Series in which Peter Curran visits members of the many and varied disciplines of science, from astronomy to zoology, to explore their habitat, customs, rituals and beliefs.

Beneath the typecast somewhat nerdy image of scientists, Peter finds passion, humour and, on occasion, an enviable sense of community.


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0101Computer Programmers2009080920100215

Series in which Peter Curran visits members of the many and varied disciplines of science, from astronomy to zoology, to explore their habitat, customs, rituals and beliefs.
Beneath the typecast and somewhat nerdy image of scientists, Peter finds passion, humour and, on occasion, an enviable sense of community.
Peter starts off by visiting computer programmers.
Do the makers of the virtual world, Second Life, spend more time in their virtual world than in the real one? Are they architects, engineers or computer geeks, or actually highly competent people?
Do computer programmers spend more time in the virtual world than the real one.
Do these sort of employees spend more time in their virtual world than in the real one?
0102The Zoologists2009081620100216Peter meets zoologists and spends time at the Institute of Zoology at London Zoo.
Are the otter specialists as quick-witted, sociable and fun as the aquatic animals they study? And does the office hierarchy mirror the pecking order of the food chain?
Peter Curran visits members of the many and varied disciplines of science, from astronomy to zoology, to explore their habitat, customs, rituals and beliefs.
Peter Curran meets zoologists and spends time at the Institute of Zoology at London Zoo.
0103The Botanists2009082320100217Peter Curran visits members of the many and varied disciplines of science, from astronomy to zoology, to explore their habitat, customs, rituals and beliefs.
Peter meets the botanists who won the lottery.
Seed conservation used to be rather marginal to the main scientific activity at The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
That is, until, the scientists who preserve seeds for future generations asked for and received 30 million pounds.
At the Millenium Seed Bank in Sussex, the gentle world of botany and the rude world of commerce come together in a rampant hybrid.
Peter Curran visits the Millenium Seed Bank to meet the botanists who won the lottery.
0104The Astronomers2009083020100218Peter meets the astronomers at Jodrell Bank Observatory.
For 50 years, astronomers at the Jodrell Bank worked with colleagues around an iconic radio telescope that famously spotted Sputnik.
But now most of the Jodrell tribe are leaving their telescope in the middle of the Cheshire countryside and moving to Manchester.
The telescope will survive as it is a listed building, but will the tribe?
Peter Curran visits members of the many and varied disciplines of science, from astronomy to zoology, to explore their habitat, customs, rituals and beliefs.
Peter Curran meets the astronomers at Jodrell Bank Observatory.
0105 LASTThe Mathematicians2009090620100219Peter meets the mathematicians of the Isaac Newton Institute of Mathematics in Cambridge.
There are blackboards in the lifts and in the loos to encourage communication between visiting professors, but not everyone shares their mathematical insight.
A few members of the mathematical tribe do wear the same t-shirt for six months and it's often inside-out, but not all the stereotypes hold true.
Among these mathematicians, Peter finds passion, humour and an enviable sense of purpose.
Series in which Peter Curran visits members of the many and varied disciplines of science, from astronomy to zoology, to explore their habitat, customs, rituals and beliefs.
Peter Curran meets the mathematicians of the Isaac Newton Institute of Mathematics.
0201The Archaeologists2011080420110807In the first of a new series, Peter Curran puts archaeologists under his anthropological microscope.
Do the scientists who discover and interpret lives in the distant past have a distinctive culture and mind set of their own? To find out, Peter visits a tribe of British archaeologists at their excavations on the island of Jersey.
For 200 000 years, Jersey was a magnet for bands of nomadic Neanderthals and later Stone age hunter gatherers.
During much of that time, sea level was lower than today and you could walk to Jersey from Britain or France.
When ice ages waned, groups of Palaeolithic people gravitated there to hunt mammoths, rhinos and reindeer.
Today Jersey is drawing archaeologists from all over the UK because of its windows into the early Stone Age past.
One is in a rocky ravine by the sea and the other in a potato field.
While the scientists want to learn about the people and their lives in the landscape back then, Peter Curran gets down in the dirt to find out what makes the archaeologists tick and whether they form an unique tribe themselves.
Matt Pope from University College, London is one of the excavation team leaders.
He says they are like a tribe.
Every summer he and his colleagues travel from distant parts of the country (London, Manchester, Wales and Southampton) and convene on the island for a month.
There they live as a tight band of people with a common purpose at their camp which has its own rules and culture.
Peter explores what drives the desire to spend a summer month crouched in the dirt with trowels and sieves, and how archaeologists think about the distant past and the people who inhabited it.
And he aims to find out if life in the trenches really does mean you have to wear sandals.
Peter Curran encounters a tribe of archaeologists, digging up Stone Age life on Jersey.
0202Diamond Beam Line Scientists2011081120110814The scientific tribe that Peter Curran meets this week has a spectacular gleaming home.
The tribal dwelling place is a gigantic silver bagel in the Oxfordshire countryside.
Within this flying saucer-like construction is the UK's largest particle accelerator and it functions as the country's most powerful x-ray machine.
It's called the Diamond Light Source synchrotron and it enables scientists to peer deep inside matter at the scale of atoms.
Four years old, it's the newest of Britain's megascience facilities.
Hordes of researchers visit every year to image and study everything from new drug compounds to novel materials for computers, tiny viruses to meteorites, and Dead Sea Scroll parchment to aircraft wing alloys.
The work of the visitors is only possible thanks to the resident scientists who run Diamond's experimental stations called beam lines.
These are labs are positioned at different points around the giant accelerator's ring.
At these points, beams of radiation - from x rays to ultraviolet - fire out from the bagel and are channelled for use in research projects.
Peter Curran puts the beam line scientists under his own anthropological microscope.
The beam line scientists are largely physicists and chemists by background and each of the 15 beamlines has its own team of them, working in units called 'hutches'.
The researchers have designed and built each station and are responsible for its smooth operation and pristine maintenance.
They host the researchers who come to use the facilities.
Some of these beamlines are operating 24 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Peter aims to discover what working life is like in the UK's most glittering new science facility and what might characterise the average beam liner.
What are the thrills of harnessing radiation from Britain's biggest particle accelerator, and what are the more onerous aspects? How do the beam line scientists feel about having the responsibility of being keepers of Diamond's light when that role means they forgo full pursuit their own research? What's the formula for maintaining a harmonious hutch?
Producer; Andrew Luck-Baker.
Peter Curran meets the tribe of physicists who run the UK's Diamond Light synchrotron.
0203The Statisticians2011081820110821At the annual Royal Statistical Society Awards and Summer Reception, Peter Curran puts the tribe of statisticians under his anthropological microscope.
What rouses the passions of statisticians? What are the differences between statisticians and mathematicians? How do they feel about the way politicians and the media make use their hard work?
Peter Curran counts the passions of statisticians.
What rouses the passions of statisticians? What are the differences between them and mathematicians? How do they feel about the way politicians and the media make use their hard work? And what is a micromort?
Peter's sample of statistically significant seven are Valerie Isham, David Hand, Vernon and Daniel Farewell, David Spiegelhalter, Sheila Bird and Jane Galbraith (the unnamed truth-seeker at the pre-awards drinks).
0204Antarctic Scientists2011082520110828Peter Curran puts scientists at the British Antarctic Survey under his anthropological lens.
What are the rituals, motivations, passions and survival strategies of this ice-bound tribe?
He meets the geologists who live in two-man tents for months in the Antarctic ice fields, hundreds of miles from nearest people.
He also talks to Katrin Linse, a polar marine biologist who vowed as a twelve year old to go to Antarctica after she was barred from a sightseeing tour of an Antarctic research ship because she was a girl.
Among other vindications, she now has species of Antarctic sea cucumber named after her - an honour bestowed upon her by tribal colleagues.
Peter also meets ice chemist Rob Mulvanney who has visited the frozen continent in the cause of scientific discovery for three decades.
Peter finds out from him how the culture and community of the Antarctic tribe has changed over the years.
The former months of extreme isolation from the outside world has gone now that the scientists can go on Facebook and use satellite phones.
Peter Curran puts scientists who work in Antarctica under his anthropological lens.
What are the passions and survival strategies of this ice-bound tribe?
Peter meets the geologists who live in two-man tents for months in the Antarctic ice fields, hundreds of miles from nearest people.
He also talks to a polar marine biologist about how she copes with months apart from her 3 year old son.
Peter hears about the thrills, sights and sounds of diving under the sea ice, and glaciologist Rob Mulvanney reveals the nightlife to be had on the frozen uncontinent, under the snow.
0205 LASTVolcanologists20110830 A lad's mag claimed that being a volcanologist was the second coolest job in the world after being an astronaut.
This scientific tribe also loses one member each year, on average, in a fatal accident on a volcano.
Peter Curran puts on his anthropological hard hat and asks what makes these researchers risk life and limb, clambering around active volcanoes? Are they driven by a desire to protect local people by understanding the timing of eruptions.
Or are they drawn like moths to the sulphurous flames in a purely scientific quest.
Peter talks to volcanologists based at the University of Bristol, some of whom worked on Montserrat during the heights of the Caribbean island's volcanic crisis in 1997.
He hears stories of crater-based craziness inside Mount Etna and a slide down a flow of volcanic glass.
Peter Curran meets the scientists who are drawn to study volcanoes.
 05 LASTMore Tribes Of Science, Volcanologists20110904 A lad's mag claimed that being a volcanologist was the second coolest job in the world after being an astronaut.
This scientific tribe also loses one member each year, on average, in a fatal accident on a volcano.
Peter Curran puts on his anthropological hard hat and asks what makes these researchers risk life and limb, clambering around active volcanoes? Are they driven by a desire to protect local people by understanding the timing of eruptions.
Or are they drawn like moths to the sulphurous flames in a purely scientific quest.
Peter talks to volcanologists based at the University of Bristol, some of whom worked on Montserrat during the heights of the Caribbean island's volcanic crisis in 1997.
He hears stories of crater-based craziness inside Mount Etna and a slide down a flow of volcanic glass.
Peter Curran meets the scientists who are drawn to study volcanoes.

Genre

  • Factual
  • Science & Nature

More Tribes of science

  • This was the subtitle for series 2.

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