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Huffduffed (6)

  1. The Secret Scientists, Part Three

    In part three Professor Jim Al-Khalili looks at the work of Abu Rayhan Biruni, whose work on astronomy led to the calculation of the Earth's circumference with an incredible degree of accuracy.

    Jim also explores how the Christian Crusades, the invasion of the Mongols, the fall of the Abbasid dynasty and the discovery of the New World may have contributed to the slow-down of great scholarship during the 13th century.

    Finally he explores the status of science in the modern Muslim world and investigates recent developments in funding, research and efforts to promote awareness of the scientific glories of the past.


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  2. The Secret Scientists, Part Two

    In part two Dr Jackie Stedall and Professor Ian Stewart tell us the story of Al-Khwarismi, the mathematician who introduced the world to the radical system of Hindu numerals - the numbers zero to nine - and how the word algebra comes from the Arabic title of one of his books.

    In his book he revolutionised maths by focussing on the relationships between numbers rather than simply using maths to find the answer to particular problems. For mathematicians today, this was a vital development in our understanding. Another legacy was his name which gives us the modern word algorithm, a process that lies at the heart of how all computers work.

    Professor Nader el-Bizri tells also of the great Ibn al-Haytham, who first realised how it is that vision works.

    His work with light and optics was so revolutionary that he could be seen as the father of physics, rivaling Isaac Newton for the title.

    Perhaps more importantly, he was also the instigator of what we now call the scientific method. Some people have thought that such a precise approach to scientific study began in Europe, hundreds of years later.

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  3. The Secret Scientists, Part One

    According to the popular notion of science history, the period between the ninth and thirteenth centuries was what has come to be called the Dark Ages.

    Scientific advances ground to a halt and the world languished in an intellectual backwater and then the Renaissance happened. The world woke up and great science got going again, picking up where the ancient Greeks and Romans had left off.

    But, as Professor Jim Al-Khalili will show in this series, that simply is not true.

    While Europe may have been less productive during this period, elsewhere in the world a vast Islamic empire was buzzing with intellectual activity.

    A massive movement to translate the work of other cultures allowed scholars working in Arabic to understand, build on and then surpass the scientific achievements of the past, leaving a valuable legacy to the scientists of the European Renaissance.

    In part one Jim meets Professor Peter Pormann, a specialist in the history of medicine at the great library of the medical charity the Wellcome Trust in London. He introduces us to the great physician Mohammed Ibn Zakariya ar-Razi, whose groundbreaking work on differential diagnosis, specifically with measles and smallpox, was still being quoted in English and French texts hundreds of years after his death.

    Jim also goes to the chemistry laboratory of Dr Andrea Sella, who tells us about Jabir Ibn Hayyan. Jim believes that Jabir was the true father of chemistry, responsible for elevating previous work to the status of a science.

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  4. Episode 47: Interview Grady Booch | Software Engineering Radio

    In this Episode we are happy to talk to Grady Booch. We started off by discussing his Architecture Handbook, how it came into being, the progress, and how it will look like once it's finished. In this context we also looked at the issue of how to distinguish architecture from design. We then asked him about how "professional" software architecture is these days, as well as about the ubiquity of software product lines in industry. The next couple of minutes looked at the question of whether software development is an engineering discipline, craftsmanship or an art form, and we discussed the key qualifications of software developers. Grady then elaborated on the problems of developing in large teams as well as the potential limits of complexity we can tackle with software.

    We then got back to a more technical discussion, where we looked at model-driven development, DSLs, etc. and the role of the UML in that context. Next was a discussion about scripting languages, and the current trend towards new languages. We then looked at component marketplaces and other forms of reuse, as well as the importance of OO these days and the relevance of AO. We concluded with a (small) outlook to the future.

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  5. Why It’s Hard to Admit to Being Wrong

    We all have a hard time admitting that we're wrong, but according to a new book about human psychology, it's not entirely our fault. Social psychologist Elliot Aronson says our brains work hard to make us think we are doing the right thing, even in the face of sometimes overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    Elliot Aronson, co-author, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me); social psychologist; professor emeritus, psychology, University of California Santa Cruz.

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  6. Robert McCrum | Globish: How the English Language Became the World’s Language

    Robert McCrum is the associate editor of The Observer (London) and co-author of the bestseller The Story of English, a history of the English language, that went on to be adapted into an Emmy Award-winning nine-part PBS television series. He is the author of six works of fiction, including In the Secret State and Mainland. Among his nonfiction books are the acclaimed biography Wodehouse: A Life and the memoir My Year Off: Recovering Life after a Stroke. In Globish, McCrum argues, "that a seismic shift in the foundations of our lingua franca has transformed [British and American English] from an expression of Anglo-American cultural sovereignty into a supra-national phenomenon, with its own powerful inner dynamic." (recorded 6/10/2010)

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