Exchanges At The Frontier 2009 [World Service]

Episodes

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Episode 1 - Rajendra Pachauri - Exchanges At The Frontier20091202

AC Grayling speaks to the world's leading climate change scientist Rajendra Pachauri.

A public audience test the world's leading scientists over their work.

Exchanges At the Frontier is a unique series of events from BBC World Service with the Wellcome Collection in which the world's leading scientists are tested over the impact of their work by the philosopher and public intellectual AC Grayling.

The urgent and critical subjects of climate change, the origin of the universe, life on other planets, the nature of consciousness, and the most ambitious and expensive science project the world has ever known are all presented to the public in a clear new light by the world's leading authorities in their fields.

In the first of the series, on the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference AC Grayling talks to Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The IPCC comprises 4,000 of the world's climate change scientists and in 2007 he collected the Nobel Peace Prize on their behalf.

Their latest survey of the effects of global warming, The Fourth Assessment Report forms the scientific basis for the discussions in Copenhagen and is accepted by all of UN recognised governments.

In this programme AC Grayling and members of the audience ask Dr Pachauri to spell out the truth on climate change and the future for the human race.

Over the next five weeks on Exchanges At The Frontier, the US cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, the Ghanaian nuclear physicist Tejinder Virdee, the Canadian neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland and the American astronomer Seth Shostak explore the frontiers of science.

With the help of a public audience AC Grayling discusses the Large Hadron Collider at Cern with the man behind the building of the CMS machine; he explores the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience with an expert who says free-will is an illusion and the deliberations of the mind are automatic responses; and on the 8th and 9th of December he discusses the Origins of the Universe, and the existence of a strange force which permeates the Universe – dark energy.

(Image: Rajendra Pachauri. Credit: Getty)

Episode 1 - Rajendra Pachauri - Exchanges At The Frontier20091203
Episode 2 - Lawrence Krauss - Exchanges At The Frontier20091209

Lawrence Krauss discusses the Origins of the Universe with philosopher AC Grayling.

A public audience test the world's leading scientists over their work.

What was there before the universe began?

Is the ‘big bang’ theory down to our love of a good story and the need for somewhere to start?

Do the finely balanced numbers necessary for life imply a divine hand in the creation of the universe?

These questions and many more are explored in front of a live audience at Wellcome Collection in London, as the philosopher AC Grayling and the US cosmologist Lawrence Krauss discuss the Origins of the Universe.

Exchanges At the Frontier is a unique series of events from BBC World Service with the Wellcome Collection in which the world’s leading scientists are tested over the impact of their work by the philosopher and public intellectual AC Grayling.

The role of science and of the scientist, as well as some of the outstanding questions of our time are put into sharp focus by the world’s leading scientists.

Last week AC Grayling discussed climate change with the United Nation’s leading environmental scientist, Rajendra Pachauri - and it is still possible to hear the programme including an extended recording of the event on the website.

Over the rest of the series on Exchanges At The Frontier, the Canadian neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland discusses free will, the American astronomer Seth Shostak discusses the search for extra terrestrials and the Ghanaian nuclear physicist Tejinder Virdee, discusses the Large Hadron Collider and the most ambitious and expensive science project the Earth has ever known.

Episode 2 - Lawrence Krauss - Exchanges At The Frontier20091210
Episode 2 - Lawrence Krauss - Exchanges At The Frontier20091213
Episode 3 - Patricia Churchland - Exchanges At The Frontier20091216

AC Grayling on brain science and human nature with neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland.

A public audience test the world's leading scientists over their work.

How did the human brain evolve to care for others?

If brain science can explain the cause of someone’s actions can we morally blame them for what they have done?

In Exchanges At The Frontier this week, AC Grayling speaks to the neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland about what we now know about the machinery of our minds and the implications for society.

Neuroscience is starting to tell us how human decisions are really made, beginning to explain what it is that gives us a sense of our self and is shining light on the nature and the limits of ‘free-will’.

(Image: CT scan of a healthy brain. Credit: Science Photo Library)

Episode 3 - Patricia Churchland - Exchanges At The Frontier20091217
Episode 4 - Jim Virdee - Exchanges At The Frontier20091223

AC Grayling talks to leading physicist Tejinder Virdee about the Large Hadron Collider.

A public audience test the world's leading scientists over their work.

AC Grayling questions a man at the heart of the most audacious and inspiring science project in the world.

As chief architect and project leader of the CMS experiment at Cern’s new Large Hadron Collider, Tejinder Virdee and his team are reckoned to be the most likely to revolutionise physics by discovering the Higgs Boson.

It is a scientific prospect which could be every bit as earth shattering as the discovery of relativity a century ago.

Tejinder Virdee is leader of the CMS experiment, an enormous magnet one hundred metres underground which engineers crashes of particles at close to speed of light and measures the results.

What did it take to build such a machine?

Why is the Higgs Boson so significant?

And will the multi-billion pound particle accelerator actually work this time?

(Image: Large Hadron Collider. Credit: Press Association)

Episode 4 - Jim Virdee - Exchanges At The Frontier20091224
Episode 4 - Jim Virdee - Exchanges At The Frontier20091227
Episode 5 - Seth Shostak - Exchanges At The Frontier20091230

AC Grayling discusses the search for extra terrestrials with SETI astronomer Seth Shostak.

A public audience test the world's leading scientists over their work.

AC Grayling discusses the science behind the search for extra terrestrials with Seth Shostak, Chief Astronomer at SETI Institute in the USA.

It is a scientific endeavour which is 50 years old this year and, in a public event at the Wellcome Collection in London, they explore the science of radio waves as well as the likelihood and implications of contacting the little green men.

In 1959 a letter to Nature magazine called for some serious science on trying to find life forms on other planets, and an experiment began to search nearby solar systems for radio wave activity.

Far from being an esoteric backwater for cosmologists, SETI as it has become known, has attracted the financial support of Nasa, the public backing of a phalanx of Nobel Prize winners over the years, and universities and scientific institutions are ready to lend the expertise and provide funding for a search which now involves almost every country on earth.

With a trillion planets in our own galaxy, so the thinking goes, and water now found on Mars, the moon and several other places in our solar system, there is a strong probability that life - intelligent life - exists elsewhere out in the deep dark blue.

Episode 5 - Seth Shostak - Exchanges At The Frontier20091231