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Pop-Up Ideas

BBC Radio 4

Tim Harford presents a series of talks inspired by ideas in anthropology, culture and the social sciences



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Pop-Up Ideas
2014 BBC Radio 4
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"How boring would the world be," asks Simon Garfield, "if we knew precisely where everything was?" Simon reflects on the many mistakes and deceptions in some of our best-loved maps. He begins with the map of the London Underground where lines on the map bears little resemblance to reality but is "informationally brilliant". He talks about California, the subject of a "sustained cartographic foul-up": for 200 years it appeared on maps as an island, and it...
Pop-Up Ideas
Dec 25, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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The geographer and polymath Jared Diamond argues that apparently slight differences in geography can have profound consequences for the culture and history of nations.
Pop-Up Ideas
Dec 18, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Jerry Brotton, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, argues that how we see the world depends on where we stand on it. He takes us back to the Hereford mappamundi - with its unicorns, griffins, cannibals and fabled cities - a world picture completely consistent, logical, and comprehensible to the England of 1300. Google Hereford today, Professor Brotton says, and you find "a very different set of digital preoccupations"; not Babel or Jerusalem but how...
Pop-Up Ideas
Dec 11, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim Harford returns with a new series of Pop Up Ideas. This time Tim and his guests tell intriguing stories inspired by maps. In the first talk, Tim argues that maps - for all their beauty - can be dangerous. In the hands of powerful people, the map begins to shape the world in its image. He tells the story of th Johann Gottlieb Beckmann, who mapped German forests. He developed the idea of the "normalbaum", a kind of platonic ideal of what a tree should be, which could be planted in...
Pop-Up Ideas
Jul 30, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim Harford presents the last in the series, 'Pop-up Ideas'. Tim explores the concept of 'The Tragedy of the Commons' - a term coined by the American ecologist Garrett Hardin in a hugely influential 1968 essay. He compares Hardin's work to that of the American political economist Elinor Ostrom, to reflect on the impact of mankind on the world around us. Producer: Adele Armstrong.
Pop-Up Ideas
Jul 23, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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One of the world's most influential counter-insurgency experts, David Kilcullen, whose ideas were described by the Washington Post as "revolutionizing military thinking throughout the West", talks about the time-bomb of rapidly-growing coastal mega-cities. "It took all of human history until 1960 for the world to get 3 billion people," he says. "But the latest estimate is that we're going to add the same number of people in just the next thirty years - and they'll all...
Pop-Up Ideas
Jul 16, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim Harford is joined by Gillian Tett for the second in this new series of talks inspired by ideas in anthropology and the social sciences. The financial journalist describes how her background in anthropology led her to predict the financial crisis in 2008. "For my doctorate I spent a year in a remote mountainous area of Tajikistan where I lived as a Tajik girl, wearing the local Atlas robes, fetching water and firewood and chasing goats," says Tett. She studied their rituals and...
Pop-Up Ideas
Jul 9, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim Harford (the Financial Times' 'Undercover Economist' and presenter of Radio 4's More or Less) is joined by Malcolm Gladwell, David Kilcullen and Gillian Tett for a new series, 'Pop-up Ideas'. Following on from his earlier Radio 4 series 'Pop-up Economics', Tim and the others use key ideas in anthropology and the social sciences to tell fascinating stories about how we - and the world - work. The talks are recorded in front of an audience at the Southbank Centre in London. Malcolm Gladwell,...
Pop-Up Ideas
Feb 13, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim tells the story of Chris Ferguson who applied game theory to poker and won - big time. But, as Ferguson would find out, there's always a bigger game.
Pop-Up Ideas
Feb 6, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim Harford tells the story of Bill Phillips - war hero, engineer, crocodile-hunter, and one of the fathers of macro-economics.
Pop-Up Ideas
Jan 30, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim Harford tells the story of Thomas Schelling, an economist who helped America and the Soviet Union to avoid nuclear war.
Pop-Up Ideas
Jan 23, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim tells the story of Al Roth, who worked out how to create a clearing-house for kidneys.
Pop-Up Ideas
Jan 16, 2013 BBC Radio 4
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Tim Harford weaves together economic ideas with remarkable personal histories in some unusual locations. The presenter of Radio 4's More or Less speaks to an audience from a shop window on London's Regent Street, and turns his attention to heated pants and the business of innovation. He tells the moving story of Mario Capecchi, whose struggle to get funding for his experiments tells us much about where new ideas come from, and how to foster them.