Cover image of CrowdScience
(176)

Rank #98 in Technology category

Science

CrowdScience

Updated 2 months ago

Rank #98 in Technology category

Science
Read more

We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.

Read more

We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.

iTunes Ratings

176 Ratings
Average Ratings
144
18
7
2
5

Great podcast!

By Mohsenp - Oct 19 2019
Read more
Thanks a million for your podcast!

Vegan diet.

By Radical Linguist - Oct 03 2019
Read more
Open-minded, and always with a genuine spirit of exploration.

iTunes Ratings

176 Ratings
Average Ratings
144
18
7
2
5

Great podcast!

By Mohsenp - Oct 19 2019
Read more
Thanks a million for your podcast!

Vegan diet.

By Radical Linguist - Oct 03 2019
Read more
Open-minded, and always with a genuine spirit of exploration.
Cover image of CrowdScience

CrowdScience

Latest release on Aug 12, 2020

Read more

We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.

Rank #1: Is maths real?

Podcast cover
Read more
Faced with one cake and eight hungry people, it’s pretty obvious how maths underpins reality. But as mathematics gets further from common sense and into seemingly abstract territory, nature still seems to obey its rules - whether in the orbit of a planet, the number of petals on a flower, or the structure of an atom.

But what exactly is the relationship between mathematics and reality? That’s the impossibly difficult question CrowdScience has been set this week by our listener Sergio in Peru. It’s one that’s been pondered by humans for millennia: the Greek philosopher Pythagoras believed “All is number”.

Is maths a human construct to help us make sense of reality - a tool, a model, a language? Does maths create its own reality? Or is it reality itself?

CrowdScience explores these questions with the help of experts from the fields of philosophy, mathematics and science: Dr Eleanor Knox, Dr Eugenia Cheng, Professor Lucie Green, Alex Bellos and Stefano Centineo.

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Produced by Cathy Edwards for the BBC World Service

(Photo: A young woman with her eyes closed standing in front of chalkboard, working out maths formulas. Credit: Getty Images)

Oct 18 2019

32mins

Play

Rank #2: The Fourth Dimension

Podcast cover
Read more
How would a fourth dimensional being appear to humans?
"It would look just weird" is one way to answer the question 'How would a fourth dimensional being appear to humans?' But it's more complicated than that - theoretical cosmologist Andrew Pontzen describes how objects are viewed from one dimension to another, and how it might affect parking spaces.
Also on the programme: our panel of experts discuss bubble experiments, a theory that the Black Death was a virus, space elevators, algae as a biomass fuel, what affects the speed of digestion in our gut, a short definition of dark energy and the question is it true our DNA has alien properties?
With Helen Czerski, department of mechanical engineering, University College London; virologist Jonathan Ball, University of Nottingham; and cosmologist Andrew Pontzen, University College London.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk.
(Image: Stripes and points of light, one guess what a 4th dimension might look like, Credit: Thinkstock)

Dec 10 2016

31mins

Play

Rank #3: How can I live a longer life?

Podcast cover
Read more
Human life expectancy has been increasing for decades. In many developed countries, we can now expect to live into our 80s, and it isn’t uncommon to live to 90 or even 100 years old.

But eventually our bodies fail, old age is undoubtedly a clear indicator of approaching death. This fact annoyed 79 year old CrowdScience listener Bill, who emailed in to set presenter Geoff Marsh the task of seeking out the secrets to a longer, healthier life. Bill has a personal target to live to 200 years old, so can he do it?

Well some people appear to age more slowly. In one part of Costa Rica, people commonly hit their hundredth birthday. CrowdScience’s Rafael Rojas visits these Central American centenarians to ask them their secrets to a longer life. Then, in interviews with the best age researchers around the world, including Professor Linda Partridge and Professor Janet Lord, Geoff reveals the science behind longer lifespans, and what people can do to live for longer, healthily.

Presented by Geoff Marsh
Produced by Rory Galloway

(Image: A group of older men sitting together at an event, Costa Rica. Credit: Rafael Rojas)

Oct 11 2019

26mins

Play

Rank #4: How Bad is Flying for the Planet?

Podcast cover
Read more
What effect does air travel have on the climate? That is the question listener Neil sent CrowdScience from New Zealand. If you have ever looked up at the sky and seen the wispy white streaks that airplanes leave behind, then you are looking at one of the major environmental impacts of air transport – contrails.
To find out more, Anand Jagatia goes on a journey through the rugged, lava-ridden Icelandic landscape with earth scientist Thor and discovers how both natural events like volcanic eruptions as well as man-made acts of terror can shed light on the environmental impact of aircraft. Plus, we meet a man who tailgates 737 airliners to measure their emissions.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk.

Dec 05 2016

28mins

Play

Rank #5: Can we be too clean?

Podcast cover
Read more
To be healthy you need to be clean – or so we’ve thought throughout human history.
The dazzling array of antibacterial products that exploded onto the scene in the 20th century took things to the next level, with their promises of eliminating 99.9% of germs.
But could an obsession with cleanliness actually be bad for us? There’s a whole world of microbes out there: some make us sick, but others are essential for our health.
How do we tell the difference? Listener Younes’s question gives CrowdScience the chance to sift the good dirt from the bad, with the help of hygiene expert Professor Sally Bloomfield. Along the way we soap up our hands with schoolchildren in Mumbai, get knee deep in mud on an English farm, and find out why snuggling up to a cow might be a good idea.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton

Producer: Cathy Edwards and Marijke Peters

Jan 07 2017

27mins

Play

Rank #6: Could All Cars Be Electric?

Podcast cover
Read more
Just one per cent of vehicles are powered by electricity, but CrowdScience listener Randall from Lac du Bonnet in Canada wants to know how quickly that might change, and whether one day all cars could be electric. Marnie Chesterton begins her journey in an electric car, stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway.
It was in California where the modern electric car revival began in the late 1990s with the EV1 – popular with Hollywood celebrities like Mel Gibson and Danny DeVito. More than two decades on, several countries have pledged to go all-electric in future. The latest is China, who currently lead the world in the number of electric vehicles on the road. But is the planet’s power infrastructure even capable of supporting this global electric dream?
Marnie talks to experts about the practicalities of power supply and charging, takes a ride in an electric prototype with enough acceleration to impress even the most cynical petrol head and discovers an extraordinary vision for the future of personalised urban transport.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton

Producer: Jennifer Whyntie
(Image: Electric power cord plugged in and recharging the electric vehicle Credit: Getty Images)

Sep 15 2017

29mins

Play

Rank #7: Why Does Dark Matter, Matter?

Podcast cover
Read more
Scientists have been searching for dark matter for 80 years, so CrowdScience wondered whether they could find it faster. Armed with a boiler suit, hard hat and ear defenders, Marnie Chesterton travels over a kilometre underground into a hot and sweaty mine to see how we could catch dark matter in action. She investigates various theories as to what it might be with popping candy and gazes at galaxies to determine how we know it exists in the first place. But most importantly, she questions whether it really matters. And, as our Singaporean listener Koon-Hou askes, what impact would finding it have on our everyday lives?
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton

Producer: Graihagh Jackson
(Photo: Finding dark matter could have galactic implications. Credit: Getty Images)

Feb 09 2018

31mins

Play

Rank #8: Is Being Fat a Choice?

Podcast cover
Read more
The human race is getting fatter. But is it our fault? There are a whole host of factors influencing our weight - how many of them can we control?
CrowdScience discovers how factors like our environment and our genes can tip the scales in the wrong direction.
We visit an apartment complex originally designed for Olympic athletes, to see if people can get fitter just by living there. And from a brand new menu plan for overweight Mumbai police, to hormone injections that stop you getting hungry, CrowdScience asks the experts what we can do if we’ve been dealt a bad hand when it comes to our weight.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton

Producer: Cathy Edwards
(Image: Women and a Man standing next to each other holding hands. Credit: ThinkStock.)

Mar 14 2017

27mins

Play

Rank #9: Why are There Morning People and Night People?

Podcast cover
Read more
Some of us want to be up with the larks, while others are more like night owls. But is our preference down to our genes, or more to do with habits and surroundings? We set out to find the answers, inspired by a question from Kira, a night owl CrowdScience listener in Philadelphia, USA.
Our daily, or circadian, body clocks are a hot topic of discussion at the moment - this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine went to three scientists who discovered the gene that makes these clocks tick. To answer our listener’s question, we need to know why different clocks tick at different rates, so we visit a specialist sleep centre to see how having a slow-ticking clock makes it hard for you to leap out of bed in the morning.
And the morning sun helps all of us regulate our daily rhythm, so what happens when it doesn’t rise at all? We travel to Tromsø, in the far north of Norway, to see how morning and evening types fare during the long polar nights - and meet the reindeer who seem to be able to switch off their daily clocks altogether. Meanwhile down near the equator, we hear about the hunter-gatherer community in Tanzania where there’s nearly always someone awake.
Sami song, the joik of Ráikku-Ánte, is performed by Ken Even Berg
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
Presenter: Anand Jagatia

Producer: Cathy Edwards
(Image: L - Women smiling on a run R - Women DJ. Credit: Getty Images)

Nov 17 2017

27mins

Play

Rank #10: Why are Dogs so Different?

Podcast cover
Read more
From Chihuahuas to Great Danes, Mexican Hairless to Afghan Hounds, dogs are the most diverse mammal on the planet. There are currently over 500 recognised breeds worldwide with almost every conceivable combination of size, shape, coat, colour and behaviour.
But why are there so many different kinds of dog?
That's what listener Simon St-Onge in Quebec, Canada wants to know – and CrowdScience has taken up the challenge.
Presenter Marnie Chesterton heads to Sweden, a world-class centre of canine research, to sniff around for answers. She finds out how the grey wolf morphed into the vast variety of dogs we have today, and heads out on a moose hunt with one of Scandinavia's most ancient breeds.
But are dogs really as different as they seem on the surface? The dog genome is revealing more about man's best friend than ever before – and could now be the answer to understanding both dog and human health.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
(Image: Tika, the Russian-European Laika)

Jan 21 2017

27mins

Play

Rank #11: Why Does My Dog Love Me?

Podcast cover
Read more
Dogs have been living and working with humans for thousands of years. But they’re much more than just pets. As any dog owner will tell you, the bond we have with our canine friends is often so strong that they feel more like family.
So how is it that dogs have come to fit so seamlessly into human life?
That’s what CrowdScience listener Peter Jagger in the UK wants to know, and Marnie Chesterton is off to sniff out some answers. She starts by revisiting a previous episode of CrowdScience based in Sweden, where she saw the dog-human bond come alive during a moose hunt. She then heads to the Dog Cognition Centre in Portsmouth to discover how a unique and often unconscious communication system helps our dogs to understand us. Finally, Marnie finds out about the fate of dogs that are no longer wanted by their humans. After thousands of years of domestication, can they ever live without us?
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton

Producer: Anna Lacey
(Photo: Image of young girl with her dog, alaskan malamute. Credit: Getty Images)

Jan 05 2018

29mins

Play

Rank #12: Must Life be Carbon-Based?

Podcast cover
Read more
Carbon is special, but is it necessarily the unique building block of life in the universe? Science fiction has long speculated on non-carbon biochemistries existing in the universe – notably in the work of authors such as Isaac Asimov as well as in the popular American TV series Star Trek, which once featured a rock-munching, silicon-based life form called ‘Horta’.
Marnie Chesterton explores the real science behind this intriguing idea and wonders whether in the current search for Earth-like planets elsewhere in the galaxy, we should be looking at completely different possible sets of rules when it comes to the hunt for life?
Producer Alex Mansfield

Presenter Marnie Chesterton
(Photo: Saturn viewed from Titan moon. Credit: Getty Images)

Feb 02 2018

30mins

Play

Rank #13: How Could Humanity Become Extinct?

Podcast cover
Read more
Nuclear weapons and mega asteroids: what would the aftermath look like? CrowdScience explores past extinction events and future dystopias.
In a past episode, CrowdScience headed to Denmark to find out whether humans could go the way of the dinosaurs – mass extinction triggered by a large asteroid impact 66 million years ago. Although no killer rocks are on route to Earth any time soon, we do not have to look far for other dystopias.
“Do we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world?”, listener Ronald from Uganda asks CrowdScience. It turns out there is a web app which can help answer this question. Together with its maker nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein, presenter Anand Jagatia tests hypothetical nuclear disaster scenarios and uncovers the nature of nuclear destruction in interviewees with climate scientist Alan Robock.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
Presenter: Anand Jagatia

Producer: Louisa Field
(Image: Explosion of a nuclear bomb Credit: Getty Images)

Sep 08 2017

29mins

Play

Rank #14: Is Fasting Healthy?

Podcast cover
Read more
For some it's a way to get closer to God, for others a tried and tested way to lose weight - but listener Amine wants to know if fasting has any other, unexpected health benefits? So presenter Marnie Chesterton cuts down on cookies and investigates the science behind low-calorie or time-restricted eating. She hears how some cells regenerate when we're deprived of food, which one researcher says could reduce breast cancer rates. And she finds out what happens in our brains when our bodies rely on our own fat reserves for fuel.

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Marijke Peters

(Image: Clock on an empty plate. Credit: Getty Images)

May 25 2018

31mins

Play

Rank #15: Why Do We Have So Many Accents?

Podcast cover
Read more
Why do we have so many accents - even when we’re speaking the same language? What's happening in our brains and mouths to make us sound so different from each other? This week’s question from listener Amanda takes CrowdScience to Glasgow in Scotland: home to one of the most studied - and distinctive - accents of English.
Along the way we visit a voice coach to try and learn a Texan accent, use ultrasound to see what different sounds look like inside our mouths and find out how a brand new dialect was formed when many accents collided in New Zealand.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
Presenter: Nastaran Tavakoli-Far

Producer: Cathy Edwards
New Zealand Mobile Unit recordings courtesy of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
(Image: A mouth screaming white letters. Credit: Thinkstock)

Mar 31 2017

26mins

Play

Rank #16: How Can I Remember More?

Podcast cover
Read more
Sometimes our memory fails us and we wish facts would just stick better. Listener Mothibi is a student and has spent three years trying to remember as much as possible for his exams. He wants to know how he can train his brain to better to remember things – and does the brain have a limit on how much stuff we can cram into it?
To find the answers presenter Marnie Chesterton seeks help from memory magician, Simon, at the European Memory Championship. Using the loci technique she accomplishes a memory feat she didn’t think possible. Thought to have been developed by the Greeks, the loci method is a technique that enables the brain to remember extraordinary amounts of information. It turns out, we all have the right wiring to remember more and better, but we need to train our brains.
Also, CrowdScience heads to Cambridge University where Marnie Chesterton lands herself in a study. The scientists scan her brain while she exercises her memory muscles and we discover why sometimes memories get muddled up.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton

Producer: Louisa Field
(Image: Woman scratching head, thinking brain melting into lines. Credit: Getty Images)

Nov 10 2017

33mins

Play

Rank #17: What is the Real Time?

Podcast cover
Read more
It sounds like a simple question – what is the time? But look closer and you realise time is a slippery concept that scientists still do not fully understand. Even though we now have atomic clocks that can keep time to one second in 15 billion years, this astonishing level of accuracy may not be enough. The complexity of computer-controlled systems, such as high-frequency financial trading or self-driving cars which rely on the pinpoint accuracy of GPS, could in future require clocks that are even more accurate to ensure everything runs ‘on time’.
But what does that even mean? As Anand Jagatia discovers, time is a very strange thing. He visits the origins of modern time-keeping at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and meets scientists at the National Physical Laboratory who have been counting and labelling every second since the 1950s. He meets Demetrios Matsakis, the man who defined time and visits the real-life ‘Time Lords’, at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Paris to find out how they co-ordinate the world’s time and why the leap second is ‘dangerous’.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk

Jan 29 2017

28mins

Play

Rank #18: How does the Moon affect life on Earth?

Podcast cover
Read more
From worms who time their mating ritual with an inner lunar calendar, to how full moons could cause cows to give birth early. Listener Andreas sends CrowdScience on a mission to separate fact from fiction.

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Marijke Peters

Picture: The moon rises over Kadam mountain in Uganda, on January 31, 2018, during the lunar phenomenon referred to as the 'super blue blood moon'. Credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / Getty Images

Feb 16 2018

33mins

Play

Rank #19: Spider Silk and Super Fly Senses

Podcast cover
Read more
CrowdScience is uncovering the super-powers of spiders, flies and the most irritating mosquitos.
Anand Jagatia meets spider specialist Jamie Mitchells at London Zoo to find out how spiders create such vast webs and speaks to researchers in Sweden about how they are trying and succeeding in recreating spider’s silk.
Rory Galloway heads to Cambridge University’s Fly Lab to find out how their tiny brains process the world up to four times faster than humans.
And Bobbie Lakhera is at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to find out how attractive she is to mosquitos and how they use their super-senses to home-in on our blood.
Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk
Presenter: Anand Jagatia

Producer: Laura Hyde
(Image: Close-up of a Jumping Spider. Credit: Getty Images

Sep 01 2017

27mins

Play

Rank #20: How Far Can I See?

Podcast cover
Read more
How far can you see? A few kilometres down the road? Or do you struggle to see past the end of your own nose? Well one listener thinks he might be able to see 15 quintillion miles away... but can he really? Marnie Chesterton and Bobbie Lakhera are on the case for this week’s multi-question human body special. As well as delving into the power of vision, they also discover why male mammals have nipples despite not needing to breastfeed, and Marnie puts herself in a giant refrigerator in the name of finding out why some people feel the cold more than others.
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton

Producer: Anna Lacey

Jan 26 2018

26mins

Play

Introducing The Bomb

Podcast cover
Read more
Emily’s grandad worked on the bomb that fell on Hiroshima. Could another man – Leo Szilard - have stopped it? This is the new series from the BBC World Service – search for The Bomb wherever you get your podcasts.

Aug 12 2020

2mins

Play

Does air traffic affect our weather?

Podcast cover
Read more
Anyone else had their flight cancelled? The COVID 19 pandemic has had a huge impact on air travel – air traffic in 2020 is expected to be down 50 per cent on last year. But beyond the obvious disruption to business and people’s lives, how might the quieter skies affect our weather and climate?

One curious listener, Jeroen Wijnands, who lives next to Schiphol airport in the Netherlands, noticed how there were fewer clouds and barely any rainfall since the flights dropped off. Could airplanes affect our local weather?

Also, did we learn anything from another occasion when airplanes were grounded, during the post-9/11 shutdown? How will the current period impact our future climate?

Marnie Chesterton investigates this question and discovers some of the surprising effects that grounded aircraft are having: on cloud formation, forecasting and climate change.

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton, Producer: Dom Byrne

[Photo:Commercial airplane parking at the airport. Credit: Getty Images]

Aug 07 2020

33mins

Play

Why do conspiracy theories exist?

Podcast cover
Read more
Listener Avalon from Australia wants to know why people use conspiracy theories to explain shocking events. Are we more likely to believe conspiracy theories in times of adversity? What purpose do conspiracy theories serve in society?

Marnie Chesterton speaks to the scientists to explain their popularity, even in the face of seemingly irrefutable evidence.
Presented by Marnie Chesterton. Produced by Caroline Steel for the BBC World Service.

Image: All-seeing eye of God inside triangle pyramid. Credit: paseven, Getty Images

Jul 31 2020

39mins

Play

Are some soaps better than others?

Podcast cover
Read more
These days we’re more acquainted with soap than ever before, as we lather up to help stop the spread of coronavirus. And for CrowdScience listener Sharon, this set off a steady stream of soapy questions: how does soap actually work? How was it discovered in the first place, long before anyone knew anything about germs? Are different things used for washing around the world, and are some soaps better than others?
We set up a CrowdScience home laboratory to explore the soap making process with advice from science-based beauty blogger Dr Michelle Wong, and find out what it is about soap’s chemistry that gives it its germ-fighting superpowers. Soap has been around for at least 4000 years; we compare ancient soap making to modern methods, and hear about some of the soap alternatives used around the world, like the soap berries of India.

And as for the question of whether some soaps are better than others? We discover why antibacterial soaps aren’t necessarily a good idea, and why putting a toy inside a bar of soap might be more important than tweaking its ingredients.

Presented by Marnie Chesterton.
Produced by Cathy Edwards for the BBC World Service.

Image: Child with thoroughly washed hands. Credit: Getty Images.

Jul 24 2020

34mins

Play

How is human sound affecting sealife?

Podcast cover
Read more
Think of the oceans and an empty and peaceful expanse relatively untouched by humankind might come to mind. But is this peace an illusion? CrowdScience listener Dani wants to know if the noise of shipping and other human activity on the oceans is impacting on sea life.

To find out, Marnie Chesterton takes a deep dive to learn how marine animals have evolved to use sound; from navigating their environments to finding a mate or hiding from prey. She then speaks to a scientist who is using acoustic observatories to track the many ways human activity - like sonar and shipping - can interfere.

Marnie virtually visits a German lab which tests the ears of beached whales, dolphins and seals from around the world to try and ascertain whether they suffered hearing damage, and what might have caused it. What other smaller creatures are negatively impacted by underwater noise? Marnie learns that acoustic trauma is more widespread than first thought.

As human life continues to expand along ocean waters, what is being done to reduce the impact of sound? Marnie meets some of the designers at the forefront of naval architecture to see how ship design, from propellers to air bubbles and even wind powered vessels can contribute to reducing the racket in the oceans.

Presented by Marnie Chesterton.
Produced by Melanie Brown for the BBC World Service.

Main Image: The front of a humpback whale underneath the sea in Shetland Islands, Scotland, December 2016. Credit: Richard Shucksmith / Barcroft Im / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Jul 17 2020

37mins

Play

Could earthworms help transform the future of farming?

Podcast cover
Read more
Worms are not the cutest of creatures. They’re slimy, often associated with death and tend to bring on feelings of disgust in many of us. But listener Dinesh thinks they’re underrated and wants to know whether earthworms could be the key to our planet’s future agricultural success? He’s an organic farmer in India’s Tamil Nadu province who grows these annelids to add to the soil, and he wants Crowdscience to find out exactly what they’re doing.

Anand Jagatia dons his gardening gloves and digs the dirt on these remarkable creatures, discovering how they can help improve soil quality, prevent fields from becoming waterlogged, and improve microbial numbers, all of which has the potential to increase crop yield.

But he also investigates the so-called ‘earthworm dilemma’ and the idea that in some parts of the world, boreal forest worms are releasing carbon back into the atmosphere, which could have dangerous consequences for climate change.

(Photo:

Jul 10 2020

37mins

Play

Is barefoot running better?

Podcast cover
Read more
Shoes are a surprisingly recent human invention. But running isn’t. That means for most of our time on the planet, we’ve run barefoot. Today, in most countries it’s rare to see people out in public without shoes, let alone running. But might our aversion to the free foot be causing us pain?

CrowdScience mega-fan Hnin is an experienced runner, she enjoys ultra-marathons back home in Australia. But about six months ago she developed extreme foot pain, the condition ‘Plantar Fasciitis’, and this has meant she had to stop doing what she loves. She reached out to CrowdScience presenter Chhavi Sachdev, to find out if barefoot running could reduce her pain and improve her performance. Simply put, is barefoot running better?

In an attempt to find Hnin some answers, Chhavi hits the ground… running. Literally throwing off her own shoes on the streets of her home city of Mumbai, India, to see how feeling the ground can change her whole gait. And with Prof. Dan Lieberman, Chhavi learns what sets the human runner apart from other species while uncovering the strange form our feet have. She speaks with the Dr Peter Francis, a researcher whose life’s work has focused on curing the pain in his own feet and learning how to help others.
But performance is also important for runners. Biomechanics and shoe expert Dr Sharon Dixon explains how modifications to the sports-shoe are helping marathon runners set records, and blade-running athlete Kiran Kanojia shows Chhavi how the technology behind her two prosthetic legs let her emulate either natural walking or natural running.
Presented by Chhavi Sachdev
Produced by Rory Galloway

(Photo: barefoot running on beach. Credit: Getty Images)

Jul 03 2020

31mins

Play

What’s the point of blood types?

Podcast cover
Read more
If you put one person’s blood into another person , sometimes it’s fine and sometimes it’s a death sentence.

French physician Jean-Baptiste Denis discovered this when he performed the first blood transfusion back in 1667. He put the blood of a lamb into a 15-year boy. The teenager survived but Denis’s third attempt killed the patient and led to a murder charge.

In 1900, Austrian doctor Karl Landsteiner discovered the reason for this lottery – blood types. The red blood cells in our bodies are decorated with different marker molecules called antigens. These define us as A, B, AB or O blood type. And this is just one of 38 different systems for classifying our blood. CrowdScience listeners have discovered that we aren’t the only animal with blood types and want to know more.

Dogs have 12 different blood groups, so how do they cope when they need a transfusion? CrowdScience meets some very good dogs who donate a pint to the pet blood bank in return for a toy and a treat. Each pint saving up to 4 other dogs’ lives.

We also hear how examining our blood types can tell us more about our links to our ape-like cousins and how the human species spread around the world. And what about the future of blood types – can we use science, and animal blood to get around the problems of transfusions?

Producer and Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Photo: Red Blood Cells. Credit: Getty Images

Jun 26 2020

35mins

Play

Do animals have consciousness?

Podcast cover
Read more
What exactly it means to be conscious has long been a question of profound debate amongst philosophers, and more recently, scientists. There are no easy answers, and it gets even trickier when you start asking whether animals are conscious: how can you find out about their subjective experience when they can’t tell you about it?

Never afraid to tackle the impossible, CrowdScience is looking for answers after listener Natalie got in touch. She has lived with her cat for years and has a strong sense that he has thoughts and feelings: he has his own personality, acts in complex ways, and even has ‘grumpy days’. But is this consciousness? Is there any way of scientifically testing for it? How different from our own inner world is that of a cat, an octopus, or a bumblebee? And if we can find any answers to these puzzling questions, how does that affect the way we treat animals - not just our pets, but all the animals we share our planet with?

We meet Natalie and her cat, and discover how scientists have explored the minds of pigs, cows and cuttlefish. Helping us ponder the elusive question of animal consciousness are philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith, neuroscientist Anil Seth, animal welfare expert Donald Broom, ethicist Jessica Pierce, and comparative psychologist Alex Schnell.

Featuring David Seddon as the voice of Chicco the Cat.

Presented by Anand Jagatia and Produced by Cathy Edwards for BBC World Service.

(Photo: Black Cat. Credit: Getty Images)

Jun 19 2020

36mins

Play

Were my atoms once your atoms?

Podcast cover
Read more
We were bowled over by a question from one CrowdScience listener in Australia wants to know how likely it is that the atoms in his body have been used in someone else’s body? We all like to think we are unique; no one is quite like us. But is that really true?

Presenter Marnie Chesterton tackles Moshe’s question with help from every area of science. From geologists helping us work out how many atoms are on the Earth’s surface to biologists helping us work out how many atoms each body uses. Perhaps we are much less special than we think.

Presented by Marnie Chesterton. Produced by Caroline Steel for the BBC World Service.

(Photo:

Jun 12 2020

36mins

Play

Would you risk your life to save another?

Podcast cover
Read more
Have you ever broken up a fight? Or pushed someone out the way of an oncoming vehicle, only to be hit by it yourself? Most of us probably haven’t taken as many risks as listener Alix, who has put herself in peril to save strangers on several occasions, and she wants Crowdscience to investigate why. At a time when medical professionals have to weigh up the personal dangers of working on the frontline of the Coronavirus crisis, it’s a particularly timely question. Marnie Chesterton finds out why it’s a good thing that children push the boundaries of what’s safe during playtime, because it makes them less anxious adults. And she questions the existence of the so-called bystander effect, discovering how evolution has ensured we’re a much braver species than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. But she hears from some social scientists who say there’s no such thing as a ‘hero’, however likely they are to intervene to help others.

The virtual reality experience in this programme was created by the Human-Computer Interaction Lab of the University of Udine, Italy

This programme has been updated since its original publication to correct an editorial error.

Presented by Marnie Chesterton
Produced by Marijke Peters

Jun 10 2020

32mins

Play

Why can’t you tickle yourself?

Podcast cover
Read more
This week the kids take over. Our younger listeners are as curious as their parents, it seems, so presenter Marnie Chesterton seeks out the finest minds and attempts to answer a raft of their science questions, including why can’t you tickle yourself? Why don’t our eyebrows grow as long as the hair on our heads?

Not content with humankind, these whizz kids have been pondering deeply about other animals. Ava, 9, from the UK wants to know if any other animals kill for fun, like some humans do.

Not limited by planet Earth, these little thinkers have been contemplating even weightier questions. Joshua, 13, from Kenya wonders if our Solar System rotates around anything. And Seattle-based Michael, 10, puzzles over what would happen if a black hole collided with a wormhole.

These and other mysteries are uncovered by Marnie and her experts.

Presenters: Marnie Chesterton & Arlo Byrne
Producer: Dom Byrne

[Photo: Children Tickling each other, Adorable laughter. Credit: Getty Images]

May 29 2020

45mins

Play

How does a language begin?

Podcast cover
Read more
There are over 7000 living languages on earth today. These mutually unintelligible means of communication are closely associated with different groups' identities. But how does a new language start out? That’s what listener BK wants to know. BK lives on one of the islands of the Philippines, where he speaks three languages fluently and has noticed there is a different language on almost every island.
Presenter Anand Jagatia finds language experts from around the world who tell him about the many different ways that languages can form. Professor Dan Everett explains that languages naturally change over centuries to the point they are mutually unintelligible, and Quentin Everett describes how his research has identified striking similarities between biological, and linguistic evolution. Sally Thomason, Professor of linguistics in the USA tells us about the more unusual ways that languages can form through contact, or purposeful distancing measures, and Anand speaks with a producer of the BBC’s Pidgin service, about how the contact language nigerian pidgin may be developing into an official language West Africa. Finally, the inventor of a constructed language from the movie Avatar, tells CrowdScience what he has learned about language by creating the fully functional Na’vi language from scratch, and what Na’vi’s adoption by speakers around the world can tell us about the importance of language for creating community.
Hearing from different languages from around the world through the programme, CrowdScience get to grips with the many ways new languages can form.
Presented by Anand Jagatia,
Produced by Rory Galloway

(Photo: Chalk board of languages, Credit: Getty Images)

May 22 2020

30mins

Play

Does my toilet make sense?

Podcast cover
Read more
Despite being a universal need, talking about our toilet use and the infrastructure that aids us remains somewhat taboo. Whilst sectors like telecommunications and computing have undergone rapid transformations over the past century, the flush toilet and wastewater system have mostly remained unchanged.

CrowdScience listeners Linda and Allison wonder if flush toilets – and the clean water used to wash waste away - make economic or environmental sense. So CrowdScience presenter Marnie Chesterton looks under the toilet lid, to probe (in a sanitary fashion) whether our sewerage systems and plumbed toilets are fit for purpose. In a future where population growth and climate change are likely to affect water demands, can we continue to use clean water to dispose of our waste and should the developing world be emulating this model?

Around 2 billion people don’t have access to proper toilets or latrines, risking serious health consequences. Marnie investigates how countries without comprehensive sewerage infrastructure deal with human waste and how science is providing novel ways to dispose of - and use – human waste. Marnie speaks to a Kenyan scientist using poo-eating fly larvae to process faeces and a North American scientist who is developing a smart-toilet she hopes will monitor our health through sampling our daily movements. Are we ready to break taboos to innovate our toilet habits?

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Melanie Brown

(Image: Man looking at toilet. Credit: Getty Images)

May 15 2020

39mins

Play

What is the smallest particle?

Podcast cover
Read more
What is the smallest particle of matter? How does radiation affect our bodies? And, how is particle physics useful in our everyday lives?

CrowdScience takes on particle physics questions from listeners all over the world. Marnie Chesterton and Anand Jagatia get help from particle physicists from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and medical physicist Heather Williams.
Presented by Marnie Chesterton and Anand Jagatia
Produced by Cathy Edwards, Jen Whyntie and Louisa Field
(Photo: Particle collider, Credit: Getty IMages)

May 08 2020

31mins

Play

How do I learn maths when school’s shut?

Podcast cover
Read more
What’s the importance of zero, and how was it discovered? How do scientists calculate Pi’s infinite digits? Why do so many people find maths difficult – and what’s the most difficult thing in maths?

CrowdScience takes on a whole bunch of questions sent in by high school students in Spain. Like many children all over the world, their school is currently closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, but lessons continue at home. So how are their studies going, and can CrowdScience help out?

We attempt to answer some of their trickiest maths questions, with the help of mathematicians Katie Steckles and Matt Parker, and mathematical biologist Kit Yates.

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton.

Producer: Cathy Edwards

(Photo: A boy studying. Credit: Getty Images)

May 01 2020

34mins

Play

Why do you sweat more than me?

Podcast cover
Read more
If you're an exercise fan, you'll know that sweating is how our bodies keep us cool, but how much water we lose and which bits of us get wettest depend on a whole host of factors.

Jamaican listener Andre wants to know why he sweats in a heart-shape when he hits the gym, and we find out how everything from the clothes he wears to the moves he's doing explain his unusual perspiration patterns.

In Kenya we meet a woman whose permanently clammy hands cause her to drop her mobile phone, and sweaty feet start to stink when she spends too long in shoes.

Hyperhidrosis is a condition affecting millions of people worldwide but an expert explains some of the treatments for this mysterious condition.

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Marijke Peters

Image Credit: Getty Images

Apr 24 2020

33mins

Play

What makes a spider spin a web?

Podcast cover
Read more
If you have ever watched a spider as it works to build a web, spiralling inwards with a thread of silk, that intersects each glistening spoke with a precise touch of the foot, you will know that it is a remarkably complex behaviour. In this episode, presenter Geoff Marsh dives into the minds of spider-constructors as they build their webs.

CrowdScience listener Daan asked us to find out how spiders can build webs without ever being taught how to do it. Are they just little robots controlled entirely by their genetic instructions?

Spider silk expert Dr Beth Mortimer, describes the process of building a web in detail, while Professor Iain Couzin explains the simple modular behaviours that build up, in sequence, to create apparently complex instincts, like the huge locust swarms that are sweeping across vast areas of Africa and Arabia.

Taking us deep under the exoskeletons of invertebrates, Professor Gene Robinson reveals an animal's behaviours can be altered by their genes, and the root similarity between learning and instincts. Spiders, despite their tiny size, have fascinating behaviours. Some jumping spiders can work out the best way out of a maze, and one arachnologist reveals how some social spiders can cooperate to build communal webs and capture moths that are many times their size.

Geoff searches for the science that can reveal how instinct can create complex behaviour by setting up interviews at the homes of spider experts from around the world.

Presented by Geoff Marsh. Produced by Rory Galloway for BBC World Service.

Image: European garden spider, Araneus diadematus hanging in the web. Photo by: Michael Siluk / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Apr 23 2020

26mins

Play

How can I reduce stress?

Podcast cover
Read more
Listener Keith from Lincolnshire wants to know how to reduce stress as he is under extreme pressure as a firefighter. Not only does he have to cope with the stress of responding to emergency situations but he has to do it while wearing challenging breathing equipment.

We all experience times of stress, especially given the current situation, our chest starts to feel tight and our breathing becomes shallow. Claudia Hammond – presenter of BBC World Service programme Health Check – explains steps we can take to protect our mental health during this pandemic.

How should we alter our breathing to manage stress? Presenter Anand Jagatia speaks to breathing experts to find techniques to help listener Keith, and everyone else.

Presented by Anand Jagatia. Produced by Caroline Steel for BBC World Service.

Apr 10 2020

26mins

Play

Will a placebo boost my sports performance?

Podcast cover
Read more
In medicine, it’s long been recognised that a placebo, a sham medicine or treatment, can have a powerful positive effect on a patient’s health. Part of that effect relies on a person’s belief that an inactive substance or treatment (for example, a sugar pill) is in fact an active drug. Placebos come in many forms, and the scientific study of placebo is an active area of research.

With this in mind, CrowdScience listener Nigel got in touch to ask if can placebos be used to improve sports performance. As an amateur sports enthusiast, he’s been reading up on his sports psychology to try and improve his game, but he wonders if any coaches or psychologists use placebos to improve performance? Always ready to take up a challenge, presenter Anand Jagatia explores the world of endurance sport to find out how a placebo might used to improve athletes’ performances, as well as his own, and look at how advances in brain science are helping us understand the unusual neurobiology of placebo.

And what of the amateur golfer, or rugby or table tennis player - can a placebo help? On an individual level, so called ‘verbal placebo’ is a technique that can help players with anxiety, confidence and concentration, and ultimately make them win more. And what about team sports? When, say, a new manager takes over at an ailing football club, and sparks a massive reversal in poor results, is that a placebo effect in action? The CrowdScience team investigates.

Produced by Dom Byrne, presented by Anand Jagatia.

Apr 03 2020

26mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

176 Ratings
Average Ratings
144
18
7
2
5

Great podcast!

By Mohsenp - Oct 19 2019
Read more
Thanks a million for your podcast!

Vegan diet.

By Radical Linguist - Oct 03 2019
Read more
Open-minded, and always with a genuine spirit of exploration.