Transience: Clocks, Voyager & Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz Pre-War. The tramlines were still visible in 1994.

Potsdamer Platz Pre-War. The tramlines were still visible in 1994.

My programme for this week’s Something Understood on BBC Radio 4 is about transience: the fact that all things must pass. It begins in the clock room of the British Museum, where time is made physical by its embodiment in the strange collection of pendulums & clocks. (I have a thing about public clocks.)


The programme explores the changing skyline of central Berlin — notably Potsdamer Platz which I watched transform from derelict wasteland to the world’s largest building site to a glass and metal entertainment complex in a few years and plays with time by then going back to to the final eerie words of Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye To Berlin; in which he recalls  the sunny day on which he leaves the city to the horrors of the Nazis.

We also quote the work of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan who put together the golden record of human culture for the Voyager deep space probes; knowing the recordings might still be out there long after human life has ceased to exist on Earth.

SAGE NARADA ACKAmd we muse on the puzzling concept in Hinduism that all earthly life is maya or illusion. And fans of Star Trek might detect something familiar in the story of Sage Narada who experienced an entire family life and loss only to discover it was an illusion sent by Lord Vishnu, to teach him a valuable lesson. The story is re-told almost exactly in the Star Trek The Next Generation episode The Inner Light.

You can hear the programme from Sunday April 6th via this link or on BBC Radio 4 at 6am and 1130pm and i player for 7 days after. It’s produced by Anthony Denselow for Whistledown. 

Further reading/viewing

Broken Clocks & Zombie Apocalypse Big Issue article


About samiraahmed

Journalist. Writer. Broadcaster.
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7 Responses to Transience: Clocks, Voyager & Potsdamer Platz

  1. Jennifer says:

    How clever and creative to link Star Trek to the Vedas! You have a far roaming intellect and your work is all the richer for it. Very enjoyable as always, thanks!

  2. Pingback: On The Road with Buddha: The Prince Who Walked Out of His Fairy Tale | Samira Ahmed: Journalist, Writer, Broadcaster

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