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5 speakers 15 minutes each
Mon 21st Jun 2010
Gavin Pretor-Pinney is a writer and cloud-watcher. In 1993, he co-founded The Idler magazine, described by Time Out as 'the world's finest periodical'. In 2004 he founded the Cloud Appreciation Society, and wrote its inaugural publication The Cloudspotter's Guide (2006), which went on to become an international bestseller. His book on the waves that we experience in our everyday lives through the body, through music, colour and those of nature, The Wavewatcher's Companion (2010), was the winner of the 2011 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Writing. famous for cloud watching takes us through the story of waves. Waves surround us and the visible are heavily outnumbered by the invisible. We all know about some types of waves- the waves crashing on the beach or ripples on a pond; Pretor-Pinney looks at tidal waves and Mexican waves but he also manages to bring in microwaves, the beating heart, electromagnetic waves, shock waves and a multitude of surprising and wonderful ideas.
Bella Freud is a London-based fashion designer. She started working for Vivienne Westwood in the 1980s, before setting up her own design company. She makes frequent contributions to Stella, a magazine accompaniment to The Sunday Telegraph. Her charity, the HOPING foundation, works to improve the lives of children in Gaza. talks about her charity the HOPING foundation, which is working to improve the lives of children in Gaza.
Artist Louise Stern was born in California and is the fourth generation of her family to be born deaf. Here she explores her family history. Stern explains how her grandmother and grandfather came to meet at a club for the deaf in Los Angeles. Her grandmother was born in Vienna and lived through the Nazi occupation of the 1930s, before escaping and moving to London to live with an English family she had met at a European sporting event for the deaf - she eventually lived with them, for twenty years, before going to stay with her sister in LA. Sterns's grandfather was born in New York city, but moved to LA to find work after he graduated from the school for the deaf, and it was here that he met her grandfather.
Henrietta Lacks is known to scientists know as HeLa. Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta, a poor Southern tobacco farmer. Henrietta's cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Francis Wheen explores the history of the 1970s. He began the decade as a schoolboy at Harrow, and he relives his experience of auditioning for the honour of singing the new boy's solo at Churchill's Songs, a process he describes as a "posh X-Factor". It was future Prime Minister Ted Heath who conducted the orchestra, and Wheen goes on to discuss Heath's chaotic early 1970s government. In the 25 years preceding Heath's government, there were two states of emergency declared in Britain (in 1955 and 1966); during his three-and-a-half-years in charge of the country, Heath declared five. It was around the time of the last state of emergency that Wheen decided to drop-out and move to London, but he soon found out that the counter-culture of the 1960's had long ended, crushed by the gloom of Heath's almost Dickensian London. Wheen goes on to relate stories such as how William Armstrong, the head of the Civil Service, once gathered all of his staff together and told them to go home and prepare for Armageddon, how former Labour MP John Stonehouse unsuccessfully faked his own death, and former Prime Minister Harold Wilson's mental decline. Overall, Wheen explains how the 1970s was a decade when the remarkable became unremarkable.