmental factors led to the survival of one human species, but contributed to the extinction of so many others? What can the fossil record and the science of genetics tell us about our ancestors? How does the brain make modern man so unique in the natural world? With Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics in the Galton Laboratory at University College London; Fred Spoor, Professor of Evolutionary Anatomy at University College London; Margaret Clegg, Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Biological Anthropology at University College London.
Views: 662 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Algerian-French writer and Existentialist philosopher Albert Camus. Shortly after the new year of 1960, a powerful sports car crashed in the French town of Villeblevin in Burgundy, killing two of its occupants. One was the publisher Michel Gallimard; the other was the writer Albert Camus. In Camus’ pocket was an unused train ticket and in the boot of the car his unfinished autobiography The First Man. Camus was 46. Born in Algeria in 1913, Camus became a working class hero and icon of the French Resistance. His friendship with Sartre has been well documented, as has their falling out; and although Camus has been dubbed both an Absurdist and Existentialist philosopher, he denied he was even a philosopher at all, preferring to think of himself as a writer who expressed the realities of human existence. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, Camus’ legacy is a rich one, as an author of plays, novels and essays, and as a political thinker who desperately sought a peaceful solution to the War for Independence in his native Algeria. With Peter Dunwoodie, Professor of French Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London; David Walker, Professor of French at the University of Sheffield; Christina Howells, Professor of French at Wadham College, University of Oxford.
Views: 466 BBC Podcasts
When Quantum Goes Woo Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by Bad Science author, Ben Goldacre, Professor of Particle Physics at Manchester University, Jeff Forshaw, and comedian Sara Pascoe. They'll be looking at why quantum physics, in particular, seems to attract some of the more fringe elements of pseudoscience and alternative medicine, and whether there is anything about the frankly weird quantum behaviour of particles, like the ability to seemingly be in two places at once, that really can be applied to the human condition. When spiritual healers and gurus talk about our own quantum energy and the power of quantum healing, is it simply a metaphor, or is there more to this esoteric branch of science that we could all learn from?
Views: 925 BBC Podcasts
The Secret Life of Birds Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by guests including Katy Brand, Steve Backshall and Professor Tim Birkhead to uncover the secret life of birds. They'll be looking at some of the extraordinary and cunning behaviour exhibited by many species of birds, both male and female, in an effort to attract a mate. They also get a special visit from Brann the Raven, who takes to the stage to demonstrate just how intelligent some species of birds can be. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 436 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the impact of politics on psychoanalysis. The 20th century saw the birth and rise of psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud led people to think about how the mind functioned and how our behaviour might be understood through the process of working with a psychoanalyst, either one-to-one or in a group. Freud thought a lot about this process and in 1922 he published Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, in which he pronounced that the group "wants to be ruled and oppressed and to fear its masters." He was writing at a time when ideas about rules and oppression were much discussed because the 20th century was also a century of fascism, totalitarianism and dictatorship. Freud died in 1939, just as a wave of despotism was sweeping across Europe. To what extent does psychoanalysis function by the rules of a dictatorship and to what extent does it function like a democracy? Is there a part of us that craves dictatorship and, if so, why? Is there a war going on in our own minds between ideas that we allow in to our consciousness and other ideas that we repress? With Adam Phillips, general editor of the new Penguin translations of Freud; Sally Alexander, Professor of History, Goldsmiths College, University of London; Malcolm Bowie, Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature and Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford.
Views: 675 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Celts. Around 400 BC a great swathe of Western Europe from Ireland to Southern Russia was dominated by one civilisation. Perched on the North Western fringe of this vast Iron Age culture were the British who shared many of the religious, artistic and social customs of their European neighbours. These customs were Celtic and this civilisation was the Celts.The Greek historians who studied and recorded the Celts' way of life deemed them to be one of the four great Barbarian peoples of the world. The Romans wrote vivid accounts of Celtic rituals including the practice of human sacrifice - presided over by Druids - and the tradition of decapitating their enemies and turning their heads into drinking vessels.But what were the Celts in Britain really like? Was their apparent lust for violence tempered by a love of poetry and beautiful art? How far should we trust the classical historians in their writings on the Celts? And what can we learn from the archaeological remains that have been discovered in this country? With Barry Cunliffe, Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford University; Alistair Moffat, Historian and author of The Sea Kingdoms - The Story of Celtic Britain and Ireland; Miranda Aldhouse Green, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Wales.
Views: 536 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and works of Emily Dickinson, arguably the most startling and original poet in America in the C19th. According to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, her correspondent and mentor, writing 15 years after her death, "Few events in American literary history have been more curious than the sudden rise of Emily Dickinson into a posthumous fame only more accentuated by the utterly recluse character of her life and by her aversion to even a literary publicity." That was in 1891 and, as more of Dickinson's poems were published, and more of her remaining letters, the more the interest in her and appreciation of her grew. With her distinctive voice, her abundance, and her exploration of her private world, she is now seen by many as one of the great lyric poets. With Fiona Green Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Jesus College Linda Freedman Lecturer in English and American Literature at University College London and Paraic Finnerty Reader in English and American Literature at the University of Portsmouth Producer: Simon Tillotson.
Views: 1675 BBC Podcasts
Volcano! Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Jo Brand and Volcano experts Professor Tamsin Mather and Professor Clive Oppenheimer. They look at the very latest technology that is used to predict the next big volcanic eruption, as well as the history and importance of volcanoes and volcanic activity on our planet. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Views: 904 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the medieval universities.In the 11th and 12th centuries a new type of institution started to appear in the major cities of Europe. The first universities were those of Bologna and Paris; within a hundred years similar educational organisations were springing up all over the continent. The first universities based their studies on the liberal arts curriculum, a mix of seven separate disciplines derived from the educational theories of Ancient Greece. The universities provided training for those intending to embark on careers in the Church, the law and education. They provided a new focus for intellectual life in Europe, and exerted a significant influence on society around them. And the university model proved so robust that many of these institutions and their medieval innovations still exist today.With:Miri RubinProfessor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of LondonIan WeiSenior Lecturer in Medieval European History at the University of BristolPeter DenleyReader in History at Queen Mary, University of London.Producer: Thomas Morris.
Views: 1219 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Wars of the Roses which have been the scene for many a historical skirmish over the ages: The period in the fifteenth century when the House of Lancaster and the House of York were continually at odds is described by Shakespeare, in the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III as a time of enormous moral, military and political turmoil - the quintessential civil war; but twentieth century historians like K.B. Macfarlane argued the political instability is wildly overstated and there were no Wars of the Roses at all. Opposing this position are the many Tudor historians who like to claim that the Wars of the Roses represent the final breakdown of the feudal system and lead directly to the Tudor Era and the birth of the modern age.With Dr Helen Castor, Fellow and Director of Studies in History, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; Professor Colin Richmond, Emeritus Professor of History, Keele University; Dr Steven Gunn is a Tudor historian and Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, Merton College, Oxford.
Views: 1608 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the concept of Utopia. Both the idea of, and the longing for a perfect society have been in our imagination for centuries, even millennia. Utopian dreams have driven fantasy, Fascism and fine feeling.Utopias, by definition, do not exist. The literal meaning of the Greek is “nowhere”. And yet, we are still enthralled by its allure. Why do some of us still believe in it - after the devastation wreaked this century by the utopian ideals that gave rise to Fascism and Communism? And what do utopias in fiction tell about the present - and even future?With Dr Anthony Grayling, human rights campaigner, lecturer in philosophy at Birkbeck College, London and Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford; John Carey, distinguished critic, journalist, broadcaster, Merton Professor of English, Oxford University and editor of, The Faber Book of Utopias.
Views: 980 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the French Revolution. In 1789 the Bastille was stormed, the King Louis XVI was put under national guard and the calendar was turned back to zero. The French Revolution began its upheavals in the name of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité.On this side of the English Channel there were those who thought it ‘bliss in that dawn to be alive’, but the statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke was not among them. He said, “The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever”.What was really the end of an age? What was the impact of this revolution on the culture of Europe? And did it really change political life in Britain for ever? With Stefan Collini, Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University; Anne Janowitz, Professor of Romantic Poetry at Queen Mary College, London;the nineteenth century historian Andrew Roberts.
Views: 1104 BBC Podcasts
Serendipity in Science Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Lee Mack, science author and journalist Simon Singh and chemist Professor Andrea Sella to look at how many of our biggest science discoveries seem to have come about by accident. From Viagra to Pyrex to the discovery of the Cosmic Background Microwave Radiation, the earliest remnant of the big bang, they all owe their discovery to a healthy dose of luck and accident as scientists stumbled across them in the course of looking for something else. So are these discoveries just luck, are they still deserving of Nobel prizes and scientific glory, or is serendipity and an open scientific mind key to exploring and understanding our universe?
Views: 1234 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss 'The Varieties of Religious Experience' by William James. The American novelist Henry James famously made London his home and himself more English than the English. In contrast, his psychologist brother, William, was deeply immersed in his American heritage. But in 1901, William came to Britain too. He had been invited to deliver a series of prestigious public lectures in Edinburgh. In them, he attempted a daringly original intellectual project. For the first time, here was a close-up examination of religion not as a body of beliefs, but as an intimate personal experience. When the lectures were printed, as 'The Varieties of Religious Experience', they were an instant success.They laid the ground for a whole new area of study - the psychology of religion - and influenced figures from the psychiatrist Carl Jung to the novelist Aldous Huxley. To date, James's book has been reprinted thirty-six times and has been hailed as one of the best non-fiction books of the twentieth century.With:Jonathan ReeFreelance philosopherJohn HaldaneProfessor of Philosophy at the University of St AndrewsGwen Griffith-DicksonEmeritus Professor of Divinity at Gresham College and Director of the Lokahi FoundationProducer: Natasha Emerson.
Views: 862 BBC Podcasts
A Forensic look at Forensics No dead strawberries this week, but plenty of dead bodies, as Brian Cox and Robin Ince take a gruesome look at the science of death and some of the more unusual ways that forensic scientists are able to look for and gather clues and evidence. From insects that can be used to give a precise time of death, to the unusual field of forensic botany, It's not just DNA evidence that can be used to pinpoint someone to the scene of a crime. They are joined on stage by Professor Sue Black from the University of Dundee, Dr Mark Spencer, a forensic botanist at the Natural History Museum and comedian Rufus Hound.
Views: 943 BBC Podcasts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Vikings’ myths. Thor’s huge hammer, the wailing Valkyrie, howling wolves and fierce elemental giants give a rowdy impression of the Norse myths. But at the centre of their cosmos stands a gnarled old Ash tree, from which all distances are measured and under which Valhalla lies. In the first poem of The Poetic Edda, where the stories of the Norse Gods are laid down in verse, the Seeress describes it in her prophesy: “I know that an ash-tree stands called Yggdrasil,a high tree soaked with shining loamfrom there come the dews which fall in the valley, ever green, it stands over the well of fate.” It is from this tree that the father of the Gods, Odin, will ultimately hang himself: an image of divine sacrifice so problematic for thirteenth century Christians that they left it out when they wrote the myths down.What was the theology that inspired the Vikings and what role did their myths and religion play in their daily lives?With Carolyne Larrington, Tutor in Medieval English at St John’s College, Oxford; Heather O’Donoghue, Vigfusson Rausing Reader in Ancient Icelandic Literature in the Department of English at Oxford University; John Hines, Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University.
Views: 647 BBC Podcasts