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Matin Durrani: March 2009 Archives

Athene Donald, as not seen on a desert island (Credit: University of Cambridge)

By Matin Durrani

Sadly I missed the appearance of my former PhD supervisor Athene Donald on the legendary BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs last Sunday.

The show, which has been running for over 65 years, features a celebrity or noted figure who picks their eight top records that they’d like to take with them as a castaway on a desert island. They also get to pick a luxury and a book.

The show’s website lists Athene’s choices, which unfortunately do not include any physics-related material that I could have made an amusingly weak comment about.

So there is nothing by astrophysicist-turned-rock-legend Brian May from Queen or by the former D:REAM keyboardist Brian Cox, who is now a particle physicst at Manchester University.

Donald, a polymer physicist at Cambridge University in the UK, also didn’t pick anything by Canadian band The Nylons or new Glasgow indie outfit We Are the Physics. Nor was there anything from Olivia Newton-John, whose grandfather was Max Born.

What she did pick though are pieces by mainstream composers like Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Vaughan-Williams, with three left-field choices from Irving Berlin, Enrique Grandos and Paul Hindemith (no I’d never heard of him either).

The closest I can get to a physics pun is that the Irving Berlin piece she picked was “Blue Skies”, which perhaps reflects the kind of basic research she does.

You can catch up with a repeat of the show on Friday 27 March at 9.00-9.45 a.m. GMT.