Forum, The [world Service]

World renowned thinkers and their ideas.



Entrepreneur Iqbal Quadir, epidemics expert Stefan Kaufmann, classicist James O'Donnell

Bangladeshi entrepreneur IQBAL QUADIR on the magical impact of tiny loans.

German immunologist STEFAN KAUFMANN on why it's hard to keep pandemics at bay.

American classicist JAMES O'DONNELL on the twilight years of the Roman Empire


Political economist Deepak Lal, writer and comic AL Kennedy, Tatar poet Ravil Bukharaev.

THE FORUM, the ideas programme presented by Bridget Kendall.

Indian political economist DEEPAK LAL on the origins of capitalism.

Scottish writer and stand-up comedian AL KENNEDY on the paramount importance of words.

Historian and Tatar poet RAVIL BUKHARAEV on the unsung power of minority nations.


Environmentalist Sunita Narain, science historian Arthur I Miller, writer Paolo Giordano.

THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall.

Indian environmentalist SUNITA NARAIN on our wasteful attitude to water.

American-British physicist and historian of science ARTHUR I MILLER on the link between scientific genius and the visual arts.

Italian physicist and writer PAOLO GIORDANO on using prime numbers to understand human nature.


Writer and critic Clive James, mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy, philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall.

Recorded this week in front of an invited audience as part of a BBC festival held in West London

British mathematician and trumpet player Marcus Du Sautoy on music and mathematics

Australian writer and critic Clive James on what it means to be a screen icon

Slovenian philosopher SLAVOJ ZIZEK on ‘interpassivity', the 21st century equivalent of interactivity.


Environmentalist Wangari Maathai, geneticist Jane Peterson and novelist Dubravka Ugresic

THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall.

Kenyan environmentalist WANGARI MAATHAI on the link between culture and environmental degradation.

American geneticist JANE PETERSON on the bacteria living within us.

Former Yugoslav novelist DUBRAVKA UGRESIC on the power of old ladies.


Physicist Frank Wilczek, writer and activist Arundhati Roy and philosopher Susan Neiman.

Listen to Part 2

THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall.

Physicist FRANK WILCZEK on why space isn't really empty.

Writer and activist ARUNDHATI ROY on why India's democracy doesn't help the masses.

Philosopher SUSAN NEIMAN on a new Enlightenment.

Listen here for Part 1


Religious commentator Karen Armstrong, biologist Stephen Hopper and author Brian Chikwava.

Listen here for Part 2

THE FORUM, the ideas programme presented this week by philosopher and classicist ANGIE HOBBS.

Religious commentator Karen Armstrong on what religion really means.

Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, STEPHEN HOPPER, on the importance of the world's ancient infertile landscapes.

Zimbabwean author BRIAN CHIKWAVA on the psychology of performance in sport and writing.

Listen to Part 1


Economist Amartya Sen, writer Henning Mankell and psychotherapist Camila Batmanghelidjh.

Listen above to Part 2

THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall.

Indian Nobel laureate and economist AMARTYA SEN on fighting injustice.

Swedish crime writer HENNING MANKELL on imagination as a tool for survival.

British Iranian psychotherapist CAMILA BATMANGHELIDJH on creating a soothing repertoire for children.

Listen above to Part 1


Philosopher Sari Nusseibeh, radio-ecologist Brenda Howard, historian Giusto Traina

THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall.

This week: a fresh approach to the Middle-East crisis, the long term effects of radiation on plants and animals and a panoramic look at one year in the life of the Roman Empire...428 AD.

Palestinian philosopher and peace-broker SARI NUSSEIBEH tell us why he thinks faith and imagination could be the vital ingredients for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

British radio-ecologist BRENDA HOWARD explains why there's an urgent need for new standards to measure the ecological impact of radio active contaminants...not on humans, but on animals and plants.

And Italian historian GIUSTO TRAINA explains why sometimes the most interesting historical events happen at the margins of empires rather than at the centre.


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented this week by art historian Tim Marlow.

In this week's programme: the interconnectedness of life on our earth, from the ancient past to the complexity of the global present.

British paleontologist Simon Conway Morris suggests that the future of evolution may be more predictable than we think.

He also believes that if extra-terrestrials exist, not only will they be as bright us but they may think like us too.

Polish philosopher and writer Eva Hoffman reflects on time and the way we experience it in our modern world.

She warns we could be misusing what time we have with potentially damaging psychological consequences.

And founder of The Climate Parliament NICHOLAS DUNLOP outlines a radical new scheme of global political co-operation to save the planet – by creating regional ‘supergrids' of renewable energy.

Simon Conway Morris, Eva Hoffman and Nicholas Dunlop


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by BRIDGET KENDALL.

This week The Forum has an Australian accent.

Recorded in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, before a lively audience in the Utzon Room of the Sydney Opera House, the programme challenges Australian stereotypes.

Aboriginal lawyer and novelist LARISSA BEHRENDT claims it's time Australia woke up to the fact its legal rights system doesn't work for everyone.

Singer, writer, director and public arts advocate ROBYN ARCHER challenges the way Australia sees itself and the world.

Cultural thinker, Indonesian born IEN ANG, asks if Australia is becoming part of Asia, and does Asia want it to be?

And the audience in the Utzon Room doesn't hold back in expressing its views either.

A special programme recorded from the Sydney Opera House in Australia


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by BRIDGET KENDALL.

This week The Forum goes partnership with Radio New Zealand.

In front of an attentive audience at the Soundings Theatre, part of New Zealand's national treasure, the Te Papa Museum, the programme's host BRIDGET KENDALL and her guests explores some aspects of what makes us human.

Writer and teacher BERNARD BECKETT, whose science-fiction novel Genesis probes the interface between people and machines, asks if there really is something so unique to mankind as a species that it is impossible to replicate us artificially.

Director of the Bioengineering Research Institute at the University of Auckland PETER HUNTER reveals how the Physiome Project is about to transform our understanding of the human body and why applying the things that engineering has learned over the last century and a half to medicine could lead to much more personalised healthcare.

And former New Zealand MP and Professor at the Institute of Public Policy MARILYN WARING challenges our notion of what we deem valuable.

She argues that while trade in arms, people and drugs is often captured in national economic statistics, unpaid work, particularly that done by women, is conspicuously absent.

Marilyn says that this isn't just an accounting exercise: while logging companies often get state subsidies for clear cutting forests, women in the same areas who produce food for everyone can't even afford pitchforks and wheelbarrows.

The Forum goes to New Zealand for a discussion with three eminent Kiwis


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by BRIDGET KENDALL.

British queen of crime fiction and global bestseller, PD JAMES, gives her own views on the abiding popularity of the detective mystery and suggests that the ordered and moral world it evokes is a great comfort to a world vexed by seemingly insoluble problems.

We look at the problem of famine with Irish economic historian CORMAC O'GRADA, who offers guarded optimism about our ability to eradicate major famine in the near future as long as we remain vigilant to its causes.

And taking us back two thousand years, Danish literary scholar KARIN SANDERS brings us face to face with the mummified corpses of ancient sacrifice and explores the stories they tell us and the ones we tell about them.

PD James, Cormac O' Grada, Karin Sanders


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall.

This week we look at three social ‘outlaws' – the guerrilla, the revolutionary and the human cannibal – and challenge our beliefs about them.

Australian academic and counter terrorism advisor to the US government David Kilcullen asserts that the ‘accidental guerrilla' is the key to understanding the anti-Western insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Historian Robert Service devotes a new biography to Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky, but claims it's time to strip him of his heroic status.

And Romanian political scientist CATALIN AVRAMESCU believes we should reinstate the idea of the human cannibal, though in theory rather than in practice.

David Kilcullen, Robert Service, Catalin Avramescu


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall.

All we knew was we were against something, none of us ever thought about the future and what we were for"...1989 The Berlin Wall falls and many have a night to remember.

By the end of the year the Soviet communist empire in Eastern Europe disappears.

But as no-one foresees 1989's swift and largely bloodless revolutions, so no-one has a plan for what to do next.

Meanwhile, even as the Cold War draws to a close the world is changing in ways few recognise.

The outcome for all our futures and freedoms is far from inevitable and we may not be heading in the right direction.

1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, both an ending and a beginning"


This week: the human brain.

Antony Gormley asks BBC listeners to take part in a meditative experiment...and go barefoot.

Plus the illusion of perception and the value of forgetting.

Antony Gormley, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Beau Lotto on the body, forgetting and illusion


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by this week by mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy

Frank Furedi, Sabrina Maniscalco and Tahmima Anam on education, entanglement and epiphany


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by this week by historian Rana Mitter

How to find the world in a grain of sand or a human being


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall

Fire, food and fun in the evolution of life


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by BRIDGET KENDALL

Below: Translating and interpreting the cosmos across a wall, by Emily Kasriel

This week's theme is translation: in poetry, science and in architecture


Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented this week from the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Australia by BRIDGET KENDALL

Produced in partnership with ABC Radio National

We challenge assumptions about Australian heroes, history and humanity


Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented this week by Chinese historian RANA MITTER

Below: Curating unknown micro-organisms as they cling to a plank for survival, by Emily Kasriel

Below: Curating unknown mirco-organisms as they cling to a plank for survival, by Emily Kasriel

Why a vast array of unknown species is still out there waiting to be discovered


Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented this week by philosopher Angie Hobbs


Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

This week’s Forum comes from the British Museum where a panel of guests will try to unlock the messages hidden within a number of objects, ranging from a Roman statue to a vial of DNA.

Bridget Kendall talks with Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor; Genetics professor Steve Jones and novelist Aleksandar Hemon.

This week's Forum comes from the British Museum where a panel of guests will try to unlock the messages hidden within a number of objects, ranging from a Roman statue to a vial of DNA.

What gives an object meaning and value? The Forum this week comes from the British Museum.


Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

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What triggers earthquakes and why do we know so little? Plus the Arctic and African cities

THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall

The power of earthquakes from African cities to the arctic.


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall.

Ribosome acting out of love or self interest.

The true source of power: is it love, self interest or the cutting edge of biochemistry?


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall.

This week's Forum image: Snow White carries the mono-currency eagle as the robot of longevity smells a rose by any other name.

Listen to the programme and all will be revealed.

Radically changing the world's monetary systems…and why our nose knows best.


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall

Opposite: Playing 'Forum World' by Tim Jokl

Why pointing's unique to humans, the financial meltdown that wasn't and serious video games


How do our ideas of home define us, and are there other planets we could inhabit?


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - a special programme presented by Bridget Kendall from the Names Not Numbers Symposium

Opposite: Business leaders take a catastrophic risk in sharing responsibility with healing women.

By Emily Kasriel

In The Forum from Wales we ask how we can improve trust in an age of catastrophic risk?


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - an edition which joins in the BBC's SuperPower internet season, presented by Bridget Kendall

Illustration opposite: The internet creates shared meaning and a primordial soup of our origins but we must protect it and ensure our privacy.

By Emily Kasriel

The past and future of the internet: where is it heading? And what if it stopped working?


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall

Opposite: Our national spirit transformed as we move to invade new urban spaces and megacities.

By Emily Kasriel.

What makes an outsider become an insider?


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented by Bridget Kendall.

This week with Swedish neuroscientist Anders Sandberg, British economist John Kay and Russian artist Irina Nakhova

Illustration opposite: Erasing bad memories of tattooed skin hides as we take the scenic indirect route

Is it a good idea to erase our painful memories?


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented this week by historian of China, Rana Mitter.

With American novelist Lionel Shriver, the former Mayor of Bogota Enrique Penalosa and British historian Yasmin Khan.

Illustration opposite by Rosie Pike.

How much money is one life worth? Should we be putting a price tag on the terminally ill?


THE FORUM - A World Of Ideas - presented this week by mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy.

With novelist Philip Pullman, Japanese anthropologist Hiroko Kawanami and molecular biologist Stephan Schuster.

Illustration opposite by Graeme Davis.

Storytelling: through DNA, ancient texts and in Eastern wisdom


New Zealand Philosopher Denis Dutton on art and creativity as a universal human trait; American psychologist Daniel Goleman on creating an eco-intelligence for an industrialised age and author Wendy Law-Yone discusses the fiction of memory and how we create a myth of home.

An artistic ape drawing on eco-intelligence to forget his idea of home by Emily Kasriel

Is art and creativity universal and what evolutionary advantage has it given us?


South African novelist Andre Brink on power-games with languages.

Unwelcome guests inside our bodies, with American biologist Eugene Kaplan.

And American-Iranian scholar Vali Nasr on the rise of the 'critical middle' in the Muslim world.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Power-games, unwelcome parasites, and the rise of middle classes in the Muslim world.



One of America's most prominent Nano scientists, Harvard Professor George Whitesides, explains how he believes nanotechnology could be about to revolutionize the world as we know it, eminent Marxist geographer David Harvey argues that capitalism is the primary driving force behind innovation.

Award winning Indian author Radhika Jha weighs the options for one poor Indian village- trapped between tradition and the desire to leapfrog out of poverty.

Capital driving innovation in the world of the nano cow by Emily Kasriel.

Innovation: the mysterious realm of nanotechnology.


Forging Links

American political scientist Professor Charles Kupchan explains why no conflict need be eternal and lays out his recipe for peace making.

Jordanian artist Samah Hijawi shares her experience of reaching out to the people of Amman, through sounds, pictures and speeches.

And award winning author Joan Brady charts her artistic journey from ballet dancer to writer and what role the spectator and reader plays in all of this.

Changing the tune to turn literary or balletic enemies into friends in a public place by Emily Kasriel

Engaging your enemies: is democracy a precondition for peace?


Connections and Rupture

Harvard physician and social scientist, Professor Nicholas Christakis explains how our behaviour, health and even basic beliefs can be shaped by people we've never met.

Israeli film director Amos Gitai gives his poignant memories of frontline military services, and how this affected his vision as a film maker.

Pakistani novelist Daniyal Mueenuddin draws us into his fictional world of age- old connections built on a feudal society.

He argues that the poorer and more desperate you are, the less likely you are to take risks and change your life.

Below the surface, networks and connections between soldiers, servants and traders by Emily Kasriel

Tracing the silvery threads of a spider's web… the power of connections.


Joseph Nye, who coined the term soft power, updates his ideas for the 21st Century.

The world is neither unipolar, multipolar, nor chaotic – it is all three at the same time.

Thus a smart grand strategy must be able to handle very different distributions of power in different domains and understand the trade-offs between them."

Image opposite: What values are holding together military power, economic power and the power of the pen, on a 3D chess board by Emily Kasriel.

Soft power or Smart power: will Joseph Nye's ideas work in the 21st Century?"


Distinguished psychologist Dorothy Rowe wants us to think about why we lie.

She argues that we lie in order to protect our sense of self.

Neuroscientist and novelist, David Eagleman approaches the mind from another direction, probing neural processes in the brain.

New research, he says, could affect how criminals are prosecuted.

Iraqi academic Kanan Makiya calls for an end to self delusion on a wider scale – saying its time for Arab intellectuals to stop being silent, speak out and go beyond the Arab sense of victimhood.

A tumour affects our brain, encouraging it to lie about a culture of violence, to protect our sense of self by Emily Kasriel.

This week on The Forum we're going to discuss why we lie to protect our sense of self.


Canadian writer Yann Martel is known all over the world for his novel Life of Pi.

Now he brings us a new work which explores the masks we use to protect ourselves from our deepest horrors.

British neuroscientist Dan Glaser probes the limits of visual perception: how much does what we see determine our physical movements? And avant-garde Austrian graphic designer, Stefan Sagmeister on new ways to draw upon individuality for design that will reach out and grab you.

Poster of the emotions of a donkey and howler monkey conveyed through their facial expressions.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

This week on The Forum: Masks, Movement and Emotion.


One of last year’s winners of the Nobel Prize for medicine, Australian biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, discusses whether we are on the brink of learning how to reverse the ageing process.

Is the 21st century really going to be dominated by the Asian giants of China and India? Dispelling a few myths about their economic success is the distinguished Indian economist, Pranab Bardhan.

And a vision for an African renaissance, driven by a fresh generation of young African leaders: pioneering educator, Dr.

Patrick Awuah joins us from Ghana, to explain why he believes a new style of college education can help open up Africa’s options.

Educating Chinese and Indian telomeres.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

New Beginnings: cell renewal and telomeres, the rise of China and new African education.


Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg explains why he is looking for a final theory of everything and outlines what it might look like.

Britain’s former top co-ordinator of intelligence Sir David Omand, discusses what limits should be set on the way governments use intelligence and surveillance to protect our liberty and privacy? And is reality subjective, or is it objective fact? The theme of a new detective novel from one of Germany’s most exciting new writers, Juli Zeh.

A detective tracking down the theory of everything to protect the state.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Is the world hurtling towards a final theory of everything ? And what might it look like?


Presented by Marcus Du Sautoy.

Provost of Columbia University Claude Steele reveals how our brains can be hindered by the power of stereotype threats and shows us what we can do to avoid them.

Linguist Guy Deutscher explores how different quirks of our mother tongues can cause very different habits of mind.

Hungarian poet Agnes Lehoczky explores the effect of poetry on the mind and suggests that it’s time to rehabilitate the notion of eavesdropping.

Overcoming stereotype threats by speaking new geographies of the mind.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

How our mind can behave very differently depending on who we are with.


Danish neuroscientist Morten Kringlebach delves deep into the brain to understand what triggers pleasure - and pain - on a quest for new insights into human nature.

Scottish writer and comedienne A L Kennedy probes the moments when we aren't sure who we are: the tortured uncertainties of adolescence.

And what happens to us when we fall in love.

And Australian bioethicist Julian Savulescu asks us to expand the frontiers of what it means to be human by embracing the brave new world of genetic enhancement.

Who are we? Are we our brain? How can love and genetic enhancement affect us? Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Forum at Science Museum: Who am I? A combination of pleasure, pain and love?


British Historian, Professor Niall Ferguson revives the era of gentlemanly capitalism, with a new biography of the high financier, Siegmund Warburg.

A man, he says, current day bankers would do well to study.

Serbian born physicist, Professor Vlatko Vedral argues that the idea of information holds the key to understanding our universe.

German novelist Julia Franck explores how the effects of war are passed on from one generation to another, with lasting emotional impact.

A moral banker abandoning a child, all reduced to ones and zeros.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

British Historian, Professor Niall Ferguson, revives the era of gentlemanly capitalism.


A special edition of the Forum this week:we move to the city of Oxford and mingle with some of the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers as we become part of a conference organised by TED, the international ideas organisation.

In the company of three exceptional guests, we ask the thrilling question of how to bring about real change in the world - now - in attitudes, in politics and in the environment.

One of the world's leading cyber activists, Ethan Zuckerman looks at how to harness the tremendous power of social media to create meaningful change, the renowned Swedish environmentalist and champion of resilience thinking, Johan Rockstrom delves into the surprisingly unpredictable nature of change and shows how understanding this can help save the world's ecosystems, and the Iranian-American comedy star Maz Jobrani shares with us his insights on how humour can change the world.

Using social media and humour to create big changes and tackle global warming.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

We ask the vital question of how to bring about real change to the world.


Today, there’s a curative feel to the programme as we explore how to heal old political scars, nurture the planet and imagine a positive future.

One of the key negotiators of the Northern Ireland peace process, Lord John Alderdice, explains how to use psychotherapy to bring peace.

Forget the rise of Asia: Columbian law lecturer and writer, Oscar Guardiola Rivera is here to tell us why he thinks it’s time for Latin America to assert itself.

And the untapped chemical potential of trees with Irish “renegade scientist” and writer Diana Beresford-Kroeger.

Using psychoanalysis, Latin power and trees to bring opposing sides to the table to establish peace.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Lord John Alderdice explains how to use psychotherapy to bring peace.


It’s nearly two years since the abyss opened up and the world financial system looked as though it might fall in.

One economist who famously predicted the crisis was Nouriel Roubini, who explains why he was so sure, and what he thinks will happen next to the world economy.

Evolutionary psychologist Deirdre Barratt, who’s convinced this commercialised, technological age is playing havoc with our basic human instincts.

The Sri Lankan-born writer Roma Tearne argues that novels are not just a window on our human souls, but a doorway into our subconscious.

Learning from the boom and bust past and our memories and avoid high carb and cute temptations.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Why human instincts are floundering in a modern world of fast food and cartoons.


Eminent sociologist Amitai Etzioni, says if our modern consumer society is the problem, then the answer is a ‘communitarian’ approach.

But can this really work?

Getting beyond the individual is also what Nigerian novelist Teju Cole explores.

In his case it’s not people around him, it’s communing with the past inhabitants of cities.

And from individual to common ownership in music: should songs belong to everyone? German musicologist Dr Daniel Müllensiefen dissects musical plagiarism.

Illustration by Graeme Davis.

The community versus the individual.

How do we get past greed and what’s the alternative?


On this week's Forum, are we heading towards a brave new world?

Are we on the verge of discovering ways to delay the ageing process and expand our life spans? Award winning British geneticist Dame Linda Partridge reveals some surprising new scientific discoveries.

Who would have thought the number of ethnic conflicts around the world is steadily decreasing? German Professor of International Security, Stefan Wolff explores the reasons.

And what's about to change, now that billions of people can pool information with the rest of the globe at a click of a button? The newest thoughts of American new media visionary Clay Shirky.

Very old people celebrating the wane of ethnic conflict in a digitally legible world (1s and 0s).

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

New Science of living longer plus Clay Shirky


Human beings have got impressively large brains - so why are we still irrational? Professor of Psychology, Laurie Santos, tells us why her work with monkeys can offer us some important pointers about ourselves.

Pulitzer Prize winning writer Marilynne Robinson argues that human nature is fundamentally generous spirited.

We’re not pre-programmed to be selfish, as some schools of science might have us think.

Philosopher Roman Frigg wants scientists to allow him and his philosophical colleagues into their laboratories in order to get them to think differently.

But what could scientists gain from this philosophical perspective?

Is it irrational to introduce altruistic philosophers and Kapuchin monkeys into the laboratory? Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

How monkeys can teach us more about human irrationality plus writer Marilynne Robinson.


Former England cricket captain and now psychoanalyst, Mike Brearley offers an insight into the dynamic of teams and explains what makes the difference between a good and a great team.

Drawing upon his own experience, he argues that the strongest leader can admit vulnerability.

We hear the case for transforming the military from a threat to a resource for nation building: Africa specialist Lieutenant-Colonel Shannon Beebe explains how.

And why Africa's roadside kiosks aren't makeshift structures blocking progress but the future of sustainable urban design.

We hear from Ghanaian architect DK Osseo-Asare.

A narcissistic leader inside a kiosk instructs soldiers to develop human security.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Former England Cricket captain Mike Brearley explains what makes a good team, great.


We often contemplate the human condition on the Forum, but this week we go way beyond the process that took us from slime to civilization to look at death on a truly astronomical bigger scale: the end of the universe and all that’s in it.

How long will it take? And what’ll be the last thing to unravel? Our voyage to the stars is with American astronomer Chris Impey.

Also joining us, one of the world’s most successful modern art curators, Lars Nittve, with his vision for the next generation of art museums.

And Iraqi born activist Zainab Salbi charts a course for the future that will see the empowerment of poor women, but warns that it will only work if men are involved too.

Coming to grips with the end of the universe through art.

Illustration by Bridget Kendall.

This week, The Forum trains its sights a long way beyond the horizon.


Is it in some way easier to live in a more polarised society? Do the people of Northern Ireland still harbour a soft spot for the hard men? At a time of increased tensions in the area, a panel of celebrated citizens of Northern Ireland debate this in front of an audience at the Northern Ireland National Assembly in Stormont.

The discussion kicks off with a performance by the award-winning poet Paul Muldoon from his latest collection.

Joining Paul on the panel is Baroness May Blood of Blackwatertown, MBE, a campaigner for integrated education and Dr Raman Kapur a consultant clinical psychologist in Belfast.

Award winning poet, Paul Muldoon, has been described as the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.

Paul is currently a professor at Princeton University.

Baroness May Blood of Blackwatertown, MBE, was born and raised in Belfast and worked in a linen mill from her teenage years.

She has fought for equality for women at work and was the first woman in Northern Ireland to be given a life peerage.

Dr Raman Kapur is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Chief Executive of Threshold, a mental health charity in Northern Ireland who written and researched on 'The Troubled Mind of Northern Ireland'.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

A Hummingbird and a Quail are educated together whilst still harbouring prejudice in their minds.

Special recording from Belfast: Creating a post conflict society.


When you’re ‘honour bound’ to do something – what actually is it that drives you? The desire to do the right thing, or the sneaking need for approval and respect from others? Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah asks where morality ends and honour codes begin.

How do you get past the temptation to typecast different nationalities? Writer and comedienne Anna Chen contemplates stereotypes of Asian women.

And leaving human prejudices aside - what happens if we suddenly find out we aren’t alone in the universe? Harvard astronomer Dimitar Sasselov updates us on the discoveries of the Kepler mission, the observatory sent up into space to look for habitable exoplanets circling around other stars.

(Above) A unique woman with breast enhancements and bound feet having a duel for her honour with a gravity challenged being on a super earth many light years away.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Is there a place for honour in the modern world?


A voyage to the stars – or rather to a nearby planet or asteroid – accomplished in a matter of days, rather than months.

It may sound like science fiction but astronaut and engineer Franklin Chang Diaz will try to persuade us all that his plasma rocket engine, now in prototype stage, will soon turn it into reality.

We also delve into another world hovering between fiction and reality: Hong Kong writer Po Wah Lam leads us to a time and place when all that mattered were small insects, grasshoppers and locusts.

And distinguished historian Bruce Cumings urges us to remove our blinkers when we look at the Pacific coast of United States and the countries it faces across the vast expanse of the ocean.

The Pacific launches a more successful plasma-fuelled rocket than the Atlantic, better able to catch those crickets.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

The new plasma engine that will make your trip to Mars as easy as crossing the Atlantic.


The theme of this week’s programme is exploring the boundary between manipulation and collaboration.

How would our lives change if we could regrow bits of our bodies? We enter the pioneering world of nano technology, where scientists are learning how to send signals to our failing organs to regenerate themselves, with bio engineer, Sam Stupp.

And when you peer deep into the human ear and the way our brains interpret music, what is exactly happening? According to physicist and musician Philip Ball, it’s all about detecting and expecting patterns.

And a different sort of probing from America’s most quoted humorist: P.J.O’Rourke explains why politicians are a medicine we should only take in very small doses.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Sending nano filaments to regenerate broken organs as we listen to patterns in music prompting us to demand a cut down in the number of politicians.

Manipulation or collaboration: P.J.O'Rourke, nano technology and our music instinct.


Is it time to retell the story of India’s past? Should we challenge the historical idea of India as a single national entity? An alternative view from economist and British politician, Lord Meghnad Desai.

Can we use nature as a window on our sex lives?

German anthropologist Volker Sommer leads us through the natural world to find out what we can learn from the sexual behaviour of monkeys and apes.

And in this nomadic modern world of multiple identities, Scottish-Ghanaian novelist Lesley Lokko shines a light on the strains of being more than one person at once.

llustration by Emily Kasriel: Gay apes with a hybrid identity re imagine the notion of Indian unity

Probing identities with British politican Lord Desai, through history,language and sex.


Pioneering biologist, Victoria Braithwaite, explains how she found clear-cut evidence in fish that they have the neural wiring which transmits a painful stimulus from their skin to the brain and proof that their behaviour is affected by pain.

So if fish feel pain, what implications does this have for the way we farm and catch them?

Sociologist Sami Zubaida wants us to discard the blanket term “Islamic” to reveal a more accurate vision of Middle Eastern societies, where capitalism and the mostly secular institutions have been instrumental in the development of modernity.

And from philosopher Donald Favareau we find out how biology, linguistics and philosophy can interact to help overcome biology’s ‘blind spot’ and better define the essential processes of the living world, particularly as regards biological signs, signalling, messaging and codes.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: The meaning and significance of pain felt by a hibernating Islamic fish.

How can you tell if fish feel pain and will the answer change the way we treat them?


How did the Ancient Romans celebrate the end of the year? Classicist Mary Beard comes bearing tales of the weird and the strikingly familiar as she describes some of the gifts that the Romans bequeathed to us.

But it’s not just the Romans, but also the Egyptians who have left their mark on our society today.

American historian Robert Tignor reveals how the lands of the pharaohs and pyramids have helped to shape religious ideas and communities that dominated Europe for at least a thousand years.

And Ottoman thinker Philip Mansel explains how ports in the eastern Mediterranean created such free and flexible societies.

llustration: A different understanding of time across Mediterranean ports in different epochs by Emily Kasriel

Exchanging ideas on five thousand years of Mediterranean calendars, festivals and ports


3 very different approaches to the impact colour has on our lives.

The Belgian Neuroscientist Guy Orban, reveals his latest findings on how the brain decodes colour and why colours are a construct of our brains.

Paul Butler explains why race and colour matter when it comes to incarcerating law breakers and creating a fairer legal system.

And a warning from Philospher Angie Hobbs on the importance of being precise when we translate colours into words and the wonder of the thousands of different shades of colour in the plainest objects.

llustration by Emily Kasriel: Our brain, the law and the ancient world depicting and decoding colour.

Exploring colour with 3 perspectives on how colour changes the way we see the world


Have you ever wondered what happens to your neural pathways when a beautiful sunset makes you catch your breath? Or when you marvel at a portrait by a grand master?

Insights from one of the world’s leading pioneers in the new field of NeuroAesthetics.

Professor Semir Zeki explains why he is convinced that art and aesthetic appreciation is a key function of the brain.

How do Semir’s ideas apply to other creative fields? Former US poet Laureate Charles Simic, takes us through the tortuous and creative process of trying to translate poetry.

And sound consultant, Julian Treasure, will be opening our ears to the noises that envelop us but which we’ve unlearnt how to hear.

llustration by Emily Kasriel.

Grasping the unobtainable as we create, translate and listen to noise.

How artists can reveal the way our brain works.


Jon Kabat-Zinn is known throughout the world for his pioneering work in applying meditation or mindfulness to mainstream medical treatment.

Hans Rosling, once a medical field officer in Mozambique, now designs new ways to visualise global statistics in order to get us all to shake up our outdated views of the world.

And Vincent Lam has transformed his night shifts on emergency hospital wards into a gritty and sometimes gruesome best selling novel.

llustration by Emily Kasriel: Mindfully inverting the mind body relationship as doctors use statistics to create and challenge the stories that they tell themselves and their patients to heal.

Three distinguished medicine men who have all made their mark in different areas.


The Forum special recording at a symposium in Portmeirion.

The theme: How to tackle the unknowns in our world, from the ocean ecosystem, the unrest in the Arab World, to the mind of the other.

Polymath, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of ‘The Black Swan’ and the man credited with helping us understand about how random events rule our world.

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle, with first hand experience of a world unknown to most of us.

And painter and poet Frieda Hughes, who uncovers insights into the unknown, from a perfect child she never had, to the mind of a suicide bomber.

llustration by Emily Kasriel: Negotiating the values of an unknown world on the ocean floor.

Meeting the challenges of the unknown


Why we’re able to kid ourselves into thinking two opposite things at once? Psychologist Robert Kurzban argues that it gives us an evolutionary advantage and has to do with the way our brains are constructed, their ‘modular design’.

What if our whole universe is like a single slab in a set of infinite parallel universes? Possibly all very different, possibly near identical copies?

It sounds fantastical, but theoretical physicist Professor Brian Greene says cutting edge research means it’s an option we need to be open to.

Finnish-born artist Oron Catts wants us to contemplate a new world where jackets are grown from engineered leather, not made from an animal, but a semi-living biotechnology hide.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: Multiple selves competing inside our minds as we grow rabbits in parallel universes.

Hypocrisy, multiverses and artificial leather: mind-stretching thoughts about life.



Why we thrive on conflict

Do we thrive on conflict? We bore deep into the human skull today to explore the extraordinary way the different units that make up our neural circuitry compete with each other like a team of rivals.

Mysteries of another invisible world too: the conflicting theories regarding the very tiniest particles that inhabit the realm of quantum physics.

We find out how their strange behaviour may be the key to a Theory of Everything.

And the age old clash between the author and the state in modern day Russia.

Bridget Kendall is joined by American neuroscientist David Eagleman, Dutch theoretical physicist and Nobel prize winner Gerard ‘ T Hooft and Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin.


Design in art, fashion and nature.

Is innovation or imitation the key to success?

Design is all around us – not only in artificially created realm of art, architecture and fashion, but also in the world of nature.

What lessons can we learn from leaves, lizards and penguins and is it possible to build a city on the principles of sustainability? In fashion, why is it that we cannot help ourselves from following the herd and how do you go about creating a design classic?

This week’s Forum guests are celebrated designer and architect Ron Arad; historian of modern fashion and culture, Pamela Church Gibson and biologist and consultant in the new field of biomimicry, Janine Benyus.

Illustration by Charlotte Kingston: the Galapagos shark counts his royalties (sitting on his Ron Arad chair).


Human rights: How do you prove you have them? And how do you make sure you can enjoy them?

Rights: Is it right to use an embryo for life-saving research? Can the free market really ensure rights for all? If you need to, should you bribe someone to get your driver’s licence?

We feel entitled to many rights, and exercise them daily, but what cornerstone are they built on? As people in the Arab world fight for their rights, we debate on what grounds we are owed anything by anyone.

This week’s Forum guests are India’s chief economic advisor, Kaushik Basu; British philosopher Mary Warnock; and cutting-edge stem cell biologist Tilo Kunath.

Illustration by Charlotte Kingston: the world puzzles over which rights to write.


Oceans are the largest habitat on Earth but how much do we know about their history?

The latest technology is allowing us to view ocean depths not just in real time but over long periods and gives us a detailed picture of the dramas unfolding down there.

Paul Snelgrove from the Ocean Sciences Centre at Memorial University in Newfoundland is at the forefront of research which has been revolutionised by these new developments.

For composer and sound artist Annea Lockwood the unique rhythm of water running in great rivers like the Danube and the Hudson has the power not only to enchant us but to connect us more deeply to nature.

Back on the sea surface historian Andrew Lambert tells us about the forgotten war of 1812 and explains how this naval war shaped the national cultures of the US, Canada and Britain.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: listening to the flow and drama of the deep oceans.


Centre and Periphery: growing apart?

Have we got it wrong with the concept of the Clash of Civilisations? Distinguished Pakistani scholar and diplomat Akbar Ahmed says the real fault lines in today’s world are not between countries or religions but within them and that we should pay more attention to the often violent struggles between the centre and the periphery.

British geographer Doreen Massey sees a growing geographical divide in British society and says that the way forward is to tackle the financial power of the City of London.

And what might the future place of European culture be as emerging countries begin to offer new centres of gravity? Art curator Augustus Casely-Hayford says his recent tour across Africa made him think its high time we woke up to the new world of multi-polar culture.


Contemplating our own Death

This week, the ominous shadowy wall that looms on the horizon for all of us… death.

It's unavoidable and unknowable, and there's no way back.

So what is the best way to prepare for it? And how can doctors help us best prepare for it, and mourn us when we die?

Our guests: 93 year old Diana Athill has become famous for her frank and eloquent memoirs of her life and thoughts on impending death.

Pauline Chen is a liver transplant and cancer surgeon who wants doctors to stop seeing death as an enemy they must fight, even when a patient is terminally ill.

And award winning poet Paul Muldoon brings us his latest poem, inspired by the Old Testament Book of Lamentations: to remind us our lives are not only defined by the very big happenings.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: Should doctors help us contemplate our own death?



As the world’s population is set to reach seven billion soon, we ask how we’re going to be able to feed everyone.

We take an in depth look at food, from how it is produced, to how it is prepared and ingested.

Our guests: leading environmentalist Dr Jason Clay unveils his radical and controversial plan to make food production all over the world more sustainable.

Claudia Roden is an award winning cookery writer who believes that traditional home cooking is vital when it comes to feeding ourselves.

And Harvard anthropologist Prof.

Richard Wrangham on how we need to learn more about the physics of food so that we can make better nutritional decisions.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: with the population set to reach seven billion - how can we feed our growing world?


This week's Forum comes from the UK Parliament.

Three distinguished guests and an audience probe the virtues and flaws of democracy in the Arab World and in Western parliamentary democracies.

Baroness Helena Kennedy, a leading criminal and human rights lawyer, argues that the Rule of Law is fundamental to a healthy democracy.

One of India’s best known modern historians, Ramachandra Guha, of the London School of Economics celebrates the role of pluralism in Indian Democracy.

And Professor Madawi Al-Rasheed from King’s College London says that calls from democracy often come from unexpected places.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel

The virtues and flaws of democracy.


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We live in an age when we are witnessing the end of globalisation and renewed calls to wall-off so many things, from national borders to the internet. In this programme we look at some of the new barriers springing up in the real and digital worlds.

Photo: A country fence (BBC)

Boundaries: real and imagined

(in) Dependence20120805

Where's the line between independence and dependency?

This month the Caribbean island of Jamaica celebrates 50 years of independence from the United Kingdom, an anniversary that's got added spice to it, because of the debate in Jamaica about whether it's time to take the next step and also break ties with the British monarchy. So what does independence mean? How easy is it to sever ties? And what is its relationship with dependency, both for a nation, and for an individual?

Some of the questions we'll be debating on The Forum this week with the award winning Jamaican poet Olive Senior; Scottish writer Dennis O'Donnell, who spent years working in a closed psychiatric ward as an orderly; and Dr Adam Winstock, a clinical psychiatrist who specialises in drug addiction.

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with Damian Woetzel, Dennis Scholl and Fred Dust.

When you think about people trying to change the world for the better, should artists be near the top of the list? That’s what Bridget Kendall explores in this BBC Forum from the Aspen Festival of Ideas in Colorado, in front of a lively festival audience at the Jerome Hotel. Joining her on stage are Damian Woetzel, former Principal Dancer at the New York City Ballet, ground-breaking designer Fred Dust, and art collector and philanthropist Dennis Scholl.

Photo credit © All rights reserved by aspeninstitute-internal

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


Exploring colour with 3 perspectives on how colour changes the way we see the world

01/10/2016 Gmt20161003

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.



Oceans are the largest habitat on Earth but how much do we know about their history?


The impact of migration: in the realms of society, seeds and sound.

It’s an issue high on the political agenda in many countries, but do we really understand how migration affects the countries the migrants leave behind? Is it brain drain or brain gain? And if globalisation is changing the world’s people, what about its plants and its music? This week’s focus is on movement across our shrinking world with economist Ian Goldin, world musician Susheela Raman, nature writer Richard Mabey and guest presenter Matthew Taylor.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: migrating sound, society and seeds.


Probing identities with British politican Lord Desai, through history,language and sex.


A second Forum programme recorded in the extraordinary atmosphere of the Jaipur Literature Festival with a lively audience and three prominent female creative thinkers talking about what rules Indian lives: the stars in the sky, the landscapes that fill their vision or the families that surround them?

Illustration by Emily Kasriel:Guided by the stars we send postcards illuminated artificially.

At the Jaipur Festival: Indian astrology, neon-lit nights and overbearing families


When protestors in Eastern Libya liberated their towns from Colonel Gaddafi's forces recently, it seems there was not mayhem on the streets.

Instead locals organised themselves into street committees to prevent looting.

Just one example, perhaps, of the way local communities can collaborate for long term gain, rather than each person grabbing what they can for themselves.

Nobel Laureate Professor Elinor Ostrom explains why we're not always out for ourselves, if left to our own devices.

Former Vice Chancellor of Cape Town University, Njabulo Ndebele – on the challenge of freeing South Africa from lingering guilt and resentment.

And best selling novelist Manju Kapur juggles the conflicting demands of individual rights and family obligations in modern Indian marriages.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: A man and wife and South Africa sharing water from the common pond.

This week on The Forum, managing the commons and establishing democracy after apartheid


Physicist Frank Wilczek, writer and activist Arundhati Roy and philosopher Susan Neiman.


The virtues and flaws of democracy.

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China expert Martin Jacques, writer Hanif Kureishi, philosophy professor Arvind Sharma

THE FORUM, the ideas programme presented by Bridget Kendall.

Political thinker MARTIN JACQUES explores how China's growing dominance could shake the foundations of Western assumptions.

He says we have underestimated the power China will have on the way we view culture, race and democracy in the future.

Award winning writer Hanif Kureishi throws the spotlight on our unconscious world – our dreams, fantasies and inhibitions.

He shows how exploring and expressing our unconscious side can be the key to unlocking new insights about ourselves.

Comparative religions professor ARVIND SHARMA offers a new sort of philosophical challenge – a Hindu world view that sees time not as linear but a never ending cycle.

He shows how this cyclical concept of time affects perceptions of the present both spiritually and politically.

06/09/2009: Part 120090907

China expert Martin Jacques, writer Hanif Kureishi, philosophy professor Arvind Sharma

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06/09/2009: Part 220090907
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Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


Environmentalist Sunita Narain, science historian Arthur I Miller, writer Paolo Giordano.


How artists can reveal the way our brain works.

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Biologist Martin Chalfie, novelist Kachi A Ozumba, music historian Marina Frolova-Walker

THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall.

American geneticist MARTIN CHALFIE explains how a green fluorescent jellyfish protein has been groomed to become the super-sleuth of 21st century science, spying on the work of the proteins that allow us to sense the world around us.

Music historian MARINA FROLOVA-WALKER unravels the myths surrounding the culture and politics of Russian music, argued about for over a century and a half.

Trawling through archives from the Stalinist era we eavesdrop on the bizarre discussions of an elite tasked with overseeing the production of soviet art, national in form, socialist in content.

Nigerian writer KACHI A OZUMBA takes us on a tour of life on the ‘inside'…of a prison cell.

Despite the inhumanities of life in prison and the stereotypes we have built around it, Kachi shows how the laws and rules prisoners make for themselves provide an uncanny mirror of life lived on the outside.

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Biologist Martin Chalfie, novelist Kachi A Ozumba, music historian Marina Frolova-Walker

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Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


Meeting the challenges of the unknown


Meeting the challenges of the unknown


Religious commentator Karen Armstrong, biologist Stephen Hopper and author Brian Chikwava.

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Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

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Novelist Margaret Atwood; Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones; sociology Prof.

Diego Gambetta

THE FORUM, the ideas programme presented by Ritula Shah.

This week we take a trip into real and imagined dystopian worlds…

We travel to the future to meet the environmentally friendly humanoids from Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood's latest book, “The year of the Flood”.

She asks whether an environmental religion can prevent the extinction of the human race as we know it, or whether it would accelerate our evolution into a new, unrecognisable species.

The British opposition security minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones argues that the right balance needs to be struck between privacy and the efficiency of the state.

And sociology Professor Diego Gambetta peers down into the underworld to crack the codes and signals of criminal communication.

We discuss how we modify our bodies and our communication in order to protect our planet and evade the state, both today and in a possible dystopian future.

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Novelist Margaret Atwood; Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones; sociology Prof.

Diego Gambetta

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13/09/2009: Part 220090914

Three distinguished medicine men who have all made their mark in different areas.


Centre and Periphery: growing apart?



Where does the idea of royalty fit into our fast changing century?

There is a festive air in London, as the city prepares for the spectacle of a Royal Wedding at the end of this month - we are devoting this week's Forum to a look at where Kings and Queens fit in to our modern era.

Is there still such a thing as a bond between sovereign and subject? Do modern monarchies need to update themselves? Or is the link with history the key to staying popular?

Bridget Kendall is joined by Bangladeshi writer Tahmima Anam, British historian Justin Champion and Australian psychologist Dorothy Rowe.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: The Prince ceremoniously marries a commoner, touching his subject and backed by generations of monarchs before him.

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Activism: how to make things happen

Some say you can only do it by being unreasonable –that easygoing people do nothing for progress.

Only those who refuse to put up with life as it’s lived push humanity forward.

Our guests this week are all unreasonable.

Poet and academic John Kinsella, uses his poetry to fight for his vegan, anarchist, pacifist beliefs.

Architectural activist Marie Aquilino reminds us that it’s not earthquakes which kill, but buildings.

She is passionate about giving victims of natural disasters long-life homes and infrastructure.

And Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang calls on all of us to be activist citizen-economists, and so confront the myths he says we’ve been peddled about the way the world economy works.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.


How can you tell if fish feel pain and will the answer change the way we treat them?


How our bodies stop protecting us from ageing once we’ve past the point of reproduction, images of cancerous tumours, and the growing global inequality.

Cell biologist and octogenarian Lewis Wolpert asks what more we should be doing to embrace a world which will increasingly be populated by the old, the very old, and then the very, very old.

His research into ageing shows that our bodies are not pre-programmed to age, but they do almost nothing to slow the process.

The vital and perhaps shocking work of artist Wangechi Mutu.

Her portraits of fantastical women, include anatomical drawings of cancerous tumours that transform the terrible into the beautiful.

And World Bank Economist Branko Milanovic, says there’s been a huge shift in global inequality over the last 50 years, and the gaps are getting bigger every day.

He argues that today, your life chances depend far more on where you are born in the world, than on how rich your family are.

llustration by Emily Kasriel: Things we would rather ignore, global inequality, our ageing and cancer.

Things we would rather avoid.


Things we would rather avoid.


Hypocrisy, multiverses and artificial leather: mind-stretching thoughts about life.


Hypocrisy, multiverses and artificial leather: mind-stretching thoughts about life.

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THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall.

Sociologist LORD ANTHONY GIDDENS on how to fight climate change.

Nigerian novelist and poet Ben Okri on breaking free.

American anthropologist SARAH HRDY on sharing parenting.

Sociologist Lord Anthony Giddens, novelist Ben Okri and anthropologist Sarah Hrdy.

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Sociologist Lord Anthony Giddens, novelist Ben Okri and anthropologist Sarah Hrdy.

19/07/2009: Part 220090719
19/07/2009: Part 220090720
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Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


Design in art, fashion and nature.

Is innovation or imitation the key to success?


Defence Expert Dr.

P W Singer; Economist George Ayittey; Renaissance scholar Lisa Jardine

20/09/2009: Part 220090920

Defence Expert Dr.

P W Singer; Economist George Ayittey; Renaissance scholar Lisa Jardine

On this week's programme we look to the robotic future of warfare, empowering business in Africa – and the ethical questions these debates raise.

Defence expert and Obama adviser, Dr Peter W Singer offers his insights into how the use of robots in war is radically changing the meaning and implications of going to war.

Ghanain-American economist George Ayittey discusses how best to develop community business in Africa.

In response to the economic downturn he urges a move from micro-financing of individuals to what he calls ‘meso financing' - investing in community groups to maximise production and income.

And the ethical problems raised on the cutting edge of science, with renaissance scholar and human embryo regulator Lisa Jardine



Writer and critic Clive James, mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy, philosopher Slavoj Zizek.


Contemplating our own Death

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Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


David Baddiel presents this week's edition of The Forum on the power of images

Writer and comedian David Baddiel presents this week’s edition of The Forum.

In a world that has become dominated by visual imagery – with pictures and movies on phones, screens and advertising hoardings all around us, have we become blas or desensitised? What's happening to the way that we digest pictures?

James Gow, Professor of International Peace and Security at Kings College London, argues that images have become more crucial than battles in the outcome of conflicts.

How are images being used in the Arab Spring?

Margaret Livingstone, a Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard University, has discovered that the way we process images depends in part on whether we can see in stereo or mono.

And the Dutch poet laureate, Ramsey Nasr, believes that, with poetry, even the words on the page need to be rearranged to cope with the modern demand for the eye to be constantly stimulated.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: how our minds translate what we see.


Exchanging ideas on five thousand years of Mediterranean calendars, festivals and ports


Sharya Scharenguivel is a prominent Professor of Law at Colombo University and leading figure in the drive to reform family law in Sri Lanka.

She argues that it’s the British colonial legacy, that in legal terms, helps keep Sri Lankan women under their husband’s thumb.

The novels of Karen Roberts draw on the taboos of forbidden love to expose tensions within Sri Lankan society.

Her latest book, The Lament of the Dhobi Woman has at its core, a forbidden love affair between a servant woman and an upper class man.

And Ranjini Obeyesekere, a scholar of Buddhist literature, traces a legendary relationship that has inspired both poets and monks for centuries.

She has spent many years studying and translating writings about Yasodhara, the Buddha’s wife.

llustration by Emily Kasriel.

Special show from Sri Lanka literary festival about love


Special show from Sri Lanka literary festival about love

Sharya Scharenguivel is a prominent Professor of Law at Colombo University and leading figure in the drive to reform family law in Sri Lanka.

She argues that it’s the British colonial legacy, that in legal terms, helps keep Sri Lankan women under their husband’s thumb.

The novels of Karen Roberts draw on the taboos of forbidden love to expose tensions within Sri Lankan society.

Her latest book, The Lament of the Dhobi Woman has at its core, a forbidden love affair between a servant woman and an upper class man.

And Ranjini Obeyesekere, a scholar of Buddhist literature, traces a legendary relationship that has inspired both poets and monks for centuries.

She has spent many years studying and translating writings about Yasodhara, the Buddha’s wife.

llustration by Emily Kasriel.

26/07/2009: Part 120090726

Astronomer Andrea Ghez, economist Ian Goldin and cyberspace authority Evgeny Morozov

Listen above to Part 2

THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall, recorded this week at Keble College, Oxford, UK in front of a live audience as part of a conference organised by the international ideas organization, TED.

American astronomer ANDREA GHEZ on super massive black holes.

African economist IAN GOLDIN on safe-guarding earth's future.

Cyberspace authority EVGENY MOROZOV on the internet's darker side.

26/07/2009: Part 120090727

Astronomer Andrea Ghez, economist Ian Goldin and cyberspace authority Evgeny Morozov

26/07/2009: Part 220090726

Astronomer Andrea Ghez, economist Ian Goldin and cyberspace authority Evgeny Morozov.

Listen above to Part 2

THE FORUM, the ideas programme with Bridget Kendall, recorded this week at Keble College, Oxford, UK in front of a live audience as part of a conference organised by the international ideas organization, TED.

American astronomer ANDREA GHEZ on super massive black holes.

African economist IAN GOLDIN on safe-guarding earth's future.

Cyberspace authority EVGENY MOROZOV on the internet's darker side.

26/07/2009: Part 220090727

Astronomer Andrea Ghez, economist Ian Goldin and cyberspace authority Evgeny Morozov.


Human rights: How do you prove you have them? And how do you make sure you can enjoy them?


Philosopher Sari Nusseibeh, radio-ecologist Brenda Howard, historian Giusto Traina


What are our obligations to others, on an international and individual level?

It's a term that's been mentioned a lot recently but what exactly do we mean by ‘Responsibility to Protect’? Are we all legally or morally obligated to help citizens in other countries who are at risk? Or is this just a vague sense of our shared humanity? Canadian professor Jennifer Welsh explores the moral and legal conundrums.

American scholar soldier Lt Col Shannon Beebe tells us that if we really are serious about protecting the vulnerable, we need to change the way we think about security: he says the way forward is what he calls sustainable security.

And Somalia's Minister for Women's Development Maryan Qasim tells us why she feels responsible for the lives of Somali women and children and how she tries to change them.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: responsibility to protect - but how is that generosity received?


Environmentalist Wangari Maathai, geneticist Jane Peterson and novelist Dubravka Ugresic

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Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.


This week's Forum comes from the northern state of Rajasthan in India where we are guests of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

We are on an open-air stage in front of over a thousand people, all listening intently and eager to chip in as we juggle the moral dilemmas of living in today's India.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: The Mahabharata connecting us so that we learn how to be good and heal the sick in Nepal.

Forum at Jaipur Literature Festival: dharma, greed, envy, quacks and Nepali Buddhists




What triggers earthquakes and why do we know so little? Plus the Arctic and African cities

A Leap Of Faith: Finding Common Ground Between Science And Religion2015120720151208 (WS)

Promoting a dialogue between science and religion has long been a challenging task- the two communities of thought often seem far apart. The Forum explores the challenge in a discussion recorded at CERN in Switzerland and asks not only why this dialogue is important but how it is working and where it might lead. CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research where physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss common ground between science and religion are: Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, a German particle physicist and the Director General of CERN; Marcelo Gleiser, professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College; Dr. Kusum Jain, a renowned Indian scholar of Jain Philosophy and director of the Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur; Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, Head of Science and Faith, Vatican City State.

And there is poetry, especially written for the programme, by British poet Murray Lachlan Young.

(Photo: illustration of first proton-lead ion collisions. © 2012 CERN, for the benefit of the ALICE Collaboration)

Can there be a common ground between science and religion?

A Single World, Many Identities?2016041120160412 (WS)
20160413 (WS)

Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, Nick Bostrom and Ann Phoenix from UCL discuss identity

Bestselling Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, Nick Bostrom from Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute and Ann Phoenix from UCL's Institute of Education trace the evolution of 21st century identity with the BBC’s Jo Fidgen. Are technology and geopolitics conspiring to create a new type of human, unrecognisable to our forebears? Is ‘serial migration’ the new norm for transnational families and what effect is this having on the identity of the young? Or perhaps we should drop the concept of Identity altogether?

(Photo: Left to right, Ann Phoenix, Elif Shafak and Nick Bostrom)

A Very Long View2016011120160112 (WS)

Tracking changes in our lives and bodies over decades, generations and even millennia

How good are we at making connections over time? Remembering our own pasts, or the way history has unfolded, or seeing the big patterns of development, invisible to the naked eye? This week on the Forum Bridget Kendall and guests focus on the long view: tracking the small changes which shape a person over a year, or a society over decades, or which alter the genetic make-up of humans over tens of thousands of years. With artist Tom Mosser, sociologist Alison Park and geneticist Eske Willerslew.

Photo: Artist Tom Mosser and his portrait collection (credit: Tom Mosser)

Activism: How To Make Things Happen20110917

Some say you can only do it by being unreasonable –that easygoing people do nothing for progress.

Only those who refuse to put up with life as it’s lived push humanity forward.

Our guests this week are all unreasonable.

Poet and academic John Kinsella, uses his poetry to fight for his vegan, anarchist, pacifist beliefs.

Architectural activist Marie Aquilino reminds us that it’s not earthquakes which kill, but buildings.

She is passionate about giving victims of natural disasters long-life homes and infrastructure.

And Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang calls on all of us to be activist citizen-economists, and so confront the myths he says we’ve been peddled about the way the world economy works.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Advances In Bioengineering2016031420160315 (WS)

Bridging the divide between living and inorganic matter

Bridget Kendall talks to three pioneers who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible at the interface between engineering, biology and medicine: John Rogers makes electronics which dissolve when they have done their job, Magnus Berggren grows circuits inside plants and Hadyn Parry is using a harmless protein to wipe out dangerous disease carriers.

Picture: A rose attached to an electronic apparatus. (Credit: Eliot Gomez)

Advantage2013110920131111 (WS)

We explore what can confer advantage. Bridget Kendall talks to best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell about whether the power of the underdog has been under-estimated; psychologist Kathryn Asbury on why some kids start school with a biological advantage over their peers, and globalisation professor Ian Goldin on ensuring future generations’ advantage now. Photo by Fred Dufour/AFP/GettyImages

What gives you an advantage in life?

After Dark: How We Respond To Darkness2016052320160524 (WS)
20160525 (WS)

Exploring how we operate at night and our attitude to the dark

Dr Janina Ramirez explores our relationship with, and attitudes to, darkness and the night. From the beginning of humanity when night was a time to sleep and hide from predators, over millennia the night and darkness has gathered a multitude of myths and cultural references all around the world and is something we can exploit, or something we might fear. Dr Janina Ramirez examines the human perspective of the dark, from night vision technology to Norwegian forest myths.

Dr Ravindra Athale, of the Office of Naval Research in Arlington USA, an expert on night vision technology, who examines how nocturnal animals help high tech, and how our ability to see at night has affected the way we use the dark to conceal and surprise.

Professor John Bowen from the University of York in the UK, an expert on Gothic literature and its roots.

Erland Loe, the celebrated Norwegian author, who explores his own and fellow Norwegian’s response to long dark winter nights.

Noam Elcott, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Media at Columbia University in the USA who discusses the literal and metaphorical use of dark and night in film art and the dark room.

(Photo: An artist's Illustration of a haunted forest. Credit: Shan Pillay)

After Shock: The Lingering Legacy Of Civil War20110213

The Forum has travelled from London to the Galle Literary Festival at the Galle Fort on the South Western tip of Sri Lanka.

The Forum takes a closer look at Sri Lanka as it emerges from the devastating civil war that lasted a quarter of a century and ended less than two years ago.

Joining Bridget Kendall are three guests who all deal in different ways with the challenges that emerge once the guns have been silenced.

Sunila Abeysekera, a leading human rights campaigner in Sri Lanka, who has grass roots experiences of what happens to communities during and after the war.

Anjali Watson, a wildlife conservation researcher whose work focuses on the way humans interacts with their environment and in particular on the Sri Lankan leopard.

And providing insights about the long term traces of war on people’s internal landscapes is award winning Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: The after effects of conflict - displaced people with psychological wounds in conflict or cooperating with the leopards of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka after the war – special discussion from the Galle Literary Festival

After Shock: The Lingering Legacy Of Civil War20110214

Sri Lanka after the war – special discussion from the Galle Literary Festival

Aftermath Of War And Marriage2012042820120429

Aftermath: when everything falls apart, how do you cope? How do you put a country and a people back together again after a traumatic conflict? And how do individuals come to terms with the end of a marriage? We hear from Somali Archaeologist Sada Mire who argues food and shelter are not the only basic need for war victims: so is cultural heritage. Former Canadian diplomat Scott Gilmore warns that tackling social breakdown in the aftermath of war is failing because international aid programmes are too ambitious. And writer and novelist Rachel Cusk compares war zones to the aftermath of her own broken marriage.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: what is the best way to respond to the broken pieces of the world, a country and a marriage.

The Aftermath of war and of marriage.

Aliens2014092720140928 (WS)
20140929 (WS)

What do you think about the possibility of extra- terrestrial life? Are we alone in the universe? And what do aliens reveal about us? Bridget Kendall asks ecologist Chris Thomas, science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor, and psychologist Richard McNally to pool thoughts about what aliens mean to us.

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

Why do some people believe in aliens and extra-terrestrials, and not others?

Illustration by Shan Pillay

Anger2016021520160216 (WS)

Why do we get cross?

Feeling angry has always been an integral part of our nature, an instant response to being insulted, restrained or threatened. But is modern life making us angrier? And what goes on in our brain when we ‘snap’? Bridget Kendall talks to psychologist Raymond Chip Tafrate, historian of emotions Tiffany Watt Smith and neurobiologist R. Douglas Fields.

Photo: Two angry people yell at each other (Credit: Corbis)

Are We In Control?20111113

The unintended consequences of what we do, in economics, geo-engineering and on stage.

How far can we control the outcomes of our actions?

Economist Robert Frank says that competition is not always benign and that if we want to understand some of its negative results we should look to Charles Darwin for explanation.

Soprano Claron McFadden discusses how far she can control audience reaction when she is performing on stage.

And environmental scientist Peter Liss says we need a lot more data before we can decide whether pumping chemicals into the skies and oceans can really help solve global warming or just creates a new host of environmental problems.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: the monied hand of the individual controlling the life of the planet, to the sound of music.

Are We Losing The Ability To Focus?2015092120150922 (WS)

In the age of perpetual distraction, are we losing the ability to focus?

In the age of perpetual distraction, are we losing the ability to focus? Bridget Kendall is joined by three guests who have found a way to concentrate. David Hieatt is a Welsh denim jeans entrepreneur, his personal and professional maxim is “do one thing well?

Slovenian violinist Miha Pogacnik uses music to empower business leaders and Icelandic lawyer Ragnar Jonasson is also a writer, his latest novel “Snow Blind? is a mystery set in a remote fishing village.

Photo: A watchmaker examines a watch mechanism (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Are We Too Complacent About Social Mobility?2014032220140323 (WS)
20140324 (WS)

Conventional wisdom has it that social mobility - ie how easy is it to move up or down the social ladder - has been accelerating in many countries. But in this week's Forum, Jo Fidgen hears some startling new research on how painfully slow that process really is, even in enlightened regions such as Scandinavia. Economic historian Gregory Clark has been finding out what your surname says about your chances of self-improvement. Sociologist Alan Bairner has been examining social mobility through sport: who gets to play at the top level, and what does that do to their social status? And economist Thomas Piketty has been analysing reams of data to find out why it's nearly always paid more to invest family money than to work. Photo of crown courtesy of Getty Images.

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Balance: How We Find Equilibrium2016042520160426 (WS)
20160427 (WS)

Why balance in humans, machines and music are needed for effectiveness and safety

Balance is essential. It stops us falling over or getting too cross and it stops machines failing catastrophically. There are also very fine balances present, more generally in nature and across the universe. But much of the World is not in exact and perpetual balance - it needs constant fine tuning.

To help explore our latest understanding of balance in human beings, machines and music, Bridget Kendall talks to Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the distinguished Moldovan-Austrian violinist, who explores the internal balance need to play world class music; Jade Kindar-Martin, high wire artist and member of the Flying Wallendas who examines the fine tuning of mind and body needed to keep in balance on a high wire; Professor Andrew Heyes, head of Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland who looks at the very fine balances needed to ensure machines work effectively and safely.

(Photo: Acrobats form a human pyramid as they rehearse with Le Grand Cirque at the Sydney Opera House, 2009. Credit: Getty Images)

Balloons And How They Changed The World2016080820160809 (WS)
20160810 (WS)

The extraordinary impact of balloons on the human race.

A small toy balloon floating free into the sky. A giant hot air balloon filled with passengers peering down at the ground. Classic images, 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, cardiovascular engineer from the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.

Fiona Stafford, Professor of literature from 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 Cold2015113020151201 (WS)

How weather affects a nation’s character

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)

Beyond Us And Them2013042820130429 (WS)

with Aminatta Forna, Laura Nader and David Cannadine.

Is it helpful to view the world as being divided along fault-lines of gender, class, race or religion? Matthew Taylor talks to anthropologist Laura Nader, who says we need to find new dialogues between the West and the Middle East that recognise our common humanity; historian David Cannadine who says that as well as studying conflict, we should explore our undivided past; and novelist Aminatta Forna, who examines the aftermath of civil war through her fiction; what about when ‘them’ also means ‘us’?

Photo credit: JENS-ULRICH KOCH/AFP/Getty Images

Blood2014082320140824 (WS)
20140825 (WS)

The life-giving fluid in science and in our culture

What do you see in a phial of blood? A life sustaining fluid teeming with millions of cells? Evidence to solve a terrible crime? Samira Ahmed explores blood in medicine, at crime scenes, and in our bodies and minds, with the help of Canadian writer Lawrence Hill who’s written a biography of the red stuff, Dr Gillian Leak, a forensic expert in crime scene blood pattern analysis, and Professor Kikkeri Naresh seeking to unlock the mysteries of blood cancer.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Brain Drain: Can We Stem The Flow?2016051620160517 (WS)
20160518 (WS)

The Forum is in Cape Town, South Africa, as guests of The British Council at the Going Global Conference. As globalisation enables the transit and relocation of people ever more quickly and easily, what impact is there on countries who desperately need to keep their skilled labour and what are the issues that need addressing? With Quentin Cooper to discuss the Brain Drain is professor Olusola Oyewole from Nigeria, Dr Jo Beall, from the British Council, professor Tao Xie from Beijing and Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo, from Unesco.

(Photo: a human brain in a glass box. Credit: Getty Images)

How can we stem the brain drain from countries who need their talented people?

Bubbles2014080920140810 (WS)
20140811 (WS)

The curious properties of bubbles in the oceans, in our bodies and in art.

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

Photo credit: Associated Press

Cali-topia: A New Vision Of Thomas More's Utopia?2016122620161227 (WS)

Is Silicon Valley a template for our utopian future?

Is Thomas More's vision of an ideal society becoming reality in modern-day California? The Forum travels to Singularity University at the heart of Silicon Valley to ask why California keeps attracting utopian thinkers who want to use advanced technology to solve humanity’s biggest challenges.

Jack Stewart is joined by forecaster Paul Saffo, Chair of Future Studies at Singularity University, Ryan Mullenix, partner at NBBJ Architecture, Krista Donaldson, CEO of Silicon Valley healthcare start up D-Rev, and Colin Milburn, Chair in Science and the Humanities at University of California, Davis.

Photo: NASA Hangar One at Moffett Field, California, Credit: Simon Dawson

Challenging Assumptions2014061420140615 (WS)
20140616 (WS)

How easy is it to disregard conventional wisdom, for instance why customers stop buying, or staff leave? What about the assumed fears about globalisation or the perception of Scandinavians as gloomy. Samira Ahmed discusses challenging assumptions with Freakonomics author Steven Levitt, futurist Anne Lise Kjaer and Oxford Martin School director Ian Goldin.

(Photo: A chimpanzee uses a stick to try and open a box. Credit: AFP/ Getty Images)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Concrete: Foundation Of The Modern World20161017

How concrete underpins the modern world.

It has been around since before 6,000BC, the Ancient Egyptians used a version of it and so did the Romans. Nowadays it is the most common man-made building material in the world, used for some of the planets biggest engineering projects - and some of the smallest. It has not always been loved by the public but architects and designers see both practicality and beauty. There is also an environmental issue - the production of concrete has a major environmental impact. So what of its future? Bridget Kendall explores concrete with architect Anupama Kundoo, design critic and writer Stephen Bayley and engineer and scientist professor Paulo Monteiro.

(Photo: The ceiling of the Pantheon in Rome is an example of Roman concrete construction. Credit: Getty Images)

Connections With The Sea2013012620130127 (WS)

Are all linked to the sea, even if we live hundreds of miles from the coast?

Exploring our connections with the sea; the goods that arrive by ever larger ships; the ideas that ocean travellers bring, and the identities that are shaped by proximity to the water. Bridget Kendall is joined by Marco Pluijm, a leading port designer; Croatian novelist and coast-dweller Dasa Drndic, and historian of the sea David Abulafia.

Photo shows Hong Kong harbour

Photo by Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty)

Consumption And Our Identity2016011820160119 (WS)

What has been driving up the global levels of consumption – need? Government policies? Or, a hunger for social status? Bridget Kendall asks the historian of consumerism Frank Trentmann, the sociologist Lyla Mehta and the political scientist Eduardo Gómez to share their thoughts.

(Photo: People consuming tapas)

How what we consume shapes and defines our identity

Controlling Our Health2012090820120909 (WS)

Modern technology and medicine can treat conditions that were once thought to be incurable. In other ways though, are we any less vulnerable than in the past to disease and injury, both as individuals and societies?

Bridget Kendall's guests this week bring personal as well as professional experience to the table: the award winning author MJ Hyland explains why she has gone public about her life with multiple sclerosis. Mark Harrison is a medical historian who has tracked the links between disease and commerce, and entrepreneur Frank Reynolds has devoted the last 20 years to developing treatments for his own spinal cord injury.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: the challenge of trying to control our own bodies.

How much control do we really have over our bodies and health?

Core: A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth2015110920151110 (WS)

What lies at the heart of the universe and the core of the earth itself?

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)

Curiosity: How Important Is It To Science And To Society As A Whole?2013060220130603 (WS)

with Lee Smolin, Philip Ball and Masooda Bano.

Curiosity has always been with us but it's not always easy to say what is the optimum amount in any given situation. Have the cosmologists lost sight of it in a dogmatic theory of the universe? Are there lessons in the scientific spirit of the 17th century? And when it comes to human beings and curiosity, does curiosity carry dangers for young people in changing societies? Joining Carrie Gracie are theoretical physicist Lee Smolin, science historian Philip Ball and social scientist Masooda Bano. (Photo by Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images)

Curves2015090720150908 (WS)

in art, space and life

An edition of The Forum dedicated to curves in art, in space and in life.

Joining Quentin Cooper are social philosopher Charles Handy whose latest book The Second Curve suggests how some curved thinking could help point many of us in a new and better direction, artist Shirazeh Houshiary who uses curves extensively in her work and Carlo Rovelli, an expert on quantum loop gravity, author of Seven Brief Lessons in Physics, who tell us that space is curvy.

Photo: The curves of a modern spiral staircase (Tim Allen)

Defiance: Why Are Some People More Defiant Than Others?2016070220160704 (WS)
20160705 (WS)
20160706 (WS)

When is defiance a resistance to authority, and when is it a sign of disregard to others?

Acts of defiance small or large have proved to be incredibly powerful throughout history, but when does defiance spill into aggression? Bridget Kendall asks the employment lawyer Lewis Maltby, the theatre director Olivier Py and the psychopathologist Dr Luna Muñoz Centifanti.

(Photo: Historic Marker at the bus stop in Alabama, USA, where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Credit: Getty Images)

Democracy And The Arts In South Africa2014080220140803 (WS)
20140804 (WS)

The Forum at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

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.

(Photo: From left, Mike Van Graan, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Percy Mabandu and Nomfundo Xaluva. BBC copyright)

Digital Shadows.2012032420120325 (WS)

When you search the internet or pay with a credit card, do you ever wonder who might be snooping over your shoulder, mining the data about you that leaks out? Increasingly, computers and algorithms don’t need human intervention while monitoring and piecing together the secrets of our lives from the scraps of information which we unwittingly leave behind in cyberspace. So does this mean that privacy has become obsolete? Or are there either technological fixes or policy initiatives that can at least halt, if not reverse, the tide? Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss digital privacy are IBM Chief Scientist Jeff Jonas, Professor Nigel Shadbolt, UK government’s adviser on digital data, and ground-breaking electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: Can we expect privacy in the digital age?

How much privacy is possible in a world which is increasingly digital?

Dna: The Code For Making Life20161107

A close look at the remarkable set of building blocks which all cellular life shares

Bridget Kendall and guests explore the current understanding of how DNA works, why it needs constant repair in every living organism and how new DNA-altering techniques can help cure some medical conditions. Joining Bridget are Swedish Nobel Laureate and Francis Crick Institute Emeritus Group Leader Tomas Lindahl who pioneered DNA repair studies, medical researcher Niels Geijsen from the Hubrecht Institute who works on curing diseases caused by faulty inherited genes, evolutionary biologist T Ryan Gregory from Guelph University who asks why an onion has 5 times as much DNA as a human, and Oxford University’s bio-archaeologist Greger Larson whose research suggests that dogs were independently domesticated twice, on different continents.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photos

Do You Know What You’re Eating?2016071820160719 (WS)
20160720 (WS)

If you think of your favourite foods – chocolate, maybe, or samosas, or pizza – do you really know where all the ingredients came from? Bridget Kendall asks the food scientist Chris Elliott, the software designer Jérôme Malavoy and the food labelling expert Monique Raats.

Photo: The food label on a box of brownies (Getty Images)

How to ensure better food transparency: to track what we eat from farm to fork.

Does Finance Have To Be Invisible?2013051920130520 (WS)

with Anat Admati, Zachary Formwalt and Felix Martin

What would it take to fix, rather than just patch up, the underlying flaws in our banking system? Perhaps it’s time for some unorthodox approaches, viewing the problem through the lens of an artist, or re-thinking basic questions, for instance, what money actually is. Joining Bridget Kendall are artist and film-maker Zachary Formwalt, bond trader and economic historian Felix Martin, and Stanford University’s professor of Finance and Economics, Anat Admati. Photo: In Place of Capital, 2009, production still © Zachary Formwalt

Drones And Their Impact On The World2016111420161115 (WS)

The history, present and future of drones.

Drones have been hailed as the most important technological development in aviation since the invention of the jet engine. They have changed the nature of modern warfare and they are also catalysing developments in fields as diverse as law enforcement, film production, disaster management, newsgathering and agriculture. The availability and prevalence of drones in everyday life is increasing and creating enormous challenges in the fields of ethics, law and regulation – not least managing the flight paths of a potentially enormous number of small planes.

With Bridget Kendall to explore the history, present and future of drones are:

Marke "Hoot" Gibson, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Senior Advisor on Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration.

Sarah Kreps, Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University in the USA and an expert on the ethical, legal and political dimensions of drones.

Michael Nautu who designs and builds drones for purposes ranging from agriculture and aerial mapping to “next-generation conservation” in Namibia.

Photo: A drone flying above the New York City skyline. (Getty Images)

Dust And Ash2013062320130624 (WS)

How dust helps to keep the planet cooler and nourishes the Amazon rainforest

Electricity2012081820120819 (WS)

We explore how electricity and our bodies make the world go round.

The recent power cuts in India were a reminder of how dependent the world has become on electricity. But electricity flows not just through our machines but round our bodies and in our music. On the Forum this week we are exploring electricity through all its shapes. How can the world make sure it keeps the lights on? What are the implications of seeing our own bodies as individual power grids? And how can electricity allow us to make completely new kinds of music? Some of the questions we will be debating with Dan Yergin one of the world’s leading authorities on energy; pioneering physiologist Francis Ashcroft; and cutting edge sound artist Miha Ciglar.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: the power of musical electricity.

20120722 (WS)

Why some athletes, plants and stars keep going for much longer than others.

Why is it that so many long distance runners are from Kenya? Is it genetics that leads to the high performance we can expect to see in the London Olympics? Or maybe the stamina of the world's best athletes is above all about their mental attitude, the ability to deliver excellence, no matter what?

Just some of the aspects of endurance we are exploring on the Forum this week with high-performance anthropologist Rasmus Ankersen. Also on the programme, award winning photographer Rachel Sussman takes us hunting for the longest living organisms on Earth. And endurance that dwarfs anything found on our planet: the mind boggling staying power of the stars in the sky. The UK's Public Astronomer Marek Kukula is our cosmic guide.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: the race to endure for sports people, stars and other forms of life.

Enemies, Or Rivals? Why The Distinction Matters.2012110320121104 (WS)
Expansion And Growth2015111620151117 (WS)

How expansion and growth affects us in geopolitics, using China as an example, in space, as we increasingly understand how the universe is expanding and in our own bodies, as we discover more about how our cells replicate and change and how we can manufacture them for ourselves. Rajan Datar is joined by Professor Carlos Frenk from Durham University in the UK, a World renowned computational cosmologist who shares his thinking on the latest research about the infinite expansion of the universe. By Jeanne- Marie Gescher, an expert on China, who explores why she thinks the West’s focus on the economy is missing the point. China is indeed embarked on some ambitious economic reform - but it is underpinned by something even more ambitious: that the state will be able to choreograph the market. The top-down state is at the heart of everything, as it has been for thousands of years. And by Dr Robert Lanza, the Chief Scientific Officer at Ocata Therapeutics in the USA and Adjunct Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Robert’s current research focuses on stem cells and regenerative medicine and their potential to provide therapies for some of the world’s most deadly and debilitating conditions.

Photo: an artist's impression of cells expanding (illustration by Shan Pillay)

Exploring ideas about expansion and growth

Extrapolation2014051720140518 (WS)
20140519 (WS)

The dangers and advantages of using what we know to explain what we don’t know

Extrapolation in mathematics means extending the implications of a model beyond the range in which it was derived. In other words, using what we know to make educated guesses about what we don’t. But does extrapolation works so well when applied to the real world? Can mathematical models really indicate when the next ice age might come? Does genetic testing reliably tell us who our ancestors were? And when we sieve through fragments of history, can we ever escape the assumptions which colour what we will think? Joining Bridget Kendall to explore extrapolation are anthropologist Kim Tallbear who is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate from South Dakota in the US; Ian Stewart Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University in the UK and Joan Breton Connelly, classical archaeologist and Professor of Classics and Art History at New York University in the US. Image by Roger Harris/ Science Photo Library.

Fear2013102020131021 (WS)

How do humans and animals cope with one of the strongest emotions: fear

Heart racing, palms sweating, skin prickling are some of the things we experience when we feel frightened. So how do humans cope with one of our strongest emotions - fear? Carrie Gracie takes an unflinching examination of fear with René Hurlemann, Lucy Bolton and Liana Zanette.

Canadian biologist Liana Zanette explains breakthrough research on how intimidation changes the ecosystem. German neuroscientist René Hurlemann tells the story of very rare individuals who go through life without feeling fear. And horror film expert Lucy Bolton asks what scares us in the cinema, and why we deliberately seek to be made afraid.

Photo: A man holding a child's hand in a dark tunnel, Credit: Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images

Fela Kuti: King Of Afrobeat20170102

The life and legacy of Fela Kuti, Nigeria’s maverick musical pioneer

Nigerian Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti was a maverick performer, a musical pioneer, and is a continuing inspiration across the world. But he was also a thorn in the side of the Nigeria’s successive military governments and a fearless activist for social justice.

Twenty years after his death, Peter Okwoche is joined by three people who all had personal experience of Fela Kuti, to discuss his complex and extraordinary life, musical legacy, and revolutionary political ideals - Dele Sosimi is a former member of Fela Kuti's band and now an acclaimed Afrobeat musician; Carlos Moore wrote the only authorised biography of Fela Kuti, Fela: This Bitch of a Life; and Jahman Anikulapo is a Nigerian arts journalist who followed Fela's career closely.

Photo: Fela Kuti, 1986, Credit: Associated Press

Fire: How Climate Change Is Altering Our Attitudes To Wildfires2016082920160830 (WS)
20160831 (WS)

How do we deal with fire to protect health without compromising the environment?

As fire risks change 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)

Forgiveness2014062120140622 (WS)
20140623 (WS)

Can you have forgiveness without remorse?

Samira Ahmed explores the complexity of forgiveness. What effect does it have in the aftermath of violent crime, conflict or injustice? Is it possible without remorse and is there any crime that is beyond forgiveness? With the Rev’d Mpho Tutu, co-author with her father Archbishop Desmond Tutu of a book about forgiving; author and teacher Michael McGirr, and Marina Cantacuzino, former journalist and founder of The Forgiveness Project.

(Image: Hands stretched out with palms upright. Credit: AFP/ Getty Images)

(Photo: Hands stretched out with palms upright. Credit: AFP/ Getty Images)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Fragility: What Is It That Makes Materials And Ecosystems Prone To Fracture?2013060920130610 (WS)

With Barbara Kingsolver, David Goulson and Markus Buehler

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. (Photo by Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images)

Fragmentation: How Tiny Pieces Explain The Whole Picture2015102620151027 (WS)

What can fragmented knowledge and physical matter tell us?

Everything can be broken down into component parts and this multiplicity of existence can increasingly be examined and analysed in minute detail - and may be apparent in the potential for a 'multi-verse’. And of course fragmentation can occur in many spheres. It can occur in the brain causing observable damage and in memory and dreams. And, it appears in art and film and writing, and more literally, in the physical environment, telling us stories about the past.

(Photo: A light bulb exploding into fragments)

Freedom2014021520140216 (WS)
20140217 (WS)

Can you ever be free from the past? And if so, is it a good thing?

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.

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.

Future Cities2014051020140511 (WS)
20140512 (WS)

Smart and eco-cities are design buzz-words – but how realistic are such plans globally?

Smart and eco-cities are design buzz-words – but how realistic are such plans globally? This week Bridget Kendall takes a future city tour with South African urban planning professor Vanessa Watson, who says plans to transform sub-Saharan African cities into gleaming Dubai-style hubs are harmful fantasies. Also, Delhi resident and writer Rana Dasgupta explains how he has watched his adopted city utterly transform in the last 20 years. And, futurologist Josef Hargrave offers a vision of an urban super-building in 2050.

(Photo: A model of a proposed development in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Credit: AFP/ Getty Images)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Globalisation: Is It Changing The Way We Think?2013061620130617 (WS)

with NoViolet Bulawayo, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Ben Okri

How is globalisation is changing the way we think about ourselves and others? What impact is it having on personal and national identity? Are we all more connected as global citizens now, or is globalisation actually driving us further apart? Joining Bridget Kendall and a lively audience at the Zamyn Cultural Forum 2013, at the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London are Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo, Indian political scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri. (Photo Credit: Ana Escobar)

Gold2014053120140601 (WS)
20140602 (WS)

What makes gold so valuable?

Gold has long been a symbol of wealth and power, but it also has spiritual significance, and today it’s even used to treat cancer.

Matthew Taylor talks about the many values of gold with Kwasi Kwarteng, a member of Parliament in the UK and author of War and Gold; Maria Alicia Uribe, who is director of the Gold Museum in Colombia; and gold nano-particle scientist Nicholas Kotov.

Photo: Gold bars, Credit: Science Photo Library

Grass2014081620140817 (WS)
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Their vital role in human existence.

Almost all of us at some point play on, relax on, plant, tend, or harvest grasses – but how much do we really understand them and how much do they shape human existence? Samira Ahmed is joined by Susanne Lucas, Executive Director of the World Bamboo Organisation, Dr Umesh Singh a plant pathologist and biotechnologist from the International Rice Research Institute and Dr. Stephen Harris a population Geneticist and Curator of the Oxford University Herbaria.

Photo: BBC

Grass Roots2016010420160105 (WS)

: The impact and influence of ‘people’s movements. 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)

: How ‘people’s’ movements are changing.

Grief2015081020150811 (WS)

Is grief a uniquely human condition or do animals also feel similar emotions? Bridget Kendall and guests explore how universal the grieving process may be, comparing rituals among Catholics in Portugal and Ireland to the Hindu rituals in India. Susan Moreira Marques is an award winning Portuguese journalist and writer, Bharati Mukherjee is an Indian born author and academic and Barbara J King is an American anthropologist who investigates the links between primate behaviour and human development.

(Photo: A woman grieves at the World Trade Centre, New York. Credit: Getty images)

Hair, Fur And Cilia2014050320140505 (WS)

The fine thread-like strands that grow from our bodies and organs

Hair has always held us captive: a symbol of 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 attached to almost every living cell? Bridget Kendall asks leading hair loss researcher Ralf Paus, medical geneticist Philip Beales, and artist Adeline de Monseignat whose sculptures of fur and hair look both dead and alive. Photo of hair on scalp (coloured scanning electron micrograph) courtesy of Science Photo Library.

Hands2013122820131229 (WS)
20131230 (WS)

Do our hands mark us out as human? Plus hand transplants and hands that make music

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 his musical vision to an orchestra. Bridget Kendall's guests are: Professor 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.

Photo/illustration by Shan Pillay

Happiness2012122220121223 (WS)

What really makes us smile?

This week on the Forum: more countries around the world are starting to measure not only their Gross National Product, but also their citizens’ happiness. So how do we find contentment? American positive psychologist Todd Kashdan believes that being curious is the key to happiness. Belgian environmental scientist Eric Lambin argues that our lives can be enriched by a more intimate relationship with nature. And novelist Eva Hoffman’s recipe for happiness is about learning to use our time meaningfully, not hoarding it too preciously but sharing it generously with others. Illustration by Emily Kasriel.

Hong Kong: A Blueprint For All China?2013111620131117 (WS)
20131118 (WS)

A lively debate from Hong Kong's City University about the city's uniqueness and future.

Could this tiny, crowded enclave of free capitalism become a model for cities on the Chinese mainland? And does Hong Kong's political and geographical situation make it feel insular or outward looking? Some of the issues debated in this week's Forum from the City University as part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. Bridget Kendall talks to four prominent local residents: writer Xu Xi, photographer Palani Mohan, Americanist Peter Swirski and Hong Kong Arts Festival director Tisa Ho. Photo Credit: Victoria Prandle

Could this tiny, crowded enclave of free capitalism become a model for cities on the Chinese mainland? That's one the issues debated in this week's Forum from the City University as part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. Bridget Kendall talks to four prominent local residents: writer Xu Xi, photographer Palani Mohan, Americanist Peter Swirski and Hong Kong Arts Festival director Tisa Ho.

How Free Are Women In 2012?2012120820121209 (WS)
How Shyness And Introversion Can Be A Strength2016091920160920 (WS)
20160921 (WS)

Shyness and introversion are both very common human characteristics, but why do they have so many different guises? Rajan Datar asks the developmental psychologist Louis Schmidt, the behavioural scientist Sanna Balsari-Palsule and the cultural historian Joe Moran.

(Photo: A lady hides behind a fan. Credit: Shan Pillay)

Are shyness and introversion cultural or innate; do they help us negotiate today’s world?

How We Perceive Art2014052420140525 (WS)
20140526 (WS)

Why do we like some art works but not others and what role does cultural background play?

Why can some artworks leave us awestruck? While others leave us cold? And how far is art determined by cultural bias? Bridget Kendall asks novelist Okey Ndibe, cultural sociologist Tiffany Jenkins, and cognitive neuroscientist Arthur Shimamura to try and pinpoint what happens when we perceive art.

Photo Illustration by Shan Pillay

Image Overload: Coping With The Modern World's Visual Clutter2016081520160816 (WS)
20160817 (WS)

Our lives are increasingly cluttered by images, not just in the world around us, but on advertising bill-boards, television screens, and even on our mobile phones. So how are we to process this barrage of information and make sense of the visual world?

How can today’s designers help us and how are we to avoid image-overload? Bridget Kendall talks to three people who help us navigate the increasingly crowded world of visual imagery: Alan Kitching, one of the world’s foremost practitioners of letterpress typographic design and printmaking, Aowen Jin, a Chinese-born artist who leads museum tours in the dark and Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who spent six years designing London’s skyscraper The Shard.

(Image: Edition Print, 2012 by Alan Kitching)

How do our brains cope with the visual clutter of the modern world?

Imitation2013010520130106 (WS)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Improvisation2013020920130210 (WS)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

India's Urban Challenge2015110220151103 (WS)

Will India cope once the majority of its people live in cities?

City life: about a third of all Indians enjoy or endure it now, but in the next 15-20 years, the majority of the country’s inhabitants are expected to become urban dwellers. Can the country cope with such a large population movement? And what are the best ways to ensure that India’s cities work for everyone? To discuss the challenges and opportunities of India's urbanisation, Ritula Shah visits the City Lab conference in London, a global gathering of people who spend their working lives trying to improve the urban experience. She is joined by writer and environmentalist Sunita Narain; Sheela Patel, who champions the urban poor; and architect and urban planner Bimal Patel.

Photo: A New Delhi street (Getty Images)

Inequality2012072820120729 (WS)

We present a special edition of The Forum hosted by former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. Do we have a moral responsibility to reduce inequality for the next generation? Is there a danger that by striving for equality between the sexes we’re actually ignoring real differences between men and women? And is the idea of a world without extremes of inequality a utopian fantasy?

The first in a special series of Forum episodes where eminent thinkers lead discussions about the most pressing challenges of the age. This week former President of Ireland Mary Robinson chairs a discussion about a subject close to her heart: Inequality. Joining her in front of a lively audience at the RSA in London are Nobel prize-winning biologist John Sulston, Lawrence Goldman, Fellow in Modern History at the University of Oxford and Bangladeshi novelist Tahmima Anam.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: equality or inequality - between rich and poor; men and women.

Inequality - the challenge for our age? Presented by former Irish President Mary Robinson.

Inner Speech2013081820130819 (WS)

Talking to yourself – is it a good thing?

This week on the Forum: do you ever consciously talk to yourself? Maybe muttering in private what you won’t say out loud, or giving yourself a private pep talk to improve your performance, or perhaps arguing with yourself about whether to do something or not. We explore these inner monologues or dialogues, what shapes the process, and ask if they are a good thing, or can they trap us inside ourselves? British psychologist Charles Fernyhough explains why he believes the inner voice is vital in helping guide us through life and is rarely a sign of mental illness. Pakistani fiction writer Aamer Hussein writes in both Urdu and English, and explores the tension between thinking in one language and being forced to interact in another. And the American social psychologist Aleks Krotoski has been looking at how the internet affects the way we talk to ourselves. Image by Shan Pillay/ BBC

Invisibility2014070520140706 (WS)
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Is invisibility good or bad? Is it a matter of optics, morality or magic?

Would you like to become invisible? What does invisibility mean anyway: is it just a matter of advanced optics, or something deeper that pre-dates science? Samira Ahmed discusses these issues with science writer Philip Ball, philosopher Kenan Malik, and psychologist Susan Blackmore.

Photo by Shan Pillay (BBC)

Job Satisfaction2013102720131028 (WS)

What does the notion of job satisfaction mean to you?

What is the most important aspect of working? Is it as simple as the money it puts in your pocket? Is it the people you work with? Or, is it the meaning you derive from what you do – the difference you make and the room you have for creative development? The Forum explores the notion of job satisfaction – what it means to us as individuals, and what difference it makes to a nation’s prosperity.

Nobel Prize winning economist Edmund Phelps explains why innovation is the key. Norwegian Philosopher Lars Svendsen describes why finding meaning in what you do is essential to job satisfaction. And, artist and photographer Dyanita Singh admits that creating something new is the key but it comes at a cost because it is all consuming.

Photo credit: Evrard/AFP/Getty Images

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Korea: Two Countries, One Past2016112620161128 (WS)
20161129 (WS)

Why and how the Korean Peninsula came to be divided into North and South Korea

For over a thousand years the Korean Peninsula was one nation, with a unique identity and character. So what caused it to be divided into two countries that have become so radically different, culturally, economically and politically? Bridget Kendall is joined by Namhee Lee, associate professor of modern Korean history at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Eleanor Soo-ah Hyun, curator of the Korean Collections at the British Museum; and Dr James Hoare, a former diplomat who set up the first British Embassy in North Korea, and is now a Research Associate at the Centre of Korean Studies in the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS).

Photo: Korean dancers perform a traditional dance. (Getty Images)

Legacy Of London 201220120812

It's been a two week-long festival of sporting excellence that has captivated the world: there's been spectacle, drama and the inevitable controversies. But what might be the legacy of the London Olympic Games, for the UK capital and its people, for Britain as a whole and for international sports events of the future?

Bridget Kendall is joined by distinguished sports commentator Mihir Bose, Australian Professor Malcolm Gillies, social deprivation researcher Faiza Shaheen and financial journalist Anthony Hilton.

Illustration by Laura Morris.

How much has London and the UK, changed as a result of the Olympics?

Letting Go2013090120130902 (WS)

Can letting go of places, people, ideas and traditions bring big rewards?

Why do some of us find it easier than others to let go of places, people, the past, or ideas and traditions? Bridget Kendall talks to Bulgarian writer Miroslav Penkov who left his homeland and his native language to seek a new life in the United States; medical doctor and philosopher Raymond Tallis who says to let go of old assumptions, we need to stop thinking too hard, and just walk and look; and Chinese choreographer Xu Rui who is encouraging classically trained Chinese dancers to let go of their strict traditional styles and embrace new moves.

Photo: Children let go of balloons, Credit: Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Limits Of Markets2012052620120527

Free market: the best aid to development or a hydra that devalues everything it touches?

Is there something morally distorted in a world where you can rent a womb for a woman to carry your baby? Or take a gamble on other people’s ill health by dealing in the new market in death bonds?

Or is free market competition the best oil that makes the world go round?

Michael Sandel is one of the world’s best known political philosophers, and he joins us on this week’s Forum to argue that market values, especially in America, are in danger of infiltrating all aspects of our lives, eroding moral standards and undermining social bonds. Testing his ideas are Chinese writer Jianying Zha and Indian social entrepreneur Harish Hande.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: the market driving out civic values.

Lines2014111720141118 (WS)

How a spark of inspiration is transformed into a line on canvas or a line of verse.

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 distinguished South African artist William Kentridge, poet and graphic artist Imtiaz Dharker and social anthropology professor Timothy Ingold.

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

Listening: The Forum Live @ The Radio Theatre2012111720121118 (WS)

Celebrating 90 years of BBC Radio.

Living At The Edge: Life In Extreme Environments2016040420160405 (WS)
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Extreme life on earth and in space.

Bridget Kendall explores extreme living and what it tells us, from human exploration to deep sea fish and synthetic biology. Bridget and her guests explore hot dry deserts and sub-zero polar ice, deep sea vents, salt heavy lakes, acid hot springs and outer space. 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)

Lost And Found2016041620160418 (WS)
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From the horrors of human suffering and plunder of ancient artefacts in war to the reshaping of musical traditions, we examine the notion of things lost and found.

British journalist Julian Borger reflects on the unmasking of some of the most notorious Balkan war criminals, Iraqi archaeologist Dr Lamia al-Gailani Werr mourns the loss of ancient relics in modern conflict and American pianist Bruce Brubaker deconstructs modern minimalist music.

(Photo: The inner walls of Babylon, Iraq)

Can loss be a force for renewal, forcing us to adjust and experience things differently?

Machine Translation: The End Of The Human Translator?2016020820160209 (WS)

Will new technology mean the end of the human translator?

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)

Magic2015082420150825 (WS)

The art - and science - of magic and its place in the world today.

Are we too technologically advanced for magic to cast a spell on us, or is there a significant place for the enchantment it can generate? Tim Marlow asks the stage magician Scott Penrose, the fantasy novelist Aliette de Bodard and the experimental psychologist Dr Kevin O’Regan for their thoughts.

(Photo: Magic cards. Credit: Shan Pillay)

Making It Big In Hong Kong: A Matter Of Good Fortune?2013112320131125 (WS)

Has the Asian concept of 'Fortune' been the key to Hong Kong's economic success but also a limitation on its creativity? In a special programme recorded at the Hong Kong Literary Festival, Bridget Kendall asks if this dynamic yet conservative city, could in future, measure up creatively to its neighbour China and other countries in the region. Perspectives from banker-turned-novelist Phillip Kim, neo-Victorian specialist Liz Ho, screenwriter Ivy Ho and designer Danielle Huthart.

(Photo: Chinese people kneeling and praying for good fortune at a temple in Hong Kong. Credit: Britt Yip)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Maps2012121520121216 (WS)
Measuring Impact2013100620131007 (WS)

Are we too obsessed with metrics and are we measuring the right values?

Measuring is embedded into everything we do from our personal achievements to profits and losses. But has it become an obsession? Or are we measuring the wrong things? How can you measure trust for example? To discuss the results, Carrie Gracie talks to Mike McCreless who invests in rural businesses in developing countries, academic economist Rocco Macchiavello, who has been looking at trust in the work place and clinical psychologist Oliver James.

(Picture: Computer screen showing a graph. Credit: Nicky Barranger)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Mental Health20120609

One in three of us will be affected by mental illness during our lifetime.

What is it like to suffer from that most common mental illness, depression? Antipodean artist and writer Matthew Johnstone characterised it as a black dog, in a bestselling picture book he wrote about his experiences.

What can be done to help the millions of sufferers worldwide who never see a trained professional and often encounter discrimination and abuse? Indian Psychiatrist Vikram Patel discusses the challenge of promoting global mental health.

And what can we learn from methods used to help people who have committed violent crimes while suffering from mental illness? Broadmoor psychotherapist Gwen Adshead explains how she helps her patients begin to heal.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: the disturbing stories inside our minds

Microbes And Humans: The Science Of Living Together2016062720160628 (WS)
20160629 (WS)

The Obama administration recently announced it will spend over a hundred million dollars on deepening our knowledge of the human microbiome - the bacteria, fungi, viruses and other organisms which make their home in and on our bodies. Bridget Kendall is joined by three people whose work in different ways enriches our appreciation of the world of human microbiota - the epidemiologist Mark Woolhouse, microbiology educator Christine Marizzi and gut flora researcher Jeroen Raes.

(Photo: The NYC Biome MAP part of the Collective Urban Biome MAP project. Credit: Genspace NYC and The DNA Learning Center)

New insights into the human microbiome, the tiny organisms living in and on our bodies

Modern Alchemy2014012520140126 (WS)
20140127 (WS)

Transforming waste into valuable products

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 water refiner Alison Lewis, road-dust miner Angela Murray; and global recycling analyst Adam Minter.

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Multilingualism2014083020140831 (WS)
20140901 (WS)

The advantages and disadvantages of speaking more than one language

The Forum explores whether it make a difference to a child’s development if they speak one language at home and another at school, how the brain is affected by juggling between different languages and what effect being bi-lingual or multilingual has on the way people feel about their identity? Bridget Kendall talks to writer and academic Gustavo Perez Firmat, developmental linguistics academic Antonella Sorace, and cognitive neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok.

Illustration by Shan Pillay


How do we find the way to our destination?

This week's Forum comes from London's only lighthouse, on the banks of the river Thames and right opposite one of the Olympic venues.

With the world's eyes focused on London over the course of the next month, and with so many people travelling to the UK capital, the lighthouse is the perfect place to explore the concept of navigation.

Bridget Kendall is joined by Nick Ward, the Research Director of the General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland, an organisation that has been looking after lighthouses and other navigational aids for 500 years; Margarette Lincoln, Deputy Director at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich; and Andrei Kurkov, a Ukrainian writer who divides his time between the capital Kiev, with its majestic Dnieper river, and London.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: the Lighthouse as a beacon to ideas, people and goods.

Obsessions, New And Old, In Literature And Technology2013040720130408 (WS)

With Javier Marias, Evgeny Morozov and Manil Suri.

This week on The Forum we explore something we all succumb to now and then: obsessive behaviour. It may be an infatuation with another person you can’t get out of your head or a fixation on a single object or idea that, like a talisman, you are scared to let go of. But what is it that drives our obsessions? Joining Bridget Kendall are internet analyst and cyber-sceptic, Belarus -born Evgeny Morozov; leading Spanish novelist and translator, Javier Marias; and Indian-American mathematics professor and author, Manil Suri. Photo Credit: Science Photo Library

Oxygen: Its History And Its Future2016022220160223 (WS)

The history of oxygen on Earth, in the human body and new discoveries in space. With the leading authority on geochemistry, Don Canfield, geologist and professor of Ecology at the University of Southern Denmark; Peter Calverley, professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Liverpool in the UK and the chief scientist on the European Rosetta Space orbiter project; Kathrin Altwegg from the University of Bern Physics Institute in Switzerland. Bridget Kendall and her guests explore how oxygen appeared and evolved on Earth, what we know about its interaction with the human body and what its discovery on a comet might mean for theories about the origins of life.

(Photo: The DFMS (the Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer on the Rosetta space orbiter, which is the instrument measuring the oxygen in space. Credit: University of Bern)

The history and the future of oxygen

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Part 22009081620090817
Peering Into Space2013070620130707 (WS)
20130708 (WS)

The Forum at the Aspen Ideas Festival

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

People Power € How Much Do We Really Have?20121110
Plant And Flower Shapes2013011220130113 (WS)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Precision Medicine @ Aspen Ideas Festival20130825

With Margaret Hamburg, Thomas Frieden and Anthony Coles.

The Forum @ Aspen Ideas Festival delves into the emerging fields of precision and personalized medicine. How are they transforming the treatment of chronic and infectious disease? Joining Bridget Kendall, two of the top public health officials in the US; Margaret Hamburg at the FDA, and Thomas Frieden at the CDC. We also hear from drugs company CEO Tony Coles, and get the views of a lively audience in Aspen. Photo © All rights reserved by aspeninstitute-internal.

Progress: Are We Making Any?2013041420130415 (WS)

with Mohsin Hamid, Susan Neiman and Ruchir Sharma.

Recent advances in science, social justice and personal prosperity suggest that things can only get better for the majority of people. So why are so many of us afraid they might get worse? Best-selling Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid weighs up the balance sheet of profit and loss in rising Asia, Indian investor and writer Ruchir Sharma explains why it is so hard to sustain economic progress, and American moral philosopher Susan Neiman cautions against equating progress with increasing wealth. Photo shows construction site on the Jiangumenenei Road in Beijing. Photo credit: BBC/ Kevin Foy

Radioactivity: Friend Or Foe?2016070920160711 (WS)
20160712 (WS)
20160713 (WS)

Separating the benefits of radioactivity from its dangers

One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of radioactivity is often a nuclear accident or dangerous rays. But radioactivity is in fact a much more varied phenomenon, one that can bring us great benefits as well as put us in danger. With help from three experts, Rajan Datar looks for a more nuanced picture of the role radioactivity plays in our lives.

Photo: A symbol for radioactivity is visible on a radioactively-contaminated container. (Getty Images)

Reality2014022220140223 (WS)
20140224 (WS)

What is reality made of?

It’s easy to be hoodwinked into thinking the world you immediately see and experience is the most important part of reality. So this week you’re invited to join us in leaving earth and zooming up into space to discover what we can see when we’re thousands of miles away. Joining Bridget Kendall for this journey are space archaeologist Sarah Parcak, artist Mishka Henner, and cosmologist Max Tegmark.

Photo of Planet Earth from space courtesy of NASA/ Getty images

Reawakening Language2016012520160126 (WS)

and culture

Many of us are fluent in at least one language and some people are proficient in two, three, four or even more. But not all languages around the world are in good health. In fact it is thought that at least half of the languages that are 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 discusses 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)

Reconciliation: Healing The Nation2015112320151124 (WS)

With the recent election of a new, Liberal government, the issue of reconciliation between Canada's indigenous peoples and the rest of the population is again high on the agenda. So what is the best way to atone for the wrongdoings of the past? The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Kristina Llewellyn, professor of Social Development studies at the University of Waterloo; and Torsten Klengel, a German psychiatrist and geneticist now based at Harvard Medical School in the USA offer their views to Bridget Kendall and the Spur Festival audience at the National Gallery in Ottawa.

(Photo: In the 19th and 20th Centuries, tens of thousands of Canadian aboriginal children were sent to church-run, government-funded boarding schools, called residential schools. Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, date unknown. Library and Archives Canada/PA-042133)

What is the best way to redress historical injustices?

Reducing Urban Poverty2016100320161004 (WS)
20161005 (WS)

How to ensure people in deprived areas get secondary education and adequate nutrition

With half the world’s population now living in just 1% of the land area, urban poverty is a growing problem. We head to a gathering of leading global thinkers at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre, to explore practical and innovative ways to tackle the issue. Quentin Cooper is joined by population expert Purnima Mane, anthropologist professor Francis Nyamnjoh, former president of a chain of ethical grocery stores Doug Rauch, and food and water policy expert Paula Daniels.

(Photo: Comuna 13 Shantytown Colombia. Credit: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images)

Reflecting On Love, Laughter And Friendship2014031520140316 (WS)
20140317 (WS)

A special programme from the London School of Economics Literary Festival 2014

This week The Forum is at the London School of Economics as part of their Space for Thought Festival 2014, and we’re playing it for laughs, with a little heart-ache thrown in. Tim Marlow is joined by award-winning writers Tracy Chevalier and Daniyal Mueenuddin, who both read from their most recent work; and by neuroscientist and part-time stand-up comedienne Professor Sophie Scott, who explains why and how we laugh. We also hear the views (and the giggles) of an international audience in the Sheikh Zayed Theatre.

Photos by Nigel Stead

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Reinventing Peace20140426

When it comes to conflict resolution, psychotherapist Gabrielle Rifkind says we should adapt the skills used by mediators and marriage counsellors. Philosopher Mary Zournazi says we need to reimagine what we mean by peace. And neuroscientist James Blair explains how to subdue aggression using the latest research into brain circuitry.

(Photo: White paper cut-outs of birds stuck to a fence. Credit: Getty Images)

Resilience: A Survivor's Guide To Adversity2016060620160607 (WS)
20160608 (WS)

Why some people and animals adapt to hardship

These days everyone from schoolchildren to business owners is being told to become more resilient, but what does resilience mean in geological time? How and why do some organisms survive mass extinctions? And, on a shorter time-scale, how do people cope with the demands of dictators? Janina Ramirez and her guests discuss how to survive adversity across time and space.

(Photo: Caiman crocodiles in San Marcos, Sucre in Colombia. Credit: Getty Images)

Revenge2012090120120902 (WS)

What drives our vengeful desires and what happens if we listen to them?

Conflicts around the world remind us daily of the perils of taking an eye for an eye. How deep into our societies does the instinct for revenge go? If revenge is a dish best not served at all, can victims of personal trauma find closure by other means? And what are the consequences of supressing our vengeful desires?

Bridget Kendall is joined by the celebrated novelist Rose Tremain, whose latest book Merivel, depicts a man incapable of taking revenge. Indian essayist Salil Tripathi considers righting the wrongs of history in Bangladesh. And the activist Yvette Alberdingk Thijm encourages victims from all over the world to relate their experiences on video and begin the process of moving on.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: Vengeance pacified by storytelling.

Risor Festival: Outcasts2014071220140713 (WS)
20140714 (WS)

When is it better to remain an outsider? And what makes outcasts unwelcome?

From the Risor Festival in Norway, presenter 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, Sjon and Henning Kraggerud in front of an invited audience. Credit: Liv Øvland/Risør Chamber Music Festival)

Rivers2014090620140907 (WS)
20140908 (WS)

The world’s rivers have always played a powerful role in human history. But in today’s world - with air travel, super highways and the internet - do rivers matter less? Bridget Kendall asks Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson, geologist Mathew Wells and actor Olwen Fouéré to probe the watery depths.

(Photo: The Huka river in New Zealand. Credit: BBC)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Rules And How They Govern Us2016050220160503 (WS)
20160504 (WS)

We all need rules - nature has them and we impose them on our communities in order to function; sometimes fairly and sometimes not- depending on your perspective. But just how important are rules and how do rules in nature affect our function as human beings? And how are our rules being used and interpreted by machines as artificial intelligence and deep learning evolve at enormous speed?

Bridget Kendall discusses rules in nature, rules in society and rules in robotics and AI with Sean B. Carroll, professor of molecular biology, genetics, and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, whose new book The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters, explores regulation in the natural world- from every molecule in our bodies to the number of animals and plants in the wild. Dr Nina Power, a philosopher interested in protest who explores when and why we break the rules. And, Dr Jason Millar an engineer and philosopher who explores the ethics of robotics- how we apply human rules to machines and how they might begin to interpret those rules independently.

(Photo: The Forum book of rules)

Scarcity2014011820140119 (WS)
20140120 (WS)

How does scarcity change our behaviour? Does it cloud our thinking or make us more innovative? And what about scarcity on a planetary scale - how would we cope if we ran short of the precious metals and gases which power modern life? Joining Bridget Kendall are Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir, innovation strategist Simone Ahuja and chemistry professor Andrea Sella.

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Self Assembly2014100420141005 (WS)
20141006 (WS)

How simple cells, molecules and even robots can work together to achieve complexity

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. To explore this wide-ranging area of research Bridget Kendall is joined by experimental biologist Jamie Davies, chemical engineer and physicist Sharon Glotzer and robotics engineer Roderich Gross.

(Photo: Bees working together: Credit: Matt Cardy/ Getty Images)

Sharing And Why It Is Essential For The Human Race2016080120160802 (WS)
20160803 (WS)

Why do we share and how important is it for our survival?

Everyone likes to be alone sometimes, but we also all spend much of our lives collaborating and sharing things with others. Many argue that on this increasingly crowded planet, we need to master the art of sharing much better if we are to survive and flourish. So what makes us want to share new ideas and pass on our experience?

Bridget Kendall discusses three very kinds of sharing - digital information, genes and national infrastructure. She is joined by Jonah Berger, marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States; Connie Jeffery, assistant professor of Biological Sciences and head of the Jeffery Lab at the University of Illinois in Chicago; Dr Elham Ibrahim, commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy for the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

(Photo: The Golden Gate Bridge, in California, provides a means to sharing infrastructure. Credit: Getty Images)

Shining A Light On Crystals2013072820130729 (WS)

With Elspeth Garman, Penelope Boston and Roger Hiorns.

Bridget Kendall discusses the incredibly varied uses and meanings of crystals with cave scientist Penny Boston, who studies ancient life forms trapped inside the earth’s largest crystals; biophysicist Elspeth Garman who can spend years growing one perfect protein crystal in her lab; and artist Roger Hiorns who encrusted an entire apartment with bright blue crystals. Photo: Liberata; taken by Giovanni Badino © SpeleoResearch&Film-LaVenta-C/Producciones

Silence2013050520130506 (WS)

From communication and contemplation to obedience and shame, we explore silence

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.

Sixty Seconds To Improve The World2011122420111225

A selection of our sixty second ideas, our regular slot where we ask programme guests to imagine they have a magic wand, and tell us what they would do to make the world a better place.

The British artist Antony Gormley calls for us all to walk barefoot, the American satirist P.J.

O’Rourke proposes a very unusual device to force children to listen, and the Serbian economist Branko Milanovic argues taxi drivers should rule the world.

To discuss these suggestions are the animal behaviourist and former chief scientific advisor to the British government, Lord Robert May, the physicist and authority on music, Philip Ball, the poet and film maker Imtiaz Dharker, and the Executive Producer of the Forum, Emily Kasriel who came up with the idea of this sixty second manifesto.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel; Taxis, camouflage, naked feet, no ear phones and silence

We discuss a selection of sixty second ideas from Forum guests over the past year.

Sixty Seconds To Improve The World20111225

We discuss a selection of 60 second ideas from Forum guests over the past year.

A selection of our 60 second ideas, our regular slot where we ask programme guests to imagine they have a magic wand, and tell us what they would do to make the world a better place.

The British artist Antony Gormley calls for us all to walk barefoot, the American satirist P.J. O'Rourke proposes a very unusual device to force children to listen, and the Serbian economist Branko Milanovic argues taxi drivers should rule the world.

To discuss these suggestions are the animal behaviourist and former chief scientific advisor to the British government, Lord Robert May, the physicist and authority on music, Philip Ball, the poet and film maker Imtiaz Dharker, and the Executive Producer of the Forum, Emily Kasriel who came up with the idea of this 60 second manifesto.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel; Taxis, camouflage, naked feet, no ear phones and silence.

Social Intelligence2014060720140608 (WS)
20140609 (WS)

Some people seem to get on with anyone and everyone: is it down to talent or practice?

These days, it’s not just IQ that people measure when they talk about intelligence. Social intelligence is a big field of research. How we interact can be about building success as individuals, cooperating to achieve an outcome for your group or tribe, but what about at the microscopic level? Samira Ahmed discusses these issues with bio-physicist, professor Eshel Ben-Jacob, writer Romesh Gunesekera, and professor of social interaction Elizabeth Stokoe.

Photo credit: BBC/ Corbis

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Solitude2014041920140420 (WS)
20140421 (WS)

When being alone is a blessing and when it is a blight.

Do you crave precious moments of solitude, 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 discuss solitude are New Zealand novelist Eleanor Catton, New York educator Diana Senechal and Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li.

Do you crave being on your own, precious 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.

South Africa: Education2014072620140727 (WS)
20140728 (WS)

What’s the future of education in South Africa?

We gather a panel of experts and an audience in Grahamstown, to tackle one of the hottest topics in South Africa right now – the future of education. Joining Bridget Kendall - the man in charge of Witwatersrand University, professor Adam Habib, education activist and historian Dr Nomalanga Mkhize and artistic director of the National Arts Festival Ismail Mahomed.

Photo: From left, Adam Habib, Nomalanga Mkhize, Ismail Mahomed. BBC copyright)

Spontaneity2014033020140331 (WS)

Acting on impulse is a curious thing. Is it an expression of inner freedom or a reckless letting go of protocol? And, do different cultures value spontaneity differently? Samira Ahmed discusses spontaneity with Edward Slingerland, professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, psychologist Daniel Goleman, known for his work on emotional intelligence, and Mary Robertson, emeritus professor of Neuropsychiatry at University College London, who brings her insights from treating Tourette’s Syndrome.

Steel2015083120150901 (WS)

has been produced for thousands of years, but is it time to find a greener alternative to the metal alloy which built the global economy ? Exploring the unique properties of steel, its strength and versatility, are materials scientist Mark Rainforth, historian of steel-pan music Kim Johnson and the South African artist Marco Cianfanelli.

Photo; a steel band performing at a music festival (BBC)

How steel gives us music, art and the modern world

Steps For Economic Recovery2011121020111211

We take an in depth look at the unprecedented financial crisis the world is now facing in our New Global Economy.

Three highly distinguished professors of economics put forward their plans – for at least partial – recovery.

Far East expert Danny Quah suggests that China can play a vital role to help stabilise and revive the world economy.

The Middle East specialist Timur Kuran calls for the modernising of the economies of many Islamic countries, which he believes have been held back because of religious law.

And the eminent economic historian and member of the British House of Lords, Robert Skidelsky advocates kick starting stagnant economies by sprinkling them with "helicopter money" – spending vouchers given to people with an expiry date to make them spend money they would not otherwise spend.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel; redrawing the map of the global economy

As the world faces an unprecedented economic crisis, we ask what is the best way forward.

Survival At Sea: What Does It Take To Improve Your Chances?2013072120130722 (WS)

with Baltasar Kormákur, Michael Tipton and Dinesh Bhugra.

+++ Some listeners may find parts of this programme upsetting +++

If by accident you are thrown into icy waters, what can you do to help your chances of survival? As Professor of Survival and Thermal Medicine, Michael Tipton, explains, there are a number of things that will help you but they are surprisingly counter-intuitive. And it’s not just about what you do physically: Professor Dinesh Bhugra from the Institute Of Psychiatry suggests that your attitudes to your family and wider community also play a crucial role. Perhaps that’s what spurred on Gulli, the real-life hero of Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur’s film The Deep, as he successfully braved the freezing waters of the North Atlantic for several hours.

Photo: Production still from the film The Deep directed by Baltasar Kormákur

Symbols, Signs And Secrets. What Symbols Tell Us About Ourselves.2015121420151215 (WS)

Why symbols are so important, their history and their future.

Art Historian Dr Janina Ramirez explores symbols in our past and present- how we use them in our everyday lives, their place in distant history and how they are evolving. Ranging from hieroglyphics in the ancient World through symbols in art to the increasing use of the emoji, Dr Ramirez examines the power of the symbol and its importance.

With her to discuss symbols and signs, Professor Martin Kemp, Emeritus Research Professor of the History of Art at Oxford University whose special interest is Leonardo Da Vinci, Professor Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist who studies new media use, particularly among young people in Japan and the US, from the University of California, Irvine and Professor Joann Fletcher, an Egyptologist and honorary visiting Professor at the University of York in the UK who explores the link between ancient symbols and how we communicate today.

Photo: Hieroglyphics from the Giza Pyramids in Cairo (Getty Images).

Taking Time Out2012122920121230 (WS)

Making sense of gaps in our lives that take us out of our routine.

This week on the Forum: how do we find meaning from unaccustomed experiences and gaps in our history, and how does this change the way we think about ourselves. Swedish evolutionary biologist Svante Pääbo shares with us his search for our missing early human ancestors, and his findings about how our for-bears spread across the globe. American writer and former diplomat Terry Tracy vividly describes the epilepsy that has permeated her life with unpredictable and traumatic breaks in consciousness, and explains how she recovers the lost time. And Senegalese-French anthropologist Hélène Neveu Kringelbach explores how secret dance societies and cross dressing rituals in West Africa allow people to momentarily step out of their day to day lives.

Talking Rubbish: Clever Ways With Waste2016061320160614 (WS)
20160615 (WS)

Advice from a garbologist, a waste expert and a taxidermist about re-using waste

According to the United Nations, we probably throw away over one billion tonne of waste every year. Some goes into landfill, some is destroyed and some is recycled. The mountain of cast-off litter is not just a huge environmental challenge, but a logistical one as well. Bridget Kendall explores ideas about how to harness waste with - Martin Medina, a global waste consultant, who suggests scavenging might be the answer to developing country’s growing waste problems; Dr Tom Licence, an historian at the University of East Anglia and ‘garbologist’, who uses archaeological beachcombing for historical rubbish to unveil our detailed past; Polly Morgan an artist who uses taxidermy to ascribe new meaning to what was once discarded and dead.

(Photo: A rubbish tip in Kolonawa suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Credit: Getty Images)

Taming Nature2016032820160329 (WS)
20160330 (WS)

What lies behind our desire to improve and perfect nature

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 © Blenheim Palace)

Technology. Does It Connect Or Divide Us?2012082520120826 (WS)

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. What effect does 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 is joined by Director of the celebrated MIT media lab Joi Ito, who thinks the internet enables a type of openness which is shaping approaches in education. Leading advocate for the American video game industry, Mike Gallagher, argues we can achieve connectedness and empathy through game play. We also hear from filmmaker and theatre director Julie Taymor who cautions us about the limiting power of screens and digital technology.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: Is new technology making us more open or more closed?

The Air You Breathe2013092920130930 (WS)

with Renato Zenobi, John Potter and William Bryant Logan

Breathing: one of the paradoxes of life. Voluntary but at the same time involuntary. Personal but at the same time communal. Joining Carrie Gracie is Renato Zenobi, a biochemist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology who has been analysing the chemicals in what we all exhale. His findings suggest that our ‘breath print’ could turn out to be a marker as unique to you as your finger print and perhaps one day a regular part of your own personalised medicine; tenor John Potter who not only sings but also writes about the relationship between the singing voice and the breath; and writer and tree specialist William Bryant Logan who reminds us that the air we breathe is not a thing or a place but the continual product of the breathing of all living things. It’s also an ancient way of measuring our lives: did you know that a human being takes 500 quadrillion breaths in an average lifetime?

The Art Of Political Decision Making2013051220130513 (WS)

with Joseph Nye, David Graeber, Martijn de Liefde and Stephen Whitefield

How can we embrace the views of many and still take decisive action? Joining Bridget Kendall are Harvard Professor Joseph Nye, who asks how much individual decisions by American presidents mattered over the course of the last century; veteran of the Occupy Wall Street movement, social anthropologist David Graeber who talks about an alternative way of decision making, a consensus model; dialogue facilitator Martijn de Liefde who has adapted traditional African techniques to guide decisions in today’s large companies; and Oxford professor Stephen Whitefield who explains why politicians are increasingly appealing to our emotions. Photo: FETHI BELAID/AFP/GettyImages

The Benefits Of Simplicity2016022920160301 (WS)

The world might seem more complex by the day but there are practical steps which can make it less complicated again. Bridget Kendall talks to three people whose mission it is to make the world a simpler place through better design - designer Per Mollerup, software engineer Pieter Hintjens and art historian Timon Screech.

(Photo: Red brush swirl on paper. Credit: Shan Pillay)

How to make the world simpler

The Bicycle: Freedom Machine2015101220151013 (WS)

The importance of the bicycle around the World as a means to heat and light remote African communities, as an ideal city transport, as a vehicle for female emancipation and as a philosophy, exploring the relationship between us the bicycle. With Bridget Kendall are social enterprise guru Sameer Hajee, Helsinki city cycling planner Reetta Keisanen, historian Dr Sheila Hanlon and professor Mike Austin.

(Photo: A village level entrepreneur using a Nuru Lights device. Credit: Nuru Lights)

How important is the bicycle and what does it do for us?

The Challenge Of Ageing2013030220130303 (WS)

Does the future belong to the old? And is it time to re-define what we actually mean by Old Age? Joining Helena Kenendy QC on stage at the London School of Economics is the celebrated Swedish statistician Hans Rosling, renowned crime writer PD James, now in her nineties, and Oxford Professor of Gerontology Sarah Harper. Plus a live audience at the Space For Thought festival at the LSE.

Photo credit: Nigel Stead.

Helena Kennedy discusses our ageing world with Sarah Harper, PD James and Hans Rosling.

Does the future belong to the old? And is it time to re-define what we actually mean by Old Age? Joining Helena Kenendy QC on stage at the London School of Economics is the celebrated Swedish statistician Hans Rosling, renowned crime writer PD James, now in her nineties, and Oxford Professor of Gerontology Sarah Harper. Plus a live audience at the Space For Thought festival at the LSE. Photo credit: Nigel Stead.

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

The Element Of Surprise2016030720160308 (WS)

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)

How open are you to the unexpected?

The Forum @ London's South Bank: A Celebration Of Women Of African And Caribbean Descent.2013031620130317 (WS)

Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Ayanna Witter-Johnson

The Forum In Beijing2013110220131103 (WS)
20131104 (WS)

Do the internet and social media empower the Chinese individual or the state?

Bridget Kendall chairs a wide-ranging discussion in Beijing about the internet in China: does the rise of digital communication empower the Chinese individual or the state? How is the social media explosion changing the nature of Chinese 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 Future Of Renewable Energy2013091520130916 (WS)

How do we develop a practical, reliable and cheap supply of renewable energy?

The Future Of The Car20111218

Has car transport reached a critical crossroads?

The world's love affair with the car has been a defining feature of the 20th century.

There are more and more of them, a billion cars so far, with projections of there being over two billion cars on the road within two decades, unless consumers and designers decide to embrace an alternative.

So is the car culture now at a critical crossroads? Will it remain a status symbol we all aspire to, the world over? And can new car designs, especially for the emerging car markets in India and China, overcome problems of pollution, road safety and over crowding? Expert opinion from car designer for India, Rohan Saparamadu, Californian transport adviser Professor Daniel Sperling and British authority on social attitudes to travel Professor John Urry.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel; The single-seater car as an office on the road to India's future.

The Hidden Power Of Noise2015122820151229 (WS)

Why we should all pay more attention to background noise.

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 Human Face: How We See Each Other2016032120160322 (WS)

How humans and machines interpret facial expressions

Bridget Kendall explores how we interpret facial expressions and how our face is being interpreted by machines for health, happiness and profit. How do we read each other’s faces? How much do we rely on visual clues? How much on context? What is going on in our heads when we respond to a grin or a grimace? And what is happening in the field of machine facial interpretation?

To examine the human face Bridget is joined by Paula Niedenthal, an American social psychologist whose ground breaking research suggests one vital key to reading other people may be our subconscious inclination to mimic each other’s facial expressions; Rana el Kaliouby, an Egyptian born computer scientist who is at the forefront of the new field of ‘affective computing’ – programming machines to read and respond to human emotions; The British actor and director Tony Lidington, with his take on how facial expressions can enhance meaning- and mask it too.

(Photo: Tony Lidington with a Dan Leno smile. Copyright: Harmony Studios)

The Iliad: Beauty, Brutes And Battles2016120520161206 (WS)

Why is Homer’s ancient Greek epic poem still so important?

Nearly 3,000 years after it was written down, The Iliad is still one of the most influential and inspiring stories ever told. Homer’s epic poem is a tale of war, but puts human emotions centre-stage: wrath, grief, love, heroism and separation.

With Bettany Hughes to discuss The Iliad’s origins, themes and continuing relevance to people across the world are: Stathis Livathinos, Director of the National Theatre of Greece; Antony Makrinos, a Greek classicist specialising in Homer who teaches at University College London; Professor Folake Onayemi, Head of the Classics Department at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; and Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King's College London.

Photo: An engraving depicting the Trojan war. (Getty Images)

The Insider Or Outsider: Who Is Best Placed To Bring About Change?2012031720120318 (WS)

Who drives change more effectively in our world: the insider working from within the establishment, or the maverick outsider? Voices from government, science and business discuss how to effect change within their fields. Does government tend to cling to the status quo, to preserve its power; should it welcome fresh ideas from science and business to meet the challenges of our age? With independent diplomat Carne Ross, cosmologist Lord Martin Rees and business supremo Simon Walker- plus a lively audience of opinion formers and business leaders.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: Thinking Inside and Outside the Box in Science, Diplomacy and Business.

Does thinking outside the establishment box lead to more creative policies?

The Mysterious Kingdom Of Fungi.2013042120130422 (WS)

Fungal science and innovation with Lynne Boddy, Jens Petersen and Phil Ross.

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. Hygrocybe Psittacina Photo: © Jens H. Petersen

The New Curators: Who Decides What’s Culturally Important?2016103120161101 (WS)

How the idea of curation has radically changed.

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 Next Generation: Hopes And Dreams20120101

Four outstanding, young global citizens discuss their aspirations for the future.

This week we bring you the thoughts of four outstanding young people on what the future might hold for us: Winston Damarillo, a software entrepreneur from the Philippines, who believes cloud computing can transform developing countries; Canadian criminologist Baillie Aaron and her new ideas for helping young offenders; Ben Green, a brilliant young Cambridge mathematician, who is seeking to unearth new secrets about prime numbers; and Fauzia Musa, Indian-born trend analyst, who scours the world of commerce, fashion and travel for signs of changing attitudes.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel; Young people's ideas - Primes, trends, clouds and prisoners

The Past, Present And Future Of Shipping2015122120151222 (WS)

Ocean-going scientist Helen Czerski is joined by underwater archaeologist Peter Campbell who leads a team which recently discovered an unprecedented 22 shipwrecks around a small Greek archipelago; conservation biology Professor Alex Rogers who says that the beautiful but fragile habitats in the depths of the high seas are under increasing threat from destructive deep-sea bottom trawling; and naval architect Oskar Levander who contends that automated and unmanned ships will dominate 21st century oceans.

(Photo: Computer image map of an ancient shipwreck using rhinophoto 3D. Credit: Peter Campbell/ East Carolina University)

New ways to travel across the ocean and to find out what lies in its depths

The Pleasures And Perils Of Storytelling2016020120160202 (WS)

Why do we see a narrative in everything?

Almost everyone loves a story - in fact, you could argue that we all do our best to turn any sequence of events into a narrative. But in our ever more complex world, our inclination to look for narratives may not be an advantage. When it comes to making sense of complex systems, say, a nation’s economy or the human body, our propensity for story-telling can become a snare, a trap which may incline us to see a narrative when none exists.

Bridget Kendall is joined by Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Toronto, whose research explores whether the habit of reading fiction may help hone our social skills; business consultant Thaler Pekar, who seeks out persuasive stories and teaches people how best to share them; and science writer and broadcaster Philip Ball, who explains that if complex data defies simple analysis, we probably need to abandon a narrative and look for a completely different kind of thinking.

(Photo: Children sit around a nanny reading a story. Credit: Getty Images)

The Power Of Expectation2014030120140303 (WS)

Can our expectations affect the outcome of what we do?

Can our expectations affect the outcome of what we do? This week we look at the power of expectation. 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.

(Picture: A gift in a box, tied with a red riboon, Credit: Science Photo Library)

The Power Of Seduction2012091520120916 (WS)

How often are we lured into making choices without being aware of it?

This week on the Forum, why do we dream of a better life, aspire to more material comforts or look to another country for happiness, are we being rational or has our judgement been seduced?

Robert Heath, a former advertising strategist, reveals how adverts seduce us and influence our feelings without our knowing it. Nigerian writer Chinelo Okparanta on why the dream of a life in America exerts such a strong pull on so many Nigerians and results so often in disappointment. And Indian novelist and political commentator Pankaj Mishra on how the West has forced the East under its spell since colonial times and how the East is still reacting to the West's dominance to this day.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: The hidden lure of people, places and ideas.

The Salt Story2015081720150818 (WS)

Salt: its history and future.

Salt has, in some ways, been as geopolitically important as oil or water. In trade, in food and in human health it is a critical ingredient. Tim Marlow talks about different aspects of salt with four expert guests. Adel Sharif, Professor of Water Engineering and Process Innovation at Surrey University explains the latest developments in desalination; historian Professor Paul Lovejoy, discusses his book ‘Salt in the Desert Sun’ which looks at a history of salt production in parts of Africa, Graham MacGregor; Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Chairman of World Action on Salt and Health at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine examines salt and health but also salt in a cultural context and Mikki Osterloo, a planetary and geological research scientist, who discovered approximately 200 places on southern Mars that show characteristics consistent with salt, explores salt- and therefore possibly water- on Mars.

(Photo: Large salt crystals. Credit: Getty Images)

The Unpredictable Planet: Understanding Volcanoes And Earthquakes2016072520160726 (WS)
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New ideas about volcanoes, earthquakes and other geological processes

New ideas about volcanoes, earthquakes and other geological processes that both enrich and threaten us. Jack Stewart is joined by four leading Earth scientists in the city of Yokohama at the 2016 Goldschmidt Conference - volcanologists Tamsin Mather and Michihiko Nakamura, plate tectonics expert Carl Spandler and seismologist and Nature magazine editor John VanDecar.

(Photo: Mount Fuji in Japan. Credit: Getty Images)

The Wind: Its Impact On Earth And In Space2015092820150929 (WS)

Wind is all around us, on earth, on the high seas 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. It is also the stuff or myth and legend around the World.

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 tracks the solar winds which come to us from space, to probe how they affect us on earth and has new research linking wind with lightening. And, from Boston in the USA, artist Nathalie Miebach weaves extraordinary sculptures and musical compositions out of storm data she takes from weather stations.

(Photo; The art sculpture Noel Hurricane. Credit: Nathalie Miebach)

How the wind shapes our environment from the sea to art and outer space

Thomas More's Utopia2016121920161220 (WS)

Celebrating More's radical book and its political influence in the past and present

Five-hundred years ago, in what is now the Belgian city of Leuven, Thomas More published his vision for an ideal society which he called Utopia.To mark the anniversary, The Forum travels to Leuven University to debate More's book, its place in history and the politics it inspired.

Presenter Bridget Kendall is joined by Leuven University rector Rik Torfs, culture studies professor Fátima Vieira who leads the Utopia 500 Project, historian of communism professor Erik van Ree from Amsterdam University, and Dilar Dirik, an expert on the Syrian-Kurdish ‘utopia’ of Rojava.

Time To Rethink What Is 'normal'?2014071920140720 (WS)
20140721 (WS)

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 bipolar relative into an award-winning book, Professor of Disability and Human Development Lennard Davis, and autism research pioneer Professor Uta Frith.

(Photo: Shan Pillay/ BBC)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Top Performance: What Makes Your Adrenaline Flow?2013063020130701 (WS)

Are high-altitude climbers and multiple marathon runners adrenaline junkies?

Would you like to take part in the Ironman Triathlon, one of the most gruelling races, held in punishing conditions? Sports professor Greg Whyte tells us how you need to prepare. Why would anyone take on the riskiest challenges in mountaineering? Jennifer Jordan gets inside the heads of the women of K2. And what is happening in your body when you face danger or decide to push yourself to the limit? Brian Hoffman is an expert on adrenaline, the myths and the reality. They all join Matthew Taylor for the week’s Forum. Photo: Competitors at the 20th Marathon des Sables in Morocco by Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images)

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Tracking2013092220130923 (WS)

With smarter technology monitoring our behaviour how far should we compromise privacy?

Traps2014020120140202 (WS)
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Catching neutrinos, unsuspecting gamers and pictures of elusive mammals.

Turmoil Around The World And In Ourselves2016091220160913 (WS)
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Turmoil is all around us – in politics, in our mental health and in fantasy fiction, which often seems to excite our hunger for nightmare scenarios.

With threats of terrorism, environmental catastrophe and political pandemonium around the globe amplified by modern communications, Samira Ahmed is joined by psychiatrist Mina Fazel, political scientist Daniel Drezner, and horror writer and Zombie expert Max Brooks to explore how we might cope with real or perceived disaster and disorder and examine whether the apparent chaos of the modern world really is greater than ever before.

(Photo: People wave national flags as they march to react against a military coup attempt, in Ankara, in July 2016. Credit: Getty Images)

Exploring turmoil in politics and society

Twins And Doubles2014010420140105 (WS)
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Why do we pair up as we do, and does looking alike go beyond the surface?

The Singh Twins are two sisters who are not only identical twins, but have created a successful career as a single artist. They will be telling us what it means to interpret the world through double vision. Also, psychologist Nancy Segal who has been studying identical Chinese twins separated at birth, and Nicholas Royle, a novelist and professor of literature, takes us into the unsettling world of doubles and alter egos in fiction.

Uncertainty2014101120141012 (WS)
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How to approach uncertainty in the modern world

Can you be certain about anything these days? How much certainty do we need in our daily lives? In an intriguing discussion about uncertainty Bridget Kendall brings together three people with different perspectives to share their thoughts and expertise. Mathematician Jordan Ellenberg explains how a new kind of statistics deals with randomness as well as certain logic, philosopher Rupert Read argues that we should act when facing serious situations like climate change without absolute evidential certainty and writer and literary scholar Namwali Serpell explores how novelists use uncertainty to captivate and challenge their readers.

(Photo: Dice being rolled. BBC copyright)

Underground: How Deep Can Life Survive?2016090520160906 (WS)
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This week, The Forum delves into the subterranean world of life underground – from the forgotten tunnels and catacombs of our cities to life found in the stifling sunless world two miles below the Earth’s surface. Might humans one day retreat underground if living above ground becomes too tough? Bridget Kendall with Social Geographer Dr. Bradley L. Garrett, Zoologist Dr. Gaetan Borgonie and Isotope Geochemist Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar.

Photo: Car Quarry image (credit: Bradley L. Garrett)

Exploring the mysteries of the biosphere below the earth’s surface.

Unfinished: The Art Of The Incomplete2016062020160621 (WS)
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We are at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York at The Met Breuer, where the exhibition "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible", is a springboard to explore the notion of things unfinished or incomplete. The concept of a work of art that is unfinished, the so called 'non finito' style, has been with us since the Renaissance. But it has taken on new meaning in modern art of the 20th and 21st Century. So how should we respond to a work which is unfinished whether it is a painting, a book, a piece of music, a film or a building? And, how does the idea of ‘unfinished’ translate into an ever-changing historical and political context?

Presenter Bridget Kendall is joined by Andrea Bayer, Jayne Wrightsman, Curator in The Met’s Department of European Paintings and co-curator of "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible" at The Met Breuer; Negin Farsad, a celebrated stand-up comedian, actor and film-maker of Iranian heritage; Kerry James Marshall, the internationally renowned American artist whose work will be the subject of a major exhibition at The Met Breuer this October 2016; Andrew Solomon, professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University in New York, and an award-winning writer who is also president of PEN American Center.

(Photo: The Met Breuer in New York. Credit: Ed Lederman)

How do we respond to things that are unfinished or incomplete?

Uniformity2014110320141104 (WS)

When is regularity good and when does it become boring, or even oppressive?

Everything from transport to building regulations to medical science needs to be underpinned by the idea of uniformity to ensure safe and consistent production and delivery. But can too much uniformity, or misapplied uniformity, be bad for us? And if so, in what way? Tim Marlow discusses uniformity with the multi-faceted concert pianist and thinker Kirill Gerstein, distinguished sociologist George Ritzer, and award-wining architect Alison Brooks.

Photo: Keystone / Getty Images

Unpicking The Un2016112120161122 (WS)

The history and current challenges facing the UN

What is the United Nations for, what brought it about, and has it lived up to expectations? As a new Secretary-General takes over, Bridget Kendall and guests give all you need to know about the world’s most ambitious public body. Joining Bridget Kendall are Jussi M. Hanhimäki, professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva; Heidi Tworek, fellow at the Transatlantic Academy and assistant professor of International History at the University of British Columbia; Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo, head of the Education Unit at Unesco’s Southern Africa regional office in Zimbabwe; Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, who served as Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan.

Photo: The United Nations building in New York. (Getty Images)

Upside Down2015091420150915 (WS)

Subversion and inversion in a topsy-turvy world

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: A Sloth hanging upside down. Credit: Getty Images)

Using Other People’s Water20160926

Are we sucking our worldwide supply dry?

Vanity2014020820140209 (WS)
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Ever-taller buildings, more cosmetic surgery: is there no limit to human vanity?

Trillions of dollars are spent on vanity megaprojects round the world, every year. Many of them well over budget, delivering far fewer benefits than originally promised. So why is it that politicians and planners keep commissioning ever grander projects? Is it the same vanity that drives more and more of us to cosmetic surgery? Joining Bridget Kendall are Danish authority on the pitfalls of megaprojects, Bent Flyvbjerg; British critic and curator Stephen Bayley, who has a special interest in design and architecture; and American anthropologist Alex Edmonds, who takes us from vanity architecture to body shaping, as a means for self-promotion. (Photo courtesy of Hulton Archive/ Getty Images)

Violence2013090820130909 (WS)

A grim subject but intensely important: our human capacity for violence. What is it in our biology and our society that drives it? And is it something we can rise above? Criminal psychologist Adrian Raine argues that breakthroughs in neuroscience and genetics should be transforming the way we treat violent criminals. Human rights advocate Kavita Ramdas, examines why violence against women in India and beyond is not decreasing, despite advances in women’s rights. And primate anthropologist John Mitani explains what can be learnt from chimpanzees’ lethal aggression. Presented by Bridget Kendall.

(Photo: A man aiming to take a punch. BBC copyright)

How much is violence a choice, and how much a natural human instinct?

Prominent international thinkers debating big ideas.

Viruses: In Medicine, Technology And In Our Minds2013032320130324 (WS)

The terrifying and wonderful viral world with Peter Piot, Angela Belcher, Susan Blackmore

Viruses: both lethal vectors that can sow death and destruction, and clever adaptable mechanisms that could transform the future of manufacturing. And should we worry more about the viral spread of ideas and trends? Bridget Kendall's guests are the Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Peter Piot, who is the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus; bioengineer professor Angela Belcher, who uses viruses to make novel materials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and psychologist Dr. Susan Blackmore, who has a special interest in the viral potential of digital technology. PHOTO: Artwork of HIV virus by Science Photo Library

What If...the Forum Could Change The World?2013033020130401 (WS)

Visions of the future with Michio Kaku, Barbara Sahakian and Karen Lord.

This week The Forum joins the BBC World Service 'What If' season. Bridget Kendall is joined by three brave visionaries, each presenting an idea that they believe could shape our future: theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, clinical neuropsychologist Barbara Sahakian and speculative fiction writer Karen Lord. What if we could move things with the power of thought alone (plus a little magnetism)? What if we could take a pill to prevent our brains betraying us in old age? What if we could read each other’s minds?

What Is The Best Way To Deal With Anxiety?2016082220160823 (WS)
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How anxiety is created in the brain and how we can best help the anxious

Anxiety is a universal human emotion that has been described as the price-tag on freedom. It is the price we pay for a brain that can anticipate the future. But when anxiety spirals out of control it can take over our lives as we battle against phobias, panic attacks, dread and debilitating fear. So how is anxiety triggered and constructed in the brain? Is the almond-shaped amygdala the seat of fear or are our anxieties constructed in other parts of the brain? And for those made miserable by anxiety, how best can it be treated?

Bridget Kendall explores the biology of anxiety and some unexpected approaches to treatment, including friendship benches and therapy horses. She is joined by Joseph LeDoux, author of Anxiety and professor of Neuroscience and director of the Emotional Brain Institute, New York University; Dr Dixon Chibanda, a consultant Psychiatrist in Zimbabwe and pioneer of the Friendship Bench; Susanna Forrest, a British authority on the horse and author of The Age of Horse: An Equine Journey through Human History.

(Photo: A young man holding his head in his hands)

What Makes Your Adrenaline Flow?20130630

Are high-altitude climbers and multiple marathon runners adrenaline junkies?

What’s The Best Way To Build Up New Markets?2013011920130120 (WS)

How do we encourage enterprise in a way that benefits lots of people, not just a few?

How do we ensure that opening up new markets helps to build up the economies of the developing world? And what role should women play in it? Bridget Kendall is joined by Sherry Coutu, a seasoned angel investor from Canada; leading Ugandan coffee entrepreneur Andrew Rugasira; and Oxford University anthropologist Catherine Dolan who studies the intersection of business and poverty.

Photo: AFP/ Getty

And can we do it in a way that benefits lots of people, not just a few?

What's So Bad About Behaving Badly?20120401

Is it always wrong to be rude and are the seven deadly sins as deadly as they sound?

This week on the Forum: what are the virtues of our vices?

Does living in a dynamic changing culture such as ours mean we should re-examine our moral conventions?

Australian psychologist Simon Laham challenges the notion the seven deadly sins are bad for us.

He says latest scientific evidence shows sins can be pro-social: sloth makes you more helpful, anger makes you more open-minded, and lust aids concentration.

Professor of Philosophy Emrys Westacott mounts a defence of rudeness, gossip and other bad habits.

He argues that because of our rapidly changing times, we need to let go of outmoded moral codes.

Urvashi Butalia is an award winning Indian historian and feminist.

From her personal point of view as a Hindu, she explains why Hinduism blurs the notion of vice and virtue.

"Should you resist the temptations of desire, sloth gluttony and riches?" Illustration by Emily Kasriel

Wheel Revolutions2016050920160510 (WS)
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The technology and art of wheeled transport

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.

(Photo: Wagon wheels and the view of Monument Valley in Utah, USA)

When Does Healthy Competition Become Destructive?2016053020160531 (WS)
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What is the place of rivalry in human behaviour?

What is the place of rivalry in human behaviour? What drives it? And where is the dividing line between competition as a positive force and one that wreaks havoc? Samira Ahmed discusses rivalry in sport, in cities and in our minds with psychologist Stephen Garcia, sport morality expert Maria Kavussanu and historian Philip Mansel.

(Photo: The finish line at the men's 100 meters final at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. Credit: Getty Images)

Whistle-blowers And Rumour-mongers2013101320131014 (WS)

Who should we believe is telling the truth and why?

This week on The Forum, how can we distinguish between truth and rumour? And in what circumstances is telling the truth a really bad idea? Carrie Gracie talks to Secrets and Leaks author Rahul Sagar, about the ethics of leaking state information. Media expert Jayson Harsin explains the dark arts of the ‘rumour bomber’ and award-winning novelist Ana Maria Machado, with a Brazilian story of whistle-blowing gone wrong.

Why Are We Generous?20161010

Why Do We Need The State?2015100520151006 (WS)

Samira Ahmed is joined by World War Two historian Timothy Snyder who sees Hitler as the ultimate state destroyer, Belgian social policy researcher Benjamin Leruth who has been getting European citizens to be honest about what they really like and loathe about the EU, and writer Adrian Wooldridge who thinks authoritarian Singapore is a model for how to run an efficient state in the 21st Century.

(Photo: Different flags of the world on flagpoles)

Is it time to rethink what a modern state is for?

Why Do We Tell Stories?2013052620130527 (WS)

With Qais Akbar Omar, John Yorke and Emile Bruneau.

The three heroes of our tale are award-winning TV drama producer John Yorke, who explains to Bridget Kendall why a 9 year old could storyline a Hollywood film; neuroscientist Emile Bruneau, who’s cutting edge research is about how narratives can trigger empathy; and Afghan writer Qais Akbar Omar, who says that when you have nothing else left, stories can sustain you.

Winner Or Cheat? Doping In Sport2016121220161213 (WS)

The inside story; swapped samples, state-sponsored doping and the battle for world sport

A battle is raging over the future of sport. Advances in retrospective testing have seen champions stripped of their medals years after they stood on the podium. Allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia have rocked the sports world and new treatments such as gene-doping are constantly evolving. The drugs change but the questions remain the same – how effective and how dangerous are performance-enhancing drugs? How do doping competitors evade the testers? And can sports tarnished by doping ever be cleaned up?

Sharing their knowledge with Bridget Kendall are four sport insiders:

David Howman stepped down as Director of the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2016 after twelve years battling drug-taking in sport.

David Millar is a British cyclist and former World Champion who has won stages at the Tour de France and rode in the professional peloton for over a decade. Banned for doping, he returned to the sport as an anti-drugs campaigner. He is the author of the memoirs ‘Racing Through The Dark’ and ‘ The Racer: Life on the Road as a Pro-Cyclist’.

Professor Mario Thevis is a chemist who has tested competitors at seven Olympic Games and is Director of the Centre for Preventive Doping Research in Cologne, Germany.

Dr Zhouxiang Lu has researched allegations of doping in China in the 1980s and 90s. He teaches at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

Photo: Athletes in the starting block at a race. (Getty Images)

01Guilt2012102720121028 (WS)

What's the best way to deal with personal and collective guilt?

Do you have a guilty secret that keeps you tossing and turning at night? Or do you sleep easy with a clear conscience? The Forum's subject this week is guilt: how much does it affect the behaviour of individuals, families and entire nations? Joining Bridget Kendall this week are Australian novelist and author of Schindler's List, Thomas Keneally, Turkish historian Taner Akcam and Jordanian writer Fadia Faqir. Illustration by Rosemary Baker.

01That's Disgusting!2012101320121014 (WS)

This week, a programme to test how strong your stomach is. Why is slimy slithery food so often unappetizing? And why do babies respond to bitter tastes by screwing up their noses? We’ll be exploring disgust: when it’s a useful tool to keep us safe from disease and poisoning, and when it’s a gut reaction that could encourage risk-aversion and even predict the way we vote.

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