The mathematician discovers how the ancient Babylonians used their bodies to count to 60 (which gave us 60 minutes in the hour), how the number zero was only discovered in the seventh century by Indian mathematicians contemplating the void, why in China going into the red meant your numbers had gone negative, and why numbers might be our best language for communicating with alien life. But for millennia, contemplating infinity has sent even the greatest minds into a spin. Then at the end of the 19th century mathematicians discovered a way to think about infinity that revealed it is a number that we can count. They also found that there are an infinite number of infinities, some bigger than others…
The English Language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today? The Oxford Professor investigates the evolution of the English language, examining how it continues to adapt, as English continues to find new speakers and new uses. Engaging with contemporary concerns about correctness, he considers whether such changes are improvements, or evidence of slipping standards. What is the future for the English Language? Will Standard English continue to hold sway, or are we witnessing its replacement by newly emerging Englishes?
Bob Cole from Herefordshire was the long-distance Olympian who never got the chance to prove it. Eccentric and solitary, he competed on the professional circuit and was proclaimed world champion, but forever banned from the Olympics. Herington, author of a new biography, discusses the amazing story of a forgotten hero from the Chariots of Fire era.
Food is an important theme in Jane Austen’s novels: it is used as a commodity for showing off, as a way of showing kindliness among neighbours, as part of the dynamics of family life, and – of course – for comic effect. Dinner With Mr Darcy takes authentic recipes from the period, inspired by the food that features in Austen’s novels and letters, and adapts them for contemporary cooks.
Updale writes about the last minute of life for hundreds of people, and McCaughrean about a seaside theatre’s very last performance. Find out what is so absorbing about the end of things.
This is the comedian’s first book. His first book that he’s written. He’s read loads of books. “Using letters, emails, tweets and telegrams I will show you how the things in your life that make you sad, low or anxious can soon appear trivial, insignificant and like a fish. In short, I will butter your parsnips.” So..
The true story of a young serviceman on active duty in 1915 who finds and keeps a tortoise. One of our most highly-acclaimed illustrators, Michael is best known for War Boy and War Game and for his extensive work with Michael Morpurgo. Find out why the tale of Ali Pasha was such an inspiration to him.
History has pictured Elizabeth I as Gloriana, an icon of strength and power. But the reality, especially during her later years, was not as simple. In 1583 Elizabeth is 50 and beyond childbearing age, but her greatest challenges are still to come: the Spanish Armada; the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots; and relentless plotting among her courtiers. The pre-eminent Tudor historian presents a gripping and vivid portrait of Elizabeth’s life and times –often told in her own words (“You know I am no morning woman”) and reveals a monarch who is fallible, increasingly insecure and struggling to lead Britain. The London theatre, however, was thriving.
Odran Yates enters Clonliffe Seminary in 1972 after his mother informs him that he has a vocation to the priesthood. He goes in full of ambition and hope, dedicated to his studies and keen to make friends. Forty years later, Odran’s devotion has been challenged by the revelations that have shattered the Irish people’s faith in the church. He has seen friends stand trial, colleagues jailed, the lives of young parishioners destroyed and has become nervous of venturing out in public for fear of disapproving stares and insulting remarks. When a family tragedy opens wounds from his past, he is forced to confront the demons that have raged within a once respected institution and to recognise his own complicity in their propagation.
Is nuclear power the only realistic solution to our energy crisis? Using the latest world energy statistics Lynas shows that with wind and solar still at only about 1 percent of global primary energy, asking renewables to deliver all the world’s power is ‘dangerously delusional’.
Three contributors to the new Logaston anthology charting the history of the Cathedral City recover stories from its past. Heather Hurley recounts the boatbuilding industry and the Wye river trade; archaeologist Nigel Baker introduces new discoveries about the Saxon period; Chris Pullin talks about Hereford as a C12th centre of learning with links to the Arab world. Chaired by Nicola Goodwin of BBC Hereford and Worcester.
Kells native Brendan, a finalist in 2012’s Great British Bake Off, has been passionate about baking for 30 years. Join him as he demonstrates some of the skills that took him to the final and talks to Fáilte Ireland Food Champion Olivia Duff about his plans to take baking into retirement homes.
For more information & recipes go to www.brendanbakes.co.uk
A dazzling vision of the future. Many think the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations or ‘ems’: scan a human brain, then run a model with the same connections on a fast computer and you have a robot brain but recognisably human. Applying decades of expertise in physics, computer science and economics, Hanson uses standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems. Chaired by Daniel Davis.
Discover the future of screen technology with computer scientist Matt Jones. His team at Swansea University is exploring displays that mutate to create textures and change shape to reveal controls like dials and switches depending on our needs. See some of the early prototypes that are enhancing our digital interactions with the physical world.
Anne Enright escaped from a career in television to become one of Ireland’s national literary treasures. She won the Man Booker Prize in 2007 for her fourth novel The Gathering. The newly-appointed Irish Fiction Laureate will discuss and read from her latest novel The Green Road.
Photo by Hugh Chaloner
Excavation of two quarries in the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire by a UCL-led team of archaeologists and geologists has confirmed that they are sources of Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’ and shed light on how they were quarried and transported. “We have dates of around 3400 BC for Craig Rhos-y-felin and 3200 BC for Carn Goedog, which is intriguing because the bluestones didn’t get put up at Stonehenge until around 2900 BC,” says Professor Parker Pearson. “It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that’s pretty improbable in my view. It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument – somewhere near the quarries – which was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire. Stonehenge was a Welsh monument from its very beginning. If we can find the original monument in Wales from which it was built, we will finally be able to solve the mystery of why Stonehenge was built and why some of its stones were brought so far…”
In the early 1880s the Mahdi unleashed a spectacularly successful jihadist uprising against Egyptian colonial rule in the Sudan. Major General Charles Gordon was despatched to evacuate Khartoum and turn the Sudan over to self-rule. The mission backfired and Sir Garnet Wolseley was sent to relieve him…
The applications of artificial intelligence lie all around us: in our homes, schools and offices, in our cinemas, in art galleries and - not least - on the internet. The results of artificial intelligence have been invaluable to biologists, psychologists and linguists in helping to understand the processes of memory, learning and language from a fresh angle. Boden is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, and one of the best-known figures in the field of artificial intelligence. She is the author of Mind as Machine: a History of Cognitive Science.