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Big Ideas
Big Ideas
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Feed your mind. Be provoked. One big idea at a time. Your brain will love you for it. Grab your front row seat... more

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Episodes

Girt by Sea — Australia’s maritime security

Since the announcement of the AUKUS plan for nuclear submarines, we’ve been hearing a lot about Australia’s maritime security. But... more

20 May 2024 · 52 minutes
Costa Georgiadis on how to stop Australia's invasion by feral species

Australia's unique biodiversity, a product of almost 50 million years of glorious evolutionary isolation, is in freefall. The threats are... more

16 May 2024 · 53 minutes
A new future for Black and White Australia — Thomas Mayo, Margo Neale, David Marr with Natasha Mitchell

Join Natasha Mitchell and guests for a robust conversation about forging a shared future between Black and White Australians through deeper... more

15 May 2024 · 53 minutes
Anne Manne - Crimes of the Cross

For more than half a century, the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle allowed and covered up an extensive network of paedophile... more

14 May 2024 · 53 minutes
10,000 puffs — how vapes got the next generation hooked on smoking

Through sinister marketing and loose regulation, the tobacco industry has hooked a whole new generation of kids on smoking. How... more

13 May 2024 · 54 minutes
What Oppenheimer can teach us about regulating new technologies

What lessons can we learn from J. Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the nuclear bomb? How should we govern and... more

09 May 2024 · 53 minutes
Superpowers and superpeacemakers — your guide with John Lyons, Sam Roggeveen, Ilaria Walker and Natasha Mitchell

Smaller conflicts than those we're witnessing right now have set off world wars. Who will be the crucial superpowers and... more

08 May 2024 · 53 minutes
Helen Clark on how to build a healthier future for all

We are living in an "age of crises," says former New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark. With her leadership experience... more

07 May 2024 · 53 minutes
Tenacity and two squat houses — how an Australian movement was born for women leaving violence

Women’s refuges are now a central part of our response to family violence, with hundreds operating across Australia. But that... more

06 May 2024 · 53 minutes
Donald Trump, American authoritarianism and how journalists should cover it

As Donald Trump makes his case for re-election in 2024, under a cloud of criminal prosecutions, how can journalists better... more

02 May 2024 · 53 minutes
Jonathan Rosen, Patrick McGorry with Natasha Mitchell— friendship, madness and the tragedy of good intentions

New York writer Jonathan Rosen’s memoir The Best Minds: a story of friendship, madness, and the tragedy of good intentions... more

01 May 2024 · 53 minutes
Slowing down fast fashion with Aja Barber

You don't need that dress, you need a hug. Or so says fashion activist and writer, Aja Barber.

30 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
Mariana Mazzucato — a moonshot guide to changing capitalism

It took 400,000 people to land man to the moon. And it's using that example as inspiration that the influential... more

29 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
Is it time to change Australia's security strategy for South East Asia?

Could Asia Pacific be with China within a couple of years? Is the independence of Taiwan worth for Australia to... more

25 Apr 2024 · 54 minutes
How to challenge political spin with straight talk — Richard Denniss, Joelle Gergis, Yanis Varoufakis, Tom Keneally with Natasha Mitchell

Join host Natasha Mitchell and guests for some straight talk that cuts through spin and jargon. Has the way politicians speak... more

24 Apr 2024 · 55 minutes
Dr Norman Swan with biotechnology pioneers on what's next for medicine

Only 50 years ago, if you were 60 years old your chance of dying was the same as an 80-year-old's... more

23 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
It's personal! — field stories from the frontline of Australia's Ambassador for Gender Equality

Gender equality isn't just about equal pay, it's a health and safety issue. Women perceive safety very differently to men,... more

22 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
Trees as an alternative crop — the future of forestry in Australia?

How valuable are trees as an alternative crop? And what's the role of agroforestry in the future of sustainable farming?

18 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
The shark net controversy — hear the debate at Bondi's Ocean Lovers Festival

They use of shark nets to protect us from sharks is highly controversial. Do they work, what do they do to... more

17 Apr 2024 · 54 minutes
Life on Mars — and beyond

It's a question that has focused the minds of astronauts, scientists, space entrepreneurs and enthusiasts alike – is there, could... more

16 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
A heart-to-heart with Eric Bogle — his songs and his life

Folk legend Eric Bogle is opening up and talks about his life, his thoughts about death, friendship and love and... more

15 Apr 2024 · 54 minutes
The war in Gaza, Palestinians, and Israelis – what can we learn from the past about the future?

What is the future of Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza strip and surrounding region? Can the past help us... more

11 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
A mummified mystery! Sealed shut for decades then scientists opened this coffin lid

A wooden sarcophogas is sold in a Cairo market in the late 1800s, transported to Australia, and held in a... more

10 Apr 2024 · 57 minutes
Mary Beard — Empress of Rome

For decades, Mary Beard has forged her own path through the male dominated field of academia, from the ruins of... more

09 Apr 2024 · 54 minutes
Michael Gawenda on Jewishness, the Australian Left, and the State of Israel

The best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world.

08 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
Cheng Lei, Sean Turnell and Kylie Moore-Gilbert on the ruthless practice of hostage diplomacy

What is the best response to hostage diplomacy? Pay the ransom? Sanction the responsible country, or individuals? Go public, or... more

04 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
Ripples, resilience, and rivers – the politics of water

Water is life. Rivers give life. But water and the rivers it flows down are also heavily politicised, and at... more

03 Apr 2024 · 54 minutes
Forging a fire ready future

Australia’s bushfires are more intense, more frequent, and more costly. So how can we prepare for the inevitable – what... more

02 Apr 2024 · 54 minutes
What makes a charity successful?

Many of you are involved in a charity: Handing out meals to homeless people, caring for surrendered animals in a... more

01 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
Julia Baird on how grace saves us from a dark world

Grace is a hard word to define, but in her latest book, author, journalist and broadcaster Julia Baird explores the... more

28 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
The Deficit Myth with Stephanie Kelton — what to ask when governments can't afford to fix things.

When governments say they can't afford to fix climate change or lift kids out of poverty are they speaking the... more

27 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
Bessel van der Kolk on The Body Keeps the Score

Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world's foremost experts on trauma, discusses his pioneering research into traumatic stress and... more

26 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
Why are young people more unhappy and worried?

Different generations agree that youth mental health is in decline, but disagree about the causes. We explore generational attitudes to... more

25 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
Are we all liberals at heart?

Liberalism isn't just a political philosophy but the basis of a truly meaningful life. That's the bold statement of philosopher... more

21 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
Imagination and Mindset, and The Importance of Doubt (Boyer Lectures 3 and 4)

Quantum computing is all about physics, but for those looking to pioneer and revolutionise science, there are certain human qualities... more

20 Mar 2024 · 54 minutes
The Atomic Revolution and the Quantum Promise (2023 Boyer Lectures 1 and 2)

Imagine a machine with more power than all the computers in the world combined. This is the promise of quantum... more

19 Mar 2024 · 54 minutes
Trump vs Biden vs the world — what will it mean for Australia?

The US has claimed that it has “no greater ally than Australia”, but with the stability of its democracy in... more

18 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
I've Been to a Parallel World

Hear from four “many worlds travellers” who have visited parallel worlds to explore themes of Indigenous rights, disability, gender and... more

14 Mar 2024 · 54 minutes
The education gap between rural and metropolitan Australia is costing us billions

Can you put a price tag on regional education? In fact, you can. The large difference in the quality of... more

13 Mar 2024 · 54 minutes
Solving the mysteries of the universe − with philosophy

From dark energy to the nature of time, some of the most baffling mysteries in cosmology point to a surprisingly... more

12 Mar 2024 · 54 minutes
How Russia’s war on Ukraine ends

Two years since Vladimir Putin’s Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine, the risks are as grave as ever, including the possibility of... more

11 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
Corruption at the crossroads in Australia

We hear from the nation's anti-corruption leaders, including NACC Deputy Commissioner Nicole Rose, about the state of corruption in Australia.

07 Mar 2024 · 54 minutes
Spending time with Laurie Anderson

Pioneering electronic musician and performer Laurie Anderson invites you contemplate the wonders of time. Time is one of the most... more

06 Mar 2024 · 54 minutes
Finding your creativity with Holly Ringland

Best-selling author Holly Ringland says that everyone can be creative – yes, even you! Be it painting, cooking, knitting a... more

05 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
Nature for people – how the natural world affects our health

Most of us know that exposure to nature is good for us, because we’ve experienced it ourselves. Doctors can even... more

04 Mar 2024 · 53 minutes
Swiftposium – the academics of Taylor Swift

Celebrities, and their fans, wield tremendous economic, cultural and political influence – and none more so than US pop superstar... more

22 Feb 2024 · 54 minutes
Intuition — the science of knowing WHAT without knowing WHY

Have you ever followed your intuition, or been guided by a gut feeling? Is intuition real or imagined? Can it... more

21 Feb 2024 · 53 minutes
Uncivil society – polarisation and breakdown in our conversations

What has happened to civil debate and the reasonable exchange of competing ideas in public, to conversations that might lead... more

20 Feb 2024 · 53 minutes
How to tell stories that change the course of history — from slavery abolition to gaming culture

There's nothing like an innocent story to rupture reality! Fiction is a literary seismograph for social conflict and stories can... more

19 Feb 2024 · 53 minutes
A queer love letter to libraries

Public libraries are for everyone, but last year, the LGBTIQA+ community became a target for exclusion by anti-queer campaigners, when... more

15 Feb 2024 · 54 minutes
Be the change you want to see — Chanel Contos, Isabelle Reinecke, Semara Jose, Sarah Brown

Some things feel impossible to change without money and power. Meet four trailblazers didn't let that stop them. Fighting corporations.... more

14 Feb 2024 · 53 minutes
Nazanin Boniadi — fighting for women's rights in Iran

Women and girls in Iran continue to take to the streets and protest gender oppression and human rights abuses. And... more

13 Feb 2024 · 54 minutes
Caroline Polachek on the art of pop music

US singer, songwriter and producer Caroline Polachek is known as one of the most inventive pop musicians working in the... more

12 Feb 2024 ·
How to speak freely about topics no one wants to talk about

Speaking freely isn't only about Freedom of Speech legislation, it's equally about social norms, loving your family and courage. Authors... more

08 Feb 2024 · 53 minutes
A new way to fix the hot mess of housing in remote Aboriginal Australia?

Housing is a hot mess in many remote Aboriginal communities,  including Tennant Creek, and the rollercoaster of government policies and... more

07 Feb 2024 · 54 minutes
Psychedelics – from magic to medicinal

Psychedelics were once the domain of hippies and cults, but these drugs have come long way from the ‘turn on,... more

06 Feb 2024 · 53 minutes
Gabriel Krauze on Who They Was — his wild life in crime and literature

Finishing your undergraduate assignments in English Literature in breaks between selling drugs … fighting and hurting people and committing crimes... more

05 Feb 2024 · 54 minutes
Does Australia need more tiger parents?

Tiger parents: do their methods raise happy and successful human beings, or burnt out, damaged therapy cases? In this hyper... more

01 Feb 2024 · 51 minutes
When I grow up I want to be ... why we all need to reimagine aging.

From the moment we’re born, we all age. So why limit the possibilities? The latest Intergenerational Report describes Australia's ageing... more

31 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
Craig Foster on how Australia can pull its socks up on human rights

Craig Foster has a vision for the future: An Australia without racism, with equal access to food and representation and... more

30 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
Escaping the Burrow — Astra Taylor on The Age of Insecurity (Massey Lecture 5)

In her fifth Massey lecture, Escaping the Burrow, self-described "feral intellectual" Astra Taylor explores how insecurity can also offer us a... more

29 Jan 2024 · 58 minutes
Beyond human security — Astra Taylor on The Age of Insecurity (Massey Lecture 4)

An appeal for solidarity with species other than our own, in this fourth Massey lecture by renowned Canadian-American filmmaker, writer, political... more

25 Jan 2024 ·
Consumed by Curiosity — Astra Taylor on The Age of Insecurity (Massey Lecture 3)

In her third provocative CBC Massey lecture, Canadian-American filmmaker, writer, political organiser, rock musician  and self-described "feral intellectual" Astra Taylor argues our... more

24 Jan 2024 ·
Barons or Commoners? — Astra Taylor on The Age of Insecurity (Massey Lecture 2)

We take certain fundamental rights for granted, but who got to define them and are they enough? You'll find solidarity... more

23 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
Cura's Gift — Astra Taylor on The Age of Insecurity (Massey Lecture 1)

Who was Cura and what's she got to do with how capitalism shapes our lives and psyches? In this year's... more

22 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
Catherine Deveny, Shannon Burns, and Akuch Anyieth on memoir

Three successful authors Akuch Anyieth, Shannon Burns and Catherine Deveny talk about memoir, and why they're interested in the form. Moderator... more

18 Jan 2024 · 54 minutes
Will AI render human creativity worthless? The Beaker St Festival Great Debate

Two teams of heavy-hitters debate the fate of human creativity in a world of artificial intelligence. In a Big Ideas first, two... more

17 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
The day the invisible was made visible — Manus Island detention survivors speak

In early 2020, as Australians were being locked down, something strange was happening in an inner-suburban hotel in Brisbane. A... more

16 Jan 2024 · 54 minutes
Osman Faruqi — censoring hip hop

It's possibly the greatest ever example of artistic censorship in Australian history. Police have requested hip hop to be taken... more

15 Jan 2024 · 54 minutes
Safer beaches and guilt-free seafood

From apps that help us swim safely to using Crispr to cut the genes of box jellyfish to technology that... more

11 Jan 2024 · 54 minutes
On ya bike or not? Global movers, shakers, and city shapers reimagining car culture

What do the streets feel like where you live? Unsafe for kids to ride to school, big busy highways, limited... more

10 Jan 2024 · 54 minutes
The power, politics and cost of women speaking out

Three influential women explore the power, the politics, and the cost of speaking out.

09 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
Nuclear technology: the shady beginnings and the uncertain future

The history and development of the nuclear industry is shred in secrecy and contradictions. And its future is throwing up... more

08 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
Greek-Australian identity: Are we WHITE yet?

Are Greek-Australian's now considered to be 'white' in Australia's colourful social fabric? A panel of prominent Greek-Australians discusses questions of... more

04 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
I am not my chromosomes — science, rights, and the intersex experience

"Are they a girl or a boy?" That question is often asked about a newborn. But what if you're born with genetic... more

03 Jan 2024 · 54 minutes
Why thinking in Deep Time is good for your head

The best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world.

02 Jan 2024 · 54 minutes
It's not as simple as moving house! Meet climate refugees with a (scaly, sticky, furry) difference

Meet some climate refugees of a different kind. From the Western swamp tortoise to honey ants to whales, can they... more

01 Jan 2024 · 52 minutes
Bri Lee and fellow voyagers ponder the ethics of travel

Questioning whether travel is ethical is probably the last thing on your mind when you decide to go on holiday.... more

28 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
George Monbiot's Regenesis — you won't think about dinner the same way again

Would you eat protein brewed in a vat from bacteria instead of meat? "Nom nom nom!", you might say. George... more

27 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
(Too) hot right now — life on a sweltering planet

The planet's hotter than it has ever been. July was the Earth's hottest month ever recorded since records began. And the... more

26 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
Wellmania's Brigid Delaney on the gift of the Stoics

If you can't control it – then don't worry about it. It's one of the core messages of stoicism. Much... more

25 Dec 2023 · 54 minutes
The buff-breasted button-quail: Is one of our rarest native birds still alive?

For more than 100 years, birdwatchers have searched for evidence that one of Australia's rarest native birds is not extinct.... more

21 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
The soul in the machine — anthropologist, technologist, futurist Genevieve Bell and guests

We make machines, but do our machines also make us? And who's in control really? Superstar anthropologist, technologist, futurist, cyberneticist, and Silicon Valley insider Genevieve... more

20 Dec 2023 · 54 minutes
Sigrid Thornton, Rachael Maza, Sophie Hyde, Anousha Zarkesh — about older ladies in the movies

Movie or TV roles for older women accurately reflecting contemporary, society and experiences are rare. Sigrid Thornton, Rachael Maza, Sophie... more

19 Dec 2023 · 54 minutes
Infidelity and other affairs

Who doesn't dream of being loved dangerously, thrillingly free from the tethers of restraint? It's a question journalist and author... more

18 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
The science of happiness

Harvard University has been running the world's longest study into happiness. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has been running... more

14 Dec 2023 · 54 minutes
If a home is a human right — how can citizens and architects seize control of housing design?

Who sets the agenda when it comes to designing houses? More often than not wealthy developers call the shots. The... more

13 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
From The King and I to Miss Saigon, Australia’s new generation of stage makers are de-orientalising the canon

In its simplest definition, orientalism refers to the patronising depictions of the 'Eastern world' — a term that encompasses North... more

12 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
The future of photography under AI

Where once photography gave us images of the world as seen by machines, photography under AI gives us images of... more

11 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
Test tube trailblazers — the story of Australia's pioneering female scientists

While Australian women were among the first to get the vote in the world, their lives were still constrained for... more

07 Dec 2023 · 53 minutes
Being you — a new science of consciousness with Anil Seth

Your internal experience of consciousness – your rich inner life — has had scientists and philosophers completely perplexed for centuries. How... more

06 Dec 2023 · 54 minutes
Has space travel changed what it means to be human? A space archaeologist, poet, theologian, astrophysicist respond

In 1963, as the space race was taking off, the influential political philosopher Hannah Arrendt challenged scientists over their shift... more

05 Dec 2023 · 54 minutes
How calories and coercion do you harm — leading physicians on your healthy body and mind

Mental health problems and chronic diseases are plaguing societies around the world. Both fields need new solutions. We know that... more

04 Dec 2023 · 54 minutes
Food waste is bananas. So let's make fruit salad with these foodies and waste whizzes!

Australians on average chuck out 7.6 billion tonnes of food per year. That amounts to 312 kilos per person, or... more

30 Nov 2023 · 53 minutes
Why do so many of us feel so damn lonely and too ashamed to talk about it?

In a world of hyper-connectivity and social media, why do so many of us feel so damn lonely? Being lonely... more

29 Nov 2023 · 1 minute
David Marr's ancestors massacred Indigenous Australians. Marcia Langton's ancestors were among them.

Many people embark on a journey to discover their family's past in order to contextualise their present. But what happens... more

28 Nov 2023 · 53 minutes
Love, lost minds, and mortality — how two storytellers met two scientists, made magic, and found meaning

What happens when Australia’s best poets and writers walk into the world of scientists? How do they feed of each... more

27 Nov 2023 · 54 minutes
Newsroom ethics and the Israel-Gaza war — part two

A range of media outlets — including the ABC — have been criticised for their coverage of the latest Israel-Gaza... more

23 Nov 2023 · 43 minutes
Newsroom ethics and the Israel Gaza war — part one

A range of media outlets — including the ABC — have been criticised for their coverage of the latest Israel-Gaza... more

23 Nov 2023 · 53 minutes
Photojournalist Andrew Quilty and activist Zahra Karimi want you to see this Afghanistan

Multi-award-winning Australian photojournalist Andrew Quilty went to Afghanistan on a two-week assignment. He stayed for 9 years. At just 25, Afghan-born... more

22 Nov 2023 · 53 minutes
Tracey Spicer: How AI and machine design is failing women

Technology's default setting is 'male' — more precisely a white, or at least, light-skinned male. Tracey Spicer exposes how technology... more

21 Nov 2023 · 53 minutes
There's a sensory world unavailable to humans. So Ed Yong tried to discover it.

In 2020, veteran science journalist Ed Yong intended to write a book about the world of animal senses. But fate... more

20 Nov 2023 · 54 minutes
Sean Turnell — how a nerdy economist was held hostage by Myanmar

If you find yourself locked up in a foreign prison on fake charges, what would you like your government to... more

16 Nov 2023 · 54 minutes
The F Word — is Feminism too white, too middle-class, or a movement for all?

Has feminism been too white and too middle-class for too long? From India to Australia, five trailblazing women spanning generations, geography, and... more

15 Nov 2023 · 54 minutes
What would you sacrifice to give peace a chance?

The road to peace is one littered with compromise. From Belfast to Bosnia, Dili to the Democratic Republic of the... more

14 Nov 2023 · 54 minutes
The genius and struggles of Orson Welles

He was one of the most remarkable producer/director/actors to come out of Hollywood. The cinema wunderkind George Orson Welles. But... more

13 Nov 2023 · 54 minutes
The Doherty's Sharon Lewin on the call that changed the world forever

The director of Doherty Institute for Infectious Diseases was out of office when the first official case of the novel... more

09 Nov 2023 · 53 minutes
I DON’T! Clem Ford argues the case against marriage

Clem Ford, author of bestselling book Fight Like a Girl, Boys Will be Boys, and How We Love, is back with a... more

08 Nov 2023 · 55 minutes
Does sport unite or divide us?

There is nothing like cheering on your favourite sport team; or seeing our Aussie athletes on the top podium at the... more

07 Nov 2023 · 54 minutes
What would Hannah Arendt make of our tumultuous present?

While it was Mao Zedong who believed power came from the barrel of a gun, philosopher Hannah Arendt saw it... more

06 Nov 2023 · 56 minutes
Big Ideas
There's a sensory world unavailable to humans. So Ed Yong tried to discover it.
Big Ideas
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Description

In 2020, veteran science journalist Ed Yong intended to write a book about the world of animal senses. But fate had other... more