Something for the weekend

Wunderkind of audiovisual media that I am, I confess to being rather late in getting around to this one. Even I hesitated at the narcissistic self-absorption of it. But as a blogger, I must learn to overcome such hesitations. Here, to demonstrate my proper credentials and my total commitment to the vocation, is a photograph–taken just now–of the computer on which I have begun to compose this post.

Computer Cat

Look closely and you can even see the cat.

But what I belatedly wanted to tell you about was this week’s Guardian Science Podcast, which was on genius. A topical subject since Channel 4 has just broadcast a five-part series, Genius of Britain, devoted to the home-grown variety. I’m not sure where I stand on genius or geniuses in the realm of science. They certainly provide an inspiration–I have my own favourites–but I wonder also if they instill a sense of fear, of disappointment among more ordinary folk. Such as myself.

I will reserve comment on the TV series since I haven’t caught up with all of it yet. But I am quite happy recommended to you the Guardian’s podcast. It is a weekly and highly engaging emission on all aspects of science. This week’s episode is especially interesting since it was recorded live at London’s Science Museum and I was in the audience.

The event was a good-natured, breezy affair with lots of easy-going banter and discussion between the regulars (Guardian stalwarts, Alok Jha, Nell Boase and Ian Sample) and with the audience. Much of the discussion centred on geniuses of various hues but there was also an interview with this week’s guest, psychologist Kevin Dutton, who has recently published a book on persuasion with the somewhat cheesy title Flipnosis. He performed a experiment on the audience involving simple addition that I was determined not to be caught out by. But I was.

Have a listen yourself. Go on. It’s the weekend – you have the time. My narcissistic glands were stroked three times during the recording – once when they read out one of my live-tweets, again when I had the chance to ask a question about Babbage’s wonderful difference engine and finally, after the ‘show’ when I was quizzed for a comment about the evening’s proceedings and may just have made a fool of myself. But at least I was honest.

It was odd hearing myself on the podcast since, in a way, that is where my blogging career started. Back in 2008 I heard a certain Dr Jennifer Rohn being interviewed on it about something called Lablit. That stimulated an email and the rest is, well, history.

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11 Responses to Something for the weekend

  1. Stephen Moss says:

    Stephen, you draw attention to the cat in the photograph, but I couldn’t help noticing the wine glass on the table. The hint of red in the bottom of the glass reveals that the glass had recently been full and, judging by the colour, perhaps with something more burgundy than claret? A genius would be able to name the wine, but to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, ‘I have nothing to declare but my curiosity’. I suspect for most scientists this is enough.

  2. vishal kalel says:

    Well spotted Stephen..
    I join your party (I mean Side)!

  3. vishal kalel says:

    They dont let me watch Genius of Britain… I am SAD (sobbing and depressed)

  4. Stephen Curry says:

    Stephen – I am impressed that you should even attempt to divine the origin of the wine from the colour of the residue in my glass. Alas, you guessed wrong – I was drinking a very acceptable 2007 Lussac St Emillion (Bordeaux). But your task was made all the more difficult by the inaccurate rendering of the colours by my cameraphone – note the yellow cast of the computer screen.
    Vishal, I think there may be a glass left in the bottle so please feel free to drop by to console yourself for the lack of online access to Genius of Britain. If you’re really interested, I believe it will be available on DVD from tomorrow.
    I have to say I wasn’t quite sold on the program, though I’m probably not the target audience. As with many TV shows the coverage is rather superficial. I guess it’s meant to whet the appetite but books covering these topics are so much more rewarding.

  5. Stephen Curry says:

    I meant to ask – can you access the podcast Vishal?

  6. vishal kalel says:

    hey I can access the podcast.. 🙂
    something to nibble for the day!

  7. Graham Steel says:

    I haven’t listened to a Guardian Science Podcast for a few months but have just listened to this one. Thanks for the alert, Stephen.
    Great show and as you said towards the end, I too hope they record further ones infront of a live audience.

  8. Stephen Curry says:

    Cheers Graham – I think they were pretty pleased with how the live recording turned out so I hope there will be others.

  9. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Thanks for the mention, Stephen. Funnily enough someone recently asked me how you and I met and for the life of me I couldn’t remember. Was that it, then?

  10. Stephen Curry says:

    Yep, that was it.
    Should I be affronted that you’ve already forgotten? 😉
    Do you remember – you challenged me to come up with an argument that Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels were genuine ‘Lablit’.

  11. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Ha ha! Oh yes, it’s all coming back to me now. Please don’t feel offended – I’m a visual person so when I meet people virtually I always get this sort of timeless feeling that “I’ve always known them”…

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