Image for 23/04/2011

Play now 45 mins


45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 23 April 2011

Do we thrive on conflict? We bore deep into the human skull today to explore the extraordinary way the different units that make up our neural circuitry compete with each other like a team of rivals.

Mysteries of another invisible world too: the conflicting theories regarding the very tiniest particles that inhabit the realm of quantum physics. We find out how their strange behaviour may be the key to a Theory of Everything.

And the age old clash between the author and the state in modern day Russia.

Bridget Kendall is joined by American neuroscientist David Eagleman, Dutch theoretical physicist and Nobel prize winner Gerard ‘ T Hooft and Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin.

Illustration by Shan Pillay: The brain - nucleus of all ideas, juggles quantum physics, literature and conflict in this week's programme.


4 items
  • David Eagleman

    David Eagleman

    The brain runs on conflict like a fractious democracy. American neuroscientist David Eagleman explains why the competition among the units that make up our neural circuitry is key to understanding how the brain works.

    (Photo credit: Sharon Steinmann)

  • Gerard ‘ T Hooft

    Gerard ‘ T Hooft

    The unfinished business of quantum mechanics. Why do the very tiniest particles behave the way they do, and the conflicting theories that try to explain their strange behaviour. Dutch theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner Gerard ‘ T Hooft gives us his controversial take on the subject.

  • Mikhail Shishkin

    Mikhail Shishkin

    Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin argues that reading is just reading in the West, but in Russia, literature has always been a way of saving one’s dignity. He also brings us up to date with the changes for the writer in modern day Russia.

  • The Forum Studio

    The Forum Studio

    Bridget Kendall, Gerard T'Hooft and Mikhail Shishkin in the Forum studio in Bush House, London.


    Ban instruction manuals

    Theoretical physicist Gerard ‘T Hooft wants to ban instruction manuals. He suggests that gadgets and devices should be built in such a way that how to use them is self evident. He would like to see companies fined if they fail to do this.

  • In Next Week's Programme

    Why faking it and wearing a mask can be the key to success in the world of commerce, from workers in call centres to the double dealing embedded in business.



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