12 episodes

This fortnightly podcast is for the endlessly curious, for those who like listening to inquiring minds talking about their work and ideas. With over 20 years experience as a documentary cameraperson, podcaster Piers Leigh has a passion for science, story-telling and learning. In a long-form and relaxed exchange, Piers leads a conversation with a leading scientist or thinker.

www.piersleigh.com

Music: Blake Leigh
Creative Direction: Alice Sheppard Fidler

The Thought Exchange Piers Leigh

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

This fortnightly podcast is for the endlessly curious, for those who like listening to inquiring minds talking about their work and ideas. With over 20 years experience as a documentary cameraperson, podcaster Piers Leigh has a passion for science, story-telling and learning. In a long-form and relaxed exchange, Piers leads a conversation with a leading scientist or thinker.

www.piersleigh.com

Music: Blake Leigh
Creative Direction: Alice Sheppard Fidler

    TTE 08 David Montgomery

    TTE 08 David Montgomery

    This episode is the final one in this first series of The Thought Exchange.
    I worked with Professor David Montgomery in 2018 and the single solitary day of filming with him, on a remote farm in Kansas has stayed with me ever since. It had a huge impact on me and left me astounded that anyone would farm in any way, other than the one advocated by David Montgomery.
    On that day, we filmed on a farm belonging to Darin Williams. Darin explained his approach to Regenerative farming, supported by the new understandings of soil and soil biomass discovered in the last twenty years by scientists such as Montgomery. It was like having the curtains opened on a bright, new world where farming could support small farmers in profit, massively reduce the impact on the environment of farming and provide a sustainable way forward, even helping to mitigate some of the impact of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
    It is difficult to understate the importance of the work of David Montgomery and scientists like him. The underground interactions between plants, fungi and bacteria are proving to be a game-changer in our understanding of what and how we should farm, but more importantly how to do it in a sustainable way. If you care about the environment, care about rural communities and care about the planet, this is an absolutely unmissable conversation.
    I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

    • 2 hr 1 min
    TTE 07 Ramadan Hussein

    TTE 07 Ramadan Hussein

    This episode is a conversation with Dr Ramadan Hussein, an Egyptian Egyptologist who is in charge of an incredible site in the ancient Necropolis of Sakkara, near Cairo. I was privileged to spend two months filming his dig, 30 metres or 100ft, underground. Now bear in mind that 100ft is a 14-storey building, we were that deep underneath the surface when Ramadan made some incredible discoveries.
    His site is helping rewrite the model of burial in Egypt 2600 years ago, with the first ever confirmed location of a mummification complex, including an air-conditioned chamber for removing the organs and buildings for dessicating the body with natron salts and for wrapping the bodies.
    But the real eye-opening discoveries were the chambers with huge sarcophagi, plus extremely valuable funerary objects. Many of the mummies discovered were women priests and the site is helping to redefine our ideas about the place of women in ancient Egyptian society. Many of those women had greater rights and freedoms than many women in many modern cultures and societies enjoy even today.
    I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

    • 2 hr 45 min
    TTE 06 David Holland

    TTE 06 David Holland

    This episode is a conversation with David Holland, Professor of Mathematics and Atmosphere/Ocean Science at New York University. David is one of the leading researchers into the mechanisms of glacier and ice-cap melting, working in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
    Along with his wife Denise who is the Field and Logistics Officer for David’s team, David’s work focuses on understanding ice melt and how it relates to the Ice caps in Greenland and the Antarctic. He uses Mathematics to model and predict how this melting will be affected by climate change.
    A native of Newfoundland, David was drawn to study ice by his passion for the Canadian national sport of Ice Hockey, but the discoveries he is making in his work have truly global implications.
    I travelled to the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland with David and Denise for a 2-hour NOVA special on Climate Change for PBS in the States, called Polar Extremes. David has a station there which measures the rate at which the Glacier is moving and helps him create models to apply to the Antarctic ice shelf melt.
    The conversation was recorded at the end of May, so the discussion reflects the context of Coronavirus at the time. David had only just got back from an aborted season in Greenland and was isolating, with the prospect of the Antarctic season being cancelled aswell. Despite those setbacks, David is a positive and engaging speaker about the science he works on.
    I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

    • 1 hr 47 min
    TTE 05 Gerhard Steenkamp

    TTE 05 Gerhard Steenkamp

    This episode is a conversation with Gerhard Steenkamp, a vet who is a dental specialist and pioneer in surgery on the skull and teeth of wild animals. With a successful practise in South Africa, Gerhard conducts some 500 operations a year, many on domestic pets.
    However, his passion is the wildlife of his native continent and he has conducted numerous operations on elephants, rhinos, lions, cheetahs and other symbolic animals of Africa. I worked with Gerhard on Big Animal surgery where he operated on a lion in South Africa and an iconic elephant in Tbilisi Zoo, Georgia.
    But it’s not just the big animals Gerhard works with. He also operates on the very small, like hedgehogs and pet bats. Many of his tools are custom-made and his procedures need incredible levels of expertise from the anaesthetists he works with.
    The conversation covers the challenges of operating on wildlife and the challenges wildlife faces in Africa with habitat loss and human encroachment. We discuss zoos, poaching, elephant contraceptives, science literacy and the HIV crisis in South Africa, but the focus throughout is on the animals Gerhard works with and his passion for improving their welfare.
    The conversation was recorded on 14th May, so the discussion reflects the context of Coronavirus at the time. There has been a delay as I built up all 8 episodes of Series 1, which are now recorded and ready to launch.

    • 1 hr 31 min
    TTE 04 Jaelyn Eberle

    TTE 04 Jaelyn Eberle

    This episode is a conversation with Jaelyn Eberle, a mammal palaeontologist based at the University of Colorado but who works primarily in the Arctic. I worked with her just a few hundred miles from the North Pole on Ellesmere Island, in 2018 for Polar Extremes, a climate change special for NOVA on PBS in the States.
    I really enjoyed my time with Jaelyn and was fascinated by the environment she was reconstructing in the Arctic 50 million years ago, a strange, swampy forest, dark for 6 months of the year, but still home to turtles, crocodiles and tapirs. It’s an amazing insight to into just how different climates can be, on this planet we call home and it tells us a lot about what we might expect in the face of current climate change.
    The conversation covers the ancient landscape and animals, the amount of information carried in teeth, plus the modern Arctic environment and the challenges it faces. Jaelyn is an ever-cheerful and positive force in the field and I think she carries this into her communication and passion for teaching.
    This conversation was recorded on 16th April, right at the height of the Coronavirus Crisis, so there are references to those events. There has been a delay as I built up all 8 episodes of Series 1, which are now recorded and ready to launch.

    • 2 hr 14 min
    Episode 3 Trailer

    Episode 3 Trailer

    Firstly, I wanted to thank everyone for their feedback and suggestions. In particular, Barbara Ali in the US suggested a potential guest, who I am delighted to have booked in for series 2. 
    Dr Gladys Kalema Zikusoka is a vet in Uganda working with gorillas and studying human illnesses in the Gorilla population, but also working with local people to protect gorillas and their habitat. I am confirming other guests who I will be announcing as soon as possible. But I am still looking for more interviewees so please keep sending in suggestions.


    This week’s episode goes live on Monday 13th July and is a conversation with Jaelyn Eberleee. She is a mammal palaeontologist who studies the arctic 50 million years ago. The environment she is reconstructing through her work holds lots of pertinent information in a warming world and Jaelyn is a passionate advocate for the Arctic.


    I hope you enjoy the episode.

    • 59 sec

Customer Reviews

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Alibarbara ,

Fascinating conversations with the most interesting people on earth

I’m a fan of science, travel and good storytelling so when I heard Albert Lin would be interviewed, I downloaded the first 3 episodes. I’m hooked. Some difficult topics made easy to understand. It’s like lunching with some fascinating multicultural people who live life to the fullest. Easy conversation style. Highly recommend.

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