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English Science & Medicine Podcast

Chi Onwurah
Discovery BBC
access_time20 hours ago
Chi Onwurah tells Jim Al-Khalili why she wanted to become a telecoms engineer and why engineering is a caring profession. As a black, working class woman from a council estate in Newcastle, she was in a minority of one studying engineering at university in London and encountered terrible racism and sexism. She went on to build digital networks all over the world, the networks that make today's instant muli-media communications possible. And Chi built the first mobile phone network in Nigeria, when the country was without a reliable electricity supply. Today she is Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation. When Chi decided to go into politics, her engineering colleagues were not impressed. Why would anyone leave their noble profession to enter a chaotic, disreputable and dubiously useful non-profession, they asked. But, Chi believes, parliament desperately needs more scientists and engineers, not only to help us solve science-based problems but also to create technical jobs and build a strong economy.
The Evidence: How pandemics end
Discovery BBC
access_time3 days ago
Six and a half million dead. More than a hundred times that infected. The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe. But in the final months of the third year of this health crisis, some now claim it’s all over. Scientists with key roles in the global response join Claudia Hammond to consider the evidence behind the declarations that the pandemic has finished and they set out how, officially, this global health crisis will be brought to an end. They reject claims that the pandemic is over, but say the emergency phase of this global health crisis is coming to a close. But only if countries remain vigilant and maintain pandemic preparedness. If vaccines reach arms, if treatments are shared equally and if nations re-introduce public health measures like mask wearing and social distancing when the inevitable new waves (and potential new variants) emerge, the appalling loss of life we saw at the beginning of the pandemic, they tell Claudia, won’t be repeated. There are stark warnings too that the dramatic global drop in the sequencing of virus samples (which enables us to see how the virus is evolving) is posing a serious risk. We can’t react to a new threat, Claudia’s panel say, if you can’t see it. Sequencing, as well as testing, has fallen by 90% since January this year, from 100,000 weekly sequences ten months ago to less than 10,000 now. This severely limits the ability to track the known variants (currently 200 sub-lineages of the Omicron variant). Produced in collaboration with Wellcome and recorded in front of a live audience in Wellcome’s Reading Room in London, Claudia’s expert panel includes Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organisation’s Technical Lead for Covid-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the south African Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 and a member of the Africa Task Force which oversees the African continent’s response to the virus and Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar, the Director of Wellcome and a former adviser to the UK government on its Covid response. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Produced by: Fiona Hill and Maria Simons Studio Engineers: Giles Aspen and Emma Harth
The final moments of DART
Science in Action BBC
access_time5 days ago
NASA’s latest mission, DART hit the headlines this week after the space agency’s satellite successfully collided with a far off asteroid. The mission acts as a demonstration of Earth’s first planetary defence system. Jon Amos, one of BBC’s Science correspondents, talks Roland through the final moments of the DART satellite. Although the collision was a success, we may have to wait a little longer before we know if the asteroid’s trajectory has been altered… Simone Pirrotta, project manager at the Italian Space Agency, has more to add. His nifty camera system broke away 10 days before DART’s collision, ensuring its own survival. This celestial drive by is guaranteed to provide scientific data to get excited about. Also this week, we visit the China Kadoorie Biobank. Twenty years in the making, it houses a collection of over half a million genetic samples, which might help identify links between our own genetic compositions and illness. Roland Pease visited them in Oxford to find out more. Finally, a new review describes the use of mercury by ancient Mayans. The metal is famous for its use across a plethora of civilizations throughout history. Andrea Sella from University College London, tells Roland how his favourite element underpins industrialisation across the ages and the globe. Image: An illustration of the DART spacecraft headed toward its target Credit: NASA/John Hopkins APL Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Harrison Lewis, Robbie Wojciechowski
A spoonful of sweetener
Inside Health BBC
access_time7 days ago
What do sweeteners do to our bodies? We force feed James cups of sweetened tea and find out with nutrition scientist Dr Sarah Berry from King’s College London. We then tackle something stronger - alcohol. Can a new supplement reduce the amount of alcohol getting into the body? And Rohin Francis gets frustrated at the shonky claims being made by health podcasts (not this one, of course, you’re totally in the right place). Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Beth Eastwood
David Eagleman
Discovery BBC
access_time8 days ago
Literature student turned neuroscientist, Prof David Eagleman, tells Jim Al-Khalili about his research on human perception and the wristband he created that enables deaf people to hear through their skin. Everything we see, taste, smell, touch and hear is created by a set of electro-chemical impulses in the dark recesses of our brain. Our brains look for patterns in these signals and attach meaning to them. So in future perhaps we could learn to ‘feel’ fluctuations in the stock market, see in infra-red or echo-locate like bats? Each brain creates its own unique truth and David believes, there are no real limits to what we humans can perceive.
Should we mine the deep sea?
Science in Action BBC
access_time12 days ago
The first license of its kind has been granted for deep-sea mining. It will be used to run early tests to see whether the seabed could be good place to harvest rare earth materials in the future. These earth minerals are what powers much of our modern technology, and the demand is growing year on year. The license raises ethical questions about whether anyone has ownership over the seabed, and whether we could be disrupting ecosystems under the sea in doing so. We have two experts joining us to discuss the scientific implications. They are marine biologist, Dr Helen Scales and Bramley Murton from the National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton University. Also on the programme, we build on last week’s discussion about growing opportunities for researchers on the African continent. We look at how programmes of genomic sequencing are offering opportunities for Africa-based researchers, that haven’t been available before. And lastly, we talk to Thilo Kreuger, a PhD student at Curtin University, Western Australia, who’s behind the discovery of a whole new species of carnivorous plants. We discuss what it’s like fulfilling a lifelong dream to discover more about these spectacular plant species. (Image: The Metals Company plans to mine the seafloor for these nodules containing nickel, cobalt, and manganese in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Harrison Lewis, Robbie Wojciechowski
Frances Arnold
Discovery BBC
access_time14 days ago
Nobel Prize winning chemist Frances Arnold left home at 15 and went to school ‘only when she felt like it’. She disagreed with her parents about the Vietnam war and drove big yellow taxis in Pittsburgh to pay the rent. Decades later, after several changes of direction (from aerospace engineer to bio-tech pioneer), she invented a radical new approach to engineering enzymes. Rather than try to design industrial enzymes from scratch (which she considered to be an impossible task), Frances decided to let Nature do the work. ‘I breed enzymes like other people breed cats and dogs’ she says. While some colleagues accused her of intellectual laziness, industry jumped on her ideas and used them in the manufacture of everything from laundry detergents to pharmaceuticals. She talks to Jim Al-Khalili about her journey from taxi driver to Nobel Prize, personal tragedy mid-life and why advising the White House is much harder than doing scientific research.
Science and the causes behind Pakistan’s floods
Science in Action BBC
access_time19 days ago
A new report by the World Weather Attribution consortium demonstrates the impact of global warming on flooding in Pakistan. The consortium is helping to assess the link between humanitarian disasters and global change, faster than ever before. The work, conducted by a team of statisticians, climate experts, and local weather experts, is part of an emerging field in science called Extreme Event Attribution, and can reliably provide assessments in the immediate aftermath of an extreme weather event The report follows widescale flooding in Pakistan that has disrupted the lives of over 33 million people. Dr. Friederike Otto from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change explains some of the network’s conclusions as to the causes behind this devastating flood. Can it all be down to climate change? Also this week, we speak to Prof Oyewale Tomori of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, who writes in this week’s journal Science about what he believes African countries’ role should be in response to the Monkeypox pandemic, and how future academic work in the area should be more homegrown. Finally, psychologist Lynda Boothroyd talks us through a new study about how the arrival of television in people’s lives can help shape unhealthy and negative perceptions of body image. The study, conducted in Nicaragua, amongst communities only recently connected to electricity supplies, is helping to show how the media could play a part in contributing to conditions like eating disorders. (Image: Pakistani people move to a safer place due to flooding. Credit: Jan Ali Laghari/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Alex Mansfield, Robbie Wojciechowski
Sir Martin Landray
Discovery BBC
access_time22 days ago
Who could forget the beginning of 2020, when a ‘mysterious viral pneumonia’ emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Soon, other countries were affected and deaths around the world began to climb. Perhaps most alarmingly of all, there were no proven treatments to help prevent those deaths. As the World Health Organisation declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, and the UK and the rest of the world braced itself for what was to come, doctor and drug-trial designer Martin Landray had his mind on a solution, devising the protocol, or blueprint, for the world’s largest drug trial for Covid-19. As Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Oxford University, Martin was perfectly positioned to jump, delivering what became known as the RECOVERY Trial. The trial was tasked to deliver clarity amid the predicted chaos of the pandemic and galvanised every acute NHS hospital in the UK. Within its first one hundred days, it had yielded three major discoveries and it has transformed Covid-19 treatment worldwide, already saving over a million lives. Sir Martin Landray was recently knighted for this work and RECOVERY’s legacy lives on, not just for Covid. Martin plans to revolutionise drug trials for other diseases too.
The genetics of human intelligence
Science in Action BBC
access_time26 days ago
Early humans and Neanderthals had similar-sized brains but around 6 million years ago something happened that gave us the intellectual edge. The answer may lie in a tiny mutation in a single gene that meant more neurons could develop in a crucial part of the brain. Post-doctoral research scientist at the Max Plank Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Anneline Pinson, did the heavy lifting on the research under the supervision of Wieland Huttner. They discuss with Roland how this finding offers a major development in our understanding of the evolutionary expansion of the all-important neocortex area of the brain. A central aspect of what it is to be human and how we use our intelligence is to care for one another. A burial site in Borneo from tens of thousands of years ago gives us fresh insights into how advanced our capacity to care was, millennia before the establishment of stable communities and agricultural life. Remains uncovered by a team of archaeologists from Australia have found one of the first examples of complex medical surgery. Finally, moving to a carbon-neutral society will involve developing huge battery potential, but that comes with its own environmental and social problems. Could a solution be found in the exoskeleton of crabs? (Image: Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Zak Brophy and Robbie Wojciechowski
How Covid Changed Science, part 3
Discovery BBC
access_time29 days ago
In the third and final part of our series How Covid Changed Science, Devi Sridhar Professor of Global Health at Edinburgh University looks at the legacy and lessons of the pandemic for scientific research. Tackling the virus became a global issue, but many have pointed out the inequality of both resources and effort in the response. Going forward do we need to be directing research more towards improving health and disease surveillance in less wealthy parts of the world, would investing there help prevent future pandemics?
The China Heatwave and the New Normal
Science in Action BBC
access_time1 month ago
Hot on the tail of China’s heatwave comes the other side of the extreme coin – tragic flooding. Also, a coming global shortage of sulfur, while scientists produce useful oxygen on Mars in the MOXIE experiment. Prof Chunzai Wang is the Director of the State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography in Guangzhou, China. He tells Roland about the surprising nature of the extreme temperatures and droughts much of China has been experiencing, and how they are connected to so many of the record-breaking weather events around the northern hemisphere this summer, including the tragic flooding in Pakistan. Some people of course saw this coming. Richard Betts of the UK Met Office talks of a paper by one of his predecessors published 50 years ago exactly that pretty much predicted the greenhouse gas-induced climate change more or less exactly. Clearly, the world needs to cut carbon emissions, and oil and coal would be sensible places to start. But as Prof Mark Maslin points out, this will come with its own consequences in terms of pressure on the industrial supply of sulfur and sulfuric acid, essential to so many other devices and processes. Can a shortage be averted? And scientists working on Nasa’s Mars Perseverance team report more results this week. Alongside all the sensitive instrumentation aboard, an experiment known as MOXIE was somehow squeezed in to demonstrate the principle of electrolyzing Martian carbon dioxide to produce usable oxygen gas. As Michael Hecht explains, the tech is scalable and would be more or less essential to any viable human trip to Mars in the future. (Image: The Jialing River bed at the confluence with the Yangtze River is exposed due to drought in August 2022 in Chongqing, China. The water level of the Jialing River, one of the tributaries of the Yangtze River, has dropped due to high temperature and drought. Credit: Zhong Guilin/VCG via Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Assistant Producer: Robbie Wojciechowski Producer: Alex Mansfield
How Covid Changed Science, part 2
Discovery BBC
access_time1 month ago
In the second of our series How Covid Changed Science, Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Health at Edinburgh University looks at the scientific messaging. Just how do you explain to both politicians and the public that a growing global pandemic is likely to kill many people, and unprecedented measures such as a nationwide lockdown are needed to prevent even more deaths. What information should be imparted and how? Similarly how to address the clamour for information on the development of vaccines and other potential treatments when there often wasn’t clarity? And with the rise of misinformation how did individual scientists who became the subject of conspiracy theories cope with being targeted? In this programme we hear from scientists and politicians directly involved with the pandemic response. For some the experience of explaining their often highly technical research to the general public was a daunting experience. For others it became a mission to answer the publics concerns and fears.
Surprises from a Martian Lake Bed
Science in Action BBC
access_time1 month ago
The Jezero Crater on Mars was targeted by Nasa’s Perseverence rover because from orbit, there was strong evidence it had at some point contained a lake. When the Mars 2020 mission landed, it didn’t take long to spot rocks protruding from the bottom that looked for all the world like sedimentary rocks – implying they were laid down from the liquid water and maybe perhaps even contain signs of past life. This week, the science team have published some of their analysis from the first 9 months of the mission. And, as Principal Scientist Kenneth Farley of Caltech tells Science In Action, the geology is clearly more complex, as it turns out they are igneous, perhaps resulting from subsequent volcanic activity. Back on earth, Shane Cronin of the University of Auckland has been digging into the legend of the Kuwea volcano in Vanuatu. Folk tales have long talked of an inhabited island that once disappeared beneath the sea. Over the years some have linked these and the submarine caldera with an eruption that occurred in 1452, yet the evidence has been debated. But the Hunga-Tonga eruption earlier this year has shifted Shane’s perception of the evidence. As he describes, he now suspects the 1452 eruption was as much as 5-7 times bigger in magnitude, and likely preceded by smaller eruptions that could fit with some of the legends surrounding the story. This type of evidence, interpreted from the testimony of those who live there, is increasingly being employed in conservation studies. Heidi Ma of ZSL in London and colleagues this week declared in Royal Society Open Science, the Dugong – a relative of the manatee - is now functionally extinct in Chinese waters, but they reached this conclusion from interviewing hundreds of individuals in fishing communities along that coast. And very few of them had ever seen one. (Image: Jezero Crater. Credit: Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Alex Mansfield
How we're reverse engineering the human brain in the lab | Sergiu P. Pasca
TEDTalks Science and Medicine TEDTalks
access_time1 month ago
Neuroscientist Sergiu P. Pasca has made it his life's work to understand how the human brain builds itself -- and what makes it susceptible to disease. In a mind-blowing talk laden with breakthrough science, he shows how his team figured out how to grow "organoids" and what they call brain "assembloids" -- self-organizing clumps of neural tissue derived from stem cells that have shown the ability to form circuits -- and explains how these miniature parts of the nervous system are bringing us closer to demystifying the brain.
How Covid changed science, part 1
Discovery BBC
access_time1 month ago
The global Covid pandemic was a wake up call for the scientific community. With remarkable speed and agility a massive global effort was soon underway – to turn existing science to tackle the immediate threat of the pandemic and invent new science with a longer term aim of protecting the global population from the new pathogen. The old ways of ‘doing science’ changed but was that entirely for the better and is such change permanent ? Until 2020 developing a new drug took at least 15 years. Scientists by and large competed with each other, were somewhat secretive about their research and only shared their data once publication was secured. And the public and the press had no interest in the various early phases of clinical trials. An incremental scientific step possibly on the road to somewhere was simply not newsworthy. Face masks were the preserves of hypochondriacs in the Far East, with no scientific evidence base for their use. Now the findings of research are published as soon as they are ready, often before they have been peer reviewed they are being openly discussed in social media. This series documents the key changes in science which the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about. The speed of research, collaboration between science and industry, and public perception of science are areas that have undergone incredible and likely permanent change. Devi Sridhar asks which of these changes increase or decrease the public’s trust in science. And what the direction should be now for a more joined up global response to infectious disease. Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Health at Edinburgh University hears from scientists in a variety of fields, whose working lives and practices have been affected, in some cases revolutionised by the pandemic.
Deadly drought
Science in Action BBC
access_time2 months ago
East Africa has endured more than two years on continuous drought. The latest predictions suggest the drought is not likely to end any time soon. We look at why climate change and weather patterns in the Pacific and Indian oceans are largely to blame. Andrea Taschetto, chief investigator at the Centre on Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales discusses the latest predictions Drought has also been an issue in Europe, comparable with events nearly 500 years ago. Chantal Camenisch at the Institute of History at Bern University in Switzerland has been delving into European drought history and says despite the vast differences in living conditions there are many parallels with today. When a dinosaur killing asteroid hit the earth did it have company? A suspected impact crater discovered off the coast of West Africa may have been caused at around the same time . Heriot Watt University geostratigrapher Uisdean Nicholson and University of Texas geologist Sean Gulick have been investigating. And we have some of the answers to why T Rex had such small eyes for the size of its skull, Stephan Lautenschlager at the University of Birmingham has the gruesome answer. Image: Credit: Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle
Satellites versus the stars
Discovery BBC
access_time2 months ago
If you look up into the night sky, there are around 7,000 active satellites orbiting the Earth. They’re part of our daily life – essential for things like the internet, the GPS in our cars and giving us weather reports. Seven thousand might not sound a lot in the infinite expanses of space. But the reality is that most satellites are found in a small slice of the solar system - called Lower Earth Orbit - and countries and satellite companies are planning to launch hundreds of thousands more in the next decade. So things are about to get crowded. In this week’s Discovery, Jane Chambers speaks to scientists, astronomers from the ALMA Observatory in Chile, space environmentalists and satellite companies like SpaceX about the benefits of this explosion in mega satellite constellations, as well as the unintended consequences to those who value a clear and unhindered view of the stars. Picture: Radio Telescopes at ALMA Observatory in the north of Chile, Credit: Jane Chambers
Icelandic volcano erupts again
Science in Action BBC
access_time2 months ago
We talk to volcano scientist Ed Marshall in Iceland about working at the volcano which has burst into life spectacularly again after a year of quiet. Also in the programme, we'll be following migrating moths across Europe in light aircraft to discover the remarkable secrets of their powers of navigation, and hearing how synthetic biology promises to create smarter and more adaptable genetically engineered crops. (Image: Lava spews from the volcano in Fagradalsfjall. Credit: Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
A good death with friends and family
Inside Health BBC
access_time2 months ago
Should friends and family be trained to give potent medications to those dying at home to relieve their symptoms? We often say that we’d like to die peacefully at home when the inevitable happens. Yet people can be left in pain for hours waiting for a doctor or nurse to be free to visit and administer the medicines that ease our symptoms in our final days. James Gallagher speaks to Mark, who was trained to administer medicines to his mother to help keep her comfortable at the end of her life, and to palliative care doctor Marlise Poolman who is pioneering the programme across North Wales. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Beth Eastwood
Plant based promises, diet and health
Discovery BBC
access_time2 months ago
Giles Yeo learns how to make a Thai green curry with Meera Sodha. This is a recipe without meat or prawns but with tofu and lots of vegetables. If we need to eat less meat and dairy to help prevent global warming- what difference will altering our diets make to our health. For a long time now people have been urged to cut down on red meat and processed foods but if you have been eating them all your life it takes an effort to develop new habits. Plant based products that can replace for example dairy milks, cheeses, sausages, burgers and meat based dishes such as lasagne can be helpful in making this transition but are they healthier?
Synthetic mouse embryos with brains and hearts
Science in Action BBC
access_time2 months ago
This week two research groups announced that they have made synthetic mouse embryos that developed brains and beating hearts in the test tube, starting only with embryonic stem cells. No sperm and eggs were involved. Previously, embryos created this way have never got beyond the stage of being a tiny ball of cells. These embryos grew and developed organs through 8 days – more than a third of the way through the gestation period for a mouse. Roland Pease talks to the leader of one of the teams, developmental biologist Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz of Cambridge University and Caltech about how and why they did this, and the ethical issues around this research. Also in the programme: the latest research on how we spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus when we breathe. Infectious disease researcher Kristen Coleman of the University of Maryland tells us about her experiments that have measured the amounts of virus in the tiny aerosol particles emanating from the airways of recently infected people. The results underscore the value of mask-wearing and effective ventilation in buildings. We also hear about new approaches to vaccines against the virus – Kevin Ing of the Crick Institute in London talks about the possibility of a universal coronavirus vaccine based on his research, and immunologist Akiko Iwasaki of Yale University extolls the advantages of nasal vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. (Image: Stem cell built mouse embryo at 8 days. Credit: Zernicka-Goetz Lab) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
Covid waves, Gene therapy for haemophilia B, New uses for old drugs
Inside Health BBC
access_time2 months ago
Smitha Mundasad asks whether we will see waves of Covid – with infections going up and down and then up and down again - forever more. We speak to Elliot whose life has been transformed after a single shot of gene therapy to treat the inherited blood disorder haemophilia B. And Dr Margaret McCartney discusses the accidental discovery of Viagra and how sometimes researchers find new, surprising uses for old medicines. Produced by Geraldine Fitzgerald.
Plant based promises, sustainability
Discovery BBC
access_time2 months ago
In Plant Based Promises, Giles Yeo a foodie and academic at Cambridge University, asks how sustainable are commercial plant based products? This is a fast growing sector with a potential value of $162 billion by 2030. Giles travels to the Netherlands Food Valley to look at companies developing plant based alternatives and to find out what role they have to play in changing diets. And Giles designs, his own plant based Yeo Deli range online, but discovers that new markets are already causing shortages of alternative proteins so what will the future look like? In 2019 the Eat Lancet Commission set up specific targets for a healthy diet and sustainable food production. The aim was to keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees and to be able to feed the world’s 10 billion people by 2050. The Commission’s recommendations are best visualised as a plate of food, half fruits vegetables and nuts and the other half whole grains, beans, legumes and pulses, plant oils and modest amounts of meat and dairy. Is there room on the plate for Giles Yeo Deli Baloney range.
The first galaxies at the universe's dawn
Science in Action BBC
access_time2 months ago
In the last week, teams of astronomers have rushed to report ever deeper views of the universe thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope. These are galaxies of stars more than 13.5 billion light years from us and we see them as they were when the universe was in its infancy, less than 300 million years after the Big Bang. As University of Texas astronomer Steve Finkelstein tell us, there are some real surprises in these glimpses of the cosmic dawn. The super-distant galaxy that Steve's group has identified is named after his daughter Maisie. Also in the programme: a 550 million year old fossil which is much the oldest representative of a large group of animals still with us today. The early jellyfish relative lived at a time known as the Ediacaran period when all other known complex organisms were weird, alien-looking lifeforms with no surviving descendants. Roland Pease talks palaeontologist Frankie Dunn at the University of Oxford who's led the study of Auroralumina attenboroughii. Did the cultural invention of romantic kissing five thousand years ago lead to the spread of today's dominant strain of the cold sore virus (Herpes simplex 1) across Europe and Asia? That's the hypothesis of a team of virologists and ancient DNA experts who've been studying viral DNA remnants extracted from four very old teeth. Cambridge University's Charlotte Houldcroft explains the reasoning. Image: Maisie's Galaxy aka CEERSJ141946.35-525632.8. Credit: CEERS Collaboration Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
26/07/2022
Inside Health BBC
access_time2 months ago
Series that demystifies health issues, bringing clarity to conflicting advice.
Plant based promises, rise of the plant based burger
Discovery BBC
access_time2 months ago
In Plant Based Promises, foodie, researcher and broadcaster Giles Yeo looks at the science behind plant based diets and the increasing number of plant based products appearing in supermarkets and restaurants. The market for plant based products could be worth $162 billion in the next ten years and Giles asks how sustainable and healthy the products are and the role they play in decreasing the world's carbon footprint. Globally food production accounts for about 30% of greenhouse gases. In the UK we eat over six times the amount of meat and more than twice the amount of dairy products recommended to prevent the global temperature increasing more than 1.5 degrees C, after which extreme weather events become more severe. But eating less meat and dairy means new protein sources from plants are needed and how easy or practical is it for people to change their diets? Veganuary, where people pledge to go vegan for the month of January show that people are willing to change what they eat for a variety of reasons including animal welfare, sustainability and health. In programme one Giles, an expert on food intake looks at some of the foods being developed to replace animal based foods and looks at alternatives to the iconic cheeseburger. Giles meets biochemist Professor Pat Brown founder of Impossible Burgers, a Silicon Valley start up making burgers from genetically modified yeast to replicate the taste of meat. But from high tech to the artisanal, sisters Rachel and Charlotte Stevens missed eating cheese so much they are now making cheese alternatives using traditional moulds, cultures and aging techniques while replacing dairy ingredients with nuts.
The future of fashion -- made from mushrooms | Dan Widmaier
TEDTalks Science and Medicine TEDTalks
access_time2 months ago
Your closet is likely full of all kinds of materials -- leather, cotton, nylon and polyester, to name a few -- that contribute to fashion's sustainability crisis. Biomaterials investigator Dan Widmaier explains how we could look to nature for sustainable replacements for these much-used materials and introduces a leather alternative made from mushrooms that looks great and doesn't harm the environment. "We can make fashion sustainable, and we're going to do it with science," Widmaier says.
Heat waves in the Northern Hemisphere
Science in Action BBC
access_time2 months ago
The extreme heat wave in western Europe over the last couple of weeks is just one of many in the Northern Hemisphere in 2022. How is global warming changing the atmosphere to make heat waves more frequent and more intense? We talk to climatologists Hannah Cloke, Friederike Otto and Efi Rousi. If we want to stabilise global warming to two degrees by the end of the century, how are we going to do that? One novel idea is to harness the world's vast railway infrastructure and equip freight and passenger trains with an additional special wagon or two. These extra cars would be designed to suck carbon dioxide out of the air, liquify it and transport it to sequestration sites. Critically all the energy to capture the carbon dioxide comes free from regenerative braking on the trains. University of Toronto chemist Geoff Ozin and Eric Bachman, founder of the start-up CO2 Rail, explain the vision. On the 40th anniversary of the International Whaling Commissions announcing an end to commercial whaling, we hear from Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler about the high seas campaign in the 1970s that helped prevent the extinction of the great whales. He talks about the contribution to the cause made by the discovery of whale song, and the release of humpback whale recordings as a commercial disc. (Image: Firefighter trucks burning during a wildfire on the Mont d'Arrees, outside Brasparts, western France, 19 July 2022. Credit: LOIC VENANCE/ AFP via Getty Images) Presenter: Andrew Luck-Baker Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
Monkeypox, mind body connections, are children exercising less since Covid?
Inside Health BBC
access_time3 months ago
What do you think bendy joints has to do with the way the brain works? Well you may be in for surprise. Scientists have found a connection with autism, attention deficit and Tourettes. So what does this tell us about how our brain and body work? We’re asking whether we’re stuck with monkeypox forever now or do we still have the chance to stop it spreading? And has the pandemic left a permanent scar on children’s activity levels.
The mysterious particles of physics, part 3
Discovery BBC
access_time3 months ago
The smaller the thing you look at, the bigger the microscope you need to use. That’s why the circular Large Hadron Collider at CERN, where they discovered the Higgs boson is 27 kilometres long, and its detectors tens of metres across. But to dig deeper still into the secrets of the Universe, they’re already talking about another machine 4 times bigger, to be built by the middle of the century. Roland Pease asks if it’s worth it.
First images from the James Webb Space Telescope
Science in Action BBC
access_time3 months ago
Roland Pease talks to two astronomers who began working on the James Webb Space Telescope more than two decades ago and have now seen the first spectacular results of their labours. Marcia Rieke of the University of Arizona and JWST's senior project scientist John Mather discuss the highlights of the first four images. Also in the programme, geologists discover precisely where on the Red Planet the most ancient Martian meteorite came from - we speak to Anthony Lagain whose detective work identified the crater from which the rock was ejected into space. And what causes vast areas of the Indian Ocean to glow with strange light - a rare and mysterious phenomenon known as 'milky seas'? The world is a step closer to understanding this centuries' old maritime enigma thanks to the crew of a yacht sailing south of Java, atmospheric scientist Steven Miller and marine microbiologist Kenneth Nealson. Image: The Southern Ring Nebula Credit: NASA/STScI Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
Medical language, chemo brain & heatwaves
Inside Health BBC
access_time3 months ago
Does medicine have a language problem? We speak to Rachel who was made to feel like a 'naughty schoolgirl' by the terminology used around the birth of her child. We’ll find out how deep-seated blaming and belittling language in healthcare is, and why. We get sticky and sweaty discussing the dangers of heatwaves to the human body. And we take the confusion out of 'chemo brain' or cancer-related cognitive impairment, and explore why we rarely talk about it and how this is now changing. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Beth Eastwood
The mysterious particles of physics, part 2
Discovery BBC
access_time3 months ago
Episode 2: Lost in the Dark Physics is getting a good understanding of atoms, but embarrassingly they’re only a minor part of the Universe. Far more of it is made of something heavy and dark, so-called dark matter. The scientists who discovered the Higgs boson ten years ago thought they’d also create dark matter in the underground atom smasher at CERN. But they haven’t seen it yet. Roland Pease joins them as they redouble their efforts at the upgraded Large Hadron Collider, and travels to Boulby Underground Laboratory inside Britain's deepest mine, where subterranean telescopes hope to see dark matter streaming through the Galaxy.
How we could solve the dark matter mystery | Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
TEDTalks Science and Medicine TEDTalks
access_time3 months ago
The universe that we know, with its luminous stars and orbiting planets, is largely made up of elements we can't actually see -- like dark energy and dark matter -- and therefore don't fully understand. Theoretical physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein takes us inside the search for this cosmos-shaping invisible matter and explains how, with the help of a new generation of telescopes, we could be closer to demystifying it than ever before. "The universe is more queer and fantastical than it looks to the naked eye," she says. (If you want to hear more from Prescod-Weinstein, check out her episode on "The TED Interview" podcast.)
Long Covid ‘brain fog’
Science in Action BBC
access_time3 months ago
Following a bout of Covid-19, a significant number of people suffer with weeks or months of 'brain fog' - poor concentration, forgetfulness, and confusion. This is one of the manifestations of Long Covid. A team of scientists in the United States has now discovered that infection in the lung can trigger an inflammatory response which then causes patterns of abnormal brain cell activity. It’s the kind of brain cell dysregulation also seen in people who experience cognitive problems following chemotherapy for cancer. Also in the programme, the latest discoveries about the asteroid Bennu from the Osiris Rex mission, how Malayasian farmers led US researchers to a botanical discovery, and a new explanation for why dinosaurs took over the world 200 million years ago. (Image: System of neurons with glowing connections. Credit: Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
The Death of Stars
In Our Time: Science BBC
access_time3 months ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the abrupt transformation of stars after shining brightly for millions or billions of years, once they lack the fuel to counter the force of gravity. Those like our own star, the Sun, become red giants, expanding outwards and consuming nearby planets, only to collapse into dense white dwarves. The massive stars, up to fifty times the mass of the Sun, burst into supernovas, visible from Earth in daytime, and become incredibly dense neutron stars or black holes. In these moments of collapse, the intense heat and pressure can create all the known elements to form gases and dust which may eventually combine to form new stars, new planets and, as on Earth, new life. The image above is of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, approximately 10,000 light years away, from a once massive star that died in a supernova explosion that was first seen from Earth in 1690 With Martin Rees Astronomer Royal, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge Carolin Crawford Emeritus Member of the Institute of Astronomy and Emeritus Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge And Mark Sullivan Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Southampton Producer: Simon Tillotson
How's your hay fever?
Inside Health BBC
access_time3 months ago
Aaaaaaaaa-choo! If you have hay fever then you know that it can be a right pain in the… nose. This week Inside Health presents a complete guide to hay fever. Are we enduring the worst hay fever season? When was the disgustingly-named “summer catarrh” first identified as a medical condition? And what can we safely plant in the garden without setting off our symptoms? GP Navjoyt Ladher and immunologist Danny Altmann join James Gallagher in the park to talk causes and,treatments, and to find out how close we are to having a cure. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Anna Buckley
The Mysterious Particles of Physics (1/3)
Discovery BBC
access_time3 months ago
The machine that discovered the Higgs Boson 10 years ago is about to restart after a massive upgrade, to dig deeper into the heart of matter and the nature of the Universe. Roland Pease returns to CERN’s 27-kilometre Large Hadron Collider (LHC) dug deeper under the Swiss-French border to meet the scientists wondering why the Universe is the way it is. He hears why the Nobel-prize winning discovery of the “Higgs Particle” remains a cornerstone of the current understanding of the nature of matter; why the search for “dark matter” – 25% of the cosmos - is proving to be so hard; and CERN’s plans for an atom smasher 4 times as big to be running by the middle of the century.
Extreme heat death risk in Latin America
Science in Action BBC
access_time3 months ago
A new analysis of deaths in cities across Latin America suggests rising global temperatures could lead to large numbers of deaths in the region and elsewhere in the world. Even a 1-degree rise in extreme heat can add 6% to the risk of dying. Lead researcher Josiah Kephart at Drexel University tells Roland Pease the lessons from Latin America should apply to cities across the global south. Brazilian ecologist Andreas Meyer talks about the troubling prospects for the health of ecosystems, particularly in tropical regions, if the world does not cut its fossil fuel emissions hard and fast in the next few years. In the USA, a team of engineers and neurosurgeons are developing a radical new approach for targeted pain relief – in the first instance, for patients recovering from surgery. It’s a flexible implant that wraps around a nerve and cools it to prevent it from transmitting pain signals. What’s more, says bioengineer John Rogers, the implant is made of a material designed to have dissolved safely into the body by the time its pain-killing work is done. Geologist Bob Hazen has spent more than a decade producing a new classification system for the 5,700 minerals known to exist on the Earth. It improves on the pre-existing scheme by taking into account the myriad ways that many minerals have come into being. He tells Roland that this new way of categorising minerals lays bare a 4.5 billion-year history of remarkable chemical and biological creativity. (Image: Rio de Janeiro City. Credit: Pintai Suchachaisri/Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
The Life Scientific: Adam Hart
Discovery BBC
access_time3 months ago
Ant-loving professor, Adam Hart, shares his passion for leaf cutting ants with Jim Al Khalili. Why do they put leaves in piles for other ants to pick up? Talking at the Hay Festival, Adam describes the experiments he designed to test the intelligence of the hive mind. When does a waggle dance become a tremble dance? And how do the honey bees know when this moment should be? We like the phrase ‘as busy as a bee’. In fact, bees spend a lot of time doing nothing at all, a sensible strategy from the point of view of natural selection. And where does Adam stand on insect burgers? Producer: Anna Buckley
Monster microbe
Science in Action BBC
access_time3 months ago
Researchers have discovered a species of bacteria which dwarfs all others by thousands of times. Normally you need a microscope to see single-celled bacteria, but Thiomargarita magnifica is the length and width of an eyelash. It's been found growing in mangrove swamps in the Caribbean. Roland Pease talks to Jean Marie Volland about what makes this Godzilla of the microbial world extra-special. Also in the programme, a new study published in the journal Nature has discovered that women scientists are less likely than their male peers to be credited for their contributions to research projects. Roland discusses the findings with the study leader Julia Lane of New York University and nanoscientist Shobhana Narasimhan in Bangalore. We also find out about the oldest evidence for wildfires on the planet which raged across the land 430 million years ago, with palaeobotanist Ian Grasspool. And Edinburgh University vertebrate palaeontologist Steve Brusatte talks about some of the evolutionary wonders in his new book The Rise and Reign of the Mammals. (Image: Thiomargarita magnifica. © The Regents of the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
The Life Scientific: Jacinta Tan
Discovery BBC
access_time4 months 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
30 years after the Earth Summit
Science in Action BBC
access_time4 months ago
30 years ago, world leaders met at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio and appeared to commit to action to tackle two of the world's greatest environmental threats. The Earth Summit launched the UN Climate Change Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Science in Action assesses their success by talking to atmospheric scientist Sir Bob Watson, a former chair of the International Panel of Climate Change, and to Tom Oliver, professor of applied ecology at the University of Reading, decades on. Also in the programme, Arctic zoologist Kristin Laidre tells us about the identification of an unique population of polar bears in Southeast Greenland. The bears’ unusual habitat and means of survival may make them more resilient to the loss of sea ice as the Arctic region continues to warm. Finally, archaeo-geneticist Maria Spyrou talks about her team’s detective work which points to an area of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia as the likely source of the 14th Century Black Death pandemic. Photo: Earth Summit In Rio De Janeiro, Brazil On June 02, 1992 Credit: Antonio RIBEIRO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
The Life Scientific: Pete Smith
Discovery BBC
access_time4 months 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
Body scan reveals HIV's hideouts
Science in Action BBC
access_time4 months ago
Researchers have developed a medical imaging technique which reveals where in the body HIV lies hidden, even when people have their infection well controlled by antiviral drugs. The team at the University of California, San Francisco hope this will lead to better treatments and even cures for HIV. As Timothy Henrich told us, they are also going to use the technique to investigate the notion that Long Covid is caused by the coronavirus persisting deep in the body's tissues. Also in the programme, Roland Pease reports from the vast particle accelerator in Switzerland where the famous Higgs particle was discovered ten years ago. The scientists there are preparing to begin experiments with an upgraded Large Hadron Collider to learn more about the particle and the fundamental nature of the Universe. Roland also talks to Frank Close, physicist and author of 'Elusive' - a new biography of Peter Higgs, a scientist as elusive as the particle named after him. Finally an international team of archaeologists have revised the ancient history of the chicken, with a new programme of radiocarbon dating and analysis of buried bird bones. Humanity's relationship with the bird began much more recently than some researchers have suggested. Naomi Sykes of Exeter University and Greger Larson of Oxford University tell Roland when, where and how the domestication began and how the birds spread from Southeast Asia to the rest of the world. Image: VRCPET body scan reveals HIV's hideouts Credit: Timothy Henrich / University of California, San Francisco Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
The brain science (and benefits) of ASMR | Craig Richard
TEDTalks Science and Medicine TEDTalks
access_time4 months ago
A curious, quiet revolution of sound has taken over the internet. Physiologist Craig Richard explains the soothing brain science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), tracking its rise in popularity and why this fascinating phenomenon is so relaxing to millions of people around the world.
The Colour Conundrum
Discovery BBC
access_time4 months 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.
Should we worry about the latest Omicron subvariants?
Science in Action BBC
access_time4 months ago
Should we worry about the most recent Omicron subvariants, BA 4 and BA5? They are the subtypes of the Covid-19 virus now dominant in southern Africa and spreading elsewhere. New research suggests that they are better at evading our antibody defences than other forms of the virus. Columbia University virologist David Ho explains the findings and what they means for us. Also, reducing air pollution makes agricultural crops grow better, how large wildfires warm the upper atmosphere, and the dolphins in the Red Sea which use secretions from corals and sponges as preventative medicines. Image Description: Coronavirus COVID-19 virus Credit: Getty Images Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
The Turn of the Tide
Discovery BBC
access_time4 months 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.