Can We Stop Ageing?

can_we_stop_ageing_2With the ever-growing average life expectancy for humans showing no sign of slowing down, how close are we to cracking the code of longevity? Can we finally stop it altogether?

Biomedical gerontologist Dr Aubrey De Grey reveals his unique, seven-step approach to the problem of ageing. Harvard University’s Dr Justin Werfel explains why programmed death might be a good thing. And we hear how the University of Kent’s Dr Jenny Tullet is using roundworms to reveal clues about the genetics of ageing.

Presented by Nicola Davis and produced by Max Sanderson.

The Guardian’s Science Weekly | 29th November 2016

How the Education Gap Is Tearing Politics Apart

how-the-education-gapEducation has become the greatest divide of all – splitting voters into two increasingly hostile camps – with the educated on one side and the less educated on another. “It points to a deep alienation that cuts both ways. The less educated fear they are being governed by intellectual snobs who know nothing of their lives and experiences. The educated fear their fate may be decided by know-nothings who are ignorant of how the world really works. Bringing the two sides together is going to be very hard. The current election season appears to be doing the opposite.”

Written by David Runciman, read by Andrew McGregor and produced by Simon Barnard. Illustration by Thomas Nast. 

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 29th November 2016

The Ruthlessly Effective Rebranding of Europe’s New Far Right

the_ruthlessly_effective“Across the continent, rightwing populist parties have seized control of the political conversation. How have they done it?”

These parties “have made a very public break with the symbols of the old right’s past, distancing themselves from skinheads, neo-Nazis and homophobes. They have also deftly co-opted the causes, policies and rhetoric of their opponents. They have sought to outflank the left when it comes to defending a strong welfare state and protecting social benefits that they claim are threatened by an influx of freeloading migrants.

…Brexit was just the start. Europe’s new far right is poised to transform the continent’s political landscape – either by winning elections or simply by pulling a besieged political centre so far in its direction that its ideas become the new normal. And when that happens, groups that would never have contemplated voting for a far-right party 10 years ago – the young, gay people, Jews, feminists – may join the working-class voters who have already abandoned parties of the left to become the new backbone of the populist right.”

Written by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, read by Andrew McGregor and produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 25th November 2016

Being Bored: The Importance of Doing Nothing

being_bored_2Is boredom under threat? In fact, there is so much to stimulate our everyday lives that we need never be bored ever again. And what would we miss if we did eliminate boredom completely from our lives? The happily bored Phill Jupitus takes a creative look at this misunderstood emotion. He examines what boredom is, and how it has influenced our leisure time, our workplaces, our creativity and our evolution. He scrutinizes its impact on comedy, art, music, and television, taking us from punk to prison, from J. R. R. Tolkien to Sherlock Holmes, from Danish sex clubs to London’s ‘Boring Conference’.

Interviews include – the Reverend Richard Coles, the writer Natalie Haynes, the artist George Shaw, the comedy writer & producer Robert Popper, the psychologist Peter Toohey, the punk musician Gaye Black (formerly of The Adverts), the psychologist Sandi Mann, the BBC newsreader Simon McCoy, Dr Teresa Belton and the social media entrepreneur Jodie Cook.

Seriously… | 22nd November 2016

Messy Nobel

messy_nobelEconomist Tim Harford initiates us into contract theory. His new book, “Messy,” is about unlocking creativity, and it looks at how disorganization and improvisation are often the routes to invention. He turns a bunch of techniques on this year’s Nobel winner, Oliver Hart and subject him, and his theories, to a set of oddball suggestions by flipping through decks of inspiration cards and getting ideas from cryptic phrases, which sound great accompanied by the guitar.

Planet Money | 18th November 2016

How to Become Great at Just About Anything

What if talent is grotesquely overrated? And what if deliberate practice is the secret to excellence? Those are the claims of the research psychologist Anders Ericsson, who has been studying the science of expertise for decades.
One idea you may have heard of that came from Ericsson’s research: the 10,000-hour rule. Stephen Dubner and Ericsson discuss what Ericsson believes people get wrong about his work, and how he feels about this “magic number.” At one point Stephen Dubner speaks with the person who popularized the idea of the 10,000-hour rule — Malcolm Gladwell.

Illustration by Jennifer Austin

Freakonomics Radio | 18th November 2016

A Whole New World: A History of Utopias

a-whole-new-world-1In his recent book “Utopia for Realists,” Rutger Bregman advocates a 15-hour workweek, universal basic income, and open borders. Sounds like paradise to us! From the Oneida Community’s dream of open or “complex marriage” to the rise and spectacular fall of Pullman’s model company town, the Guys look at why the idea of “utopianism” has such strong appeal to Americans.

Guests include: Kristen Egan, an assistant professor of English at Mary Baldwin College; Molly Jessup, the curator of education at the Oneida Community Mansion House; Jake Smith, a Chicago-based radio producer; Keenan Dakota, a resident of the Twin Oaks community; Christopher Strain, a professor of American studies at Florida Atlantic University and the author of “The Long Sixties: America, 1955 – 1973.”

BackStory | 17th November 2016

The French Culture War

the_french_culture_war-1A year after last November’s terror attacks in Paris, journalist Nick Fraser explores the deeper culture war taking place between a new generation of French Muslims and the defenders of hard-line secular Republicanism in France.

As a country and a civilization, France prides itself on its own model of Frenchness – non-ethnic, republican, integrationist, based on legality and citizenship and, in cultural terms, emphatically secular. It’s based on a concept unique to France – laïcité…

Even in mainstream cultural and political debate many Muslims feel laïcité and secularism are being targeted specifically against them – from the ban on the veil in public space to the burkini row earlier this summer. Secularism is being used as a weapon of anti-Islamic sentiment, they argue, even as a cover for racism. Liberal defenders of laïcité point out that this is a political misuse of the idea but not its truth – arguing that separation of religion from the public space remains necessary and desirable in France.

Seriously… BBC Radio 4 | 15th November 2016