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Anthill 31: World War I remembered – podcast

shutterstockIt was supposed to be the war to end all wars, and the sheer destructiveness of World War I was unprecedented for its time. More than 30 countries were involved, 65m men volunteered or were conscripted to fight and millions of civilians contributed to the war effort. Around 16m people died. And many of those who survived came home from the war psychologically and physically scarred for life. This year marks the centenary of the end of the conflict and this episode of The Anthill...


Anthill 30: Extremes

We’ve taken our cue for this episode of The Anthill podcast from the Cambridge Festival of Ideas – the theme for which in 2018 is extremes. As the organisers point out, it really does feel like we’re living in an age where the world is growing more and more extreme. Far-right political extremism is on the rise around the world, with extreme, populist views gaining support everywhere from Brazil and the US to the Philippines. And Europe has not been immune, where elections have featured...


Anthill 29: Inheritance

Gennadiy Solovyev/Shutterstock.What do we pass onto the next generation when we’re gone? In this episode of The Anthill podcast we bring you three stories from academics who study aspects of inheritance – from inherited wealth, to the natural inheritance we leave our children, and the genetic inheritance held within our DNA. The way countries tax inherited wealth varies widely across the world. In the UK, inheritance tax is 40% on everything above a £375,000 threshold (for properties the...


Anthill 28: On nothing

shutterstockWhy is it so hard for us to just sit and do nothing? We don’t mean mindlessly scrolling through social media, while you watch TV. Actually sitting still and letting your mind wander. Busyness seems to be a status symbol of our time. Everybody everywhere is busy – busy with work, busy with family, busy exercising, busy meditating. Busy being busy. Busyness is associated with success and fulfilment in most societies, so we view busyness as something to aspire to. But what if you...


Anthill 27: Confidence

Shutterstock This episode of The Anthill podcast digs into the concept of confidence. We start by finding out how scientists define confidence and how it works in the brain. Producer Gemma Ware takes a confidence calibration test with the help of psychologist Eva Krockow at the University of Leicester, who also shares some of her research findings on whether expressing confidence about something is a good marker of being right about it. And neuroscientist Dan Bang from the Wellcome Trust...


Anthill 26: Twins

Double trouble? shutterstock.comDouble trouble, two peas in a pod, always together and possibly even reading each other’s minds – twins come with tonnes of stereotypes. This episode of The Anthill digs into some of the research around twins – from what it’s like to be one, how it differs to other sibling relationships (if at all) and how twins play a crucial role in scientific research. As well as speaking to some twins to find out some of their pet peeves about how the world views their...


Anthill 25: Intuition

Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash. , CC BYEver had a funny feeling, a thought or conviction that you feel compelled to act on, but you can’t quite explain it? Intuition is a concept we’re all – intuitively – familiar with. In this episode of The Anthill, a podcast from The Conversation, we get to grips with what intuition exactly is and how it works in our brains and bodies. Psychologist Valerie Van Mulukom from Coventry University explains some of the basics for us. Then we investigate the...


The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland at 20 – The Anthill podcast

LunaseeStudios/Shutterstock.comIt’s been 20 years since the Belfast Agreement paved the way for a relatively peaceful end to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The deal was made on Good Friday that year, April 10, 1998, and has become known since as the Good Friday Agreement. To mark the 20th anniversary, this episode of The Anthill is all about the Good Friday Agreement. While this anniversary is an opportunity to remember the achievements of 1998, it is also throwing up some difficult...


Anthill 23: Bursting the Bitcoin bubble

via shutterstock.comIn this episode of The Anthill podcast from The Conversation, we’re delving into the world of Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency has come a long way since its launch by the mysterious person (or persons) Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. The price of one Bitcoin hit a peak of more than US$19,000 in December 2017. It has since fallen below US$9,000. Bitcoin has made a lot of headlines over the last year, but will it be the currency of the future? To find out, we spoke to professor of...


Anthill 22: Sex

More In this episode of The Anthill podcast, we’re talking about sex. It dominates the media we consume and our thoughts. But is technology changing sex? And how is the social role of sex evolving? We talked to a futurologist, a sex robot expert, sex researchers, historians and some criminologists. New technologies are often quickly deployed to serve our human need for love, sex and intimacy. But will robots become a normal part of people’s sex lives? Michael Parker takes a...


Anthill 21: Growing up

www.shutterstock.comWelcome to the 21st episode of The Anthill. It seems appropriate, as we come of age, to talk about growing up. In this episode of the podcast, we bring you stories on parenting, puberty and what it’s like to grow up as a minority in Britain. Parenting is arguably the single most important factor when it comes to children’s development – and human approaches to it have changed markedly throughout history. Helicopter parenting.via The past few decades...


Anthill 20: Myths

via shutterstock.comHow do we know that ideas we hold true aren’t just myths that will be proved untrue in the future? Or maybe you have a favourite fact or story that’s already been debunked but no one has told you yet. In this episode of The Anthill podcast, all about myths, we’ve got three stories of researchers pouring cold water over ideas that some people still believe. First, we hear from Cat Jarman, a bio-archaeologist at the University of Bristol who studies old bones on Easter...


Anthill 19: Pain

shutterstock.comPain is something that everyone is familiar with. If you touch a burning stove, a signal travels up your nervous system to your brain which tells you to snatch your hand away. But understanding pain isn’t so simple. We all experience pain in different ways and the manner in which our brain processes these signals can vary significantly. This episode of The Anthill is dedicated to exploring this world of pain. We look into how and why humans experience pain and the efforts...


Anthill 18: Revisiting the Russian Revolution

Boris Kustodiev, via Wikimedia CommonsIt’s been 100 years since revolution swept through Russia and we have dedicated The Anthill 18 to this seminal moment in world history. We delve into its sensory history, find out about the people who tried to spread it across Europe and we also speak to the grandson of one of 1917’s key protagonists. By 1917, Russia had been brought to its knees, labouring under the economic and social costs of World War I. People were getting desperate. They were...


Anthill 17: Science by the seaside

shutterstockThere aren’t many places you can find musical robots, an Arctic smellscape and an art gallery for babies. But for one week in September, all of these and more were in Brighton for the annual British Science Festival. Naturally curious, The Conversation went along. Our team of editors spoke to many of the academics appearing at the festival – and in this episode of The Anthill, we’ll bring you the highlights. First up, the mind-bending project of Winfried Hensinger, a quantum...


Anthill 16: Humour me

via shutterstock.comAugust is known as silly season in the news trade – it’s the time of year that you get stories about animals doing stupid things on the evening news (as opposed to just in internet memes). So we thought we’d embrace this and try to tickle you pink in this August episode of The Anthill podcast. As well as a few bad jokes, we investigate how our humour develops as we grow up. And we also look at the more serious side of being funny. First up, we delve into a bit of the...


Anthill 15: Unexplored places

Into the unknown.pixabay.comIn this episode of The Anthill podcast, we are off exploring. Our theme is unexplored places and we speak to academics who research remote corners of land, sea and space. First, we go for a plunge into the ocean. The deep sea is often called the final frontier, a wild region we know less about than the surface of the moon. But is that really true? And what’s it actually like diving among the weird and wonderful creatures that exist thousands of metres below the...


Anthill 14: Music on the mind

via shutterstock.comWe’ve got music on our minds in this episode of The Anthill podcast. We talked to psychologists, cultural historians, classical pianists and neuroscientists to find out more about what music does to our brains, and how it moves us. If you’ve ever had a song stuck in your head, playing on a loop, that you just can’t shift, you might find our first interview useful. We spoke to music psychologist Kelly Jakubowski at Durham University who researches the phenomena known as...


Anthill 13: All the world's a game

shutterstock.comOn this month’s episode of The Anthill we are playing games – computer games, grammar games and real life games too. We speak to a researcher who’s fascinated by what happens to people who turn game playing into a career. And we’ll look at whether we can make education more engaging by turning it into a competition. First we talk to an expert in game theory. Abhinay Muthoo is an economist at the University of Warwick who specialises in one of game theory’s key concerns:...


Anthill 12: Don't remember this

shutterstock.comIn this episode of The Anthill podcast we delve into the world of memory. We talk to psychologists, historians and political scientists about how and why we remember some things and forget others. First up, our science editor, Miriam Frankel, finds out why people are susceptible to remembering things that didn’t actually happen to them. Psychologists Martin Conway, a professor at City University, and Sue Sherman, a senior lecturer at Keele University, describe some of the...