Tag Archives: Jim Al-Khalili

Where’s the science? Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World debuts Nov. 15, 2013

Yesterday, Nov. 14, 2013, I happened to catch Dr. Carin Bondar being interviewed on a local (Vancouver, Canada) television (tv) programme about her upcoming appearances as one of the hosts of Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World series (season two) being debuted tonight (Nov. 15, 2013). While enthusiastic about this latest venture, Dr. Bondar didn’t offer much science information during the interview where she focused on her adventures as part of a virtual military team and her surprise at some of the work being done in the field of prosthetics. There’s a bit more detail about the programme (not the science) in Bondar’s Nov. 12, 2013 blog entry on the Huffington Post website,

One of the highlights of my career thus far was being involved in a groundbreaking television series Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World premiering on Discovery World. A co-operative project between Handel Productions (Canada) and IWC (England), the series showcases some of the most mind-blowing new technologies that will impact our daily lives in the not-too-distant future.

Each of the six, one-hour episodes is narrated by Professor Stephen Hawking, world-renown physicist and author of the best-seller A Brief History of Time, and is comprised of the investigations of a team of five scientists who travel the world — Myself and Professor Chris Eliasmith from Canada, Dr. Daniel Kraft from the US, and Professor Jim Al-Khalili and Dr. Aarathi Prasad from the UK.

The premiere episode, called Inspired by Nature, is all about how we need only to look to the natural world for some of the most awe-inspiring inventions. Millions of years of evolution have resulted in some highly complex and innovative strategies for life across the animal kingdom…and this episode shows us how humans are attempting to re-create them for our own purposes.

Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World premieres Friday, November 15 at 8 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT on Discovery World.

Bondar’s personal blog offers very little more, from a Nov. 1, 2013 posting,

Hi Everyone! I’m thrilled to be one of the presenters on season two of ‘Brave New World with Stephen Hawking’, which will premiere on November 15th. Shooting took place last spring all over the states. It was a crazy, exhausting whirlwind from Atlanta to San Diego, LA, Houston, Pittsburgh and Boston, but it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I love this promo image of me in a Faraday (bird) cage at the Boston Museum of Science.

The Discovery World website’s programme webpage provides a bit more detail (where’s the science?) about the first three shows in the series,

Hawking and his team investigate groundbreaking innovations in science inspired by nature. Aarathi Prasad road tests two of the most advanced all-terrain robots in the world designed to go where humans and vehicles can’t; Chris Eliasmith examines an extraordinary new fabric that mimics the adhesive ability of gecko feet and bonds to any surface; Daniel Kraft visits Vancouver-based Nuytco Research where underwater subs are used to simulate zero gravity to train astronauts for deep space exploration; Jim Al-Khalili examines how re-engineering a virus can prevent pandemics; and Carin Bondar discovers how Nikola Tesla’s remarkable dream of wireless power is finally being realized.

Hawking and his team examine new inventions that will change how humans deal with crises in the future. Chris Eliasmith looks into a revolutionary pilotless helicopter (the K-Max), that can fly and perform complex manoeuvres on its own; Daniel Kraft tests out the latest high-tech bomb disposal robot; Jim Al-Khalili checks out a sniper rifle equipped with jet fighter target tracking technology; Carin Bondar examines face recognition binoculars that can identify criminals within 15 seconds; then, Aarathi Prasad examines a lifesaving breakthrough that allows oxygen to be injected directly into the bloodstream.
Hawking and his team investigate technology transforming the idea of reality. Carin Bondar takes part in a remarkable 3D virtual training program created for the military; Aarathi Prasad tests a new system that maps locations inaccessible by GPS; Daniel Kraft investigates 3D bio-printing where computer designs can be turned into living tissue; Chris Eliasmith tests the latest in gaming technology – a breakthrough in virtual reality that promises the most immersive experience yet; and Jim Al-Khalili tests a computer that can read the human mind.

It would have been nice to find out a little more about the science and a little less about the exciting aspects of these adventures. Perhaps the producers thought it best to confine the science to the broadcast.

The local tv programme where Dr. Bondar was interviewed is called The Rush and while the Nov. 14, 2012 interview has yet (as of Nov. 15, 2013, 13H30 or 1:30 pm PDT) to be posted online, you should be able to find it shortly.

I have mentioned Chris Eliasmith (University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) here before, notably in my November 29, 2012 posting about his work simulating neurons in the virtual world.