The Cat: In from the Wild

The Forum | 17 October 2019 | 0h 39m | Listen Later | iTunes
Discusses the history of domesticated cats, which are thought to have started living alongside humans more than 9000 years ago. Cats probably domesticated themselves, entering the homes of early arable farmers in the Fertile Crescent to control the rodent population. Since then, they’ve been worshipped, vilified and revered by various societies around the world.

The History of Opium

The Forum | 26 September 2019 | 0h 39m | Listen Later | iTunes
Made from the simple juice of the poppy, opium is arguably the oldest and most widely used drug in the world. Since prehistoric times it has been used to relieve physical pain and quieten troubled minds. It has enabled medical breakthroughs and inspired some of the greatest Romantic poets and composers. But opium, and its later derivatives morphine and heroin, has also brought addiction and untold misery and death, destroyed families, and corrupted entire countries. Its trade has provoked wars, and is still making global headlines today, from its production in Afghanistan to the opioid crisis in the United States.

The Spartans: Ancient Greece’s Fighting Machine

The Forum | 25 July 2019 | 0h 39m | Listen Later | iTunes
Backgrounds Spartan society and the peculiar utopia it tried to create. It was admired for its stability, frugality, and the unusual social and sexual freedom of its women. But Sparta was also famous for its brutality towards its huge slave population, its authoritarian rule, and its policy of racial purity and eugenics that would eventually prove its undoing.

Leeuwenhoek: the Fabric Seller Who Discovered Bacteria

The Forum | 18 July 2019 | 0h 39m | Listen Later | iTunes
Tells the story of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek who was the first to observe bacteria and other microscopic lifeforms that couldn’t be seen by the naked eye. He is now regarded as the father of microbiology and yet he had neither scientific training nor university education, and spent his life first as a linen merchant and then a civil servant in a small Dutch city.

James Watt: The Power of Steam

The Forum | 27 June 2019 | 0h 43m | Listen Later | iTunes
Discusses the life and work of James Watt, the Scottish innovator whose improved steam engine helped power the Industrial Revolution and lay the basis for much of the mechanised world we take for granted now.

Thoreau: The Writer Who Went to the Woods

The Forum | 9 May 2019 | 0h 39m | Listen Later | iTunes
Explores the life and legacy of the American thinker Henry David Thoreau and his famous work Walden, which describes the Thoreau’s experiment in living simply at Walden Pond in Massachusetts in the 1840s. Walden offers insights into work and leisure, nature, solitude, society, the good life and more. Discusses Walden and his essay Civil Disobedience, and reflects on the legacy of Thoreau’s work.

The Making of Modern Japan

The Forum | 8 September 2018 | 0h 39m | Listen Later  | iTunes
From the mid-19th century, Japan transformed itself from feudal state to economic powerhouse at breakneck speed. The rebel samurai who seized power in 1868 removed an entire ruling elite, introduced national conscription and compulsory education, building a brand new society. Unpacks the origins of this transformation, and examines how it led to imperial expansion and the subsequent atrocities of World War II.