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Tom Blundell

Tom Blundell

Broadcast

First broadcast: Sun 03 Jun 2007

Molecular biologist

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the leading scientist Professor Sir Tom Blundell. His specialism is in molecular biology, which involves studying the tiniest building blocks of life under a microscope, in the hope of finding treatments for diseases such as cancer and diabetes. It is a hugely visual kind of science, and this, he says, is no coincidence - he loves science first and foremost for its beauty.

He regularly seeks this beauty beyond the laboratory too; in art, in music and in travelling all over the world. One very special trip was to Africa for his wedding, after which he was somewhat surprised at being asked to pay for his Zimbabwean bride - a fellow academic - in cows. As a working class student at Oxford in the 1960s, he developed a fascination with politics, and at one point this activism threatened to overwhelm his life completely. When forced to choose between science and politics, he says he realised that politics was simply too hard. In recent years, he has finally been able to combine the two, by chairing numerous government science committees, and making key recommendations on issues as diverse as mad cow disease and climate change.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

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Chris Barber's Jazz Band

2.

Chris Barber's Jazz Band

New St Louis Blues

Artist: Ottilie Patterson

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Charles Mingus

3.

Castaway's favourite

Charles Mingus

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting

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Veenai Jayanthi

5.

Veenai Jayanthi

Sakhi Prana

Vincenzo Bellini

6.

Vincenzo Bellini

Qual cor tradisti (from Norma)

Soloist: Jane Eaglen Orchestra: The Orchestra and Chorus of Maggio Musicale of Florence Conductor: Riccardo Muti

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Giuseppe Verdi

8.

Giuseppe Verdi

Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) (from Nabucco)

Orchestra: Orchestra of the Deutschen Oper Berlin Conductor: Giuseppe Sinopoli

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Book

Lessons in Ndebele by J. Pelling

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Luxury item

A combined heat and power micro-unit

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