The Anthill

Anthill 5: Reboot – part 1

Anthill 5: Reboot – part 1.

If you’ve ever rung up IT with a problem and been told to try turning your computer off and on again before anyone will take you seriously, you’ll understand the power of a reboot. Just like humans, computers are fallible and they can often do with a restart to wipe the slate clean.

This month we’ve chosen to focus The Anthill, the podcast from The Conversation UK, on the theme of rebooting – what happens when people try to start over, or rework old solutions to tackle new problems. And because we’ve got such a lot of stories to share with you, we’re releasing this podcast in two parts, split over two weeks.

To kick us off, Rob Miles, lecturer in computer science at the University of Hull, kicks off the first episode explaining what really happens when you reboot – and why it is the go-to computer fix.

For the first time on The Anthill, we’re delighted to be collaborating with the team at Political Worldview, the topical news and politics podcast from the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham.

We’re talking to them about Syria – one part of the world that could really do with a reboot. As part of a new ceasefire deal there, the US and Russia are trying to co-ordinate their air strikes against the so-called Islamic State and other jihadist groups fighting Bashar al-Assad’s government.

One of those groups, Jabhat al-Nusra (aka the al-Nusra Front), is often described as part of al-Qaeda – but it’s a lot more complicated than that. As the conflict has evolved, this group of rebels has taken a pragmatic approach to the situation on the ground, recently rebranding with a new name. Our international editor, Andrew Naughtie spoke to Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at Birmingham, about the history of the group that now calls itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and why its leaders decided time was ripe for a reboot.

To round off this first of our two reboot podcasts, we turn to medicine – and whether old drugs could be used to treat diseases they were never intended for. Specifically whether one drug, used in the 1980s as an antidepressant before the likes of Prozac came along, could actually help to treat brain tumours. Our science editor, Stephen Harris, spoke to Geoff Pilkington, professor of cellular and molecular neuro-oncology at the University of Portsmouth to find out more.

Tune in next week to hear the second part of this episode, where we’ll be looking at how life on earth could reboot itself after a nuclear apocalypse and how a French politician you might have heard of is positioning himself to make a comeback.


The Anthill theme music is by Alex Grey for Melody Loops.

A big thank you to City University London’s Department of Journalism for letting us use their studios.

This is the fifth episode of The Anthill podcast. Click here to listen to our previous episodes, About time, Underdogs and Fuel.