Tagged with “bbc” (317)

  1. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy: Passports

    How much might global economic output rise if anyone could work anywhere? Some economists have calculated it would double. By the turn of the 20th century only a handful of countries were still insisting on passports to enter or leave. Today, migrant controls are back in fashion. It can seem like a natural fact of life that the name of the country on our passport determines where you can travel and work – legally, at least.

    But it’s a relatively recent historical development – and, from a certain angle, an odd one. Many countries take pride in banning employers from discriminating against characteristics we can’t change: whether we’re male or female, young or old, gay or straight, black or white.

    It’s not entirely true that we can’t change our passport: if you’ve got $250,000, for example, you can buy one from St Kitts and Nevis. But mostly our passport depends on the identity of our parents and location of our birth. And nobody chooses those.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p052spyb

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  2. The Digital Human: Haunted

    Aleks Krotoski asks if we are haunted by our technology, or are we haunting it?

    So much of our experience of technology can feel a bit like being haunted. It starts like any good ghost story with the just mildly unsettling; things aren’t were you left them or seem to have moved on their own within our devices. Its a creepy feeling that leaves you unsure about what to believe. Our understanding of how much of technology works is so limited that when it starts to behave out of the ordinary we have no explanation. This is when we start to make very peculiar judgement’s; "why did you do that" we plead, as if some hidden force was at work.

    For some these feelings of being haunted by our technology can develop into full blown apparitions; keen gamers frequently experience Game transfer Phenomena where they literally see images of their game play in the real world, an involuntary augmented reality. While the hallucinations aren’t necessarily distressing in themselves the experiences can leave individuals questioning their sanity.

    The coming internet of things will bring problems of its own; smart locks that mysteriously open by themselves for example as if under the influence of some poltergeist. Aleks herself has had the experience of digital ‘gas lighting’ (a term drawn from an Ingrid Bergman movie of a woman being driven mad by husband) when her partner logged on to their home automation system remotely and started to mess with the lights while Aleks was home alone. As one commentator puts it in a reworking of the old Arthur C. Clarke quote "any sufficiently advanced hacking is indistinguishable from haunting."

    And as our devices and appliances increasingly start talking to each other bypassing us altogether who’s to say we, like Nicole Kidman’s character in The Others, haven’t become the ghost in the machine.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b080t0p9

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  3. Video Games

    From Spacewar to Pokemon Go, video games – aside from becoming a large industry in their own right – have influenced the modern economy in some surprising ways. Here’s one. In 2016, four economists presented research into a puzzling fact about the US labour market. The economy was growing, unemployment rates were low, and yet a surprisingly large number of able-bodied young men were either working part-time or not working at all. More puzzling still, while most studies of unemployment find that it makes people thoroughly miserable, the happiness of these young men was rising. The researchers concluded that the explanation was simply that this cohort of young men were living at home, sponging off their parents and playing videogames. They were deciding, in the other words, not to join the modern economy in some low-paid job, because being a starship captain at home is far more appealing.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p051gbxd

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  4. The Future of the Future

    How does the accelerating pace of technology change the way we think about the future?

    It’s said that science fiction writers now spend more time telling stories about today than about tomorrow, because the potential of existing technology to change our world is so rich that there is no need to imagine the future - it’s already here. Does this mean the future is dead? Or that we are experiencing a profound shift in our understanding of what the future means to us, how it arrives, and what forces will shape it?

    Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore how our evolving understanding of time and the potential of technological change are transforming the way we think about the future.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08nqc4j

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  5. The Clock

    The clock was invented in 1656 and has become an essential part of the modern economy.

    There’s no such thing as “the correct time”. Like the value of money, it’s a convention that derives its usefulness from the widespread acceptance of others. But there is such a thing as accurate timekeeping. That dates from 1656, and a Dutchman named Christiaan Huygens. In the centuries since, as Tim Harford explains, the clock has become utterly essential to almost every area of the modern economy.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04skkw4

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  6. Public key cryptography

    Geeks versus government – the story of public key cryptography.

    Take a very large prime number – one that is not divisible by anything other than itself. Then take another. Multiply them together. That is simple enough, and it gives you a very, very large “semi-prime” number. That is a number that is divisible only by two prime numbers. Now challenge someone else to take that semi-prime number, and figure out which two prime numbers were multiplied together to produce it. That, it turns out, is exceptionally hard. Some mathematics are a lot easier to perform in one direction than another. Public key cryptography works by exploiting this difference. And without it we would not have the internet as we know it. Tim Harford tells the story of public key cryptography – and the battle between the geeks who developed it, and the government which tried to control it.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04vqrwy

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  7. Free Thinking Festival: Time, Space and Science

    Carlos Frenk, Eugenia Cheng, Jim Al-Khalili and Louisa Preston debate time and space.

    Carlos Frenk, Eugenia Cheng, Jim Al-Khalili and Louisa Preston debate time and space with presenter Rana Mitter and an audience at Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead.

    We can measure time passing but what actually is it? What do scientists mean when they suggest that time is an illusion. Can time exist in a black hole? Is everyone’s experience of time subjective? What is the connection between time and space? How does maths help us understand the universe?

    Professor Carlos Frenk is founding Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University and the winner of the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2014.

    Dr Eugenia Cheng is Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sheffield. She is trilingual, a concert-level classical pianist and the author of Beyond Infinity: An Expedition To The Outer Limits Of The Mathematical Universe.

    Jim Al-Khalili is Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific and TV documentaries. His books include Paradox: the Nine Greatest Enigmas in Science, Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines and Quantum: a Guide for the Perplexed.

    Dr Louisa Preston is a UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow. An astrobiologist, planetary geologist and author, she is based at Birkbeck, University of London. Her first book is Goldilocks and the Water Bears: the Search for Life in the Universe.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04z7ws1

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  8. An Antarctic Chef

    Charles Green. Chas to his family, ‘cook’ to his colleagues. A young baker whose sense of adventure drew him to a career cooking on the sea. You may never have heard of Charles, but you certainly will have heard of an expedition on which he played a crucial role…

    Charles was cook for the crew of the 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. A disastrous expedition which ended up lasting for more than two years. The men were forced to camp on moving ice flows, and eventually a remote Antarctic beach on Elephant Island. But against all odds, every man on Shackleton’s ship The Endurance survived. In August 1916, the men were rescued. They were on the edge of starvation.

    During their time on the ice, Charlie Green cooked tirelessly using his creative flair to concoct meals out of exceptionally meagre means. His food kept the men alive. He went back to the Antarctic with Shackleton on the expedition which would be Shackleton’s last. But then, despite living until the 1970s, he faded into obscurity. Known only for slide shows that he gave locally with the well-known images of the expedition.

    One hundred years on, another Antarctic chef Gerard Baker, uncovers the extraordinary life led by Charles Green and his version of two years cooking for the men of the Endurance. One of the greatest survival stories of all time.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07vk71m

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  9. Cooking clubs in Basqueland

    Spain’s Basque region exerts a powerful influence on global cuisine, Dan Saladino finds out why. Heston Blumenthal and writer Harold Mcgee provide insights into this food culture.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0829dcq

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  10. Google—50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

    The words ‘clever’ and ‘death’ crop up less often than ‘Google’ in conversation. That’s according to researchers at the University of Lancaster in the UK. It took just two decades for Google to reach this cultural ubiquity. Larry Page and Sergey Brin – Google’s founders – were not, initially, interested in designing a better way to search. Their Stanford University project had a more academic motivation. Tim Harford tells the extraordinary story of a technology which might shape our access to knowledge for generations to come.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04rv3v3

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