Thursday, September 23, 2010

Heads-up for 23 September 2010

In Our Time (BBC)
Imaginary Numbers
Melvyn Bragg grapples with the concept of imaginary numbers. Perplexing digits that underpin the majority of technology we take for granted today, from radios to computers to MRI scans; not to mention quantum mechanics. Melvyn is joined by Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University; Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick; and Caroline Series, Professor of Mathematics, also at the University of Warwick.
(review, feed)

The China History Podcast
The Western Zhou Dynasty
Today we take a 走马看花 look at the 790 year Zhou Dynasty, the longest dynasty in Chinese history. Then in this episode we will focus on the Western Zhou Period which lasted for 275 years. Next week we will finish the Zhou Dynasty by examining the Eastern Zhou Period.
(review, feed)

The Economist
Paddy Ashdown on Clegg's coalition
A slightly different beast
(review, feed)

TED Talks (2)
Annie Lennox: Why I am an HIV/AIDS activist
For the last eight years, pop singer Annie Lennox has devoted the majority of her time to her SING campaign, raising awareness and money to combat HIV/AIDS. She shares the experiences that have inspired her, from working with Nelson Mandela to meeting a little African girl in a desperate situation.
Mitchell Besser: Mothers helping mothers fight HIV
In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV infections are more prevalent and doctors scarcer than anywhere else in the world. With a lack of medical professionals, Mitchell Besser enlisted the help of his patients to create mothers2mothers -- an extraordinary network of HIV-positive women whose support for each other is changing and saving lives.
(review, feed)

Naxos Classical Music Spotlight Podcast
Podcast: Jose Serebrier’s Symphony No. 1
Jose Serebrier was 16 years old when he wrote his Symphony No. 1, and although he is better known as a conductor, he has been an active composer for more than five decades. This podcast, and this CD, trace his musical journey through music he has composed in four different decades. Included are the Symphony No. 1, composed in 1956, his Double Bass Concerto, composed in 1971, the Violin Concerto, composed in 1991, and three shorter works composed in the past decade. On this CD, Jose Serebrier serves as both composer and conductor, and is joined by a stellar group of musicians – double bass virtuoso Gary Karr, violinist Philippe Quint, actor Simon Callow, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
(review, feed)

Fraunhofer Podcast
Aus Pulver gebaut
Maßgeschneiderte Zahnkronen oder Knochenimplantate, Bauteile für Autos und Flugzeuge — das sind einige der ersten generativ gefertigten Produkte. Sie werden direkt aus den Konstruktionsdaten Schicht für Schicht aus Pulver hergestellt — schnell und kostengünstig.
(review, feed)

Twentieth century famines

Here is a podcast with a weird name, The Ripple That Drowns, which contains the same lecture in three versions. You can hear the straightforward audio, which I did, or take the enhanced podcast or even the video of the lecture. And even though this lecture took place some time in 2007, it is still very interesting and relevant. (feed)

Professor Cormac O'Grada from the University College of Dublin spoke about new evidence on the causes of 1959-61 Chinese famine as well as the Bengal famine of 1943-44. These two famines, in his mind stand out for the sheer size of the disaster.

In general famines in the twentieth century, he argues, are not that great. There are fewer famines than in other eras and if they are there there are fewer excess deaths. This is on account of smaller scale and also on account of modern insight in disease. The problem with famine in earlier times, as to the excess deaths, was not so much starvation, but rather the ensuing diseases. During famine, more people die of typhus and such rather than sheer undernourishment. Especially famines in regions where there is peace, have become very small if they happen at all.

Exceptional, though, are the Chinese and the Bengal famines. In both cases, political incentive to ignore and downplay the famine by the authorities turn out to greatly contribute to the extent. In Bengal it is the British war effort in World War 2 and in China it is the Great Leap Forward.