Podcast Archive

Find all of our Podcasts from 2007 onwards

Does quantum physics really describe reality?

Quantum physics is a funny thing. With counterintuitive ideas such as superposition and entanglement, it doesn't seem to resemble reality as we know it, yet quantum physics is an incredibly successful theory of how the physical world operates. Plus attended the conference Quantum Physics and the Nature of Realtiy at the University of Oxford in September 2010. We spoke to Andrew Briggs, John Polkinghorne, Nicolas Gisin, David Wallace, Roger Penrose and Andrea Morello about how we can resolve the mysteries of quantum physics with our experience of reality. And we find out why quantum physics is just like riding a bike...

What's it like being a mathematician?

Why do people become mathematicians? What's it like being one and what are the perks of a job in academia? We talk to young mathematicians at the International Congress of Mathematicians, as well as to established research mathematician Larry Guth, to find out.

And who chooses the winners?

What's the point of the Fields Medal and other maths prizes? Who decides who gets one? And when will we have the first female medallist? Rachel talks to László Lovász, current president of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), Martin Grötschel, the IMU's secretary, and Ragni Piene, the new chair of the Abel Prize committee about all this and more.

Interview with Brendan Mackay about the debunking of the bible code

We talk to Brendan Mackay, who spoke at the ICM, about how he debunked the bible codes.

Interview with Simon Singh at ICM 2010We talk to Simon Singh, winner of the Leelavati Prize for public outreach in maths, at the International Congress of Mathematicians 2010.
Interview with Stas Smirnov

We were lucky enough to interview Stas Smirnov at the ICM in Hyderabad, India. As well as being very pleased at winning the Fields Medal and being recognised by his colleagues, Stas reminded us that mathematicians don't do research to win medals. They do it because of curiosity and he personally can't wait to get back to his theorems.

Interview with Cédric Villani

Here's the full and uncut version of our interview with Fields Medallist Cédric Villani. We'll publish a slightly more polished version when we get the time, with more explanations, but thought you'd like the chance to listen to the whole thing.

How to protect your privacy

By cleverly cross-referencing different databases it can be possible for evil adversaries to reveal intimate information about individuals. Given that it's hard these days to keep your details off these databases, what can be done to protect privacy? We talk to Cynthia Dwork from Microsoft, whose talk at the ICM showcases some mathematical tools to keep our details safe.

Complex dining: day 2 at ICM

We're at the massive conference dinner, talking to Alex Bellos, author of best-selling popular maths book Alex's adventures in numberland, mathematician Colva Roney-Dougal,  other delegates and ourselves.

End of a long but exciting day at the ICM...

A very tired Marianne and Rachel discuss the atmosphere at the first day of the ICM when the Fields medals were awarded...

Plus at the International Conference of Women Mathematicians

We talk to delegates of the International Conference of Women Mathematicians, taking place in Hyderabad, India, about the challenges faced by female mathematicians around the world.

Plus podcast 22, February 2010: Evaluating a medical treatmentNew treatments and drugs are tested extensively before they come on the market using randomised controlled trials (RCTs). We talk to David Spiegelhalter (Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk), Sheila Bird (Professor at the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit), and Nigel Hawkes (journalist and director of Straight Statistics).
Plus podcast 21, December 2009: Protecting the nationVaccination is an emotive business. The furore around the MMR vaccine and autism has shown that vaccination health scares can cause considerable damage: stop vaccinating, and epidemics are sure to follow. But how do scientists decide whether a vaccine and a vaccination strategy are effective and safe? We talk to Paddy Farrington, Professor of statistics at the Open University. You can also read the accompanying article.
Plus Podcast 20, September 2009: How does gravity work?In our fourth online poll to find out what you would most like to know about our Universe, you told us that you would like to know how gravity works. We took the question to Bangalore Sathyaprakash from the University of Cardiff, and here is his answer. You can also read the accompanying article.
Plus Podcast 19, September 2009: The story of the GombocA Gomboc is a strange thing. It looks like an egg with sharp edges, and when you put it down it starts wriggling and rolling around as if it were alive. Until quite recently, no-one knew whether Gombocs even existed. Even now, Gabor Domokos, one of their discoverers, reckons that in some sense they barely exists at all. So what are Gombocs and what makes them special?
Plus Careers Podcast 5, April 2009: Mathematics educator and authorIf you're worried that a mathematics degree might limit your career options, then there couldn't be a better person to talk to than Steve Hewson. Find out how his varied career has taken him from the lofty heights of theoretical physics, via the trading floor of a major investment bank, into the maths classroom, and has also seen him writing his very own maths book. This podcast accompanies the career interview from issue 50 of Plus.
Plus Podcast 17, April 2009: What happened before the Big Bang?In our online poll to find out what Plus readers would most like to know about the Universe, you told us that you'd like to find out what happened before the Big Bang. We took the question to the renowned cosmologist John D. Barrow and here is his answer. The Universe is an infinitely self-perpetuating foam of bubbles, it seems. This podcast accompanies the article What happened before the Big Bang?.
Plus Podcast 16, March 2009: Lewis Carroll in numberlandWe talk to Professor Robin Wilson, author of the book Lewis Carroll in numberland, about the mathematical work of the famous author of the Alice books, whose real name was Charles Dodgson.
Plus Careers Podcast 4, December 2008: Actor and mathematicianVictoria Gould has always known she would be an actor, and went straight from studying arts at school to running her own theatre company. But she eventually had to come clean about her guilty secret - she loves maths - and has since managed to combine a career as a research mathematician and teacher with a successful acting career on television and in theatre. In this, the first of a two part podcast, Victoria tells Plus why she needs to use boths sides of her brain. This podcast accompanies the career interview from issue 49 of Plus.
Plus Podcast 15, February 2009: A disappearing numberMathematics takes to the stage with A disappearing number, a work by Complicite, inspired by the mathematical collaboration of Hardy and Ramanujan. Plus spoke to Victoria Gould and Marcus du Sautoy about the mathematical and creative process of developing this show. This podcast accompanies the career podcast with Victoria and the article A disappearing number from issue 49 of Plus.
Podcast 14, December 2008: Small worlds on the brainWhat do the human brain, the Internet and climate change have in common? They're all hugely complex, and while they're very different, the tools used to grapple with this complexity are likely to be similar. We visited the Cambridge complex systems consortium, dedicated to building an over-arching science of complexity, and talked to neuroscientist Ed Bullmore, mathematician Frank Kelly and climate scientist Hans Graf about their take on complexity. This podcast accompanies the article Catching terrorists with maths.
Podcast 13, November 2008: Is maths to blame?According to media reports there are two suspects in the dock: the rocket scientists' (a.k.a. the financial mathematicians) who provided the information behind the market's decisions, or the greedy bankers who only thought about quick profits and their end-of-year bonuses. We talk to David Hand, Chris Rogers and John Coates to find out who is guilty. This podcast accompanies the article Is maths to blame?
Plus Careers Podcast 3, September 2008: Systems engineerChuck Gill caught the space bug as a child when watching Alan Shepherd launch into space. Since then he's worked as a US Air Force navigator, a satellite operator, and in the US intelligence service. These days he's busy reducing carbon emissions and preparing London for the 2012 Olympics. Plus went to see him to find out more about his career. This podcast accompanies the career interview from issue 48 of Plus.
Podcast 12, September 2008: Universal picturesPeter Markowich is a mathematician who likes to take pictures. At first his two interest seemed completely separate to him, but then he realised that behind every picture there is a mathematical story to tell. Plus went to see him to find out more, and ended up with an introduction to partial differential equations. This podcast accompanies the article Universal pictures.
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