Emilie du Chatelet: a Free-Spirited Physicist

The Forum | 27 February 2020 | 0h 39m | Listen Later | iTunes
Discusses the life and work of Emilie du Chatelet, the 18th-century French physicist, mathematician, and thinker. Du Chatelet’s insights into kinetic energy foreshadowed Einstein’s famous equation and her suggestions for experiments with the different colours of light would only be carried out half-a-century after she’d written about them. Plus she was a remarkable personality, determined to live a life of an independent woman, often pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable even in the liberal social circles of her day.

A History of Honey

The Forum | 16 January 2020 | 0h 39m | Listen Later | iTunes
Discusses the history of honey. From sweetening and preserving food, to treating wounds and sore throats, honey has played an important role in nearly every society around the world. In the ancient world, it held religious significance, while in the 21st century, scientists are researching how honey could combat lethal diseases and finding ways to identify so-called fake honey.

The Amazing Dr Darwin

The Forum | 23 January 2020 | 0h 39m | Listen Later | iTunes
Erasmus Darwin was a man of many talents: not only was he a successful physician, a popular poet, an ardent abolitionist and a pioneering botanist, he also worked out how organisms evolve, some 70 years before his grandson Charles’s theories about this revolutionised science. He is credited with many inventions and discoveries including the steering mechanism used in modern cars, the gas laws of clouds and a document copying machine.

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.