Jim al-Khalili talks to the astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell about missing out a Nobel Prize, sexism in science and a strange smudge in the data from a radio telescope. While others dismissed this smudge as insignificant, Jocelyn revealed a series of strange flashing signals. They might have been evidence of faulty radio telescope or even messages from a little green man; but Jocelyn thought otherwise and her determination to get to the bottom of it all, led to one of the most exciting discoveries in 20th century astronomy, the discovery of pulsars, those dense cores of collapsed stars.
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Jim al-Khalili talks to Steven Pinker, a scientist who’s not afraid of controversy. From verbs to violence, many say his popular science books are mind-changing. He explains why toddlers say “holded” not held and “digged” rather than dug; how children’s personalities are shaped largely by their genes and why, he believes the recent rioters had plenty of self-esteem.
Aleks Krotoski examines how computer gaming is affecting our culture – by creating genuine works of art, by altering our notions of storytelling, and by simple virtue of being the cultural medium many people spend most time attached to.
Computer or videogames have been around for 40 years, but the wider cultural implications have tended to be glossed over in favour of discussion of the size of the gaming economy and concerns about games’ social impact.
Yet in recent years the artfulness of games has grown so much that the Smithsonian in Washington DC is now hosting a major exhibition of gaming art.
New technology and the spread of games to phones, tablets and PCs are creating millions of new users.
The immersive possibilities of this uniquely-interactive medium are just being explored.
On Start the Week Andrew Marr looks into the digital future. Nick Harkaway dismisses fears of a digital dystopia in which distracted people, caught between the real world and the screen world, are under constant surveillance. He believes we need to engage with the computers we have created, and shape our own destiny. Simon Ings is the editor of a new digital magazine, Arc, which uses science fiction to explore and explain what the future might hold for society. While Anab Jain’s design company uses scenarios and prototypes to probe emerging technologies and ideas, from headsets to help the blind to see, to everyday objects with their very own internet connection. And Charles Arthur investigates the battle for dominance of the internet with Apple, Google and Microsoft struggling to stay on top, and asks what that means for the rest of us.
Start The Week sets the cultural agenda for the week ahead, with high-profile guests discussing the ideas behind their work in the fields of art, literature, film, science, history, society and politics.
The woman who fell from the sky: the aircrash sole-survivor’s story.
Juliane Koepcke was travelling on an internal flight over the Peruvian jungle when it was struck by lightning and disintegrated. She fell from over 10,000 feet into the rainforest and was the only survivor.
Ms Koepcke found herself falling in open air, she came to still in her seat (which was attached to the intact row) after plunging more than two miles through the air, through the jungle canopy and to the jungle floor.
Which are the world’s biggest cities, and what are their populations? Two simple questions that we discover are surprisingly difficult to answer. Plus, has the world got heavier or lighter since the industrial revolution? It’s a question posed by a More or Less listener that got us wondering, too. Dr Chris Smith, part of a group of Cambridge University researchers, known as the Naked Scientists, reckons he’s worked out the answer. This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.
Four Thought talks include stories and ideas which will affect our future, in politics, society, the economy, business, science, technology or the arts. Recorded live, the talks are given by a range of people with a new thought to share.
After the internet and social media, what will be the next technological revolution? Writer, blogger and social entrepreneur Russell M. Davies argues that like the early days of blogging, we are about to witness another flowering of individual creativity. This time, he says, it will unleash "all sorts of interesting gadgety things", and determine our relationships with them. "It’s about making your own stuff, which might be a bit silly and a bit trivial and pointless, but you get the satisfaction of making it yourself," he says. This revolution in individual gadgetry - and designing our relationship with them - will prove "exciting, radical, life-affirming stuff". Four Thought is a series of talks which combine thought provoking ideas and engaging storytelling. Recorded in front of an audience at the RSA in London, speakers take to the stage to air their latest thinking on the trends, ideas, interests and passions that affect our culture and society.
So you want to be an astronaut? Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by space experts Chris Riley, Dr Kevin Fong and comedian Helen Keen to discuss the future of human space flight.
Rory Cellan-Jones looks at the social networking sites of the future and asks where the phenomenon is heading. New sites are springing up all the time. The future of social networking could lie in localised sites geared towards specific interests, in limiting your online circle to your closest friends, or in sites that allow users to keep control of their personal information. Finally, Rory returns to the social networking pioneers of the 70s and 80s. How do the hippies and hackers who created the first social networks think their revolution has turned out? Part 3 of 3.
On this week’s edition of the Naked Scientist, the world comes a step closer to making quantum computing a reality — and for those not in the know, a quantum computer offers a gigantic — rather than a "quantum" - leap forward in computing power and could be capable of the kinds of computations that we need to perform to design the next generation of drugs and pharmaceuticals. Ansell and Ben Valsler, to take a look at what else has been making scientific headlines around the world this week, including why street lighting could spell disaster for birds’ breeding habits and how researchers have shed new light on how antidepressants work in the brain.
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