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Plasticity in our brains, everyday objects and debris. With artist Aurora Robson, nanochemist Sujata Kundu and neuroscientist Takao Hensch.

Isn’t it remarkable that everyday objects, especially those made from modern plastics, can bend, squash, stretch, and generally ‘shape-shift’ in a number of ways? So how is that possible? Bridget Kendall and guests consider plasticity from several viewpoints: Aurora Robson is an artist who works with plastic garbage, Sujata Kundu a nanochemist who analyses plasticity at the level of atoms and electrons, and Takao Hensch a neuroscientist investigating whether it's possible to recreate youth-like plasticity in an adult brain.

(Photo: The Great Indoors: art installation by Aurora Robson)

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41 minutes

Last on

Tue 19 May 2015 08:05GMT



  • Aurora Robson

    Art from plastic waste

    Duration: 13:01

  • Sujata Kundu

    The magic of material plasticity

    Duration: 08:14

  • 60 Second Idea

    Why purple colour would make plastics greener

    Duration: 04:06

  • Takao Hensch

    The secrets of brain plasticity

    Duration: 13:00

Aurora Robson

Aurora Robson
Aurora Robson is a multi-media artist known predominantly for her transformative work intercepting the waste stream. She is best known for assembling cast-off plastic bottles, which she colourfully paints, into wildly inventive hanging sculptures, the smaller ones sometimes containing LED lights, and large works that fill entire rooms.  Robson is also the founding artist of Project Vortex, an international collective of artists, designers and architects who work with plastic debris.

And you can see some more of Aurora's transformative art in the gallery on the right hand side of the page.

Sujata Kundu

Sujata Kundu

Sujata Kundu is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Materials at Imperial College, London. A nanochemist, both literally and professionally, Suze is also a passionate science communicator, giving regular public lectures at schools, universities and science festivals where she loves sharing the secret science of everyday things.

Takao Hensch

Takao Hensch is joint professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School at Boston Children’s Hospital, and professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard’s Center for Brain Science. His research focuses on critical periods in brain development. By applying cellular and molecular biology techniques to neural systems, his lab identified pivotal inhibitory circuits that orchestrate structural and functional rewiring of connections in response to early sensory experience.

Sixty Second Idea to Change the World

Sixty Second Idea to Change the World

The green, red and blue dyes in plastic milk bottle tops used in many countries are a real problem, says Sujata Kundu. The colours are hard to separate from the main plastic polymer and, as green tops are the most popular in the UK, the recycled plastic tends to have an un-appetizing green tinge. So Sujata wants us either to switch to colourless bottle tops, or, better still, change to an exciting colour, such as purple, so that recycled plastics become widely accepted.

Photo by Shan Pillay