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Rank #122 in Science category

Science

BBC Inside Science

Updated 2 months ago

Rank #122 in Science category

Science
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Dr Adam Rutherford and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

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Dr Adam Rutherford and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

iTunes Ratings

176 Ratings
Average Ratings
134
24
8
5
5

Where is Adam?

By idontwantanavatar - Apr 09 2020
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I love this podcast! Where has Adam Rutherford gone though?

All episodes

By Voles Rule - May 30 2019
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Brilliant, clear and concise, a must listen for scientists and non-scientists

iTunes Ratings

176 Ratings
Average Ratings
134
24
8
5
5

Where is Adam?

By idontwantanavatar - Apr 09 2020
Read more
I love this podcast! Where has Adam Rutherford gone though?

All episodes

By Voles Rule - May 30 2019
Read more
Brilliant, clear and concise, a must listen for scientists and non-scientists
Cover image of BBC Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

Latest release on Aug 13, 2020

All 300 episodes from oldest to newest

Land use and zoonoses, California's earthquake risk and the Tuatara genome

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COVID19 is a chilling reminder of how pathogens from animals can jump into humans. But it’s not the first time. SARS, Ebola, West Nile virus and bubonic plague are all serious infectious diseases that sat in a host species before crossing to us. But what causes this to happen? Individual case studies suggest that we are partly to blame in the way we use the land, either through urbanisation or agriculture. But how widespread is this, and do our global patterns of land use systematically put us at risk? Adam talks to environmental biologist David Redding from the Zoological Society of London, and his team, whose new study suggests they do.

Jessica Bradford, the Keeper of Collection Engagement at the Science Museum, asks for your help with another mystery object that they’ve uncovered during their recent collection move.

Roland Pease reports on the chain of interconnected faults which has stimulated Los Angeles' preparation for “the big one”, after southern California was hit by one of the biggest earthquakes in the area for decades.

Adam also asks Neil Gemmell from the University of Otago in New Zealand about the weird and wonderful Tuatara, whose colossal genome he’s just sequenced.

Presenter: Adam Rutherford
Producer: Beth Eastwood

Aug 13 2020

27mins

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How sperm swim, the theory of soil & the Big Compost Experiment update

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Adam reveals new research which overturns received wisdom about how sperm swim. More than three centuries after Antonie van Leeuwenhoek peered down his early microscope to observe human sperm or ‘animalcules’ swimming with a ‘snakelike movement, like eels in water’, high-tech observations now reveal that this was, in fact, an optical illusion.

Hermes Gadelha from Bristol University used 3D microscopy, a high-speed camera and mathematics, to reconstruct the true movement of the sperm tail. Much to his amazement, sperm have a highly sophisticated way of rolling as they swim. They do this to counter the numerous irregularities in their morphology which would otherwise send them swimming in circles. In doing so, they are able to propel themselves forwards. This highly complex set of movements, seen in 3D, is obscured in 2D when sperm appear to use a symmetrical eel-like motion to swim.

Also on the programme, Adam gets an update from Mark Miodownik on the Big Compost Experiment, the citizen science project that wants to know what you compost, how you do it and, most importantly, how quickly the stuff breaks down. Mark reveals how confused participants are, about what they can compost, and explains why items marked ‘compostable’ or biodegradable’ won’t compost at home.

Staying with soil, healthy soil is being lost at an alarming rate due to intensive agricultural practices. In England and Wales, a recent survey found that nearly forty percent of arable soils were degraded. Inside Science reporter Madeleine Findlay visits Andrew Neil from Rothamsted Research who has devised a new way of thinking about soil. They’ve solved the mystery of why adding carbon through organic material, like compost, improves soil health.

PRODUCERS: Beth Eastwood & Fiona Roberts

Aug 06 2020

28mins

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Science Museum mystery objects; home security camera security and Rosalind Franklin at 100

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The Science Museum Group looks after over 7.3 million items. As with most museums, the objects you see on display when you visit are only the tip of the iceberg of the entire collection. Up until now, many of the remaining 300,000 objects have been stored in Blythe House in London. But now the collection is being moved to a purpose-built warehouse in Wiltshire. The move is a perfect opportunity for curators to see what’s there, re-catalogue long hidden gems and to conserve and care for their treasures. But during the process they have discovered a number of unidentified items that have been mislabelled or not catalogued properly in the past and some of them are just so mysterious, or esoteric, that the Science Museum needs the aid of the public to help identify them, and their uses. We’ll be showcasing items over the next weeks and months, but this week, Jessica Bradford, the keeper of collection engagement at the Science Museum is asking Inside Science listeners if they recognise, or can shed light on the possible use of the ‘scoop’ in the picture above.
Send suggestions to Email: bbcinsidescience@bbc.co.uk or mysteryobject@sciencemuseum.ac.uk

People install and use home security cameras for peace of mind. But the very behaviour of the commonly used IP home security cameras (internet-connected security cameras) could be giving away important information about your household to potential burglars. Gareth Tyson, at Queen Mary University London, has been working with researchers in China to explore how we use these home security camera systems and to look for flaws in the security of security cameras.

Last Saturday, 25th July, was a hundred years since the birth of chemist Rosalind Franklin. She is perhaps most famous for her work using X-ray crystallography which helped lead to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, a contribution for which she was not credited at the time. But there’s so much more to the scientific story of her life than just being the wronged woman in the DNA story, who died tragically young at the age of just 37. She pioneered work in the coal industry and on the structure of viruses, including the polio virus. And Franklin’s work has resonance today, in this era of COVID-19. Baroness Nicola Blackwood, chair of Genomics England thinks Rosalind Franklin’s legacy is something we should be very proud of today.

Presenter - Gareth Mitchell
Producers - Fiona Roberts and Beth Eastwood

Jul 30 2020

31mins

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Pre-prints over peer review during the COVID pandemic and roads and birds

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A pre-print is a way for scientists to get their work out quickly for other scientists to comment on and debate. But pre-prints are not peer reviewed; they have not undergone the scrutiny of reviewers and journal editors. They're generally seen as a good thing, but are just a step on the way for science to be verified and published. But it's important to note that the science can be wrong or sloppy in pre-prints, so they have never really been part of the process by which science is disseminated to the general public. That is, until the COVID pandemic. The speed at which the science can be shared has led to pre-prints becoming more and more scrutinised by journalists and used to inform the public about this terrible disease. Fiona Fox, CEO of the Science Media Centre, which is an independent press office for the scientific community, discusses the potential pitfalls of using pre-prints with Adam Rutherford and with Dr Jonathan Read from Lancaster University, who himself got caught up in a pre-print firestorm at the start of the pandemic.

The UK has the 12th highest road density in the world, but very little is known about the impact of roads on our wildlife. Now conservation scientists are starting to look at their effects on our bird populations. They call it ‘road exposure’ because they can’t directly measure the impact of road noise, but the noise pollution aspect is very much to the fore. Cambridge University's Sophia Cook has found that roads have a mostly negative effect on most birds in Great Britain. And with that negative effect being stronger in rarer birds this could be adding to the 'simplification' of bird populations and a reduction in biodiversity.

Presenter - Adam Rutherford
Producers - Fiona Roberts and Beth Eastwood

#bbcinsidescience

Jul 23 2020

31mins

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Science Fraud & Bias, Immunity to COVID-19

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Science is all about self-reflection. Scientists constantly check themselves, share their work, and check each other’s data. But how robust is the science upon which civilisation is built, the science which has mapped genomes, cured diseases, split atoms and sent people to the moon?

Adam talks to Stuart Ritchie, a psychologist from Kings College London, about his new book Science Fictions which explores everything from biases and human fallibility, to outright fraud. He also talks to microbiologist turned image sleuth, Elisabeth Bik, whose work is revealing that manipulated images appear in scientific papers shockingly often.

Now we are several months into the COVID pandemic, scientists are beginning to share their first insights into whether people retain immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after they've had the disease COVID-19. At Kings College London, Senior Lecturer in Infectious Diseases, Katie Doores and her team tracked the antibody levels over the first months after infection with COVID-19. Their first preprint findings suggest a worrying pattern – antibodies against the virus begin to wane within months of being infected. However it is too early to say if and when a person who’s had COVID-19 could be vulnerable to reinfection. Early findings from Marcus Buggert, at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, suggest that another part of the immune system, the memory T-cells, are active in those who have had the disease, even if they lack antibodies against the virus.

Producers: Beth Eastwood & Fiona Roberts

Jul 16 2020

28mins

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Satellite navigation in the UK; the science of the World Wide Web and Neolithic genomics

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Is the UK losing its way when it comes to satellite navigation? There's GPS from the US, but other countries and regions, including Russia, China, India and Japan, either have, or are building, satellite navigation systems of their own. The EU has Galileo, but with Brexit, Britain is no longer involved. The Government has announced that it’s just acquired a satellite technology company called OneWeb. It’s primary role is enhanced broadband, but there’s talk of adding in a navigation function to the constellation of satellites. But how feasible will that be?

In an era of cyber-crime, misinformation, disinformation, state-sponsored attacks on rival countries’ infrastructure, government-imposed internet shutdowns in places like Eritrea and Kashmir, the World Wide Web is an increasingly dark and troubled place. Making sense of how the internet has changed from the democratic, sharing, open platform it was designed to be, and predicting what’s next, are the web scientists. Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and a co-founder of the whole field of web science, is hosting an online, annual conference this week. The theme this year is 'Making the web human-centric'.

Communal burial sites tend to suggest an egalitarian society, where everyone is considered equal. And this is what we expected the Neolithic societies that spread across Europe with the birth of agriculture around 6000 years ago would be. But DNA evidence from a single human, NG10, buried in 3200 B.C.E in the vast tomb of Newgrange, 25 miles north of Dublin, in Ireland, shows very strong inbreeding. Couple this with the fact the body was buried and not cremated and placed in a highly adorned chamber. Does this indicate an elite ruling class where marrying one’s close kin was the order of the day? Dr. Lara Cassidy, palaeogeneticist at Trinity College Dublin, decoded NG10’s DNA and she tells Adam Rutherford the story.

Presenter - Gareth Mitchell
Producers - Fiona Roberts and Beth Eastwood

Jul 09 2020

33mins

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Preventing pandemics, invading alien species, blood types & COVID-19.

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As we’re beginning to understand more about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, we’re hopefully starting to get some clues on how to deal with the next viral pandemics, and even look at ways of stopping them from happening. To do this, we have to go back to where the virus jumped from its animal host into humans. Like this current coronavirus, many of the pandemic viruses (SARS, MERS HIV, Ebola…to name a few) are zoonotic diseases. They start in wild animals and evolve to jump to humans (sometimes via another animal species). It’s not the animal’s fault. It’s evolution. But has our tangled, often exploitative relationship with wild animals made it harder to stop future pandemics? A paper just published asks these questions and tries to figure out how to prevent future zoonotic epidemics. Dr. Silviu Petrovan (Researcher in the Department of Zoology in Cambridge) and Associate Professor Alice Hughes (Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences) highlight some of the 161 possible actions we should be taking to protect ourselves from the next pandemic.

The current pandemic may have curtailed a lot of holiday plans but we are still more global than ever before. Food is coming to the UK from all over the world. With movement comes the opportunity for unwelcome hitchhikers to tag along. A new study, published in Biological Reviews, by a team of researchers from 13 different countries warns that alien species invasions are on the rise. Professor Tim Blackburn from University College London talks to Marnie about this increasing threat.

Also on the programme, inspired by a listener question, Marnie asks whether there's any truth behind the idea that susceptibility to COVID-19 could be linked to blood type. Associate Professor of Venom Pharmacology at Reading University, Dr Sakthivel Vaiyapuri, explains what the science says so far.

Producers: Fiona Roberts & Beth Eastwood

Jul 02 2020

28mins

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The Human Genome Project's 20th Anniversary

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Adam Rutherford is back to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most ambitious and revolutionary scientific endeavours of all time - the Human Genome Project.

Its scope and scale was breath-taking, set up to read every one of the 3 billion nucleotides, or letters of genetic information, contained within the DNA in every cell of the human body. It took seven years, hundreds of scientists, cost almost $3 billion and, amazingly, came in under budget and on time.

Adam reflects back on that momentous time with Ewan Birney, Director of the European Bio-informatics Institute, part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Twenty years ago, he was a PhD student working on the project, in the months leading up to the first draft.

The Human Genome Project underpins many branches of science, from human evolution and synthetic biology to forensic genetics and ancestry testing. But a key motivation for the project was to alleviate human suffering. While the ‘cures’, hyped by the media back in 2000, were not realistic our understanding of disease has been revolutionised.

Adam talks to Cancer Research UK Scientist, Dr Serena Nik-Zainal, from Cambridge University, who explains why the sequencing of the human genome has been so crucial to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The Human Genome Project is also playing a crucial role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Kenneth Baillie has been treating critically ill patients at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary since the pandemic started. As the Lead on GenOMICC, a global collaboration on genetics and critical illness, he has joined forces with Genomics England and the NHS, to pinpoint genetic signals in these patients to help identify the best treatments.

Producers: Beth Eastwood & Fiona Roberts

Jun 25 2020

32mins

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Coronavirus conspiracy, Listeners' mask questions, Solar Orbiter gets close to the Sun

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Throughout the pandemic, we've seen an explosion in information about the science of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, COVID-19. An article online, or a text forwarded, could be true and sounds about right, but how do you know that it's accurate? When scrolling through your social feed, how do you decipher fact from fiction? A new report, by Kings College London and Ipsos MORI, reveals that those of us who get our news from social media are more likely to believe misinformation about the pandemic.

Marnie talks to Jack Goodman of the Anti-Disinformation Unit at BBC Online, a new team set up to tackle the problem. She finds out how science fact turns to science fiction online, and what the team is doing to try to counter this.

Now that wearing face masks are now mandatory in a number of situations, a lot of us are making our own. BBC Inside Science listeners sent in lots of ideas about the design, maintenance and durability of face masks, and other ways to protect against spreading the coronavirus. We asked Professor of Materials & Society at UCL Mark Miodownik in to comment.

In February this year, the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter, SolO, successfully launched, escaping this planet before most of us went into lock-down.
Professor Lucie Green from the Mullard Space Science Lab at University College London, is a solar scientist and part of the team that will be using a telescope to take images of the Sun in extreme ultraviolet light. The orbiter is now in it’s ‘Cruise Phase’ which means most of its instruments have now been tested and calibrated, but aren’t yet up and running. One instrument that has been operational since just after launch is the magnetometer, which will collect data on the Sun’s complex and dynamic magnetic field.

Presenter - Marnie Chesterton
Producers - Fiona Roberts and Beth Eastwood

Jun 18 2020

40mins

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Engineering out of lockdown and should we castrate male dogs?

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As the UK gradually begins to ease out of lockdown, Marnie explores how engineers are hoping to reduce the spread of Covid-19. We’ve learned how infected people exhale droplets and aerosols, containing the virus, and how we can then either inhale them, or transfer them to our faces by touching contaminated surfaces. Many shops already have screens and physical barriers, while schools and offices are re-configuring desks and walkways.

What role does the environment play in our overall risk of becoming infected and what can we do about it? This is the focus of the SAGE Environmental Working Group. Marnie talks to its Chair, Catherine Noakes, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at Leeds University. Minimising the risks that contaminated surfaces pose is a key challenge that engineers are now trying to address. Marnie asks Birmingham University Research Scientist, Felicity de Cogan, about the surface she created which kills bacteria in seconds. She's now re-purposing the technology to kill the virus that causes Covid-19. If her laboratory studies prove that it kills the virus as quickly, as she hopes, the technology could be used to create antiviral PPE that can be re-used rather than thrown away.

Epidemiology has been thrust into the spotlight in recent months, helping us track the viral threat facing all of us. But companion animal epidemiology - which studies disease in pet populations - is a much younger field. It’s one that’s starting to search for the answers to another puppy-related conundrum that’s been puzzling BBC Inside Science reporter Geoff Marsh - should he get puppy Kevin castrated? Neutering has become a cultural norm in the UK. But the health risks to neutered male dogs include cancers and joint disorders in some breeds. The operation and anaesthetic carries some risk as does the age of the dog when the operation is carried out. The risk of dog populations exploding with hundreds of un-neutered dogs is low, because most owners control their dogs to such a degree the chance of unplanned mating doesn't come up. But neutering can help with some behavioural problems in pet dogs. So what is the answer? Will Kevin remain intact?

Presenter - Marnie Chesterton
Producers - Beth Eastwood and Fiona Roberts

Jun 11 2020

28mins

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