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Jul 19, 2011

What’s the oldest song in the world? Did Ben Franklin invent a musical instrument that drove people mad? What are the actual lyrics to the classic rock song “Louie Louie”? All these fascinating stories are in writer and documentary film maker RICK BEYER’S latest rollicking compendium THE GREATEST MUSIC STORIES NEVER TOLD: 100 TALES FROM MUSIC HISTORY TO ASTONISH, BEWILDER AND STUPEFY. Tune and find out where to find the largest man-made dog in the world and other wild tales. 

Jul 13, 2011

In the spring of 1975, a group of diverse physicists gathered in Berkeley and formed The Fundamental Fysiks Group to investigate and ponder some of the wild and wooly philosophical and metaphysical questions posed by quantum physics. They were interested in psychic phenomena, so-called Eastern Mysticism and new ways of looking at reality. What followed was a tale involving some of the leading physicists of the day as well as such controversial figures as Uri Geller and Werner Erhard founder of EST. At the legendary Esalen Institute, numerous physics seminars were held among the hot tubs, psychedelic drugs, and free love. But what came out of all this New Age craziness were some of the best-known popular books on quantum theory and, eventually, the foundation for quantum encryption. Join us on Inquiry tonight for our conversation with DAVID KAISER, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he teaches in the Program in Science, Technology and Society. His book, which tells this whole crazy story, is titled HOW THE HIPPIES SAVED PHYSICS: SCIENCE, COUNTERCULTURE, AND THE QUANTUM REVIVAL. 

Jul 13, 2011

There is a real passion for the writing of Jane Austen today. There are also the many movies and television series of Jane Austen novels, Jane Austen paper dolls, action figures and numerous Jane Austen “spin off” novels, one that even combines Pride and Prejudice and zombies. It is a veritable Jane-o-mania! But what is it about her novels, written long ago in Regency England that appeals to audiences today? Tonight’s guest on Inquiry is RACHEL M. BROWNSTEIN, Professor of English at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. Her new witty and insightful book, WHY JANE AUSTEN?,  answers what is uniquely special about Jane Austen’s writing and why she is such an easy author to fall in love with. 

Jul 12, 2011

Every bird’s nest is a wonderful example of non-human architecture. Imagine trying to weave and intricate tight cup of moss, lichen and spider’s webs using only your mouth and sometimes your feet! Yet birds do this every breeding season. Tonight on Inquiry, we welcome PETER GOODFELLOW, retired English teacher and lifelong birder, who has written one of the most beautiful books on the nests that birds create and how they build them: AVIAN ARCHITECTURE: HOW BIRDS DESIGN, ENGINEER AND BUILD. From simple scrapes in the ground, to monumental platforms high in trees, from enormous mounds of sand to mind-boggling complex hanging woven baskets, birds create structures of stunning complexity and variety. If you have ever  marveled at the nest of a robin or oriole, be sure to tune in. 

Jul 12, 2011

Everyone knows how  critical mathematics is to the hard sciences like physics. But how important is math to biology? Tonight’s returning guest is IAN STEWART, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and active researcher at Warwick University in England. Professor Stewart believes that we are now seeing a dramatic change in the role importance of mathematics; logic and topology plays in genetics; studying viruses and even looking for extraterrestrial; life. His latest book, THE MATHEMATICS OF LIFE, wonderfully illustrates this new “biomathematics” and declares it to be the next major revolution in the Life Sciences. Tune in for a surprising and thought provoking discussion on the maths of life. 

Jul 5, 2011

Horror films have been made since the beginning of cinema. Thomas Edison made one of the earliest film treatments of the Frankenstein novel. And since those early days, horror films have had a long, complex multinational history . Tonight’s guest on Inquiry is Dr. WHEELER WINSTON DIXON the James Ryan Endowed Professor of Film Studies and professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. His latest book on film history is one of the most complete and far ranging histories of this genre: A HISTORY OF HORROR. Tonight we discuss the beginnings of the horror film and concentrate on the fascinating story of the British film company Hammer Films, which in the 1960s reinvigorated the cinema of horror with classic films like The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, Prince of Darkness and made international stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Leee. If you are passionate about horror films, don’t miss tonight’s show!

Jun 21, 2011

Joan Mitchell was one of the most original and passionate artists of the last half of the Twentieth Century. She painted her large abstract canvases with the precision of a fencer creating paintings that were “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”Mitchell may have called herself a “lady painter”, but she was a blunt, bawdy and bullying presence who mixed it up with the likes of Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Phillip Guston. Our guest tonight is writer and curator PATRICIA ALBERS who has written one of the most complete, incisive and entertaining biographies of this great artist: JOAN MITCHELL: LADY PAINTER. A LIFE. 

May 25, 2011

At the end of the Ice Age, an amazing number of species large and fantastic mammals went suddenly extinct. For a long time most paleontologists believed it was climate change that caused this mass extinction event.

May 5, 2011

RICHARD S. OSTFELD is the Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies. For many years now he has been studying the ecology of Lyme Disease. What he and his fellow researchers have discovered will change the way you view this disease.

May 5, 2011

On August 31, 1886 a powerful earthquake devastated Charleston, South Carolina leaving most of the city in ruins and most pf the residents living on the streets. Tonight’s guests, writer SUSAN MILLAR WILLIAMS and writer/editor STEPHEN G.

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