David Attenborough

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pages: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer

Every year on 15 February his followers assemble for a religious ceremony to welcome him. So far he has not returned, but they are not downhearted. David Attenborough said to one cult devotee, called Sam: ‘But, Sam, it is nineteen years since John say that the cargo will come. He promise and he promise, but still the cargo does not come. Isn’t nineteen years a long time to wait?’ Sam lifted his eyes from the ground and looked at me. ‘If you can wait two thousand years for Jesus Christ to come an’ ’e no come, then I can wait more than nineteen years for John.’ Robert Buckman’s book Can We Be Good Without God? quotes the same admirable retort by a John Frum disciple, this time to a Canadian journalist some forty years after David Attenborough’s encounter. The Queen and Prince Philip visited the area in 1974, and the Prince subsequently became deified in a rerun of a John-Frum-type cult (once again, note how rapidly the details in religious evolution can change).

, with no named author but published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in sixteen languages and eleven million copies, is obviously a firm favourite because no fewer than six of those eleven million copies have been sent to me as unsolicited gifts by well-wishers from around the world. Picking a page at random from this anonymous and lavishly distributed work, we find the sponge known as Venus’ Flower Basket (Euplectella), accompanied by a quotation from Sir David Attenborough, no less: ‘When you look at a complex sponge skeleton such as that made of silica spicules which is known as Venus’ Flower Basket, the imagination is baffled. How could quasi-independent microscopic cells collaborate to secrete a million glassy splinters and construct such an intricate and beautiful lattice? We do not know.’ The Watchtower authors lose no time in adding their own punchline: ‘But one thing we do know: Chance is not the likely designer.’

Unlike the cult of Jesus, the origins of which are not reliably attested, we can see the whole course of events laid out before our eyes (and even here, as we shall see, some details are now lost). It is fascinating to guess that the cult of Christianity almost certainly began in very much the same way, and spread initially at the same high speed. My main authority for the cargo cults is David Attenborough’s Quest in Paradise, which he very kindly presented to me. The pattern is the same for all of them, from the earliest cults in the nineteenth century to the more famous ones that grew up in the aftermath of the Second World War. It seems that in every case the islanders were bowled over by the wondrous possessions of the white immigrants to their islands, including administrators, soldiers and missionaries.


pages: 282 words: 89,266

Content Provider: Selected Short Prose Pieces, 2011–2016 by Stewart Lee

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Boris Johnson, call centre, centre right, David Attenborough, Etonian, James Dyson, Livingstone, I presume, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Saturday Night Live, sensible shoes, Socratic dialogue, trickle-down economics, wage slave, young professional

But she has been angered in the past by what she calls our “boiling water thing”, admits that our use of ants as an off-the-peg simile for something that is easy to crush irks her, and is saddened by the gradual global failure of communism, which she saw as the only chance humanity had of organising itself into a sustainable social structure. But even Franzi despairs of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!. Josef the cockroach explained the insect world’s hostility to the show. “It’s not so long ago you seemed to seek to understand us. You were watching The World about Us and Life on Earth, sympathetic portrayals of the natural world, produced by your brilliant BBC, surely the pinnacle of human achievement. David Attenborough avoided clumsy anthropomorphism or the tendency to attribute morality or consciousness to creatures such as Franzi and I, who are essentially automatons driven by need and instinct. But even all those sentimental computer-animated films where a succession of Jewish American stand-up comedians make various innocent insect species into unwilling vehicles for their own urban sexual neuroses seem like War and Peace compared with I’m a Celebrity … It represents humanity at its worst.”

And make no mistake, Farty are pirates. Their extension of a helping hand towards BBC3 is merely a greedy digital land-grab disguised as an act of philanthropy, no more convincing that Vladimir Putin’s concerned humanitarian excursions into ailing former Soviet states. To accommodate Farty’s empire-building ambition in what was a publicly owned arena would be a betrayal of everything the BBC stood for, worse than the David Attenborough baby polar bear scandal and when those actors all mumbled in that historical drama last year. If I wasn’t already dead I would kill myself.” Can it be right that Conservative cuts to the licence fee weaken areas of the BBC so that they can no longer be serviced fully, and yet these areas still remain attractive to private companies? Then, having been made non-viable by the government, these assets, despite having been established by public funding, are suddenly attractive to, and then sold on to, the government’s friends in big business to exploit, depriving the public of seeing the benefits of their own decades-long investment?

Even though his penis had been mutilated by the culture secretary John Whittingdale’s arsenal of sickeningly modified clockwork toys, his testicles remained largely unscathed by the ferocious musical apes and dancing teeth, and he conceded that “far from being a cut, this is the right deal for my genitals in difficult economic circumstances”. Last week, I found myself watching a repeat of the May meeting of President Obama and the naturalist and former BBC programme director David Attenborough. Slowly and patiently, Attenborough made the case for nature. Its value was beyond the monetary. It was where our imaginations lived. And once it was gone it was gone. He could have been making the case for the BBC. * * * “Why do I always feel with Stewart Lee that whatever point he is making (often ones I agree with) comes second to trying to impress everyone with how clever he is being?”


pages: 138 words: 40,525

This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook by Extinction Rebellion

3D printing, autonomous vehicles, banks create money, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, feminist movement, full employment, gig economy, global pandemic, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job automation, mass immigration, Peter Thiel, place-making, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, Sam Altman, smart grid, supply-chain management, the scientific method, union organizing, urban sprawl, wealth creators

We have forgotten that all of these important issues – in fact, every issue – resides within the most important issue bar none: ‘the planet’. With a broken planet, we will have no gay rights, no feminism, no respect for trans people, no attempt at fairness and justice for people of colour. What we will have is a fight to survive and a lot of violence. It’s only recently that voices such as that of British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough have talked of the collapse of civilizations and societies, or what food insecurity will mean for us, and for generations to come. In February 2019, Extinction Rebellion’s Roger Hallam put it bluntly: ‘War, mass mental breakdown, mass torture, mass rape.’ In all this, our relatively new societal values will be threatened. Those who have had to fight hardest for their rights – gay men and lesbians, trans people, people of colour, women, and those who have traditionally taken up their fight – will inevitably once again become prominent targets.

The rape threats that any women of profile receive online, and the racism that is so common, speak to something that has been lying dormant in the murky depths of our society but is now stirring again. Brutality is only kept at bay by the rule of law and by there being a critical number of educated people, in work, healthy and with enough money and food to keep them invested in society. When people cannot feed their families, then the façade of law and order evaporates. When Sir David Attenborough talks of the collapse of civilizations, this is what it means: violence that most of us in the privileged West cannot even comprehend. There is a terrible precedent. Berlin in the 1930s had a flourishing queer community. A man called Magnus Hirschfeld campaigned for rights at his Institute of Sexual Science and conducted the first gender-reassignment surgeries. Then came economic crisis and the Nazi rise to power: Hirschfeld’s institute was ransacked, his books and research burned, gay men were put on lists, arrested, imprisoned and some sent to concentration camps.

Nearby, Hannah, seven months pregnant, was also locked-on. We would be among the last to hold out, together with a solitary fourteen-year-old and a man in a wheelchair. Two nights previously, I was hand-fasted with – and to – my partner at Parliament Square. Our hands were held together with love and superglue, the moon shining over Westminster Abbey. Courting in the middle of a rebellion. David Attenborough’s climate-change programme was being screened by Extinction Rebellion, the ghostly scaffolding sheeting at the Palace of Westminster a backdrop used as a projection screen. An XR banner – ‘Beyond Politics’ – was flying in the trees. Not just courting but courting arrest. We were disappointed that night. The police had been arresting some of those locked-on or glued on to the tarmac, but then they packed up and went home for the night.


pages: 190 words: 50,133

Lonely Planet's 2016 Best in Travel by Lonely Planet

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, David Attenborough, haute cuisine, Maui Hawaii, sharing economy, South China Sea, Stanford marshmallow experiment, sustainable-tourism, urban planning, walkable city

You can also take a boat safari on the Kazinga Channel, giving your family a unique perspective on the many mammals, birds and reptiles coming to drink here. The recommended place to stay is the Mweya Safari Lodge (www.mweyalodge.com); it has a pool – need we say more? 5 Refugio Nacional de Fauna Silvestre Ostional, Costa Rica Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of olive ridley turtles come here to nest each year: keep the kids up late to watch this mass nesting and they will be wide-eyed for days. Your mini David Attenborough can also seek out urchins and anemones in the tidal pools, clock ghost crabs on the beach and indulge in a spot of birdwatching, all within easy reach of the hatching turtles. And then of course there’s the rest of Costa Rica to explore with more turtles, one or two crocodiles, some amazing butterflies and plenty of opportunities for high adrenaline fun such as zip lining through forest canopies and white-water rafting.

Discover Melbourne’s best wheelchair-friendly restaurants, enjoy spectacular scenery along the Great Ocean Road, and visit one of the world’s best zoos as well as many of the parks that progressive Parks Victoria is opening up to visitors with access issues. Download our free e-book at www.lonelyplanet.com/accessible-melbourne and plan your outdoors adventures here: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/accessibility. 5 Galápagos & Amazonia, Ecuador So you’ve been watching David Attenborough and thought you’d never be able to access such places in the flesh? Wrong! Lenín Moreno, paraplegic vice president of Ecuador (2006–13) and Nobel Peace Prize nominee did amazing work to improve the lives of disabled people throughout his country. Quito may not be as accessible as the average Western city, but largely thanks to Moreno inroads have been made. But if you want to explore Amazonia, the Andes and the Galápagos, go zip lining or even cross the border into Peru to visit Machu Picchu, you’ll need to go on an organised tour.


pages: 197 words: 49,296

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac

3D printing, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, F. W. de Klerk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Nelson Mandela, new economy, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, the scientific method, trade route, uber lyft, urban planning, urban sprawl, Yogi Berra

It is about understanding that beyond extracting and harvesting what we need from nature, it is our responsibility and in our enlightened self-interest to protect life on this planet, indeed even enhance the planet’s life-giving capacity. Personal and environmental goals are interlinked, mutually reinforcing, and they both need our attention. A regenerative mindset bridges the gap between how nature works (regeneration) and how we humans have organized our lives (extraction).2 It allows us to “redesign human presence on Earth”3 driven by human creativity, problem solving, and fierce love of this planet. Sir David Attenborough, one of the most renowned naturalists of our time, has warned us that “the Garden of Eden is no more.” We agree. That is why we now have to create a Garden of Intention—a deliberately regenerative Anthropocene. Instead of strip-mined mountains, destroyed forests, and depleted oceans, imagine millions of rewilding projects covering over a billion hectares of forests, regenerating wetlands and grasslands, and restoring coral farms in all tropical oceans.

A much larger group of friends and colleagues have been our fellow travelers both in the creation of the Paris Agreement and in the vital next steps the world is now taking to address the climate crisis and deliberately choose a better future. This list is vast, and it would be impossible for us to mention everyone here, but we would like to pay special mention to Alejandro Agag, Lorena Aguilar, Fahad Al Attiya, Ken Alex, Ali Al-Naimi, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Christiane Amanpour, Chris Anderson, Mats Andersson, Monica Araya, John Ashford, David Attenborough, AURORA, Mariana Awad, Peter Bakker, Vivian Balakrishnan, Ajay Banga, Greg Barker, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Nicolette Bartlett, Oliver Bäte, Kevin Baumert, Marc Benioff, Jeff Bezos, Dean Bialek, Sue Biniaz, Fatih Birol, Michael Bloomberg, May Boeve, Gail Bradbrook, Piers Bradford, Richard Branson, Jesper Brodin, Tom Brookes, Jerry Brown, Sharan Burrow, Felipe Calderon, Kathy Calvin, Mark Campanale, Miguel Arias Cañete, Mark Carney, Clay Carnill, Andrea Correa do Lago, Anne-Sophie Cerisola, Robin Chase, Sagarika Chatterjee, Tomas Anker Christensen, Pilita Clark, Helen Clarkson, Jo Confino, Aron Cramer, David Crane, John Danilovich, Conyers Davis, Tony de Brum, Bernaditas de Castro Muller, Brian Deese, Claudio Descalzi, Leonardo DiCaprio, Paula DiPerna, Elliot Diringer, Sandrine Dixson Decleve, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Claudia Dobles Camargo, Alister Doyle, José Manuel Entrecanales, Hernani Escobar, Patricia Espinosa, Emmanuel Faber, Nathan Fabian, Laurent Fabius, Emily Farnworth, Daniel Firger, James Fletcher, Pope Francis, Gail Gallie, Grace Gelder, Kristalina Georgieva, Cody Gildart, Jane Goodall, Al Gore, Kimo Goree, Ellie Goulding, Mats Granryd, Jerry Greenfield, Ólafur Grímsson, Sally Grover Bingham, Emmanuel Guerin, Kaveh Guilanpour, Stuart Gulliver, Angel Gurria, Antonio Guterres, William Hague, Thomas Hale, Brad Hall, Winnie Hallwachs, Simon Hampel, Kate Hampton, Yuval Noah Harari, Jacob Heatley-Adams, Julian Hector, Hilda Heine, Ned Helme, Barbara Hendricks, Jamie Henn, Anne Hidalgo, François Hollande, Emma Howard Boyd, Stephen Howard, Arianna Huffington, Kara Hurst, Mo Ibrahim, Jay Inslee, Natalie Isaacs, Maria Ivanova, Lisa Jackson, Lisa Jacobson, Dan Janzen, Michel Jarraud, Sharon Johnson, Kelsey Juliana, Yolanda Kakabadse, Lila Karbassi, Iain Keith, Mark Kenber, John Kerry, Sean Kidney, Jim Kim, Ban Ki-moon, Lise Kingo, Richard Kinley, Sister Jayanti Kirpalani, Isabelle Kocher, Caio Koch-Weser, Marcin Korolec, Larry Kramer, Kalee Kreider, Kishan Kumarsingh, Rachel Kyte, Christine Lagarde, Philip Lambert, Dan Lashof, Penelope Lea, Guilherme Leal, Bernice Lee, Jeremy Leggett, Thomas Lingard, Andrew Liveris, Hunter Lovins, Mindy Lubber, Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa, Gina McCarthy, Stella McCartney, Bill McDonouh, Catherine McKenna, Sonia Medina, Bernadette Meehan, Johannes Meier, Maria Mendiluce, Antoine Michon, David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Amina Mohammed, Jennifer Morris, Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, Kumi Naidoo, Nicole Ng, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Indra Nooyi, Michael Northrop, Tim Nuthall, Bill Nye, Jean Oelwang, Rafe Offer, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Kevin O Hanlon, René Orellana, Ricken Patel, Jose Penido, Charlotte Pera, Jonathan Pershing, Stephen Petricone, Stephanie Pfeifer, Shannon Phillips, Bertrand Piccard, François-Henri Pinault, John Podesta, Paul Polman, Ian Ponce, Carl Pope, Jonathon Porritt, Patrick Pouyanne, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Tracy Raczek, Jairam Ramesh, Curtis Ravenell, Robin Reck, Geeta Reddy, Dan Reifsnyder, Fiona Reynolds, Ben Rhodes, Alex Rivett-Carnac, Chris Rivett-Carnac, Nick Robins, Jim Robinson, Mary Robinson, Cristiam Rodriguez, Matthew Rodriguez, Kevin Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Artur Runge-Metzger, Karsten Sach, Claudia Salerno Caldera, Fredric Samama, Richard Samans, M.


pages: 239 words: 68,598

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James E. Lovelock

Ada Lovelace, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, continuous integration, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, discovery of DNA, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Henri Poincaré, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandelbrot fractal, mass immigration, megacity, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, short selling, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

I would be glad to know if anyone used the word ‘green’ in the older naturalist sense before it became a word denoting such anthropocentric environmentalism. Before she wrote her book, did Carson think of herself as ‘green’? In the 1970s we ceased to be illuminated by the qualities of the natural world and began to see and hear nature through televisual images; often what we saw was filtered or distorted by the thoughts of the presenter. Sometimes we were lucky and saw the real world of nature through the eyes of Sir David Attenborough, but too often it was a politicized account of pollution from industry. Those who were green this way had feelings of guilt and regret; increasing knowledge that once brought wisdom, joy and understanding now confirmed that our carbon footprints were blacker than sin. From childhood on I have thought of myself as someone who wanted to live naturally and respect wildlife and wilderness. This made me spend much of my free time in the English countryside, and I grew to love it.

., London, 2008) Kendal McGuffie and Ann Henderson‐Sellers, A Climate Modelling Primer (Wiley, Chichester, 2005) Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump, Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming (DK Publishing, Inc., New York, 2008) Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report (Island Press, Washington, DC, 2005) Sir Crispin Tickell, Climate Change and World Affairs (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1986) 3 Consequences and Survival Sir David Attenborough, Life on Earth (HarperCollins, London, 1979) Richard Dawkins, The Extended Phenotype (W. H. Freeman, Oxford and San Francisco, 1982) Brian Fagan, The Long Summer (Granta, London, 2005) Richard Fortey, The Earth (Harper Collins, London, 2004) Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth (Bloomsbury, London, 2006) Tim Lenton and W. von Bloh, ‘Biotic Feedback Extends Lifespan of Biosphere’, Geophysical Research Letters (2001) James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia (Allen Lane/Penguin, London, 2006) Fred Pearce, When the Rivers Run Dry (Transworld, London, 2006) H.


pages: 54 words: 13,620

No. More. Plastic.: What You Can Do to Make a Difference – the #2minutesolution by Martin Dorey

carbon footprint, David Attenborough, food miles

Martin Dorey, founder of the anti-plastic movement and #2minutebeachclean, is the expert when it comes to understanding the impact plastics have on our planet. This book shows you what you can do to help. Starting today, with just 2 minutes of your time. Open this book with your children, give it to your friends. Spread the word. With its smart, surprising and simple solutions, we can all make a genuine difference. ‘We could actually do something about plastic right now’ David Attenborough. Together we can fix this. #2minutesolution Any references to ‘writing in this book’ refer to the original printed version. Readers should write on a separate piece of paper in these instances. About the Author Martin is a writer, surfer and beach lover. He founded the Beach Clean Network with Tab Parry in 2009 and started the #2minutebeachclean hashtag in 2013 after North Atlantic storms left UK beaches littered with plastic rubbish.


pages: 476 words: 134,735

The Unpersuadables: Adventures With the Enemies of Science by Will Storr

Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, battle of ideas, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, call centre, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, David Attenborough, David Brooks, death of newspapers, full employment, George Santayana, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Simon Singh, Stanford prison experiment, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies

God tried to teach us a lesson when he made it rain for forty nights. We didn’t learn. We are incapable: ever since Eve’s crime, we’ve been born this way – outlaw failures, fucking and sinning with callous abandon as the planet we’ve been given withers around us. As his talk progresses, two further facts become apparent about John Mackay. One, he likes to speak in questions. Two, he has a bit of a thing about David Attenborough. ‘I know a question David Attenborough wouldn’t ask,’ he says at one point. ‘If creation is true, what would the evidence be?’ Of all the questions ever, this is probably John’s favourite because he believes that the evidence is on the side of God. By education and by thinking, Mackay considers himself to be a scientist. And it is by these rigorous and testable methods that he has promised to prove the creation hypothesis to me.

Mackay, a geologist and geneticist who seems to possess an eager and audacious intellect, has most recently crossed ideologies with iconic atheist Professor Richard Dawkins – who, not incidentally, once told the Guardian newspaper, ‘People like Mackay thrive by drip-feeding misinformation … we cannot afford to take creationism lightly. It’s not an amusing diversion, but a serious threat to scientific reason.’ John recalls the meeting with a contemptuous sigh. ‘He was trying to be David Attenborough,’ he says. ‘I think it’s because he’s been getting so much flak. People are sick of him. Do you know, if Dawkins is speaking at a university before me, the evolutionists get so disgusted with him they’ll double my crowd? But I led him to a point where he said, “Evolution has been observed, it just hasn’t been observed while it’s been happening.” And that’s just a stupid statement. If it’s not been observed, it’s not science.


Dinosaurs Rediscovered by Michael J. Benton

All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Bayesian statistics, biofilm, bioinformatics, David Attenborough, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, Isaac Newton, lateral thinking, North Sea oil, nuclear winter

This is computerized tomographic scanning, often shortened to CT scanning, in which the scanner captures X-ray images of the internal structure of the bone or rock, and these can be viewed as if they are a stack of slices, spaced maybe fractions of a millimetre apart. This means that museum preparators do not have to risk damaging delicate specimens, say a dinosaur embryo inside its egg, instead capturing a perfect 3D image. Back in the lab, clearing more rock from the plaster jacket. A typical day in the SEM lab in Bristol: David Attenborough pops by in 2017 to see Fiann Smithwick at work. CT scanning of fossils has only become commonplace in the twenty-first century, when scanners, developed first for medical use, became cheap enough that every university or museum could afford one. We commonly scan fossils up to the size of a magnum bottle of champagne; above that, and they have to go to industrial or veterinary scanners designed to scan an aircraft engine or a horse.

Emily Rayfield summarizes her take on this: When I started my research, we had some information from the fossils, such as tooth shape, tooth marks, stomach stones, and coprolites. A few experts in biomechanics had suggested ways to model dinosaur jaws like levers, so you could make some basic calculations, but we now have integrated computational methods that allow much more complex – or realistic – questions to be asked. In a 2018 TV programme about ichthyosaurs, the dolphin-shaped marine reptiles, David Attenborough, the host, asked Emily her opinion: ‘So this was the king of the Jurassic sea?’ ‘Or queen,’ came back Emily in a flash. The new engineering approaches are all testable, so palaeontologists are no longer speculating about feeding in extinct animals. Smart new approaches in ecology, especially using food webs, are also beginning to help, but there is so much more to do. We can expect to see an integration of both approaches soon, with dinosaur food webs modelled with accurate data on feeding mechanics and diets on the one hand, and understanding of how robust these ecosystems are to outside environmental pressures on the other.


pages: 252 words: 85,441

A Book for Her by Bridget Christie

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Boris Johnson, British Empire, carbon footprint, clean water, Costa Concordia, David Attenborough, feminist movement, financial independence, glass ceiling, housing crisis, Isaac Newton, obamacare, Rubik’s Cube, sexual politics

I thought I’d better look up feminism in case I was interviewed on Newsnight about it by the Head of Women, Jimmy Somerville from Bronski Beat. So I’ll just quickly explain to you what I found out feminism means, and then I’ll get on with all the more interesting stuff about cheese and ants. I’m a feminist. All this means is that I am extremely hairy and hate all men, both as individuals and collectively, with no exceptions. Nope. Not even Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen/Paul Hollywood/Ronnie Corbett/Trevor McDonald/David Attenborough or John Nettles circa Bergerac are good enough for me. Oh … it could’ve been you, John. Oh, John. Those blue eyes, those blue jeans, that burgundy car … Oh, John. You could’ve been the thinking feminist’s crumpet, John. But Jersey has no gender equality laws, John. Oh, John, what a wasted opportunity. I even hate Ban Ki-moon. It’s one thing to try to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, but Mrs Ban Ki-moon told me she can’t remember the last time her husband put the hoover round.

If I was going to talk about attitudes towards women, the conduit I used to facilitate me doing so needed to make more sense. I remembered how clever ants were and thought that if I dressed up as an ant, and talked about what it was like being an ‘ant’ comedian, audiences might be more willing to buy into it. Everyone knows how intelligent ants are. I mean, they’ve been communicating with David Attenborough for years. It’s just a shame he still hasn’t learnt ant for ‘Fuck off, mate, we’re really busy here’, which is what they’ve been saying to him since the 1960s. An ant talking about being an ant comedian would be far less alienating to a comedy audience than a woman talking about being a woman comedian. I’d just make it about ant comedians rather than female comedians. I’d come on to ‘Ant Music’ by Adam and the Ants and make a joke about that.


pages: 306 words: 94,204

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter

back-to-the-land, crack epidemic, David Attenborough, dumpster diving, Golden Gate Park, haute cuisine, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Mason jar, McMansion, New Urbanism, Port of Oakland, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, urban decay, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

Propelled by the weight of the manure, we swooped down the concrete mainline of Highway 24 back into Oakland with a fine dusting of horseshit trailing behind us. My melancholy mood was replaced by a wave of love toward my adopted city. With its late-night newsstands and rowdy bars, a city meant I would never be lonely. When we turned down our street, Bobby was there, guarding the gates. Bill and I met on an elevator, fell in love because of cats, and lasted because of bees. In 1997, I was headed to a class to show David Attenborough’s The Private Life of Plants to a group of Ecology 101 students. While finishing up my degrees in English and biology at the University of Washington, I worked as a projectionist, paid $3.85 an hour to hit PLAY on a VCR and then sit back in the AV booth and do my homework. Classroom Support Services, my employer, had recently hired a skinny new guy who wore an ugly red wool hat and a too-short sweatshirt.

“Um, excuse me,” the man stammered. He had cotton balls stuffed in his ears. Later I would find out he had problems with his ears, especially in the cold wet of Seattle. The cotton balls kept out the elements, as did the red hat. He handed me a folded sheet of yellow paper. I glanced at it—The Speckled Pig Zine, it said. The doors closed, and I walked to my class. A few minutes later, while David Attenborough’s British-accented voice filled the auditorium, I looked through the zine in the booth. Some funny poems, a story about a lost dog, and a questionnaire mostly about cats. (You see a cat. Do you, a. kiss its head? b. kiss its paws? c. kiss it on the lips?) I find men who have felines impossibly sexy. On our first date, he gave me a ridiculous pair of rabbit-fur gloves he had found on the bus.


pages: 133 words: 36,528

Peak Car: The Future of Travel by David Metz

autonomous vehicles, bike sharing scheme, Clayton Christensen, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, disruptive innovation, edge city, Edward Glaeser, Just-in-time delivery, low cost airline, Network effects, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Silicon Valley, Skype, urban sprawl, yield management, young professional

Even if classical travel writing is nowadays constrained by the possibility of tourists reaching the same places as the intrepid author, technology developments in the second half of the twentieth century permitted the return of travellers with their tales in the form of documentary film and video, particularly of rare animal, bird and fish species in hard‑to‑reach habitats. While we tourists might go whale‑watching and, if lucky, catch a fleeting sight of perhaps a minke whale or a basking shark, we know that David Attenborough, to mention only the best‑known television naturalist, will bring us awesome images of creatures that we could never glimpse. So we can enlarge our experience of the world in which we live from our armchair, through books, television and video. To what extent does this substitute for actual long distance trips? For those who are too frail, too poor or even too nervous to travel, the armchair experience is a boon.


pages: 386 words: 119,465

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

call centre, David Attenborough, haute couture, Piper Alpha

This lecture was designed to help them recognize what they might find. I began by explaining that death is a process. And when that process, dying, is complete, it sets off another series of processes which eventually return us to the earth and complete the life cycle. The screen lit up above me and the police officers stretched out their legs. A few sipped their coffee and relaxed with the air of men settling down with their wives to watch a David Attenborough wildlife documentary. I didn’t want to give them too much science, so I simply said that oxygen is vital for almost all cells. It facilitates the cells’ multitude of life-sustaining chemical reactions: this is metabolism. On death, when there is no oxygen, muscle cells rapidly become flaccid. They may, for some hours, still respond. To touch. Or the discharge of a dying motor neurone cell.

The blood vessels provide easy channels for the bacteria to spread, causing the haemoglobin there to decompose. Visible result: the extraordinary and beautiful fern-like pattern of the veins closest to the surface becomes clearly etched on the skin as though tattooed in brown. It is often evident on the arms and thighs. I think the police officers were beginning to realize now that this was no David Attenborough documentary. But, like every death process, this rather beautiful stage is temporary. Gradually the pattern is lost as the skin blisters into red and brown fluid. As the blisters burst, the skin sloughs off. One waste product of all this bacterial activity is gas, and so now the body begins to swell. First the genitals become bloated, followed by the face, abdomen and breasts. Then eyes and tongue protrude as bloody liquid is forced up from the lungs, leaking from nose and mouth.


Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg, Lauren McCann

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-pattern, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business process, butterfly effect, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, lateral thinking, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, mail merge, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, Potemkin village, prediction markets, premature optimization, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, publication bias, recommendation engine, remote working, replication crisis, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Shai Danziger, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, survivorship bias, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, uber lyft, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

You just need to know which patterns to look out for—the right mental models. Here is an example. In 2016, the UK government asked the public to help name a new polar research ship. Individuals could submit names and then vote on them in an online poll. More than seven thousand names were submitted, but one name won easily, with 124,109 votes: RSS Boaty McBoatface. (The ship was eventually named RSS Sir David Attenborough instead.) Could the government have predicted this result? Well, maybe not that the exact name RSS Boaty McBoatface would triumph. But could they have guessed that someone might turn the contest into a joke, that the joke would be well received by the public, and that the joke answer might become the winner? You bet. People turn open contests like this into jokes all the time. In 2012, Mountain Dew held a similar campaign to name a new soda, but they quickly closed it down when “Diabeetus” and “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” appeared near the top of the rankings.

., 228 security, false sense of, 44 security services, 229 selection, adverse, 46–47 selection bias, 139–40, 143, 170 self-control, 87 self-fulfilling prophecies, 267 self-serving bias, 21, 272 Seligman, Martin, 22 Semmelweis, Ignaz, 25–26 Semmelweis reflex, 26 Seneca, Marcus, 60 sensitivity analysis, 181–82, 185, 188 dynamic, 195 Sequoia Capital, 291 Sessions, Roger, 8 sexual predators, 113 Shakespeare, William, 105 Sheets Energy Strips, 36 Shermer, Michael, 133 Shirky, Clay, 104 Shirky principle, 104, 112 Short History of Nearly Everything, A (Bryson), 50 short-termism, 55–56, 58, 60, 68, 85 side effects, 137 signal and noise, 311 significance, 167 statistical, 164–67, 170 Silicon Valley, 288, 289 simulations, 193–95 simultaneous invention, 291–92 Singapore math, 23–24 Sir David Attenborough, RSS, 35 Skeptics Society, 133 sleep meditation app, 162–68 slippery slope argument, 235 slow (high-concentration) thinking, 30, 33, 70–71 small numbers, law of, 143, 144 smartphones, 117, 290, 309, 310 smoking, 41, 42, 133–34, 139, 173 Snap, 299 Snowden, Edward, 52, 53 social engineering, 97 social equality, 117 social media, 81, 94, 113, 217–19, 241 Facebook, 18, 36, 94, 119, 219, 233, 247, 305, 308 Instagram, 220, 247, 291, 310 YouTube, 220, 291 social networks, 117 Dunbar’s number and, 278 social norms versus market norms, 222–24 social proof, 217–20, 229 societal change, 100–101 software, 56, 57 simulations, 192–94 solitaire, 195 solution space, 97 Somalia, 243 sophomore slump, 145–46 South Korea, 229, 231, 238 Soviet Union: Germany and, 70, 238–39 Gosplan in, 49 in Cold War, 209, 235 space exploration, 209 spacing effect, 262 Spain, 243–44 spam, 37, 161, 192–93, 234 specialists, 252–53 species, 120 spending, 38, 74–75 federal, 75–76 spillover effects, 41, 43 sports, 82–83 baseball, 83, 145–46, 289 football, 226, 243 Olympics, 209, 246–48, 285 Spotify, 299 spreadsheets, 179, 180, 182, 299 Srinivasan, Balaji, 301 standard deviation, 149, 150–51, 154 standard error, 154 standards, 93 Stanford Law School, x Starbucks, 296 startup business idea, 6–7 statistics, 130–32, 146, 173, 289, 297 base rate in, 157, 159, 160 base rate fallacy in, 157, 158, 170 Bayesian, 157–60 confidence intervals in, 154–56, 159 confidence level in, 154, 155, 161 frequentist, 158–60 p-hacking in, 169, 172 p-values in, 164, 165, 167–69, 172 standard deviation in, 149, 150–51, 154 standard error in, 154 statistical significance, 164–67, 170 summary, 146, 147 see also data; experiments; probability distributions Staubach, Roger, 243 Sternberg, Robert, 290 stock and flow diagrams, 192 Stone, Douglas, 19 stop the bleeding, 234 strategy, 107–8 exit, 242–43 loss leader, 236–37 pivoting and, 295–96, 298–301, 308, 311, 312 tactics versus, 256–57 strategy tax, 103–4, 112 Stiglitz, Joseph, 306 straw man, 225–26 Streisand, Barbra, 51 Streisand effect, 51, 52 Stroll, Cliff, 290 Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The (Kuhn), 24 subjective versus objective, in organizational culture, 274 suicide, 218 summary statistics, 146, 147 sunk-cost fallacy, 91 superforecasters, 206–7 Superforecasting (Tetlock), 206–7 super models, viii–xii super thinking, viii–ix, 3, 316, 318 surface area, 122 luck, 122, 124, 128 surgery, 136–37 Surowiecki, James, 203–5 surrogate endpoint, 137 surveys, see polls and surveys survivorship bias, 140–43, 170, 272 sustainable competitive advantage, 283, 285 switching costs, 305 systematic review, 172, 173 systems thinking, 192, 195, 198 tactics, 256–57 Tajfel, Henri, 127 take a step back, 298 Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, 2, 105 talk past each other, 225 Target, 236, 252 target, measurable, 49–50 taxes, 39, 40, 56, 104, 193–94 T cells, 194 teams, 246–48, 275 roles in, 256–58, 260 size of, 278 10x, 248, 249, 255, 260, 273, 280, 294 Tech, 83 technical debt, 56, 57 technologies, 289–90, 295 adoption curves of, 115 adoption life cycles of, 116–17, 129, 289, 290, 311–12 disruptive, 308, 310–11 telephone, 118–19 temperature: body, 146–50 thermostats and, 194 tennis, 2 10,000-Hour Rule, 261 10x individuals, 247–48 10x teams, 248, 249, 255, 260, 273, 280, 294 terrorism, 52, 234 Tesla, Inc., 300–301 testing culture, 50 Tetlock, Philip E., 206–7 Texas sharpshooter fallacy, 136 textbooks, 262 Thaler, Richard, 87 Theranos, 228 thermodynamics, 124 thermostats, 194 Thiel, Peter, 72, 288, 289 thinking: black-and-white, 126–28, 168, 272 convergent, 203 counterfactual, 201, 272, 309–10 critical, 201 divergent, 203 fast (low-concentration), 30, 70–71 gray, 28 inverse, 1–2, 291 lateral, 201 outside the box, 201 slow (high-concentration), 30, 33, 70–71 super, viii–ix, 3, 316, 318 systems, 192, 195, 198 writing and, 316 Thinking, Fast and Slow (Kahneman), 30 third story, 19, 92 thought experiment, 199–201 throwing good money after bad, 91 throwing more money at the problem, 94 tight versus loose, in organizational culture, 274 timeboxing, 75 time: management of, 38 as money, 77 work and, 89 tipping point, 115, 117, 119, 120 tit-for-tat, 214–15 Tōgō Heihachirō, 241 tolerance, 117 tools, 95 too much of a good thing, 60 top idea in your mind, 71, 72 toxic culture, 275 Toys “R” Us, 281 trade-offs, 77–78 traditions, 275 tragedy of the commons, 37–40, 43, 47, 49 transparency, 307 tribalism, 28 Trojan horse, 228 Truman Show, The, 229 Trump, Donald, 15, 206, 293 Trump: The Art of the Deal (Trump and Schwartz), 15 trust, 20, 124, 215, 217 trying too hard, 82 Tsushima, Battle of, 241 Tupperware, 217 TurboTax, 104 Turner, John, 127 turn lemons into lemonade, 121 Tversky, Amos, 9, 90 Twain, Mark, 106 Twitter, 233, 234, 296 two-front wars, 70 type I error, 161 type II error, 161 tyranny of small decisions, 38, 55 Tyson, Mike, 7 Uber, 231, 275, 288, 290 Ulam, Stanislaw, 195 ultimatum game, 224, 244 uncertainty, 2, 132, 173, 180, 182, 185 unforced error, 2, 10, 33 unicorn candidate, 257–58 unintended consequences, 35–36, 53–55, 57, 64–65, 192, 232 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), 306 unique value proposition, 211 University of Chicago, 144 unknown knowns, 198, 203 unknowns: known, 197–98 unknown, 196–98, 203 urgency, false, 74 used car market, 46–47 U.S.


pages: 165 words: 45,397

Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming by Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby

3D printing, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Cass Sunstein, computer age, corporate governance, David Attenborough, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, global village, Google X / Alphabet X, haute couture, life extension, Mark Zuckerberg, mouse model, New Urbanism, Peter Eisenman, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social software, technoutopianism, Wall-E

For design it can provide a fresh alternative to future-based thinking by presenting parallel worlds as thought experiments rather than predictions. But it can be slightly cumbersome because of the need to set up the story before people can engage with the project. James Chambers's Attenborough Design Group (2010) is a simple example of how this approach might translate into a design project. Chambers asks, What if David Attenborough had become an industrial designer rather than a wildlife filmmaker, who, still fond of nature, established the Attenborough Design Group to explore how animal behavior could be used to equip technology products with survival instincts: a Gesundheit radio, which sneezes periodically to expel potentially damaging dust, and Floppy Legs, a portable floppy disc drive that stands up if it detects liquid nearby?


pages: 436 words: 125,809

The Way of the Gun: A Bloody Journey Into the World of Firearms by Iain Overton

air freight, airport security, back-to-the-land, British Empire, Chelsea Manning, clean water, Columbine, David Attenborough, Etonian, Ferguson, Missouri, gender pay gap, gun show loophole, illegal immigration, interchangeable parts, Julian Assange, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, More Guns, Less Crime, offshore financial centre, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, WikiLeaks, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

The ground floor was devoted to thick shirts and jackets that were a frenzy of buckles and pockets. The top floor was filled with shotguns whose price tags you had to look at twice to make sure you had not misread them. But it was the middle floor, the walls filled with monochrome pictures of Africa and bookshelves heavy with coffee-table hunting books, that caught my attention. Because there stood a line of DVDs, and one leaped out. Boddington on Cheetahs, it read. But this was no David Attenborough–style film; rather it was highlights of the fastest animal on earth being taken down by a hunting rifle. Others stood beside it: Boddington on Lions, Boddington on Leopards. What Boddington had done was strictly legal, but the images on the back cover felt like the sort of footage, as an investigative journalist, I would have wanted for a film about the ugly world of animal abuse. It seemed unnecessary and cruel.

Hunter-gatherers still exist: in the Amazon (Aché); Africa (the San people and the Hadza of Tanzania); New Guinea (the Fayu); Thailand and Laos (the Mlabri); and Sri Lanka (the Vedda); not to mention a handful of uncontacted peoples. 5. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2508209/Winchester-Deadly-Passion-presenter-Melissa-Bachman-sparks-outrage-posing-lion-shot-dead.html 6. The possible caveat is that a hunted animal might be shot and injured and not killed outright by a huntsman’s bullet. But then again many animals may sense their looming death when they are herded into an abattoir. 7. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/04/daily-chart-17 8. http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2011/dec/01/nature-urbanisation-david-attenborough 9. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26140827 10. http://dianamandache.com/auction-shotgun-king-of-romania/ 11. http://www.face.eu/sites/default/files/documents/english/face_annual_report_2013_en.pdf 12. http://www.face.eu/sites/default/files/documents/english/position_paper_hunttour_-_en.pdf 13. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2007/11/packing_heat_in_helsinki.html 14. http://www.face.eu/sites/default/files/attachments/data_hunters-region_sept_2010.pdf 15. http://www.conservationforce.org/role4.html; http://www.nssf.org/PDF/research/HuntingInAmerica_EconomicForceForConservation.pdf 16. http://www.gallup.com/poll/20098/gun-ownership-use-america.aspx 17.


pages: 420 words: 130,714

Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist by Richard Dawkins

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Boris Johnson, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Google Earth, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mahatma Gandhi, mental accounting, Necker cube, nuclear winter, out of africa, p-value, phenotype, place-making, placebo effect, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, twin studies

When it comes to accounting for the stunning illusion of design in nature, there is no alternative to natural selection.*2 If a biologist denies the importance of natural selection in evolution, it is pretty safe to assume not that he has some alternative theory but that he simply underrates adaptation as a dominant property of life that needs explaining. Probably he has never set foot in a tropical rainforest, or set flipper over a coral reef, or set eyes on a David Attenborough film. Nowadays, questions about adaptation are high in the consciousness of field biologists. It has not always been so. My old maestro Niko Tinbergen wrote of an experience when he was a young man: ‘I still remember how perplexed I was upon being told off firmly by one of my zoology professors when I brought up the question of survival value after he had asked: “Has anyone an idea why so many birds flock more densely when they are attacked by a bird of prey?” 

The Pearce Commissioners were sent out to tour the country in pairs, with an entourage, and Bill was paired with another old colonial called Burkinshaw. True to Bill’s iconic status, the BBC news cameras chose to follow Dawkins and Burkinshaw on one of these fact-finding missions, and Sir Christopher was agog in front of the television screen. I vividly remember his summation, the next day, in his distinctive old raconteur’s voice: ‘About Burkinshaw I will say nothing. Dawkins, however, is obviously accustomed to commanding men.’ David Attenborough told me he had exactly the same impression of Bill, and he drew himself up to his full height and pulled a realistically imperious face to illustrate the point. He had stayed with Bill and Diana while on a filming trip to Sierra Leone in 1954, and they remained friends thereafter. I can’t imagine anybody ever calling Bill either Arthur or Francis, although A.F. suited him well enough. Throughout his life, he was never called anything but Bill, which dated from babyhood when he was said to resemble Bill the Lizard in Alice in Wonderland.


pages: 174 words: 58,894

London Review of Books by London Review of Books

Albert Einstein, cuban missile crisis, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, failed state, Mikhail Gorbachev, Neil Kinnock, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, tulip mania, Wolfgang Streeck

He first made his mark, if not quite his name, with the astonishing Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots , the first part of which appeared in 1830. Working from live models in the gardens of the newly established Zoological Society, the 18-year-old Lear produced his book without any formal training, independent funding, or institutional support. The day after publication, he was nominated for election as an associate of the Linnean Society. According to David Attenborough, Lear is ‘the finest bird artist there ever was’. His drawings were primarily intended to help scientists identify species, yet his birds are exhibitionists as well as exhibits, always more than an instance that confirms a rule. The same impulse can be felt in the nonsense: the hens of Oripò ‘don’t behave like other hens;/In any decent way’. In ‘The Pobble Who Has No Toes’, Aunt Jobiska is another of those surrogate parental figures who is keen to protect, and to discourage indecency.


pages: 579 words: 164,339

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman

air freight, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, David Attenborough, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, El Camino Real, epigenetics, Filipino sailors, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute couture, housing crisis, ice-free Arctic, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, liberation theology, load shedding, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Pearl River Delta, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

An environmental think tank, OPT had been founded a year earlier by David Willey, an Oxford classics scholar who started language schools throughout Europe. A world traveler, he’d lately noticed how crowded the planet had grown, and wondered what might be done. OPT’s mission was to promote research that might determine the optimum, sustainable human population for given regions, as well as for the entire world. Although its goals were grand and it attracted illustrious patrons—esteemed naturalist and BBC broadcaster Sir David Attenborough; primate biologist Dame Jane Goodall; and former UK representative to the UN Security Council Sir Crispin Tickell—its research resources were limited. Its chief focus became its campaign to lower the population of the United Kingdom. It was a campaign that inevitably risked accusation of encouraging racial politics that spawn the likes of the British National Party. OPT’s members and patrons would respond that in 1973, long before Europe’s current wave of xenophobia, a UK government population panel had concluded that the Britain must accept that its “population cannot go on increasing indefinitely.”

Demographically, Europe is living on borrowed time.” It is his images of empty Sardinian villages and former East German towns now overrun by wolves that OPT chairman Roger Martin has in his mind as his turn arrives. His voice is calm, but color singes his pale cheeks. “It’s not either-or, either consumption or numbers. It’s obviously both. The total impact is one multiplied by the other.” He quotes OPT patron Sir David Attenborough: “ ‘I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, and utterly impossible if there were more.’ “We all agree that the solution is to empower women to control their own fertility. It doesn’t help, frankly, for people to say, ‘That’s happening anyway, don’t worry.’ This is not an automatic process that will happen if no one tries to make it happen. It needs priority in budgets to fund programs to make it happen.”


pages: 228 words: 69,642

Among the Islands by Tim Flannery

British Empire, colonial rule, David Attenborough, European colonialism, Kula ring

From 2007 to 2010 he chaired the Copenhagen Climate Council, and in 2011 he was appointed chief commissioner of the Climate Commission. Tim lives on the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales. Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author. PRAISE FOR TIM FLANNERY ‘A great zoologist … an irresistible author.’ Jared Diamond ‘Tim Flannery is in the league of the all-time great explorers like Dr David Livingstone.’ Sir David Attenborough ‘One of the world’s greatest zoologists … who’s probably discovered more new species than Darwin. He’s a remarkable man.’ Redmond O’Hanlon ‘Absorbing, funny and wondrously learned.’ Bill Bryson ‘A rollicking adventure … surprisingly funny.’ Bookseller+Publisher ‘Flannery is perhaps the most gifted describer of the natural sciences writing today.’ Weekend Australian ‘Think Indiana Jones crossed with Charles Darwin.’


pages: 246 words: 68,392

Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work by Sarah Kessler

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business cycle, call centre, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, financial independence, future of work, game design, gig economy, income inequality, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, job automation, law of one price, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, payday loans, post-work, profit maximization, QR code, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator

But the pitch that Uber used to recruit drivers—independence, flexibility, and freedom—seemed especially well suited to the preferences of a new demographic that had become the object of fascination, even obsession, for virtually every marketer, trend spotter, and sociologist concerned with generational shifts: the millennial. Survey-taking millennials have ranked personal development and flexibility above cash bonuses; stated higher expectations for working their own hours; and have rated work-life balance as more essential than any other job quality, including positive work environment, job security, and interesting work. These types of findings (often best read in the voice David Attenborough uses to narrate wildlife documentaries) have led to widespread accusations that millennials (“a fascinating species”) are conspiring to upend the workplace: “The 9 to 5 job may soon be a relic of the past, if Millennials have their way,” begins one column from Forbes.7 Another, from the New York Times, asks, “Are millennials—those born from roughly 1980 to 2000—about to fundamentally change companies for the better?


pages: 277 words: 72,603

Built: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures by Roma Agrawal

3D printing, British Empire, clean water, David Attenborough, Dmitri Mendeleev, Guggenheim Bilbao, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the scientific method

Until, that is, I heard the words ‘strong material’ and ‘bridge’ and, as you can imagine, my ears pricked up like a cat’s. The host was talking about one of the most prolific bridge builders in the world – and, exceptionally, the builder is female, and lives in Madagascar. She’s about the size of a thumbnail, has eight very hairy legs and her body is heavily textured like the bark of a tree, which, as David Attenborough went on to explain, is the camouflage that protects her from predators. She also has a spinneret, which is the bit of her body responsible for making her the brilliant bridge engineer she is. Darwin’s bark spider can build a bridge up to 25m long (that’s 1,000 times her own size), spanning rivers or even lakes. However, unlike most bridge builders, she’s not looking for a way to get from one side to the other.


pages: 317 words: 71,776

Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorling

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, David Graeber, delayed gratification, Dominic Cummings, double helix, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, family office, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, land value tax, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, lump of labour, mega-rich, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, TaskRabbit, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor

Currently they just blame it on bad luck when someone like themselves goes under, but eventually they will realise that it is due to an unsustainable system – especially when they look at the dramatically varying economic fortunes of their children and wider family. In the world’s most affluent and unequal of countries, those at the top often say that people are poor because there are too many of them, either too many being born or too many immigrating. This is a common refrain of the elite. David Attenborough recently put it more subtly: ‘We are such a densely populated country … The world is only so big. You simply can’t go on increasing forever, so something’s going to stop it. Either we can stop it or the natural world will stop it for us.’28 David is wealthy enough to be a member of the 1 per cent, and he was quoted on the BBC website having said this on the Today programme. When he says ‘we can stop it’, he may not have a very wide conception of ‘we’.


pages: 230 words: 72,642

Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams, Mark Carwardine

David Attenborough, Isaac Newton, out of africa, South China Sea

“Scorpion fish, stonefish, sea snakes. Much more poisonous than anything on land. Get stung by a stonefish and the pain alone can kill you. People drown themselves just to stop the pain.” “Where are all these things?” “Oh, just in the sea. Tons of them. I wouldn’t go near it if I were you. Full of poisonous animals. Hate them.” “Is there anything you do like?” “Yes,” he said. “Hydroponics.” We flew to Bali. David Attenborough has said that Bali is the most beautiful place in the world, but he must have been there longer than we were, and seen different bits, because most of what we saw in the couple of days we were there sorting out our travel arrangements was awful. It was just the tourist area, i.e., that part of Bali which has been made almost exactly the same as everywhere else in the world for the sake of people who have come all this way to see Bali.


pages: 654 words: 204,260

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Brownian motion, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, clean water, Copley Medal, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

And what effect might all this have had on life beneath the seas? Well, little, we hope, but we actually have no idea. We are astoundingly, sumptuously, radiantly ignorant of life beneath the seas. Even the most substantial ocean creatures are often remarkably little known to us—including the most mighty of them all, the great blue whale, a creature of such leviathan proportions that (to quote David Attenborough) its “tongue weighs as much as an elephant, its heart is the size of a car and some of its blood vessels are so wide that you could swim down them.” It is the most gargantuan beast that Earth has yet produced, bigger even than the most cumbrous dinosaurs. Yet the lives of blue whales are largely a mystery to us. Much of the time we have no idea where they are—where they go to breed, for instance, or what routes they follow to get there.

The fungi excrete acids that dissolve the surface of the rock, freeing minerals that the algae convert into food sufficient to sustain both. It is not a very exciting arrangement, but it is a conspicuously successful one. The world has more than twenty thousand species of lichens. Like most things that thrive in harsh environments, lichens are slow-growing. It may take a lichen more than half a century to attain the dimensions of a shirt button. Those the size of dinner plates, writes David Attenborough, are therefore “likely to be hundreds if not thousands of years old.” It would be hard to imagine a less fulfilling existence. “They simply exist,” Attenborough adds, “testifying to the moving fact that life even at its simplest level occurs, apparently, just for its own sake.” It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point.


pages: 743 words: 201,651

Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, activist lawyer, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrew Keen, Apple II, Ayatollah Khomeini, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, Clapham omnibus, colonial rule, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, don't be evil, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Etonian, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, financial independence, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, George Santayana, global village, index card, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, megacity, mutually assured destruction, national security letter, Nelson Mandela, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Snapchat, social graph, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War

Kanzi has reportedly learned to ‘say’ some 500 words and understand as many as 3,000. Yet, even leaving aside the fact that his chest and vocal tract do not allow him to produce sustained sequences of recognisable sounds as humans do, there is still a qualitative gulf between what Kanzi has achieved and what most human beings can express.2 Towards the end of a lifetime spent studying the animal kingdom, the broadcaster David Attenborough was asked what he found the most astonishing creature on earth. He replied: ‘The only creature that really makes my jaw sag so much that I find it hard to stop looking is a nine-month-old human baby. The rate at which it grows. The rate at which it learns. The rate at which it acquires nerves. It is the most complex and the most extraordinary of all creatures. Nothing compares to it’.3 Amongst the things it learns, like no other animal, is language.

See Dunbar 2014, esp. 234–44 and Dunbar 1996. For other views, see Diamond 1993, 54–56 and 141–47 and Lieberman 2007 2. see, for example, IowaPrimate, ‘Kanzi and Novel Sentences’, 9 January 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Dhc2zePJFE&noredirect=1. Kanzi’s level of linguistic competence is the result of dedicated work by Sue Savage-Rambaugh 3. quoted in Sarah Knapton, ‘Which Creature Makes Sir David Attenborough’s Jaw Drop? It’s Not What You’d Expect’, Daily Telegraph, 27 January 2015, http://perma.cc/4H5R-F6HW 4. Dunbar 1996, 3 5. I quote from a personal conversation with him. See also Judt 2010, chapter 17 6. Brown 1991, 130–34 7. on cave paintings and musical instruments, see Werner Herzog’s fine film ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’. Shells and beads with holes pierced through them, presumably so they could be worn as a necklace or bracelet, found on the slopes of Mount Carmel in Israel, have been dated to 100,000 years ago; see Wilkins et al. 2012 8.


pages: 273 words: 83,186

The botany of desire: a plant's-eye view of the world by Michael Pollan

back-to-the-land, clean water, David Attenborough, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Francisco Pizarro, invention of agriculture, Joseph Schumpeter, mandatory minimum, Maui Hawaii, means of production, paper trading, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Steven Pinker

Chapman’s craft, his example, invites us to imagine a very different kind of story about Man and Nature, one that shrinks the distance between the two, so that we might again begin to see them for what they are and in spite of everything will always be, which is in this boat together. SOURCES Listed below, by chapter, are the principal works referred to in the text, as well as others that supplied me with facts or influenced my thinking. INTRODUCTION: THE HUMAN BUMBLEBEE David Attenborough’s 1995 public television series The Private Life of Plants probably did more than any book to open my eyes to the natural and human world as seen from the plant’s point of view. The series’ brilliant time-lapse photography immediately makes you realize that our sense of plants as passive objects is a failure of imagination, rooted in the fact that plants occupy what amounts to a different dimension.


pages: 315 words: 81,433

A Life Less Throwaway: The Lost Art of Buying for Life by Tara Button

clean water, collaborative consumption, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, Downton Abbey, hedonic treadmill, Internet of things, Kickstarter, life extension, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, meta analysis, meta-analysis, period drama, Rana Plaza, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, thinkpad

One study found that even strangers who asked and answered increasingly personal questions and engaged in eye contact could very quickly feel a deep sense of connection and even love for each other.13 Try this with your friends and family, using the questions you’ll find at 36questionsinlove.com. Play it like a game, with each person getting a chance to ask and answer. Then hold eye contact for three minutes. What’s wonderful about this exercise is that the questions can bring up some real surprises. I played this game with my dad and found out all sorts of things that I didn’t know, from his ultimate dinner guest (David Attenborough) and his favourite feeling (jamming with a band) to what he’s most grateful for in his life (his children). * * * A sense of belonging and community Humans were built to live in tribes or villages, but the current rise of individualism means that we are much less community-minded nowadays; we think predominantly about our own lives. This new culture, alongside the realities of having to work, make money and raise children in our little nuclear families, means that we are getting worse at connecting with other members of society.


pages: 299 words: 81,377

The No Need to Diet Book: Become a Diet Rebel and Make Friends With Food by Plantbased Pixie

Albert Einstein, David Attenborough, employer provided health coverage, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, publication bias, randomized controlled trial

I don’t think it’s realistic to expect people to never consume any media messages ever. It’s impossible – you might walk in on your flatmate or family member watching something on TV, videos get shared on social media, billboards are all over the place, and besides, it’s fun to watch TV! Not all popular media is problematic – obviously, I couldn’t possibly have a bad word to say about anything by David Attenborough, for example. Perhaps what we need is greater awareness of what we watch, and to take some time to assess whether what we are watching shows enough diversity in humans and in bodies. Healthy movement Moving your body is a wonderful thing, and carries with it a whole host of benefits, both mental and physical. Focusing on these health benefits rather than aesthetics as your primary motivation for exercise means you’ll have better body image and overall mental health.


pages: 334 words: 82,041

How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature by George Monbiot

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Attenborough, dematerialisation, demographic transition, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, first-past-the-post, full employment, Gini coefficient, hedonic treadmill, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, land reform, land value tax, market fundamentalism, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, moral panic, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, old-boy network, peak oil, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, rent-seeking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, urban sprawl, wealth creators, World Values Survey

It revealed that ‘some of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly’ to decide which good cause they should support. ‘A consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat.’5 The ultra-rich, in other words, have decided that it’s the very poor who are trashing the planet. You grope for a metaphor, but it’s impossible to satirise. James Lovelock, like Sir David Attenborough and Jonathan Porritt, is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). It is one of dozens of campaigns and charities whose sole purpose is to discourage people from breeding in the name of saving the biosphere. But I haven’t been able to find any campaign whose sole purpose is to address the impacts of the very rich. The obsessives could argue that the people breeding rapidly today might one day become richer.


pages: 260 words: 80,230

Everything That Makes Us Human: Case Notes of a Children's Brain Surgeon by Jay Jayamohan

computer age, David Attenborough, epigenetics, stem cell

Whereas a baby giraffe, for example, comes out of its mum pretty much fully wired because it can walk and feed independently, human babies are useless. But not for long. They go from being completely helpless squishy things, to angry, sometimes-capable-of-shouting-back-and-throwing-stuff squishy things in no time at all. They crawl, they eat, they communicate, they toddle, they develop fine motor skills – they become tiny people exceptionally quickly. Nought to sixty in a matter of months. No wonder David Attenborough calls them the most impressive creature in the wider animal kingdom. A lot of remarkable brain development occurs in a brief time period – and the plates have to keep up. But what if they don’t? What if those junctions between the different plates fuse too early? It’s called craniosynostosis and it happens, sometimes while the baby is still developing within the womb. If it does, it can create a small but firm head that is still able to be delivered normally.


Racing With Death by Beau Riffenburgh

British Empire, David Attenborough, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society

Because even when Mawson was not in the far south, he seemed to be planning his next journey there, raising the required funds for such massive undertakings, working up his scientific results, or being involved in major governmental, scientific, or policy decisions about the Antarctic. Eventually, he became recognised as perhaps the world’s most eminent authority on Antarctica. Today, scientists, adventurers, and even tourists travel almost at will through the Antarctic continent. It is a part of the planet that David Attenborough, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and others have, each in his own way, made familiar to much of the Western world. This book, however, goes back to a time when people knew far less about this region, and when it was almost unimaginably remote. As much as anybody in history, it was Douglas Mawson who opened up these hostile lands to scientific and geographical experts, to governments, and to the public.


pages: 354 words: 93,882

How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

Albert Einstein, Alexander Shulgin, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, David Attenborough, David Brooks, deskilling, financial independence, full employment, Gordon Gekko, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Lao Tzu, liberal capitalism, moral panic, New Urbanism, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, spinning jenny, Torches of Freedom, trade route, wage slave

We need to embrace the apparent ' uselessness ' of the state, to resist the pressure to normalize oneself. The hangover should be embraced as a day off, time out from reality, a chance to live in the moment. Ideally, the hangover should be spent at home, with endless cups of tea, friends who are in the same state as you, a daft film like Zoolander (we watched it on New Year' s Day and I cannot remember anything so hilarious) . My friend Nora recently came to stay armed with three of David Attenborough ' s Secret Life of Mammals videos as the ideal hangover accompaniment. And she was right: watching comical penguins loll oping around in the Antarctic wastes was indeed most enjoyable in our flaccid post-party condition. A yet more radical theory of the hangover comes from the notorious hell-raising duo English actor Keith Allen and artist Damien Hirst. In their case, their hangovers may have been particularly severe since their drinking sessions could go on for days.


pages: 279 words: 90,888

The Lost Decade: 2010–2020, and What Lies Ahead for Britain by Polly Toynbee, David Walker

banking crisis, battle of ideas, Boris Johnson, call centre, car-free, centre right, collective bargaining, congestion charging, corporate governance, crony capitalism, David Attenborough, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy transition, Etonian, first-past-the-post, G4S, gender pay gap, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global village, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Dyson, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, moral panic, mortgage debt, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pension reform, quantitative easing, Right to Buy, Saturday Night Live, selection bias, smart meter, Uber for X, urban renewal, working-age population

YouGov found 46 per cent ‘felt guilty’ about the amount of plastic they used. With Brexit having sucked the breath out of public activism for so long, the sudden eruption of climate-change protests in spring 2019 was all the more surprising. People had seen hot summers, dry and mild winters and extraordinary weather events without previously joining the dots to global warming. But programmes such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II seized the attention. Surveys said half of adults were ‘more worried’ now than before and that younger people were generally in favour of action. According to the government’s own attitudes tracker, support for using renewable energy reached a record high of 85 per cent in spring 2019. The public had cause for concern: an analysis of data by the Financial Times and Greenpeace in November 2019 found the UK was ‘on course to miss many of its looming environmental targets’ on air and water pollution, biodiversity and recycling.


pages: 292 words: 97,911

Truths, Half Truths and Little White Lies by Nick Frost

Alexander Shulgin, call centre, David Attenborough, hive mind, impulse control, job-hopping, Norman Mailer, Rubik’s Cube

Even during the darkest, poorest, shitest, hardest times, what got me through that bleakness was laughter and time, lots of time. With enough of both of these things I reckon you could get over just about anything. Just about. It was a difficult decision to write this though. Am I willing to lay out my total being in all its ugliness for the potential of selling 1,500 hardbacks? Do I just want to produce another ‘celeb’ autobiography, written by a ghost, telling you about the time I met David Attenborough? (He was lovely.) No, I didn’t want to do that. If you’re going to tell the story of a life, my life, tell it warts and all. That, to me, is a better reflection of a person. If the tale you tell is too saccharine sweet what can the reader take away from it? What do they learn about you? About a life? Fuck all. Write everything down. The shit, the death, fun, naughtiness, addiction, laughter, laughter, laughter, tears and lots of love and happiness.


pages: 416 words: 100,130

New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World--And How to Make It Work for You by Jeremy Heimans, Henry Timms

"side hustle", 3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, battle of ideas, Benjamin Mako Hill, bitcoin, blockchain, British Empire, Chris Wanstrath, Columbine, Corn Laws, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ferguson, Missouri, future of work, game design, gig economy, hiring and firing, IKEA effect, income inequality, informal economy, job satisfaction, Jony Ive, Kibera, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Minecraft, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, profit motive, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Snapchat, social web, TaskRabbit, the scientific method, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, upwardly mobile, web application, WikiLeaks

Science Minister Jo Johnson, it was reported in The Guardian, said as the vote closed, “We want a name that lasts longer than a social media news cycle.” Rumblings grew that Wingham would exercise his right to overrule the crowd and make the final call. So it was that on Friday, May 6, Boaty McBoatface was buried at sea. In a clever—and somewhat cynical—move, NERC declared it would name the ship after the great naturalist, TV presenter, and aging national treasure, Sir David Attenborough. A choice no one could really complain about. To soften the blow further, it claimed that the people’s boat would live on in the form of one of the ship’s remotely operated subsea vessels, which would be named Boaty McBoatface. The parliamentary inquiry that followed was partly a slap on the wrist for NERC for all the brouhaha but also a real discussion—in the scientific tradition—of what might be learned from this viral drama.


Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Legislative Exchange Council, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Flynn Effect, Google Earth, Hyperloop, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, life extension, light touch regulation, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart meter, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, supervolcano, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, urban sprawl, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Y2K, yield curve

From Port Douglas, in Queensland, Australia, it’s about two hours by motorboat to the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef. On my last trip, in the spring of 2018, the sea was choppy and no one talked much, just dozed in the early morning sun. We were headed to the Opal Reef, where, three years earlier, a crew had filmed some of the remarkable scenes of coral spawning for the BBC series Blue Planet II. Guided by the phases of the moon, and with David Attenborough providing discreet and tasteful narration, the garden of corals had simultaneously released clouds of eggs and sperm for the cameras, in the world’s most profligate display of fecundity, a spectacle if there ever was one. But no longer. We moored, tugged on snorkels and masks, and stepped off the stern, clad in full-body “stinger suits” to protect us from the jellyfish. I swam the fifty yards to the reef with James Kerry, a reef researcher at Queensland’s James Cook University, and when we got to the edge, we peered down—and it was like snorkeling over an empty parking garage.


pages: 572 words: 94,002

Reset: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money: The Unconventional Early Retirement Plan for Midlife Careerists Who Want to Be Happy by David Sawyer

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, beat the dealer, bitcoin, Cal Newport, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Attenborough, David Heinemeier Hansson, Desert Island Discs, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, Elon Musk, financial independence, follow your passion, gig economy, hiring and firing, index card, index fund, invention of the wheel, knowledge worker, loadsamoney, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage debt, passive income, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart meter, Snapchat, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, Vanguard fund, Y Combinator

It’s easier to be striving, struggling-and-always-learning, when you’re on the periphery not the centre. The best original thought often comes from those without too much face to lose, those who’ve not yet “made it”. 6. Seek adventures There’s no better word in the English language than adventure: “an exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking[489].” In Britain, and throughout the world, we love our Captain Scotts, our Ernest Shackletons, our David Attenboroughs. Adventures feed the soul. When I’m in the wilderness, in the mountains, climbing, I’m in the moment – nothing else matters. I’m in control, worries recede, life is simpler and sometimes I get those Polaroid moments that stick, providing sustenance. I recall one unusual day on the Black Cuillin with my brother-in-law in the late 1990s. Fifteen hours after leaving Glen Brittle, 22:00 saw us wet-through and bivvied-down, under an overhanging rock by a hut on the shore of Loch Coruisk.


Your Own Allotment : How to Find It, Cultivate It, and Enjoy Growing Your Own Food by Russell-Jones, Neil.

Berlin Wall, British Empire, carbon footprint, Corn Laws, David Attenborough, discovery of the americas, information retrieval, Kickstarter, mass immigration, spice trade

I would get in touch with the following: G NSALG so that they can get involved and give support and advice; G your local MP (or equivalent in Wales and Scotland); 1 • All About Allotments 17 G your MEP; G the parish and other subsidiary bodies; G the local councillor; G the local press; G local community associations; G green organisations; G allotments are very green and that is a hot political potato at the moment so in order to make a lot of fuss I would also get in touch with the relevant shadow Secretary of State; G anyone else that you think would help (well, known people like David Attenborough or David Bellamy, or even David Beckham if you know them!). Further information can be found on the Department of Communities & Local Government’s website. 2 Our Allotment A few words about our particular allotment and its site. We now have a plot that is some 130 feet long by about 20 feet wide, ie pretty much the standard sized plot of 10 rods, mentioned previously. We didn’t get it all in one go; first we were allocated the ‘top’ part (which was furthest away from the path and on the boundary of the site) – around three-sevenths.


pages: 339 words: 112,979

Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Mahatma Gandhi, music of the spheres, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, Steven Pinker, Zipf's Law

Kung San tracker, who has only to read footprints in the Kalahari dirt to reconstruct a detailed pattern, description, or model of animal behaviour in the recent past? Properly read, such spoors amount to maps and pictures, and it seems to me plausible that the ability to read such maps and pictures might have arisen in our ancestors before the origin of speech in words. Suppose that a band of Homo habilis hunters needed to plan a cooperative hunt. In a remarkable and chilling 1992 television film, Too Close for Comfort, David Attenborough shows modern chimpanzees executing what seems to be a carefully planned and successful drive and ambush of a colobus monkey, which they then tear to pieces and eat. There is no reason to think that the chimpanzees communicated any detailed plan to each other before beginning the hunt, but every reason to think that habilis might have benefited from some such communication if it could have been achieved.


pages: 385 words: 105,627

The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom by Simon Winchester

Berlin Wall, British Empire, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Etonian, Fellow of the Royal Society, index card, invention of gunpowder, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, New Urbanism, Ralph Waldo Emerson, stakhanovite, Stephen Hawking, Ted Kaczynski, trade route

After a pause following the Korean War—in the mid-1950s he had felt that further trips to China would make his situation at home intolerable—he started going to China again. He was now one of the founding leaders of the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU), which he, the Bryans, and others had formed after their Britain-China Friendship Association collapsed in a welter of Stalinist recrimination. In the late 1960s, a visa obtained through SACU was just about the only way for a Briton to gain access to China; the young filmmaker David Attenborough was one of the first to do so. Needham remained its president for thirty-five years, and was able to get visas to China with ease—so long, his later critics pointed out, as he remained staunchly uncritical of the regime’s excesses. He flew back to China first in 1964, and found to his delight that he was to be greeted officially by the government, and by no less than Zhou Enlai, who treated him like an old friend.


pages: 417 words: 109,367

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century by Ronald Bailey

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, Climatic Research Unit, Commodity Super-Cycle, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, double helix, energy security, failed state, financial independence, Gary Taubes, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Induced demand, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, Peter Calthorpe, phenotype, planetary scale, price stability, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Stewart Brand, Tesla Model S, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, women in the workforce, yield curve

Even now the Ehrlichs are far from alone in propagating forecasts of overpopulation doom. “The world faces a serious overpopulation problem,” asserted Cornell University researcher David Pimentel in his 2011 article “World Overpopulation.” “The world’s biggest problem?” asks a 2011 op-ed by researchers Mary Ellen Harte and Anne Ehrlich in the Los Angeles Times. “Too many people,” they answer. “We are a plague upon the earth,” declared nature documentarian Sir David Attenborough. “Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us.” Attenborough expressed these dour sentiments in The Telegraph in January 2013. In his 2013 rant Ten Billion, Microsoft Research computer scientist Stephen Emmott argued that humanity’s growing population constitutes “an unprecedented planetary emergency.” Emmott asserts, “As the population continues to grow, our problems will increase.


pages: 300 words: 106,520

The Nanny State Made Me: A Story of Britain and How to Save It by Stuart Maconie

banking crisis, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Boris Johnson, British Empire, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, don't be evil, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Etonian, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, G4S, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, helicopter parent, hiring and firing, housing crisis, job automation, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, North Sea oil, Own Your Own Home, plutocrats, Plutocrats, rent control, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Silicon Valley, The Chicago School, universal basic income, Winter of Discontent

This is what I strive to recall when I am holding my head in my hands at the latest piece of strategic management folly or some lousily written news report or appalling daytime show about buying crap at a car boot sale or shopping your benefit-cheat neighbours. I am proud because of Blue Peter, Sherlock and Doctor Who, Monty Python, Fleabag, Mr Tumble, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, David Attenborough, the Proms, Barry Davies (not John Motson), Radio 3 and so on and so on. I’m proud to be associated with an organisation that marries the public sector with a national collective spirit. A massive 96 per cent of the UK population consume BBC products each week. Its services are actively chosen 140 million times a day, despite a hugely competitive, now unparalleled media choice. It has the highest audience share of any provider in UK television and radio markets with 33 per cent of the television audience and 53 per cent of the radio audience.


pages: 332 words: 106,197

The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and Its Solutions by Jason Hickel

Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Atahualpa, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Sanders, Bob Geldof, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, David Attenborough, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, dematerialisation, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, European colonialism, falling living standards, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, Howard Zinn, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, land value tax, liberal capitalism, Live Aid, Mahatma Gandhi, Monroe Doctrine, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, plutocrats, Plutocrats, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration

If Ancient Egypt had started with one cubic metre of possessions and grew them by 4.5 per cent per year, by the end of its 3, 000-year civilisation it would have needed 2.5 billion solar systems to store all its stuff. It doesn’t take a scientist to realise that endless exponential growth is absurd, in the true sense of the word. To imagine that we can continue on this trajectory indefinitely is to disavow the most obvious truths about our planet’s material limits. As David Attenborough once so eloquently put it, ‘Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist.’ If we are overshooting our planet’s ecological capacity at our existing levels of economic activity, what happens when we factor in exponential growth? Even the near future looks quite bleak. Scientists tell us that by 2050 our mature tropical forests will have disappeared.


The Beach by Alex Garland

David Attenborough, friendly fire, Khyber Pass, South China Sea

Within a couple of minutes the papaya was being pulled out of my hands as quickly as I could tear it from the fruit. My body was covered in sticky juice, my eyes were watering because I didn't have time to pull the joint from my lips, and little black fingers were pawing at me from all directions. Eventually all of them managed to get a chunk, and I was left sitting cross-legged in a sea of munching monkeys. I felt like David Attenborough. It was the distinctive sound of falling water that finally led me out of the jungle. I heard it fifteen minutes after leaving the orchard, and then it was just a matter of zoning in on the noise. I came out by the carved tree and immediately dived into the waterfall pool, keen to wash the sweat and papaya juice off my body. It was only when I came up that I realized I wasn't alone. Sal and Bugs were kissing, naked, in the penumbra of the spray.


pages: 450 words: 113,173

The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties by Christopher Caldwell

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, anti-communist, Bernie Sanders, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, blue-collar work, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, computer age, crack epidemic, crony capitalism, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, desegregation, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, full employment, George Gilder, global value chain, Home mortgage interest deduction, illegal immigration, immigration reform, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, libertarian paternalism, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, mortgage tax deduction, Nate Silver, new economy, Norman Mailer, post-industrial society, pre–internet, profit motive, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog, zero-sum game

Much contemporary culture consisted of reinterpreting and, where necessary, bowdlerizing the history and culture of the half-millennium from the Renaissance to the fall of communism to make its achievements more congruent with the twenty-first-century ideology of diversity. In 2015, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens laundered the plot of the original 1977 Star Wars film into a more multiracial cast, and in 2016 the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters was remade with all-female agents. The BBC announced a more multicultural remake of Kenneth Clark and David Attenborough’s classic Civilisation series from the late 1960s. (The new one was to be called Civilisations.) At one point in 2015, the Washington Post called the black incendiary Ta-Nehisi Coates the country’s “foremost public intellectual”—and it was probably right, since race was getting to be the sum total of what the country’s intellectual life was about. There were columnists in the Post and the New York Times who had the job of sounding off about race morning after morning, not because their readerships had swollen with marginal crackpots but for the benefit of the new establishment, from deputy assistant secretaries in Cleveland Park in the District of Columbia to the trust fund hipsters of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


pages: 463 words: 115,103

Head, Hand, Heart: Why Intelligence Is Over-Rewarded, Manual Workers Matter, and Caregivers Deserve More Respect by David Goodhart

active measures, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, assortative mating, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, call centre, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, centre right, computer age, corporate social responsibility, COVID-19, Covid-19, David Attenborough, David Brooks, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, desegregation, deskilling, different worldview, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Etonian, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Flynn Effect, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, income inequality, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shock, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, post-industrial society, post-materialism, postindustrial economy, precariat, reshoring, Richard Florida, Scientific racism, Skype, social intelligence, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thorstein Veblen, twin studies, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, wages for housework, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, young professional

The left hemisphere–Head worldview treats the body as a machine and the natural world as a heap of resources to be exploited. This has had inevitable consequences, and if technology cannot come to our aid, it is going to require some very hard conversations within and between countries about burden sharing. There has been some shift in awareness about the heaviness of the human footprint, David Attenborough’s Blue Planet changed the way that many of us think about plastic. But the pious consensus in most rich countries about the threat of climate change is not at all reflected in our behavior as citizens and is unlikely to be so until the threat to us is very much more immediate. And even if there were an authority we could all trust who could spell out the relative risks of different courses of action, there is every likelihood that there would be fundamental disagreements between people of different temperaments as to which course to take, as there was at the height of the Covid-19 crisis.


pages: 396 words: 123,619

Hope for Animals and Their World by Jane Goodall, Thane Maynard, Gail Hudson

carbon footprint, clean water, David Attenborough, Google Earth, Maui Hawaii, Nelson Mandela, new economy, out of africa

She and her boss, Malcolm Baxter, are the only two who know the secrets of the pine’s commercial propagation, and both feel privileged to be involved with this extraordinary species. They hope, among other things, that by propagating the pines and selling them to botanists, gardeners, and collectors around the country, people will be less desperate to visit the canyon to see the trees in the wild—but I doubt it. I saw one of the two that was donated to Kew Botanical Gardens during my recent visit there. It was planted by Sir David Attenborough and is growing splendidly within its protective iron cage. And in Australia, I had the privilege of planting one of the little saplings on the grounds of Adelaide Zoo. I am, of course, delighted to have seen and even handled living tissue descended from the ancient giants. But it does not stop me longing to visit that dark and mysterious canyon that has, for millions of years, hidden its secret, and stand in the presence of the original trees themselves.


When Computers Can Think: The Artificial Intelligence Singularity by Anthony Berglas, William Black, Samantha Thalind, Max Scratchmann, Michelle Estes

3D printing, AI winter, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, blue-collar work, brain emulation, call centre, cognitive bias, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, create, read, update, delete, cuban missile crisis, David Attenborough, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, factory automation, feminist movement, finite state, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, general-purpose programming language, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Gödel, Escher, Bach, industrial robot, Isaac Newton, job automation, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, license plate recognition, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, natural language processing, Parkinson's law, patent troll, patient HM, pattern recognition, phenotype, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test, uranium enrichment, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons, zero day

A mat of floating vegetation could also restrict waves and so not need to anchor itself. Of course, any pests that might want to eat the intelligent plants or compete with them for sunlight would need to be dealt with. The advancement of AGIs may not just lead to the extinction of mankind. It may instead lead to the extinction of all conventional biology. Concluding a recent wildlife film, David Attenborough remarked “… if there is one thing that is certain, it is that the evolution of the vertebrates will continue for a long time to come.”. In fact, that is far from certain. If hyper-intelligent plantoids covered much of the earth, they could accurately control the weather by changing their colour to be light or dark and thus control the temperature of the earth. They could also control the amount of water that evaporates from the oceans.


pages: 381 words: 120,361

Sunfall by Jim Al-Khalili

airport security, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Carrington event, cosmological constant, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Attenborough, Fellow of the Royal Society, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invisible hand, Kickstarter, mass immigration, megacity, MITM: man-in-the-middle, off grid, pattern recognition, Silicon Valley, smart cities, sorting algorithm, South China Sea, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Turing test

The virtual-assistant system installed in the house, even running its highly sophisticated sorting algorithm, was proving unable to weed out the spam from the ham to build any reliable picture. Marc sighed. As usual, you had to do a little digging to get to the truth. ‘Select favourites only. Past twenty-four hours. Keywords: magnetic storm, solar flare, threat level.’ One thing he hadn’t done yet was change the VA’s settings, so it still spoke in the voice of the old British natural-history broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, a favourite of his mother’s: The top hit discussion is whether the current event was due directly to the weakening of the Earth’s magnetosphere – consensus rating 95.2 per cent – and how soon the Flip will happen and restore the planet’s protective magnetic shield – consensus on when this will occur is in the range of six months to five years from now. None of this was new. For several years now, many scientists had been debating the expected reversal of the Earth’s field, when the north and south magnetic poles would switch over.


The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins

Alfred Russel Wallace, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, back-to-the-land, Claude Shannon: information theory, correlation does not imply causation, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, Danny Hillis, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental subject, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, invisible hand, Louis Pasteur, out of africa, phenotype, Thomas Malthus

There is a growing anxiety about what will be taught and how it will be taught in the new generation of proposed faith schools. We believe that the curricula in such schools, as well as that of Emmanuel City Technology College, need to be strictly monitored in order that the respective disciplines of science and religious studies are properly respected. Yours sincerely The Rt Revd Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford; Sir David Attenborough FRS; The Rt Revd Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans; Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society; Professor John Enderby FRS, Physical Secretary, Royal Society; The Rt Revd John Oliver, Bishop of Hereford; The Rt Revd Mark Santer, Bishop of Birmingham; Sir Neil Chalmers, Director, Natural History Museum; The Rt Revd Thomas Butler, Bishop of Southwark; Sir Martin Rees FRS, Astronomer Royal; The Rt Revd Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth; Professor Patrick Bateson FRS, Biological Secretary, Royal Society; The Rt Revd Crispian Hollis, Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth; Sir Richard Southwood FRS; Sir Francis Graham-Smith FRS, Past Physical Secretary, Royal Society; Professor Richard Dawkins FRS Bishop Harries and I organized this letter in a hurry.


pages: 579 words: 160,351

Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, centre right, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, David Brooks, death of newspapers, Donald Trump, Doomsday Book, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Etonian, Filter Bubble, forensic accounting, Frank Gehry, future of journalism, G4S, high net worth, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, natural language processing, New Journalism, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pre–internet, ransomware, recommendation engine, Ruby on Rails, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, Socratic dialogue, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile, WikiLeaks

Another still remembers the support she received when receiving treatment for cancer. There was not one porn post. One of the most popular shared activities was watching television in the virtual company of others. The talkboarders would chat away to each other throughout the first series of Big Brother – the C4 reality show, aired in 2000, which spied on ‘housemates’ marooned inside a custom-built home. There would always be a gaggle on hand to discuss anything David Attenborough was doing. One poster reflected later: ‘That couldn’t happen now as there isn’t a social media that really allows it (Twitter is too huge) and everyone is On Demand so not watching at the same time.’ We learned from the behaviour of the users. Live coverage of big television ‘events’ became a staple of later coverage on the main site. The community of regular, active contributors was never huge – maybe only a few thousand.


pages: 1,132 words: 156,379

The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve by Steve Stewart-Williams

Albert Einstein, battle of ideas, carbon-based life, David Attenborough, European colonialism, feminist movement, financial independence, gender pay gap, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, out of africa, Paul Graham, phenotype, post-industrial society, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies

All we need is a library card, a good teacher, or access to the Internet. We can then download into our brains some of the achieved knowledge of the species. This subsequently becomes the starting point for the next round of innovation. The developmental psychologist Michael Tomasello dubbed this progression the cultural ratchet.29 Extended across time, the cumulative effects of the ratcheting process are astonishing. I remember once watching a David Attenborough documentary in which an orangutan rowed a boat down a river. At first, it struck me as anomalous: Here was this animal skillfully piloting a vehicle it could never have invented itself. But then it occurred to me that human beings are in exactly the same boat, metaphorically speaking. In even the simplest human societies, people use tools they could never have invented themselves. And in our modern age, we routinely use technologies so complex that most people don’t have the slightest clue how they work.


pages: 551 words: 174,280

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch

agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kenneth Arrow, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, Thales of Miletus, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam, zero-sum game

But he persevered because those distinctive statues were the perfect setting for him to deliver the central message of his series – which is also a theme of this book – that our civilization is unique in history for its capacity to make progress. He wanted to celebrate its values and achievements, and to attribute the latter to the former, and to contrast our civilization with the alternative as epitomized by ancient Easter Island. The Ascent of Man had been commissioned by the naturalist David Attenborough, then controller of the British television channel BBC2. A quarter of a century later Attenborough – who had by then become the doyen of natural-history film-making – led another film crew to Easter Island, to film another television series, The State of the Planet. He too chose those grim-faced statues as a backdrop, for his closing scene. Alas, his message was almost exactly the opposite of Bronowski’s.


pages: 661 words: 187,613

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker

Albert Einstein, cloud computing, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, elephant in my pajamas, finite state, illegal immigration, Joan Didion, Loebner Prize, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, MITM: man-in-the-middle, natural language processing, out of africa, phenotype, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Saturday Night Live, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, Turing test, twin studies, Yogi Berra

—Scientific American “His own use of language is a powerful advertisement for this human ability, as he lays his stall out with clarity and candor…. Darwin…would surely be impressed by the way in which Pinker sheds light on these questions…. A superb book, simply at the level of being a good read: it is packed with fascinating facts and information…. Pinker debunks with panache, cuts through the confusion of jargon, and tells a mean anecdote. He does for language what David Attenborough does for animals, explaining difficult scientific concepts so easily that they are indeed absorbed as a transparent stream of words…. I will be astonished if a better science book of any kind, let alone one accessible to the general reader, comes along this year…. His book is groundbreaking, exhilarating, fun, and almost certainly correct. Do yourself a favor and read it.” —Sunday Times (London) “A brilliant study of language….


Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society by Nicholas A. Christakis

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, assortative mating, Cass Sunstein, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, different worldview, disruptive innovation, double helix, epigenetics, experimental economics, experimental subject, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, invention of writing, iterative process, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, joint-stock company, land tenure, Laplace demon, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, out of africa, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, replication crisis, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, social web, stem cell, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies, ultimatum game, zero-sum game

More important, however, this brings to the fore features that are universal among all human societies, highlighting our common humanity. Paradoxically, when we resemble other animals with respect to the social suite, it binds us all together. The more like these animals we are, the more alike we humans must be to one another. CHAPTER 10 Remote Control The male bowerbirds of western New Guinea are extraordinary creatures with a “passion for interior decoration,” according to BBC Planet Earth host David Attenborough. Bowerbirds make elaborate structures known as bowers. These architectural marvels are built around a sort of maypole on the forest floor and have a large conical shape stretching as much as six feet across, with supportive pillars and a thatched roof of orchid stems. Inside, the bird will carefully arrange piles of beetle wings, tropical acorns, black fruits, glowing orange flowers, and even a “lawn” of carefully planted moss.


pages: 717 words: 196,908

The Idea of Decline in Western History by Arthur Herman

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, David Attenborough, European colonialism, George Santayana, ghettoisation, hiring and firing, Joan Didion, laissez-faire capitalism, late capitalism, lateral thinking, liberal capitalism, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, profit motive, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile

Since his emergence from the other primates, Kingdon sadly concludes, Homo sapiens has been Faustian man; whether Stone Age bushman, aborginal basket weaver, or Eskimo seal hunter, he is a born trasher of his environment whose insatiable appetite to change and transform nature brings him in the postmodern age to the point of imminent extinction.70 Gore is similarly forced to conclude that the threat to the planet is not just Western civilization but human civilization itself.71 Gore pushes cultural pessimism to a new extreme, concluding that the human community was doomed from the very start. Gore’s world history is the struggle between man and nature, but now it is nature that sets the pace rather than man. Nature, rather than any virtue or vice in man, becomes the driving force behind the collapse of civilizations past and present. Other historians of climate and human geography have recently made the same claim. Ecobiologist David Attenborough has speculated that the real cause of Rome’s collapse was not moral or economic or political collapse but deforestation.72 Gore himself relies on the example of the Mayas as a parable for modern times: a sophisticated and urbanized culture, equipped with mathematics and astronomy, whose agricultural revolution was ruthlessly swept away by an eleventh-century global warming that brought climatic changes and soil erosion.


England by David Else

active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, David Attenborough, David Brooks, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kickstarter, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, Nelson Mandela, new economy, New Urbanism, out of africa, period drama, place-making, sceptred isle, Skype, Sloane Ranger, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

Known for their intricate plots, film homages and amazingly realistic animation, the Wallace and Gromit films scooped Nick Park four Oscars. Aardman Animations has also produced two successful animated features, Chicken Run (2000) and Flushed Away (2006), in partnership with Hollywood’s DreamWorks studios. * * * The BBC is famous for its news and natural-history programming, symbolised by landmark series such as Planet Earth and The Blue Planet (helmed by the reassuring presence of David Attenborough, a national institution on British screens since the 1970s). The big-budget costume drama is another Sunday-night staple; British viewers have been treated to adaptations of practically every Dickens, Austen and Thackeray novel in the canon over the last decade. More recently ITV has been making inroads into costume-drama territory, notably with Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey.

The honour roll of famous Cambridge graduates reads like an international who’s who of high achievers: 81 Nobel Prize winners (more than any other institution in the world), 13 British prime ministers, nine archbishops of Canterbury, an immense number of scientists, and a healthy host of poets and authors. Crick and Watson discovered DNA here, Isaac Newton used Cambridge to work on his theory of gravity, Stephen Hawking is a professor of mathematics here, and Charles Darwin, William Wordsworth, Vladimir Nabokov, David Attenborough and John Cleese all studied here. Today the university remains one of the top three for research worldwide, and international academics have polled it as the top university in the world for science. Thanks to some of the earth-shaking discoveries made here, Cambridge is inextricably linked to the history of mankind. The university celebrates its 800th birthday in 2009; look out for special events, lectures and concerts to mark its intriguing eight centuries.


pages: 388 words: 211,074

Pauline Frommer's London: Spend Less, See More by Jason Cochran

Bonfire of the Vanities, Boris Johnson, British Empire, congestion charging, David Attenborough, Etonian, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Haight Ashbury, haute couture, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, Kickstarter, low cost airline, Nelson Mandela, Skype, urban planning

What’s it like to roam China’s Silk Road or take a dog trek through the Russian Far East? Experienced hands appear, slides in hand, to report on their adventures and on the state of the world, as do authors who have recently written works. Non-members get last pick of tickets to the most popular events (held evenings and weekends), but a few excellent series are open to all, including “Discovering People,” in which a travel luminary (such as Jan Morris, Michael Palin, or Sir David Attenborough) is interviewed, or “Discovering Places,” panel discussions on exotic destinations such as Myanmar. Events are mostly free but sometimes cost up to £15, and they break for the summer. Let it not be forgotten that it was at the British Museum where Karl Marx developed the political theories that would sweep the planet and shape the 20th century. Lenin spent about a year in London, too. In the spring and the autumn, the Marx Memorial Library (37a Clerkenwell Green, EC1; % 020/7253-1485; www.marx-memorial-library.org; visiting hours Mon–Thurs 1–2pm; Tube: Farringdon), fittingly, sponsors thought-provoking lectures on socialism and workers’ rights that even the proletariat can afford: £1 per edifying session.


Fodor's Costa Rica 2012 by Fodor's

Berlin Wall, buttonwood tree, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, David Attenborough, haute cuisine, Pepto Bismol, place-making, sustainable-tourism, urban renewal, urban sprawl

Highlights are fabulous mountain lodges and Chirripó National Park. The Coast. The coast has miles of beaches peppered with small beach communities, including Dominical, a scruffy but lively surfer haven. The Osa Peninsula. The wild Osa Peninsula consists almost entirely of Corcovado National Park, 1,156 square km (445 square mi) of primary and secondary rain forest straight out of a David Attenborough nature documentary. Golfo Dulce. The eastern Golfo Dulce draws anglers to Golfito, beachcombers to slow-paced Zancudo, and serious surfers to Pavones. South Pacific Planner When to Go The climate swings wildly in the south, from bracing mountain air to steamy coastal humidity. In the mountains it’s normally around 24°C (75°F) during the day and 10°C (50°F) at night, though nighttime temperatures on the upper slopes of Cerro de la Muerte can be close to freezing.


pages: 740 words: 236,681

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever by Christopher Hitchens

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Ayatollah Khomeini, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, David Attenborough, Edmond Halley, Georg Cantor, germ theory of disease, index card, Isaac Newton, liberation theology, Mahatma Gandhi, phenotype, risk tolerance, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics

, with no named author but published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in sixteen languages and eleven million copies, is obviously a firm favourite because no fewer than six of those eleven million copies have been sent to me as unsolicited gifts by well-wishers from around the world. Picking a page at random from this anonymous and lavishly distributed work, we find the sponge known as Venus’ Flower Basket (Euplectella), accompanied by a quotation from Sir David Attenborough, no less: “When you look at a complex sponge skeleton such as that made of silica spicules which is known as Venus’ Flower Basket, the imagination is baffled. How could quasi-independent microscopic cells collaborate to secrete a million glassy splinters and construct such an intricate and beautiful lattice? We do not know.” The Watchtower authors lose no time in adding their own punchline: “But one thing we do know: Chance is not the likely designer.”


Fodor's Costa Rica 2013 by Fodor's Travel Publications Inc.

airport security, Berlin Wall, buttonwood tree, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, David Attenborough, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, Pepto Bismol, place-making, sustainable-tourism, urban sprawl

Highlights are fabulous mountain lodges and Chirripó National Park. The Coast. The coast has miles of beaches peppered with small beach communities, including Dominical, a scruffy but lively surfer haven. The Osa Peninsula. The wild Osa Peninsula consists almost entirely of Corcovado National Park, 1,156 square km (445 square miles) of primary and secondary rain forest straight out of a David Attenborough nature documentary. Golfo Dulce. The eastern Golfo Dulce draws anglers and kayakers to Golfito, beachcombers to slow-paced Zancudo, and serious surfers to Pavones. CHIRRIPÓ NATIONAL PARK Chirripó National Park is all about hiking. The ascent up Mt. Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica, is the most popular and challenging hike in the country. It’s also the most exclusive, limited to 40 hikers per day.


pages: 1,002 words: 276,865

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia

agricultural Revolution, British Empire, colonial rule, David Attenborough, Eratosthenes, ghettoisation, joint-stock company, long peace, mass immigration, out of africa, spice trade, trade route, wikimedia commons, Yom Kippur War

There is a marvellous collection of sources in English translation, edited by miriam cooke (spelt thus), E. Göknar and G. Parker: Mediterranean Passages: Readings from Dido to Derrida (Chapel Hill, NC, 2008). More popular accounts of the Mediterranean, often well illustrated, include Sarah Arenson, The Encircled Sea: the Mediterranean Maritime Civilisation (London, 1990), making good use of marine archaeology, and David Attenborough, The First Eden: the Mediterranean World and Man (London, 1987), whose real strength is the illustrations; both books were based on television series. Captivating musings on the Mediterranean are offered by P. Matvejević, Mediterranean: a Cultural Landscape (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1999). John Julius Norwich, The Middle Sea: a History of the Mediterranean (London, 2006), wanders rather far from the shores of the Mediterranean and is not my favourite book by this author.


pages: 932 words: 307,785

State of Emergency: The Way We Were by Dominic Sandbrook

anti-communist, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, David Attenborough, Doomsday Book, edge city, estate planning, Etonian, falling living standards, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, feminist movement, financial thriller, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, German hyperinflation, global pandemic, mass immigration, moral panic, Neil Kinnock, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, North Sea oil, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, sexual politics, traveling salesman, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, Winter of Discontent, young professional

To know the British (it takes about 15 years to get on nodding terms) will be Europe’s privilege.’51 For Edward Heath, there was no question of allowing the great moment to pass without celebration. He had already appointed an official committee to plan a nationwide festival, chaired by Lord Goodman and including such eminences as the V&A’s director Roy Strong, the new head of the National Theatre, Peter Hall, and the BBC’s new director of programmes, David Attenborough. ‘Fanfare for Europe’, the event was called, and Heath hoped that it might enter history as a great national celebration to rival the Great Exhibition and the Festival of Britain. But with a budget of just £350,000, the Fanfare was always facing an uphill struggle, and the fact that four out of ten people were still opposed to EEC membership made it hard to arouse much public enthusiasm. Heath should be ‘ashamed of himself’, Dennis Skinner bitterly told the Commons.


pages: 1,263 words: 371,402

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection by Gardner Dozois

augmented reality, clean water, computer age, cosmological constant, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, financial independence, game design, gravity well, jitney, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Paul Graham, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Skype, stem cell, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, urban renewal, Wall-E

Fans may also be interested in an examination of superhero science, Superheroes! (I. B. Tauris), by Roz Kaveney, and by more bitching about how we don’t have those flying cars yet (following several similar volumes last year), You Call This the Future? (Chicago Review Press), by Nick Sagan, Mark Frary, and Andrew Wacker. There’s no direct genre connection for mentioning Life in Cold Blood (Princeton University Press), by David Attenborough, but SF writers looking to score ideas about really alien creatures and lifeways could do a lot worse than look down into the bogs and swamps where the coldblooded creatures described herein dwell. There were lots of genre movies that did big box-office business this year, although few critical darlings or films thought of as “serious” movies. According to the Box Office Mojo site (boxofficemojo.com), nine out of ten of the year’s top-earning movies were genre films of one sort or another (counting in stuff like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as fantasy/SF—Hell, it’s even got aliens!


Great Britain by David Else, Fionn Davenport

active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, Beeching cuts, Boris Johnson, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, Columbine, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Attenborough, Etonian, food miles, glass ceiling, global village, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kickstarter, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, mega-rich, negative equity, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, period drama, place-making, Skype, Sloane Ranger, South of Market, San Francisco, Stephen Hawking, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

The honour roll of famous Cambridge graduates reads like an international who’s who of high achievers: 81 Nobel Prize winners (more than any other institution in the world), 13 British prime ministers, nine archbishops of Canterbury, an immense number of scientists, and a healthy host of poets and authors. Crick and Watson discovered DNA here, Isaac Newton used Cambridge to work on his theory of gravity, Stephen Hawking is a professor of mathematics here, and Charles Darwin, William Wordsworth, Vladimir Nabokov, David Attenborough and John Cleese all studied here. The university celebrates its 800th birthday in 2009; look out for special events, lectures and concerts to mark its intriguing eight centuries. Orientation The colleges and university buildings comprise the centre of the city. The central area, lying in a wide bend of the River Cam, is easy to get around on foot or by bike. The best-known section of the Cam is the Backs, which combines lush river scenery with superb views of six colleges, and King’s College Chapel.