This past week, three top experts stopped by the Big Think offices for a video interview: behavioral neurologist Antonio Damasio, C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup, and kidnapping victim Stanley Alpert.

USC neurology professor Antonio Damasio talked to us about what "consciousness" is; how our brains connect with our bodies and actions; and how we string together thoughts and memories to create personal autobiographies. He also described how the brain constructs a "feeling" and how our emotions affect the way we perceive the world around us.

C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup gave us some words of advice on how to make the most of the programming language he began developing over 30 years ago. And for those of us who don't know a script from a kernel, he explained what C++ is and why it has become one of the most popular programming languages ever created. Stroustrup also told us the five programming languages he thinks everyone should know, and he shared his predictions for the future of programming.

And former federal prosecutor Stanley Alpert spoke to us about the night he was kidnapped on his birthday 12 years ago and held hostage at gunpoint for 25 hours. Somehow Alpert managed to keep his wits and ended up not only convincing his captors to let him go but also helping the FBI to track them down within 48 hours. Alpert told us about the strategies and tricks he used to negotiate with his kidnappers and to stay alive. He also told us about the little ways he managed to maintain some sense of control, despite being blindfolded and held at gunpoint, which helped him deal with the trauma of surviving such an event. 

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