A majestic distillation of our current understanding of the birth of the universe, of the solar system, of the oceans, of mountains and minerals, of all life on earth and of the driving dynamics of human culture and achievement. Christian is a Distinguished Professor in History at Macquarie University in Australia and the co-founder, with Bill Gates, of The Big History Project.
How does the physics we know today, a highly professionalised enterprise, inextricably linked to government and industry, link back to its origins as a liberal art in Ancient Greece? What is the path that leads from the old philosophy of nature and its concern with humankind’s place in the universe to modern massive international projects that hunt down fundamental particles and industrial laboratories that manufacture marvels? Heilbron is one of the most revered physicists in the world, and has written books about Galileo and Niels Bohr. Chaired by Dan Davis.
Some animals live for just a few hours as adults, others prefer to kill themselves rather than live for longer than they are needed, and there are a number of animals that live for centuries. There are parasites that drive their hosts to die awful deaths, and parasites that manipulate their hosts to live longer, healthier lives. There is death in life. Among all of this is us: perhaps the first animal in the history of the universe fully conscious that death really is going to happen in the end. The zoologist explores the never-ending cycle of death and the impact it has on the living.
The Wye’s natural beauty has long been part of the river’s heritage, but many aspects of its history have been forgotten. Having both a Welsh and an English heritage, the Wye has a special unifying role in British culture, as well as exhibiting some of the classic features of a border. The river has been a psychological barrier separating cultures by language, religion and politics, and a physical barrier separating hostile rivals. By tradition the Wye was the last refuge of Vortigern and of Owain Glyndwr. In the 18th century, timber that was floated down the river from the Golden Valley built the British fleet that took on the French at Trafalgar.
On the final day of his crowd-funding campaign for his new book Bill’s Kitchen, food writer and restaurateur Bill Sewell discusses his journey from concerned London vegetarian to enthusiastic rural omnivore. His trademarks are strong flavours, simple techniques and a passion for the pleasure of cooking as well as eating. They talk about eating well but not cleanly; and the ways in which social media can either kill or build a sense of community around food, cooking and eating.
The harrowing story of an American traitor who sold out his country to the Russian president. Noel Field, once a well-meaning and privileged American working in the State Department, spied for the Soviets during the 1930s and -40s. Later, a pawn in Stalin’s sinister master strategy, Field was kidnapped and tortured by the KGB, and forced to testify against his own Communist comrades. Marton is an award-winning journalist, a human rights campaigner, and the author of Enemies of the People and The Great Escape.
An hour of glorious grammar as the fabulously entertaining language and linguistics guru plays with two-minute lectures. A is for Alphabet – why this order? O may well be Oxford Comma, but it might be Original Pronunciation... (ellipsis). What would you like to hear him explain?
Get out your wings and come dressed as a fairy for storytelling and lots of activities with the fairy queen.
Master Chef Rory O’Connell is co-founder of Ballymaloe Cookery School and has twice won Ireland’s Chef of the Year award. Rory’s book Master It was named one of The Guardian’s top 20 cookbooks and is winner of the André Simon Food Book Award.
Intimate conversations with 12 of the most famous medieval manuscripts in existence. De Hamel traces the elaborate journeys these exceptionally precious artifacts have made through time and space. He shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell); how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes; and how they have been regarded as objects of supreme luxury and as symbols of national identity. De Hamel was Head of Medieval Manuscripts at Sotheby’s and is now Librarian at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Writer and comedian Jonathan Meres provides a laugh-out-loud treat as he talks about the twelfth and final instalment in his multi-award-winning series. Although life is undoubtedly still unfair for Norm, Jonathan guarantees that he will cheer up the audience and get everyone singing along to his World of Norm song.
Three authors discuss the very different ways in which the power of magic and mystery enhance their stories with reference to their books The House with Chicken Legs, Twister and A Witch Alone. Chaired by Sian Cain.