Tales Of Cats And Comets

Ian Peacock presents a series about literary treatments of scientific discoveries.


01Newton's Apple20030728Isaac Newton, famously questioned why an apple should fall from a tree.

What he could not have seen was how authors would be using his ideas metaphorically, 400 years later.

Ian Peacock talks to writers Bernard Maclaverty and Charlotte Jones, about what attracted them to the apple.

02Schroedinger's Cat20030729If you can't see a cat in a box, is it alive, dead or both? This is the absurd conundrum behind Ernst Schoedinger's famous thought experiment.

Ian Peacock talks to novelist Philip Pullman and playwright Michael Frayn who have both used these ideas in their writing.

If an audience can't see a play, does it exist?

03Franklin's Kite20030730In 1751 Benjamin Franklin risked his life to prove that lightning is electrical, when he flew a kite with a metal rod attached in a thunderstorm.

Ian Peacock talks to Victoria Glendinning about her novel Electricity and to Joyce Snyder, who chose Franklin as the subject for her fiction debut.

And he discovers new research which suggests that Franklin may have faked his famous experiment.

04Pavlov's Dogs20030731Are we all conditioned like Pavlov's famous dogs who came to connect food with the sound of a bell? In the early 1900s the famous Russian psychologist did ground breaking experiments into associative learning and today his ideas have been fostered by novelists.

Ian Peacock talks to Will Self, author of Great Apes, and discovers that Pavlov's legacy extends to fruit flies.

05 LASTHalley's Comet20030801It's most famous artistic appearance is in the Bayeux Tapestry when it was sited in 1066 but why does Halley's Comet continue to capture the contemporary imagination? Ian Peacock looks to the sky with Patrick Moore, talks to satirist John Amos about Halley's comic potential and discovers why Mark Twain was obsessed with the comet.