The incredible world of communication. From the man-made satellite dishes to the complex biological system of bat communication. How does it all work? Watch David Pye in our 1985 CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

About this series

From the 1985 lecture programme:

People communicate all the time. A lecture is one special kind of communication but we communicate with each other in a wide variety of different ways, for otherwise life itself would be impossible. The basic principles are really quite simple but the details are endless and fascinating. We will explore together the fundamental 'rules of the game’ of communicating and use them to examine a wide range of different examples.

The thread will run from personal exchanges and the rich variety of methods used by animals to modern telecommunications systems. A special branch of the subject is the use of echoes by radar and bats, which show remarkable parallels in their operation. Communication systems also link all parts of the body, coordinating its external actions and its internal maintenance under the ultimate control of the brain. This will lead us finally to computers that mimic many aspects of brain function and now extend our mental abilities enormously. Indeed, we will use computers for many demonstrations throughout the series of lectures.

All these topics will take us from the microscopic scale of silicon chips and nerve membranes to world-wide technology and even deep into space. We shall need to draw upon elements of chemistry, engineering, physics, zoology and many other branches of science for the subject is truly universal in scope.

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