Johann Hari is a journalist who has written for the New York Times, the LA Times, the Guardian,Le Monde, Slate, the New Republic and The Nation among others. He was a columnist on the Independent for nine years and was twice named Newspaper Journalist of the Year by Amnesty International UK. He has also been named Cultural Commentator of the Year by the Editorial Intelligence awards and Gay Journalist of the Year by Stonewall.
This is the biography from Johann Hari's new book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. It leaves out rather a lot. In this interview Neil Denny talks to Johann about the book, but not before he has apologized to some other friends of Little Atoms.
Aleks Krotoski is an academic and journalist who writes about and studies technology and interactivity. She is currently a Visiting Fellow in the Media and Communications Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute. Aleks writes for the Guardian and Observer newspapers, and hosts Tech Weekly, their technology podcast. She presented the Emmy and Bafta-winning BBC 2 series Virtual Revolution, and more recently the BBC Radio 4 series Digital Human. Her first book is Untangling the Web: What the Internet is Doing to You. Also this week, critic Matthew Sweet on the Ealing WW2 propaganda film Went The Day Well?
First broadcast on 7th December 2013.
Neil Denny in conversation with neuroscientist David Eagleman about time perception, synesthesia and many possible afterlives. The interview includes David reading one of the short stories from his new book.
David Eagleman is is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, where he directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action and the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. He is best known for his work on time perception, synesthesia and neurolaw. He is also a fiction writer. David’s most recent book is Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives.
Danny Dorling is Halford Mackinder Professor in Geography at the University of Oxford. He has worked both with the British government and the World Health Organization and is frequently asked to comment on current issues on TV and the radio. He has published more than twenty-five books, including Injustice: Why Social Inequality Exists and So You Think You Know About Britain? His latest book is All That is Solid: The Great Housing Disaster. Also this week, writer Naomi Alderman on Teach us to Sit Still by Tim Parks.
Interview one first broadcast on 25th June 2010.
Matthew Hutson has a degree in cognitive neuroscience from Brown University and a Masters in science writing from MIT. He's written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Wired, Discover, Scientific American Mind, Popular Mechanics, The Boston Globe, and Psychology Today, where he spent four years as an editor. Matthew is the author of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane.
First broadcast on 23rd November 2012.
Masha Gessen is a journalist who has written for Slate, Seed, the New Republic, the New York Times, and other publications. Her previous books include Blood Matters: A Journey Along the Genetic Frontier, and her latest is Perfect Rigour: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century.
First broadcast on 22nd April 2011.
Mark Lynas is an author and environmental activist who focuses on climate change. He is a Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University's School of Geography and the Environment. In 2009 he was appointed advisor on climate change to the President of the Maldives, which aims to be the first carbon neutral country on Earth by 2020.
Mark is the author of The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans, published by Fourth Estate in July 2011. He has previously written two major books on climate change – High Tide: News from a warming world and Six Degrees: Our future on a hotter planet.
Graham Farmelo is Senior Research Fellow at the Science Museum, London, and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Northeastern University, Boston, USA. Formerly a theoretical physicist, he is now an international consultant in science communication. He edited the best-selling It Must be Beautiful: Great Equations of Modern Sciencein 2002. Graham’s latest book is The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius.
Conor Woodman is an economist, author, film-maker and presenter. He is the author of Around the World in 80 Trades - which had an accompanying four-part television series for Channel 4. His most recent book was Unfair Trade: How Big Business Exploits the World's Poor - and Why it Doesn't Have to, which we discussed on a previous episode of Little Atoms. In this show we talk about Conor's TV series, Scam City, which is currently airing on Wednesday evenings at 8pm on the National Geographic Channel. Conor has been our guest on Little Atoms twice.
Brian Switek is a science writer and research associate at the New Jersey State Museum. He writes the blog Laelaps for Wired Science, and Dinosaur Tracking for Smithsonian. He has been a guest on BBC Radio 4's Material World and written for The Times and the Guardian, as well as the Wall Street Journal and Scientific American. Brian is the author of Written in Stone: The Hidden Secrets of Fossils and the Story of Life on Earth.
First broadcast on 19th August 2011.
Olivia Laing's first book, To the River, was a book of the year in the Evening Standard, Independent and Financial Times and was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. Olivia is the former Deputy Books Editor of the Observer and writes for a variety of publications, including the Observer, New Statesman, Guardian and Times Literary Supplement. She's a 2011 MacDowell Fellow, and has received awards from the Arts Council and the Authors' Foundation. Olivia 's latest book is The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking.
First broadcast on 19th July 2014.
Katie Roiphe is a professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. She writes a column on life, literature, and politics for Slate and writes for The New York Times, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review, and other publications. She is the author of numerous books including The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism and Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages in Literary London 1910-1939. Her latest book is a collection of essays, In Praise of Messy Lives.
First broadcast on 5th July 2013.
Marina Keegan (1989 - 2012) was an author, journalist, playwright, poet, actress and activist, and for two years a research assistant to Harold Bloom, all before she graduated from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Then five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash. In the aftermath of her death, while her family and friends grieved, last essay for the Yale Daily News, 'The Opposite of Loneliness', went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. A collection, The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories has been published in the UK by Simon & Schuster, In this interview Neil talks about both Marina and the book with Beth McNamara, Marina's former high school English teacher, and Kevin and Tracy Keegan, Marina's parents. This is the 350th episode of Little Atoms.
First broadcast on 29th October 2014
Professor Paul Davies is an internationally acclaimed physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist at Arizona State University, where he runs the pioneering BEYOND Centre for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He also chairs SETI's Post-Detection Taskgroup, so if scientists succeed in finding intelligent life, he will be among the first to know.
In addition to his many scientific awards, Davies was the recipient of the 1995 Templeton Prize - the world's largest annual prize for intellectual endeavour - and a Glaxo Science Writers' Fellowship. He is the author of more than twenty books, including The Mind of God, About Time, How to Build a Time Machine and The Goldilocks Enigma. The asteroid 1992OG was officially renamed Pauldavies in his honour. Paul's latest book is The Eerie Silence: Are we alone in the Universe?
Peter Cave studied philosophy at University College London and King's College Cambridge. He has held lecturing posts in Khartoum and London; currently he is associate lecturer in philosophy for The Open University and City University, London, and has been invited to give lectures in various European universities.
Specialist topics include: philosophical paradoxes and absurdities; reasoning and fallacies in ethics, religion, politics and public life. He is involved in the media, most recently scripting and presenting a series of philosophical paradoxes for BBC Radio 4, set in a paradoxical fairground, and a BBC Radio 4 programme celebrating John Stuart Mill. He has taken part in many public debates concerning God and religious belief.
He is the current chair of the Humanist Philosophers. He gives talks, lectures, debates and publishes papers on a wide range of philosophical topics, often with a humorous content.
He is the author of Humanism: A Beginner's Guide, which BHA President Polly Toynbee described as "A book for our times", and of the best-selling Can a Robot Be Human? and What's Wrong with Eating People? - both books containing 33 puzzles about religious belief as well as about reasoning, logic, ethics and political themes. His most recent work is This Sentence Is False: an Introduction to Philosophical Paradoxes.
First broadcast on 2nd October 2009.
Jennifer Potter is a horticultural historian who writes about the history and culture of plants, plantsmen and gardens. The author of four novels and five works of non-fiction, including Strange Blooms: The Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tradescants, and The Rose: A True History, and a regular reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement, she is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at King's College London. Her latest book is Seven Flowers and How They Shaped Our World. Also this week, writer and critic Andrew Mueller recommends we listen to Southern Rock Opera by Drive-By Truckers.
First broadcast on 21st December 2013.
Matthew Kneale studied Modern History at Oxford University. He is the author of several novels, including English Passengers which won the Whitbread Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His latest book is An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention. Also this week, columnist Suzanne Moore on A Book of Dreams by Peter Reich.
First broadcast on 1st February 2014.
Philippe Sands QC has been Professor of Law at University College London since 2002 and has also taught at Boston College Law School, Cambridge University and New York University Law School. He is the author of the acclaimed Lawless World: Making and Breaking Global Rules as well as several other books on international law. He participated in the negotiation of the 1992 Climate Change Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. He is a practicing barrister at Matrix Chambers and has been involved in leading cases before English and international courts, including those concerning Senator Augusto Pinochet and the Guantanamo and Belmarsh detainees. Philippe's latest book is Torture Team: Uncovering War Crimes in the Land of the Free.
First broadcast on 1st May 2009.
Timothy Garton Ash is the author of eight books of political writing or “history of the present”. They include The Magic Lantern, The File, History of the Present and Free World. His latest is Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing From a Decade Without a Name.
He is Professor of European Studies and Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His essays appear regularly in the New York Review of Books and his weekly column for the Guardian is widely syndicated in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Garton Ash has received many awards for his writing, including the Somerset Maugham Award and the George Orwell Prize.
Kathryn S. Olmsted is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Challenging the Secret Government: The Post - Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI and Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley. Her latest book is Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War 1 to 9/11.
First broadcast on 10th July 2009.
Oliver Kamm is a political commentator whose writing appears regularly in The Times. He has recently written a book, Anti -Totalitarianism: The Left-wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy, which argues for an interventionist foreign policy which stands up for democracy against totalitarianism, be that of the far left or the far right, and how he removal of Saddam Hussein was a continuation of an authentic left-wing tradition of militant anti-totalitarianism. He discusses a number of pivotal historical events which have shaped this philosophy, specifically collective security in the 1930s, opposition to Communist expansionism after World War II and the Labour Party's rejection in the 1980s of its earlier anti-Communism and adoption of a unilateral disarmament stance. Kamm defends regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq and argues that the promotion of global democracy accords with the Left's internationalist ideals of opposition to fascism and clerical reaction.
Oliver has long been a critical observer of the writings of Noam Chomsky, recently voted " The Worlds Top Public Intellectual " by the readers of Prospect magazine. Indeed Oliver contributed a "devils advocate" article to Prospect decrying that award.
Linda Grant is a journalist and author. Her first novel, The Cast Iron Shore, won the David Higham First Novel Prize and was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize. Her second novel, When I lived in Modern Times, won the Orange Prize for Fiction. Still Here was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She is also author of Sexing the Millennium: A Political History of the Sexual Revolution, The People on the Street: A Writer's View of Israel and Remind Me Who I am, Again a family memoir. Her latest book, The Clothes on Their Backs will be published in February 2008.
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster. He is a presenter of Analysis of BBC Radio 4, and a panellist on The Moral Maze. He has taught at universities in Britain, Europe, Australia and the USA, presented many TV documentaries and writes regularly for newspapers across the world including the New York Times , the Guardian, and the Australian. His books include Man, Beast and Zombie, Strange Fruit and From Fatwa to Jihad, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Orwell Prize. His latest book is The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics.
Interview one first broadcast on 5th December 2008.
Interview two (also with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein) first broadcast on 19th November 2014.
Professor Noam Chomsky has been described as the world's greatest public intellectual. Born in 1928 in Philadelphia, Chomsky earned his academic stripes as a young linguistics professor at MIT in the 1950s. His theory of transformational grammar, forged at this time, posits that the capability to form structured language is innate to the human mind. But the general public first came to know Chomsky for his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam war. For more than 40 years, he has been the academy's loudest and most consistent critic of US policies at home and abroad.
Chomsky has written more than 40 books, includng American Power and the New Mandarins, Manufacturing Consent, Hegemony or Survival, Deterring Democracy and Failed States, and continues to lecture frequently, as prolific a provocateur as ever.
First broadcast on 24th April 2009.
Professor Lisa Randall studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University. Randall's studies have made her among the most cited and influential theoretical physicists. She has also had a public presence through her writing, lectures, and radio and TV appearances. Her book Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions was included in the New York Times' 100 notable books of 2005. Professor Randall was included in the list of Time magazine's '100 Most Influential People' of 2007 and was featured in Newsweek's 'Who's Next in 2006' as 'one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation'.
Randall has received numerous awards and honors for her scientific endeavors. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Randall is an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics. Her latest book is Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.
First broadcast on 11th November 2011.
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.
Interview one first broadcast on 3rd March 2006.
Interview two first broadcast on 11th May 2007.
Interview three first broadcast on 31st October 2008.
Interview five first broadcast on 21st June 2014.
Lee Rourke is the author of the short story collection Everyday, and the novel The Canal, which won the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize in 2010. He is writer in residence at Kingston University, where he is an MFA lecturer in creative writing and critical theory. He also lectures in creative writing at the University of East London. His latest novel is Vulgar Things.
First broadcast on 30th August 2014
Rana Dasgupta won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book for his debut novel Solo. He is also the author of a collection of urban folktales, Tokyo Cancelled, which was shortlisted for the 2005 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Capital: A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi is his first work of non-fiction. Born in Canterbury in 1971, he has lived in Delhi for 13 years. Also this week, writer Sarah Ditum talks about Andrea Dworkin's Intercourse.
First broadcast on 15th March 2014.
Russell Foster is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience, Chair of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophtalmology and a Senior Kurti Fellow at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford, and a leading expert on the neuroscience of biological time. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society. Russell is the co-author with Leon Kreitzman of the books Rhythms of Life and Seasons of Life.
Shalom Auslander is the author of the short-story collection Beware of God and the memoir Foreskin's Lament. He was nominated for the Koret Award for writers under thirty-five, and has published articles in Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, Tablet, and the New Yorker. He has had numerous stories aired on NPR's This American Life. Shalom's first novel is Hope: A Tragedy.
First broadcast on 2nd March 2012.
Tom Standage is the business editor of The Economist. He started his career as the Science and Technology Editor at the Guardian, and has written several books which merge popular science and history including The Victorian Internet, The Neptune File, The Mechanical Turk. and A History of the World in 6 Glasses in which he explores a notion that six drinks in history - beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola - could be seen as technological catalysts in advancing culture. He says of his books "I think the right attitude to new technologies is to regard them with historically-informed scepticism. My approach is intended as a sort of antidote to the scourge of mindless product stories: when something new comes along, I like to point out that it isn't new at all. This isn't quite as gratuitous as it sounds; it is quite often possible to learn useful lessons from history, particularly the history of technology"
Tom's latest book is An Edible History of Humanity, published in paperback by Atlantic in early March 2010. Tom has been our guest on Little Atoms twice.
Interview one first broadcast on 22nd June 2007.
Stephen Law is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. He is also editor of THINK: Philosophy for Everyone, a journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy (published by Cambridge University Press). Stephen has published numerous books on philosophy, including The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking (on which an Oxford University online course has since been based) and The Philosophy Files (aimed at children 12+). His other books include The War For Children's Minds, a defence of liberal values against religious and moral authoritarianism, and The Great Philosophers: The Lives and Ideas of History's Greatest Thinkers.
Stephen is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts. He was previously a Junior Research Fellow at The Queen's College, Oxford, and holds B.Phil and D.Phil degrees in Philosophy from the University of Oxford. He has a blog at www.stephenlaw.org. Stephen Law was appointed Provost of Centre For Inquiry, London in July 2008.
First broadcast on 13th March 2009.
Stephanie Merritt was deputy literary editor of The Observer from 1998-2005 and is now a feature writer. She has contributed to a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as radio and television. She is the author of two novels, Gaveston (Faber, 2002) and Real (Faber, 2005), one non-fiction, The Devil Within, (Vermilion 2008) and the screenplay for Real, commissioned by Gabriel Byrne's Plurabelle Films. She also previously curated the Talks and Debates programme at Soho Theatre. Stephanie's latest book, written under the pseudonym S.J. Parris is Heresy, a historical murder mystery starring heretic astronomer Giordano Bruno.
First broadcast on 12th March 2010.
Richard Wilson read Philosophy at University College London and his first book, Titanic Express, recounts his search for the truth about the death of his sister Charlotte, who was killed in Burundi in 2000. He now works for a human rights organisation and lives in London.
Richard's latest book is Don't Get Fooled Again: The Sceptic's Guide to Life.
Rosa Rankin-Gee grew up in Kensal Rise, London, but now lives by the Parc de Belleville in Paris. In 2010, she was one of Esquire magazine's '75 Brilliant Young Brits'. In 2011, she won Shakespeare & Company's international Paris Literary Prize. Rosa Rankin-Gee runs a night-bird version of a Book Club, where up to 300 people come to swap books and drink cocktails in the former home of George Bizet. Rosa Rankin-Gee's debut novel is The Last Kings of Sark. Also in this episode, Jonathan Meades shares his admiration for Le Corbusier and Brutalism, and an excerpt from Public Record: Estuary by artist Julian Hopper.
First broadcast on 16th November 2013.