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Rank #32 in Science category

Science

Discovery

Updated about 1 month ago

Rank #32 in Science category

Science
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Explorations in the world of science.

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Explorations in the world of science.

iTunes Ratings

552 Ratings
Average Ratings
403
72
34
19
24

Love

By Fast Aging Activist - Sep 29 2019
Read more
Love the Fly Gal, learned so much from it.

Great Stuff

By WWaldenHenry - Jul 13 2019
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Easy to listen to, informative, not so stiff, fun yet serious.

iTunes Ratings

552 Ratings
Average Ratings
403
72
34
19
24

Love

By Fast Aging Activist - Sep 29 2019
Read more
Love the Fly Gal, learned so much from it.

Great Stuff

By WWaldenHenry - Jul 13 2019
Read more
Easy to listen to, informative, not so stiff, fun yet serious.
Cover image of Discovery

Discovery

Latest release on Jul 13, 2020

Read more

Explorations in the world of science.

Rank #1: Science of Dad

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Whilst most men become fathers, and men make up roughly half the parental population, the vast majority of scientific research has focused on the mother.

But studies have started to reveal the impact of fatherhood on both dads themselves and on their children. We're seeing how fathers play a crucial role in children's behaviour, happiness, and even cognitive skills.

Oscar Duke, a doctor, new dad and author of How To Be A Dad, discovers how pregnancy, birth and childcare affect the father, bringing about profound physiological and hormonal changes. Only 5% of mammal fathers invest in their offspring, and human males have evolved to undergo key changes when their children are born.

Involved fathers can expect their levels of the 'love hormone' oxytocin to rise, nature's way of helping parents bond with their children. At birth, a dad's testosterone levels dramatically fall, increasing affection and responsiveness, and discouraging polygamy.

With more fathers taking on a hands-on role in bringing up their children, how can these new discoveries about the science of dad help support them, and inform social and healthcare policies?

Presented by Dr Oscar Duke and produced by Melanie Brown and Cathy Edwards

May 13 2020

27mins

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Rank #2: Quantum Supremacy

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IBM is giving users worldwide the chance to use a quantum computer; Google is promising "quantum supremacy" by the end of the year; Microsoft's Station Q is working on the hardware and operating system for a machine that will outpace any conventional computer. Roland Pease meets some of the experts, and explores the technology behind the next information revolution.
Picture: Bright future for Quantum Computing, credit: Jonathan Home @ETH

May 15 2017

28mins

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Rank #3: Why do we get déjà vu?

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4/6 Part 1: Déjà vu

"Do we know what causes déjà vu?" asks Floyd Kitchen from Queenstown in New Zealand.

Drs Rutherford and Fry investigate this familiar feeling by speaking to world-leading reseacher Chris Moulin from the University of Grenoble in France and memory expert Catherine Loveday from Westminster University. Plus, they find out why early investigations classed déjà vu as a type of paranormal phenomenon.

For most of us, it's a fleetingly strange experience, but for some people it can become a serious problem. Lisa from Hulme in Manchester started experiencing déjà vu when she was 22 with episodes that could last all day. The origin of her déjà vu has been the key to helping psychologists investigate its cause.

Part 2: Randomness

"Is anything truly random, or is everything predetermined?" asks Darren Spalding from Market Harborough.

Hannah and Adam go in search of random events, from dice throws to lava lamps. Can we predict the outcome of any event?

"How do computers manage to pick random numbers?" asks Jim Rennie from Mackinaw in Illinois. Random numbers are vital for things like cyber security and banking. But true randomness is surprisingly hard to produce, as the team discover.

Joining them for this case we have a random selection of experts: mathematician Colva Roney-Dougal, technology journalist Bill Thompson, Science Museum Curator Tilly Blyth and quantum physicist Jim AlKhalili.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Main Image: A fan of the New York Yankees holds up a sign which reads "It's Deja Vu" at the Yankee Stadium, New York City 29 Oct 2009. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

Jun 03 2019

26mins

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Rank #4: Why Do We Dream?

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Adventures in Dreamland

"Why do we dream and why do we repeat dreams?" asks Mila O'Dea, aged 9, from Panama.
Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford delve into the science of sleep. From a pioneering experiment on rapid eye movement sleep, to a brand new 'dream signature' found in the brain, they discover how scientists are investigating our hidden dreamworld. Featuring sociologist Bill Domhoff from the University of California Santa Cruz, sleep psychologist Mark Blagrove from the University of Swansea, and neurologist Francesca Siclari from the University of Lausanne.
The Curious Face-Off

"Are machines better than humans at identifying faces?" asks the excellently named Carl Vandal.
Today’s Face Off leads our intrepid detectives to investigate why we see Jesus on toast, Hitler in houses and Kate Middleton on a jelly bean.

Face perception psychologist Rob Jenkins from the University of York explains why we're so good at spotting familiar faces, like celebrities. Plus, Franziska Knolle from the University of Cambridge discusses her face recognition study involving Barack Obama and a group of highly-trained sheep. But are we outwitted by artificial intelligence when it comes to face ID? BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones gives us the low-down on the pros and cons of current technology.
Picture: Child sleeping, Credit: Quintanilla/Getty Images
Producer: Michelle Martin

May 21 2018

26mins

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Rank #5: Why am I left-handed?

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Neal Shepperson asks, "What determines left or right handedness and why are us lefties in the minority?"

One in ten people are left-handed, but where does this ratio come from and when did it appear in our evolutionary past?

Hannah talks to primatologist Prof Linda Marchant from Miami University about why Neanderthal teeth could hold the answer.

Prof Chris McManus from University College London tells Adam about his quest to track down the genes responsible for whether we're right or left handed.

But does left-handedness affect people’s brains and behaviour? Some researchers point to a link between left-handedness and impairments like autism or dyslexia. Others claim that lefties are more creative and artistic.

So where does the answer lie? The team consults Professors Sophie Scott, Chris McManus and Dorothy Bishop to find out the truth about left-handers.

If you have any Curious Cases for the team to investigate please email curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Picture: Left handed child, credit: Diarmid Courreges/AFP/Getty Images

Presenter: Adam Rutherford & Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

Feb 13 2017

27mins

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Rank #6: Origins of Human Culture

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We humans are such a successful species. Homo sapiens have been around for only around 100 000 years and in that time we have utterly transformed the world around us. Our shelters allow us to live in all climates and from the poles to the tropics; our technology lets us communicate across the planet. We’ve created art and music and literature; and our agriculture has changed global biodiversity, shifting forever the way we feed ourselves. In other words, human culture dominates the earth. Gaia Vince finds out what has given us the cultural edge over other animals. This includes our closest relatives – the great apes – with whom we share over 95% of our genes.
She meets researchers at Birmingham University comparing the abilities of chimps and human children, and has a go at making a prehistoric stone hand axe by flint knapping.
Photo credit: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Dec 05 2016

26mins

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Rank #7: Turi King: Solving the mystery of Richard III through DNA

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When a skeleton was unearthed in 2012 from under the tarmac of a car park in Leicester in the English East Midlands, Turi King needed to gather irrefutable evidence to prove that this really was the body of Richard III, England's infamous medieval monarch.

Under the microscope was not only the king's genetic identity, but his entire reputation. Was Richard a ruthless villain, as depicted by Shakespeare? Or did the incoming Tudors spread 'fake news' to besmirch his name? As presenter Jim al-Khalili discovers, clues in his skeletal remains have helped to solve some of these mysteries, and reveal the real Richard III.

When she was young, Turi King wanted to be the next Indiana Jones. Her love of archaeology led her to study genetics so she could use ancient DNA to solve historic mysteries.

She tells Jim how genetic testing, of both the dead skeleton and his living relatives, provided the vital evidence they needed to identify Richard III. But first, she had to extract his DNA, by pulling out one of his teeth.

Main Image: Turi King Credit: Jonathan Sisson

Nov 04 2019

27mins

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Rank #8: Carbon - the backbone of life

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Carbon is widely considered to be the key element in forming life. It's at the centre of DNA, and the molecules upon which all living things rely.
Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary Science at the Open University, explores the nature of carbon, from its formation in distant stars to its uses and abuses here on earth.
She looks at why it forms the scaffold upon which living organisms are built, and how the mechanisms involved have helped inform the development of new carbon based technology, and products - from telephones to tennis rackets.
One form of carbon is graphene which offers great promise in improving solar cells and batteries, and introducing a whole new range of cheaper more flexible electronics.
Carbon is also the key component of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane. To counter some of the effects of man-made climate change, Scientists are now developing novel ways to speed up this mechanism - using waste materials created from mining and industry.
Monica Grady also looks to space, and the significance of carbon in the far reaches of the universe. There is lots of carbon in space, some in forms we might recognise as the precursors to molecules. As elemental carbon seems to be everywhere what are the chances of carbon based life elsewhere?
Image: Steam and exhaust rise from the chemical company Oxea (front) and the coking plant January 6, 2017 in Oberhausen, Germany.

Photo by Lukas Schulze Getty Images

Aug 14 2017

26mins

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Rank #9: Hunting for Life on Mars

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As a small rocky planet, Mars is similar in many respects to the Earth and for that reason, many have thought it may harbour some kind of life. A hundred years ago, there was serious talk about the possibility of advanced civilisations there. Even in early 1970s, scientists mused that plant-like aliens might grow in the Martian soil. The best hope now is for something microbial. But the discovery that even simple life survives there or did some time in its history would be a profound one. We would know that life is not something special to Earth.
NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered that 3.7 billion years ago, there were conditions hospitable to life on Mars – a sustained period of time with lakes and rivers of water. The earlier rover Spirit found deposits of silica from ancient hot springs which some planetary scientists argue bear the hallmarks of being shaped by microbes - possibly.
The next five years may dramatically advance the hunt for life on Mars. In 2020 the European and Russian space agencies will send their ExoMars rover. That will drill two metres into the Red Planet’s surface and sample material shielded from the sterilising radiation. It will analyse for life both extant and extinct. In the future, robotic or possibly human missions may even explore Martian cave systems in Mars' vast volcanoes. Monica talks to Nasa's Penny Boston whose adventures in some of the world's most dangerous caves have convinced her that underground is the best place to look.
Monica Grady is Professor of Planetary and Space Science at the Open University.
Credit: Curiosity in Gale Crater, credit NASA-JPL
Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

May 01 2017

26mins

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Rank #10: Bringing Schrodinger's Cat to Life

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Schrodinger's cat is the one that's famously alive and dead. At the same time. Impossible! Roland Pease meets the quantum scientists hoping to bring one to life in the laboratory. Not a real cat, to be fair. But large biomolecules, viruses, even bacteria, that can exhibit the quantum duality parodied in the paradox first described by one of the fathers of quantum physics. Because if they succeed, they may learn something about the interface between the quantum world, and the human world we live in.
Presenter/Producer: Roland Pease
Credit: Harald Ritsch/Science Photo Library

Apr 16 2018

26mins

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Rank #11: An Infinite Monkey's Guide to General Relativity

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It is 100 years since the publication of Einstein's great theory, and arguably one of the greatest scientific theories of all time. To mark the occasion, Brian Cox takes Robin Ince on a guided tour of General Relativity. With the help of some of the world's leading cosmologists, and a comedian or two, they explore the notions of space time, falling elevators, trampolines and bowling balls, and what was wrong with Newton's apple. It is a whistle stop tour of all you will ever need to know about gravity and how a mathematical equation written 100 years ago predicted everything from black holes to the Big Bang, to our expanding universe, long before there was any proof that these extraordinary phenomena existed.

Jan 25 2016

27mins

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Rank #12: Galileo's lost letter

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Galileo famously insisted in the early 17th Century that the Earth goes round the Sun and not vice versa – an idea that got him into deep trouble with the Catholic Church. In 1633 Galileo was put on trial for heresy by the Inquisition, and was threatened with imprisonment, or worse, if he did not recant. Galileo spent the rest of his days under house arrest and is now seen by some as a near-martyr to science in the face of unyielding religious doctrine. But the discovery of a letter questions the received version of events. Philip Ball tells the story of the relationship between Galileo, the church and his fellow professors.

Philip talks to science historians professor Paula Findlen of Stanford University and professor Mary Jane Rubenstein of Wesleyan University about Galileo's time and about the history of the relationship between science and religion.

(Picture: Galileo demonstrating his telescope. Credit: Getty Images)

Dec 02 2019

26mins

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Rank #13: Gateway to the Mind

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The microbiome is the strange invisible world of our non human selves. On and in all of us are hoards of microbes. Their impact on our physical health is becoming clear to science, but a controversial idea is emerging too - that gut bacteria could alter what happens in our brains.
In this final episode of the series BBC Science and Health correspondent James Gallagher examines a growing body of research into the gut as a gateway to the mind and why some scientists believe we could be o the cusp of a revolution in psychiatry that uses microbes to improve mental health.
Illustration by Katie Horwich
Producer: Adrian Washbourne

Jul 09 2018

26mins

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Rank #14: Our Unnatural Selection

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Humans have been altering animals for millennia. We select the most docile livestock, the most loyal dogs, to breed the animals we need. This 'artificial selection' is intentional. But as Adam Hart discovers, our hunting, fishing and harvesting are having unintended effects on wild animals - the age of "unnatural selection".
This accidental, inadvertent or unintentional selection pressure comes form almost everything we do – from hunting, fishing, harvesting and collecting to using chemicals like pesticides and herbicides; then pollution; urbanisation and habitat change, as well as using medicines. All these activities are putting evolutionary pressures on the creatures we share our planet with.
Commercial fishing selects the biggest fish in the oceans, the biggest fish in a population, like Atlantic cod, are also the slowest to reach breeding maturity. When these are caught and taken out of the equation, the genes for slow maturity and ‘bigness’ are taken out of the gene pool. Over decades, this relentless predation has led to the Atlantic cod evolving to be vastly smaller and faster to mature.
Trophy hunting is another example of unnatural selection. Predators in the wild tend to pick off the easiest to catch, smallest, youngest or oldest, ailing prey. But human hunters want the biggest animals with the biggest antlers or horns. Big Horn Sheep in Canada have evolved to have 25% smaller horns due to hunting pressures.
Probably the best understood examples of unnatural selection are the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. By using antibiotics we are inadvertently selecting the bacteria that have resistance to the drugs. The same goes for agricultural pesticides and herbicides.
Even pollution in Victorian times led to the Peppered moth to change its colour.
Adam discovers that our influence is universal; often counter to natural selective pressures and is rarely easy to reverse. He explores the impact on entire environments and asks whether we could or should be doing something to mitigate our evolutionary effects.
(Photo: Boxes full of fish at Billingsgate fish market)

May 02 2016

26mins

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Rank #15: Mercury - Chemistry's Jekyll and Hyde

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The most beautiful and shimmering of the elements, the weirdest, and yet the most reviled.
Chemist Andrea Sella tell the story of Mercury, explaining the significance of this element not just for chemistry, but also the development of modern civilisation.
It's been a a source of wonder for thousands of years - why is this metal a liquid? and what is its contribution to art, from the Stone Age to the Renaissance?
We look at how Mercury is integral to hundreds of years of scientific discoveries, from weather forecasting to steam engines and the detection of atomic particles it has a key role.
However Mercury is highly toxic in certain forms and ironically the industrial processes it helped create have led to global pollution which now threatens fish, wildlife and ourselves.
We ask is it time to say goodbye to Mercury?
Picture: Hg, mercury metal drops, credit: AlexeyVS/Getty Images

Jul 24 2017

30mins

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Rank #16: Black Holes: A Tale of Cosmic Death and Rebirth

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The discovery of gravitational waves by the LIGO observatory opens up a new form of astronomy, which will allow scientists explore the ultimate fate of dead stars, Black Holes. Roland Pease reports.
(Photo: Gravitational waves © Nasa)

Oct 10 2016

26mins

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Rank #17: Science Stories: Series 1 - Einstein’s Ice Box

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In the late 1920s Einstein was working on a grand unified theory of the universe, having given us E=mc2, space-time and the fourth dimension. He was also working on a fridge.

Perhaps motivated by a story in the Berlin newspapers about a family who died when toxic fumes leaked from their state-of the-art refrigerator, Einstein teamed up with another physicist Leo Szilard and designed a new, safer refrigerating technology. And so it was that in 1930, the man who had once famously worked in the patent office in Bern was granted a patent of his own. Number: 1, 781, 541. Title: refrigeration.

Phillip Ball explores this little known period of Einstein's life to try and find out why he turned his extraordinary mind to making fridges safer.

Despite considerable commercial interest in the patent, Einstein's fridge didn't get built in his lifetime. The Great Depression forced AEG and others to close down their refrigeration research. But in 2008 a team of British scientists decided to give it a go. Their verdict : Einstein's fridge doesn't work.

(Photo: Refridgerators stand in rows. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)

Feb 29 2016

26mins

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Rank #18: Re-engineering Life

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Synthetic biology, coming to a street near you. Engineers and biologists who hack the information circuits of living cells are already getting products to the market. Roland Pease meets the experts who are transforming living systems to transform our lives.
Picture: MIT spinout Synlogic is re-programming bacteria found in the gut as "living therapeutics" to treat major diseases and rare genetic disorders, courtesy of Synlogic

May 08 2017

26mins

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Rank #19: Isaac Newton and the story of the apple

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The story of how Newton came up with his gravitational theory is one of the most familiar in the history of science. He was sitting in the orchard at Woolsthorpe, thinking deep thoughts, when an apple fell from a tree. And all at once, Newton realised that the force of gravity pulling the apple down to the ground must be the same as the force that holds the moon in orbit around the earth. But was that really how he came up with his great idea? These days, historians of science don’t fall for cosy eureka stories like this. Rather they say that new understanding comes slowly, through hard graft, false trails, and failed ideas.

Philip Ball tells the story of the life and ideas of Isaac Newton, who was born on Christmas Day in 1642. Philip discusses with historian of science Anna Marie Roos of the University of Lincoln, just 30 miles north of Woolsthorpe, how Newton developed his theory of gravity . And he talks to Tom McLeish of the University of York, the author of a book about creativity in science and art, about his observation that many scientists today do think they have had eureka moments.

(Image: Isaac Newton under his apple-tree. Credit: API/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images)

Mar 02 2020

27mins

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Bed

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After a long journey, there’s nothing nicer for Katy than climbing into her own bed. It’s often the first major purchase we make when we grow up and leave home.

Its significance was not lost on our ancestors. The bed was often the place where societal attitudes to sleep, superstition, sex, and status were played out, sometimes in dramatic form.

So where did the bed come from, and what can this everyday object tell us about ourselves?

A sleeper in early modern times believed that sleep was akin to death, with the devil waiting to pounce after darkness. So bed-time rituals were performed at the bedside and wolves’ teeth were often hung around the sleeper’s neck. Iron daggers were dangled over the cradles of infants at night to prevent them from being changed into demon babies.

While we may have outgrown a fear of the devil, sleep expert and neuroscientist Prof Russell Foster fears the modern-day obsession that’s disrupting our sleep – our mobile devices. His advice? Prepare your bed for a good night’s sleep and defend it with a passion.

Also featuring resident public historian Greg Jenner, and Prof Sasha Handley, expert on Early Modern History and sleep during this time.

Producer: Beth Eastwood.

Picture: Bed, Credit: Igor Vershinsky/Getty Images

Jul 13 2020

26mins

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Covid 19: recovery

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Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.

Our panel of experts discuss how many people make full recoveries but others are finding that life hasn’t yet returned to normal months after infection. In India and Sweden, clinics are being set up to follow survivors of the virus and doctors are discovering that people are having difficulties assimilating what happened to them. And we hear about how three generations of one Spanish family all survived and how they are all recovering differently, including the 96 year old grandmother.

On the panel are Seema Shah, Professor of Medical Ethics at North Western University, Professor David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Professor Soo Aleman from the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, Dr David Collier, Clinical director of the William Harvey Clinical Research Centre, Queen Mary University of London and Dr Netravathi M, Professor of Neurology at the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuroscience in Bangalore in India.

The Evidence is produced in association with Wellcome Collection.

Producers: Geraldine Fitzgerald and Caroline Steel
Editor: Deborah Cohen

Jul 11 2020

50mins

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Toilet

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You may call it the toilet, the loo, the privy, the potty, the can or even the bathroom, but whatever you call it, this everyday object has its roots in Bronze Age Pakistan. It even had a seat!

But how did the toilet come to be? Given one third of the world’s population still live without one, how much is our embarrassment around toilet habits to blame? And what scientific developments are underway to help make them truly universal?

Water and Sanitation Expert, Alison Parker, from Cranfield University believes part of the solution lies in a waterless toilet which creates ash, water from the waste it receives, and the energy it needs to operate, from the waste it receives.

Even in the UK, we don’t always have access to a toilet when we need one. Over the past decade, the number of public conveniences has dropped by a half, leaving older people and the disabled, who may need easy access, unable to leave their homes. Raymond Martin, Managing Director of the British Toilet Association, hopes to stop our public conveniences going down the pan.

Also featuring resident public historian Greg Jenner.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Picture: Bathroom/Getty Images

Jul 06 2020

27mins

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Wine glass

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Have you got one of those wine glasses that can hold an entire bottle of wine? Katy Brand does and she’s even used it for wine - albeit because of a sprained ankle, which would have stopped her from hobbling back and forth to the kitchen for refills.

But if we skip back a few hundred years, the wine glass was tiny. Footmen brought their masters what was essentially a shot glass. They quaffed back their wine in one. So how did we go from those dinky little things to the gargantuan goblets we have today? Is it because letting the wine breathe in a bigger glass makes it smell and taste better? Or is it a reflection of our drinking habits?

Join Katy and the show's resident public historian, Greg Jenner, is glass expert Russell Hand from Sheffield University and Barry Smith, Director for the Study of the Senses at London University.

Producer: Graihagh Jackson

Picture: Wine glass, Credit: Albina Kosenko/Getty Images

Jun 29 2020

27mins

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The Evidence: Covid 19: vaccines and after lockdown

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Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.

We look at vaccines to stop the spread of the coronavirus. And as travel opens up in many countries and visiting family and friends is allowed, how do we navigate this new world while avoiding catching the virus.

On the panel are Dr George Hu, clinical psychologist & Section Chief of Mental Health at Shanghai United Family Pudong Hospital in China, Vaccine expert - Professor Gagandeep Kang Executive Director of the Translational Health Science Technology Institute in Faridabad India, Dr Jenny Rohn is an expert in microbiology and viruses at University College London and Dr Margaret Harris, a Spokesperson at the World Health Organisation.

The Evidence is produced in association with Wellcome Collection.
Producers: Geraldine Fitzgerald and Caroline Steel
Editor: Deborah Cohen

Jun 27 2020

48mins

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Fork

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The fork is essential. Even camping without one is a false economy, in Katy’s experience. Even a spork - with a spoon at one end and a fork at the other, with a knife formed along one prong - just won’t do. You need both - a fork to steady the meat and a knife to cut it with.

So how did the fork come to be so indispensable?

We didn’t always love the fork. Public historian, Greg Jenner, reveals how it was abandoned for the chopstick in Ancient China, and greeted with scorn in Western Europe when a Byzantine princess ate with a golden double-pronged one.

It was only after the traveller, Thomas Coryat, in 1608, celebrated its use by pasta-loving Italians that the English started to take note. By the mid-19th century, there was a fork for every culinary challenge – from the pickle and the berry, to ice-cream and the terrapin. The utensil transformed the dining experience, bringing the pocket knife onto the table in a blunt, round-tipped form, and ushering in British table manners.

So is there a perfect version of the fork? With the help of tomato, milkshake and mango, Katy discovers that the material a fork is made from can drastically alter a food’s taste.

Featuring material scientist, Zoe Laughlin, and food writer and historian, Bee Wilson.

Picture: a fork, Credit: BBC

Jun 22 2020

27mins

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High heel

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Katy Brand loves a high heel. Once known by friends and family for her ‘shoe fetish’, her dad even gave her a ceramic heel that could hold a wine bottle at a jaunty angle.

These days, Katy’s cherished heels from her torture days live in her cupboard. She has traded the pain for the statement trainer. But their art, history and construction still fascinate her.

So what is it about the high heel that has made it stand the test of time?

With the help of resident public historian, Greg Jenner, Katy explores the heel’s fascinating passage through time, finding a place on the feet of men, as well as women, in high and low places. Heels donned the feet of men on horseback in 17th century Persia, were adored by King Louis XIV, and gained an erotic currency with the invention of photography.

But how has science and engineering ensured the high heel’s survival?

Footwear Technologist, Mike George, shows us how the high heel is engineered, and how he can test if a particular design is teetering on the edge of safety. Social scientist, Heather Morgan, reveals the perceived benefits of wearing heels, as well as the risks when she fell foul to when fell in heels and broke her ankle.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Picture: High heels, Credit: European Photopress Agency

Jun 15 2020

27mins

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The Evidence: Covid 19: Transmission and South America

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Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.

As the disease spreads how is South America handling the pandemic? How are the indigenous people of the Amazon protecting themselves? We also look at the aerodynamics of infection - if the air in an ITU room is changed 12 times and the virus still lingers what hope do offices have?

On the panel are Professor Lydia Bourouiba, Associate Professor at the Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr Adam Kucharski from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Professor Holgar Schunemann, co-director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, Dr David Collier, Clinical Director at Queen Mary University London and Barbara Fraser, health journalist in the Peruvian capital Lima.

The Evidence is produced in association with Wellcome Collection.
Producers: Geraldine Fitzgerald and Caroline Steel
Editor: Deborah Cohen

Jun 13 2020

49mins

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Toothbrush

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What is the most personal item you own - one you don’t want anyone else using?

For Katy Brand it’s her toothbrush. So how did the toothbrush become one of life’s essentials?

With the help of resident public historian of Horrible Histories fame, Greg Jenner, Katy goes back to ancient times, when the toothbrush was merely a stick. But the brush, as we know it, only came into being much later when a convict spied a broom in his cell and had a bright idea.

But how has ingenuity and innovation shaped the toothbrush and ensured its place in our lives? And given most are plastic, how environmentally friendly is the toothbrush’s legacy?

Featuring designer and toothbrush collector, Sophie Thomas, and advocate for clean teeth, Peter Dyer, Chair of Hospital Dentists at the British Dental Association.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Picture: Toothbrush BBC Copyright

Jun 08 2020

27mins

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Helium

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Andrea Sella, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London, celebrates the art and science of the chemical elements. Today he looks at helium.

Helium is a finite resource here on Earth and many branches of science need it. Doctors need it to run MRI machines to diagnose tumours and engineers test rockets for leaks with it.

The story of helium starts with a solar eclipse in 1868. The event had many astronomers' eyes fixed on the sun. Two astronomers, nearly simultaneous and independently, made the same observation; a strange light with an unusual wavelength coming from the sun. It turned out to be the first sighting of extra-terrestrial helium. It would take decades for helium to be discovered on Earth and longer still for its worth to be recognised.

As its ability to make things float and inability to burn became apparent, the US military started hoarding it for their floating blimps. But they soon realised that it is very hard to store an element that is so light that it can escape the Earth's gravitational pull. As we empty our last reserves of the periodic table's most notorious escape artist – is the future of helium balloons, often used to mark special events, up in the air?

Jun 01 2020

26mins

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The Evidence: Covid 19: Sub-Saharan Africa and Testing

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Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world. As the disease spreads how is sub-Saharan Africa handling the pandemic? We also look at tests – how accurate are they? Should we be testing ourselves at home? On the panel are Folasade Ogunsola, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, Ravi Gupta, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Medicine, Matthew Fox, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at Boston University and Dr Margaret Harris, a Spokesperson at the World Health Organisation.

The Evidence is produced in association with Wellcome Collection. Producers: Geraldine Fitzgerald and Caroline Steel Editor: Deborah Cohen

May 30 2020

49mins

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Aluminium and strontium

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Andrea Sella, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London, celebrates the art and science of the chemical elements. Today he looks at aluminium and strontium, elements that give us visual treats.

At the time of Emperor Napoleon the Third in 19th century France aluminium was more valuable than gold and silver. The Emperor liked the metal so much he had his cutlery made out of it. But once a cheaper way was discovered to extract aluminium it began to be used for all kinds of objects, from aeroplanes to coffee pots. Andrea talks to Professor Mark Miodownik at the Institute of Making at UCL about why aluminium is such a useful material, from keeping crisps crisp to the tinsel on our Christmas trees. And he talks about the lightness of bicycles made from aluminium with Keith Noronha, of Reynolds Technology.

Strontium is the 15th most common element in the earth yet we really only come into contact with it in fireworks. It gives us the deep red colour we admire in a pyrotechnics display. Andrea meets Mike Sansom of Brighton Fireworks who explains how a firework is constructed and reveals the chemical mix that creates the bright red flashes.

Professor Thomas Klapötke of the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich talks about his search for a substitute for strontium in fireworks and about how the element can get into our bones. Rupert Cole at the Science Museum in London shows Andrea how Humphry Davy was the first to extract strontium from rocks found in Scotland.

And Janet Montgomery, Professor of Archaeology at Durham University, explains how strontium traces have revealed that our Neolithic ancestors moved around much more than was previously thought. Nearly half the people buried around Stonehenge in Southern England were born in places with different rocks from those under Salisbury Plain in Southern England.

Picture: Fireworks, credit: rzelich/Getty Images

May 25 2020

26mins

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Gold and silver

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Andrea Sella, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London, celebrates the art and science of chemical elements. In this episode he looks at two elements we have valued for millennia – gold and silver.

Nina Gilbey at the London Jewellery Workshop teaches him how to work the metal and make a silver ring, and Rupert Cole, Curator of Chemistry at the Science Museum, shows him the handiwork of silversmiths who fashioned an elaborate microscope for King George the Third and a silver thimble that was used (with some zinc and a few drops of an acid) to generate an electric current that was sent through a transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866. And Andrea finds out about silver's anti-bacterial properties from Jean-Yves Maillard, Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology at Cardiff University.

For the Egyptians gold was the ultimate symbol of wealth, power and eternal life. For this reason they buried their Pharaohs with extraordinary amounts of gold artefacts. As a noble metal, gold doesn’t tarnish which added to its status and association with the sun god Ra and the afterlife. Andrea talks to Professor Marcos Martinon-Torres of Cambridge University at an exhibition of Tutankhamun’s riches, and to Professor Lynne Macaskie of Birmingham University about ways to recycle gold from our electronic waste using bacteria. The method offers a greener way to satisfy our lust for gold.

Picture: Gold and silver bracelets, Credit: krfletch/Getty Images

May 18 2020

27mins

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The Evidence: Covid 19: ending lockdowns

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Claudia Hammond and her panel of scientists and doctors analyse the latest science on the coronavirus and answer the audience’s questions on the impact of the pandemic.

Dr Lucy van Dorp of UCL explores the genetics of the virus and what they can tell us about how far it’s spread and how is it evolving. Can we be sure that vaccines being developed now will still work in the future? Professor Guy Thwaites of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam explains how the country has succeeding in keeping its cases so low. Professor David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Professor Ngaire Woods, of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, tackle the question that people all around the world are wondering right now – how does a country safely emerge from lockdown without seeing a surge in cases?

And Professor Lisa Cooper of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and family doctor and Director of the Shuri Network, Dr Shera Chok, discuss why black and other ethnic minorities in the US and UK seem to be so disproportionately impacted by Covid 19.

The Evidence is produced in association with Wellcome Collection.

Producers: Geraldine Fitzgerald and Caroline Steel
Editor: Deborah Cohen

May 16 2020

50mins

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Science of Dad

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Whilst most men become fathers, and men make up roughly half the parental population, the vast majority of scientific research has focused on the mother.

But studies have started to reveal the impact of fatherhood on both dads themselves and on their children. We're seeing how fathers play a crucial role in children's behaviour, happiness, and even cognitive skills.

Oscar Duke, a doctor, new dad and author of How To Be A Dad, discovers how pregnancy, birth and childcare affect the father, bringing about profound physiological and hormonal changes. Only 5% of mammal fathers invest in their offspring, and human males have evolved to undergo key changes when their children are born.

Involved fathers can expect their levels of the 'love hormone' oxytocin to rise, nature's way of helping parents bond with their children. At birth, a dad's testosterone levels dramatically fall, increasing affection and responsiveness, and discouraging polygamy.

With more fathers taking on a hands-on role in bringing up their children, how can these new discoveries about the science of dad help support them, and inform social and healthcare policies?

Presented by Dr Oscar Duke and produced by Melanie Brown and Cathy Edwards

May 13 2020

27mins

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Ignaz Semmelweiss: The hand washer

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Lindsey Fitzharris tells the story of Ignaz Semmelweiss, the hand washer. In a world that had no understanding of germs, he tried to apply science to halt the spread of infection. Ignaz Semmelweis observed that many young medical students at his hospital in Vienna went directly from an autopsy, still covered in contaminated dead flesh, to attend pregnant women. Could this be the reason for such high maternal mortality rates from conditions like puerperal fever? Believing that the disease was caused by “infective material” from a dead body, Semmelweiss set up a basin filled with chlorinated lime solution in his hospital and began saving women’s lives with three simple words: ‘wash your hands’. He was demonised by his colleagues for his efforts, but today, he is known as the “Saviour of Mothers.”

Lindsey Fitzharris discusses some of the common myths surrounding the story of Semmelweiss with Dr Barron H. Lerner of New York University Langone School of Medicine. And she talks to Professor Val Curtis, Director of the Environmental Health Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has studied the amount of hand washing by medical staff in hospitals today.

Picture: Victorian boy washing his hands in a stream, Credit: whitemay

May 04 2020

27mins

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The Evidence: Mental health and Covid 19

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Now that more than half the population of the world has been living for a time in lockdown, Claudia Hammond and her panel of psychologists and psychiatrists answer the audience’s questions on the impact of the pandemic on our mental health. Dr George Hu, clinical psychologist & Section Chief of Mental Health at Shanghai United Family Pudong Hospital, tells us what he’s seen in China, as it comes out of lockdown.
Professor Vikram Patel gives us a picture of mental health in India, which went very suddenly into lockdown. Manuela Baretto, Professor of Psychology at Exeter University, explains what research tells us about how isolation and loneliness affects us. Dr Jo Daniels, a psychology at the University of Bath in the UK, talks about who is susceptible to long term health anxiety following the pandemic. And Professor Sir Simon Wessley, psychiatrist and Director of the Kings Centre for Military Research in London, answers questions on whether we can learn about the likely psychological consequences from previous pandemics and other global upheavals.

The Evidence is produced in association with Wellcome Collection.

Producer: Caroline Steel
Editor: Deborah Cohen

May 02 2020

49mins

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Desert locust swarms

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The pictures coming in from East Africa are apocalyptic. Billions of locusts hatching out of the wet ground, marching destructively through crops, and launching into flight in search of new terrains. "This is certainly the worst situation we have seen in the last 15 years," FAO locust specialist Keith Cressman tells Discovery. And in East Africa there has been nothing like this for 70 years.
As the region braces itself for another cycle of egg laying and hatching, Roland Pease hears from the scientists using satellite technology, mobile phones and big data to protect the crops just starting to grow.

(Photo: Desert Locust Swarms, Credit: FAO/Sven Torfinn)

Apr 27 2020

27mins

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Anne Magurran

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Anne Magurran started her career as an ecologist counting moths in an ancient woodland in northern Ireland in the 1970s, when the study of biological diversity was a very young science. Later she studied piranas in a flooded forest in the Amazon. Turning descriptions of the natural world into meaningful statistics is a challenge and Anne has pioneered the measurement of bio-diversity. It’s like an optical illusion, she says. The more you think about bio-diversity the more difficult it is to define. After a bout of meningitis in 2007, she set up BioTime, a global open access database to monitor changes in biodiversity over time and is concerned about ‘the shopping mall effect’. Just as high streets are losing their distinctive shops and becoming dominated by the same chain stores, so biological communities in different parts of the world that once looked very different are now starting to look the same.

Apr 20 2020

27mins

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The Evidence: Young people, lifting lockdowns, USA and Kenya updates

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Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.
As the disease spreads, younger people have perhaps not been getting the attention they deserve. How will this pandemic impact young people and do they feel included in government messaging?

As lockdowns are lifted in China – how can they prepare for what comes next?

And country updates on the USA and Kenya.

On the panel are Professor Tom Kariuki, Director of Programmes of the African Academy of Sciences, Dr Christina Atchison, Senior Clinical Teaching Fellow in Public Health Education at Imperial College London and Dr. Michael Mina, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

The Evidence is made in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection.

Presenter: Claudia Hammond
Producer: Geraldine Fitzgerald

Apr 18 2020

49mins

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iTunes Ratings

552 Ratings
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Love

By Fast Aging Activist - Sep 29 2019
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Love the Fly Gal, learned so much from it.

Great Stuff

By WWaldenHenry - Jul 13 2019
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Easy to listen to, informative, not so stiff, fun yet serious.