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.


From the archive: Adam Curtis's All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace  

This interview was first broadcast on 21 November 2008. Adam Curtis is a producer, writer and director of documentaries such as Bitter Lake, HyperNormalisation, The Century of the Self, and The Power of Nightmares. In this episode, Adam talks about the concept of hyper-individualism and his series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

Little Atoms 464 - Natalie Haynes and The Children of Jocasta  

Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster. She is the author of The Amber Fury, which was shortlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year award, and a non-fiction book about Ancient History, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life. She has written and presented two series of the BBC Radio 4 show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics. In 2015, she was awarded the Classical Association Prize for her work in bringing Classics to a wider audience. Her latest novel is The Children of Jocasta.

Little Atoms 463: Phillip Lewis and The Barrowfields  

Phillip Lewis was born and raised in a small town called West Jefferson in the mountains of North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later received a law degree from Campbell University. While his law practice is based in downtown Charlotte, much of his work has been in the western part of North Carolina, in the mountains. Phillip's debut novel is The Barrowfields.

Little Atoms 462: Mark O'Connell's To Be A Machine  

Mark O'Connell is a writer based in Dublin. He is Slate’s books columnist, a staff writer at The Millions, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker’s “Page-Turner” blog; his work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Observer, and The Independent. Mark’s first book is To Be a Machine.

461: Neil Wood's Good Cop Bad War  

Neil Woods was an undercover cop whose brief was to infiltrate Britain’s most dangerous drug gangs. Starting out in the early 90s and making the rules up as he went, Neil was at the forefront of police surveillance. He quickly earned a name as the most successful operative of his time and his expertise was called upon by drugs squads around the country to tackle an ever growing problem. But after years on the streets, spending time with the vulnerable users at the bottom of the chain, Neil began to question the seemingly futile war he was risking both his life and sanity for. Good Cop, Bad War is an intense account of the true effects of the War on drugs and a gripping insight into the high pressure world of British undercover policing.

Little Atoms 460: Wellcome Prize 2017 Special - 2  

The second of two episodes of Little Atoms with shortlisted writers for the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize. This week, Ed Yong on his book I Contain Multitudes, plus a repeat of our interview with the winner of the 2016 Wellcome Book Prize Suzanne O'Sullivan on her book It's All In Your Head.

459: Wellcome Book Prize 2017  - Part one  

The first of two episodes of Little Atoms with shortlisted writers for the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize. This week, Sarah Moss on her novel The Tidal Zone, David France of his history of AIDS How To Survive a Plague, and novelist Maylis de Kerangal on Mend the Living.

From the Little Atoms archive: Sarah Churchwell's Careless People  

Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of East Anglia. She is the author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, writes regularly for the Guardian and the New Statesman, and often appears on television and radio talking about the arts, culture and all things American. In this podcast, Sarah discusses Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby. First broadcast on 10th September 2013.

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.

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