Atomic Radio



Where art, design and crystallography converge. ATOMIC radio brings you stories from the long relationship between the arts and the science of X-ray crystallography.X-ray crystallography, which is 100 years old this year, is a science that reveals the invisible, the tiny atomic structures of molecules and crystals and it has been quietly influencing art and design for decades. Each episode spotlights a different piece of art or design prompted by the science of atoms, featuring interviews with the designer Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, artist Conrad Shawcross, science writer Georgina Ferry, the X-ray crystallographer Stephen Curry and many more. ATOMIC radio is a part of the Resonance 104.4 FM Science Museum residency and part of the 2014 International Year of Crystallography. It is supported by the Science Museum Art Programme.The series is part of Emily Candelas AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award research between the Royal College of Art and the Science Museum and its made by Emily Candela and co-produced by Chris Dixon, with sound design by Emmett Glynn and Sam Conran.


  • Atomic Radio Episode 6: A Dark Art

    Atomic Radio Episode 6: A Dark Art

    29/06/2014 Duration: 29min

    X-ray crystallography has the power to reveal the most fundamental structures of matter, but there is a lot that the science can’t see. This episode explores the ways in which crystallography – and much art – traffics in shadows and blind spots. We feature a sculpture partially composed of light by the artist Conrad Shawcross and hear from the artist about the crystallographer who inspired his piece. And in honour of X-ray crystallographers’ explorations of the structures of nature, we close the ATOMIC radio series by discerning some structures for ourselves. The journalist and founder of super/collider, Chris Hatherill joins Emily in the studio to share his five favourite structures from nature. Chris shines new light on deceptively simple structures like the snowflake and takes us to the cutting edge of current scientific mysteries. Find out more about this episode at

  • Atomic Radio Episode 5: Inside a molecule of a whale

    Atomic Radio Episode 5: Inside a molecule of a whale

    29/06/2014 Duration: 28min

    This episode is about dramatically magnified molecules – specifically, it’s about molecular forms that have been translated into architectures that dwarf the human body. We hear from cultural historian Celeste Olalquiaga on the ruin of a helical mall in Caracas, Venezuela, and the historian of science Soraya de Chadarevian illuminates the fantastical molecular forms broadcast on television during the Cold War. For this week’s show we’ve also created our own molecular architecture – one perceivable only through sound. It’s a virtual reverb space build by ATOMIC radio sound designer Sam Conran, inspired by the model below of a molecule of a sperm whale’s myoglobin, a protein found in the whale’s muscle tissue. Inside this myoglobin molecule we stage a new radio play written just for this molecular sound space by the writer Daniel Marrone, performed by Janina Lange and Edwina Attlee. Find out more about this episode at

  • Episode 4: A ‘Women’s Science’?

    Episode 4: A ‘Women’s Science’?

    14/06/2014 Duration: 29min

    X-ray crystallography has long had a reputation for being a scientific field with a significant number of female practitioners, especially in the first half of the twentieth century when it was rare to find women in any scientific discipline. This episode looks at how ideas of ‘women’s work’ did – and did not – affect the lives of crystallography’s pioneering female scientists, with the help of our guest this week, science writer Georgina Ferry, whose writing is re-framing the issue of women in crystallography. We take a peak into the life of X-ray crystallographer Dorothy Hodgkin, who in 1964 became the only British woman ever to win a science Nobel Prize. Then we spotlight the work, across science and design, of a lesser-known X-ray crystallographer named Helen Megaw who spearheaded the Festival Pattern Group, which created spectacular patterns for household goods based on crystal diagrams all the way back in the 1950s. Find out more about this episode at

  • Atomic Radio Episode 3: To Break Into Pieces

    Atomic Radio Episode 3: To Break Into Pieces

    06/06/2014 Duration: 29min

    This episode explores the ways in which breaking something into pieces can help to understand it, from the story of crystallographer Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray diffraction photograph that revealed the DNA double helix, to artist and academic Lina Hakim on what breaking toys apart has in common with crystallography, and the work of composer Margaret Schedel who is experimenting with new ways for scientists to understand X-ray data more deeply – by using their ears. Find out more about this episode at

  • Atomic Radio Episode 2: Atomic Fiction

    Atomic Radio Episode 2: Atomic Fiction

    30/05/2014 Duration: 29min

    In this episode we look in on the love affair between the science of atoms and fiction – from crystallographers’ most inventive models of the invisible sub-microscopic world to the atomic dramas chronicled in artist Tacita Dean’s film The Structure of Ice. We hear from Science Museum curator Boris Jardin, an expert not only on crystallography models but also on the relationship between art and science, and Emily reflects on the place of imaginative speculation in science and design with Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, an artist and designer who makes a career of walking the line between science and fiction. See image from this episode at

  • Atomic Radio Episode 1: Lab Life

    Atomic Radio Episode 1: Lab Life

    23/05/2014 Duration: 28min

    Today the borders between the arts and sciences are becoming more porous. Some artists and designers are even leaving behind their studios for laboratories where they are collaborating with scientists. In this episode we venture into the mysterious borderland between these two worlds, encountering the techniques used by crystallographers to shed light on the invisible structures of matter – techniques which have inspired designers and artists for decades. This week Emily visits the X-ray crystallographer Stephen Curry at his Imperial College lab, and speaks with the glass artist Shelley James – one of those artists who has entered the lab – about her collaboration with Kings College X-ray crystallographer Brian Sutton. See images from this week's episode at