Darkwave - Underwater languages at the brink of extinction

Our oldest living ancestors 'speak' a language consisting of clicks, whistles, and pulsed calls. For whales and dolphins, acoustics is the glue of their society. But in the face of catastrophic environmental changes, that language is being lost or reshaped. IDEAS contributor Carrie Haber and the world's leading marine scientists take us into the oceans depths to plumb an enigmatic culture under siege.

From seat belts to hockey masks: 7 changes that once seemed unthinkable

Author and linguist Steven Pinker joined NHL legend and author Ken Dryden for a wide-ranging discussion about what it takes for social change to happen.

Can we save Rosemary's Baby?

It's a horror classic from the 1960s that still unnerves us. It’s influenced generations of filmmakers. It's part of the exclusive Criterion Collection of world cinema. And it turns 50 this year. But director Roman Polanski is a convicted rapist. Film experts and cultural historians explore good and evil in Rosemary's Baby, discover eerie parallels between 1968 and 2018, and debate the movie's surprising treatment of women, all to answer the question: can we save Rosemary’s Baby?

Illuminating Black Holes - Stephen Hawking

Black holes are collapsed stars that challenge the very nature of space and time, and they've been the life-work of the iconic cosmologist Stephen Hawking. In two BBC Reith Lectures, Professor Hawking asks "Do black holes have no hair?" and explores why "black holes ain't as black as they are painted."

Underground Rome: Discovering the city's history through what lies beneath it

Broadcaster Megan Williams goes underground in the city that was once known Caput Mundi - the capital of the world. Williams uncovers the quiet secrets it continues to offer up, the questions that hang unsolved, and dramatic challenges the city’s underground past poses for the present. Delving into Rome’s past by venturing into what lies below it.

Steven Pinker and Ken Dryden: "Where there's a way, there's a will"

When NHL legend Ken Dryden was about to publish his book, "Game Change", he got in touch with Harvard psychologist and linguist, Steven Pinker, who was about to publish "Enlightenment Now". Their common ground: what does it actually take to change someone's mind? Pinker also happens to have grown up in Montreal, and idolized the former Canadiens goaltender. The two talk to Paul Kennedy about the relationship of rhetoric and reason.

Sir John A. Macdonald on Trial: An IDEAS event at Queen's University

He’s seen as the father our nation. Without him, Confederation might never have happened. And as the celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday continue to fade into the background, the controversy around Sir John A. Macdonald’s legacy continues to build.

Into the Gray Zone with neuroscientist Adrian Owen

We've usually thought that people in comas or 'vegetative' states are completely cut off from the world. But groundbreaking work shows that as much as 20 per cent of patients whose brains were considered non-responsive, turn out to be vibrantly alive, existing in a sort of twilight zone. Neuroscientist Adrian Owen guides Paul Kennedy into that “gray” zone, in conversation and in a public talk.

Censorship and Identity: Free speech for me but not for you

Anti-racist black lesbian, Linda Bellos, was disinvited from giving a talk at Cambridge University because of her views on "trans politics". Whether it’s redressing historical wrongs, new hate speech legislation, or safe spaces as a human right: when does the desire to accommodate aggrieved groups become censorship? And what's truly at stake? IDEAS presents a debate from London’s “Battle of Ideas”.

The Human Factor: Hannah Arendt

Was Adolph Eichmann not ultimately responsible for the destruction of six million Jews? Or were Jews themselves partially to blame for their own fate? Fifty years ago, the political philosopher Hannah Arendt published a famous book that seemed to imply these things, and created an instant uproar that has never ended. Roger Berkowitz, Adam Gopnik, Rivka Galchen and Adam Kirsch...

Dark tower of dreams: Inside the Walled City of Kowloon

The infamous “Walled City of Kowloon” was once the most populous spot on the planet. With 1.2 million people per square kilometre, it was a gigantic squatter’s village. Nobody planned it, but somehow it worked, until it was demolished, just before the British handed Hong Kong back to China. Paul Kennedy speaks with photographer Greg Girard, and urban designer Suenn Ho, about what the Walled City meant to them, and him.

The Tedium is the Message

It's never been easier to banish the feeling of boredom -- at least for a moment. But some fear our weapons of mass distraction could lead to an epidemic of ennui and ADD. Contributor Peter Mitton examines boredom and discovers a little-understood universal state of mind. From its obvious downsides and unexpected upsides, to its evolutionary origins and the way it's shaping our future -- boredom is anything but dull.

The Four-Minute Mile: Remembering Roger Bannister

Nobody thought it could be done, but on May 6, 1954, an Oxford medical student ran a mile in three minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Paul Kennedy asks Roger Bannister what it meant.

Your brain on digital technology

Our relationship with technology has intensified in this century with a rapturous embrace of Internet technologies and the gadgetry put in our hands by big technology companies. But even as we've made these technologies an extension of ourselves and experience the world and ourselves through them, our culture is starting to take a step back to re-examine the impact they're having on us.

Is there a culture war against populism?

Is it a positive wave or a troubling pattern? In this age of anxiety over joblessness and immigration, populist leaders in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Sweden and the Philippines are tapping in. Is populism, as the 1960's American historian Richard Hofstadter called it, "a paranoid style of politics"? Or is it what others describe as "the essence of democratic politics"?

Naked in the Mirror: Stephen Greenblatt on our obsession with Adam & Eve

A man, a woman, a snake, a tree: from just a few stanzas in the Book of Genesis comes a story that has inspired and puzzled centuries of artists and thinkers. Host Paul Kennedy discovers why the story has resonated with religious and secular minds alike, as he speaks to Stephen Greenblatt, author of “The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve.”

Good Cheer is a Great Idea!

Samuel de Champlain’s “L’Ordre de Bon Temps” kept early French colonists at Port Royal, Nova Scotia alive through the brutal winter of 1606. Recently, Paul Kennedy invited Chef Michael Smith from the famous “Inn at Bay Fortune”, near Souris, Prince Edward Island, to discuss the merits of the meal. Together they make a modest proposal to elevate this quintessentially Canadian event into a national winter holiday.

The resistance of Black Canada: State surveillance and suppression

Canada's history of suppressing Black activism is coming to light like never before, thanks to researchers like PhD student Wendell Adjetey. Wendell's historical research uncovers evidence of clandestine government surveillance in the 20th century, while also bringing to life overlooked parts of this history.

Analog Resistance

In the Soviet Union during the 1960s, young iconoclasts waged a musical battle against the banality of state-sanctioned culture. Subversive poet/musicians known as "Bards" were recorded at secret house concerts, and reel-to-reel audio tapes shared through a clandestine network. Simon Nakonechny unspools the little-known phenomenon of Magnitizdat, and ponders its parallels to forms of cultural dissidence in Russia today.

A book lover, his library and the Scottish Enlightenment

An Edinburgh bibliophile takes Paul Kennedy through his library of amazing books that were published in Scotland in the late 18th century, during the heyday of the Scottish Enlightenment. At the time, Adam Smith, David Hume, James Boswell and The Encyclopaedia Britannica were runaway bestsellers.

On Tyranny: 20 lessons from the 20th century

Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world. And Timothy Snyder wants to push back against this tide. A history professor at Yale University who's written widely on Europe and the Holocaust, he takes an unusual approach in his little book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

The Illusion of Money, Part 2

We think we know what money is. We use it every day and our lives are unimaginable without it. But look more closely and you find that coins and dollar bills aren't "real". They're promises, symbols, ideas. And exactly what money is has evolved enormously over the ages. IDEAS contributor Anik See explores how we're rethinking one of the most basic features of human society.

The Illusion of Money, Part 1

We think we know what money is. We use it every day and our lives are unimaginable without it. But look more closely and you find that coins and dollar bills aren't "real". They're promises, symbols, ideas. And exactly what money is has evolved enormously over the ages. IDEAS contributor Anik See explores how we're rethinking one of the most basic features of human society.

Master of his own design: Becoming Frank Gehry

Canadian-born Frank Gehry has been called the greatest architect of our time. And yet he's still a rebel in his field. A complex and engaging man, who's been open about his disdain for the media, gave IDEAS producer Mary Lynk a rare chance to talk with him in California.

Gabrielle Scrimshaw on liberating the past and embracing the future

Gabrielle Scrimshaw delivers the third annual Vancouver Island University Indigenous Lecture on the challenges Indigenous youth face, what reconciliation looks like, and how people can engage on that journey.