Ian McEwan discusses his climate change and his novel Solar
McEwan dismisses the idea that virtuous living will solve climate change. He argues our fuel deficit can only be filled by an alternative energy source.
“Our ingenuity got us into this; it was clever to replace human labour with machines and fossil fuel. Our cleverness will have to get us out.”
Martin Nowak is Professor of Biology and Mathematics at Harvard University and the recipient of a raft of international prizes. He has held major research posts at the University of Vienna, Oxford University, Princeton and now Harvard. He has published over 300 papers and has been widely praised for revolutionising the mathematical approach to biology. Martin is the author of Supercooperators: Evolution, Altruism and Human Behaviour or Why We Need Each Other to Succeed. SuperCooperators is co-authored by Roger Highfield, PhD, the editor of New Scientist magazine.
First broadcast on 29th April 2011.
Ian Haworth is the General Secretary of the Cult Information Centre. The Cult Information Centre is an educational charity providing advice and information for victims of cults, their families and friends, researchers and the media. Founded in 1987, and becoming a registered charity in 1992, it was the first educational organisation focusing critical concern on the methods used by cults to be granted charitable status in the UK.
The Marxist philosopher Norman Geras is a former Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Manchester. Norman's Blog, "Normblog" which he updates several times a day has led to him being labelled as part of the " New Commentariat " by The Guardian, and "Normblog" has become required reading for the Pro-War Left. He has written a number of books, including Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend and The Contract of Mutual Indifference: Political Philosophy After the Holocaust. An excellent distillation of Norman's position regarding 9/11 and some of the Left's reaction to it can be found here. See also examples of Norman's writing on Iraq, and on making excuses for terrorism. Norm is also a knowledgable and respected writer on the subject of cricket.
Molly Oldfield studied Modern History at Oxford before becoming a writer and researcher on the BBC television show QI. She has worked on a string of bestselling QI books, writes the weekly QI column for the Daily Telegraph and is a researcher on a BBC Radio 4 show, The Museum of Curiosity. She is also the author of The Secret Museum, which looks behind the scenes at the hidden treasures contained within the World's museum's archives.
First broadcast on 8th October 2013.
Nigel Warburton is a contemporary philosopher. As well as being Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University, he is a presenter of the Philosophy Bites podcast, and teaches a popuar course on art and philosophy at Tate Modern. He is the author of several popular introductions to philosophy including Philosophy: The Basics and Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book is A Little History of Philosophy.
First broadcast on 9th December 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.
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.
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.
John O'Farrell is an author and journalist. He has published three novels, The Best A Man Can Get, This is Your Life and May Contain Nuts, a memoir of his support for the Labour Party in the wilderness years Things Can Only Get Better, and three collections of his Guardian column, Global Village Idiot, I Blame the Scapegoats and I Have A Bream. A former comedy scriptwriter for Spitting Image and Smith and Jones, he is the founder of the satirical website NewsBiscuit, and can often be seen on such TV programmes as Grumpy Old Men, Newsnight Review and Have I Got News For You. John's latest book is An Utterly Impartial History of Britain (or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge).
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.
Philip Plait Ph.D.is a renowned astronomer with more than two decades of professional research and education experience. He has written articles for such magazines as Astronomy and Sky & Telescope, as well as national and international newspapers. He has appeared on television news and in documentaries many times, including the Sci-Fi Channel's Countdown to Doomsday and National Geographic's Is It Real? His website Bad Astronomy has won numerous awards, such as best Science Blog of 2007, and also begat the book of the same name. Phil's latest book is Death From The Skies!
First broadcast on 12th December 2008.
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.
Lewis Dartnell is a UK Space Agency research fellow at the University of Leicester, in the field of astrobiology and the search for signs of life on Mars. He has won several awards for his science writing, and contributes to the Guardian, The Times and New Scientist. He has also written for television and appeared on BBC Horizon, Sky News, Wonders of the Universe, Stargazing Live, and The Sky at Night. He is the author Life in the Universe: a Beginner's Guide, and most recently The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch. Lewis has been our guest on Little Atoms twice.
Interview one first broadcast on 29th October 2010.
Interview two first broadcast on 3rd May 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
Nick Davies writes investigative stories for the Guardian, and has been named Journalist of the Year, Reporter of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year in the British press awards. Nick's books include Dark Heart: The Shocking Truth About Hidden Britain, and Murder on Ward Four. His latest book Flat Earth News exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.
First broadcast on 6th February 2009.
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.
Rebecca MacKinnon works on global internet policy as a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. She is co-founder of Global Voices Online, a global citizen media network that amplifies online citizen voices from around the world. She is also on the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists and worked for CNN in Beijing for nine years. Rebecca was a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy. She is frequently interviewed by major media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Financial Times, National Public Radio, BBC, and other news outlets. Rebecca is the author of Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom.
First broadcast on 9th March 2012.
James Hannam is a historian of science specialising in the relationship between science and Christianity in the Medieval and Early Modern eras. He took Masters (2003) from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD (2008) in the History and Philosophy of Science at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. James' reviews and articles have been published in the academic journals British Journal of the History of Science, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliography Society, Science and Christian Belief and Perspectives on Science and Faith. James Hannam is the author of God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science.
Frank Swain is the founder of SciencePunk, the popular SEED ScienceBlogs site devoted to the weird and wonderful fringes of science. A regular contributor to media including Wired and the Guardian, he has a history of climbing buildings, managing burlesque shows, and generally being a force for good – and the scientific method. Frank 's first book is How to Make a Zombie: The Real Life (and Death) Science of Reanimation and Mind Control.
First broadcast on 31st May 2013.
Coralie Colmez graduated with a First from Cambridge University in 2009, and now lives in London where she teaches and writes about mathematics. She belongs to the Bayes in Law Research Consortium, an international team devoted to improving the use of probability and statistics in criminal trials. Coralie is co-author along with her mother, the mathematician Leila Schneps, of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom.
First broadcast on 24 May 2013.
A double bill of interviews with a couple of writers and academics who's work in different ways play on ideas of philosophy and literature.
Lars Iyer is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He is the author of two books on the philosopher Maurice Blanchot (Blanchot's Communism: Art, Philosophy, Politics and Blanchot's Vigilance: Phenomenology, Literature, Ethics) as well as a trilogy of novels or works of ‘autofiction': Spurious, Dogma and the recently published Exodus.
Joe Milutis is a writer, media artist, and Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts at the University of Washington-Bothell. His writing includes various literary-media hybrids, including digital essays, performance, and installation. He is a contributor to magazines such as Cabinet, Triple Canopy, and Film Comment among others. He is the author of Ether: The Nothing That Connects Everything, and his latest book is Failure: A Writer's Life.
First broadcast on 19th April 2013.
Rose Shapiro has written for newspapers, magazines and medical journals including the Independent, the Observer, Time Out, Good Housekeeping and the Health Service Journal. Her book Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All is published by Harvill Secker, and is described as follows;
'Alternative' medicine is now used by one in three of us. In the UK we spend an estimated £4.5 billion a year on it and its practitioners are now insinuating themselves into the mainstream. There are methods based on ancient or far-eastern medicine, as well as ones invented in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many are promoted as natural treatments. What they have in common is that there is no hard evidence that any of them work.
Treatments like homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic are widely available and considered reputable by many. Ever more bizarre therapies, from naturopathy to nutraceuticals, ear candling to ergogenics, are increasingly favoured. Endorsed by celebrities and embraced by the middle classes, alternative medicine's appeal is based on the spurious rediscovery of ancient wisdom and the supposedly benign quality of nature. Surrounded by an aura of unquestioning respect and promoted through uncritical airtime and column inches, alternative medicine has become a lifestyle choice. Its global market is predicted to be worth $5 trillion by 2050.
Suckers reveals how alternative medicine can jeopardise the health of those it claims to treat, leaches resources from treatments of proven efficacy and is largely unaccountable and unregulated. In short, it is an industry that preys on human vulnerability and makes fools of us all.
Suckers is a calling to account of a social and intellectual fraud; a bracing, funny and popular take on a global delusion.
First broadcast on 24th October 2008.
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.
Rebecca Skloot is a science writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Discover, and many other publications. She is the guest editor of The Best American Science Writing 2011, a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine, and has worked as a correspondent for WNYC's Radiolab and PBS's Nova ScienceNOW.
Skloot served for eight years on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle, where she was a vice president and judge for their yearly book awards. She has a B.S. in biological sciences and an MFA in creative nonfiction. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, her debut book, took more than a decade to research and write, and instantly became a New York Times best-seller.
First broadcast on 2nd July 2010.
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.
Philip Hoare is the author of seven works of non-fiction, including an acclaimed biography of Noel Coward, and Leviathan or, The Whale, which won the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. An experienced broadcaster, Hoare wrote and presented the BBC Arena film The Hunt for Moby-Dick, and directed three films for BBC's Whale Night. He is Visiting Fellow at Southampton University, and Leverhulme Artist-in-residence at The Marine Institute, Plymouth University, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2011. He is also co-curator of the Moby-Dick Big Read. His latest book, The Sea Inside, was published by Fourth Estate in June 2013. Also this week, columnist Deborah Orr talks about Kate Bush's debut album The Kick Inside.
First broadcast on 8th February 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.