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What is the nature of reality and are there ways of gaining a new perspective of it?

It is easy to be hoodwinked into thinking the world you immediately see and experience is the most important part of reality. So this week you are invited to join us in leaving Earth and zooming up into space to discover what we can see when we are thousands of miles away. Joining Bridget Kendall for this journey are space archaeologist Sarah Parcak, artist Mishka Henner, and cosmologist Max Tegmark.

(Photo: Planet Earth from space courtesy of Nasa/ Getty images)

Available now

41 minutes

Last on

Mon 24 Feb 2014 03:06GMT



  • Cosmologist Max Tegmark

    Mathematics doesn’t just describe reality, it IS reality

    Duration: 14:02

  • Artist Mishka Henner

    The solar system in book-form; and US feed-lot images

    Duration: 08:58

  • 60 Second Idea: It’s Your Round!

    Ensuring that no-one ever misses their round in the pub again

    Duration: 03:27

  • Satellite archaeologist Sarah Parcak

    Detecting looters in Egypt from 700km above the earth

    Duration: 14:03

Max Tegmark

Max Tegmark

Max Tegmark is Professor of Theoretical Physics at MIT in Boston in the US, and one of the world’s leading cosmologists.  In his new book Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, Max argues that the reason mathematics describes reality so perfectly, is because it IS reality.

Mishka Henner

Mishka Henner

Award-winning photographic artist Mishka Henner zooms out from the particular to the astronomical in his work.  He has created a scale model of our solar system in book form, and also stitches together freely available satellite images to create his own aerial perspectives; for example on controversial intensive cattle feedlots in the Midwest of the US.  (see our Gallery for examples of Mishka’s work)

Sarah Parcak

Sarah Parcak

Dr Sarah Parcak is Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US, and a National Geographic Fellow.  Her specialism is in remote sensing - satellite archaeology, or as she puts it ‘Space archaeology’.  She tells how this emerging field is not only uncovering ancient Egyptian lost cities, but also the looting of artefacts from archaeological sites, a crime that has increased by 1000% since the Arab Spring in 2011.

60 Second Idea to Change the World: It’s Your Round

Do you know someone who always manages to avoid buying a round in the pub, even when it's definitely their turn? Sarah Parcak proposes a novel solution to this problem.  Her idea is an automatic round tracking light system for each group in a pub.  It would detect when glasses at a table were nearly empty, and who had been at the cash register (by facial recognition of course).  A gentle “you’re up next mate” would appear before the individuals at the table who had not yet bought their rounds. The order of who buys does not matter- just that everyone contributes fairly.

In Next Week’s Programme:

The power of expectation; with a focus on wine, music and medical treatment.


  • Sat 22 Feb 2014 22:06GMT
  • Sun 23 Feb 2014 10:06GMT
  • Mon 24 Feb 2014 03:06GMT