Sunday, November 2, 2008

Simon Bolivar, and others - In Our Time review

Four episodes of In Our Time have been out since the last time I wrote about this excellent program and podcast by the BBC. Since only the latest episode is available for download (feed), for the preceding three, I can but refer you to the on-line streams.

The earliest of these three is about Kurt Gödel and his incompleteness theory in mathematics. Also for you non-mathematicians (like myself) this is a very worthy chapter. When mathematicians felt they had their world in the palm of their hands and were about to grasp its axioms completely, young Gödel, maintained that it is necessarily incomplete.

A similar turn in thinking is observed in the next issue, Vitalism, about the spark of life. When history had just turned us in to the fast moving lane towards mechanical thinking, people started looking for the magical component to life. Was it electricity, or what, that would definitively rescue man, animal, life, from being interpreted as a machine?

Needless to say, Dante's Inferno, is also a must listen to. As IOT must stand stil with all major milestones in our cultural heritage. And where can you get an accessible 40 minutes about this masterpiece?

This week's download is about Simon Bolivar and is as excellent as ever. Better even in some ways as somehow Bolivar presented the team to round some thoughts of within the span of one program. For me it also filled quite a gap in my knowledge. It goes to show, once again, how my perspective is so profoundly positioned in north-western Europe. South-America, as many other parts of the world, drop so frequently out of sight. I knew next to nothing about Bolivar. IOT set this straight.

More In Our Time:
The Translation Movement,
Miracles,
Tacitus,
John Donne (The Metaphysical Poets),
The Arab Conquests.

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