A series which encourages guests to "think with the heart and feel with the intellect." This week, Murray Lachlan Young invites mathematician Marcus du Sautoy to combine his favourite sounds and his most passionately held ideas in unexpected ways by feeding them into an electronic device called 'The Flexagon'.
Murray has not prepared an interview but, instead, he and Marcus respond spontaneously to what the Flexagon returns to them in the form of short audio 'Flexes'. Neither of them knows which of the sounds, music and speech the Flexagon will select, nor how it will combine them. The idea is to throw up connections that might not have occurred to guests otherwise, and to encourage them to think and feel about their concerns and passions in a different way.
Marcus's sounds include evocations of the moment he discovered his passions for maths and for playing the trumpet, Indian and Ghanaian musical rhythms, and a 1930s speech by a German mathematician ending with the words "Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen." ("We must know. We will know."), which he takes issue with.
These, and Marcus's other sounds, are flexed together with audio suggested by his passion for prime numbers, proofs and contradictions. The result is unpredictable and far ranging, taking Murray and Marcus into areas of doubt, faith, infinity and the possibility of knowing the unknowable.
The unpredictability increases as the Flexagon introduces some audio of its own, drawn from the BBC Radio archives, to create even more unusual associations between apparently disparate material, and to alter perspectives on familiar issues.
Producer: Adam Fowler
An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.