The Scientist And The Romantic

Episodes

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01The Greenhouse And The Field2009092120100426

Nature writer Richard Mabey reflects on his lifelong relationship with science and the natural world.

He talks about his very first laboratory - his father's greenhouse, a magician's chamber, where as a nine-year-old he would conduct his own experiments with chemicals bought with his pocket money.

His childhood adventures there led him on a path which was to inform the rest of his life exploring the natural environment.

Nature writer Richard Mabey talks about his first laboratory as a young boy.

02The Lens And The Lichen2009092220100427

Nature writer Richard Mabey reflects on his lifelong relationship with science and the natural world.

He explores how a lens can enhance and at times distort our view of nature.

He discusses how the late 18th-century Claude glass influenced the Picturesque movement in art and the excitement of looking at lichens through a microscope.

As our understanding of science has developed, Richard also points out how our understanding of the way we 'view' nature has changed - whether it's a new way of looking at the canopy of the rainforest or the first photo taken from space which shows us planet earth.

Richard Mabey discusses how a lens can enhance or distort our view of the natural world.

03The Stinkhorn And The Perfumier2009092320100428

Nature writer Richard Mabey reflects on his lifelong relationship with science and the natural world.

He ponders why we are all so good at remembering scents, despite their having little relevance for our survival.

He tries to unpick how, as Marcel Proust famously wrote, fragrance and flavour 'bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection'.

Nature writer Richard Mabey discusses connections between scent and memory.

04The Songbird And The Sol-fa2009092420100429

Nature writer Richard Mabey reflects on his lifelong relationship with science and the natural world.

He presents his own thoughts on why birds sing and recounts how writers through the ages have had wildly different interpretations on the meaning of birdsong.

Including discussion on areas such as 13th-century ideas that it represented free will and individualism to musical computer analyses of birdsong which reveal the complex chords in a bird's voicebox.

Richard Mabey on attempts over the years to analyse and understand why birds sing.