Cover image of The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry
(319)
Technology
Science

The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry

Updated about 10 hours ago

Technology
Science
Read more

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries sent by listeners.

Read more

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries sent by listeners.

iTunes Ratings

319 Ratings
Average Ratings
292
16
7
2
2

Can’t wait

By texasdallasant - Jul 25 2019
Read more
Fry was awesome I that numbers documentary so I’m checking out this podcast!

Funny and informative

By neale64 - May 09 2019
Read more
They have great chemistry and deliver typically great British wit and self-deprecating humour.

iTunes Ratings

319 Ratings
Average Ratings
292
16
7
2
2

Can’t wait

By texasdallasant - Jul 25 2019
Read more
Fry was awesome I that numbers documentary so I’m checking out this podcast!

Funny and informative

By neale64 - May 09 2019
Read more
They have great chemistry and deliver typically great British wit and self-deprecating humour.
Cover image of The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry

The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry

Latest release on Feb 14, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail about 10 hours ago

Rank #1: The End of the World

Podcast cover
Read more
"What would become the dominant species if, or when, humans go extinct?"

This cheery question leads Drs Rutherford and Fry to embark on an evolutionary thought experiment.

Zoologist Matthew Cobb questions whether humans really are the dominant species. Ecologist Kate Jones explains why some species are more extinction-prone than others. Plus Phil Plait, AKA The Bad Astronomer, busts some myths about why the dinosaurs went extinct.

Send your questions for future series, along with any Curio correspondence for the podcast, to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Dec 09 2019

42mins

Play

Rank #2: The Trouble Sum Weather

Podcast cover
Read more
"Why is it so difficult to predict the weather?" asks Isabella Webber, aged 21 from Vienna.

"I am sure there are many intelligent meteorologists and it seems rather straight forward to calculate wind speed, look at the clouds, and data from the past to make accurate predictions, but yet it’s not possible."

Adam delves into the history of forecasting with author Andrew Blum, beginning with the mystery of a lost hot air balloon full of Arctic explorers.

Hannah visits the BBC Weather Centre to talk to meteorologist and presenter Helen Willetts about how forecasting has changed, and whether people get annoyed at her if she gets the forecast wrong.

Plus mathematician Steven Strogatz suggests a chaotic explanation as to why we can't produce the perfect forecast.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Nov 22 2019

35mins

Play

Rank #3: The Heart of the Antimatter

Podcast cover
Read more
"How do you make antimatter?' asks Scott Matheson, aged 21 from Utah.

The team takes charge of this question with a spin through the history of antimatter. Adam talks to physicist Frank Close, author of 'Antimatter', about its origins in the equations of Dirac to its manufacture in the first particle accelerator, the Bevatron.

Cosmologist Andrew Pontzen tells Hannah why physicists today are busy pondering the mystery of the missing antimatter. Anyone who discovers why the Universe is made of matter, rather than antimatter, is in line for the Nobel Prize.

Plus, neuroscientist Sophie Scott describes how antimatter has been put to good use down here on Earth to peer into people's brains.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Nov 15 2019

31mins

Play

Rank #4: A World of Pain

Podcast cover
Read more
"Why do people experience pain differently when they go through the same event?" asks Claire Jenkins from Cwmbran in Wales.

Professor of Pain Research, Irene Tracey, welcomes Adam in to the room she calls her 'Torture Chamber'. Burning, electrocuting, lasering and piercing are all on the menu, but which will hurt the most?

Hannah speaks to Steve Pete from Washington who has a rare genetic condition which means he doesn't feel pain. For chronic sufferers, this sounds like heaven, but a life without pain has brought untold suffering to him and his family, including the tragic story of his brother, Chris.

We look at how the body creates pain, why some people feel it more than others, and how this knowledge could help scientists treat pain more effectively in the future.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Sep 07 2018

33mins

Play

Rank #5: The Fifth Dimension

Podcast cover
Read more
"What is the fifth dimension?" asks Lena Komaier-Peeters from East Sussex.

Proving the existence of extra dimensions, beyond our 3D universe, is one of the most exciting and controversial areas in modern physics. Hannah and Adam head to CERN, the scientific cathedral for quantum weirdness, to try and find them.

Theoretical physicist Rakhi Mahbubani explains why we think that dimensions beyond our own might exist. Adam meets Sam Harper, who has spent 14 years hunting for an elusive particle called the 'graviton', which could provide a portal to these extra dimensions.

But if they exist, where have these extra dimensions been hiding? Sean Carroll from Caltech explains various ideas that have been dreamt up by physicists, from minuscule hidden planes to gigantic parallel worlds.

Producer: Michelle Martin
Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford.

May 04 2018

27mins

Play

Rank #6: The Stellar Dustbin

Podcast cover
Read more
An unusual case today for science sleuths Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford sent by Elisabeth Hill:

'Can we shoot garbage into the sun?'

The duo embark on an astronomical thought experiment to see how much it would cost to throw Hannah's daily rubbish into our stellar dustbin. From space elevators to solar sails, they explore the various options that could be used to send litter to the Sun.

Featuring space scientist Lucie Green and astrophysicist Andrew Pontzen.

If you have any everyday mysteries for the team to investigate using the power of science, please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry & Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Feb 18 2016

13mins

Play

Rank #7: The Cosmic Egg

Podcast cover
Read more
"How do we measure the age of the Universe?" asks Simon Whitehead.

A hundred years ago this wouldn't even have been considered a valid question, because we didn't think the Universe had a beginning at all. Even Einstein thought that space was eternal and unchanging.

This is the tale of how we discovered that the Universe had a beginning, and why calculating its age has been one of the greatest challenges in modern astronomy.

We also uncover the mysterious dark energy that pervades the cosmos and discover why it's been putting a scientific spanner in the works.

Helping to unravel today's question are physicists Andrew Pontzen, Jo Dunkley and Jim Al-Khalili.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Mar 02 2018

30mins

Play

Rank #8: The Aural Voyeur

Podcast cover
Read more
Drs Rutherford and Fry tackle a vexing case sent in by Daniel Sarano from New Jersey, who asks why people shout on their mobile phones in public.

Our science sleuths find the answer by delving into the inner workings of telephony with a tale of engineering rivalry, Victorian etiquette and early otolaryngology.

Featuring acoustic technologist Nick Zakarov and historian Greg Jenner, author of 'A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Daily Life.'

If you have any scientific cases for the team to investigate please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry & Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Feb 11 2016

12mins

Play

Rank #9: The Cosmic Speed Limit

Podcast cover
Read more
"We often read that the fastest thing in the Universe is the speed of light. Why do we have this limitation and can anything possibly be faster?" Ali Alshareef from Qatif in Saudia Arabia emailed curiouscases@bbc.co.uk with this puzzling problem.

The team grapples with Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, with help from cosmologist Andrew Pontzen and a British train, travelling somewhat slower than the speed of light.

Plus physicist and presenter Jim Al-Khalili describes how he nearly lost his boxer shorts in a daring bet concerning the speed of subatomic particles.

Send your questions for consideration to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Dec 29 2017

22mins

Play

Rank #10: A Frytful Scare Part 1

Podcast cover
Read more
It was a dark and stormy night around the time of Halloween. A secret message arrived addressed to Rutherford & Fry from a mysterious woman called Heidi Daugh, who demanded to know: "Why do people like to be scared? For example, going on scary amusement park rides and watching horror movies that make you jump.”

What followed was an investigation over two chapters, which would test our intrepid duo to their very limits. In this first instalment, they explore the history of horror, starting with its literary origins in the Gothic fiction classic 'The Castle of Otranto'.

Adam challenges Hannah to watch a horror film without hiding behind a cushion. She quizzes horror scholar Mathias Clasen to find out why some people love the feeling of terror, whilst it leaves other cold.

Sociologist Margee Kerr and psychologist Claudia Hammond are also on hand to explore why scary movies are so powerful and popular.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Oct 25 2019

31mins

Play

Rank #11: Adventures in Dreamland

Podcast cover
Read more
"Why do we dream and why do we repeat dreams?" asks Mila O'Dea, aged 9, from Panama.

Hannah and Adam 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.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Sep 29 2017

24mins

Play

Rank #12: The Forgetful Child

Podcast cover
Read more
"Why don't we remember the first few years of our lives?" asks David Foulger from Cheltenham.

The team investigate the phenomenon of 'infant amnesia' and how memories are made with Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster.

A whopping 40% of people say they can remember back to before they were two years old, and 18% can recall being babies.

But can we really trust these early memories? Martin Conway from City University discusses his latest findings, taken from data gathered during 'The Memory Experience' on BBC Radio 4.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Mar 10 2017

16mins

Play

Rank #13: An Instrumental Case

Podcast cover
Read more
“We play many musical instruments in our family. Lots of them produce the same pitch of notes, but the instruments all sound different. Why is this?” asks Natasha Cook aged 11, and her Dad Jeremy from Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

For this instrumental case Hannah and Adam are joined by the Curious Cases band - Matt Chandler and Wayne Urquhart - to play with today's question.

Bringing the science we have acoustic engineer and saxophone player Trevor Cox. Plus materials expert Zoe Laughlin demonstrates a selection of her unusual musical creations, including a lead bugle.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

Apr 12 2019

39mins

Play

Rank #14: The Squeamish Swoon

Podcast cover
Read more
Science sleuths Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford investigate the following question sent in by Philip Le Riche:

'Why do some people faint at the sight of blood, or a hypodermic needle, or even if they bash their funny bone? Does it serve any useful evolutionary purpose, or is just some kind of cerebral error condition?'

Adam is strapped onto a hospital tilt table in an attempt to make him blackout and Hannah receives an aromatic surprise.

Featuring consultant cardiologists Dr Nicholas Gall and Dr Adam Fitzpatrick and cardiac physiologist Shelley Dougherty.

If you have any scientific cases for the team to investigate please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry & Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Feb 11 2016

13mins

Play

Rank #15: The Strongest Substance

Podcast cover
Read more
"What is the strongest substance in the universe? Some people say it is spiderweb, because it is stronger than steel. Is it iron? Is it flint? Is it diamond because diamond can be only be cut by diamond?" asks Françoise Michel.

Adam and Hannah put a variety of materials, from biscuits to spider web, under the hammer to test their strength.

In their quest to find the strongest substance they quiz materials scientist Mark Miodownik, engineer Danielle George and spidergoat creator, Dr Randy Lewis from Utah.

Features archive from 'Horizon: Playing God', first broadcast in January 2012.

Please send your Curious Cases for the team to investigate to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Oct 07 2016

15mins

Play

Rank #16: The Lunar Land Pt 1

Podcast cover
Read more
A double episode to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, and the first humans to walk on the Moon.

Harley Day emailed curiouscases@bbc.co.uk to ask “Why do we only have one Moon and what would life on Earth be like if we had more? I'll be over the moon if you can help me solve this mystery.”

In this first episode, Hannah and Adam look at how the Moon was formed and why we only have one. Featuring Maggie Aderin-Pocock space scientist and author of 'The Book of the Moon' and cosmic mineralogist Sara Russell from the Natural History Museum.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

Apr 19 2019

30mins

Play

Rank #17: Stephen Fry's Identity Crisis

Podcast cover
Read more
Stephen Fry (no relation) asks Adam and Hannah to investigate the following question:

"All my life I have been mildly plagued by the fact that I have a quite appalling ability to remember faces. I cut people I should know well dead in the street, or at least fail to recognise them in a way which must often be hurtful.

At a party I can talk to someone for ten minutes and then see them again twenty later and have no idea who they are unless I’ve made an effort to fix some accessory or item of their dress in my mind. If I see them the next day in another context I’ll have no idea who they are. It’s distressing for me inasmuch as I hate the idea that people might think I am blanking them, or think little of them, don’t consider them significant and so forth.

I’d be very grateful if my sister-in-surname and her eximious partner Adam could investigate prosopagnosia for me and offer any hint add to as to its cause or even possible – I won’t say “cure” as I am sure it’s chronic and untreatable – but at least any interesting ways of relieving it."

Hannah and Adam call in the experts, neuroscientists Sophie Scott and Brad Duchaine. Why is it that some people struggle with prosopagnosia, whilst others never forget a face?

You can find out more about Face Blindness, who it affects and how to cope with it by visiting www.faceblind.org.uk/

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Nov 08 2019

36mins

Play

Rank #18: The Shocking Surprise

Podcast cover
Read more
Why do we get static shocks?

Jose Chavez Mendez from Guatemala asks, "Some years ago, in the dry season, I used to be very susceptible to static electricity. I want to know - why do static shocks happen?"

The team uncover some slightly unethical science experiments on static electricity from the 1700s. Hannah Fry uses a Leyden Jar to demonstrate how static electricity works with help from her glamorous assistant, Adam Rutherford. Spoiler Alert: it doesn't end well for Adam.

They discover what makes some people more susceptible to static shocks, and how bees and spiders have harnessed the awesome power of electricity.

Featuring electromagnetism scientist Rhys Phillips and physicist Helen Czerski, author of 'Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life'.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Sep 22 2017

28mins

Play

Rank #19: A Code in Blood

Podcast cover
Read more
"Why do we have different blood types?" asks Doug from Norfolk.

The average adult human has around 30 trillion red blood cells, they make up a quarter of the total number of cells in the body.

We have dozens of different blood groups, but normally we're tested for just two - ABO and Rhesus factor. Adam and Hannah delve into the gory world of blood and the early history of blood transfusions, to discover why we have blood groups and what makes them so important.

Featuring interviews with Dr Jo Mountford, from the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and immunologist Dr Sheena Cruikshank from the University of Manchester.

Send your Curious Cases for consideration to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Mar 15 2017

11mins

Play

Rank #20: Goldfinger's Moon Laser

Podcast cover
Read more
"The other day I was watching the James Bond film Goldfinger. He boasts a laser powerful enough to project a spot on the Moon. Is this possible? If so, just how powerful would such a laser need to be?" This curious question was sent to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk by Eddie Griffith from Hinckley in Leicestershire.

Adam visits one of the most powerful lasers in the world, the Gemini Super Intense Laser at the aptly named Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, Oxfordshire. Plasma physicist Ceri Brenner gives him a quick zap, whilst explaining what would happen if they attempted to shoot their quadrillion watt laser at the Moon.

Hannah talks to Tom Murphy from the University of California San Diego, who fires lasers at the Moon for a living. However, unlike Goldfinger, he's not using his Moon Laser for crime, he's using it for science.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Jan 12 2018

24mins

Play