The Real Pirates of the Caribbean
October 14th, 2017, 01:15 PM
They are familiar figures in folklore and popular culture, swashbuckling across the silver screen, snarling on stage as pantomime villains or committing daring deeds in childhood literary classics. But who were the real life pirates of the Caribbean and how much of what we think we know about them is based on fact? Rajan Datar is joined by maritime historian David Cordingly, academic and author Margarette Lincoln and author Laura Sook Duncombe who has written about pirate women.
Credit: Getty Images
Rumi: Sufi Poet of Love
October 9th, 2017, 01:15 PM
From East to West, Rumi is one of the most universally respected poets of all time. A 13th Century Islamic scholar, his encounter with a wandering dervish transformed him into a globally celebrated mystic and poet of love who has crossed borders of time, faith, language and geography.
Rajan Datar discusses his life, work and legacy with scholars Fatemeh Keshavarz and Omid Safi, and biographer Brad Gooch.
(Photo: Pray Mount Nemrut, Commagene. Credit: Getty Images/tugbahasbal)
The Story of the Guitar
October 2nd, 2017, 01:15 PM
Bridget Kendall and guests explore the history of the guitar which stretches back over several thousand years. From early instruments made of tortoise shells the guitar emerged as one of the great cultural crossover instruments, encompassing folk traditions around the world, classical music and spine-tingling rock riffs. With guitar master John Williams, composer and guitar expert Professor Stephen Goss, Turkish guitarist Cenk Erdogan and French guitar maker Celine Camerlynck.
(Photo: Boy with home made guitar. Credit: Daniel Hayduk/AFP/Getty Images)
The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar
September 25th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Bridget Kendall and guests examine the rise and fall of Julius Caesar, the Roman politician and general, who conquered vast areas of Europe, defied his political peers, and acquired great levels of power, becoming ‘dictator’ in Rome. His behaviour, battling and bold reforms shook the late Roman Republic to its very core.
From Caesar’s early steps on the political career ladder in ancient Rome, to his affair with Egypt’s Cleopatra and his assassination by his colleagues, Bridget and guests discuss the action-packed life of this leader and writer whose legacy lives on, more than 2,000 years after his birth.
Bridget is joined by Cynthia Damon, Luca Grillo and Matthew Nicholls. Plus, Miryana Dimitrova introduces Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar.
(Photo: Julius Caesar (c) Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Bram Stoker's Dracula
September 19th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Few novels have had such a huge impact on modern popular culture as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The story and its terrifying main character have fascinated readers, critics, writers and film-makers ever since it was first published in 1897.
Across the world there are fan clubs devoted to the fictional Romanian aristocrat who brings terror to Victorian England. Bridget Kendall is joined by Dracula expert Dacre Stoker, gothic studies specialist Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn and Dr Sam George from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK.
Photo: Actor Christopher Lee portraying Count Dracula. (Keystone/ Getty Images)
Secrets of the Great Pyramid
September 11th, 2017, 01:15 PM
The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is one of the greatest wonders of the ancient World. It is the largest pyramid ever built and even today, with advanced satellite and thermal imaging and other high tech science, we don’t know everything about the pyramid- exactly what’s inside or how it was built. To explore the history of The Great Pyramid - also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, after the Pharaoh who commissioned it as his tomb, Rajan Datar is joined by Professor Salima Ikram, Distinguished University Professor and Egyptology Unit Head at the American University in Cairo, space archaeologist Dr Sarah Parcak, a National Geographic fellow and associate Professor at Birmingham University Alabama in the USA and Dr Joyce Tyldesley, an archaeologist and Egyptologist from the University of Manchester in the UK.
Photo: The Pyramids at Giza. (Getty Images)
First Impressions: The Printing Press
September 4th, 2017, 01:15 PM
When the fifteenth century German entrepreneur Johannes Gutenberg pioneered the printing press, he made an indelible mark on the history of communication. Here was a way to print pages in high quality and high quantities, using methods more efficient than had ever been seen before.
Rajan Datar and guests explore the story of how the printing press was born, and how it changed our world - from the birth of the modern book to the rise of the information society, and the transformation of fields including scholarship and religion.
Rajan is joined by art historian Hala Auji, publisher Michael Bhaskar, scholar Cristina Dondi and the writer John Man.
Photo: Circa 1450, A bas-relief of the German printing pioneer Johannes Gutenberg (c 1400 - 1468) checking his work while his assistant turns the press. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The First Heart Transplant
August 28th, 2017, 01:15 PM
The race to carry out the first human heart transplant 50 years ago was as dramatic as the race between the Americans and the Soviets to the moon. Four surgeons were days away from completing the operation, but it was the outsider, the South African Christiaan Barnard who became the winner, sparking a media frenzy that made him famous overnight all over the world. In this programme, Rajan Datar takes a look at the history of organ transplantation with particular focus on the first human heart transplant in 1967, and asks what it has made possible today and in the future. Joining him are Professor David Cooper, a British heart surgeon who worked with Christiaan Barnard; the South African historian Don Mc Rae; Professor Sharon Hunt, an American cardiologist who carried out pioneering work in the aftercare of heart transplant patients; and Pankaj Chandak, a British-Indian research fellow in transplant surgery.
Photo: Surgeons performing a transplant operation. (Getty Images)
Picasso: Artist of Reinvention
August 21st, 2017, 01:15 PM
Pablo Picasso is commonly regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, changing our way of seeing with his radical innovation and revolutionary approach. As pioneer of Cubism, godfather to the Surrealists, and creator of the enduring anti-war painting Guernica, he produced thousands of paintings in his lifetime, not to mention his sculptures, ceramics, stage designs, poetry and plays.
Rajan Datar discusses his life and work with curators Ann Temkin and Katharina Beisiegel, and art historian Charlie Miller.
(Photo: Pablo Picasso in 1955. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Making Scents: The Story of Perfume
August 14th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Throughout history, fragrance has been used to scent both the body and our surroundings. With just one drop, perfume has the potential to stir memories, awaken the senses and even influence how we feel about ourselves. But what’s the story behind this liquid luxury in a bottle, now found on the shelves of bathrooms and department stores worldwide?
In this programme, Bridget Kendall and guests explore the modern history of perfume, including its flowering in France and the explosive chemical discoveries that helped to make fine fragrance what it is today. They also explore perfume’s ancient roots and ask: what’s in a name?
Bridget is joined by scientist and critic Luca Turin, writer and curator Lizzie Ostrom and the perfumer Thomas Fontaine. Also featuring William Tullett and James McHugh.
Photo: Perfume bottles and smelling strips (Getty Images)
Total Eclipse of the Sun
August 7th, 2017, 01:15 PM
A total eclipse of the Sun is a spectacular cosmic event that can even be life changing. The 21st August 2017 sees one of the most accessible eclipses for years, an all-American eclipse crossing the United States for more than two thousand miles from northwest to southeast. And yet throughout the centuries, the sight of a total eclipse - seeing the sun totally blacked out by the moon – has often caused fear and turmoil. Joining Rajan Datar to find out more about the history of eclipses and what they reveal about the workings of the sun, is the NASA astrophysicist Lika Guhathakurta, the eclipse chaser and psychologist Kate Russo, and Marek Kukula, Public astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in London.
Photo: A total eclipse of the sun (BBC)
The One Thousand and One Nights
July 31st, 2017, 01:15 PM
The One Thousand and One Nights are a collection of fantastical stories of flying carpets, magic and genies whose ancient origins go back to the 7th century or earlier. The tales are told by Scheherazade who uses the power of storytelling night after night to stop her Sultan husband from beheading her ... These highly influential stories were brought to the West in the 18th century, when more tales like Aladdin and Ali Baba were said to have been added by the French translator, and it has continued to evolve over the centuries. Rajan Datar and guests explore why these stories became so popular around the world and what they mean to us today.
Joining Rajan is Wen Chin Ouyang, Professor of Arabic at SOAS in London; Dr Sandra Naddaff, senior lecturer in Comparative Literature at Harvard University; and the Iranian TV producer Shabnam Rezaei.
Photo: Sand Sculpture depicting 1001 Nights of Sheherazade. (Getty Images)
Joan of Arc: Making a Martyr
July 24th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Born six centuries ago, Joan of Arc is regarded as a French national heroine – a peasant girl who, inspired by saintly visions, battled to break the Siege of Orléans and see Charles VII finally crowned King of France in a grand cathedral. But in 1431, she was burned at the stake.
In this programme, Bridget Kendall and guests discuss the life and death of this medieval teenage celebrity who helped to shape the course of the Hundred Years War with England. They also reflect on her status as an enduring symbol in popular culture through the ages, including on the stage and the big screen.
Bridget is joined by film scholar Robin Blaetz, and historians Juliet Barker, Xavier Helary and Daniel Hobbins.
Photo: Joan of Arc: Painting by J D Ingres in the Louvre. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Up Close with Tango
July 15th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Tango is easy to recognise: those daring steps, the tight hold of the dancing partners, the intense yet melancholy music dominated by the plaintive sounds of the bandoneon. But if you ask what exactly tango is and where it came from, the answer may not be so immediately clear - because it's more than a genre of music, more than just a style of dance.
To get insights into the roots, the culture and even the magic of tango, Rajan Datar is joined by leading tango historians Maria Susana Azzi, Christine Denniston and John Turci-Escobar.
Photo: Argentine dancers on stage at the World Tango Championships in 2014 (Getty Images)
Carl Linnaeus: Naming Nature
July 10th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Carl Linnaeus, today a largely unknown figure, is one of the giants of natural science. He devised the formal two-part naming system we use to classify all life forms. With Quentin Cooper is botanist Dr Sandra Knapp, from the Natural History Museum in London, life sciences expert Professor Staffan Müller-Wille from Exeter University in the UK and science writer and biographer of Linnaeus, Dr Lisbet Rausing.
Photo: Carl Linnaeus painted by Per Krafft the Elder (Permission of The Linnean Society of London)
Silk Routes: Two Thousand Years of Trading
July 1st, 2017, 01:15 PM
China, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Uzbekistan and India: if you went to any of these places a thousand years ago, you would find goods and produce from the others. But how did they get there and why? This week’s Forum explores the ancient pattern of trading networks which criss-crossed the plains, deserts and mountains of China, Central Asia and points further West, and which encouraged not just the exchange of commodities like silk, paper and horses but ideas and people too.
Bridget Kendall talks to Valerie Hansen, professor of history at Yale University who has a particular interest in trade and exchanges across Eurasia; historian Dr. Susan Whitfield who is curator of the Central Asian collections at the British Library in London; and Tamara Chin, professor of comparative literature at Brown University whose work focuses on ancient China.
Photo: A man rides a horse overlooking Band-e-Amir lake, through central Afghanistan, on the former Silk Road that once linked China with Central Asia and beyond. Credit: Getty Images
Indian Princely States
June 27th, 2017, 01:15 PM
At the time of the Partition of India 70 years ago this year, there were more than 500 Princely States. These were states nominally ruled by Indian Princes but ultimately under the control of the British colonial powers. Many of these princes - male and female members of the Royal Family - had kingdoms dating back to the 8th and 9th Centuries. But after the British curbed their powers, was their role largely ceremonial or did they have a deeper impact on the Indian people? And how did these Princes survive after Partition? Joining Rajan Datar is the writer and historian William Dalrymple, the director of the King’s College London India institute Sunil Khilnani, and the Indian social scientist Nikita Sud from Oxford University.
(Photo: A view of the Umaid Bhawan Palace, set high above the desert city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Credit: Getty Images)
The Creation of Modern Canada
June 19th, 2017, 01:15 PM
150 years ago three British North American colonies came together to form what was to become the world’s second largest country.
To explain how this union came about and who the key players were, Bridget Kendall talks to historians Margaret Macmillan, Phillip Buckner and Sean Kheraj.
Photo: The Canadian flag at an ice-hockey game (GETTY IMAGES)
Childhood: From Toddlers to Teenagers
June 12th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Why do humans have such a long period of immaturity? And how have our ideas about childhood changed through the ages and across the world?
Bridget Kendall explores some of the key moments and figures in the history of childhood, including Confucian China, Victorian factories and the 'endless childhood' that some young people seem to be living today. Her guests are Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley; Ping-chen Hsiung Professor of History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Hugh Cunningham Professor of Social History at the University of Kent.
Photo: a young girl walks through an entrance to a walled garden (BBC)
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Man Behind Sherlock Holmes
June 5th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Since appearing in print in the late nineteenth century, Sherlock Holmes has become one of the world’s most famous detectives, known for solving crime and mystery in London and beyond. But who was the man that made this fictional super-sleuth? And what inspired him to write?
Bridget Kendall explores the life and work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - the doctor and literary superstar who embraced both science and the spiritual world - and who changed crime fiction forever.
She’s joined by biographer Andrew Lycett and the scholars Catherine Wynne and Stefan Lampadius.
Photo: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Getty Images)
Telling the Time: From Sundials to Satnav
May 30th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Many of us can find the time of day quickly and accurately but where did the idea of time keeping originate and how did our ancestors manage without the instant access we take for granted today?
From ancient shadow and water clocks to the latest super accurate optical clocks, Bridget Kendal explores time keeping with the Curator of the Royal Observatory in London, Dr Louise Devoy, the Director of the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, Dr Silke Ackermann and watch and clock expert Grégory Gardinetti from the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva.
Photo: World Clocks (Credit: EyeWire, Inc.)
The Bittersweet Tale of Cocoa
May 22nd, 2017, 01:15 PM
Do you like cocoa? You are in good company: in South and Central America people have been enjoying the fruit of the cacao tree - the source of cocoa, chocolate and much else - for thousands of years. Ancient empires fought battles for the control of the best trees, cacao beans were used as currency, and being able to make a tasty cacao drink could even save your life. To trace the history of cacao in Latin America, Bridget Kendall is joined by archaeologist Cameron McNeil, chef and food historian Maricel Presilla and geneticist and cacao researcher Juan Carlos Motamayor.
Photo: A cropped cocoa pod lies over dried cacao beans (Getty Images)
Taiwan: An Island History
May 15th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Perhaps the island of Taiwan makes you think of those familiar "Made in Taiwan" labels on computer and electrical goods but it was nicknamed 'Ilha Formosa' or the 'beautiful island' by the Portuguese in the 1500s. Bridget Kendall explores its rich and surprising history with Emma Teng, Professor of Asian Civilisations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr Jie Yu, Head of China Foresight, focused on Chinese foreign policy, at the London School of Economics and Dr Bi-yu Chang and Dr Dafydd Fell from SOAS (formerly known as the School of Oriental and African Studies) in London.
Photo: people celebrate Taiwan' s annual Lantern Festival, which marks the end of the Lunar New Year festivities. (Getty Images)
Amelia Earhart – Trailblazer in the Skies
May 8th, 2017, 01:15 PM
This year is the 80th anniversary of the record-breaking attempt by the US aviator Amelia Earhart to circumnavigate the globe. It was a mission that cost her life, but helped to cement her place in history as one of the most inspirational and celebrated pilots of the 20th century.
Bridget Kendall looks back at the life of a pioneering woman determined to break through barriers - with Susan Butler, author of ‘East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart’; Dorothy Cochrane, Curator in the Aeronautics Division of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington; and Susan Ware, author of ‘Still Missing: Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism’.
Photo: Amelia Earhart in June 1928 (Getty Images)
How the Metre Changed the World
May 1st, 2017, 01:15 PM
Nowdays, if you want to find out how long one metre is, you can use a tape measure or, if you are a scientist, you can calculate the distance that light travels in a vacuum in 1/299 792 458 seconds. But how did we decide on what length a metre should be in the first place?
To follow the far-from-straight story of the metre Quentin Cooper is joined by Professor Robert Crease, historian of science at Stonybrook University in the USA; Professor Marc Himbert, Scientific director of the Metrology Laboratory at CNAM in Paris; and Dr. Jahnavi Phalkey, historian of contemporary and twentieth century science and technology at King’s College in London.
Photo: Lilian Bourgeat's art creation 'Tape Measure', France 2013 (Getty Images)
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
April 24th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is said to be one of the most quoted books in the world. It has been translated into 174 languages, from Catalan to Zulu, and its fantastical creatures, nonsense words and magical happenings have become part of our shared cultural landscape.
Bridget Kendall investigates the story behind Lewis Carroll’s Victorian literary classic and its sequel with Angelika Zirker, Assistant Professor of English Literature at Tübingen University, Germany; Virginie Iché, Associate Professor of English Studies at Paul Valéry University in Montpellier, France, and currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin; and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Professor of English Literature at Oxford University in the UK, and author of ‘The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland’.
Illustration by John Tenniel (Photo by Rischgitz/Getty Images)
The Belle Epoque: A Golden Age?
April 17th, 2017, 01:15 PM
The Moulin Rouge in Paris is the risqué cabaret venue that encapsulates for many the 'Belle Epoque', a period of French and especially Parisian history around the turn of the 19th Century, where permissiveness mixed with political, commercial and creative optimism and when an extraordinary vitality and innovation seemed almost boundless. To explore the Belle Epoque, Dr Janina Ramirez is in Paris with the director of Le Petit Palais art gallery and museum Christophe Leribault, the associate artistic director of the Moulin Rouge, Janet Pharaoh, and professor of French history from Leeds University in the UK, Diana Holmes.
(Photo: An 1891 lithograph by French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Credit: Honda /Getty Images)
Machiavelli - Master of Power
April 10th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Over five hundred years ago, dismissed diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli produced his most famous work, ‘The Prince’. Written on the fringes of the Italian city of Florence, the book has long been read as a priceless guide to power and what holding it truly involves. But who was the man behind the work? Why did he claim that a leader must be prepared to act immorally? And why did the name of this one-time political insider become a byword for cunning and sinister strategy?
Rajan Datar explores the life and impact of Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’, with writer and scholar Erica Benner, historian Professor Quentin Skinner and journalist David Ignatius.
Image:Circa 1499, Niccolò Machiavelli (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Haile Selassie: The last Emperor of Ethiopia
April 3rd, 2017, 01:15 PM
Emperor Haile Selassie was the last in the line of Ethiopia’s ancient monarchy. During his long rule he was revered as an international statesman and reformer, demonised as a dictator, and even worshipped as a God incarnate by the Rastafarians of Jamaica. He was without doubt a controversial figure, but achieved a status in the global arena previously unheard of for an African ruler.
Bridget Kendall discusses Haile Selassie’s life and legacy with Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate, political analyst and author of ‘King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia’, who is also the great-nephew of Haile Selassie; Gerard Prunier, Independent Consultant on Eastern and Central African affairs, and former Director of the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies in Addis-Ababa; and Laura Hammond, an anthropologist specialising in Ethiopia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Image: Haile Selassie
Credit: Henry Guttmann/Getty Images
The KGB: Secrets and Spies
March 27th, 2017, 01:15 PM
2017 is the centenary of the Cheka – the Bolshevik secret police organisation from which the KGB eventually emerged in 1954. The KGB was not just an intelligence agency like its adversaries in the west, but an all-encompassing organisation that covered every aspect of promoting and protecting the Soviet one party state. From its headquarters in Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka, the KGB’s influence spread across the world. To explore the KGB and its legacy, Bridget Kendall is joined by the Cambridge historian, Professor Christopher Andrew, the Anglo American intelligence and policy expert, Dr Calder Walton and the Russian historian, Dr Svetlana Chervonnaya.
Photo: Badge logo of the KGB (Photo credit: KGB)
The Magic of Bronze
March 20th, 2017, 01:15 PM
From Cellini's magnificent Perseus statue to the humblest of tools, people have been using bronze for at least five thousand years. So what makes bronze such a versatile material, how we first discovered it, and why is it that so many precious bronze art works have failed to survive?
Bridget Kendall is joined by Carol Mattusch, Professor Emerita of Art History at George Mason University, Professor Jianjun Mei, from the University of Science and Technology, Beijing and Director of the Needham Institute in Cambridge who specialises in ancient metallurgy, and David Ekserdjian, Professor of Art and Film History at Leicester University.
Also in the programme: Dutch sound artist Floris van Manen follows the key stages of making a bronze bell at Eijsbouts, one of Europe's leading foundries.
Photo: Cellini's statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa (Getty Images)
Marie Curie – A Pioneering Life
March 13th, 2017, 01:15 PM
The Polish physicist and chemist Marie Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, and the first person to be awarded twice in two different fields. Her discoveries in the field of radioactivity – adding polonium and radium to the table of elements – changed the course of scientific history and led to huge advances in the treatment of cancer.
This year marks 150 years after her birth to a poor family in occupied Poland. Quentin Cooper traces Marie Curie’s extraordinary life story with Patricia Fara, president of the British Society for the History of Science; Maciej Dunajski, mathematician and theoretical physicist at Cambridge University; and Susan Quinn, author of Marie Curie: A Life.
(Photo: Marie Curie. Credit: Hulton Archive/ Getty Images)
Beethoven: The Genius Rule Breaker
March 6th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Beethoven revolutionised music - how we listen to it and how we play it.
Bridget Kendall explores Beethoven’s universal appeal and the anguished genius himself with Emeritus Professor of music and Beethoven expert Professor John Deathridge, musician and lecturer Dr Natasha Loges, Artistic Director of the Musical Society of Nigeria, (MUSON) and the NOK Ensemble, Nigeria's first professional chamber orchestra, Tunde Jegede and writer and composer Neil Brand.
Credit: Rischgitz/Stringer/Getty Images
Yellow Fever: Man against Mosquito
February 27th, 2017, 01:15 PM
Outbreaks of yellow fever, such as the notorious 1878 'American plague' which swept through Memphis, Tennessee, used to kill thousands in a matter of weeks. So why was it so devastating? How did we manage to tame it in some parts of the world? And why does yellow fever still present a danger today for nearly a billion people living in tropical parts of Latin America and Africa?
Bridget Kendall discusses the history and the future of yellow fever with American writer and journalist Molly Crosby, author of The American Plague;
history professor from the University of Virginia, Christian McMillen who has a special interest in past and present epidemics;
and Dr. Nick Beeching who teaches clinical infectious diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Photo: Yellow Fever Virus (Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library)
The Real Story of Frankenstein
February 20th, 2017, 01:15 PM
In the nearly 200 years since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, the story has taken on a life of its own. But the original tale is much more psychologically complex than the horror film versions suggest – a disturbing and thought-provoking parable that roots itself in the basic human need for love.
Bridget Kendall discusses the book’s origins, themes and continuing legacy with two scholars of English literature - Prof Karen O’Brien from Oxford University in the UK and Jessica Tiffin from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and with the novelist and radio dramatist Jonathan Barnes.
(Photo: A statue of the Frankenstein Monster. Credit: Getty Images)
The Birth of Hip Hop
February 13th, 2017, 01:15 PM
The story of early hip hop, from 1970s 'block parties' in the South Bronx to the next decade when some musicians used rap for harsh social critique while others looked to it for big commercial success. Trevor Nelson talks to Duke University hip hop historian Mark Anthony Neal, film-maker and impresario Michael Holman, and one of the central figures in early hip hop, Grandmaster Caz.
DJ and MC Grandmaster Caz is one of the most important and influential pioneers of old school rap. Mark Anthony Neal is professor of African and African American Studies and the founding director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship at Duke University. Michael Holman is a leading New York hip-hop activist: musician, filmmaker, artist manager, club promoter, journalist and critic, television producer, archivist, visual artist, and educator.
(Photo: A breakdancer. Credit: Getty Images)
Seven Samurai – A Japanese Masterpiece
February 4th, 2017, 01:15 PM
The 1954 Japanese epic Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa has been described as one of the most influential films in the history of cinema. Set in 16th century rural Japan it tells the story of a small village that hires seven masterless samurai to protect them from a group of bandits intent on stealing their harvest. Seven Samurai’s unique style and themes redefined the action movie genre and inspired filmmakers across the world.
Bridget Kendall talks to Daisuke Miyao, Professor of Japanese film at the University of California, San Diego; David Desser, Emeritus Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois; and Dolores Martinez, Emeritus Reader in Anthropology specializing in Japanese popular culture at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
Photo: Actor Toshiro Mifune in the film Seven Samurai (Credit: AFP/ Getty Images)
Goethe: The Story of Colour
January 30th, 2017, 01:15 PM
The German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe considered his monumental book known in English as The Theory of Colours to be his greatest achievement. The book is a record of hundreds of Goethe's observations about the way colour affects our mood, as well as a long and heated polemic with Isaac Newton's colour theory. Goethe's understanding of light and colour was scientifically flawed yet his book had a surprisingly strong influence on the fine and applied arts. To find out why, Bridget Kendall talks to art historian Alexandra Loske, colour writer Victoria Finlay and designer Odette Steele.
Alexandra Loske is an art historian who teaches at the University of Sussex, Curator at the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museums, editor of the book Languages of Colour and author of Palette (forthcoming);
Victoria Finlay is a writer, former arts editor of the South China Morning Post and the author of Colour, Travels through the Paintbox and The Brilliant History of Color in Art;
Odette Steele is a Zambian textile designer recent and a graduate from the London College of Fashion at the University of the Arts, London.
Photo: Goethe’s colour wheel, 1809. (Credit: Freies Deutsches Hochstift / Frankfurter Goethe-Museum)
Mata Hari: Dancer, Lover, Spy
January 23rd, 2017, 01:15 PM
It is 100 years since the exotic dancer and legendary ‘femme fatale’ Mata Hari was executed by a French firing squad for passing secrets to the Germans during World War One. She was described at the time as the ‘greatest woman spy of the century’. But many now see Mata Hari as a convenient scapegoat, condemned merely for her unconventional lifestyle.
Bridget Kendall discusses the myths and realities surrounding women in espionage with Julie Wheelwright, programme director of non-fiction writing at City, University of London, and author of ‘The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage’; Tammy Proctor, Professor of History at Utah State University and author of ‘Female Intelligence. Women and Espionage in the First World War’; and Hanneke Boonstra, a Dutch journalist who is writing an official blog about Mata Hari as part of this year’s centenary commemorations in the Netherlands.
(Photo: Mata Hari. Credit: Getty Images)
The Silicon Chip: A Tech Revolution
January 16th, 2017, 01:15 PM
It’s forty five years since the commercial introduction of the first microcomputer chip set which evolved into the modern microprocessor, changing computers from tools for scientists into the engines which power today’s electronic consumer appliances. So how did the silicon chip evolve and where might this revolution be heading next?
Bridget Kendal is joined by four distinguished computer and internet pioneers who helped spearhead some of the most important inventions of the computer age.
Vinod Dham invented the first Pentium micro-processor and went on to become Vice-President at the world’s largest chip maker-Intel. His early work in this field earned him the nickname “The Father of the Pentium chip.” Sophie Wilson’s computer design was used to build the Acorn Micro-Computer. She also led the development of the ARM microprocessor, found in over half of the world’s consumer electronics. David Laws is a technology historian and a curator of the Computer History Museum in California. Dame Wendy Hall is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton in the UK. She worked alongside Sir Tim Berners Lee on an early version of the World Wide Web.
Photo: A silicon chip (Getty Images)
The Powers of the American President
January 9th, 2017, 01:15 PM
What powers does the American President have, and how have these changed over the years to reflect the demands of the modern world?
Fela Kuti: King of Afrobeat
January 2nd, 2017, 01:15 PM
Nigerian Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti was a maverick performer, a musical pioneer, and is a continuing inspiration across the world. But he was also a thorn in the side of the Nigeria’s successive military governments and a fearless activist for social justice.
Twenty years after his death, Peter Okwoche is joined by three people who all had personal experience of Fela Kuti, to discuss his complex and extraordinary life, musical legacy, and revolutionary political ideals - Dele Sosimi is a former member of Fela Kuti's band and now an acclaimed Afrobeat musician; Carlos Moore wrote the only authorised biography of Fela Kuti, Fela: This Bitch of a Life; and Jahman Anikulapo is a Nigerian arts journalist who followed Fela's career closely.
Photo: Fela Kuti, 1986, Credit: Associated Press
Cali-topia: a New Vision of Thomas More's Utopia?
December 26th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Is Thomas More's vision of an ideal society becoming reality in modern-day California? The Forum travels to Singularity University at the heart of Silicon Valley to ask why California keeps attracting utopian thinkers who want to use advanced technology to solve humanity’s biggest challenges.
Jack Stewart is joined by forecaster Paul Saffo, Chair of Future Studies at Singularity University, Ryan Mullenix, partner at NBBJ Architecture, Krista Donaldson, CEO of Silicon Valley healthcare start up D-Rev, and Colin Milburn, Chair in Science and the Humanities at University of California, Davis.
Photo: NASA Hangar One at Moffett Field, California, Credit: Simon Dawson
Utopia: Mr More’s Wondrous Islands
December 21st, 2016, 01:15 PM
Thomas More’s Utopia, published 500 years ago this month, is full of radical ideas and has provided food for thought to generations of people trying to find new ways to organise society. On his fictitious island More created a vivid mosaic of places, people and their customs and they have proven to be an inspiration not just for philosophers and politicians but also for writers. To mark the anniversary, BBC World Service and PEN International have asked three young authors, Rebecca F. John, Jose Pablo Salas and Lea Sauer, to take Utopia as a starting point for a new short story. Mr. More’s Wondrous Islands also includes a couple of intriguing passages from the original book. It is introduced by Jack Stewart, the readers are John Dougall, Bettrys Jones, Martina Laird and William Marquez and the producer is Radek Bosketty.
Thomas More's Utopia
December 19th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Five-hundred years ago, in what is now the Belgian city of Leuven, Thomas More published his vision for an ideal society which he called Utopia.To mark the anniversary, The Forum travels to Leuven University to debate More's book, its place in history and the politics it inspired.
Presenter Bridget Kendall is joined by Leuven University rector Rik Torfs, culture studies professor Fátima Vieira who leads the Utopia 500 Project, historian of communism professor Erik van Ree from Amsterdam University, and Dilar Dirik, an expert on the Syrian-Kurdish ‘utopia’ of Rojava.
Winner or Cheat? Doping in Sport
December 12th, 2016, 01:15 PM
A battle is raging over the future of sport. Advances in retrospective testing have seen champions stripped of their medals years after they stood on the podium. Allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia have rocked the sports world and new treatments such as gene-doping are constantly evolving. The drugs change but the questions remain the same – how effective and how dangerous are performance-enhancing drugs? How do doping competitors evade the testers? And can sports tarnished by doping ever be cleaned up?
Sharing their knowledge with Bridget Kendall are four sport insiders:
David Howman stepped down as Director of the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2016 after twelve years battling drug-taking in sport.
David Millar is a British cyclist and former World Champion who has won stages at the Tour de France and rode in the professional peloton for over a decade. Banned for doping, he returned to the sport as an anti-drugs campaigner. He is the author of the memoirs ‘Racing Through The Dark’ and ‘ The Racer: Life on the Road as a Pro-Cyclist’.
Professor Mario Thevis is a chemist who has tested competitors at seven Olympic Games and is Director of the Centre for Preventive Doping Research in Cologne, Germany.
Dr Zhouxiang Lu has researched allegations of doping in China in the 1980s and 90s. He teaches at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
Photo: Athletes in the starting block at a race. (Getty Images)
The Iliad: Beauty, Brutes and Battles
December 5th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Nearly 3,000 years after it was written down, The Iliad is still one of the most influential and inspiring stories ever told. Homer’s epic poem is a tale of war, but puts human emotions centre-stage: wrath, grief, love, heroism and separation.
With Bettany Hughes to discuss The Iliad’s origins, themes and continuing relevance to people across the world are: Stathis Livathinos, Director of the National Theatre of Greece; Antony Makrinos, a Greek classicist specialising in Homer who teaches at University College London; Professor Folake Onayemi, Head of the Classics Department at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; and Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King's College London.
Photo: An engraving depicting the Trojan war. (Getty Images)
Korea: Two Countries, One Past
November 26th, 2016, 01:15 PM
For over a thousand years the Korean Peninsula was one nation, with a unique identity and character. So what caused it to be divided into two countries that have become so radically different, culturally, economically and politically? Bridget Kendall is joined by Namhee Lee, associate professor of modern Korean history at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Eleanor Soo-ah Hyun, curator of the Korean Collections at the British Museum; and Dr James Hoare, a former diplomat who set up the first British Embassy in North Korea, and is now a Research Associate at the Centre of Korean Studies in the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS).
Photo: Korean dancers perform a traditional dance. (Getty Images)
Unpicking the UN
November 21st, 2016, 01:15 PM
What is the United Nations for, what brought it about, and has it lived up to expectations? As a new Secretary-General takes over, Bridget Kendall and guests give all you need to know about the world’s most ambitious public body. Joining Bridget Kendall are Jussi M. Hanhimäki, professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva; Heidi Tworek, fellow at the Transatlantic Academy and assistant professor of International History at the University of British Columbia; Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo, head of the Education Unit at Unesco’s Southern Africa regional office in Zimbabwe; Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, who served as Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan.
Photo: The United Nations building in New York. (Getty Images)
Drones and their Impact on the World
November 14th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Drones have been hailed as the most important technological development in aviation since the invention of the jet engine. They have changed the nature of modern warfare and they are also catalysing developments in fields as diverse as law enforcement, film production, disaster management, news gathering and agriculture. The availability and prevalence of drones in everyday life is increasing and creating enormous challenges in the fields of ethics, law and regulation – not least managing the flight paths of a potentially enormous number of small planes.
Bridget Kendall explores the history, present and future of drones. She is joined by Marke "Hoot" Gibson, the Federal Aviation Administration’s senior adviser on Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration; Sarah Kreps, associate professor of Government at Cornell University in the US; Michael Nautu who designs and builds drones for purposes ranging from agriculture and aerial mapping to “next-generation conservation” in Namibia.
(Photo: A drone flying above the New York City skyline. Credit: Getty Images)
DNA: the Code for Making Life
November 7th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Bridget Kendall and guests explore the current understanding of how DNA works, why it needs constant repair in every living organism and how new DNA-altering techniques can help cure some medical conditions. Joining Bridget are Swedish Nobel Laureate and Francis Crick Institute Emeritus Group Leader Tomas Lindahl who pioneered DNA repair studies, medical researcher Niels Geijsen from the Hubrecht Institute who works on curing diseases caused by faulty inherited genes, evolutionary biologist T Ryan Gregory from Guelph University who asks why an onion has 5 times as much DNA as a human, and Oxford University’s bio-archaeologist Greger Larson whose research suggests that dogs were independently domesticated twice, on different continents.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photos
The New Curators: Who Decides What’s Culturally Important?
November 1st, 2016, 01:15 PM
Some of us live in an age of super abundance – more things are being made and more information and goods are offered online than ever before.
Yet the internet also means that we no longer have to leave our selections to other people. If we want, we can sift through options to make our own choices, personalise our preferences, and even enlist the help of machine recommendations to highlight what we might like.
So in this brave new world, what is the role of a curator? Indeed, what does curation actually mean? With Bridget Kendall to explore the role of the modern curator, digital publisher Michael Bhaskar, the artistic director of the Serpentine Gallery in London, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, the director of one of India’s most iconic museums, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum in Mumbai.
Photo: Early 20th century, ornate porcelain vases on display at an exhibition. (Getty Images)
Do we Need Artificial Intelligence?
October 24th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Look out of the window and you won’t see many robots – but the AI revolution is here. The relentless encroachment of machine-thinking into every aspect of our lives is transforming the way we think and act. Machine-learning algorithms drive our smartphones and social media - and they are increasingly present in our homes, offices, schools and hospitals. Whether driving cars, diagnosing disease or marking essays, artificial intelligence is everywhere. But how does machine-thinking compare to human thought and what are the limitations of AI? From biased training data to impenetrable black-box algorithms, Quentin Cooper and guests explore the strengths and limitations of AI.
To discuss whether we need AI are - Zoubin Ghahramani, professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge and deputy director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence; Lydia Nicholas, senior researcher at the British innovation foundation Nesta; Professor Kentaro Toyama of the University of Michigan, co-founder of Microsoft Research India and author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology.
(Photo: A woman uses a mobile phone as she walks in front of an autonomous self-driving vehicle as it is tested in a pedestrianised zone. Credit: Getty Images)
Concrete: Foundation of the Modern World
October 17th, 2016, 01:15 PM
It has been around since before 6,000BC, the Ancient Egyptians used a version of it and so did the Romans. Nowadays it is the most common man-made building material in the world, used for some of the planet's biggest engineering projects - and some of the smallest. It has not always been loved by the public but architects and designers see both practicality and beauty. There is also an environmental issue - the production of concrete has a major environmental impact. So what of its future? Bridget Kendall explores concrete with architect Anupama Kundoo, design critic and writer Stephen Bayley and engineer and scientist professor Paulo Monteiro.
(Photo: The ceiling of the Pantheon in Rome is an example of Roman concrete construction. Credit: Getty Images)
Why Are We Generous?
October 10th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Generosity feels like a good idea - most of us enjoy being generous from time to time and having people be generous to us. But what drives our altruistic tendencies?
From local volunteering to big philanthropic donations, from small acts of kindness to major sacrifices, what does this sort of behaviour say about us as human beings?
Do we really give without expecting something in return, or is there always some element of self- interest?
Joining Bridget Kendall to explore how and why we are generous are evolutionary anthropologist David Sloan Wilson, philosopher Judith Lichtenberg and experimental psychologist Patricia Lockwood.
Photo: Offering Aid after forest fire. Credit Cole Burston AFP Getty Images
Reducing Urban Poverty
October 3rd, 2016, 01:15 PM
With half the world’s population now living in just 1% of the land area, urban poverty is a growing problem. We head to a gathering of leading global thinkers at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre, to explore practical and innovative ways to tackle the issue. Quentin Cooper is joined by population expert Purnima Mane, anthropologist professor Francis Nyamnjoh, former president of a chain of ethical grocery stores Doug Rauch, and food and water policy expert Paula Daniels.
(Photo: Comuna 13 Shantytown Colombia. Credit: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images)
Using Other People’s Water
September 26th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Bridget Kendal is joined by Professor in Water Management Arjen Hoekstra to discuss the idea that we urgently need to change industrial and agricultural practices to reduce our water footprint and avert a global crisis. Esther de Jong specialises in water usage in the developing world. She believes water use and gender are closely related. Also joining the discussion is scientific diver Henry Kaiser who is inspired by waters beneath Antarctica to create haunting soundscapes.
Photo: Henry Kaiser working under the ice at Arrival Heights, beneath Ross Sea ice near McMurdo Station, Antarctica (Credit: Rob Robbins)
How Shyness and Introversion can be a Strength
September 19th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Shyness and introversion are both very common human characteristics, but why do they have so many different guises? Rajan Datar asks the developmental psychologist Louis Schmidt, the behavioural scientist Sanna Balsari-Palsule and the cultural historian Joe Moran.
(Photo: A lady hides behind a fan. Credit: Shan Pillay)
Turmoil Around the World and in Ourselves
September 12th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Turmoil is all around us – in politics, in our mental health and in fantasy fiction, which often seems to excite our hunger for nightmare scenarios.
With threats of terrorism, environmental catastrophe and political pandemonium around the globe amplified by modern communications, Samira Ahmed is joined by psychiatrist Mina Fazel, political scientist Daniel Drezner, and horror writer and Zombie expert Max Brooks to explore how we might cope with real or perceived disaster and disorder and examine whether the apparent chaos of the modern world really is greater than ever before.
(Photo: People wave national flags as they march to react against a military coup attempt, in Ankara, in July 2016. Credit: Getty Images)
Underground: How Deep Can Life Survive?
September 5th, 2016, 01:15 PM
This week, The Forum delves into the subterranean world of life underground – from the forgotten tunnels and catacombs of our cities to life found in the stifling sunless world two miles below the Earth’s surface. Might humans one day retreat underground if living above ground becomes too tough? Bridget Kendall with Social Geographer Dr. Bradley L. Garrett, Zoologist Dr. Gaetan Borgonie and Isotope Geochemist Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar.
Photo: Car Quarry image (credit: Bradley L. Garrett)
Fire: How Climate Change is Altering our Attitudes to Wildfires
August 29th, 2016, 01:15 PM
As fire risks change due to climate change, how should we deal with fire to protect human health and property without compromising the integrity of our environment? Bridget Kendall asks the geologist Andrew Scott, the fire ecologist Jennifer Balch and the biologist David Bowman.
(Photo: A fire tornado in California, USA. Credit: Getty Images)
What is the Best Way to Deal with Anxiety?
August 22nd, 2016, 01:15 PM
Anxiety is a universal human emotion that has been described as the price-tag on freedom. It is the price we pay for a brain that can anticipate the future. But when anxiety spirals out of control it can take over our lives as we battle against phobias, panic attacks, dread and debilitating fear. So how is anxiety triggered and constructed in the brain? Is the almond-shaped amygdala the seat of fear or are our anxieties constructed in other parts of the brain? And for those made miserable by anxiety, how best can it be treated?
Bridget Kendall explores the biology of anxiety and some unexpected approaches to treatment, including friendship benches and therapy horses. She is joined by Joseph LeDoux, author of Anxiety and professor of Neuroscience and director of the Emotional Brain Institute, New York University; Dr Dixon Chibanda, a consultant Psychiatrist in Zimbabwe and pioneer of the Friendship Bench; Susanna Forrest, a British authority on the horse and author of The Age of Horse: An Equine Journey through Human History.
(Photo: A young man holding his head in his hands)
Image Overload: Coping with the Modern World's Visual Clutter
August 15th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Our lives are increasingly cluttered by images, not just in the world around us, but on advertising bill-boards, television screens, and even on our mobile phones. So how are we to process this barrage of information and make sense of the visual world?
How can today’s designers help us and how are we to avoid image-overload? Bridget Kendall talks to three people who help us navigate the increasingly crowded world of visual imagery: Alan Kitching, one of the world’s foremost practitioners of letterpress typographic design and printmaking, Aowen Jin, a Chinese-born artist who leads museum tours in the dark and Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who spent six years designing London’s skyscraper The Shard.
(Image: Edition Print, 2012 by Alan Kitching)
Balloons and How they Changed the World
August 8th, 2016, 01:15 PM
A small toy balloon floating free into the sky. A giant hot air balloon filled with passengers peering down at the ground. Classic images, but what about the huge balloons now being developed to help us explore outer space? Or the tiny balloons which bio engineers inflate inside your body to help blood surge through your veins? Or the extraordinary balloonomania that spread across Northern Europe in the late 18th century? Bridget Kendall explores the colourful history of the balloon and its even more intriguing future with guests:
Debbie Fairbrother, Chief of NASA’s Balloon Programme Office.
Professor Claudio Capelli, cardiovascular engineer from the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.
Fiona Stafford, Professor of literature from Somerville College, University of Oxford.
Photo: NASA’s super pressure balloon is designed for long-duration flights at mid-latitudes to provide scientists and engineers with a means to inexpensively access the ’near-space’ environment for conducting research and technology test missions. The balloon’s operational float altitude is 110,000 feet (33.5 kilometers) (Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman)
Sharing and Why it is Essential for the Human Race
August 1st, 2016, 01:15 PM
Everyone likes to be alone sometimes, but we also all spend much of our lives collaborating and sharing things with others. Many argue that on this increasingly crowded planet, we need to master the art of sharing much better if we are to survive and flourish. So what makes us want to share new ideas and pass on our experience?
Bridget Kendall discusses three very kinds of sharing - digital information, genes and national infrastructure. She is joined by Jonah Berger, marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States; Connie Jeffery, assistant professor of Biological Sciences and head of the Jeffery Lab at the University of Illinois in Chicago; Dr Elham Ibrahim, commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy for the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
(Photo: The Golden Gate Bridge, in California, provides a means to sharing infrastructure. Credit: Getty Images)
The Unpredictable Planet: Understanding Volcanoes and Earthquakes
July 25th, 2016, 01:15 PM
New ideas about volcanoes, earthquakes and other geological processes that both enrich and threaten us. Jack Stewart is joined by four leading Earth scientists in the city of Yokohama at the 2016 Goldschmidt Conference - volcanologists Tamsin Mather and Michihiko Nakamura, plate tectonics expert Carl Spandler and seismologist and Nature magazine editor John VanDecar.
(Photo: Mount Fuji in Japan. Credit: Getty Images)
Do You Know What You’re Eating?
July 18th, 2016, 01:15 PM
If you think of your favourite foods – chocolate, maybe, or samosas, or pizza – do you really know where all the ingredients came from? Bridget Kendall asks the food scientist Chris Elliott, the software designer Jérôme Malavoy and the food labelling expert Monique Raats.
Photo: The food label on a box of brownies (Getty Images)
Radioactivity: Friend or Foe?
July 11th, 2016, 01:15 PM
One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of radioactivity is often a nuclear accident or dangerous rays. But radioactivity is in fact a much more varied phenomenon, one that can bring us great benefits as well as put us in danger. With help from three experts, Rajan Datar looks for a more nuanced picture of the role radioactivity plays in our lives.
Photo: A symbol for radioactivity is visible on a radioactively-contaminated container. (Getty Images)
Defiance: Why Are Some People More Defiant than Others?
July 4th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Acts of defiance small or large have proved to be incredibly powerful throughout history, but when does defiance spill into aggression? Bridget Kendall asks the employment lawyer Lewis Maltby, the theatre director Olivier Py and the psychopathologist Dr Luna Muñoz Centifanti.
(Photo: Historic Marker at the bus stop in Alabama, USA, where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Credit: Getty Images)
Microbes and Humans: The Science of Living Together
June 27th, 2016, 01:15 PM
The Obama administration recently announced it will spend over a hundred million dollars on deepening our knowledge of the human microbiome - the bacteria, fungi, viruses and other organisms which make their home in and on our bodies. Bridget Kendall is joined by three people whose work in different ways enriches our appreciation of the world of human microbiota - the epidemiologist Mark Woolhouse, microbiology educator Christine Marizzi and gut flora researcher Jeroen Raes.
(Photo: The NYC Biome MAP part of the Collective Urban Biome MAP project. Credit: Genspace NYC and The DNA Learning Center)
Unfinished: The Art of the Incomplete
June 20th, 2016, 01:15 PM
We are at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York at The Met Breuer, where the exhibition "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible", is a springboard to explore the notion of things unfinished or incomplete. The concept of a work of art that is unfinished, the so called 'non finito' style, has been with us since the Renaissance. But it has taken on new meaning in modern art of the 20th and 21st Century. So how should we respond to a work which is unfinished whether it is a painting, a book, a piece of music, a film or a building? And, how does the idea of ‘unfinished’ translate into an ever-changing historical and political context?
Presenter Bridget Kendall is joined by Andrea Bayer, Jayne Wrightsman, Curator in The Met’s Department of European Paintings and co-curator of "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible" at The Met Breuer; Negin Farsad, a celebrated stand-up comedian, actor and film-maker of Iranian heritage; Kerry James Marshall, the internationally renowned American artist whose work will be the subject of a major exhibition at The Met Breuer this October 2016; Andrew Solomon, professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University in New York, and an award-winning writer who is also president of PEN American Center.
(Photo: The Met Breuer in New York. Credit: Ed Lederman)
Talking Rubbish: Clever Ways with Waste
June 13th, 2016, 01:15 PM
According to the United Nations, we probably throw away over one billion tonne of waste every year. Some goes into landfill, some is destroyed and some is recycled. The mountain of cast-off litter is not just a huge environmental challenge, but a logistical one as well. Bridget Kendall explores ideas about how to harness waste with - Martin Medina, a global waste consultant, who suggests scavenging might be the answer to developing country’s growing waste problems; Dr Tom Licence, an historian at the University of East Anglia and ‘garbologist’, who uses archaeological beachcombing for historical rubbish to unveil our detailed past; Polly Morgan an artist who uses taxidermy to ascribe new meaning to what was once discarded and dead.
(Photo: A rubbish tip in Kolonawa suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Credit: Getty Images)
Resilience: A Survivor's Guide to Adversity
June 6th, 2016, 01:15 PM
These days everyone from schoolchildren to business owners is being told to become more resilient, but what does resilience mean in geological time? How and why do some organisms survive mass extinctions? And, on a shorter time-scale, how do people cope with the demands of dictators? Janina Ramirez and her guests discuss how to survive adversity across time and space.
(Photo: Caiman crocodiles in San Marcos, Sucre in Colombia. Credit: Getty Images)
When Does Healthy Competition Become Destructive?
May 30th, 2016, 01:15 PM
What is the place of rivalry in human behaviour? What drives it? And where is the dividing line between competition as a positive force and one that wreaks havoc? Samira Ahmed discusses rivalry in sport, in cities and in our minds with psychologist Stephen Garcia, sport morality expert Maria Kavussanu and historian Philip Mansel.
(Photo: The finish line at the men's 100 meters final at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. Credit: Getty Images)
After Dark: How we Respond to Darkness
May 23rd, 2016, 01:15 PM
Dr Janina Ramirez explores our relationship with, and attitudes to, darkness and the night. From the beginning of humanity when night was a time to sleep and hide from predators, over millennia the night and darkness has gathered a multitude of myths and cultural references all around the world and is something we can exploit, or something we might fear. Dr Janina Ramirez examines the human perspective of the dark, from night vision technology to Norwegian forest myths.
Dr Ravindra Athale, of the Office of Naval Research in Arlington USA, an expert on night vision technology, who examines how nocturnal animals help high tech, and how our ability to see at night has affected the way we use the dark to conceal and surprise.
Professor John Bowen from the University of York in the UK, an expert on Gothic literature and its roots.
Erland Loe, the celebrated Norwegian author, who explores his own and fellow Norwegian’s response to long dark winter nights.
Noam Elcott, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Media at Columbia University in the USA who discusses the literal and metaphorical use of dark and night in film art and the dark room.
(Photo: An artist's Illustration of a haunted forest. Credit: Shan Pillay)
Brain Drain: Can We Stem the Flow?
May 16th, 2016, 01:15 PM
The Forum is in Cape Town, South Africa, as guests of The British Council at the Going Global Conference. As globalisation enables the transit and relocation of people ever more quickly and easily, what impact is there on countries who desperately need to keep their skilled labour and what are the issues that need addressing? With Quentin Cooper to discuss the Brain Drain is professor Olusola Oyewole from Nigeria, Dr Jo Beall, from the British Council, professor Tao Xie from Beijing and Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo, from Unesco.
(Photo: a human brain in a glass box. Credit: Getty Images)
May 9th, 2016, 01:15 PM
People have come up with the idea of the wheel many times and in different places, but what were the key turning points which led to mass transport and the miracle of modern logistics? Bridget Kendall discusses the still-unfolding story of the wheel with historian Richard Bulliet, logistics expert Jagjit Singh Srai and Cyr wheel dancer Valerie Inertie.
(Photo: Wagon wheels and the view of Monument Valley in Utah, USA)
Rules and how they govern us
May 2nd, 2016, 01:15 PM
We all need rules - nature has them and we impose them on our communities in order to function; sometimes fairly and sometimes not- depending on your perspective. But just how important are rules and how do rules in nature affect our function as human beings? And how are our rules being used and interpreted by machines as artificial intelligence and deep learning evolve at enormous speed?
Bridget Kendall discusses rules in nature, rules in society and rules in robotics and AI with Sean B. Carroll, professor of molecular biology, genetics, and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, whose new book The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters, explores regulation in the natural world- from every molecule in our bodies to the number of animals and plants in the wild. Dr Nina Power, a philosopher interested in protest who explores when and why we break the rules. And, Dr Jason Millar an engineer and philosopher who explores the ethics of robotics- how we apply human rules to machines and how they might begin to interpret those rules independently.
(Photo: The Forum book of rules)
Balance: How we Find Equilibrium
April 25th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Balance is essential. It stops us falling over or getting too cross and it stops machines failing catastrophically. There are also very fine balances present, more generally in nature and across the universe. But much of the World is not in exact and perpetual balance - it needs constant fine tuning.
To help explore our latest understanding of balance in human beings, machines and music, Bridget Kendall talks to Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the distinguished Moldovan-Austrian violinist, who explores the internal balance need to play world class music; Jade Kindar-Martin, high wire artist and member of the Flying Wallendas who examines the fine tuning of mind and body needed to keep in balance on a high wire; Professor Andrew Heyes, head of Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland who looks at the very fine balances needed to ensure machines work effectively and safely.
(Photo: Acrobats form a human pyramid as they rehearse with Le Grand Cirque at the Sydney Opera House, 2009. Credit: Getty Images)
Lost and Found
April 16th, 2016, 01:15 PM
From the horrors of human suffering and plunder of ancient artefacts in war to the reshaping of musical traditions, we examine the notion of things lost and found.
British journalist Julian Borger reflects on the unmasking of some of the most notorious Balkan war criminals, Iraqi archaeologist Dr Lamia al-Gailani Werr mourns the loss of ancient relics in modern conflict and American pianist Bruce Brubaker deconstructs modern minimalist music.
(Photo: The inner walls of Babylon, Iraq)
A Single World, Many Identities?
April 11th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Bestselling Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, Nick Bostrom from Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute and Ann Phoenix from UCL's Institute of Education trace the evolution of 21st century identity with the BBC’s Jo Fidgen. Are technology and geopolitics conspiring to create a new type of human, unrecognisable to our forebears? Is ‘serial migration’ the new norm for transnational families and what effect is this having on the identity of the young? Or perhaps we should drop the concept of Identity altogether?
(Photo: Left to right, Ann Phoenix, Elif Shafak and Nick Bostrom)
Living at the Edge: Life in Extreme Environments
April 6th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Bridget Kendall explores extreme living and what it tells us, from human exploration to deep sea fish and synthetic biology. Bridget and her guests explore hot dry deserts and sub-zero polar ice, deep sea vents, salt heavy lakes, acid hot springs and outer space. NASA scientist Lynn Rothschild is a pioneer in the field of astrobiology, interested in probing the limits of life on earth, to better understand where we might find life signs elsewhere in the universe. Oliver Crimmen is the Fish Curator at the Natural History Museum in London. He’s an expert on how some sea creatures can survive both freezing and hot water – and several miles beneath the surface of our oceans. And explorer Rosie Stancer takes her own body to the edge – with solo trips to both the South Pole and the Arctic North, and a new expedition planned across China’s largest desert.
(Image credit: Science Photo Library)
March 30th, 2016, 01:15 PM
Is the idea of a pristine landscape an illusion, given that over thousands of years human activity has almost everywhere left its mark? Bridget Kendall asks the gardener Gilly Drummond, the land artist Danae Stratou, the archaeobotanist Dorian Fuller, and the historian William Beinart.
(Photo: Blenheim Palace Park where English landscape architect Capability Brown created a 150-acre lake and planted more than a million trees to make perhaps his finest artificial landscape © Blenheim Palace)