The Anthill

Anthill 1: About time

Welcome to The Anthill, The Conversation UK’s inaugural podcast. About time you might think, and so do we. So for our first episode we’ve taken that to heart and talked to a group of academics on the theme of time.

In a brief history of telling time, we ask physicist Kenneth Grattan about how humans perfected the measurement of time, from sundials to atomic clocks. Historian Richard Evans explains how time zones were created, and computer scientist Markus Kuhn tells us why the world would be in a spin without leap seconds.

To answer the age-old question of why exactly “time flies when we’re having fun”, Marc Buehner, a cognitive psychologist, explains why we perceive time the way we do. (Spoiler: he also reveals why it is we can’t tickle ourselves.)

Then theoretical physicist Marika Taylor answers the question: “Will time travel ever be possible?”

And, to take a slightly different angle on the theme of time, we hear from David Herd about the experiences of asylum seekers who live in a world of limbo.

We hope you enjoy listening.


This episode of The Anthill was produced by Gemma Ware and Annabel Bligh, with interview help from Josephine Lethbridge and Michael Parker. Editing help from Emily Brown and Ally Kingston.

The Anthill theme music is by Alex Grey for Melody Loops. Sound effects and background music by CorsicaS, eliasheuninck, bone666138 and digifishmusic via freesound.org.

A big thanks to City University London’s Department of Journalism and to Dave Goodfellow.