Jo Marchant is an award-winning journalist who specializes in writing about cutting-edge science. She has worked as a staff reporter and editor for Nature and New Scientist, where she is currently a consultant. Jo is the author of one previous book, Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer, and her latest book is The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy.
First broadcast on 3rd September 2013.
Misha Glenny is a distinguished journalist and historian. As the Central Europe Correspondent first for the Guardian and then for the BBC, he chronicled the collapse of communism and the wars in the former Yugoslavia. He won the Sony Gold Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting. The author of four books, including the acclaimed McMafia, he has been regularly consulted by the US and European governments on major policy issues and ran an NGO for three years, assisting with the reconstruction of Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo. Misha's latest book is DarkMarket: CyberThieves, CyberCops and You.
Derek Pasquill worked as a civil servant at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a unit dealing with engagement with the Islamic world. He grew increasingly concerned over the government's tacit support for the US's policy of extraordinary rendition, and with the Foreign Office's policy of consulting on issues of concern to the Muslim community exclusively via extremists in the Muslim Council of Britain.
Derek leaked a number of documents to The Observer newspaper, and to journalist Martin Bright, which formed the basis of a number of critical articles, and also Bright's pamphlet for Policy Exchange, “When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries”. In January 2006 Derek was arrested and subsequently charged with six counts of breaching the Official Secrets Act.
Derek lived for two years facing a possible prison sentence, until his actions were vindicated when the case was thrown out at the Old Bailey earlier this month. It had come to light that Derek's leaks had caused a significant rethink of the government's strategy. Support for extraordinary rendition had been quietly dropped, as had the government's over-reliance on the MCB.
Alex Bellos is the bestselling author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland, which was shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize. In 2002 he wrote a critically acclaimed book about Brazilian football, and in 2006 he ghost-wrote Pele's autobiography, which was a number one bestseller. He is the Guardian's maths-blogger, and has worked for the paper in London and Rio de Janeiro as its unusually numerate foreign correspondent. He is a curator-in-residence at the Science Museum and has a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford. His Latest book is Alex Through the Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life. Alex has been my guest on Little Atoms twice.
Interview one first broadcast on 17th September 2010.
Interview two first broadcast on 24th May 2014.
Susan Cain is a writer who specializes in psychological non-fiction. She has a blog on psychology today.com, and her New York Times article on the evolutionary benefits of shyness was the most emailed article in the paper when published. Susan graduated with honors from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She previously worked in corporate law for seven years, representing clients such as J. P. Morgan and General Electric, and then became a negotiations consultant with clients including Merrill Lynch and Shearman & Sterling. Susan is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.
First broadcast on 6th April 2012.
Tim Minchin is an Australian musician, actor, comedian and writer. Originally from Perth, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre at the University of Western Australia in 1995, then an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Music at the Conservatorium of WA – part of the WA Academy of Performing Arts – in 1998.
In 2002, he moved to Melbourne, where he began to develop the solo comedy shows which have gained him public and critical acclaim in the last three years. He developed his unique style during an 18-month period when he played regularly in the famous 40-seat cabaret room of The Butterfly Club in South Melbourne, before producing his break out show, Dark Side, at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2005. This show won the inaugural Festival Directors' Award and was picked up by legendary Edinburgh producer, Karen Koren, matriarch of the Gilded Balloon.
At the Edinburgh Fringe, Tim became one of the most successful ever debut acts, selling out the 300-seat Debating Hall and winning the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer. He subsequently went on to perform Dark Side at the Soho Theare and the Lyric Theatre in London's West End, and also appeared on a bill with Mariah Carey and Westlife at the Royal Albert Hall.
He appeared at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival in 2006 and the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado in January 2007, where he won the award for Best Alternative Comedian. In November that year, he performed at the HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas and sold out short seasons at Ars Nova in New York and the ACME Comedy Theatre in LA.
Television credits include Comedy Shuffle (BBC), Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC), The World Stands Up (Paramount Comedy), Comedy Cuts (ITV), Spicks and Specks (ABC) and The Sideshow (ABC). He has appeared on British and Australian radio and has recorded two specials for BBC Radio 2: “Tim Minchin and Friends” and “Tim Minchin's Loving and Peaceful Yuletide Half Hour” .
He has released two live comedy albums, Dark Side (2005) and So Rock (2006). His debut DVD, So Live, was recorded at the Sydney Opera House in May 2007 and was released by Madman Entertainment in November that year.
First broadcast on 23rd January 2009.
See also interview with Tracy King, DC Turner and Tim Minchin
First broadcast on 8th October 2010
Nick Lane is a biochemist in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London and leads the UCL Origins of Life Programme.
His first book, Oxygen, was one of the SundayTimes Books of the Year in 2002. Power, Sex, Suicide was named as a book of the year in The Economist in 2005 and was short-listed for The Aventis Science Book Prize.
Life Ascending won the 2010 Royal Society Prize for Science Books. His latest book is The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is?
Emma Jane Unsworth is a journalist and won the Betty Trask Award for her novel Hungry, the Stars and Everything, and was shortlisted for the 2012 Portico Prize. Her short story 'I Arrive First' was included in The Best British Short Stories 2012. Emma’s latest novel Animals has won a 2015 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize.
After fifteen years writing strategy for advertising agencies, Alex Hourston took a break to go back to university and her first love, books. She completed a Masters in English and started a PhD, but put it aside when the idea for her debut novel In My House surfaced. She is currently working on her second novel, an exploration of infidelity and emotional inheritance.
This podcast also features Naomi Alderman discussing the work of Tim Parks
Paul Wolinski and Joe Shrewsbury are one half of 65daysofstatic, an instrumental band from Sheffield, as comfortable crashing samplers to mine glitches as they are putting guitars through too much distortion. Influenced by a technologically dystopian present and an apocalyptically likely future, they tend to be found filling venues, galleries or headphones with different kinds of noise in their ongoing efforts to find the limits of what ‘being a band' can mean.
The Space Lady is a street-performing singer based in Colorado, USA. Originally beginning on the streets of Boston in the late 70s, she has recently begun playing again. Often seen performing in 1980's Boston, and then a decade later in San Francisco's Castro community – where she would play and sing for hours on end for the gay scene, and got her apt moniker – The Space Lady's winged helmet and setup of a Casio battery-powered keyboard, vocal mic and echo & phaser controls became a small but striking phenomenon. Her sound is a blend of synth-laden pop and proto-techno that evokes the iconic soundtrack artists and early electronic composers such as Suzanne Ciani. The Space Lady has been recognised alongside Daniel Johnston and Jandek on Irwin Chusid's seminal Outsider compilation Songs in the Key of Z, and her lo-fi synth minimalist interpretation of Peter Schilling's Major Tom featured on Erol Alkan's Bugged Out mix last year, as well as John Maus' 2011 Rough Trade set.
Neil Denny conducted a series of "Fireside Chats" with some of the many speakers at the FutureEverything conference in Manchester on 31st March and 1st April 2014.
Adrian Hon is CEO and founder at Six to Start, co-creators of the most successful smartphone fitness game in the world, Zombies, Run! Six to Start have won various awards for their game-like stories and storylike games, and their work has been displayed at the MOMA and Design Museum. He has spoken at the main TED conference in Monterey in 2001 (about the human colonisation of Mars), as well as various SXSW, GDC, Economist, and other such tech and gaming conferences. Adrian Hon is the author of A History of the Future in 100 Objects.
Emer Coleman has a wealth of experience spanning technology, open data, social media, communications and engagement and organizational change. She has worked extensively with local, regional and central government variously as Director of Strategy, Assistant Chief Executive, and Director of Digital Projects (City Hall London) where she established the London Datastore. Before founding Disruption Ltd she was Deputy Director of Digital Engagement, Government Digital Service (Cabinet Office) described by Tim O'Reilly as “one of the best teams working in digital government in the world”. She is also part of transportAPI a startup that is powering change and innovation in transport. She is a contributor to Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation published by Code for America in October 2013.
James Bridle is a writer, artist, publisher and technologist usually based in London, UK. His work covers the intersection of literature, culture and the network. He has written for WIRED, ICON, Domus, Cabinet, the Atlantic and many other publications, and writes a regular column for the Observer newspaper on publishing and technology. In 2011, he coined the term “New Aesthetic”, and his ongoing research around this subject has been featured and discussed worldwide. His work, such as the Iraq War Historiography, an encyclopaedia of Wikipedia Changelogs, has been exhibited at galleries in the Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia, and has been commissioned by organisations such as Artangel, Mu Eindhoven, and the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC.
Eleanor Saitta is a hacker, designer, artist and writer. She makes a living and a vocation of understanding how complex systems operate and redesigning them to work, or at least fail, better. Her work is transdisciplinary, using everything from electronics, software, and paint to social rules and words as media with which to explore and shape our interactions with the world. Her focuses include the seamless integration of technology into the lived experience, the humanity of objects and the built environment, and systemic resilience and conviviality. Eleanor is Principal Security Engineer at the Open Internet Tools Project (OpenITP), directing the OpenITP Peer Review Board for open source software and working on adversary modeling. She is also Technical Director at the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI), a member of the advisory boards at Geeks Without Bounds (GWoB) and the Calyx Institute, and works on occasion as a Senior Security Associate with Stach & Liu. She is a founder of the Constitutional Analysis Support Team (CAST), previously co-founded the Seattle-based Public N3rd Area hacker space, and works on the Trike and Briar projects.
Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer with law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University and the University of Zimbabwe. Her debut story collection, An Elegy for Easterly, won the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009. Her debut novel is The Book of Memory.
Jonathan Meades is a writer, journalist, essayist and filmmaker. His books include three works of fiction - Filthy English, Pompey and The Fowler Family Business - and several anthologies including the recently published Museum Without Walls. His latest book is An Encyclopaedia of Myself. He has written and performed in more than 50 television shows on predominantly topographical subjects such as shacks, garden cities, megastructures, buildings associated with vertigo, beer, pigs and the architecture of Hitler and Stalin. His most recent show was Bunkers, Brutalism, Bloodymindedness: Concrete Poetry, Some of these are available on The Jonathan Meades Collection DVD. See also the YouTube channel MeadesShrine. He lives in Marseille. Jonathan has been our guest on Little Atoms eight times.
Nell Zink was born in 1964 in southern California and grew up in rural Virginia. She attended Stuart Hall School and the College of William and Mary, where she majored in philosophy.
Rather late in life she got a doctorate in Media Studies from the University of Tübingen, Germany. She works as a translator for Zeitenspiegel Reportagen and lives in Bad Belzig, south of Berlin. She is the author of the recently published novels The Wallcreeper and Mislaid.
A regular officer with the 11th Hussars, he left the Army to write.
He has published four novels, and numerous works of non-fiction. His books include The Spanish Civil War; Inside the British Army; Crete -- The Battle and the Resistance, which was awarded a Runciman Prize, and Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949 (which was written with his wife Artemis Cooper).
Stalingrad, first published in 1998, won the first Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1999. Berlin - The Downfall 1945, published in 2002, was accompanied by a BBC Timewatch programme on his research into the subject. D-Day - The Battle for Normandy, published in June 2009, has been a No 1 Bestseller in seven countries, including the UK and France, and in the top ten in another eight countries.
His last book, The Second World War, published in June 2012, was translated into twenty-one languages. His latest book is Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble.
Joanna Biggs is a writer and editor at the London Review of Books, where she has reported on the student protest movement, the recession in Middlesbrough, Legal Aid cuts, censorship in China, and manufacturing. She is the author of All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work.
Stevan Alcock is a writer, linguist and translator. Born and brought up in Yorkshire, he lived in Berlin for several years before moving to London where he graduated with an Honours BA in German Language and Literature from Goldsmiths College. In 2013 Stevan was awarded an MA (Distinction) in Contemporary Prose Fiction by Kingston University. His debut novel is Blood Relatives.
Helen Scales is a marine biologist, freelance researcher and broadcaster. She appears regularly on BBC Radio 4, Sky News and the BBC World Service, and has presented documentaries on topics such as whether people will ever live underwater, the science of making and surfing waves and the intricacies of sharks' minds.
Her doctorate involved searching for giant endangered fish in Borneo; she's also tagged sharks in California, and once spent a year cataloguing all the marine life she could find surrounding a hundred islands in the Andaman Sea. She is the author of a book about seahorses, Poseidon’s Steed, and her latest book is Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells.
John Higgs is the author of I Have America Surrounded: The Life of Timothy Leary, The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds, and the novel The Brandy of the Damned.
His latest book is Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century.
Dylan Evans is an academic, philosopher and journalist. He has written several popular science books, was named by the Independent as one of the 20 best young writers in Britain, and was once described by The Times as “the sort of polymath who makes you wonder what you’ve been doing with your brain.” He currently lives in Guatemala. Dylan is the author of The Utopia Experiment.
Andrew Mueller is a Contributing Editor at Monocle, and broadcasts regularly on its radio arm, Monocle 24. He also writes for The Guardian, Uncut, New Humanist and Bluffers, among other titles, and has reported from more than 80 countries. He is previously the author of "Rock & Hard Places" and "I Wouldn't Start From Here", and was partially responsible - in cahoots with Luke Haines and Cathal Coughlan - for the acclaimed 2012 musical historiography "The North Sea Scrolls". His country band, The Blazing Zoos, will release their second album in 2015. His latest book is a memoir, It’s Too Late to Die Young Now: Misadventures in Rock ‘N’ Roll.
Michela Wrong is a distinguished international journalist, and has worked as a foreign correspondent covering events across the African continent for Reuters, the BBC and the Financial Times.
She writes regularly for Foreign Policy magazine and the Spectator. Her first book, In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz, based on her experiences in Africa her first book, won the PEN James Sterne Prize for non-fiction.
Her book I Didn’t Do It for You focuses on Eritrea, and It’s Our Turn to Eat tells the story of John Githongo, a Kenyan whistle-blower. Borderlines is her first novel.
Alex Cox is a film director, screenwriter, actor, and author. Among his features are Repo Man, Sid & Nancy, Walker, and Revengers Tragedy. Between 1998 and 1994 he hosted the BBC2 cult film series Moviedrome. He currently teaches film production and screenwriting at the University of Colorado. He is also the author of 10,000 Ways to Die: A Director's Take on the Spaghetti Western and most recently The President and The Provocateur: The Parallel Lives of JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald. Also this week, critic Miranda Sawyer on her love for the suppressed Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues.
First broadcast on 23rd November 2013.
Alok Jha is a journalist and broadcaster based in London. He is science correspondent for ITN and, before that, was science correspondent at the Guardian.
He has presented science programmes for BBC2 and BBC Radio 4. Alok received a science-writing award from the American Institute of Physics in 2014, was named European Science Writer of the year in 2008, and has been shortlisted for feature writer of the year at the annual Association of British Science Writers awards.
He is the author of How to Live Forever and The Doomsday Handbook, and his latest is The Water Book.
Iain Sinclair a poet, film-maker, essayist and the author of many acclaimed books, including Downriver (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), Lights Out for the Territory, London Orbital, Edge of Orison, Hackney: That Rose-Red Empire, Dining on Stones, Ghost Milk and American Smoke and London Overground, his account of a one-day walk around the orbital railway.
He is the editor of the anthology London: City of Disappearances and has also written and presented a number of films for BBC2’s Late Show, collaborated with Andrew Kötting onSwandown and By Our Selves, and co-directed several documentaries with Chris Petit, including London Orbital and The Falconer. He was born in South Wales, went to school in England and university in Ireland, and now lives in Hackney, East London. In this interview we talk about two new books, London Overground and Black Apples of Gower.
Bruce Hood is currently the Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol. He has been a research fellow at Cambridge University and University College London, a visiting scientist at MIT and a faculty professor at Harvard. The author of Supersense, and most recently The Self Illusion, Bruce also presented the 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. Bruce has been our guest on Little Atoms twice.
Interview one first broadcast on 31st July 2009.
Interview one first broadcast on 28th September 2012.
Jonathan Balcome is an independent animal behaviour research scientist and a consultant for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine He is the author of Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, and most recently Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals.
This show featured a guest host, Christine Ottery.
Christine Ottery is a journalist and blogger published on Guardian.co.uk and Comment is Free, Timesonline.co.uk, Newscientist.com and Theecologist.co.uk. She is also a researcher for George Monbiot and multimedia Science Journalism MA student at City University.
Zoe Pilger is an art critic for the Independent and won the 2011 Frieze International Writer's Prize. She is currently working on a PhD at Goldsmith's college. Eat My Heart Out is her first novel. Also this week, writer Frank Swain on Gattaca.
First broadcast on 22nd March 2014.