The Forum

The Forum

Germany

A world of ideas

Episodes

The Iliad: Beauty, Brutes and Battles  

Nearly 3,000 years after it was written down, The Iliad is still one of the most influential and inspiring stories ever told. Homer’s epic poem is a tale of war, but puts human emotions centre-stage: wrath, grief, love, heroism and separation. With Bettany Hughes to discuss The Iliad’s origins, themes and continuing relevance to people across the world are: Stathis Livathinos, Director of the National Theatre of Greece; Antony Makrinos, a Greek classicist specialising in Homer who teaches at University College London; Professor Folake Onayemi, Head of the Classics Department at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; and Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King's College London. Photo: An engraving depicting the Trojan war. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

Korea: Two Countries, One Past  

For over a thousand years the Korean Peninsula was one nation, with a unique identity and character. So what caused it to be divided into two countries that have become so radically different, culturally, economically and politically? Bridget Kendall is joined by Namhee Lee, associate professor of modern Korean history at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Eleanor Soo-ah Hyun, curator of the Korean Collections at the British Museum; and Dr James Hoare, a former diplomat who set up the first British Embassy in North Korea, and is now a Research Associate at the Centre of Korean Studies in the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS). Photo: Korean dancers perform a traditional dance. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

Unpicking the UN  

What is the United Nations for, what brought it about, and has it lived up to expectations? As a new Secretary-General takes over, Bridget Kendall and guests give all you need to know about the world’s most ambitious public body. With Jussi M. Hanhimäki, Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Heidi Tworek, Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy and Assistant Professor of International History at the University of British Columbia. Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo, Head of the Education Unit at UNESCO’s Southern Africa regional office in Zimbabwe. Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, who served as Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan. Photo: The United Nations building in New York. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

Drones and their Impact on the World  

Drones have been hailed as the most important technological development in aviation since the invention of the jet engine. They have changed the nature of modern warfare and they are also catalysing developments in fields as diverse as law enforcement, film production, disaster management, newsgathering and agriculture. The availability and prevalence of drones in everyday life is increasing and creating enormous challenges in the fields of ethics, law and regulation – not least managing the flight paths of a potentially enormous number of small planes. With Bridget Kendall to explore the history, present and future of drones are: Marke "Hoot" Gibson, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Senior Advisor on Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration. Sarah Kreps, Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University in the USA and an expert on the ethical, legal and political dimensions of drones. Michael Nautu who designs and builds drones for purposes ranging from agriculture and aerial mapping to “next-generation conservation” in Namibia. Photo: A drone flying above the New York City skyline. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

DNA: the Code for Making Life  

Bridget Kendall and guests explore the current understanding of how DNA works, why it needs constant repair in every living organism and how new DNA-altering techniques can help cure some medical conditions. Joining Bridget are Swedish Nobel Laureate and Francis Crick Institute Emeritus Group Leader Tomas Lindahl who pioneered DNA repair studies, medical researcher Niels Geijsen from the Hubrecht Institute who works on curing diseases caused by faulty inherited genes, evolutionary biologist T Ryan Gregory from Guelph University who asks why an onion has 5 times as much DNA as a human, and Oxford University’s bio-archaeologist Greger Larson whose research suggests that dogs were independently domesticated twice, on different continents. Photo Credit: Thinkstock Photos

The Forum 0

The New Curators: Who Decides What’s Culturally Important?  

Some of us live in an age of super abundance – more things are being made and more information and goods are offered online than ever before. Yet the internet also means that we no longer have to leave our selections to other people. If we want, we can sift through options to make our own choices, personalise our preferences, and even enlist the help of machine recommendations to highlight what we might like. So in this brave new world, what is the role of a curator? Indeed, what does curation actually mean? With Bridget Kendall to explore the role of the modern curator, digital publisher Michael Bhaskar, the artistic director of the Serpentine Gallery in London, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, the director of one of India’s most iconic museums, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum in Mumbai. Photo: Early 20th century, ornate porcelain vases on display at an exhibition. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

Do we Need Artificial Intelligence?  

Look out of the window and you won’t see many robots – but the AI revolution is here. The relentless encroachment of machine-thinking into every aspect of our lives is transforming the way we think and act. Machine-learning algorithms drive our smartphones and social media - and they are increasingly present in our homes, offices, schools and hospitals. Whether driving cars, diagnosing disease or marking essays, artificial intelligence is everywhere. But how does machine-thinking compare to human thought and what are the limitations of AI? From biased training data to impenetrable black-box algorithms, Quentin Cooper and guests explore the strengths and limitations of AI. To discuss whether we need AI are - Zoubin Ghahramani, professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge and deputy director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence; Lydia Nicholas, senior researcher at the British innovation foundation Nesta; Professor Kentaro Toyama of the University of Michigan, co-founder of Microsoft Research India and author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. (Photo: A woman uses a mobile phone as she walks in front of an autonomous self-driving vehicle as it is tested in a pedestrianised zone. Credit: Getty Images)

The Forum 0

Concrete: Foundation of the Modern World  

It’s been around since before six thousand BC, the Ancient Egyptians used a version of it and so did the Romans. Nowadays it’s the most common manmade building material in the world used for some of the planets biggest engineering projects - and some of the smallest. It’s not always been loved by the public but architects and designers see both practicality and beauty. There is also an environmental issue- the production of concrete has a major environmental impact. So what of its future? With Bridget Kendall to explore concrete, architect Anupama Kundoo, design critic and writer Stephen Bayley and engineer and scientist Professor Paulo Monteiro. Photo: The ceiling of the Pantheon in Rome is an example of Roman concrete construction. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

Why are we Generous?  

Generosity feels like a good idea - most of us enjoy being generous from time to time and having people be generous to us. But what drives our altruistic tendencies? From local volunteering to big philanthropic donations, from small acts of kindness to major sacrifices, what does this sort of behaviour say about us as human beings? Do we really give without expecting something in return, or is there always some element of self- interest? Joining Bridget Kendall to explore how and why we are generous are evolutionary anthropologist David Sloan Wilson, philosopher Judith Lichtenberg and experimental psychologist Patricia Lockwood. Photo: Offering Aid after forest fire. Credit Cole Burston AFP Getty Images

The Forum 0

Reducing Urban Poverty  

With half the world’s population now living in just 1% of the land area, urban poverty is a growing problem. This week, the Forum travels to a gathering of leading global thinkers at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre to explore practical and innovative ways to tackle the issue. Quentin Cooper is joined by population expert Purnima Mane, anthropologist Professor Francis Nyamnjoh, former president of a chain of ethical grocery stores Doug Rauch, and food and water policy expert Paula Daniels. Photo credit Raul Arboleda AFP Getty Images

The Forum 0

Using Other People’s Water  

Bridget Kendal is joined by Professor in Water Management Arjen Hoekstra to discuss the idea that we urgently need to change industrial and agricultural practices to reduce our water footprint and avert a global crisis. Esther de Jong specialises in water usage in the developing world. She believes water use and gender are closely related. Also joining the discussion is scientific diver Henry Kaiser who is inspired by waters beneath Antarctica to create haunting soundscapes. Photo: Henry Kaiser working under the ice at Arrival Heights, beneath Ross Sea ice near McMurdo Station, Antarctica (Credit: Rob Robbins)

The Forum 0

How Shyness and Introversion can be a Strength  

Shyness and introversion are both very common human characteristics, but why do they have so many different guises? Rajan Datar asks the developmental psychologist Louis Schmidt, the behavioural scientist Sanna Balsari-Palsule and the cultural historian Joe Moran. Photo: A shy lady with a fan (Credit: Shan Pillay)

The Forum 0

Turmoil Around the World and in Ourselves  

This week’s Forum explores turmoil – in politics, in our mental health and in fantasy fiction which often seems to excite our hunger for nightmare scenarios. With threats of terrorism, environmental catastrophe and political pandemonium around the globe amplified by modern communications, Samira Ahmed is joined by psychiatrist Mina Fazel, political scientist Daniel Drezner, and horror writer and Zombie expert Max Brooks to explore how we might cope with real or perceived disaster and disorder and examine whether the apparent chaos of the modern world really is greater than ever before. Photo: People wave national flags as they march to react against military coup attempt, in Ankara, in July 2016. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

Underground: How Deep Can Life Survive?  

This week, The Forum delves into the subterranean world of life underground – from the forgotten tunnels and catacombs of our cities to life found in the stifling sunless world two miles below the Earth’s surface. Might humans one day retreat underground if living above ground becomes too tough? Bridget Kendall with Social Geographer Dr. Bradley L. Garrett, Zoologist Dr. Gaetan Borgonie and Isotope Geochemist Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar. Photo: Car Quarry image (credit: Bradley L. Garrett)

The Forum 0

Fire: How Climate Change is Altering our Attitudes to Wildfires  

As fire risks change due to climate change, how should we deal with fire to protect human health and property without compromising the integrity of our environment? Bridget Kendall asks the geologist Andrew Scott, the fire ecologist Jennifer Balch and the biologist David Bowman. Photo: A fire tornado in California, USA (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

What is the Best Way to Deal with Anxiety?  

Anxiety is a universal human emotion that’s been described as the price-tag on freedom. It’s the price we pay for a brain that can anticipate the future. But when anxiety spirals out of control it can take over our lives as we battle against phobias, panic attacks, dread and debilitating fear. So how is anxiety triggered and constructed in the brain? Is the almond-shaped amygdala the seat of fear or are our anxieties constructed in other parts of the brain? And for those made miserable by anxiety, how best can it be treated? Bridget Kendall explores the biology of anxiety and some unexpected approaches to treatment, including friendship benches and therapy horses. Exploring the causes of anxiety and responses to anxiety disorders are: Joseph LeDoux, author of ‘Anxiety’, Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Emotional Brain Institute at New York University. Dr Dixon Chibanda, a Consultant Psychiatrist in Zimbabwe and pioneer of the Friendship Bench. Susanna Forrest, a British authority on the horse and author of ‘The Age of Horse: An Equine Journey through Human History’. Photo: A young man feeling anxious (BBC)

The Forum 0

Image Overload: Coping with the Modern World's Visual Clutter  

Our lives are increasingly cluttered by images, not just in the world around us, but on advertising bill-boards, television screens, and even on our mobile phones. So how are we to process this barrage of information and make sense of the visual world? How can today’s designers help us and how are we to avoid image-overload? Bridget Kendall talks to three people who help us navigate the increasingly crowded world of visual imagery: Alan Kitching, one of the world’s foremost practitioners of letterpress typographic design and printmaking, Aowen Jin, a Chinese-born artist who leads museum tours in the dark and Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who spent six years designing London’s skyscraper The Shard. (Image: Edition Print, 2012 by Alan Kitching)

The Forum 0

Balloons and How they Changed the World  

A small toy balloon floating free into the sky. A giant hot air balloon filled with passengers peering down at the ground. Classic images, but what about the huge balloons now being developed to help us explore outer space? Or the tiny balloons which bio engineers inflate inside your body to help blood surge through your veins? Or the extraordinary balloonomania that spread across Northern Europe in the late 18th century? Bridget Kendall explores the colourful history of the balloon and its even more intriguing future with guests: Debbie Fairbrother, Chief of NASA’s Balloon Programme Office. Professor Claudio Capelli, cardiovascular engineer from the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. Fiona Stafford, Professor of literature from Somerville College, University of Oxford. Photo: NASA’s super pressure balloon is designed for long-duration flights at mid-latitudes to provide scientists and engineers with a means to inexpensively access the ’near-space’ environment for conducting research and technology test missions. The balloon’s operational float altitude is 110,000 feet (33.5 kilometers) (Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman)

The Forum 0

Sharing and Why it’s Essential for the Human Race  

Everyone likes to be alone sometimes, but we also all spend much of our lives collaborating and sharing things with others. Many argue that on this increasingly crowded planet, we need to master the art of sharing much better if we are to survive and flourish. So what makes us want to share new ideas and pass on our experience? With Bridget Kendall to discuss three very kinds of sharing; digital information, genes and national infrastructure: Jonah Berger, Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. He joins us from North Carolina. Connie Jeffery, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Head of the Jeffery Lab at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Dr Elham Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy for the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: The Golden Gate Bridge, in California, provides a means to sharing infrastructure. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

The Unpredictable Planet: understanding volcanoes and earthquakes  

New ideas about volcanoes, earthquakes and other geological processes that both enrich and threaten us. Jack Stewart is joined by four leading Earth scientists in the city of Yokohama at the 2016 Goldschmidt Conference: volcanologists Tamsin Mather and Michihiko Nakamura, plate tectonics expert Carl Spandler and seismologist and Nature magazine editor John VanDecar. Photo: Mount Fuji in Japan. (Getty Images)

The Forum 0

0:00/0:00
Video player is in betaClose