09/08/2009: Part 1

THE FORUM, the ideas programme presented this week by historian RANA MITTER.

Chemistry Nobel laureate HARRY KROTO is fascinated with the way things work. He’s spent his career stripping elements, such as carbon, down to their basic molecules, then analysing how they fit together to produce strength, flexibility or lightness. He believes the challenge for 21st century science will be to build self-assembling technology that will transform life as we know it.

In his latest video work, Carnegie prize-winning Turkish artist KUTLUG ATAMAN looks at the construction that lies behind reality. His work documents a fictitious space mission: a story of Turkish villagers who set off for the moon which is given credence by media and intellectuals. The result? A radical insight into how we make decisions about what is real and what is possible.

For Russians, what is real and what is possible may be wrapped up in the unlikely form of the potato. American anthropologist NANCY RIES unpeels why the vegetable is so central to Russians’ sense of personal survival and their understanding of the history of Russia in the post-socialist era.

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25 minutes

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Mon 10 Aug 2009 00:05 GMT