Curiosity, ingenuity and experimentation May 2, 2022

from Start the Week· ·

Wonder at the natural world has inspired people and fuelled curiosity for millennia. The ancient Greek Theophrastus had interests that spread far and wide, from biology and physics to ethics and metaphysics. But although he was Aristotle’s friend and collaborator, and his notes on botany inspired Linnaeus, his name has mostly been forgotten. The writer Laura Beatty’s new book, Looking for Theophrastus, aims to rescue him from obscurity. The scientist, Suzie Sheehy, still feels a childlike wonder at the way physics seems to be able to describe everything – from the smallest subatomic particle to the scale of the Universe. …



Wonder at the natural world has inspired people and fuelled curiosity for millennia. The ancient Greek Theophrastus had interests that spread far and wide, from biology and physics to ethics and metaphysics. But although he was Aristotle’s friend and collaborator, and his notes on botany inspired Linnaeus, his name has mostly been forgotten. The writer Laura Beatty’s new book, Looking for Theophrastus, aims to rescue him from obscurity. The scientist, Suzie Sheehy, still feels a childlike wonder at the way physics seems to be able to describe everything – from the smallest subatomic particle to the scale of the Universe. In The Matter of Everything: Twelve Experiments That Changed Our World, she looks back at the people who engineered ground- breaking experiments, and the human ingenuity, creativity and curiosity, as well as luck and serendipity that propelled them forward. While physicists attempt to describe and define the universe, the workings of the human mind still remain a challenge to scientists and philosophers. In The Book of Minds, the science writer Philip Ball looks at what we know about the minds of other creatures, from octopuses to chimpanzees, and of the workings of computers and alien intelligences. By understanding how minds differ, he argues, the better we can understand our own. Producer: Katy Hickman