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The+Life+Scientific%3A+Jacinta+Tan
access_time4 days ago
When a person with severe anorexia nervosa refuses food, the very treatment they need to survive, is that refusal carefully considered and rational, as it can appear to those around them? Or is it really the illness that’s causing them to say ‘no’?

This is one of the thorny ethical dilemmas that Jacinta Tan has wrestled with over the course of her career. She is deeply curious about the mind, and has spent hundreds of hours sitting with people with anorexia nervosa, not persuading them to eat, rather listening to them talk about what’s going on in their minds and how the illness influences their decisions.

These rich internal worlds, that she has revealed, shape her work as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, where she treats people with eating disorders. The views of those with the conditon and their families have been central to the recent government reviews of the Eating Disorder Services that she led in Scotland and Wales.

These conditions can be hugely challenging to treat. Jacinta Tan tells Jim Al-Khalili how it's the art of medicine, as much as the science, that helps people recover.

Producer: Beth Eastwood
The+Life+Scientific%3A+Pete+Smith
access_time11 days ago
Pete Smith is very down to earth. Not least because he’s interested in soil and the vital role it plays in helping us to feed the world, mitigate climate change and maintain a rich diversity of species on planet earth. He was born in a pub and failed the 11+ exam (designed to identify bright children just like him) but he became a distinguished professor nonetheless.
Tackling climate change in isolation is a mistake, he says. We need to consider all the challenges facing humanity and identify strategies that deliver benefits on all fronts: food security, bio-diversity and human development goals.
He tells Jim Al-Khalili about his life and work and the urgent need for our degraded peat bogs to be restored. Peat bogs that have been drained (for grazing or to plant trees) add to our carbon emissions. Healthy peat bogs, however, are carbon sinks.
Producer: Anna Buckley
The+Colour+Conundrum
access_time18 days ago
The world is full of colour! But, wonders listener Maya Crocombe, ‘how do we see colour and why are some people colour blind?’

Dr Rutherford and Professor Fry set out to understand how special light-sensitive cells in our eyes start the process of colour perception, why people sometimes have very different experiences of colour and whether, in the end, colour is really just ‘in our heads’.

Dr Gabriele Jordan from Newcastle University explains why lots of men struggle to discriminate between certain colours and why there were lots of complaints from colour-blind viewers when Wales played Ireland at rugby.

Professor Anya Hurlbert, also from Newcastle University, tackles the most divisive of internet images: The Dress! Did you see it as blue-black or yellow-gold? Anya explains why people see it so differently, and why our ability to compensate for available light is so useful.

To see the Dunstanborough Castle illusion as described in the episode, check out the Gallery on this page and also on the Discovery homepage.
The+Turn+of+the+Tide
access_time25 days ago
Mathematician Hannah Fry and geneticist Adam Rutherford investigate your everyday science queries. Today, they get stuck into two questions about tides. Lynn Godson wants to know why isn’t high tide at the same time at all points around the coast? Whilst Tim Mosedale asks, could we ever harness tidal power commercially?
Did you think tides are caused by the pull of the Moon? And that they come in and out twice a day? Well, yes, that’s true but it turns out there’s so much more to it than that, especially here in the UK, which has the second largest tidal range in the world at the Severn Estuary near Bristol, coming in at an average of 15 metres (50ft in old money). But why should high and low tide times be so different even in places that are relatively close to each other?

The answer partly lies in something called bathymetry (which has more to do with baths than you might think – well basins at any rate). As for harnessing sea power, there are some ambitious projects currently in development and predictions that wave and tidal could make up as much as 15 percent of the UK’s energy needs in future. But how realistic is this and how do you ensure that your power generators can survive the rigours of the ocean – storms, saltwater and all those pesky barnacles?

To help answer these queries, Hannah and Adam are joined by Physicist and Oceanographer, Helen Czerski and Professor Deborah Greaves OBE, who heads up the COAST lab at the University of Plymouth which studies marine renewable energy technologies.
The+Evidence%3A+The+nature+of+mental+health
access_time27 days ago
Today The Evidence goes green as Claudia Hammond and her panel of experts discuss plant power, how nature and the natural environment affect our mental health.

Produced in collaboration with Wellcome Collection and recorded in front of a live audience in the Reading Room at Wellcome in London, the programme addresses that widely-held view, even intuition, that plants and nature directly impact on our emotional wellbeing.

As always, Claudia and her panel of experts are interested in the evidence behind such beliefs, and as they reveal, proving this link scientifically, is fiendishly difficult.

The evidence base is growing (especially studies which show being in nature improves your mood) and there is much emerging research which gives tantalising glimpses into exactly which elements in nature could help to produce that green feel-good factor (and which elements can actually make us feel worse).

On stage at Wellcome, Tayshan Hayden-Smith, a 25 year old semi-professional footballer shares how he first put his hands in the soil after the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington in London five years ago, when 72 people lost their lives and left his community traumatised.

Tayshan tells Claudia that nature saved him, and many others, as they planted seeds, re-claimed spaces and built new gardens in the aftermath of the tragedy. All children and young people, he says, should have access to the healing power of nature and he calls on the horticultural establishment to open its doors much wider to enable this to happen.

Beth Collier too, believes that nature should be a meaningful part of everyday life for all. The connection with nature, she says, is fundamental to healing mental distress. A psychotherapist and ethnographer, Beth founded Wild in the City to encourage those who live in urban environments, especially people of colour, to re-connect with nature.

Claudia’s other guests are Kathy Willis, former Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, now Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford and author of a soon-to-be-published book called Prescribing Nature and Birgitta Gatersleben, Professor of Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey and a leading researcher studying the relationship between the natural environment and human wellbeing.

Produced by: Fiona Hill and Maria Simons
Studio Engineers: Duncan Hannant and Emma Harth

(Photo: Footpath through a forest
Credit: Nik Taylor/UCG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)
The+Shocking+White+Hair
access_time1 month ago
Why does human hair go grey and is it ever possible for it to go white overnight from shock? Hannah and Adam explore why hair goes grey, how much stressful life events and a lack of sleep can speed up the process. They hear from the pilot whose hair turned white after a flight where all 4 of his engines failed after flying through a volcanic ash cloud - was the shock responsible? They also uncover new research which has shown it's possible for greying hair to return to its natural colour and ask if this finding could be exploited to uncover a cosmetic way to reverse hair greying?
Surprising+symmetries
access_time1 month ago
Two eyes, two arms, two legs - we are roughly symmetrical on the outside, but inside we are all over the place! We just have one heart, which is usually on the left, one liver on the right, one spleen and one appendix. "Why is that?" wonders listener Joanne.

Our science sleuths discover that being symmetrical down the middle - at least on the outside - is by far the most common body plan across the animal kingdom. Professor Sebastian Shimeld from the University of Oxford takes us on a journey into the deep evolutionary past, to uncover how two-sided body structures first emerged in ancient worm-like creatures, and why this layout eventually proved so useful for swimming, walking and flying.

Garden snails turn out to be a surprising exception – their shells coil in one direction and on just one side of their body. Professor Angus Davison from the University of Nottingham tells the tale of his international quest to find a romantic partner for Jeremy – a rare left-coiling snail who could only mate with another left-coiling snail!

Dr Daniel Grimes from the University of Oregon unfolds the delicate mechanisms by which an initially symmetrical embryo starts to develop differently down one side, and everyone puzzles over the mystery of the left-handed 'mirror molecules' - so called L-amino acids - which turn out to be the building blocks of every living organism. A curious case indeed!
The+Weird+Waves+of+Wi-Fi
access_time2 months ago
We use Wi-Fi every day, but do you know how it works? “Is it waves and science or just some mystical magical force?” wonders listener Abby.

Well, our science sleuths are on the case. To help them navigate the strange realm of electromagnetic waves they are joined by Andrew Nix, Professor of Wireless Communication Systems from the University of Bristol. He explains why your wi-fi router won’t heat up your baked beans, but your microwave will.

Andrea Goldsmith, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Princeton University, also joins to reveal how these waves are crammed full of 0s and 1s- whether that's a pic of your pets or a video chat with pals.

And finally, how do you get the best Wi-Fi at home? Dr Rutherford, it turns out, has made some rookie errors Listen out for our top tips so you don't make them too!
The+Mystery+of+the+Teenage+Brain
access_time2 months ago
‘Why are teens prone to risky behaviour?’ asks Dr Mark Gallaway, ‘especially when with their friends?’ 13 year old Emma wonders why she’s chatty at school but antisocial when she gets home. And exasperated mum Michelle wants to know why her teens struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

Swirling hormones and growing bodies have a lot to answer for but, as Professor of Psychology from the University of Cambridge Sarah-Jayne Blakemore explains, there’s also a profound transformation going on in the brain.

Hannah and Adam discover how the adolescent brain is maturing and rewiring at the cellular level and why evolution might have primed teens to prefer their peers over their parents. Frances Jensen, Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, tells us how all these brain changes can impact social relationships. And Dr Rachel Sharman, a sleep researcher from the University of Oxford, reports the surprising findings from her sleep study tracking 100 teenagers around the UK.
Wild+Inside%3A+The+Ocean+Sunfish
access_time2 months ago
Ben Garrod and Jess French get under the skin of Mola mola the world's largest bony fish to unravel this bizarrely shaped predator's ability to swim to a huge range of depths.

Producer Adrian Washbourne
Wild+Inside%3A+The+Burmese+Python
access_time2 months ago
Ben Garrod and Jess French delve deep inside the predatory Burmese Python to examine its extraordinary body plan that enables it to catch, constrict and consume huge prey whole.

Producer Adrian Washbourne
Wild+Inside%3A+Jungle+royalty+-+the+Jaguar
access_time2 months ago
Wild Inside embarks on something we hardly ever witness – a look inside some of nature’s most wondrous animals. Its a rare chance to delve deep into some enigmatic and very different wild animals – from a reptile, to a mammal to a fish – unravelling the intricate internal complexity inside three of the most amazing animals ever to evolve. What makes the ultimate predator? What are the keys to successful survival in an ever-changing environment? Whilst we’ve gained a lot by observing their behaviour from the outside, to truly understand these animals, we need to look at what’s on the inside too.

Ben Garrod, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Science Engagement at the University of East Anglia, together with friend and expert veterinary surgeon Dr Jess French, open up and investigate what makes each of these animals unique. During each animal post mortem, they’re joined by experts in comparative anatomy, evolution and behaviour as they put these enigmatic animals under the knife. Along the way they reveal some unique adaptations which give each species a leg (or claw) up in surviving in the big wild world.

The series begins with one of the truly exotic loaners of the cat family – which at just over two metres long, covered with beautiful gold and black rosette markings, is pure jungle royalty - the greatest of the South American big cats - the Jaguar

Part 2: One of the largest predatory reptiles - the Burmese Python whose extraordinary singular body plan has enabled nearly 4000 species of snakes to succeed in inhabiting nearly every part of the planet,

Part 3 : The largest bony fish you might never have heard of – the bizarre looking Oceanic Sunfish which is being spotted increasingly in UK waters

Presenters: Prof Ben Garrod, Dr Jess French
Producer: Adrian Washbourne
The+Evidence%3A+War+trauma+and+mental+health
access_time3 months ago
War and conflict turns lives upside down and millions of adults and children witness atrocities, lose loved ones and often lose their homes and even their countries. The psychological and emotional suffering can continue long after the immediate threat to their life has gone. One in every five people touched by war – that’s 20% - will have a mental health problem that needs help and one in twenty or 5% will be severely affected.

As the humanitarian crisis deepens in the Ukraine with millions under bombardment and ten million people forced from their homes, Claudia Hammond and her guests explore the evidence behind the mental health interventions that do take place around the world: do they work and are they reaching the people who need them?

Two Ukrainian psychiatrists tell Claudia about the psychological support they’re trying to coordinate for their traumatised fellow Ukrainians. Dr Iryna Frankova is also a psychologist and she’s chair of the ECNP Traumatic Stress Network and with colleagues she’s helped to launch a new downloadable chatbot which offers information and psychological first aid. Dr Orest Suvalo from the Institute of Mental Health at the Ukrainian Catholic University is in Lviv in the west of Ukraine and he’s been trying to coordinate care for fleeing citizens as they arrive at the city’s railway station.

Claudia’s panel includes Bill Yule, Emeritus Professor of Applied Child Psychiatry at Kings College, London, who pioneered evidence-based interventions for children caught up in war and trauma (he’s one of the founders of the Children and War Foundation set up in the 1990s during the wars in the Balkans); Professor Emily Holmes from the department of psychology at the University of Uppsala in Sweden who uses the power of mental imagery to reduce traumatic, intrusive memories or flashbacks (she’s been using these techniques to develop treatments for refugees who have fled war and conflict) and Dr Peter Ventevogel, psychiatrist and medical anthropologist and senior mental health officer with UNHCR, the refugee agency at the United Nations.

And Dr Kennedy Amone P’Olak, Professor of Psycho-traumatology at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa joins from Uganda, where he’s tracked the mental health of hundreds of the children and young people who were abducted and recruited by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda.

Produced by: Fiona Hill and Maria Simons
Studio Engineers: Phil Lander and Emma Harth
The+Life+Scientific%3A+Steve+Brusatte+on+the+fall+of+dinosaurs+and+the+rise+of+mammals
access_time3 months ago
Steve Brusatte analyses the pace of evolutionary change and tries to answer big questions. Why did the dinosaurs die out and the mammals survive? How did dinosaurs evolve into birds? If you met a Velociraptor today you’d probably mistake it for a large flightless bird, says Steve. His intense interest in T. rex, Triceratops and all the other dinosaur species developed when he was a teenager and continues to this day. More recently, however, he’s focussed on the long history of mammals.

For hundreds of millions of years, our mammalian ancestors remained small. Most were mouse-sized. None were bigger than a badger. Steve studies how, when an asteroid collided with earth 66 million years ago, the mammals got lucky. All the big dinosaurs were wiped out and only the small ones with wings survived. (Birds are dinosaurs, by the way). Within half a million years, mammals of all shapes and sizes had taken over on planet earth. Sabre-toothed flesh eaters, cow-sized plant guzzlers and a host of other warm blooded placental animals evolved alongside the badger sized burrowers.

Steve talks to Jim Al-Khalili about his life and work, including the recent discovery of an incredibly well-preserved Pterosaur on the Isle of Skye, a place he likes to call Scotland’s Jurassic Park.
Producer: Anna Buckley
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