Kell’s Wonderful Life

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Super Science & Schizophrenia
In this series the esteemed Dr. Kell – whose doctorate is in robotics engineering – will take you on a tour through history and culture. This first episode looks back at the side-by-side development of revolutionary technology and political revolutions in the USA during the 1950s.

The Geopolitics Of Chocolate
Chocolate has a history spanning thousands of years – but in the last century our relationship to chocolate has changed substantially. From once being the privileged reserve of the fabulously wealthy to becoming a popular confection enjoyed by everyone, Dr. Kell relates the surprising past and present of chocolate.

Morning Must Be Stopped!
Humans are an odd bunch for many reasons – not the least of which is our complete disregard for the natural cycles of day and night. The good Doctor Kell is surprised to discover that mornings comprise half the day. How did this come to be? What can be done? Mornings are out of control and they must be stopped!

Working Like A Dog
Why do we work so dang hard anyway? As a doctor of robotics, Dr. Kell knows the meaning of hard work – but does anyone know why they put in all that effort in the first place? There may be years of personal sacrifice on the alter of study before you even get paid a dollar, so there must be a pretty compelling reason. Right?

A Toast To Toast
Dr. Kell is fond of many things – but food and history is chief among them. Turning his attention to the humble act of tactical burning of sliced bread, he unravels the history of toasting from its origins to post-war economics and modern and increasingly esoteric methods for toasting toast.

Mad Scientists
Science is a discipline of testing hypothesis against emprical experiments. Most of what people call ‘mad scientists’ are really just engineers with a grudge. Yet history is replete with nuts, kooks, cranks and shysters. Dr. Kell discusses the mad science and scientists of our age.

Serial Killers
The Halloween moon has come and gone – but the monsters that lurk under the bed aren’t as fearsome as the monsters that lurk in your neighbourhood. “He was always so quiet and reserved,” they said. “The first inkling we had that something was wrong was when they walked into the kitchen drenched in blood.” Dr. Kell brings a delicious sampling of some of his ‘favourite’ murderers.

Trapped In The Tunnel
Imagine driving into tunnel and discovering a car rolled over onto its roof with a man inside, shaking and incoherent. Dr. Kell – who is a doctor of robotics and not a medical doctor – recounts his experiences as a first responder during a tunnel accident.

A Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, there was a kingdom filled with all manner of magical creatures. Dragons, tolls, fairies and more! But there was trouble in the kingdom when…ok, this is a story about marriage equality. Just listen, OK? This episode was recorded a while ago as indicated by the reference to the overturning of Proposition 8. But this thinly veiled story of thinly veiled homophobia is still relevant today.For those wanting more on the history of the legal battle over Prop 8, I highly recommend the Joy 94.9 radio play on the subject for a reading of some of the legal poetry Kell mentions.

Legal Technicalities
Anyone who has tried to fill out the ballot papers below the line knows that legal and political systems can be complicated. Dr. Kell attempts to explain some of the peculiar legislative curiosities in the United States, Australia. “In order for a product to be labelled a pickle, it must be able to bounce.”

“Telling the pilot I was a helicopter engineer, I challenged him to make the helicopter do something I wouldn’t think was possible.” This show comes from a time when Dr. Kell was working in the USA and he had the opportunity to see military helicopters at MIT in Boston, New York and was introduced to some of the biggest, baddest whirlygigs that the United State of America has to offer.

In 1890 Nicholas Yagn, a Russian inventor, received a patent for an assisted device to aid a user walking and running using pneumatically powered gas bags.” As Dr. Kell explains, the history of human augmentation via exoskeleton stretches further back than you might think – and the future of exoskeletons is tantalisingly close.

The Importance of Coffee
Each and every morning, millions of people chemically augment their frail meat bodies with a black brew. But the importance of coffee extends beyond keeping people upright for the day, as the history of coffee is rich and aromatic, spanning a multitude of countries and religions.

Robots In Fact And Fiction
The area of robotics isn’t new. Humans have tried to create humanoid machines for hundreds of years. Dr. Kell traces our crude attempts, outright fakes and flights of fancy. “Undoubtedly, our imagination for sentient artificial people had long outstripped ability to fabricate them.”

The Glorious History Of Bacon
Kell’s Wonderful Life: The Glorious History Of Bacon Bacon. What is it? Where does it come from? What makes it magical. Dr. Kell asks and finds out. “You would be surprised to learn that it isn’t forged by dark elves in salty subterranean bacon mines deep within the bowels of the Earth.”

Lord Of The Fireflies
In this final episode, Dr. Kell looks at children’s education and asks why we teach the way we teach. Are we just trying to create passable human beings who can get a job? A chance encounter with a swarm of glowing bugs leads Kell to contemplate the tyrannies of childhood. “What works for Johnny make not work for Jimmy. And nobody has any idea what to do for Jimbo.”

Article photo by James Vaughn. Used under a Creative Commons license. Image has been leveled, cropped and flipped.