I’ve discovered a nice podcast that is produced by the BBC: In Our Time. Melvyn Bragg hosts a different group of guests every week, depending on the topic being discussed, which can be anything related to the history of ideas. I’ve enjoyed hearing how the Book of Common Prayer came to be, the significance of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and how radio was invented, among many interesting topics. Melvyn keeps things moving along, and the guests are always very knowledgeable and entertaining.

Of course, I most enjoy the math-related conversations, so for my fellow math teachers here is a list of the programs – at least the ones I’ve found so far – that are devoted to that subject (click on the title to go to that program’s download page):

Mathematics (May 6, 1999)

Maths and Storytelling (September 10, 1999)

Mathematics and Platonism (January 11, 2001)

Zero (May 13, 2004)

Renaissance Maths (June 2, 2005)

Mathematics and Music (May 25, 2006)

The Fibonacci Sequence (November 29, 2007)

Pythagoras (December 9, 2009)

Mathematics’ Unintended Consequences (February 10, 2010)

Imaginary Numbers (September 22, 2010)

Logic (October 20, 2010)

Random and Pseudorandom (January 12, 2011)

Fermat’s Last Theorem (October 24, 2012)

e (September 24, 2014)

P vs NP (November 4, 2015)

Euclid’s Elements (April 28, 2016)

Zeno’s Paradoxes (September 21, 2016)

You can subscribe to the In Our Time podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Happy listening!

Update: Here’s a new one – Maths In The Early Islamic World.

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I took too long to start listening to In Our Time. I had too many people insisting it was just the sort of thing for me, and when I hear that a lot I figure people don’t understand me. But in this case, everybody was right and I was wrong to doubt them.

The mathematics episodes are a curious mix of comfortable and frustrating to me. It’s comfortable particularly in hearing about stuff I’m already at least somewhat familiar with. But then it frustrates me when I hear familiar old anecdotes and metaphors and explanations hauled out. It feels like a waste to repeat thoughts others have had for us.