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The Infinite Monkey Cage

Witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists' eyes. With Brian Cox and Robin Ince.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Antibiotics

AntibioticsBrian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Chris Addison, Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, and Professor Martha Clokie to look at the history and future for antibiotics. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

38mins

22 Jan 2018

Rank #1

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GCHQ

The Code BreakersBrian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Katy Brand, as they transport the cage of infinite proportions to the home of modern day cryptography and codebreaking., GCHQ. They'll be discovering how far we've come from the days of the humble code book and the birth of machines like Enigma. and how the new digital era has turned us all into modern day code breakers and cryptographers, without us even realising it. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

38mins

13 Aug 2018

Rank #2

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Quantum Physics

Physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince take a witty, irreverent and unashamedly rational look at the world according to science. Physicist turned comedian Ben Miller joins Brian and Robin to discuss quantum physics, and if astrology really shares its roots with more scientific pursuits. They also discuss the largest scientific experiment ever undertaken, currently storming ahead in a large underground tunnel just outside Geneva.

25mins

14 Dec 2009

Rank #3

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Quantum Worlds

Quantum WorldsBrian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Katy Brand, and physicists Sean Carroll and Jim Al-Khalili as they enter the strange and bizarre world of quantum mechanics. Schroedinger's famous thought experiment stuck a cat in a box and asked if it is dead or alive. Quantum physics says the cat is both dead and alive, until we open the box. This mind-bending idea may seem the realm of philosophy, but is actually the science that underpins most of modern life as we know it. Once the panel have dealt with the controversial issues surrounding cats in boxes, they explore whether quantum physics is really an accurate description of reality, and if it is, are there, as the theory suggests, infinite copies of you, me and everything in our universe all existing in every possible combination of ways of existing? If that is the strange but true reality of existence, will we ever be able to prove it?

43mins

10 Feb 2020

Rank #4

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Introducing The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry

Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford present highlights from their podcast which investigates questions sent in by listeners using the power of science.

5mins

18 Apr 2019

Rank #5

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The Human Story: How We Got Here and Why We Survived.

The Human Story: how we got here and why we survived.Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Ross Noble, Professor Danielle Schreve and Professor Chris Stringer as they look at the tricky job of piecing together the history of modern humans and how we came to be here. They look back to the earliest known human ancestors and the fossils and tools that have allowed us to paint the picture of our journey out of Africa, to become the last surviving human species on the planet. They ask why we have gone from more than 5 or 6 species of humans some 200,000 years ago, to just 1 today. They also look at how discoveries made in just the last 5 years have completely transformed our understanding of human history and what new DNA technology has revealed about our ancient past. They also reveal what surprising tropical animal remains have been found buried deep under Trafalgar Square.Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

40mins

6 Feb 2017

Rank #6

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Oceans: What Remains to Be Discovered?

Oceans: what remains to be discovered?Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by Andy Hamilton, Professor Jon Copley and marine biologist Helen Scales, as they look at the riches still remaining to be discovered deep within our oceans. The deep ocean remains the last great unexplored frontier of our planet, and as Brian and Robin discover, what we might find there could provide us with some extraordinary insights and applications. We've only just begun to touch the surface, literally, in terms of identifying and learning about the huge and varied life forms that live in our oceans -from the microbes that could inspire and generate new drugs to fight antibiotic resistant diseases, to the deep sea snails with iron clad shells, that may lead to the development of new super-strong materials. Even the humble limpet is providing inspiration to material scientists and engineers: the limpets' teeth, it turns out, are made from the strongest natural substance on the planet. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

44mins

30 Jan 2017

Rank #7

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The Universe: What Remains to Be Discovered?

Brian Cox and Robin Ince take to the stage at the Blue Dot Festival, at the home of Radio Astronomy, Jodrell Bank. They are joined on stage by Ben Miller, Charlotte Church, Dr Paul Abel and Professor Tim O'Brien to explore the big questions that are still to be answered about our Universe.

46mins

1 Aug 2016

Rank #8

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How We Measure the Universe

How to Measure the UniverseBrian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Jo Brand, and physicists Prof Jo Dunkley and Dr Adam Masters to look at how we go about measuring our universe, from measuring the contents of atmospheres of planets and moons at the outer edges of our solar system to looking far back in time to study the very earliest beginnings of the cosmos. Our ability to learn about phenomena and worlds that seem almost impossibly out of reach, now give us an incredible insight into the universe we occupy, and how we got here. Brian and Robin find out about some of the big new missions providing information into our own solar system and beyond, and find out what big questions in cosmology still remain a tantalising challenge?Producer: Alexandra Feachem

38mins

11 Feb 2019

Rank #9

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When Two Stars Collide

When Two Stars CollideBrian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Dara O'Briain, Professor Sheila Rowan of Glasgow University and Professor Nils Andersson of Southampton University to look at last summer's spectacular discovery of gravitational waves from two colliding neutron stars. The observation of this huge cosmic event not only confirmed one of Einstein's great predictions, some 100 years ago, but also revealed the source of gold in our universe. Brian, Robin and guests look at how this momentous discovery brought together nearly 1/3 of the world's astronomers and astrophysicists as they raced to point their telescopes at the collision, but also confirmed the presence of gravitational waves, first predicted in Einstein's theory of general relativity back in 1915. They also discover why the source of our heavier elements such as gold and platinum has been so difficult to prove, until now.Producer: Alexandra FeachemThe Infinite Monkey Cage book "How to Build A Universe (Part 1)" is out now and available to buy from all the usual places.

40mins

8 Jan 2018

Rank #10

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Invasion

Invasion!Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Phill Jupitus, bat expert and ecologist Professor Kate Jones and forensic botanist Dr Mark Spencer to look at the problems caused by alien invasions, although not of the little green men kind. They look at why such innocent and innocuous sounding plants such as floating pennywort strike terror and fear in the heart of environmentalists up and down the country, and how clever microbes and diseases are able to jump from animals such as bats to humans causing devastating consequences. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

41mins

23 Jul 2018

Rank #11

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Will insects inherit the earth?

Will Insects Inherit the Earth?Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Dave Gorman, zoologist Tim Cockerill and forensic entomologist Amoret Whitaker. They'll be discovering the joy of creepy crawlies, why the flea is the ultimate master of Darwinian evolution, and whether those pesky cockroaches will really have the last laugh if we are unlucky enough to be wiped out by a nuclear explosion. They'll be discovering how and why insects have been by far the most successful group of organisms during the history of life on planet earth, and why we simply couldn't do without them.

43mins

24 Jul 2017

Rank #12

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Oxygen: A Matter of Life and Death

Oxygen: a matter of life and death.Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by chemist Andrea Sella, science broadcaster and writer Gabrielle Walker and comedian Sara Pascoe to look at the life and death properties of oxygen. It's the molecule we simply can't live without, but as fate would have it, oxygen is also the molecule that eventually leads to our death. Hailed as an elixir of life, and foundation of the atmosphere, oxygen is the revolutionary element that quickens life and hastens death through its ferocious reactivity. It's the molecule our cells need, but is actually highly toxic to them, and is in the end what causes us to age. Brian and Robin get to grips with the chemistry of this contradictory molecule, and Andrea Sella tries not to cause too big an explosion by demonstrating oxygen's reactive nature using a digestive biscuit. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

39mins

17 Jul 2017

Rank #13

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Artificial Intelligence

Artificial IntelligenceBrian Cox and Robin Ince return for a new series of their award winning science/comedy show. Tonight the infinite monkey's are joined on stage by comedian Jo Brand, neuroscientist Anil Seth, and robotics expert Alan Winfield to discuss Artificial Intelligence. How close are we to creating a truly intelligent machine, how do we define intelligence anyway, and what are the moral and ethical issues that the development of intelligent machines might bring?Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

43mins

12 Jan 2016

Rank #14

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Parallel Universes

Brian Cox and Robin Ince stretch the cage of infinite proportions this week to encompass not just our own universe, but any others that might be lurking out there as well. They'll be joined by QI creator John Lloyd, the Astronomer Royal, Professor Sir Martin Rees, and solar scientist Dr Lucie Green to talk about one of the most tantalising ideas of cosmology, that of parallel universes. Are we inhabiting a universe that is just one of a possibly infinite number of others and how would we ever know? Is this an idea that is destined to remain one of the great scientific thought experiments, and a staple of science fiction, or will science ever progress enough to truly put the idea of multiverses to the test. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

28mins

16 Jul 2012

Rank #15

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Special Bonus Edition

Brian Cox and Robin Ince reminisce about their favourite moments from 100 episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage.

17mins

9 Aug 2018

Rank #16

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Conspiracy Theories

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Shazia Mirza, science writer and cancer researcher Dr David Robert Grimes and psychologist Prof Karen Douglas to look at the weird world of conspiracy theories. From Flat Earth believers to people who refuse to accept that humans have ever been to the moon, why is fiction often so much easier to believe than fact - and does it matter? They discuss the psychology and profile of people who are more likely to believe in conspiracies and the devastating effect some, like the anti-vaccine movement, have had on public health. They ask whether being irrational is our default setting and how to convince the most hard-core believers with the power of evidence and critical thinking. Although they would say that wouldnt' they? Producer: Alexandra Feachem

33mins

20 Jan 2020

Rank #17

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Philosophy

Physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince are joined by special guests Alexei Sayle and philosopher Julian Baggini to discuss Stephen Hawking's recent comment that "philosophy is dead". Does the progress of science mean the need for disciplines such as philosophy and even religion are negated as we understand more and more about how the world works. Or are there some things, such as human consciousness, that science will never be able to fully explain.Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

30mins

6 Dec 2010

Rank #18

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Big Data

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by Danny Wallace, mathematician Hannah Fry and science writer Timandra Harkness. They'll be going big on Big Data, and asking just how big is it? They'll be looking at where Big Data comes from, should we be worried about it, and what mysteries are hidden within the seemingly endless amounts of information that is collected about us as we go about our daily lives.

44mins

16 Jul 2018

Rank #19

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Before the Big Bang

Brian Cox and Robin Ince transport the cage of infinite proportions, for the first of 2 programmes from the Edinburgh Festival. They are joined on stage by cosmologists Carlos Frenk and Faye Dowker and actor and comedian Ben Miller and comedian and fellow physics PhD alumnus Richard Vranch.

41mins

4 Aug 2014

Rank #20