Gavin Francis is a GP, and the author of True North and Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins, which won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Costa Prize. He also writes for Guardian, The Times, London Review of Books and Granta. His latest book is Adventures in Human Being.
Dr Brandy Schillace writes about culture, the history of medicine, and the intersections of medicine and literature. She is Research Associate and guest curator for the Dittrick Medical History Center and Managing Editor of the international medical anthropology journal Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. She teaches for the SAGES department at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and has lectured at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester, the University College of Dublin, and the New York Academy of Medicine. She writes for The Huffington Post and InsideHigherEd, among other publications. She is the author of Death’s Summer Coat: What the History of Death and Dying Can Tell us About Life and Living.
Caitlin Doughty was born and raised in Hawaii. She moved to California after gaining a degree in Medieval History from the University of Chicago. She is now a licensed funeral director living and working in LA. She is also a writer, performer and film-maker and is the creator of 'The Order of the Good Death', an online community of artists, actors, poets, musicians and directors who are committed to staring down their death fears through art. Caitlin is the author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, And Other Lessons From the Crematorium.
ZoeWilliams writes comment pieces, interviews and reviews. She is best known as a Guardian columnist, but her work has also appeared in the Spectator, NOW magazine, the New Statesman and the Evening Standard. She is the author of numerous books on parenting, and her latest book is Get it Together: Why We Deserve Better Politics.
On Wednesday 29 April the winner of the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize will be announced. In the second of two special editions of Little Atoms, Neil Denny talks to two more shortlisted writers, Henry Marsh and Marion Coutts.
Henry Marsh is one of the UK’s foremost neurosurgeons. He has been the subject of two major documentary films, Your Life in Their Hands and The English Surgeon, which won an Emmy. He was made a CBE in 2010. He is the author of Do No Harm: Life, Death and Brain Surgery, which is shortlisted for the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize.
Marion Coutts is an artist and writer. She wrote the introduction to art critic Tom Lubbock's memoir Until Further Notice, I am Alive, published by Granta in 2012. She is a Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and the author of a memoir, The Iceberg, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction in 2014, and has been shortlisted for the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize.
Christopher Bollen lives in New York City. He regularly writes about art, literature, and culture. He is the author of Lightning People and is currently the Editor at Large at Interview Magazine. His latest novel is Orient.
Zoe Pilger is an art critic for the Independent and won the 2011 Frieze International Writer's Prize. She is currently working on a PhD at Goldsmith's college. Eat My Heart Out is her first novel. Also this week, writer Frank Swain on Gattaca.
First broadcast on 22nd March 2014.
Toby Young is a journalist, author and critic. Currently associate editor of the Spectator, Toby founded the short lived Modern Review with Julie Burchill. After the magazines closure, Toby went to New York to work for Vanity Fair. His failure to make it as a glossy magazine journalist is documented in his best-selling memoir How to Lose Friends & Alienate People. Toby's latest book is The Sound of No Hands Clapping, which details Toby's failure to make it as a Hollywood screenwriter. Despite this, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is currently being made into a Hollywood film, starring Simon Pegg as Toby. Toby himself stars as a "background artist".
Tim Wu is an author, policy advocate and author of The Master Switch. He is a professor at Columbia Law School, the chairman of media reform organization Free Press. Wu was recognized in 2006 as one of 50 leaders in science and technology by Scientific American magazine, and in 2007 Wu was listed as one of Harvard's 100 most influential graduates by 02138 magazine. Wu has written for the New Yorker, the Washington Post, Forbes, Slate magazine, and others.
Tim Wu's best known work is the development of Net Neutrality theory, but he has also written about copyright, international trade, and the study of law-breaking. Tim has recently joined the Federal Trade Commission as a Senior Policy Advisor.
First broadcast on 1st April 2011.
Jonathan Meades is a broadcaster and the author of several books including three works of fiction - Filthy English, Pompey and The Fowler Family Business - and several anthologies of which the most recently published is Museum Without Walls, which received 11 nominations as a book of the year in 2012.
Professor Will Alsop is one of Britain’s most renowned architects. He is currently a professor at the Technical University of Vienna.
Aarathi Prasad is a biologist and science writer. She has appeared on TV and radio programmes, including as presenter of Channel 4's controversial ‘Is It Better to Be Mixed Race?' and ‘Brave New World with Stephen Hawking', as well as BBC Radio 4's ‘The Quest for Virgin Birth', and written for Wired, the Guardian, and many other publications. Previously a cancer genetics researcher at Imperial College London, she subsequently moved into the worlds of science communication and policy, in areas including passage of the human-animal chimaera stem-cell bill in the UK Parliament. Aarathi's first book is Like a Virgin: How Science is Redesigning the Rules of Sex.
First broadcast on 12th October 2012.
Oliver Kamm is a political commentator whose writing appears regularly in The Times. He has recently written a book, Anti -Totalitarianism: The Left-wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy, which argues for an interventionist foreign policy which stands up for democracy against totalitarianism, be that of the far left or the far right, and how he removal of Saddam Hussein was a continuation of an authentic left-wing tradition of militant anti-totalitarianism. He discusses a number of pivotal historical events which have shaped this philosophy, specifically collective security in the 1930s, opposition to Communist expansionism after World War II and the Labour Party's rejection in the 1980s of its earlier anti-Communism and adoption of a unilateral disarmament stance. Kamm defends regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq and argues that the promotion of global democracy accords with the Left's internationalist ideals of opposition to fascism and clerical reaction.
Oliver has long been a critical observer of the writings of Noam Chomsky, recently voted " The Worlds Top Public Intellectual " by the readers of Prospect magazine. Indeed Oliver contributed a "devils advocate" article to Prospect decrying that award.
Aleks Krotoski is an academic and journalist who writes about and studies technology and interactivity. She is currently a Visiting Fellow in the Media and Communications Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute. Aleks writes for the Guardian and Observer newspapers, and hosts Tech Weekly, their technology podcast. She presented the Emmy and Bafta-winning BBC 2 series Virtual Revolution, and more recently the BBC Radio 4 series Digital Human. Her first book is Untangling the Web: What the Internet is Doing to You. Also this week, critic Matthew Sweet on the Ealing WW2 propaganda film Went The Day Well?
First broadcast on 7th December 2013.
Philip Plait Ph.D.is a renowned astronomer with more than two decades of professional research and education experience. He has written articles for such magazines as Astronomy and Sky & Telescope, as well as national and international newspapers. He has appeared on television news and in documentaries many times, including the Sci-Fi Channel's Countdown to Doomsday and National Geographic's Is It Real? His website Bad Astronomy has won numerous awards, such as best Science Blog of 2007, and also begat the book of the same name. Phil's latest book is Death From The Skies!
First broadcast on 12th December 2008.
Derek Pasquill worked as a civil servant at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a unit dealing with engagement with the Islamic world. He grew increasingly concerned over the government's tacit support for the US's policy of extraordinary rendition, and with the Foreign Office's policy of consulting on issues of concern to the Muslim community exclusively via extremists in the Muslim Council of Britain.
Derek leaked a number of documents to The Observer newspaper, and to journalist Martin Bright, which formed the basis of a number of critical articles, and also Bright's pamphlet for Policy Exchange, “When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries”. In January 2006 Derek was arrested and subsequently charged with six counts of breaching the Official Secrets Act.
Derek lived for two years facing a possible prison sentence, until his actions were vindicated when the case was thrown out at the Old Bailey earlier this month. It had come to light that Derek's leaks had caused a significant rethink of the government's strategy. Support for extraordinary rendition had been quietly dropped, as had the government's over-reliance on the MCB.
Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist whose work appears regularly in The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time Magazine. She has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur and the Congo, and has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Genius Grant and the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. She is the author of It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War
The Marxist philosopher Norman Geras is a former Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Manchester. Norman's Blog, "Normblog" which he updates several times a day has led to him being labelled as part of the " New Commentariat " by The Guardian, and "Normblog" has become required reading for the Pro-War Left. He has written a number of books, including Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend and The Contract of Mutual Indifference: Political Philosophy After the Holocaust. An excellent distillation of Norman's position regarding 9/11 and some of the Left's reaction to it can be found here. See also examples of Norman's writing on Iraq, and on making excuses for terrorism. Norm is also a knowledgable and respected writer on the subject of cricket.
Nigel Warburton is a contemporary philosopher. As well as being Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University, he is a presenter of the Philosophy Bites podcast, and teaches a popuar course on art and philosophy at Tate Modern. He is the author of several popular introductions to philosophy including Philosophy: The Basics and Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book is A Little History of Philosophy.
First broadcast on 9th December 2011.
Nick Davies writes investigative stories for the Guardian, and has been named Journalist of the Year, Reporter of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year in the British press awards. Nick's books include Dark Heart: The Shocking Truth About Hidden Britain, and Murder on Ward Four. His latest book Flat Earth News exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.
First broadcast on 6th February 2009.
London-based, Iranian-Canadian journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari was reporting for Newsweek magazine when he was arrested without charge during the 2009 Iranian Election Protests. He was held for 118 days until the Iranian state was forced by international pressure to release him. Maziar's book, Then They Came for Me, co-written with Aimee Molloy, tells the story of his incarceration.
First broadcast on 16th March 2012.
Mary Roach has written for the Guardian, Vogue, GQ, Salon, Wired, National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine. She is the author of Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science, and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in Space. Her latest book, which we talk about in this interview, is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.
Little Atoms interview one first broadcast on 27th June 2008.
Little Atoms Road Trip Interview with Mary Roach can be found here.
Little Atoms interview two first broadcast on 26th April 2013.
Charlotte Higgins studied Classics at Balliol College, Oxford and is the Guardian's chief arts writer. She is the author of a number of books, including Latin Love Lessons and It's All Greek to Me. Her latest is Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize. Also this week, writer Seth Mnookin on the Richard Stark "Parker" novels.
First broadcast on 12th April 2014.
On Wednesday 29 April the winner of the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize will be announced. In the first of two special editions of Little Atoms, Neil Denny talks to three of the shortlisted writers. This week: Miriam Toews, Scott Stossell and Sarah Moss.
Miriam Toews was born in 1964 in the small Mennonite town of Steinbach, Manitoba. She has published four novels and a memoir of her father, and is the recipient of numerous literary awards including the Governor General's Award, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award (twice), and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Her latest novel is All my Puny Sorrows, which is shortlisted for the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize.
Scott Stossel is the editor of The Atlantic magazine and the author of the New York Times bestseller My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind which is shortlisted for the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize.
Sarah Moss was educated at Oxford University and is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. She is the author of two novels; Cold Earth and Night Waking, which was selected for the Fiction Uncovered Award in 2011. She spent 2009-10 as a visiting lecturer at the University of Iceland, and wrote an account of her time there in Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland, which was shortlisted for the 2013 RSL Ondaatje Prize. Her latest novel, Bodies of Light, was published by Granta Books in 2014, and is shortlisted for the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize.
Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary film maker.
He began his journalistic career as an award-winning columnist for Time Out. He also wrote the popular “Human Zoo” column for The Guardian and produced the BBC Radio 4 documentary Hotel Auschwitz. He also presents the late night Radio 4 series, Jon Ronson on…
For Channel 4, Jon has made the acclaimed five part series the Secret Rulers of the World, multi award-winning Tottenham Ayatollah, New Klan, New York to California (A Great British Odyssey), Dr Paisley, I Presume, the four-part series Critical Condition, and the late-night chat show For The Love Of…
For BBC2 he made the six part series The Ronson Mission. Now contributing regularly to The Guardian, Jon has written two books, Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats.
Late last year, Little Atoms took part in an audio installation, Mind’s Eye, which consisted of a number of interviews with scientists involved in current space missions.
Mind’s Eye is now on tour, and can been heard from 16 to 22 February as part of Smashfest UK at the Albany Theatre in Deptford. Here are two interviews recorded for this tour. Dr Shoshana Weider was a postdoctoral fellow on NASA’s Messenger mission to Mercury, and Dr Matt Taylor is currently Project Scientist on ESA’s Rosetta.
Greg Jenner is the historical consultant to CBBC's multi-award winning Horrible Histories,Horrible Histories with Stephen Fry, and the various HH spin-offs. As well as contributing sketches and co-writing Stephen Fry's links, over the past four years he has been solely responsible for the factual accuracy of nearly one thousand comedy sketches with subject matter that has spanned the entirety of human history.
Greg studied at the University of York and, after dropping initial plans for a life in academia, has worked on historical documentaries and dramas for the past seven years. Greg's first book is A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Everyday Life from the Stone Age to the Phone Age.
Arthur I. Miller is emeritus professor of history and philosophy of science at University College London. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including Einstein, Picasso, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Empire of the Stars, which was shortlisted for the 2006 Aventis Prize for Science Books, and 137, which we’re discussed on a previous Little Atoms. An experienced broadcaster, lecturer and biographer, he is particularly interested in the relationship between science and creativity, and his latest book is Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art.
Dr. Dennis C Reuter is a New Horizons co-investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the instrument scientist for Ralph, the New Horizons color imager and infrared spectrometer. New Horizons launched on 19 January 2006 and is scheduled to fly-by Pluto and its moons in July 2015. This is another interview recorded by Little Atoms for audio installation Mind's Eye,which will be coming to Manchester, Bristol and Bradford over the coming months.
Dr Hannah Fry is a mathematician and complexity scientist from University College London’s Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis. Fry also regularly presents the Number Hub strand of BBC Worldwide’s YouTube channel, and regularly appears on radio and tv in the UK, most recently Climate Change by Numbers on BBC4. Her first TED talk attracted more than 500,000 views and evolved into her first book, The Mathematics of Love.
Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of many bestselling books, including Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie, Lost at Sea: The Jon RonsonMysteries, The Psychopath Test, The Men Who Stare at Goats and Them: Adventures with Extremists. His first fictional screenplay, Frank, co-written with Peter Straughan, starred Michael Fassbender. Jon’s latest book is So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.