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The Compass

Updated 2 months ago

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Surprising stories from unusual places. With ideas too big for a single episode, The Compass presents mini-series about the environment and politics, culture and society.

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Surprising stories from unusual places. With ideas too big for a single episode, The Compass presents mini-series about the environment and politics, culture and society.

iTunes Ratings

71 Ratings
Average Ratings
55
10
1
1
4

Robin Lustig’s new series

By avm1406 - Apr 02 2020
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On freedom of speech is well written, presented and so topical.

Editing fails

By Jim Sack - Oct 07 2018
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Excellent program! Pathetic editing between programming and inserted commercials/promos. Sheesh.

iTunes Ratings

71 Ratings
Average Ratings
55
10
1
1
4

Robin Lustig’s new series

By avm1406 - Apr 02 2020
Read more
On freedom of speech is well written, presented and so topical.

Editing fails

By Jim Sack - Oct 07 2018
Read more
Excellent program! Pathetic editing between programming and inserted commercials/promos. Sheesh.
Cover image of The Compass

The Compass

Latest release on Aug 12, 2020

All 198 episodes from oldest to newest

The senses: Hearing

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From a whisper to the roar of thunder, every sound creates vibrations in our ears which the brain decodes, to tell us what we’re hearing. But as neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner explains, when disruptions occur along the way, extraordinary things can happen, changing how we perceive the world.

We meet Mark, who can’t hear his friends in a noisy pub but can hear the sound of every bodily function amplified in his head.

Kelly gets spinning attacks that send her falling to the floor. The sensation lasts for hours and with every attack she loses hearing. She’s been told it’s Ménière's disease - an inner ear disorder that affects balance.

Keen bird-watcher Bill recognises his hearing loss when he can no longer pick out the call of the smallest birds, but can hear elaborate musical tunes when there’s nothing playing.

These astonishing cases show how tiny changes in our bodies can turn our understanding of the world upside down, leading us to question our own version of reality.

Produced by Sally Abrahams for the BBC World Service.
Photo: Kelly, who has been diagnosed with Ménière's disease Credit: BBC

Aug 12 2020

27mins

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The senses: Vision

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Vision is a complex process involving light rays, special nerve cells and electrical signals sent to the brain, which processes the information and tells us what we’re seeing. But even tiny disruptions to any part of this system can result in remarkable visual problems.

Neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner, meets 25-year-old filmmaker Oli, who’s only recently discovered something alarming: he’s missing half his vision in one eye - probably caused by a stroke he never knew he had.

We hear from Dawn, whose eyes are working properly and yet she’s almost completely blind. Her visual problems are caused by damage to a vital nerve connecting her eyeballs and her brain.

Susan describes how her epilepsy is causing visual distortions that mean she can see through a person as if they were transparent.

And we meet Nina who’s been robbed of her sight after two separate accidents. And yet, she sees colours and terrifying images of zombie faces. She discovers she has Charles Bonnet Syndrome – visual hallucinations caused by loss of sight

Through the extraordinary experiences of these individuals, we learn how vision is not like a video camera, a straightforward process of turning light into a picture.

Produced by Sally Abrahams for the BBC World Service.
Photo: Dawn with her dog in the garden.Credit: BBC

Aug 05 2020

27mins

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The senses: Touch

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Our skin contains millions of nerve endings and touch sensors that collect information about different sensations like temperature, pressure, vibration, pain and send it to the brain for processing and reaction. But it’s when our sensory system goes wrong that we learn most about how our senses help us understand the world around us.

Neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner talks to Alison, whose delicious seafood dinner sends her nervous system haywire. Poisoned by fish contaminated with ciguatera toxin, her sense of temperature is turned upside down – so hot feels cold and the cold floor tiles burn the soles of her feet.

We hear from Dawn, whose damaged nerve triggers excruciating pain down the side of her face – illustrating how our senses can trick us about the source of our agony.

We meet Paul, who has broken every bone in his body, yet never feels a jot of pain. His rare genetic condition, congenital insensitivity to pain, means his brain never receives signals warning of damage to his flesh and bones. And whilst a pain-free life might sound appealing, we find out it has serious physical and psychological consequences.

And through Rahel we learn about a lesser-known touch sensation, called proprioception. When it is not working, it affects our co-ordination. And for Rahel, that means she struggles to stay upright when it is dark.

Produced by Sally Abrahams for the BBC World Service.
Photo: Vicki and Paul Waters Courtesy of the Waters family

Jul 29 2020

27mins

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Rethinking: The Pandemic that changed the world

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What will the world look like post-Covid? In an age of increasingly inward focus can a spirit of multilateralism prevail to meet the challenges posed by the reconstruction of national economies as well as the needs of poorer countries and the international organisations? And does the post-Coronavirus moment provide an opportunity to think differently about other global challenges, the foremost being climate change? Will we be able to “build back better”? Ian Goldin, Oxford University’s professor of globalisation and development draws on his experience as economic advisor to Nelson Mandela and vice president at the World Bank to argue that the gravest threat to humanity in a generation could be turned into an opportunity. But the challenges are many. He discusses them with - among others - pandemic expert Larry Brilliant; Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz; the editor of The Economist, Zanny Minton Beddoes; and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the chair of GAVI, the vaccine alliance.

Jul 22 2020

27mins

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Remedies: The pandemic that changed the world

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How should governments respond to the pandemic? The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc both to health systems and economies. Above all it has served to expose inequalities both within nations and between them. Hardest hit are countries in the developing world, where government finances do not permit the level of support to citizens or the private sector that has been provided by richer governments. Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, sees the crisis as marking a turning point in relations between the state and the private sector. Even so, he asks whether governments are doing enough to address the economic impact of the pandemic and the resulting inequalities. He hears powerful testimony from his guests who include the economist Joseph Stiglitz, novelist and activist Arundhati Roy, Achim Steiner, the head of the United Nations Development Programme, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the chair of GAVI, the vaccine alliance.
Producer: Tim Mansel

Jul 16 2020

27mins

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Reasons: The pandemic that changed the world

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Why did coronavirus strike so fast and so hard? There was plenty of warning that a pandemic was inevitable, but when a new virus emerged in a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the world proved powerless to prevent it spreading. The finger has been pointed in various directions: a failure by the Chinese authorities to communicate, a sluggish response from the World Health Organisation, an ignorance of history, and what Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, has termed the ‘Butterfly Defect’ of globalisation. In this episode, Professor Goldin explores what he sees as the complacency of governments and a declining commitment to multilateralism as reasons for the new pandemic and its unprecedented economic consequences. He hears from, among others, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva; the man who identified the Ebola virus, Peter Piot; and the historian Margaret MacMillan.
Producer: Tim Mansel

Jul 08 2020

27mins

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Window on the universe

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The Hubble space telescope has transformed our view of the universe and put our lives on Earth into a truly cosmic perspective. As we celebrate thirty years of Hubble’s achievements, we look to the future of the space telescope and the potential of its ambitious successor.

Hubble has produced a multitude of scientific discoveries, but it has also influenced our culture, art and music. It’s easy to forget that following its April 1990 launch, the space telescope was derided as NASA’s greatest failure. A faulty mirror meant it only produced blurred images and a daring Space Shuttle mission had to be scrambled to fix it.

Hubble’s successor, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), has had a similarly troubled start. Due for launch next year, the JWST has come close to being cancelled several times. Its budget has rocketed from $1 billion and it’s faced a succession of delays. With a final location 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, fixing any mistakes won’t be an option.

But if it succeeds, the JWST will be powerful enough to look back to the very dawn of time. With mirrors so precise they can capture single photons, the telescope has the potential to reveal new planets in distant star systems and even whether they might be habitable.

In The Compass: Window on the Universe, space journalist and author Sue Nelson examines the achievements of Hubble and what it has taught us. She talks to Hubble’s chief scientist about the space telescope’s future, as well as researchers and engineers working on the JWST. What difference will this new telescope make to humanity and our perspective on the universe?

Image: A model of the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland (Credit: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Apr 22 2020

28mins

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Tech companies and free speech

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Tech companies now find themselves in the firing line of free speech debate. To what extent can they duck the issue given their global coverage? Is it up to them to police what people say from the dangerous privacy of their own keyboards? And with truth and fake news being trumpeted by the highest powers in many lands can they be held responsible for drawing the lines in debates about what should or shouldn’t be said, posted or tweeted?

And at the heart of the series is a desire to test the absolute conviction of those who would espouse free speech and see it as a basic human right?

(Photo: Social media apps on a phone. Credit: Getty Images)

Apr 15 2020

27mins

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Journalists: Free speech v personal safety

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Robin talks to fellow journalists around the world who have to walk the fine line between an espousal of free speech rights and their own safety. Is there reason to be optimistic about the future? He travels to Paris to the former office of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine which saw many of its cartoonists and journalist murdered by jihadist gunmen. He meets the editor of the magazine which is currently forced to operate from a secret location for security reasons. On the streets of Hong Kong he joins journalists working for small online publications, reporting from the front line of the clashes between protesters and police in an environment where the larger press organisations are increasingly believed to be under the influence of Beijing.

(Photo: Man sits in a cafe reading Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine. Credit: Reuters)

Apr 08 2020

27mins

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Blasphemy or free speech?

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Robin goes back to his own days as a young reporter when he covered the last blasphemy trial ever held in the UK. At the time it appeared archaic and the end of an era, but blasphemy still exists in many countries across the world. In many ways it is the oldest of all challenges to free speech, so can religions ever truly countenance a world in which free speech is held to be sacred?

(Photo: Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy in 2010 and acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2018. Credit: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

Apr 01 2020

23mins

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