Science & Medicine Podcast
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.
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
We always got asked in our childhood about what do we want to become when we grow older and even now in our adulthood, with so much opportunities and different philosophies, it is hard to make sure that we are doing the right thing. We don't know if following our passion is good or is it all about money in the end? In this podcast segment, we will try to figure out ways through which you can find exactly what you need to do in your life.
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
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
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
Every person is born with a different level of intelligence. Where some people are highly intelligent and they are mentally sharp, others are dull and take more time to solve problems. However this does not mean that we cannot increase our level of intelligence. The areas of our brain responsible for learning, memorizing, and cognitive functioning can change with time and practice. That's why in this podcast segment, we will talk about the ways through which you will be able to 10x your intelligence.
We have always been taught that the key to success is hard work. We instinctively assume that a successful person must be someone who works all the time and an unsuccessful person is where he is because he doesn't work as much. But what if the way we see hard work is wrong? What if hard work is not the key to success? In this podcast segment, we will talk about how hard work can't bring you success and fulfilment.
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
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
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
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 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.
Many of us have a secret desire to become more interesting. Amongst the noise of the world, we want others to hear our voice, admire us, make business deals with us and get inspired by us. A major part of our identity is social, which means if you're boring, it will be really tough for you to become successful and have a reputation in the society. That's why in this podcast segment, we will discuss 8 powerful ways to become an interesting human being.
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
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.
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)
Science in Action this week comes from a vast gathering of earth scientists in Vienna, at the general assembly of the European Geosciences Union. Roland Pease hears the latest insights into the cataclysmic eruption of Hunga Tonga in the Pacific ocean from volcanologist Shane Cronin of the University of Auckland. He also talks to NASA's Michael Day about how the planet Venus might have acquired its hellish super-greenhouse atmosphere, and how the same thing could happen to planet Earth. There’s intriguing research from geologist John Tarduno of the University of Rochester that hints of a link between the ups and downs of the Earth’s magnetic field and the evolutionary history of animals. Fraser Lott of the UK's Hadley Centre explains his ideas for calculating an individual person's responsibility for climate change-driven extreme weather events. Image: Multi-beam sonar map of Hunga Tonga volcano post-eruption Credit: Shane Cronin/Uni of Auckland/Tonga Geological Services Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
Recently many high profile couples have proved that a toxic partner can only exhaust you mentally, but they can also ruin your social image and make others question your own integrity. Choosing a partner should be a conscious process not an impulsive act. That's why in this podcast segment, we will talk about 7 early signs that can help you to identify a potentially toxic partner.
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?
Linking together the histories of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Edwin Hubble and Tracy K. Smith, poet and thinker Maria Popova crafts an astonishing story of how humanity came to see the edge of the observable universe. (Followed by an animated excerpt of "My God, It's Full of Stars," by Tracy K. Smith)
Tree mortality in tropical moist forests in Australia has been increasing since the mid 1980s. The death rate of trees appears to have doubled over that time period. According to an international team of researchers, the primary cause is drier air in these forests, the consequence of human-induced climate change. According to ecologist David Bauman, a similar process is likely underway in tropical forests on other continents. Also in the programme: the outbreaks of monkeypox in Europe and North America… Could SARS-CoV-2 infection lingering in the gut be a cause of Long Covid? News of a vaccine against Epstein Barr virus, the cause of mononucleosis, various cancers and multiple sclerosis. Image: Credit: Getty Images Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
A pseudo intellectual is a person who pretends to know a lot of things and have earned those insights but in reality, their entire personality is a facade that allows them to feel good about themselves. This person's entire identity is based on their intellect and that's why looking smart in front of others is a necessity for them. So, to be able to distinguish between a fake and a real intellectual, we are going to discuss 8 signs of a pseudo intellectual.
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 heaviest thing in the Galaxy has now been imaged by the biggest telescope on Earth. This is Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Galaxy – a gas and star-consuming object, a 4 million times the mass of the Sun. The Event Horizon Telescope is not one device but a consortium of radio telescopes ranging from the South Pole to the Arctic Circle. Their combined data allowed astronomers to focus in on this extreme object for the first time. Astronomer Ziri Younsi from University College London talks to Roland Pease about the orange doughnut image causing all the excitement. Also in the programme… Climatologist Chris Funk talks about the role of La Niña and climate change in the record-breaking two year drought that continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in East Africa. Was a pig virus to blame for the death of the first patient to receive a pig heart transplant? We talk to the surgeon and scientist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who led the historic animal to human transplant operation this year. How easy will it be to grow plants in lunar soil on future moon bases? Plant biologist Anna Lisa Paul has been testing the question in her lab at the University of Florida, Gainsville, with cress seeds and lunar regolith collected by the Apollo missions. Photo: First image of Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy Credit: EHT Collaboration, Southern European Observatory Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of our ancestors, Homo erectus, who thrived on Earth for around two million years whereas we, Homo sapiens, emerged only in the last three hundred thousand years. Homo erectus, or Upright Man, spread from Africa to Asia and it was on the Island of Java that fossilised remains were found in 1891 in an expedition led by Dutch scientist Eugène Dubois. Homo erectus people adapted to different habitats, ate varied food, lived in groups, had stamina to outrun their prey; and discoveries have prompted many theories on the relationship between their diet and the size of their brains, on their ability as seafarers, on their creativity and on their ability to speak and otherwise communicate. The image above is from a diorama at the Moesgaard Museum in Denmark, depicting the Turkana Boy referred to in the programme. With Peter Kjærgaard Director of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and Professor of Evolutionary History at the University of Copenhagen José Joordens Senior Researcher in Human Evolution at Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and Professor of Human Evolution at Maastricht University And Mark Maslin Professor of Earth System Science at University College London Producer: Simon Tillotson
Some friends become so valuable to us just like our family, while others act like our worst enemies. That's why it is really important to be able to tell whether your friend is even worthy of your friendship or not and in this podcast segment we will discuss 9 types of people you should stop being friends with.
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!
Are we really using our brain at 10% of its capacity as many of the movies and educators tell us? Can we increase our brain power and become totally limitless? We have been trying to find answer to these questions from centuries but many scientists claim that the 10% brain theory is only a myth. However, there are still some real ways to become smarter and more intelligent. In this podcast segment, we will discuss what will happen if we were able to use 100% of our brain and how we can really gain more brain power.
The Mekong Delta is home to 17 million people and is Vietnam’s most productive agricultural region. An international group of scientists warn this week that almost all of the low lying delta will have sunk beneath the sea within 80 years without international action. Its disappearance is the result of both sea level rise and developments such as dams and sand mining, as Matt Kondolf of the University of California, Berkeley explains to Roland Pease. Also in the programme: Seismologist Laura Emert on using the rumbling of traffic in Mexico City to monitor earthquake hazards. Mars-shaking Marsquakes – recent record-breaking quakes on Mars explained by seismologist Anna Horleston of Bristol University. A record-breaking high jumping robot designed by mechanical engineer and roboticist Elliot Hawkes which is so light it can access any terrain, perhaps even the moon. And gene editing…. Humans now have the ability to directly change their DNA and gene-editing tool CRISPR has led to a new era in gene-editing. CrowdScience listener ‘Bones’ wants to know how gene-editing is currently being used and what might be possible in the future. Gene-editing offers huge opportunities for the prevention and treatment of human diseases, and trials are currently underway in a wide range of diseases like sickle cell anaemia. CrowdScience presenter Caroline Steel finds out about some of the most promising work tackling disease before turning to consider the possibilities of using gene editing for non-medical changes. Will we be able to extend human longevity, swap our eye colour or enhance athletic performance? And even if we can do all these things, should we? As scientists push the boundaries of gene-editing and some people are DIY experimenting on themselves with CRISPR, we discuss the practical and ethical challenges facing this promising but potentially perilous area of science. Photo: Mekong River in Kampong Cham, Cambodia Credit: Muaz Jaffar/EyeEm/Getty Images Presenters: Roland Pease and Caroline Steel Producers: Andrew Luck-Baker and Melanie Brown
Vietnam’s vast Mekong Delta faces an uncertain future. Also in the programme: using the rumble of traffic in Mexico City to monitor earthquake hazard, record-breaking quakes on Mars and a record-breaking high jumping robot. Photo: Mekong River in Kampong Cham, Cambodia Credit: Muaz Jaffar/EyeEm/Getty Images Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
‘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.
Deadly heat has been building over the Indian sub-continent for weeks and this week reached crisis levels. India experienced its hottest March on record and temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius (and in some places approaching 50 degrees) are making it almost impossible for 1.4 billion people to work. It’s damaging crops and it’s just what climate scientists have been warning about. Roland Pease talks to Vimal Mishra of the Indian Institute of Technology in Gandhinagar about the impact and causes of the unprecedented heatwave. What could be behind the incidence of hepatitis in young children around the world in recent months? Ordinarily, liver disease in childhood is extremely rare. Could a virus normally associated with colds be responsible or is the Covid virus involved? Roland Pease talks to virologist William Irving of Nottingham University. Also in the programme: How climate change is increasing the likelihood of animal viruses jumping the species barrier to humans with global change modeller Colin Carlson of Georgetown University. Myths about the personalities of dog breeds are exploded with new research by Elinor Karlsson of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. And how do we stay up when we ride a bicycle? Lots of us can do it without even thinking about it, but probably very few of us can say exactly HOW we do it. Well, CrowdScience listener Arif and his children Maryam and Mohammed from India want to understand what’s going on in our heads when we go for a cycle, and how we learn to do it in the first place. Marnie Chesterton is on the case, tracking down a neuroscientists studying how our brains and bodies work together to keep us balanced whether we’re walking or trying to ride a bicycle. She learns about the quirks of bicycle engineering from researchers in the Netherlands who are part of a lab entirely devoted to answering this question. In the process falling off of some unusual bicycles and uncovering the surprising truth that physics might not yet have a proper answer. And we peer deeper into our brains to find out why some memories last longer than others, whether some people can learn quicker than others and the best way to learn a new skill. (Photo: Woman cooling herself in India heatwave Credit: Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Presenters: Roland Pease and Marnie Chesterton Producers: Andrew Luck-Baker and Emily Bird for BBC World Service
A beta male is someone who is more subordinate and passive in comparison to others. He lacks masculinity energy, he is weak and usually never gets anywhere with women. But the worst thing about being a beta male is that you don't even know that you're one. That's why in this podcast segment, we will talk about 10 signs of a beta male.
Deadly heat has been building over the Indian sub-continent for weeks and this week reached crisis levels. India experienced its hottest March on record and temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius (and in some places approaching 50 degrees) are making it almost impossible for 1.4 billion people to work. It’s damaging crops and it’s just what climate scientists have been warning about. Roland Pease talks to Vimal Mishra of the Indian Institute of Technology in Gandhinagar about the impact and causes of the unprecedented heatwave. What could be behind the incidence of hepatitis in young children around the world in recent months? Ordinarily, liver disease in childhood is extremely rare. Could a virus normally associated with colds be responsible or is the Covid virus involved? Roland Pease talks to virologist William Irving of Nottingham University. Also in the programme: how climate change is increasing the likelihood of animal viruses jumping the species barrier to humans with global change modeller Colin Carlson of Georgetown University, and myths about the personalities of dog breeds are exploded with new research by Elinor Karlsson of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. (Photo: Woman cooling herself in India heatwave Credit: Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
The secret behind medicine that uses messenger RNA (or mRNA) is that it "teaches" our bodies how to fight diseases on our own, leading to groundbreaking treatments for COVID-19 and, potentially one day, cancer, the flu and other ailments that have haunted humanity for millennia. RNA researcher Melissa J. Moore -- Moderna's chief scientific officer and one of the many people responsible for the rapid creation and deployment of their COVID-19 vaccine -- takes us down to the molecular level, unraveling how mRNA helps our bodies' proteins maintain health, prevent disease and correct errors in our genetic code. "We have entered an entirely new era of medicine," Moore says.
Most of your friendships hitherto have not been more than an accident. Either you became friendly with them because you were in the same school, college or office, meaning, out of the necessity of the situation you two were brought together. When there is less conscious choice and more outside factors involved in the integrity of a relationship then such a bond is bound to fail. That's why in this podcast segment, we will discuss the real purpose of friendship.
As a series of UN climate reports have warned recently, drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – a halving over the next decade – are needed if we are to keep global warming down to manageable levels. No sign of that happening. An emergency measure to buy time that’s sometimes discussed is solar geoengineering – creating an atmospheric sunscreen that reduces incoming solar heat. Sulphate compounds in volcanic gases or in industrial fumes attract water vapour to make a fine haze and have that effect. The difference would be starting a deliberate programme of injecting sulphate particles into the stratosphere. There are a host of arguments against it, including a revulsion against adding another pollutant to the atmosphere to offset the one, carbon dioxide, that’s giving us problems in the first place. Another objection, outlined this week, is that it could set back the global fight against malaria - a major killer in its own right. University of Cape Town ecologist Chris Trisos tells Roland Pease what his team’s modelling study revealed. Yale University neurologist Kevin Sheth talks to us about a revolution in medical scanning – small-scale MRI machines that can be wheeled to the patient’s bedside. According to palaeontologist Maria McNamara, an amazingly preserved pterosaur fossil from Brazil proves that some of these flying reptiles did have feathers similar to those of birds (and some dinosaurs), and that the feathers were of different colours, possibly for mating display. Primatologist Adrian Barnett has discovered that spider monkeys in one part of the Brazilian Amazon seek out fruit, full of live maggots to eat. Why? The ancient Maya flourished in modern day Mexico and Central America for millennia. They built incredible cities and they had sophisticated knowledge of astronomy, architecture and the natural world. But although Maya culture continues to exist today, around 900 AD, many of their great settlements collapsed, and today they lie in ruins. CrowdScience listener Michael wants to know - how did the Maya sustain their populations successfully for so long? And what happened 1000 years ago that led them to abandon their cities? To find out, Melanie Brown travels to the forests of Western Belize. She visits the archaeological site of Xunantunich to learn about what life would have been like for the Maya living in what was once a prosperous city. She hears about the importance of water to the Maya way of life in this region, and their ingenious methods for capturing and storing rainfall. She meets archaeologists using lasers and drones to map Maya settlements that have lain hidden by jungle for centuries. And she discovers what material from the bottom of lakes can tell us about how the Maya faced a changing climate, which may have had huge consequences for their society. (Photo: Illustration of a mosquito biting Credit: SCIEPRO/Science Photo Library/Getty Images) Presenters: Roland Pease and Melanie Brown Producers: Andrew Luck-Baker and Anand Jagatia
Building a pandemic-free future won't be easy, but Bill Gates believes that we have the tools and strategies to make it possible -- now we just have to fund them. In this forward-looking talk, he proposes a multi-specialty Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization (GERM) team that would detect potential outbreaks and stop them from becoming pandemics. By investing in disease monitoring, research and development as well as improved health systems, Gates believes we can "create a world where everyone has a chance to live a healthy and productive life -- a life free from the fear of the next COVID-19."
As a series of UN climate reports have warned recently, drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – a halving over the next decade – are needed if we are to keep global warming down to manageable levels. No sign of that happening. An emergency measure to buy time that’s sometimes discussed is solar geoengineering – creating an atmospheric sunscreen that reduces incoming solar heat. Sulphate compounds in volcanic gases or in industrial fumes attract water vapour to make a fine haze and have that effect. The difference would be starting a deliberate programme of injecting sulphate particles into the stratosphere. There are a host of arguments against it, including a revulsion against adding another pollutant to the atmosphere to offset the one, carbon dioxide, that’s giving us problems in the first place. Another objection, outlined this week, is that it could set back the global fight against malaria - a major killer in its own right. University of Cape Town ecologist Chris Trisos tells Roland Pease what his team’s modelling study revealed. Yale University neurologist Kevin Sheck talks to us about a revolution in medical scanning – small-scale MRI machines that can be wheeled to the patient’s bedside. According to palaeontologist Maria McNamara, an amazingly preserved pterosaur fossil from Brazil proves that some of these flying reptiles did have feathers similar to those of birds (and some dinosaurs), and that the feathers were of different colours, possibly for mating display. Primatologist Adrian Barnett has discovered that spider monkeys in one part of the Brazilian Amazon seek out fruit, full of live maggots to eat. Why? Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker (Photo: Illustration of a mosquito biting Credit: SCIEPRO/Science Photo Library/Getty Images)
Brain scanning experiments reveal how psilocybin works to relieve severe depression. Psilocybin is the psychedelic substance in 'magic mushrooms'. The psychoactive chemical is currently in clinical trials in the UK and US as a potential treatment for depression and other mental illnesses. Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London tells Roland about the research Also in the show, worrying findings about the increase in premature deaths because of air pollution in growing cities in tropical Africa and Asia. An international group of climatologists has found that the tropical storms which struck Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar in early 2022 had been made more intense by human-induced climate change. And astronomer David Jewitt used the Hubble telescope to measure the largest known comet in the solar system - it's huge at about 120 kilometres across. The team at CrowdScience has spent years answering all sorts of listener questions, which must make them pretty smart, right? IN this week’s episode, that assumption is rigorously tested as Marnie Chesterton and the team pit their wits against a multitude of mind-bending puzzles from an old TV game show - all in the name of answering a question from Antonia in Cyprus. She wants to know: how do we work out how clever someone is? Is IQ the best measure of cleverness? Why do we put such weight on academic performance? And where does emotional intelligence fit into it all? In the search for answers, presenter Marnie Chesterton and the team are locked in rooms to battle mental, physical, mystery, and skill-based challenges, all against the clock. Unpicking their efforts in the studio are a global team of cleverness researchers: Dr. Stuart Ritchie from Kings College London, Professor Sophie von Stumm from York University, and Dr. Alex Burgoyne, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US. They are challenged to face the toughest questions in their field: Why do men and women tend to perform differently in these tests? Is our smartness in our genes? And what about the Flynn effect – where IQs appear to have risen, decade after decade, around the world. (Image: Mexican Psilocybe Cubensis. An adult mushroom raining spores. Credit: Getty Images)
Color affect our Psychology in ways we can't even imagine. It makes us decide which product to buy from which brand, it affects our perception of taste and different colors can provoke certain emotions in us. Just like this, your favourite color can also reveal a lot about your behavior and personality and that's why in this podcast segment, we will talk about different colors and their specific meaning.
Males always question about what do a woman really want? Men are afraid of being judged because most men have no idea as to what are the things that women notice first in them and accept or reject them. In this podcast segment, we will talk about 10 things that a woman notices and prefers in a man.
Brain scanning experiments reveal how psilocybin works to relieve severe depression. Psilocybin is the psychedelic substance in 'magic mushrooms'. The psychoactive chemical is currently in clinical trials in the UK and US as a potential treatment for depression and other mental illnesses. Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London tells Roland about the research Also in the show, worrying findings about the increase in premature deaths because of air pollution in growing cities in tropical Africa and Asia. An international group of climatologists has found that the tropical storms which struck Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar in early 2022 had been made more intense by human-induced climate change. And astronomer David Jewitt used the Hubble telescope to measure the largest known comet in the solar system - it's huge at about 120 kilometres across. (Image: Mexican Psilocybe Cubensis. An adult mushroom raining spores. Credit: Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
If you want to be rich, then why do you take money advice from unsuccessful people. Average people have this very bad habit of polluting their minds with trash advice. As a result, most people want to be successful but they are doing everything they can to not become so. That's why in this podcast segment, we will discuss 7 dumb money advices poor people give to you that you shouldn't be listening to.
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
Females always question about what do a man really want? Are the popular stereotypes true and men only want just one thing? Or is it just one among many other things that attracts a man towards a woman? In this podcast segment, we will talk about 10 things that a man notices and prefers in a woman.
Just over two months ago, the undersea volcano of Hunga Tonga erupted catastrophically, generating huge tsunamis and covering the islands of Tonga in ash. University of Auckland geologist Shane Cronin is now in Tonga, trying to piece together the sequence of violent events. Edinburgh University palaeontologist Ornella Bertrand tells us about her studies of the ancient mammals that inherited the Earth after the dinosaurs were wiped out. To her surprise, in the first 10 million years after the giant meteorite struck, natural selection favoured larger-bodied mammals, not smarter ones. At the University of Bristol, a team of engineers is developing skin for robots, designed to give future bots a fine sense of touch. Roland shakes hands with a prototype. A global satellite survey of the world’s largest coastal cities finds that most of them contain areas that are subsiding faster than the rate that the sea level is rising. Some cities are sinking more than ten times faster, putting many millions of people at an ever-increasing risk of flooding. Oceanographer Steven D’Hondt at the University of Rhode Island explains why this is happening. The odds of becoming a fossil are vanishingly small. And yet there seem to be an awful lot of them out there. In some parts of the world you can barely look at a rock without finding a fossil, and museum archives worldwide are stuffed with everything from ammonites to Archaeopteryx. But how many does that leave to be discovered by future fossil hunters? What’s the total number of fossils left to find? That’s what listener Anders Hegvik from Norway wants to know and what CrowdScience is off to investigate. Despite not having the technology or time to scan the entire planet, presenter Marnie Chesterton prepares to find a decent answer. During her quest, she meets the scientists who dig up fossils all over the world; does some very large sums; and asks whether we'll ever run out of the very best and most exciting fossil finds. (Image: An eruption occurs at the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha"apai off Tonga, January 14, 2022. Credit: Tonga Geological Services/via Reuters)