Part 1 - Inside the Brain: Neuromancing
Where does personality come from, and what makes us who we are?
Paul Broks trained as a clinical psychologist at Oxford University and went on to specialise in neuropsychology. He is a senior clinical lecturer at Plymouth University. His book 'Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology' (Atlantic Monthly Press) is a mix of neurological case stories, speculative fiction and memoir, and is currently being adapted for the London stage.
Dr Mark Lythgoe is a neurophysiologist and senior lecturer in radiology and physics at the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital. He is also director of the new Biomedical Imaging Centre at University College London, where he uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging techniques for investigating brain and cardiac function, and developing possible therapies for stroke and heart disease.
Part 2 - The End Of Life As We Know It
How can we avoid the fate of being reduced to a few breeding pairs in the Arctic?
Lord Martin Rees is President of the Royal Society, Master of Trinity College, and Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He was appointed Astronomer Royal in 1995 and nominated to the House of Lords in 2005. Lord Rees's current research deals with high energy astrophysics, especially gamma ray bursts, galactic nucleii, black hole formation and radiative processes. Other research projects include cosmic structure formation and the early generation of stars and galaxies that formed more than 12 billion years ago, soon after the "Big Bang".
Dr James Lovelock, CH CBE FRS, is a scientist, author and environmentalist. He is most famous for popularising the controversial Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a superorganism. His primary current concern is the threat of global warming from the greenhouse effect. He claims that by the end of the century, the average temperature in temperate regions will increase by as much as 8°C and by up to 5°C in the tropics, leaving much of the world's land uninhabitable and unsuitable for farming. He sees nuclear energy as the only realistic alternative to fossil fuels.
Part 3 - The letter Q
What are quarks and how can you see them at the heart of the subatomic world? And what does quantum mechanics have to do with the mystery and origins of life?
Frank Close, OBE, is Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and former professor of astronomy at Gresham College, London. His 1993 lecture series on quarks and the nature of the universe, provided the title for his book ‘The Cosmic Onion’. In 2000, ‘Lucifer's Legacy: the Meaning of Asymmetry’ was described by the Sunday Times as “one of the very best introductions to physics for the layperson”.
Johnjoe McFadden is Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey. For more than a decade he has examined the genetics of microbes, such as the agents of tuberculosis and meningitis. His popular science book, ‘Quantum Evolution’ explores the role of quantum mechanics in life, evolution and consciousness, and he writes articles regularly for the Guardian newspaper in the UK on topics as varied as quantum mechanics, evolution and genetically modified crops.
Part 4 - Sandal or Nuke: Can Technology Save the Planet?
How can we reduce our reliance on oil and over-production of greenhouse gases to avoid catastrophic climate change?
Sir David King was appointed as the British Government's Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Office of Science and Technology in October 2000. He retains his position at Cambridge as Professor of Chemistry.
Douglas Parr is Chief Scientist at Greenpeace UK, supervising science and information functions within the organisation. He is interested in climate change, marine biodiversity, and genetically modified crops and food, and is leading nascent work on nanotechnology.