How did we get from not having any reliable way of predicting the weather just 150 years ago, to today's accurate, tailor-made forecasts for places as small as a village? Bridget Kendall and guests trace the history of meteorology, from its first steps as an aid to quicker trans-Atlantic shipping to the latest methods which can help anticipate weather events as short-lived as a tornado.

Bridget is joined by Kristine Harper, a former US Navy forecaster and now a history professor at Florida State University; Peter Gibbs who started out as a meteorologist with the British Antarctic Survey and the UK's Met Office before becoming one of the best known weather forecasters on BBC radio and television; and Peter Moore, a writer and historian with a particular interest in weather discoveries of the 19th century.

Photo: A hurricane is seen from the International Space Station. (Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images)

Adventures In 2d: Graphene And Beyond20150801

Top graphene researchers, including the Nobel laureate who first isolated pure graphene, talk to Bridget Kendall about the future of not just this 'wonder-material' but also a whole host of other 2-dimensional crystals now available. How close are we to a cheap production of quality graphene on an industrial scale? Can the EU's Graphene Flagship, a research and industrial consortium which includes about 150 partners in over 20 countries, quickly move graphene products from the lab to the consumer? And should we worry about the safety of 2D materials? Recorded at Graphene Week held at the University of Manchester, with Sir Konstantin Novoselov, Sarah Haigh, Jari Kinaret, Toby Heys and Jonathan Coleman. Photo: An artist's illustration depicting graphene: by Shan Pillay.


Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show in which some of the world's most eminent minds tackle the big questions of our age.


Scientists have now detected far-away planets that may contain life, but what makes some people believe in extra-terrestrial beings, and not others? What really lies behind stories of alien abduction or alien invasion? And how much damage do alien species of plants actually cause? Bridget Kendall asks ecologist Chris Thomas, science-fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor and psychologist Richard McNally.

(Illustration: Artist impression of alien spaceship hovering over a city landscape. By Shan Pillay)

Amelia Earhart - Trailblazer In The Skies20170729

Bridget Kendall presents the ideas discussion show.

This year is the 80th anniversary of the record-breaking attempt by the US aviator Amelia Earhart to circumnavigate the globe. It was a mission that cost her life, but helped to cement her place in history as one of the most inspirational and celebrated pilots of the 20th century.

Earhart used her position and the publicity her flights generated to advance the cause of women's rights - not just in aviation, but in wider society.

Bridget Kendall looks back at the life of a pioneering woman determined to break through barriers - with Susan Butler, author of 'East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart'; Dorothy Cochrane, Curator in the Aeronautics Division of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington; and Susan Ware, author of 'Still Missing: Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism'.

Photo: Amelia Earhart in June 1928 (Getty Images).

Balloons And How They Changed The World20160924

Balloons are often used for festivity and fun but what about the huge balloons now being developed to help us explore outer space? Or the tiny balloons which bio engineers inflate inside your body to help blood surge through your veins? Or the extraordinary balloonomania that spread across Northern Europe in the late 18th century? Bridget Kendall explores the colourful history of the balloon and its even more intriguing future with guests:

Debbie Fairbrother, Chief of NASA's Balloon Programme Office.

Professor Claudio Capelli, a cardiovascular engineer from the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.

Fiona Stafford, Professor of literature at Somerville College, University of Oxford.

Photo: NASA's super pressure balloon is designed for long-duration flights at mid-latitudes to provide scientists and engineers with a means to inexpensively access the 'near-space' environment for conducting research and technology test missions. The balloon's operational float altitude is 110,000 feet (33.5 kilometers) (Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman).

Being Cold20160102

Does the experience of coping with bitter cold affect the way people think and feel? And what happens to culture and identity when climate begins to change? To explore these questions the Forum this week comes from Canada, one of the world's most northern countries, with some 40 % of it in the Arctic. Joining Bridget Kendall are Nobel-nominated Inuit activist and former International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Arctic spatial ecologist David Atkinson and "Ice Huts" architectural photographer Richard Johnson. Recorded in the auditorium of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, as part of the Spur Festival of Ideas.(Photo: Ice Hut #530 by Richard Johnson. Joussard, Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta, 2011).

Boudica - Warrior Queen20180804

Bridget Kendall and guests discuss Boudica's rebellion against the Romans in Britain.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

Boudica, also known as Boadicea, was a member of Iron Age aristocracy in Roman-occupied Britain and her husband was the ruler of the Iceni people. When he died in around 60AD, Boudica, driven by Roman brutality, led a rebellion against the Roman army and marched on the three key Roman cities of present-day Colchester, London and St Albans. It was a ferocious attack that nearly drove the Romans out of Britain before Boudica was finally defeated. Today she is an iconic and sometimes controversial figure. To explore the story of Boudica, Bridget Kendall is joined by Professors Richard Hingley and Miranda Aldhouse-Green and Dr. Jane Webster.

Photo: Queen Boudica of the Iceni (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images).


Fragile gas filled spheres, sparkling champagne globules that fill your nose with fizz, pipe dreams that pop when the illusion grows too big: Bridget Kendall explores the mysterious world of bubbles with physicist Helen Czerski, biomedical engineer Constantin Coussios and artist Bradley Hart who makes giant paintings using bubble wrap.

Photo credit: Associated Press

Challenges Of Nanoscience20141004

Bridget Kendall talks to leading nanoscientists gathered by the Royal Society of Chemistry at the University of California San Diego: biochemist Shana Kelley who makes medical diagnostic tools using tiny quantities of metals, biologist Yamuna Krishnan who creates nanomachines from synthetic DNA, design theorist Benjamin Bratton who wants to link up nanoinks with cloud computing, and journalist Josh Fischman who helps us separate nanofact from nanofiction.

(Photo: A nano gold/palladium crystal courtesy of Kelley Laboratory)

Christina Of Sweden: Queen Of Surprises20180922

The rebellious monarch who scandalised 17th-century Europe.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

An accomplished young horsewoman who loved fencing and male attire, the 17th century Swedish Queen Christina was anything but a conventional princess. And she kept springing surprises on her court and country: after just a decade on the throne she abdicated, converted to Catholicism and moved to Rome. Once there, she put herself forward as a candidate for the post of Queen of Naples, opened a public theatre and scandalised the Holy See by a liaison with a cardinal. Bridget Kendall follows Christina's adventures with biographer Veronica Buckley, and historians Stefano Fogelberg Rota and Therese Sjovoll.

Photo: Christina of Sweden by Jacob Heinrich Elbfas, 1640s

The rebellious monarch who scandalised 17th-century Europe.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

An accomplished young horsewoman who loved fencing and male attire, the 17th century Swedish Queen Christina was anything but a conventional princess. And she kept springing surprises on her court and country: after just a decade on the throne she abdicated, converted to Catholicism and moved to Rome. Once there, she put herself forward as a candidate for the post of Queen of Naples, opened a public theatre and scandalised the Holy See by a liaison with a cardinal. Bridget Kendall follows Christina's adventures with biographer Veronica Buckley, and historians Stefano Fogelberg Rota and Therese Sjovoll.

Photo: Christina of Sweden by Jacob Heinrich Elbfas, 1640s

Bridget Kendall presents the ideas discussion show.


It is one of Earth's oldest building materials, a natural seal against water, useful for paper making, medicine and lots of other things. Bridget Kendall and guests discuss clay. Why it is so useful, why so many cultures treasure it but why it can also be a source of serious ill health. Chinese-American writer Huan Hsu explains the importance of porcelain in China, Irish ceramic artist Claire Curneen introduces us to the powerful visual language of clay, and British geologist Tim Jones studies a particular type of clay which causes a debilitating illness affecting millions of people in the developing world.(Photo: Guardian by Claire Curneen. Credit: Dewi Tannatt Lloyd).

Controlling Our Health20120929

How much control do we really have over our bodies and our health? Modern technology and medicine can treat conditions that were once thought to be incurable. But in other ways, are we any less vulnerable than in the past to disease and injury, both as individuals and societies? On the ideas discussion programme, Bridget Kendall's guests bring personal as well as professional experience to the table: Mark Harrison is a medical historian who's tracked the links between disease and commerce. Frank Reynolds has devoted the last 20 years to developing treatments for his own spinal cord injury. And the award-winning author MJ Hyland explains why she's gone public about her life with multiple sclerosis.

Born in London, MJ Hyland spent her childhood between Ireland and Australia. She is now a lecturer in creative writing at Manchester University and an award-winning novelist. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008 but kept it a secret for four years as she came to terms with her condition and the loss of control that it meant.

After a car accident left him with a traumatic spinal injury, American Frank Reynolds was living in almost constant pain, his body bound in a knee-to-neck body cast, flat on his back in a small Philadelphia condominium. Today, he is not only walking but heading a pioneering start-up at MIT that is developing novel technologies for spinal and other neurological injuries. He explains the ideas behind his twenty-year quest to control his body again.

And Mark Harrison contributes his knowledge as Professor of the History of Medicine at Oxford University. He studies how to control the spread of infectious diseases between groups of people and across the world.

Core: A Journey To The Centre Of The Things20151226

How startling discoveries about the core of the earth and the oldest star yet known help us understand our place in the grand scheme of things. Tim Marlow and the astrophysicist Arif Babul, the astronomer Anna Frebel and the earth scientist Paul Savage go on a quest to find the core or centre.(Photo: a split Earth showing a molten core).

Cotton: Yarn With A Twist20180407

Bridget Kendall and guests explore the chequered history of the original global fabric.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

It is a fibre and a fabric that is part of many people's daily lives, it grows wild on at least three continents, it has been woven into cloth and traded all over the world for thousands of years. And when machines made possible the mass production of cotton, its story became entwined with the history of human slavery: making fortunes for a few, and condemning many to a life of misery. So what are the milestones in the history of cotton? And why has it always proved such a popular clothing material across the centuries and across the world?

Bridget Kendall is joined by four textile historians to trace cotton's origins and its evolution into one of the world's most important global commodities: Sven Beckert, Professor of History at Harvard, Prasannan Parthasarathi, Professor of History at Boston College, Giorgio Riello, Professor of Global History and Culture at the University of Warwick and the President of the Textile Society Mary Schoeser.

Photo: Cotton yarn (Getty Images)

Presenter: Bridget Kendall
Producer: Radek Boschetty.


This week, we're taking a look at counterfeiting. How do you spot a forgery in the art market? How can you tell if a medicine is a useless or even harmful fake which might make your illness even worse? Bridget Kendall is joined by Ghanaian anti-counterfeiting entrepreneur Bright Simons; art auctioneer and author of Breakfast at Sotheby's - An A-Z of the Art World Philip Hook; and art historian Winnie Wong whose new book Van Gogh on Demand takes us on a trip to China, to a village where every year millions of copies of well-known oil paintings are churned out to be distributed for sale in around the world. Photo courtesy of Getty Images



Bridget Kendall discusses the incredibly varied uses and meanings of crystals with cave scientist Penny Boston, whose work takes her deep underground to study ancient life forms trapped inside the earth's largest crystals; biophysicist Elspeth Garman who, with the help of robots, can spend years growing one perfect protein crystal in her lab; and artist Roger Hiorns who has encrusted many objects with sparkling blue copper sulphate crystals, including the entire interior of a derelict London bedsit.


Is there a right way to face our own death? Bridget Kendall and guests discuss.

Bridget Kendall's guests consider the best way to think about our own death. What is the best way to prepare for it?

After a life as a literary editor, Diana Athill has become well known for her frank and eloquent memoirs and thoughts on her impending death. Now at the age of 94, she has come to relish life in an old people's home.

Pauline Chen has to deal with life and death in her daily work as a liver transplant and cancer surgeon. She thinks doctors could benefit from thinking more about the way we handle death and the emotional impact it has on the patient's family. She has written about the subject both as a book and as an online column for the New York Times.

And the poet Paul Muldoon from Northern Ireland shares his personal experiences of dealing with the death of his sister, as well, as his latest work based on the verses of The Bible's Book of Lamentations.

Deja Vu20151003

Is déjà vu a brain glitch, something triggered by the broader environment or a more mystical phenomenon? Bridget Kendall talks to cognitive neuropsychologist Chris Moulin, cognitive psychologist Anne Cleary and Nigerian born novelist and academic Chigozie Obioma, who was recently shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Democracy And The Arts In South Africa20140823

Twenty years on from the end of apartheid, what role can the arts play now in helping South African society develop? Recorded with an audience at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Bridget Kendall talks to playwright Mike Van Graan, poet Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, arts journalist Percy Mabandu, and jazz singer Nomfundo Xaluva who performs live for us.

Design And Beauty20151114

How far can we stretch the notion of a beautiful design? And, how fundamental is it to the world around us and our search for the answers to life's mysteries? We delight in beauty when we find it in the design of everyday objects. It's incorporated in the bodies we are born with and the ways we enhance them. And, on a cosmic scale, there is beauty in the rules which govern the universe. Bridget Kendall is joined by nobel prize winning physicist Frank Wilczek, furniture designer Khalid Shafar and body architect Lucy McRae to explore the frontiers of what beauty in design can mean.

(Photo: Basic perspective construction by Frank Wilczek).


There's quite a lot of agreement between people on just what is disgusting and it usually involves some pretty basic body fluids. In this week's episode of the ideas discussion programme, Bridget Kendall rolls up her sleeves and delves a little deeper into this fundamental human emotion, one which stems from a basic instinct to keep ourselves alive.

We hear from surgeon Iain Hutchison how disgust is a subjective response, from sensory scientist John Prescott how even rats dislike bitter food, and from psychologist David Pizarro how our level of squeamishness can even reveal our politics.

Dust And Ash20130921

We can see it moving around, but we cannot stop its track. It's in our houses and places of work as well as in the atmosphere. And although we try to avoid it, it can keep the planet a little cooler. We discuss dust and ash. Joining Bridget Kendall are: Japanese-American writer Katie Kitamura, whose latest novel was inspired by volcanic ash travelling across boundaries; Xenia Nikolskaya, a Russian photographer who has captured images of deserted palaces and mansions in Egypt that are covered in dust; and Professor Charlie Bristow, a sedimentologist from Birkbeck College at the University of London, who has worked in the dustiest place on earth - the Bodélé basin in the Sahara - and has been examining why dust travels the Atlantic to nourish the Amazon rainforest. Photo: Serageldin Palace, Cairo 2006 © Xenia Nikolskaya

Fire: How Climate Change Is Altering Our Attitudes To Wildfires20161112

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show in which some of the world's most eminent minds tackle the big questions of our age.

Fire: How Climate Change Is Altering Our Attitudes To Wildfires20170218

As fire risks evolve due to climate change, how should we deal with fire to protect human health and property without compromising the integrity of our environment? Bridget Kendall asks the geologist Andrew Scott, the fire ecologist Jennifer Balch and the biologist David Bowman.

(Photo: A fire tornado in California, USA. Credit: Getty Images).


Why are some materials and ecosystems easier to break than others? And what gives others better resilience? Joining Bridget Kendall are the celebrated American novelist Barbara Kingsolver, whose latest novel contemplates vulnerability in butterflies and humans; one of world's leading experts on bumblebees, professor David Goulson, who explains why artificially rearing bumblebee nests can paradoxically lead to mass extinction; and Markus Buehler, bio-engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who studies the molecular basis of strength and weakness in natural materials such as human bones and spider's webs.

(Image credit: Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images)

From The Infinitesimally Small To The Infinitely Large2012050520120506

Why there is more to empty space than you might think.

Cosmology, particle physics, mathematics and theatrical performance all come together this week, as we try to make sense of some of the biggest questions of all by juggling what we know about the very smallest things. Lawrence Krauss explains why the seemingly empty space that takes up so much of the cosmos is full of measurable energy.

Plus theatre director Alexander Devriendt on the reasons for telling the history of the universe backwards so that it ends in … nothing, and slices of nothingness in mathematics with Ian Stewart: a glimpse of the near-magical world of infinitesimals.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: finding everything and nothing in the realm of the infinitesimally small and the infinitely large.

Grass Roots: The Impact And Influence Of 'people's' Movements20160820

How have grass movements have evolved and how are they responding to a world where there is increased democracy but increased challenge too. Looking at a shack dwellers movement in South Africa, rights organisations in Latin America and the Maker Movement in the United States, Bridget Kendall and guests explore how grass roots groups are working today and how they may develop in the future with S'bu Zikode, Professor Joe Foweraker and Gene Sherman.

Photo: Grass Roots (credit: Shan Pillay).

Hair, Fur And Cilia20140802

Hair has always held us captive: a symbol of strength and vitality, or of sexual attraction and youth. But what are its molecular secrets? And what are we learning about those other mysterious filaments, the hair-like cilia strands attached to almost every living cell?

Bridget Kendall brings together three people whose work explores why these slender threads are essential to life. The medical geneticist Philip Beales explains why cilia disorders can affect memory and learning, Professor Ralf Paus, a leading hair loss researcher, reveals fresh insights into the role of neurohormones in promoting hair growth, and the artist Adeline de Monseignat shows her beautiful but disturbing sculptures, which suggest hair and fur aren't really a stack of dead cells, but somehow still alive.


Some say that the hand is where the mind meets the world. So what happens if you lose a hand? What are the options for a replacement? Are we focusing too much on the hands' ability to grip and hold and overlooking their sensitivity to heat and cold, to smooth or rough surfaces? And the power of the human hand to create music out of chaos: how does a conductor communicate with an orchestra, to get its individual members to play as one and translate his vision into a compelling performance?

Bridget Kendall's guests are: prof. Simon Kay, a surgeon based in Leeds, who performed the first hand transplant in the UK; New Zealander Lynette Jones, Senior Research Scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who studies tactile sensations; and Sakari Oramo, a Finnish musician who recently became the Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Duration: 44 minutes

First broadcast:Saturday 28 December 2013 (Photo/illustration by Shan Pillay)


When photographer Camille Seaman stood on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, she felt dizzy. It was 200 feet down to the sea, and below sea level was another 800 to 1,000 feet of ice. And all this, she thought, was made by one snowflake falling on another, through time.

On The Forum, Bridget Kendall finds out more about the ice masses of the polar ice caps. Along with Native American artist Camille Seaman, she is joined by the Danish glaciologist Poul Christoffersen, who's been measuring the effects of a warming ocean on that very ice shelf, and American engineer Mary Albert who drills down into ancient snow cores for crucial climate clues.

Photo: Breaching Iceberg – Greenland, August 8, 2008 © Camille Seaman


What happens in our brains when we are using our imagination? What role does imagination play in our decisions to visit foreign countries or even to migrate there? And is there something that makes people from a particular place, say India, use their imagination in a unique way? Bridget Kendall talks to neuroscientist Peter Tse, poet Arundhathi Subramaniam and anthropologist Noel Salazar.(Photo: The human brain. Credit: AFP/Getty Images).

Indian Princely States20170812

Rajan Datar explores a lost world of culture and romance.

At the time of the Partition of India 70 years ago this year, there were more than 500 Princely States. These were states nominally ruled by Indian Princes but ultimately under the control of the British colonial powers. Many of these princes - male and female members of the Royal Family - had kingdoms dating back to the 8th and 9th Centuries. But after the British curbed their powers, was their role largely ceremonial or did they have a deeper impact on the Indian people? And how did these Princes survive after Partition? Joining Rajan Datar is the writer and historian William Dalrymple, the director of the King's College London India institute Sunil Khilnani, and the Indian social scientist Nikita Sud from Oxford University.

Photo: A view of the Umaid Bhawan Palace, set high above the desert city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan (Getty Images).


Our world seems to be bound and criss-crossed by lines: except that when you look closely, many of them do not exist in reality, only in your mind. So what are we to make of lines: a useful human abstraction, to help us make sense of the world? And what does a line mean to an artist, whether one who wields a paintbrush or pencil, or one who fashions words into poetic verse? Joining Bridget Kendall are social anthropology professor Timothy Ingold, poet and graphic artist Imtiaz Dharker and distinguished South African artist William Kentridge.

(Photo: Lines of pebbles on the beach with Timothy Ingold)

Living At The Edge: Life In Extreme Environments20160806

Extreme life and synthetic biology in the sea, on land and in space.

Bridget Kendall and her guests explore extreme living and what it tells us, from human exploration to deep sea fish and synthetic biology. NASA scientist Lynn Rothschild is a pioneer in the field of astrobiology, interested in probing the limits of life on earth, to better understand where we might find life signs elsewhere in the universe. Oliver Crimmen is the Fish Curator at the Natural History Museum in London. He's an expert on how some sea creatures can survive both freezing and hot water - and several miles beneath the surface of our oceans. And explorer Rosie Stancer takes her own body to the edge - with solo trips to both the South Pole and the Arctic North, and a new expedition planned across China's largest desert.

(Image credit: Science Photo Library).

Machiavelli - Master Of Power20170902

The life and reputation of Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince.

Over five hundred years ago, dismissed diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli produced his most famous work, 'The Prince'. Written on the fringes of the Italian city of Florence, the book has long been read as a priceless guide to power and what holding it truly involves. But who was the man behind the work? Why did he claim that a leader must be prepared to act immorally? And why did the name of this one-time political insider become a byword for cunning and sinister strategy?

Rajan Datar explores the life and impact of Machiavelli's 'The Prince', with writer and scholar Erica Benner, historian Professor Quentin Skinner and journalist David Ignatius.

Image: Circa 1499, Niccolò Machiavelli (Hulton Archive/Getty Images).

Machine Translation: The End Of The Human Translator?20160604

Translating from one language to another is fraught with difficulty - capturing exact words can be hard enough let alone more subtle meanings like metaphor, pathos, or culturally specific references and phrases. But machine translation is even more complex, although it is developing at a very rapid pace and both text and voice can now be translated very quickly. Bridget Kendall and guests explore whether machine translation means an end to human translators and what impact it might have on our desire and ability to learn and immerse ourselves in other languages.

(Photo: Scholar reading Walatta Petros manuscript at monastery. Credit: Wendy L.Belcher).

Machu Picchu: The Secrets Of A Forgotten City20180825

Bridget Kendall and guests discuss the enigma of the Inca mountain retreat.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

The ancient Inca town Machu Picchu is now the most visited tourist attraction in Peru - and yet it lay nearly forgotten for over three centuries until American and Peruvian explorers drew the world's attention to it in the 1910s. And despite a century of excavations at the site, there are still many unanswered questions about Machu Picchu: why was it built in the first place, who were the immigrants that made up a large proportion of the town's population, and why was it abandoned so quickly.

To find out more about Machu Picchu, Bridget Kendall is joined by leading archaeologists of the Inca civilisation Lucy Salazar and Michael Malpass, the celebrated mountaineer and explorer Johan Reinhard and by writer Mark Adams who retraced the steps of the 1911 expedition led by Hiram Bingham that put Machu Picchu back on the map.

Photo: Machu Picchu, Peru. (Eitan Abramovich/Getty Images).

Magellan: First Man Round The Globe?20180414

Bridget Kendall and guests discuss Ferdinand Magellan's efforts to sail round the world.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

Portuguese sailor and explorer Ferdinand Magellan set out 500 years ago to find a route to the riches of the spice islands, north east of present day Indonesia. Through a series of adventures and tragedies, Magellan's voyage discovered the Straits of Magellan joining the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans in Southern America and was the first expedition to completely circumnavigate the world. But Magellan died on the way and the remaining crew were in fact first round the globe. To explore an achievement that changed the world and still influences us today, Bridget Kendall is joined by Dr Rodrigo Cacho, Dr Alison Sandman and Dr Rachel Winchcombe.

Making Scents: The Story Of Perfume20171230

Bridget Kendall and guests explore how fine fragrance became what it is today.

For millennia people have used fragrance to scent both their bodies and their surroundings. With just one drop, perfume has the potential to stir memories, awaken the senses and even influence how we feel about ourselves. But what's the story behind this liquid luxury in a bottle, now found on the shelves of department stores - and homes - worldwide?
In this programme, Bridget Kendall explores the modern history of perfume from its ancient roots to the scientific discoveries that have made it what it is today, with scientist and critic Luca Turin, writer and curator Lizzie Ostrom and the perfumer Thomas Fontaine.

Photo: Perfume bottles and smelling strips (Getty Images).

Marie Curie - A Pioneering Life20170819

The extraordinary life of the Polish scientist who changed the course of physics.

The Polish physicist and chemist Marie Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, and the first person to be awarded twice in two different fields. Her discoveries in the field of radioactivity - adding polonium and radium to the table of elements - changed the course of scientific history and led to huge advances in the treatment of cancer.

This year marks 150 years after her birth to a poor family in occupied Poland. Quentin Cooper traces Marie Curie's extraordinary life story with Patricia Fara, president of the British Society for the History of Science; Maciej Dunajski, mathematician and theoretical physicist at Cambridge University; and Susan Quinn, author of Marie Curie: A Life.

Photo: Marie Curie (Hulton Archive/ Getty Images).

Mata Hari: Dancer, Lover, Spy20170415

Bridget Kendall discusses the myths and realities surrounding women in espionage with Julie Wheelwright, Tammy Proctor and Hanneke Boonstra.

Material World: Making The Modern Factory20180811

Bridget Kendall and guests discuss the development of the factory and its global rise.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

The invention of the factory created not only a place of work but also a whole social structure. Bridget Kendall and guests discuss the key components of the rise of the factory, tracing its development from eighteenth century Britain to twenty-first century China and beyond. The discussion spans the lives of factory workers, the capitalist and communist ideas of the factory, and the changing face of manufacturing in an age of robots and big data. Bridget is joined by Joshua B Freeman, Distinguished Professor of History at Queens College and the Graduate Centre of City University, New York; Martin Krzywdzinski, Head of the Project Group 'Globalization, Work, and Production' at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center; Nina Rappaport, architectural critic, curator, educator, consultant and director of the think tank Vertical Urban Factory; and Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at SOAS, University of London.


What are memories and what role do they play? Bridget Kendall and guests discuss.

Exploring the mysterious realm of memory, Bridget Kendall discusses with her three guests how and why memories are formed, and what impact they have.

Dorothy Bohm is one of Britain's most important documentary photographers of the twentieth century. Now aged 88, she sees her photos as a way of capturing time and holding it.

So what is memory? Raymond Tallis is a professor of geriatric medicine and a former researcher in clinical neuroscience, who now writes about science from a philosophical point of view. He says that memory is a profoundly mysterious experience and it is impossible to give a neurological account of how memories are formed.

The Russian-born writer and broadcaster Zinovy Zinik contributes some memories of his own, including his experience of unravelling his family history, which formed the backbone of his most recent book, "History Thieves".

Mental Health20120818

One in three of us will be affected by mental illness at some time during our lifetime. It can take various forms from the most common - depression, to psychotic illness. Kendall's guests explore the way mental illness is viewed and treated around the world, and what can be done to help.

The Indian psychiatrist Vikram Patel is at the forefront of a campaign to promote global mental health. His non-governmental organization in Goa pioneers ways to treat mental health problems in places with few resources, a theme he has also written about in his book "Where There's No Psychiatrist".

Matthew Johnstone is an artist and writer based in Sydney. He first experienced depression in his mid-20s and he describes how he tried to cover it up so he could continue his successful advertising career. In his bestselling illustrated book "I Had a Black Dog", Johnstone used the character of a black Labrador to communicate his experience. He now works part-time as the Creative Director of the Black Dog Institute in Australia.

Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Broadmoor, Britain's highest security institution for offenders with mental disorders, well known in Britain because it's where the country's most notorious killers are sent if the court declares them "criminally insane'. She believes that learning to tell your own story is the key to getting to grips with all sorts of mental illness, even for her patients.

Global ideas on tackling mental illness, in a discussion led by Bridget Kendall.

Modern Alchemy20140222

We look at some of the most ingenious ways in which entrepreneurs and scientists are turning useless junk into precious gold, or at least extracting the elements we can go on using.

Joining Bridget Kendall are:

South African Professor of Chemical Engineering Alison Lewis, who's developed a new technique which can freeze contaminated water, and recover both pure water and the so-called 'toxins' as usable products.

Dr Angela Murray's project Roads to Riches retrieves microscopic amounts of platinum group metals - lost from cars' catalytic converters - from road dust, then uses bacteria to convert them back into catalyst, for example for hydrogen fuel cells.

Journalist Adam Minter's book Junkyard Planet reveals how the billion-dollar global recycling trade works. From his vantage point in China, he says that even the worst, dirtiest recycling is still better than the very best mining.


How is the brain affected by juggling between different languages and how does this affect identity? And what is the impact on a child's development if they speak one language at home and another at school? Bridget Kendall talks to poet and cultural critic Gustavo Perez Firmat, developmental linguistics researcher Antonella Sorace, and cognitive development specialist Ellen Bialystok.

Illustration by Shan Pillay.

Natural Navigation20141227

Could you find your way around using only natural signs? Bridget Kendall explores the phenomenal computational power of the human brain to work out where we are and the navigational ability of migratory birds to fly thousands of miles. With behavioural ecologist Tim Birkhead, navigator and explorer Tristan Gooley and neuroscientist Jennifer Groh.

Photo: birds flying in formation (Getty Images)


Three specialists in the dark hours take Bridget Kendall on a trip through the night.

First, the Oxford Professor of Circadian Rhythms, Russell Foster, who thinks that our biological clock, which measures the 24-hour cycle, is embedded in our genes, making night shift work particularly challenging.

The German photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg refuses to keep regular hours and takes most of her photos at night, using a long exposure to find colour in the dark.

And giving some context, the historian Craig Koslovsky, from the University of Illinois, traces how the people of early modern Europe first took over the night by illuminating the streets and their buildings, enabling them to eat, drink, work and socialise in very different ways.

Bridget Kendall and her three guests enter the night.

Nikola Tesla's Electric Dreams20180106

Bridget Kendall and guests discuss the life and inventions of engineer Nikola Tesla.

Outcasts: The Forum At Risor Festival, Norway20140809

From the Risor Festival in Norway: Bridget Kendall hears from four distinguished Scandinavians and an attentive festival audience on the topic of the uninvited. With film director Margreth Olin, bioethicist Bjorn Hofmann, Icelandic writer Sjon and violinist Henning Kraggerud.

(Photo: Bridget Kendall, Margreth Olin, Bjorn Hofmann, Sjón and Henning Kraggerud in front of an invited audience. Credit: Liv Øvland/Risør Chamber Music Festival)

Peering Into Space20130817

NASA astronaut and asteroid-hunter Edward Lu explains why we urgently need to map all sizeable Near-Earth orbit asteroids if we want to avoid becoming 'dinosaur toast'. Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist at Harvard, explores the mysteries of dark matter, the invisible, seemingly inert stuff which is thought to account for over a quarter of all mass-energy in the universe. And Fermilab's Craig Hogan is behind a new experiment to probe the fabric of space itself, by seeing if it's possible to detect the very tiniest units in the universe. Photos © All rights reserved by aspeninstitute-internal

Picasso: Artist Of Reinvention20171007

Bridget Kendall presents the ideas discussion show.

Pablo Picasso is commonly regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, changing our way of seeing with his radical innovation and revolutionary approach. As the pioneer of Cubism, godfather to the Surrealists, and creator of the enduring anti-war painting Guernica, he produced thousands of paintings in his lifetime, not to mention his sculptures, ceramics, stage designs, poetry and plays.

Rajan Datar discusses his life and work with curators Ann Temkin and Katharina Beisiegel, and art historian Charlie Miller.

Plant And Flower Shapes20130223

What makes flowers so beautiful? Why are some leaves curly, others spiky, and others flat? Bridget Kendall brings together a panel of three experts who have some answers to nature's mysteries.

Enrico Coen is a professor of plant genetics who has been running computer simulations of how plant cells turn from bud to bloom. He's found some simple rules of nature and, joining forces with Rob Kessler, professor of ceramics at St Martins Art School London, and PhD student Tilly Eldridge, used them to create some original "organic" objects of his own at his lab at the John Innes Centre in Norwich.

Andrew Zuckerman is a photographer from New York who's got up close and personal with some of the world's most wonderful flowers in his quest to capture the essence of a flower's shape in a single photograph, shot against a plain, white background.

And ecology professor Lars Chittka helps us understand nature through the eyes of a bee, that much-coveted pollinator, which is attracted to a flower by symmetry, colour and scent. An expert in the relationships between plants and other creatures, Professor Chittka founded the Research Centre for Psychology at Queen Mary, University of London. Photo by Andrew Zuckerman (Jimson Weed, Thorn Apple


Isn't it remarkable that everyday objects, especially those made from modern plastics, can bend, squash, stretch, and generally 'shape-shift' in a number of ways? So how is that possible? Bridget Kendall and guests consider plasticity from several viewpoints: Aurora Robson is an artist who works with plastic garbage, Sujata Kundu a nanochemist who analyses plasticity at the level of atoms and electrons, and Takao Hensch a neuroscientist investigating whether it's possible to recreate youth-like plasticity in an adult brain.(Photo: The Great Indoors: art installation by Aurora Robson).

Reawakening Language20160903

There are several thousand languages around the world but not all are in good health. It is thought that at least half of the languages alive today could cease to be spoken by the end of this century. What can we do about it? How do you re-awaken hibernating or dying languages and the cultures that go with them? Or, is some extinction inevitable? Bridget Kendall explores the positive things that are happening with some minority languages, focusing on Australia, Nepal and Hawaii with linguists Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann and Dr. Candace Kaleimamoowahinekapu Galla and anthropologist Dr. Mark Turin.

Photo: 'Idea' written (clockwise from top) in Hebrew, Arabic, Yiddish and Indonesian. Illustration by Shan Pillay.


Why we yearn to bring the past back to life, whether it is extinct animals, ancient languages or salvaging the wreckage of a legendary speedboat. Bridget Kendall asks the ancient DNA biologist Beth Shapiro, the Sanskrit expert Jyotsna Kalavar and the engineer Bill Smith to share their thoughts.(Photo: A woolly mammoth. Credit: Getty Images).


Conflicts around the world remind us daily of the perils of taking an eye for an eye. How deep does the instinct for revenge lie? Can victims of personal trauma find closure by other means? And how does a society overcome a shared sense of injustice?

On the ideas discussion programme, Bridget Kendall is joined by the celebrated novelist Rose Tremain, the Indian essayist Salil Tripathi and the activist Yvette Alberdingk Thijm.

Rose Tremain turns her thoughts to the quality of revenge - a trait missing from her creation, the doctor Robert Merivel. He appears in her latest novel, Merivel: A Man of His Time, which is the sequel to the highly-acclaimed Restoration about the doctor's rise and fall in Charles II's England of the late 1600s.

The Indian writer Salil Tripathi is currently writing a book about the crimes committed during Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971, and the way in which its survivors dealt with its violent aftermath.

And the activist Yvette Alberdingk Thijm talks about her work as executive director of Witness, a human rights organisation which helps victims from all over the world tell their stories by using video technology.

Sankara: Africa's Revolutionary President20180901

The life and legacy of Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary first president of Burkina Faso.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

Thomas Sankara is the revolutionary who became the first president of Burkina Faso in West Africa, and gave the country its name, meaning "the land of upright people". In his four years as leader he instituted sweeping reforms to empower rural people and make society more equal. For some Sankara was a hero, for others he was a ruthless autocrat. Now more than 30 years since his mysterious - and as yet unsolved - assassination in 1987, why do memories of him still haunt Africa? Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss Sankara's life and legacy are Dr Amber Murrey-Ndewa from the American University of Cairo, BBC Afrique journalist Lamine Konkobo who comes from Burkina Faso and Aziz Fall, Professor of International Studies in Canada and campaigner for justice on behalf of the Sankara family.

Second Chances20130928

Bridget Kendall and guests discuss the idea of re-visiting a place, reviving old friendships and learning to walk again. For over thirty years, photographer Nick Danziger has made a point of returning to his subjects in troubled places from Afghanistan to Bosnia. He explains what makes his second visit so different from the first one. Works by the Chinese-American author Gish Jen prompt the question: do whole countries, as well as individual people, deserve another bite of the cherry? And Californian inventor Van Phillips reveals the inspiration behind his revolutionary artificial leg design which has given a new lease of life to both himself and countless other amputees world-wide. Illustration by Emily Kasriel


Bridget Kendal and guests explore the amazing world of 'Self Assembly'. Cells working together to build a human embryo, a swarm of bees, robots joining forces to explore challenging terrain. These are all examples of self assembly - the coming together of simple units to form something of great complexity. Bridget is joined by experimental biologist Jamie Davies, chemical engineer and physicist Sharon Glotzer and robotics engineer Roderich Gross.

Jamie Davies is Professor of Experimental Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh. He unravels the processes by which a fertilised human egg is able to develop into an embryo without any external input. He also talks about using cellular self assembly to grow kidneys in the laboratory.

Roderich Gross is Senior Lecturer in Robotics and Computational Intelligence at the University of Sheffield. He uses small, simple robots - 'swarmbots' - to work together without an overall blueprint to carry out a variety of tasks. Their behaviour is modelled on the swarm intelligence which can be observed in the natural world - flocks of birds, swarms of bees, shoals of fish etc.

Sharon Glotzer is Professor of Chemical Engineering at University of Michigan College of Engineering. Her work with nanoparticles and molecules uses self assembly to create new materials with properties such as the ability to change shape or colour. She also envisages using the technology to store data not on hard drives, but in clusters of particles suspended in liquid.


Mankind has long been attracted to beautiful shells, but what are the many other secrets that link them to our human fate? Bridget Kendall asks the marine scientist Anne Cohen, the archaeologist Josephine Joordens and the cultural historian Toby Green to share their thoughts.(Photo: A man holds a conch shell. Credit: AFP/Getty Images).


Joining Bridget Kendall to be noisy about silence are American conservationist John Francis, who chose to stop talking one day and didn't speak again for seventeen years; Russian ice artist and explorer Galya Morrell, who has found that silence is an essential tool for survival in the North; and award-winning historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, who is interested in the tension between speech and silence that has existed throughout Christian history. Photo : © License All rights reserved by Galya Morrell (ColdArtist)


Do you crave being on your own, having time to take stock and think things through? Or do you loathe being alone and always try to be around other people? Joining Bridget Kendall to explore solitude are New Zealand novelist Eleanor Catton, New York educator Diana Senechal and Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li.

Stanislavsky: Founder Of Modern Acting20180217

It was at the Moscow Art Theatre from the 1890's onwards that Stanislavsky developed an innovative acting system that demanded actors really inhabit the role they are playing. This then inspired Method acting, which originated in the United States, and whose disciples range from Marlon Brando to Marilyn Monroe to the majority of big stars around the world today - some of whom have taken the system to an alarming extreme. This programme explores Stanislavsky's life and legacy, and also asks if his work has a role outside the theatre. Joining Bridget Kendall are Maria Shevtsova, Professor of Drama at Goldsmiths University of London, the Russian theatre historian Dr Arkady Ostrovsky, and the actor and director Bella Merlin.

Photo: Anton Chekhov, in the centre of the picture, reading his play 'The Seagull' with theatre director Stanislavsky on Chekhov's right. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images).

Bridget Kendall presents the ideas discussion show.

Taming Nature20160813

Is the idea of a pristine landscape an illusion, given that over thousands of years human activity has almost everywhere left its mark? Bridget Kendall asks the gardener Gilly Drummond, the land artist Danae Stratou, the archaeobotanist Dorian Fuller, and the historian William Beinart.

(Photo: Blenheim Palace Park where English landscape architect Capability Brown created a 150-acre lake and planted more than a million trees to make perhaps his finest artificial landscape (c) Blenheim Palace).

The Bittersweet Tale Of Cocoa20170805

Cacao in the Americas, from the Maya to the Aztecs.

Do you like cocoa? You are in good company: in South and Central America people have been enjoying the fruit of the cacao tree - the source of cocoa, chocolate and much else besides - for thousands of years. Ancient empires fought battles for the control of the best trees and cacao beans were used as currency. Some scholars have argued that the earliest evidence of cacao cultivation in South America can be traced to 3,500 BC and now plant genetics is giving us new insights into the complex history of this remarkable plant in Latin America.
Bridget Kendall is joined by archaeologist Cameron McNeil, chef and food historian Maricel Presilla and geneticist and cacao researcher Juan Carlos Motamayor.

Photo: A cropped cocoa pod lies over dried cacao beans (Getty Images).

The Element Of Surprise20160827

Think about your life and you might realise how much you try to control what happens each day and how little you leave to chance. That might be a defence against the kind of bad surprises no one wants, but is it also depriving you of the spirit of life itself?

Bridget Kendall is joined by three guests who are open to the idea of surprise in art, science and everyday life: author Yann Martel who delighted people with his surprising story of a boy and a tiger together on a lifeboat in Life of Pi, and says all real art is about surprise; social scientist and former president of the European Research Council, Professor Helga Nowotny, who says a sense of surprise is at the heart of scientific discovery; and psychologist-turned-surprisologist Tania Luna who says she has learned to relish the magic of surprise in life and now advises companies on how to deal with uncertainty and change.

And if you are wanting to know what the sound was at the end of the programme: it was excited chimpanzees, much like the one in the photo above. An animal that features strongly in Yann Martel's latest book, The High Mountains of Portugal.

Photo: A 15 month old chimpanzee opens a present (Getty Images).

The Forum In Beijing: Digital China20131116

Does the explosion of social media in China empower the individual or the state?

Bridget Kendall chairs a wide-ranging discussion in Beijing about the internet in China: with nearly 600 million Chinese now online, how is the spread of social media changing the nature of their society? How much is free expression really curtailed by the Great Firewall of China and the recent legislation aimed at curbing the spread of 'rumours' on the net? And is the ability to share the minutiae of their lives online making the young in China politically apathetic? Photo credit: Jackie Zhang

The Hidden Kingdom Of Fungi20130803

Put any prejudices about poisonous toadstools and mould in damp corners out of your mind: this week's Forum explores fungi as an extraordinarily tough and ecologically friendly building substance that could reshape our world. Plus the hundreds of thousands of species of fungi that have yet to be named and studied: some of them may hold vital clues on how to cure diseases or solve environmental problems. Bridget Kendall is joined by fungal ecologist Lynne Boddy, Danish mycologist and photographer Jens Petersen, and San Francisco-based artist, chef and fungal furniture-maker, Phil Ross. Photo: Hygrocybe Psittacina Photo: © Jens H. Petersen

The Hidden Power Of Noise20160409

Bridget Kendall and guests explore the unseen and often un-noticed power which noise has over us. With writer Garret Keizer who is interested in the social and economic dimensions of noise; sound artist Jana Winderen who records sounds made by underwater creatures; and Cambridge Professor of English Steven Connor who focuses on the 'ums, ahs, ohs, and ahems', expressive language noises that are often dismissed as marginal or trivial.

(Photo: Illustration showing computer wave-forms spelling 'noise'. Credit: Shan Pillay).

The Little Prince: Lessons From An Aviators Life20181006

The life and works of Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

‘It is only with the heart that one can see clearly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ Words of advice from a wily desert fox to a little boy who fell to Earth from an asteroid. That quote, by the French author and pilot Antoine Saint-Exupery, is one of the most memorable passages from The Little Prince, a slim volume that is one of the most frequently translated books of all time and has achieved this in just 75 years since its first publication.

But who was Saint-Exupery? How did he come to write The Little Prince? And what else do we know about this adventurer and romantic who risked his life as a pilot many times and captivated the world with his writing?

Bridget Kendall is joined by Olivier d'Agay, great-nephew of the writer and Director of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery Estate and Youth Foundation, Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer-prize winning author of an acclaimed biography of Saint-Exupery, and Bernard Chabbert, pilot and historian of French aviation.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Magic Of Bronze20170826

Bridget Kendall and guests explore the history and importance of bronze.

From Cellini's magnificent Perseus statue to the humblest of tools, people have been using bronze for at least five thousand years. So what makes bronze such a versatile material, how we first discovered it, and why is it that so many precious bronze art works have failed to survive?
Bridget Kendall is joined by Carol Mattusch, Professor Emerita of Art History at George Mason University, Professor Jianjun Mei, from the University of Science and Technology, Beijing and Director of the Needham Institute in Cambridge who specialises in ancient metallurgy, and David Ekserdjian, Professor of Art and Film History at Leicester University.
Also in the programme: Dutch sound artist Floris van Manen follows the key stages of making a bronze bell at Eijsbouts, one of Europe's leading foundries.

Photo: Cellini's statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa (Getty Images).

From Cellini's magnificent Perseus statue to the humblest of tools, people have been using bronze for at least five thousand years. So what makes bronze such a versatile material, how we first discovered it, and why is it that so many precious bronze art works have failed to survive?
Bridget Kendall is joined by Carol Mattusch, Professor Emerita of Art History at George Mason University, Professor Jianjun Mei, from the University of Science and Technology, Beijing and Director of the Needham Institute in Cambridge who specialises in ancient metallurgy, and David Ekserdjian, Professor of Art and Film History at Leicester University.
Also in the programme: Dutch sound artist Floris van Manen follows the key stages of making a bronze bell at Eijsbouts, one of Europe's leading foundries.

Photo: A rare Chinese bronze figure of a tapir dating back to the 4th century (Getty Images).

The New Curators: Who Decides What's Culturally Important?20161231

Some of us live in an age of super abundance - more things are being made and more information and goods are offered online than ever before.

Yet the internet also means that we no longer have to leave our selections to other people. If we want, we can sift through options to make our own choices, personalise our preferences, and even enlist the help of machine recommendations to highlight what we might like.

So in this brave new world, what is the role of a curator? Indeed, what does curation actually mean? With Bridget Kendall to explore the role of the modern curator, digital publisher Michael Bhaskar, the artistic director of the Serpentine Gallery in London, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, the director of one of India's most iconic museums, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum in Mumbai.

Photo: Early 20th century, ornate porcelain vases on display at an exhibition. (Getty Images).

The One Thousand And One Nights20170930

Bridget Kendall presents the ideas discussion show.

The One Thousand and One Nights are a collection of fantastical stories of flying carpets, magic and genies whose ancient origins go back to the 7th century or earlier. The tales are told by Scheherazade who uses the power of storytelling night after night to stop her Sultan husband from beheading her. These highly influential stories were brought to the West in the 18th century and they have continued to evolve over the centuries. Rajan Datar and guests explore why these stories became so popular around the world and what they mean to us today.

With Rajan is Wen Chin Ouyang, Professor of Arabic at SOAS in London; Dr Sandra Naddaff, senior lecturer in Comparative Literature at Harvard University; and the Iranian TV producer Shabnam Rezaei.

The Power Of Expectation20140531

How good are you at blind tasting? Could you tell if you sipped three different cups of coffee which was the best quality without seeing the price? And if you were given a pill to cure a headache - do you think it would help, regardless of whether it was real medicine or not? The Swedish neuroscientist Predrag Petrovic asks if a doctor's expectations can affect the success of a patient's treatment, the Indian neuro-economist Baba Shiv explains why consumers expect something to be better if they pay more, and the American musicologist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis on why our enjoyment of music is determined by what we're expecting to hear. Photo credit: Science Photo Library

The Power Of Technology20120901

Does digital technology open or close our minds? A show from the Aspen Festival of Ideas.

As digital technology gets ever more integrated into our lives we present a special edition of The Forum from the Aspen Festival of Ideas in the USA. What effect does digital technology have on how we think, live and learn? Should we worry about creating virtual echo chambers where we only hear what we want? Or should we celebrate the increased interconnectivity the internet brings? Bridget Kendall's guests bring very different perspectives to bear:

Joi Ito is the Director of the MIT media lab and a leading writer on innovation, global technology policy, and the role of the internet in transforming society in substantial and positive ways. He believes that the internet enables decentralized innovation, a type of openness which in turn is shaping approaches in science and education.

Mike Gallagher is president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. He argues that we can achieve connectedness and empathy through game play and that playing digital games are another way of forming communities.

We also hear from Julie Taymor, a filmmaker and the innovative theatre director who turned the animated film The Lion King into a big theatrical hit. She cautions us about the limiting power of two dimensional screens.

The Power Of Wind20160402

Wind is all around us on earth and in a different form, out in space; a powerful force which shapes our environment and which increasingly, we are trying to tame and harness.

With Bridget Kendall to explore some aspects of wind, Dr. Max Platzer, the distinguished aerospace engineer, once involved in Nasa's iconic space launches, who is now focused on how to harvest energy from the powerful winds of the world's oceans using a massive fleet of sailing ships with the ability to convert wind energy into hydrogen.

Earth and space meteorologist Professor Chris Scott from Reading University in the UK, who tracks the solar winds which come to us from space to probe how they affect us on earth and who has new research linking wind with lightening.

And from Boston in the USA, artist Nathalie Miebach, who weaves extraordinary sculptures out of storm data she takes from weather stations.

The Real And The Virtual20121229

Digital technology has given us a new realm to operate in, but is the border between the real and the virtual becoming increasingly blurred? And what's the role of maths in helping us to make sense of things, both real and virtual?

In this episode of the ideas discussion programme, Bridget Kendall brings together three people whose work takes them close to the dividing line of the tangible and intangible worlds. From Jerusalem, the Israeli digital innovator Eyal Gever uses 3D imaging software to create stunning models of simulated catastrophes, from Boston the American professor Robert Kaplan explores the way that maths gives expression to virtual ideas, and in the studio the British ceramicist Edmund de Waal describes his love of hand-crafted, physical objects and how they connect people through time.

The Reformation: A World Divided20171031

The Monk who Changed the World: How a German friar split the Christian church

Five-hundred years ago, in a remote part of Germany, a little known friar called Martin Luther set in train a series of events that led to the permanent splintering of Western Christianity. It changed the political and social landscape in a way that still resonates today all over the world. The Forum comes from Trinity Hall, part of Cambridge University in the UK, with historian professor Ulinka Rublack, professor of English Literature Brian Cummings, professor of Theology Alec Ryrie and the Reverend Daniel Jeyaraj. The British actor Simon Russell Beale reads from Luther's writings and members of the Cambridge University Choir of Gonville and Caius College perform Lutheran hymns.

(Photo: A Statue of Martin Luther in Eisenach, Germany. Credit: Getty Images)

The Tales Of Timbuktu20180929

Bridget Kendall and guests explore how a remote desert town in Mali became world famous

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

The fabled city of Timbuktu is a curiosity. To 16th century Muslim scholars, it was the cosmopolitan hub of Islamic learning in West Africa, to European explorers 300 years later, it was a place of mystery whose name remains synonymous with being at the end of the earth. Most recently in 2013, Timbuktu was at the centre of the world’s attention again after Islamist militants threatened thousands of valuable historic manuscripts stored in the city’s famous libraries. Believed to be the richest person in history, it was Mansa Musa - the emperor of the vast Mali Empire - who first developed the desert settlement into a place of intellectual debate in the 1300s. The Golden Age of Islamic learning he began, still survives today.

Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss the importance of Timbuktu in Islamic history are Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. who has recently published a Ladybird Expert book about the city; Dr. Susana Molins-Lliteras, a researcher at the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project and postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town; and Dr. Lansiné Kaba, Professor of History and Thomas M. Kerr Distinguished Career Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.

Photo: Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali (Getty Images)

The Vanishing World Of Our Ancestors20130406

The ways of our ancestors are still alive in many parts of the world and they can teach us a thing or two. A child in New Guinea could rival a child in New York for their ability to negotiate with adults, for example. But there are drawbacks too - particularly for the elderly or the weak.

Bridget Kendall is given a tour of a vanishing world by three experts who have explored the boundaries of modern and traditional societies in places as far apart as New Guinea, Zanzibar and Sikkim.

Polymath Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography at UCLA. He's been visiting the remote tropical island of New Guinea for the past fifty years. He says that the tribal way of life there, for all its problems, provides unique insights that could serve us modern humans well.

Prajwal Parajuly is a writer from Sikkim, a small Indian state high up in the Himalayan mountains, on the borders of Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. It's a part of the world with lots of ethnic diversity and ancient traditions and in his short stories, Prajwal explores the ambiguous role traditions play in people's lives.

Rhodes University anthropologist Rose Boswell is originally from the island of Mauritius. She has studied women's traditions on other Indian Ocean islands, especially Zanzibar and Madagascar. She tells us what makes the inhabitants of Zanzibar remain faithful to traditional birthing rituals, while people elsewhere adapt a more Western way of life.

Time To Rethink What Is 'normal'?20140830

Where is the dividing line between 'being a bit different' and having a mental illness that needs treatment and professional help? Bridget Kendall is joined by novelist Jerry Pinto, who has turned personal experiences of growing up with a relative with bipolar disorder into an award-winning book, Professor of Disability and Human Development Lennard Davis, and autism research pioneer Professor Uta Frith.

Photo: Shan Pillay

Tracking And Surveillance20131005

Bridget Kendall and guests explore the shadowy world of tracking and surveillance. As the ability of technology to monitor our online behaviour and even our physical movements in the workplace increases, how far should we be prepared to compromise privacy in the interests of security and efficiency? And how can the same technology be employed to better track endangered species? Finnish cyber-security expert Mikko Hypponen, Kenyan vulture scientist Munir Virani, and Australian political geographer Anja Kanngieser give their views. Photo: A satellite navigation system. Credit: Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Up Close With Tango20170923

Ideas discussion show that tackles the big questions of our age.

Tango is easy to recognise: those daring steps, the tight hold of the dancing partners, the intense yet melancholy music dominated by the plaintive sounds of the bandoneon. But if you ask what exactly tango is and where it came from, the answer may not be so immediately clear – because it’s more than a genre of music, more than just a style of dance.
To explore the roots, the culture and the magic of tango, Rajan Datar is joined by leading tango historians Maria Susana Azzi, Christine Denniston and John Turci-Escobar.

Photo: Argentine dancers on stage at the World Tango Championships in 2014 (Getty Images)

Upside Down20150926

Bridget Kendall and her guests step into a world turned upside down. Inverted buildings are a passion of structural engineer Hanif Kara, cabaret artist Fez Faanana subverts gender stereotypes in his entertaining and subversive show and Dr. Kirsty Park explains why bats spend so much of their lives hanging from their toes. Photo: An upside down Sloth (Getty Images).

Wheel Revolutions20160618

People have come up with the idea of the wheel many times and in different places, but what were the key turning points which led to mass transport and the miracle of modern logistics? Bridget Kendall discusses the still-unfolding story of the wheel with historian Richard Bulliet, logistics expert Jagjit Singh Srai and Cyr wheel dancer Valerie Inertie.

Wheel Revolutions20160730

People have come up with the idea of the wheel many times and in different places, but what were the key turning points which led to mass transport and the miracle of modern logistics? Bridget Kendall discusses the still-unfolding story of the wheel with historian Richard Bulliet, logistics expert Jagjit Singh Srai and Cyr wheel dancer Valerie Inertie.

Bridget Kendall and guests discuss the technology and art of wheeled transport.

Worlds In Miniature20151010

In an ever-expanding world, why do so many of us favour the brevity of a tweet or Facebook post and find scaled down miniature models magical and appealing? Jeff Nunokawa is a literature professor who loves long 19th century novels but reaches out to his students in bite sized posts. Slinkachu is an artist whose miniature figurines could be hidden in a street nearby, waiting for you to stoop down and enter their tiny world. Plus, a salutatory reminder that small is not always better from clinical geneticist Usha Kini who has pioneered research into microcephaly, a medical condition where disrupted growth means smaller than normal heads and brains. Photo: Balancing Act (credit: Slinkachu).

Yves Saint Laurent: Fashion Revolutionary20180818

Bridget Kendall and guests discuss the impact of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions

In the ten years since his death, the impact of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent on women's fashion remains undimmed. The tailored suit, trench coat and many other iconic designs are now staples of the modern Western woman's wardrobe. So what were the key moments that shaped Saint Laurent's life? And what was the relation between his fashion innovations and the fast-moving social changes of his time? Bridget Kendall looks back on his life and legacy with director of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, Olivier Flaviano, fashion historian Emilie Hammen and one of Saint Laurent's last assistants, Charles Sébline.

In the ten years since his death, the impact of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent on women's fashion remains undimmed. The tailored suit, trench coat and many other iconic designs are now staples of the modern Western woman's wardrobe. So what were the key moments that shaped Saint Laurent's life? And what was the relation between his fashion innovations and the fast-moving social changes of his time? Bridget Kendall looks back on his life and legacy with director of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, Olivier Flaviano, fashion historian Emilie Hammen and one of Saint Laurent's last assistants, Charles Sébline.

Zooming Out20140426

It is easy to be hoodwinked into thinking the world you see and experience is the most important part of reality. This week you are invited to leave the perspective of earth and zoom out into space to discover what can be seen from thousands of miles away. Joining Bridget Kendall for the journey are space archaeologist Sarah Parcak, artist Mishka Henner, and cosmologist Max Tegmark. (Photo: Planet Earth from space courtesy of Nasa/ Getty images)