Three of the best of the luckiest generation in history are still learning, still leading the way and still at the top of their game. They talk with Emma Soames.
In the Islamic tradition, a garden with its central elements of water, the scent of fruit trees, and places for rest and reflection, celebrates Heaven on Earth. The gardener Monty Don and acclaimed photographer Derry Moore set off on a journey to find out more about the principles and immersive delights of paradise gardens and how a very different culture and climate has influenced garden design round the world. From the Real Alcazar and the Alhambra in Spain to a Mughal garden in Bradford, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Maidan in Isfahan, Iran, the birthplace of paradise gardens, they present a glorious celebration of the richness of Islamic culture through some of the most beautiful gardens on earth.
Venki Ramakrishnan was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry for “studies of the structure and function of the ribosome” and in 2015 became president of the Royal Society.
We are facing a global health problem with the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. A large number of antibiotics work by preventing bacteria from making proteins, which are essential to carry out the various functions of all life. Proteins are made using instructions encoded in our genes by a large molecular machine called the ribosome. The ribosome is enormous in molecular terms, because it consists of almost half a million atoms. Solving its precise atomic structure was crucial to understand how it worked. It also showed how antibiotics bind to it and how new ones could be designed. The ribosome is also ancient and the structure provides strong evidence that it emerged from a primordial RNA world and by making proteins, helped to transform life into the form we know today.
Join Venki as he talks to Roger Highfield about his ground-breaking research.
A powerful and sometimes humorous look at the phenomenon of artificial high dramas and public shamings that are characteristic of a world dominated by social media. Why do we do it and how does it affect the shamed? Ronson was prompted into looking at public shaming after his own online identity was stolen in 2012. He met famous shamers and shamees to discover how public ridicule and vitriol can devastate the victim, and to uncover the true reasons behind the rise in public shaming.
Ronson is a documentary maker and author of many bestselling books including The Psychopath Test, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Lost at Sea and Them: Adventures with Extremists. Chaired by John Mitchinson.
In 1519 an arrogant and unscrupulous man sailed from the Caribbean with orders to find a missing Spanish expedition. He immediately set about carving himself an empire in modern Mexico, while the governor of Cuba sent a force out to kill him. Hernán Cortés explored the coast to Veracruz then struck inland, seduced by tales of a great empire rich in gold. He found the largest and best-run city on earth and reduced it to rubble.
Award-winning travel writer and historian John Harrison followed in his footsteps for four months, finding the jungle ruins and sophisticated hilltop cities which put the lie to the popular image of the Aztecs and their neighbours as bloodthirsty savages. Popular accounts always suggest Cortés was mistaken for a returning god; the truth is very different and far more interesting. Both the Spanish and the Aztecs thought that the world was coming to a close soon, and that they were pleasing their gods in performing vital last deeds.
The creator of the iconic Danish-Swedish television thriller takes time out from writing the third series to discuss Saga, Martin and the long-form drama.
Just as water is wet in a way that individual water molecules aren’t, big data can reveal information in a way that individual bits of data can’t. The tech and business gurus show us the surprising ways that enormous, complex and messy collections of data can be used to predict everything from shopping patterns to flu outbreaks. Chaired by Stephanie Flanders.
The writers of The Simpsons are so fascinated by mathematics that they have drip-fed morsels of number theory into the series over the last twenty-five years – so many that they could form the basis of an entire university course. The author of The Codebook and Fermat’s Last Theorem uses specific episodes to explain concepts ranging from pi and the paradox of infinity to the origins of numbers.
On 11 September 2001 our world changed. The West’s response to 9/11 has morphed into a period of ‘exception’. Governments have decided that the rule of law and human rights are often too costly. The Director of Liberty explores why our fundamental rights and freedoms are indispensable and examines the unprecedented pressures those rights are under today. She talks to Susie Symes, economist and chair of 19 Princelet Street.
You start with a vision, and you deliver a compromise. You want a play to be challenging, ambitious, nuanced and complicated. You also want it to sell tickets. You want to make art, and you know you’re in show-business. The inside story of 12 years at the helm of The National Theatre is a story of lunatic failures and spectacular successes. Its cast includes the likes of Alan Bennett, Maggie Smith, Mike Leigh, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren and, of course, William Shakespeare.