74 episodes

Best-selling author Matthew Syed explores the ideas that shape our lives with stories of seeing the world differently.

Sideways BBC Radio 4

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 60 Ratings

Best-selling author Matthew Syed explores the ideas that shape our lives with stories of seeing the world differently.

    A New Frontier: 2. For All Humankind?

    A New Frontier: 2. For All Humankind?

    Matthew Syed continues his four-part mini series exploring the ethics of space exploration, by returning to the origins of the space race, which saw America and the USSR battling for supremacy. He takes a hard look into the reasons why we go to space and whether it has really benefited all humankind.
    When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in July 1969, humanity as a whole felt like we’d reached a new frontier. The two astronauts left a plaque behind them, at the bottom of their lunar module. It said “we came in peace for all mankind”. But while Armstrong and Aldrin were ambassadors of the entire species, it was an American flag which was planted on the surface of the moon.
    This was a time of fear of Cold War competition amidst fear of nuclear annihilation. Despite the altruistic ideals encapsulated in NASA’s motto "for the benefit of all", the geopolitical stakes of the space race were paramount. Matthew explores how this combined with America's perception of its exceptionalism and how the post-war period was filled with nationalistic ambitions and controversies.
    With historians Roger Launius and Neil Maher, Science and Religion Professor Catherine Newell, Space Lawyer Michelle Hanlon and retired astronaut John Herrington.
    Presenter: Matthew Syed
    Producer: Julien Manuguerra-Patten
    Series Editor: Katherine Godfrey
    Sound Design and Mix: Rob Speight
    Theme music by: Ioana Selaru
    A Novel production for BBC Radio 4
    Featuring archive from:
    Apollo moon landing archive: NASA, Apollo 11 Moonwalk - Original NASA EVA Mission Video - Walking on the Moon, 1969.
    Archive Rev Ralph Abernathy at Cape Kennedy. From Library of American Congress and WGBH. Extract from the 3 parts documentary series “Chasing the Moon” directed by Robert Stone for PBS, 2019.
    Wernher Von Braun - extract from “Disneyland, Man on the Moon” documentary produced by Walt Disney and directed by Ward Kimball, ABC tv 1955.
    Archive JF Kennedy at the United Nation. From the United Nations Archives. General Assembly (20 September 1963)
    First International crew arrives at Space Station - CNN reports, 2 November 2000.
    Archive Space Treaty - British Pathé, Space Treaty February 1967
    NASA Artemis launch - @NASA, produced by Sonnet Apple, 2022.

    • 29 min
    A New Frontier: 1. A Message to Ourselves

    A New Frontier: 1. A Message to Ourselves

    In this special series from Sideways, called A New Frontier, Matthew Syed explores the most out of this world ethical questions posed by the evolution of human space exploration.
    He takes us into the cosmos with stories from astronauts who’ve been there and those who can only dream of going, to explore the moral debates that have permeated space exploration since before the moon landings, and are evolving dramatically today in a new era of commercial space flight, of asteroid mining and almost daily satellite launches.
    Matthew begins the series by diving into the ethics of humanity’s search for extra-terrestrial life.
    In 1974, Richard Isaacman was a young graduate, studying to become an astronomer, from some of the field's biggest names - like Carl Sagan and Frank Drake. At just 21-years-old, he’s asked to contribute to humankind's first ever deliberate attempt to send a targeted radio transmission to a cluster of stars in the outer reaches of the galaxy. A rudimentary picture, designed to be intercepted and decoded by aliens.
    Delving into our obsession with aliens, science fiction and the vastness of space, Matthew discovers how asking questions about space ethics can often lead us to answers that tell us much more about the ways we treat our own environment, other animals, and each other, than it does about little green men.
    With former NASA astronaut John Herrington, York University astronomer Sarah Rugheimer and space ethicist, podcaster and author Erika Nesvold.
    Presenter: Matthew Syed
    Producer: Leona Hameed
    Series Editor: Katherine Godfrey
    Sound Design and Mix: Rob Speight
    Theme music by Ioana Selaru
    A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    Introducing – A New Frontier

    Introducing – A New Frontier

    Travel into the cosmos for a four-part series about the ethics of space exploration. Matthew Syed invites you to enter the vast wilderness of the galaxy to explore the moral dilemmas that sit at the heart of space exploration, and why they should matter to you.
    When the space race began in the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union dominated. Today, multiple commercial entities and many more governments vie for space in the skies above us. Now we may go to other planets not in order to bring back knowledge that will benefit humankind on earth, but potentially to stay and make a new life for the human race… out there. Exploration is turning to colonisation.

    In this series, Matthew Syed explores the moral underpinning of space exploration beginning with the space race and early attempts to send a message to little green men. He will ask who gets to go to space, how should we behave when we're there, and whether we have the ethical and legal framework to avoid replicating the conflicts we face on earth, up in the skies above us.
    Despite all the complexities and necessary moral questions to be wrangled with in this new era, Matthew explores the profound experiences to be had by standing outside our planet. It may offer a unique vantage point to ask questions about who we are, what we owe to each other, where we’re going, and why.
    Listen from Weds 10 July 2024.
    Producers: Leona Hameed, Julien Manuguerra-Patten, Vishva Samani
    Series Editor: Katherine Godfrey
    Sound design and mix: Rob Speight
    Theme tune by Ioana Selaru
    A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

    • 2 min
    62. Lost and Found

    62. Lost and Found

    In 1984, on the eve of the Winter Olympics, Joe Boylan gets lost in a blizzard on an Austrian mountainside. Joe will have to fight with everything he has to survive and be reunited with his family. How he does it reveals often typical patterns of behaviour exhibited by lost people in similar situations.
    Through the story of Joe’s extraordinary 48-hour battle against the wilderness, Matthew Syed examines the fascinating area of study called Lost Person Behaviour, which has changed the way search and rescue teams operate, world over.
    Featuring Joe Boylan, Robert J Koester, mathematician and author of Lost Person Behavior, Alistair Read from Mountain Rescue England and Wales, Neil Balderson of Lowland Rescue and Maura O'Connor, science journalist and author of Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World.
    Presenter: Matthew Syed
    Producer: Leona Hameed
    Series Editor: Katherine Godfrey
    Sound Design and Mix by Daniel Kempson
    Theme Tune by Ioana Selaru
    A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    61. Brain Strain

    61. Brain Strain

    In 1972, at the liberal Vassar College in New York, 18-year-old Rick Shenkman stood out for his unwavering support of Richard Nixon, especially as the Watergate scandal unfolded. His unconditional allegiance raises a perplexing question - why would a bright, well-educated student overlook the facts and maintain blind faith in the president?
    In this episode, Matthew Syed delves into one of the most intriguing facets of human psychology - cognitive dissonance.
    Conceptualised by Leon Festinger in the 1950s, cognitive dissonance refers to the mental discomfort a person experiences when they hold contradictory beliefs, values, or attitudes simultaneously, or when their behaviour conflicts with their beliefs or values. While we all encounter cognitive dissonance in our daily lives, its underlying mechanisms often remain unnoticed despite their profound impact.
    Featuring journalist and historian Rick Shenkman, Professor Elliot Aronson, Professor Matt Johnson and Princeton University graduate student, Logan Pearce.
    Presenter: Matthew Syed
    Producer: Julien Manuguerra-Patten
    Series Editor: Katherine Godfrey
    Sound Design and Mix: Daniel Kempson
    Theme Tune by Ioana Selaru
    A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

    • 29 min
    60. For the love of maths

    60. For the love of maths

    As a child, Kate Ertmann starred in commercials, in soap operas and on Broadway. But acting wasn’t her first love - mathematics was. She considered it to be “a balm" for her brain. And yet societal and teenage pressures made her turn away from maths.
    Growing up in Sweden, Sebastian Nillson Qvist loathed maths and found it a real struggle. But he still challenged himself to study it as part of a Political Science and Economics degree. It did not go well.
    But still, maths came back into their lives.
    In this episode of Sideways, we find out what led them back to mathematics and the impact it had on them. Something host Matthew Syed experienced first hand when a desire to understand inflation and economics led him back to studying for a maths A-Level in his own time and finding it actually enjoyable, rather than a chore as he had at school.
    We hear how determination to dominate in the sport of darts can lead to incredible mastery of mental arithmetic from Professor Marcus du Sautoy, who also suggests a novel approach to maths education which he believes could inspire and motivate children. And Field’s Medal winner Professor Efim Zelmanov introduces us to a brilliant young mathematician who was killed in a duel 150 years ago but left behind a theory which keeps all online banking safe.
    With Kate Eartmann of katelovesmath.com, Sebastian Nillson-Qvist, Professor Marcus du Sautoy - Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics, and Professor Efim Zelmanov - Field’s Medallist and Director of the Shenzhen International Center for Mathematics.
    Presented by Matthew Syed
    Producer: Marilyn Rust
    Series Editor: Katherine Godfrey
    Sound Design and Mix: Daniel Kempson
    Theme Tune: Ioana Selaru
    A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
60 Ratings

60 Ratings

Bastardsack ,

Love it.

I really enjoy Sideways. Great stories told, by a great host. Also, by far the best theme song. A haunting and beautiful melody.

EdmondsKat ,

Love love!

Great variety, well told, informative, what more could one want? Love it

paminaerter ,

Eye opening, suspenseful

This is eye opening science, narrated like a True Crime podcast. Addictive and for almost all ages. EVERYONE should listen to The West and The Rest episode.

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