8 - 11 December 2014
Copyright restrictions prevent us from making these programmes available as audio on demand or podcasts.
Monday 8 December 2014: The Life Scientific: Professor Elspeth Garman
Jim al-Khalili talks to Elspeth Garman about a technique that has led to 28 Nobel Prizes in the last century. X- ray crystallography, now celebrating its 100th anniversary, is used to study the internal structure of matter. It may sound rather arcane but it is the reason we now know the structure of hugely important molecules, like penicillin, insulin and DNA. But while other scientists scoop up prizes for cracking chemical structures, Professor Elspeth Garman works away behind the scenes, (more cameraman than Hollywood star), improving the methods and techniques used by everybody working in the field.
Tuesday 9 December 2014: The Cult of Pablo Escobar
Colombia's most notorious drug baron, Pablo Escobar, was killed in a hail of bullets in 1993. His success as the head of the Medellin Cartel was based on a simple maxim: plata o plomo - cash or a bullet. If he could not bribe you, he would kill you. But two decades after his death, Pablo Escobar looms large in the Colombian psyche. Linda Pressly explores his legacy, and how the story of this drug-runner, torturer and murderer resonates through popular culture in Colombia.
Wednesday 10 December 2014: Crime Writer - James Ellroy
Stephen Sackur talks to the man who has been called America’s greatest living crime writer. Through works such as the Black Dalia and LA Confidential, James Ellroy has created a uniquely dark portrait of America. His is a nightmare vision of crazed killers and corrupt cops. He writes of what he knows – his own mother was murdered when he was a child. So is that simple, terrible fact the key to understanding all the words he has ever written?
Thursday 11 December 2014: Graffiti: Kings on a Mission
In 1974, the celebrated American cultural figure Norman Mailer declared graffiti as "the great art of the 70s". Back then, thousands of teenagers were vandalising New York, in particular the subway system, yet Norman Mailer described their "passion", their "cool", their "masterpieces in letters six feet high". The teens behind those 'tags' are now the veterans of the scene? But why did they create this movement? Were they even thinking about art, politics, protest - or simply writing their names on trains in a bid for fame and peer praise?