Little Atoms

Little Atoms

United States

Little Atoms is a weekly show featuring the worlds of science, journalism, politics, religion, academia, human rights and the arts in conversation. Produced and presented by Neil Denny, Padraig Reidy, Richard Sanderson and special guests. It's broadcast in London every Friday from 19:00 GMT on Resonance 104.4 FM. The podcast is graciously hosted for peanuts by Positive Internet.

Episodes

From the archive – Noam Chomsky  

In this episode of Little Atoms from 2009, Noam Chomsky examines the Obama administration and asks what has really changed. Chomsky describes the first term of the Bush administration as “off the spectrum” in both aggression and arrogance. US international prestige sank to the lowest point since measured. It is hardly surprising therefore that the next candidate should have moved towards the centre. Violent interventionism has gone hand in hand with American exceptionalism for centuries, says Chomsky. Obama’s ideology, according to Chomsky has been “less extreme but basically hasn’t changed.” Chomsky explores the history and dangers of humanitarian intervention. “You can’t say it can never be benevolent but there is a heavy burden of proof. It makes sense to talk about the responsibility to protect, but it should not be left in the hands of violent, aggressive powers”. The internet played a prominent role in changing popular activism and proliferating conspiracy theories under the Bush regime. Through the internet, the 9/11 movement diverted people away from activism on serious issues. “It stopped questions on things the administration would rather keep secret.” But Obama has found the internet useful. Chomsky argues has it been “a very effective cult generator” and crucial in the construction of Brand Obama. Obama, like Bush, used the internet to distract activists from protesting state crimes.

458: George Saunders & Kathryn Hughes  

458: George Saunders & Kathryn Hughes George Saunders is the author of nine books, including Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short-story collection). He has received MacArthur and Guggen­heim fellowships and the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University. His debut novel is Lincoln in the Bardo. Kathryn Hughes is the author of award-winning biographies of Mrs Beeton and George Eliot, both of which were filmed for the BBC. For the past fifteen years she has been a literary critic and columnist for the Guardian. Educated at Oxford University, and with a PhD in Victorian Studies, she is currently Professor of Life Writing at the University of East Anglia and Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Historical Society. Her latest book is Victorians Undone: Tales of Flesh in the Age of Decorum.

Little Atoms 457: Christine Negroni and the Crash Detectives  

A journalist, aviation blogger, documentary producer and crash investigator, Christine Negroni has more than fifteen years' experience observing and participating in the international effort to create safer skies. She currently reports for the New York Times, ABC News and Air & Space. Christine is the author of The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters.

456: Brenna Hassett's Built on Bones  

Brenna Hassett is an archaeologist who specializes in using clues from the human skeleton to understand how people lived and died in the past. She has worked on excavation sites all over the world including Roman-period burials near the Giza pyramids, remote Greek islands, a Buddhist monastery in northern Thailand, and the famous central Anatolian site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey. Brenna is one-quarter of the TrowelBlazers project, an outreach, advocacy and academic effort to celebrate women’s contributions to archaeology. Brenna is the author of Built on Bones: 15,000 Years of Urban Life and Death.

Little Atoms 455 - Mark Stevenson and Rory Clements  

Mark Stevenson is a writer, broadcaster, futurologist and founder of The League of Pragmatic Optimists. He has written for Radio 4, The Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian and New Statesman, and is the author of the critically acclaimed An Optimist’s Tour of the Future. He lives in London and is an adviser to (among others) The Virgin Earth Challenge, Civilised Bank and The Atlas of the Future. Mark’s latest book is We Do Things Differently: The Outsiders Rebooting Our World. Rory Clements won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award in 2010 for his second novel, Revenger. He is the author of the John Shakespeare series of novels which are currently in development for TV by the team behind Poldark and Endeavour. Since 2007, Rory has been writing full-time in a quiet corner of Norfolk, England, where he lives with his family. Rory’s latest novel is Corpus.

454: Sheena Kamal & Kate Hamer  

Sheena Kamal has been a stunt double (for children), a stand-in (most notably Archie Panjabi) and a film/TV extra. She has been a producer’s assistant and most recently, a researcher for a gritty TV crime drama series set in Toronto. Sheena’s debut novel Eyes Like Mine is inspired by one issue that kept cropping up during her research- the plight of the missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. Sheena holds an HBA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, which she attended on Canada's most prestigious scholarship and was awarded a TD Canada Trust Scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness. Kate Hamer grew up in Pembrokeshire and has recently been awarded a Literature Wales bursary. Her bestselling novel The Girl in the Red Coat was a no 3. Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for the Costa First Book Award, the Bookseller Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasey New Blood Dagger and Wales Book of the Year. Her second novel is The Doll Funeral.

453: Cordelia Fine & Nichi Hodgson  

Cordelia Fine is a Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of much-acclaimed A Mind of Its Own (Icon, 2006) and Delusions of Gender (Icon, 2010), described as ‘a truly startling book’ by the Independent, ‘fun, droll yet deeply serious’ by New Scientist and an ‘important book … as enjoyable as it is timely and interesting’ by the West Australian. Her latest book is Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds. This show also features a short interview with Nichi Hodgson on her book The Curious History of Dating.

Two Cultures: The power in our genes  

The third and final Little Atoms Two Cultures in Conversation events took place in London on 17 January 2017, when Little Atoms’ Neil Denny was joined by novelist Naomi Alderman and science writer Adam Rutherford. Neil began by asking Naomi about her latest book, The Power.

452: Olivia Laing & Joshua Jelly-Schapiro  

Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. Her work appears in numerous publications, including the Guardian, Observer, New Statesman, Frieze and New York Times. She's a Yaddo and MacDowell Fellow and was 2014 Eccles Writer in Residence at the British Library. Her first book, To the River, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. The Trip to Echo Spring was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Biography Award and the 2014 Gordon Burn Prize. Her latest book The Lonely City has been shortlisted for the 2016 Gordon Burn Prize. Joshua Jelly-Schapiro is a geographer and writer whose work has appeared in the New York Review of Books, New York, Harper's, the Believer, Artforum, and the Nation, among many other publications. Educated at Yale and Berkeley, he is the co-editor, with Rebecca Solnit, of Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, and a visiting scholar at New York University's Institute for Public Knowledge. He is the author of Island People: The Caribbean and the World.

451: Peter Swanson's Her Every Fear  

Peter Swanson's debut novel, The Girl With a Clock for a Heart (2014), was described by Dennis Lehane as 'a twisty, sexy, electric thrill ride' and was nominated for the LA Times book award. His follow up The Kind Worth Killing (2015), a Richard and Judy pick, was shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and named the iBook stores Thriller of the Year. His latest novel is Her Every Fear. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.

450: Chibundu Onuzo & Alexandra Kleeman  

Chibundu Onuzo was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1991. Her first novel, The Spider King's Daughter, won a Betty Trask Award, was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat Prize for Literature. She is completing a PhD on the West African Student's Union at King's College London. Her latest novel is Welcome to Lagos. Alexandra Kleeman is a NYC-based writer of fiction and nonfiction, and a PhD candidate in Rhetoric at UC Berkeley. Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, Conjunctions, Guernica, and Gulf Coast, among others. Nonfiction essays and reportage have appeared in Harpers, Tin House, n+1, and The Guardian. She is the author of the short story collection Intimations, and a debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine.

Little Atoms 449 - Laura Cumming's Vanishing Man  

Laura Cumming has been the art critic of the Observer since 1999. Previously, she was Arts Editor for the New Statesman, presenter of Nightwaves on BBC Radio 3, and arts producer at the BBC World Service. Her previous book, A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits received widespread critical acclaim. Laura’s latest book is The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velázquez.

448: Luke Dormehl's Thinking Machines  

Luke Dormehl is a journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film. He writes and has written for Fast Company, Wired, The Observer, Empire, SFX, The Sunday Times, Politico and Cult of Mac. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems (And Create More) and The Apple Revolution. Luke’s latest book is Thinking Machines: The inside story of Artificial Intelligence and our race to build the future.

447: Michael Palin’s A Sackful of Limericks  

Recorded live at Waterstones Piccadilly on 1 December 2016, here's the last Little Atoms of 2016. Neil Denny chats with comedy legend Michael Palin about his book A Sackful of Limericks, followed by an audience Q&A.

446: Raoul Martinez's Creating Freedom  

Raoul Martinez is a writer, artist, and award-winning filmmaker. Creating Freedom is his first book. It is informed by over a decade of research and is accompanied by a documentary series of the same name. Episode One, The Lottery of Birth - produced, written and co-directed by Raoul - premiered in 2012. It was nominated for Best Documentary at London's Raindance Film Festival and went on to win the Artivist Spirit 2012 Award at Hollywood's Artivist Festival. It has been translated into several languages and the second film is currently in production. Raoul lives and works in London, where his paintings have been selected for exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery.

Something as Simple as a star with Simon Barraclough and Lucie Green  

With performance, presentation, music and discussion, Lucie Green and Simon Barraclough look at the different ways of understanding "a thing so simple a thing as a star". Poet Simon Barraclough, whose series Sunspots is the culmination of four years of writing, travelling, researching and obsessing over the Sun, and Lucie Green, author of 15 Million Degrees: journey to the centre of the Sun, and Professor of Physics and Royal Society University Research Fellow based at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL’s Department of Space and Climate Physics. The first of Little Atoms' Two Cultures autumn events series took place at Waterstones flagship store in Piccadilly, London, on 14 September 2016.

Something as Simple as a star with Simon Barraclough and Lucie Green  

With performance, presentation, music and discussion, Lucie Green and Simon Barraclough look at the different ways of understanding "a thing so simple a thing as a star". Poet Simon Barraclough, whose series Sunspots is the culmination of four years of writing, travelling, researching and obsessing over the Sun, and Lucie Green, author of 15 Million Degrees: journey to the centre of the Sun, and Professor of Physics and Royal Society University Research Fellow based at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL’s Department of Space and Climate Physics. The first of Little Atoms' Two Cultures autumn events series took place at Waterstones flagship store in Piccadilly, London, on 14 September 2016.

445: Helen Czerski's Storm in a Teacup  

Helen Czerski is a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department at University College London. As a physicist she studies the bubbles underneath breaking waves in the open ocean to understand their effects on weather and climate. Helen regularly presents BBC programmes on physics, the ocean and the atmosphere – recent series include Colour: The Spectrum of Science, Orbit, Operation Iceberg, Super Senses, Dara O’Briain’s Science Club, as well as programmes on bubbles, the sun and our weather. She is also a columnist for Focus magazine, shortlisted for PPA columnist of the year in 2014, and has written numerous articles for national newspapers. Helen's first book is Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life.

Little Atoms 444: Tim Marshall on the Power and Politics of Flags  

Tim Marshall is a leading authority on foreign a­ffairs with more than 25 years of reporting experience. He was diplomatic editor at Sky News, and before that was working for the BBC and LBC/IRN radio. He has reported from forty countries and covered conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics, and his latest book is Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags.

Little Atoms 443 - Adam Rutherford's Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived  

Dr Adam Rutherford is a science writer and broadcaster. He studied genetics at University College London, and during his PhD on the developing eye, he was part of a team that identified the first genetic cause of a form of childhood blindness. He has written and presented many award-winning series and programmes for the BBC, including the flagship weekly Radio 4 programme INSIDE SCIENCE, THE CELL for BBC Four, and PLAYING GOD on the rise of synthetic biology for the leading science strand HORIZON, as well as writing for the science pages of the GUARDIAN. His first book, CREATION, on the origin of life and synthetic biology, was published in 2013 to outstanding reviews and was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Prize. Adam’s latest book is A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes

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