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Making the UK's dams safe, AI spots fake smiles, How many trees should we be planting?


Episode description

In the light of the evacuation of the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge due to damage to the Todbrook reservoir dam and the threat of a catastrophic collapse, questions inevitably arise as to how ‘future proofed’ UK dams are? This is doubly worrying in light of climate change and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events. With the average age of UK dams being over 100 years and the UK climate forecast to become wetter and warmer, should we be concerned? Gareth Mitchell speaks to Rachel Pether from the British Dam Society and Craig Goff, Technical Lead, Dams and Reservoirs from HR Wallingford, who explain the science and engineering involved in monitoring and safely managing UK dams in a changing climate.

When someone smiles at you, how can you tell whether that smile is genuine or fake and why would you want to know? According to Professor of visual computing at the University of Bradford, Hassan Ugail, it’s all in the eyes! Humans are notoriously bad at picking up fake smiles, because we tend to focus our vision on the upturned corners of the mouth. Focus on specific movement of the eyes and the dynamic progression of a smile, however, and that’s when a genuine smile is evident. Hassan explains how computers are over 90% successful at being able to detect fake smiles, and examines the purposes to which this facial recognition technology may be applied in our daily lives.

Inside Science listener, Thomas from New Zealand, has noticed the sudden surge in nations encouraging mass tree planting and reforestation. But how much of a difference is it all making? Professor of Agriculture, policy and development at the University of Reading Dr Martin Lukac discusses the impacts of, the soot and ash from the recent forest fires in Siberia, deforestation and even makes an educated guess at much forest you would have to plant to counteract the CO2 emissions emitted after using your family car for the year.

Producer - Fiona Roberts

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Creation of island Britain, Sleep gene, Mary Kelly forensics, Global Tree Search survey

April 6th, 2017


Adam Rutherford examines a new study published this week which reveals how a megaflood and giant waterfalls severed our connection to what is now …

Climate change and extreme weather; Primate brain size; Earthquake forecasting; Planet 9

March 30th, 2017


Following yesterday's US House Committee on Science,Space,and Technology's controversial hearing on scientific method and climate change, Adam …

Comet 67P images; Etna eruption; Brain navigation; Octopus intelligence

March 23rd, 2017


The recent Rosetta mission to image and land a probe on a comet was an astounding achievement. Rosetta took thousands of photos mapping the entire surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko , as it dramatically changed …

Boaty McBoatface in Antarctica, Aeroplane biofuels, Bakhshali manuscript, Goldilocks zones

March 16th, 2017


The submarine famously named Boaty McBoatface is deployed this week for its first mission to examine a narrow submarine gap in the South Atlantic. Mike Meredith of the British Antarctic Survey tells Adam Rutherford how …

Rise of the Robots: 3. Where is my mind?

March 15th, 2017


From Skynet and the Terminator franchise, through Wargames and Ava in Ex Machina, artificial intelligences pervade our cinematic experiences. But AIs are already in the real world, answering our questions on our phones …

Cells and Celluloid: Aliens on Film

March 9th, 2017


With Adam Rutherford and Francine Stock.

Rise of the Robots: 2. More human than human

March 6th, 2017


Adam Rutherford explores our relationship with contemporary humanoid robots

Rise of the Robots: 1. The history of things to come

March 3rd, 2017


The idea of robots goes back to the Ancient Greeks. In myths Hephaestus, the god of fire, created robots to assist in his workshop. In the medieval period the wealthy showed off their automata. In France in the 15th …

Earth's Earliest Life, The Benefits of Pollution, Sexuality and Science and New ideas on Evolution

March 2nd, 2017


The World's oldest sedimentary rocks reveal traces of our earliest ancestors. New analysis shows life forms existed more than 3.7 billion years ago …

The perils of fake science news, The neanderthal inside us, What The Beatles really sang - statistically speaking

February 23rd, 2017


A woolly story about resurrecting mammoths raises serious questions for medical ethics. News of a scientist's plan to resurrect mammoths has spread …

Science and cyber security, Dinosaur babies, Winston Churchill and level crossings

February 16th, 2017


Testing cyber security with science. The UK now has a new National Cyber Security Centre. However there is very little scientific evidence against which to test the detection of cyber attacks and effectiveness of …

Measuring human impact on earth, Awards for engineers, Sounds of space junk.

February 9th, 2017


Quantifying the impact of humanity on the earth's natural systems. Why human activity now has a larger effect on our planet than the forces of nature. We look at how mathematical equations can now be used to compare …

Wildlife trafficking, New quantum computers, Ancient bird beaks, Glassblowing.

February 2nd, 2017


Conservation and conflict. A year long BBC investigation has exposed an illegal animal trafficking network stretching from West Africa to the Middle East and Asia. Traffickers have used fake permits to undermine …

Crime, volcanoes, ghosts and how we are influenced by the genes of unrelated others

January 26th, 2017


The genes of unrelated others can influence our health and behaviour. New research suggests the genetic make up of our partners can have a profound influence on our lives. Scientists have quantified genetic influence , …

Antarctic science rescue, Killing cancer with viruses, Measuring wind from space and the Last man on the moon

January 19th, 2017


Why the British Antarctic science base is being temporarily abandoned. New cracks have appeared in the Ice shelf on which the Halley research station sits.

The promise of viro-therapy for treating cancer. Scientists have …

The perils of explaining science, Living to 500, What's good for your teeth and The future of stargazing

January 12th, 2017


Why the simplest explanations are not always the best when it comes to science. Where you read about a scientific subject can affect not just what you learn but also how much you think you know about the subject.

Quahogs …

RIP Granny the oldest Orca - Graphene + Silly Putty - Moving a Giant Magnet - Space in 2017

January 5th, 2017


The world's oldest known killer whale is presumed dead. At an estimated age of 100 years, 'Granny' was last seen with her family in October. The …

Listeners' Questions

December 29th, 2016


Adam Rutherford puts listeners' science questions to his team of experts: physicist Helen Czerski, cosmologist Andrew Pontzen and biologist Yan Wong. …

Inuits and Denisovans, Sex and woodlice, Peace through particle physics, Caspar the octopus in peril?

December 22nd, 2016


Can Inuit people survive the Arctic cold thanks to deep past liaisons with another species? Adam Rutherford talks to geneticist Rasmus Nielsen who …

Rock traces of life on Mars, Desert fireball network, Gut microbes and Parkinson's Disease, Science Museum's maths exhibition

December 8th, 2016


Could rocks studied by the Mars rover Spirit in Gusev Crater in 2007 contain the hallmarks of ancient life? Geologist Steve Ruff of Arizona State …

Alzheimers research, Lucy in the Scanner, Smart bandages, From supernovae to Hollywood

December 1st, 2016


Alzheimers disease is now the leading cause of death in the UK, but there are as yet no treatments to halt or reverse it. There was huge disappointment last week when the drug company Eli Lilly announced that a large, …

Predator bacteria therapy, New money for UK science, Stick-on stethoscope, Taming fears in the brain scanner

November 24th, 2016


Bdellovibrio is a small bacterium which preys and kills other bacteria. A team of researchers in the UK has shown in animal experiments that …

Does Pluto have an ocean, Antarctica's oldest ice, Meat emissions, Swifts fly ten months non-stop

November 17th, 2016


Does the distant dwarf planet Pluto have an ocean beneath its thick crust of ice? It's certainly possible, according to a group of researchers who are analysing the data from the New Horizons Pluto flyby last year. They …

Climate change questions, Animal computer interaction, Sounds and meaning across world's languages

November 10th, 2016


Climate change is in the news this week. The international Paris agreement to curb global temperature rise has just come into effect but President …

Italy's quakes, Ebola virus, Accidental rocket fuel, China in space

November 3rd, 2016


In the past three months, central Italy has been shaken by several large earthquakes. The quake near Norcia on 30th October was the most powerful for …

Making mozzies safe with a microbe, CO2 at 400 ppm, Chixculub crater rocks, Why Mars Lander failed

October 27th, 2016


Adam Rutherford meets the Australian scientist behind a radical new technique to prevent mosquitoes from spreading the zika and dengue fever viruses …

HFC Ban; Human Cell Atlas; Origin of Hunting with Dogs

October 20th, 2016


Biologists are to begin a 10 year international project to map the multitude of different kinds of cell in the human body. The average adult is built …

Life on Mars? Quantum Gravity. The deep origins of bird song

October 13th, 2016


Mars is about to be visited by the first space mission for 40 years which is designed to seek signs of life on the Red Planet. Adam Rutherford talks to Dr Manish Patel of the Open University, a senior scientist on the …

Microbead impact, Remote animal logging, Royal Society book prize, Surgewatch

September 8th, 2016


The government has announced that tiny pieces of plastic in personal beauty products that end up in the oceans will be banned from sale in the UK.
But …

Proxima b exoplanet, The Hunt for Vulcan, East Antarctic lakes, Deep sea shark hunting

August 25th, 2016


The nearest habitable world beyond our Solar System might be right on our doorstep . Scientists say their investigations of our closest star, Proxima …

Autonomous cars, Bees and neonicotinoids, Marden Henge, Royal Society Book Prize

August 18th, 2016


Ford has just announced that by 2021 it's going to have a driverless car on the road with no steering wheel. It sounds ambitious, since it is the …

Blow to the LHC "bump", Crow intelligence, Robot mudskippers, Royal Society book prize

August 11th, 2016


New results have squashed the hope that the hints of a new particle detected by the Large Hadron Collider would confirm the existence of something …

Signs of life on planets, Royal Society Book Prize, Queen Bee control, Galactic Prom 29

August 4th, 2016


What should we be looking for when searching for life on other planets beyond our solar system? Scientists urgently need to come to a consensus on …

Dinosaur extinction, Neanderthals in Gibraltar, Music appreciation, A year of New Horizons

July 14th, 2016


The dinosaurs met their end with a massive bang when, 66 million years ago, a 6 mile-wide rock crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. This was bad news for …

Juno, Space debris, Fake tumours, Risky plants

July 7th, 2016


Earlier this week, the US space agency successfully put a new probe in orbit around Jupiter. The Juno satellite, which left Earth five years ago, had …

Juno, Nanotech art conservation, Robots fix the city, Eel conservation

June 30th, 2016


NASA's Juno Probe arrives at Jupiter on 4th July, where it will execute a daring loop-the-loop in order to get closer to the giant planet than any …

National Insect Week, Venus' electric field, Green mining, Wimbledon grass science

June 23rd, 2016


This week is National Insect Week. Almost all animals on Earth are insects, and entomologist Adam Hart told us why we're celebrating and studying …

More gravitational waves; Ocean floor mapping; Selfish Gene 40th; Spoonies

June 16th, 2016


Gravitational waves have been detected for a second time. These waves are ripples in the curvature of space time, predicted by Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity in 1916. Back in February, the Laser …

Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance

June 9th, 2016


This week we're dedicating the whole programme to one of the biggest threats to humanity. We're already at 700,000 preventable deaths per year as a …

Fixing the Future

June 2nd, 2016


We face many global problems, such as drought, flooding and climate change. All of these issues are rooted in science. It'll take politics and people …

GM plants; Svalbard Seed Vault; Directed Evolution; Dolphin Snot

May 26th, 2016


The topic of GM plants raises strong opinions and many questions. This week, the Royal Society published answers to some of those questions. Adam …

Climate Change, State of the World's Plants, Antibiotic Resistance, Telephone Metadata, Bat Detective

May 19th, 2016


Today we're asking how anyone can make sense of the deluge of climate change data that is almost continually published. By the end of last month, nearly 200 countries had signed up to the Paris climate change agreement, …

Genetics and education, Eyam plague, Pint of science, Labradors and chocolate

May 12th, 2016


The biggest study of the relationship between genes and educational attainment - in this case, basically the measure of how long you stay in education - has been published this week. A huge number of environmental …

Human embryos, Transit of Mercury, Fishackathon, Fat labradors

May 5th, 2016


In a major advance in the field of embryology, scientists this week have kept human embryos alive in petri dishes for record amounts of time. The …

Chernobyl, Drones, Tree crickets, Cern

April 28th, 2016


30 years ago this week an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant. A fire raged for 10 days, spewing radioactive materials on the surrounding area and was detected throughout much of a continent. Yet, so many decades …

EU membership and UK science, Quantum games, Fixing genes

April 21st, 2016


The UK science community draws vital benefits from EU membership and could lose influence in the event of an exit, says a House of Lords report out …

Breakthrough Starshot, Moon mining, QB50, Solar Q&A

April 14th, 2016


This week Russian internet billionaire Yuri Milner announced a project to send tiny spaceships to Alpha Centauri. Milner, alongside Stephen Hawking, announced a $100 million project to develop and launch a cloud of …

Air pollution monitoring, Britain breathing, Tracking Hannibal

April 7th, 2016


This week a "Faraday Discussion" - a unique way of presenting and sharing cutting edge science - is underway at the Royal Society of Chemistry in London looking specifically at Chemistry in the Urban Atmosphere. As Prof …

Solar farm, Gravity machine, Kakapo

March 31st, 2016


The world's second largest floating solar farm has just started generating power. Built on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir in West London, it's the …

Flu, Coffee yeasts, Wave machine, Cochlear implants

March 24th, 2016


The flu season is running later this year. And it has been unusually virulent.
Professor Wendy Barclay, virologist at Imperial College London, tells …

Recovering lost memories, Storks eat junk food, Oldest pine fossil, Spring flowering

March 17th, 2016


Research in Nature this week shows that lost memories in mice can be rescued by reactivating a group of memory cells in the brain called 'engram' …

Gain-of-function research, Mindfulness, Women in science, Snake locomotion

March 10th, 2016


This week in the US, public discussions are taking place into controversial Gain of Function research. Who should decide the limits of studies where …

UK's longest-running cohort study, The Brain prize, Hairy genetics

March 3rd, 2016


This week is birthday time for the 3000-strong group of 70 year olds who might qualify for the title of longest-serving science guinea pigs. …

UK science and the EU, Sex of organs, Artificial colon, Gorillas call when eating

February 25th, 2016


Britain faces a referendum on whether to leave Europe. Science, and scientists, often cross borders in collaborations, so what would the implications …

Gravitational Waves, UK Spaceport, Big Brains and Extinction Risk, Conservation in Papua New Guinea

February 18th, 2016


Gravitational waves were announced last week, in what may be the science discovery of the decade. The Ligo detector, the most sensitive instrument on the surface of the planet, detected the ripples given off by the …

Gravitational Waves Special

February 11th, 2016


The universe is silent no longer - physicists at the LIGO observatory have detected gravitational waves.

LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, with its giant laser beam arms totalling 5 miles …

UK pollinators' food, Brain implant, Holograms, Lunar 9

February 4th, 2016


Some much-needed good news for our troubled bees and other pollinators: between 1998 and 2007, the amount of nectar produced from Britain's flowering …

Zika, Penguins, Erratum, Fossil fish

January 28th, 2016


The Zika virus is dominating the news this week. The latest data says it's been found in 21 countries so far. The symptoms are generally mild, but the possibility of a link to microcephaly has been raised in Brazil. …

Ancient Britons' DNA, Concorde's 40th Anniversary, Giant dinosaur, New planet?

January 21st, 2016


Our ability to extract DNA from old bones is improving, giving us a much clearer picture of who our ancestors were, and what they did. Two new papers …

The 100,000 Genome Project, Stem cell doping, Nuclear waste, Dinosaur sex

January 14th, 2016


The 100,000 Genome Project aims to sequence the DNA of 100,000 patients. One of those patients is four-year-old Georgia Walburn-Green. Her symptoms …

El Nino Special

January 7th, 2016


El Niño is releasing vast quantities of heat normally stored in the Pacific, causing floods, droughts and fires. Adam Rutherford discusses the latest …


December 31st, 2015


Adam Rutherford and guests oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski, astrophysicist Chris Lintott and zoologist Dr Tim Cockerill share their highlights of the …

New Horizons Pluto update; friendly predatory bacteria; Christmas in the lab; human ancestry

December 24th, 2015


Since the epic flyby of Pluto in July, NASA has been regularly downloading staggering images from the New Horizons mission. Pluto is not a dead rock, …

Tim Peake's mission to the ISS, Spaceman Chris Hadfield, AGU round-up, Air pollution, Human Evolution at the NHM

December 17th, 2015


Two times shuttle captain, and with 6 months on the ISS, Commander Chris Hadfield is best qualified to pass on his advice to Major Tim Peake about …

Flooding, Scientific modelling, Magnetoreception, Escalators

December 10th, 2015


Flood modelling
As parts of Cumbria and Somerset remain on flood alert, Adam looks at the science that predicts floods. Are our flood defences good enough and is climate change behind the recent cluster of '1 in 100 …

Science funding, Carbon capture storage, Graphene

December 3rd, 2015


Science Funding Review
In the Comprehensive Spending Review last week, the Government announced its commitment to protect the science budget in 'real terms'. After five years of declining spending on science, this has …

Ancient farmers' genomes, Alice at Cern, Astrophysics questions

November 26th, 2015


Ancient farmers' genomes
New research looking at the DNA of people who lived in Europe as early as 8500 years ago shows signs of evolution, of natural …

Antarctic ice sheet instability, Groundwater, Accents, Fluorescent coral

November 19th, 2015


Antarctic ice-sheet instability
A new study models how the ice sheets in Antarctica will react if greenhouse gases rise at a medium to high rate. They predict the most likely outcome is a rise in global sea level of …

Sex-change tree, Pluto's cryovolcanoes, Sellafield's plutonium, Ant super-organisms

November 12th, 2015


Britain's oldest tree changes sex - The science behind the headlines - this week it was reported that the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire (known to be a …

Grid cells and time, Boole, How your brain shapes your life

November 5th, 2015


Grid cells and time
Animals navigate by calculating their current position based on how long and how far they have travelled and a new study on …

Oxygen on comet 67P; Bees and antimicrobial drugs; Reproducibility of science experiments; Reintroduction of beavers

October 29th, 2015


Oxygen on comet 67P

Molecular oxygen (O2) detected on comet Churymov-Gerasimenko 67P, has scientists baffled. Current models of the formation of our …

Animal experiments, Bees and diesel, Sense Ocean, Readability of IPCC report

October 22nd, 2015


Animal experiments
Scientists are changing the way they measure animals used in research. The most recent Home Office report not only shows the numbers of animals used, it also grades how much each animal suffered. Dr …

Time Travel in Science and Cinema

October 15th, 2015


In a special programme to mark, amongst other things, the centenary of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, Adam Rutherford is joined by The Film Programme's Francine Stock to explore the theme of time-travel …

Ethiopian genome, Coral nutrients, The hunt for gravitational waves, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

October 8th, 2015


As evidence grows about the vulnerability of our ocean corals to climate change, what's often overlooked are the more subtle changes in the ocean …

Write on Kew festival at Kew Gardens, Preserving global biodiversity

October 1st, 2015


A special edition recorded in front of an audience at Write on Kew, the Royal Botanical Garden's new literary festival. Adam Rutherford examines the …

Listeners' Science Questions

September 24th, 2015


Adam Rutherford and panellists Helen Czerski, Andrew Pontzen and Nick Crumpton answer listeners' science questions: What's the best way to become fossilised when you die? What are the most genetically different animals …

Pluto images, Space elevator, Insect migration, Imagination app

September 17th, 2015


This summer, the spaceship New Horizons sped past Pluto at 30,000mph, snapping photographs as it went. The pictures sent back this week have transformed our view of this former planet. It isn't a dead rock; it is …

Homo Naledi, New spacesuit, Quantum biology, A possible cure for motion sickness

September 10th, 2015


Tracey Logan talks to Professor Chris Stringer about the discovery a new human ancestor, Homo Naledi. With ape and human like features its age isn't …

El Nino, Sphagnum moss and peatlands, Inside Cern, Measuring air pollution with iPhones

September 3rd, 2015


Tracey Logan investigates the latest science news. Roland Pease reports on recent warnings that we're heading for one of the most severe El Ninos on …


August 20th, 2015


Why the expansion of the paleolithic brain was powered by cooked carbohydrates. Gareth Mitchell talks to Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, Mark …

Scottish GM ban, Earth's magnetic field, OCD, Birth of a new galaxy

August 13th, 2015


As Scotland announces it ban on GM crops and with the current post of chief scientific adviser for Scotland vacant, Adam talks to the previous post …

Pluto's surface, Increased Arctic ice in 2013, Linking brains together, Signals of fertility

July 23rd, 2015


The New Horizons probe is now millions of miles past Pluto, journeying throgh the Kuiper Belt, but still sending back gigabytes of data coming in via the Deep Space Network. Its latest image of Pluto's surface was …

Pluto: New Horizons

July 16th, 2015


It's billed as the last great encounter in planetary exploration. For the past nine years the New Horizons spacecraft has travelled 5bn km (3bn …

Intrusive memories, Silent aircraft, Nuclear fusion, Pluto

July 9th, 2015


Adam Rutherford talks to Emily Holmes from the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, about two new studies on …

Aphid-repelling wheat, National Institute for Bioscience, Global map of smell, Parrot mimics

July 2nd, 2015


Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire has just finished trials of a new way to repel aphids from wheat. It's a clever system, that takes a gene for a pheromone, called E beta farnesene, from peppermint, and inserts it …

Malaria drug, Listener feedback, Imaging the singing voice, Classifying human species

June 25th, 2015


Malaria is the single greatest cause of death that humankind has ever experienced, and continues to be a colossal burden on the health of people all …

Stars, Fracking, Ice Cores, Drunken Chimps

June 11th, 2015


The ALMA telescope array in the Atacama Desert is one of the most sensitive earth based telescopes. It has now captured images of the very first galaxies. Adam talks to Dr Mark Swinbank of Durham University who's part …

Origins of life, Earthquakes in London, Frog plague, Ancient pollen

June 4th, 2015


Think of earthquake cities and places like San Francisco or Los Angeles spring to mind. But London is also seismically active. 200 years ago, there was an earthquake under Trafalgar Square. Dr Richard Ghail from …

Self-adapting robots, Artificial intelligence in medicine, Ageing healthily

May 28th, 2015


We're becoming more reliant on robots to assist in hostile zones from extinguishing forest fires to bomb disposal to decontaminating nuclear facilities. But whereas humans can quickly adapt to injuries, current robots …

El Nino, Echolocation, Seasons, Snakes

May 21st, 2015


El Nino is a weather event that happens every 5 years. It leaves Europe largely unscathed but causes havoc around the southern hemisphere. El Nino causes droughts, floods and has even been linked to an increased …

Seasonal Variation in Immunity, Chemosynthesis, Role of the ISS, Storing Digital Data in DNA

May 14th, 2015


Many diseases strike harder and more often in the winter, including major inflammatory conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and …

Listeners' Science Questions

May 7th, 2015


Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Nepalese Earthquake, Monkey Hands, Maritime Light Pollution, Light in Bacteria

April 30th, 2015


Nepalese Earthquake
The earthquake that struck central Nepal last weekend measured 7.8 in magnitude and has affected up to 1.4 million people. Inside …

Healthy Guts; Future High Speed Trading; Body Clocks and Colour; William Smith's Geology Map

April 23rd, 2015


The Yanomami people are Amerindians thought to have been completely isolated since their ancestors arrived in South America after the last ice-age. …

Hubble Space Telescope at 25

April 16th, 2015


On 25th April 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was released into space from the Discovery space shuttle. Though off to a famously bumpy start - the first images sent by Hubble were blurry due to a flaw with one of …

Legacy of Messenger, Computer Touch, AI and Traumatic Forgetting, Stained Glass Restoration

April 9th, 2015


This month sees the end of NASA's MESSENGER mission to Mercury. It's been the first mission to the sun's closest planet since Mariner 10 flew by in …

Invasive Species, Coral Seaview Survey, Evolution of the Brain, A New Virtual Reality

March 26th, 2015


Invasive alien species from the cursed Signal Crayfish to the scourge of gardeners, the Japanese Knotweed, are considered some of the biggest threats to biodiversity. This year the EU has launched new legislation that …

Genetic Map of the British Isles, Drones for Conservation, Lab Photosynthesis, Solar Eclipse

March 19th, 2015


The Romans, Vikings and Normans ruled Britain for many years, but few left their genetic calling cards behind in the DNA of today's mainland …

Large Hadron Collider Run Two, Flooding, Nasa's Biggest Rocket, Violin Evolution

March 12th, 2015


Today CERN announced that on 23rd March the largest single machine the world has ever seen gets plugged in, switched on, and rebooted after a 2 year …

Encoding memories; 350 years of the science journal; Women in science; Ceres

March 5th, 2015


How does the brain lay down memory? For decades the limits of microscopes have meant that a detailed look at the way brain cells encode particular …

Artificial Intelligence, Desalination, History of Forensics, Music from Cells

February 26th, 2015


A computer system has taught itself how to play dozens of video games. AI researchers claim this is a significant step toward machine intelligence, because the learning process is similar to how humans learn. The …

Alzheimer's Disease, False Memory, Diamond Light Source, Twins in Space

February 19th, 2015


Alzheimer's disease is becoming increasingly common as the global population ages. It is estimated that currently 44 million victims of Alzheimer's …

Earth's Core; What Can Chemistry Do for Us?; Ocean Acidification; Darwin Day

February 12th, 2015


Adam Rutherford explores new insights into what lies at the very centre of the Earth. New research from China and the US suggests that the innermost core of our planet, far from being a homogenous iron structure has …

Goshawk, Cosmic Renaissance, Carl Djerassi and Charles Townes

February 5th, 2015


As Helen MacDonald's "H is for Hawk" secures 2014's Book of the Year at the Costa Awards, a paper appears describing the hunting tactics of the Northern Goshawk, quite literally, from a birds' eye view. Suzanne Amador …

Climate change belief; Anthropocene era; Eyes on the sea; Origins of multicellular life

January 29th, 2015


We all remember the floods across much of central and southern England this time last year, and the devastating effect they had on people's lives and livelihoods. Today, a group of researchers at Cardiff University …

GMOs; International Year of Light; Coral health

January 22nd, 2015


It is likely that scientists will soon engineer strains of "friendly" bacteria which are genetically recoded to be better than the ones we currently use in food production. The sorts of bacteria we use in cheese or …

International Year of Soils

January 15th, 2015


This year is the Food and Agriculture Organisation's International Year of Soils.

Adam Rutherford, ably assisted by Manchester University's Richard …

Venus mission, Science highlights for 2015, Sonotweezers, Tsunami 10 years on

January 8th, 2015


Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

This week's announcement of the discovery of 8 planets lying within the habitable zones of their stars has again raised the prospect of an earth …

Listeners' Science Questions

January 1st, 2015


Adam Rutherford and guests oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski, cosmologist Dr Andrew Pontzen and zoologist Dr Tim Cockerill answer the listeners' science …

Microplastics; Holey Ice; Vesalius; Overeating

December 18th, 2014


For the first time, scientists have studied the abundance of microplastics in deep sea sediments They have found that tiny fibres of plastic are everywhere and that levels found in the ocean sediments are 4 …

Water on Comets; DNA in Space; Sounds of the Ocean; Science in Fashion

December 11th, 2014


Where does the Earth's water come from? It's thought that it arrived from space, carried by comets. But recent research suggests otherwise. Professor Katrin Altwegg is principal investigator in charge of Rosina - the …

Orion Launch; Fake Mars trip; XDNA; Richard the Third's skeleton

December 4th, 2014


A NASA space capsule, Orion, that could transport humans to Mars is due to make its maiden flight. Given that this is a first outing, there will be …

Campylobacter in Chicken; Artificial Intelligence Guru Demis Hassabis; Sexology; Lucy

November 27th, 2014


Food Standards Agency report reveals 70% of supermarket chicken contaminated.
Chicken: It's the nation's favourite meat. But today, a report released by the Food Standards Agency has revealed that around three quarters …

Comet landing detects organics molecules; Lunar Mission One; Biological warfare

November 20th, 2014


Philae lander detects organic molecules on Comet 67P
Rosetta scientist, Professor Monica Grady from the Open University discusses the latest news from …

Rosetta; Thought-controlled genes; Biophonic Life; Arecibo message 40 years on

November 13th, 2014


After a nail-biting, bumpy, bouncy landing, European Space Agency's Rosetta probe - 'Philae' -lands on the comet 67P. It's already collecting …

Science of ageing; Microneedles; Firelab; Rosetta; Scientific authorship

November 6th, 2014


What is ageing?
In 1900, the global average life expectancy was 31, today it's 70, and the number of people over 85 in the UK is predicted to double …

The Making of the Moon

October 30th, 2014


It's the nearest and most dominant object in our night sky, and has inspired artists, astronauts and astronomers. But fundamental questions remain about our only natural satellite.

Where does the Moon come from?
Although …

Hobbit; Genetics of height; Solar science; Snails

October 23rd, 2014


It's 10 Years since an unusual skeleton was unearthed on the island of Flores. This species, Homo floresiensis, dubbed 'the Hobbit' because of its …

Ebola; Ada Lovelace Day; Space Weather

October 16th, 2014


Ebola Outbreak
As the World Health Organisation announces that the situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is deteriorating, with widespread and …

Nobel Prizes 2014; Gauge; Genetics and Diabetes; UK Fungus Day

October 9th, 2014


Nobel Prizes 2014
The annual Nobel Prizes for Physiology or Medicine, Physics and Chemistry were announced this week.

The Nobel Prize for Physiology or …

Women, Science and the Royal Society; Open Access Research

October 2nd, 2014


Royal Society investigates the decline in their awards to female scientists
Last week, the UK's national science academy, the Royal Society, announced its latest round of University Research Fellows (URFs). And they are …

Cosmic inflation latest; Indian space success; Science and language; Wax Venus

September 25th, 2014


BICEP - gravitational waves and dust
One of the biggest scientific claims of 2014 has received another set-back. In March this year, the BICEP2 research team claimed it had found a swirling pattern in the sky left by the …

European ancestry; Cern is 60; Graphene plasters; Penguins

September 18th, 2014


European Ancestry
New genetic investigation of ancient human remains, combined with archaeological evidence, is shedding new light on the origins of …

Jack the Ripper; Future of Scottish science

September 11th, 2014


Jack the Ripper "identified"
Some of us are morbidly fascinated by the legend of Jack the Ripper - not the world's first serial killer, but the one …

Bardarbunga volcano; Geology in Minecraft; Synthesising opioids; Ammonia

September 4th, 2014


A group of earth scientists was in Iceland performing annual maintenance of its equipment, when the volcano Bardarbunga erupted. Professor …

Manipulating mouse memory; London pollution; Nature of knowing; Snail fur

August 28th, 2014


Manipulating mouse memory
Optogenetics allows researchers to use light to turn the genes involved in memory, in the brain, off and on. It's a powerful …

TB in the New World; Trusting Wikipedia; Shipwreck of the London; @LegoAcademics

August 21st, 2014


TB in the New World
Brand new work in comparative genetics is shedding light on the spread of TB. Scientists have shown that the initial spread of the …

Anaesthesia; Chilean earthquakes; Strange weather; Jellyfish

August 14th, 2014


General anaesthetic is an essential part of modern medicine. Millions of surgical procedures, many life-saving, simply could not be …

New dinosaur; GM chickens; Lightning; Rosetta; Diatoms

August 7th, 2014


A jumble of bones found in Venezuela belong to a group of very early dinosaurs, that could have been herd animals. Paul Barrett from the …

ExpeRimental; Rosetta; MOOCs

July 31st, 2014


There's an online wealth of science demonstrations you can try at home with your kids. But what's sometimes lacking is the encouragement of questioning the science in these DIY experiments. Science teacher …

Science's fascination with the face

July 24th, 2014


Face recognition
The software that analyses images of your face, captured online or when you're out and about, has rapidly improved. Adam visits Amscreen, to test the cameras they deploy at supermarket checkouts to …

A special programme on plants and their pollinators, poisons and pests

July 17th, 2014


Plants and bees
The relationship between flowering plants and bees is a long-evolved, complex one. Plant scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens at …

Behavioural profiling at airports; Light and colour in art; Hadrian's Wall; Cassini

July 10th, 2014


Airport security has been tightened recently. Passengers must be able to switch on their electronic devices to prove they don't contain explosives. Inside Science asks about the science behind spotting a potential …

Informed consent, El Nino, Gravitational Waves, Cloud cover

July 3rd, 2014


Informed consent
Facebook has been under fire for running a controversial 'emotion manipulation' study on 689,003 Facebook users. The experiment, to …

Longitude Prize Winner; Solar cells; New species; Fiji fisherwomen; Physics questions

June 26th, 2014


Longitude Prize 2014 Winning Challenge
Antibiotics resistance has been selected as the focus for the £10m prize. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a "post-antibiotic era" where key drugs no longer work …

Antarctic Invaders; Patents; Longitude Challenges for Water and Antibiotics

June 19th, 2014


Antarctic Invasion
Antarctica is the most pristine place on Earth, having only been visited by humans in the last 200 years, and being tens of thousands of miles from the nearest land. But these days, around 40,000 …

Turing test; World Cup exo-skeleton; Plant cyborgs; Music hooks

June 12th, 2014


The first ball kick of the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Cup is taken by a young paraplegic Brazilian, wearing a robotic exo-skeleton, …

Moving Mountains; Invasive Species; Football Stickers

June 5th, 2014


Moving Mountains
Removing the tops off mountains was common practice in the eastern United States to strip mine for coal. Critics have previously called for it to be banned because of the health risks. But in China, the …

Women scientists; Mapping the ocean floor; Amplituhedron

May 29th, 2014


Women of science
London's Royal Society was buzzing last week as historians and scientists chewed over the lives of iconic women scientists. But at a time when far more women go into science, the percentage who make it …

Longitude Prize 2014; Dementia; Matter from light; Coastal deposition

May 22nd, 2014


Longitude Prize 2014
The Longitude Prize offers a £10 million prize pot to help find the solution to one of the greatest issues of our age. Votes from …

Antarctic melt; brain enhancing devices, atomic clocks and anti-bat moth sounds

May 15th, 2014


Melting Antarctic Ice Shelf
Nothing can stop the collapse of the Antarctic Western Ice shelf. That’s according to NASA this week. Key glaciers in …

Colin Pillinger; Fire? Artificial DNA

May 8th, 2014


Artificial DNA
DNA is the molecule of life, conserved across all living species for 4 billion years. But now scientists have made a new, artificial …

Mice & Men; Fuel from CO2; fRMI; Insect calls

May 1st, 2014


A recent paper demonstrated that mice show elevated stress levels in the presence of male hormones. What implications does this have for future mouse …

Y chromosome; Everest avalanche; Aphid survey; Longitude

April 24th, 2014


Y Chromosome
We learn from a young age that if a fertilised egg carries XX chromosomes it will be a girl, but with XY it will be a boy. This male Y …

Sperm and egg; Dogs; Automatic Facebook; Invasive species

April 17th, 2014


How sperm recognises the egg
The discovery of a protein on mammalian sperm almost a decade ago, sparked the search for the corresponding receptor on the egg. Now researchers in the UK have found this receptor in mouse …

Whales; Dark Matter; Falling; Arty brains

April 10th, 2014


The International Court of Justice in the Hague recently ruled that Japan should stop whaling in the Antarctic “for scientific purposes.” They …

Calorie Restriction; Moon Age; Mars Yard; IPCC.

April 3rd, 2014


Calorie restriction
Careful restriction of the number of calories eaten, without causing malnutrition, extends the lifespan of numerous organisms – …

Fracking; Purple GM tomatoes; Bionic humans; Shark attacks

March 27th, 2014


School Report on Fracking
This week, Inside Science is taken over by BBC School Reporters and Melissa Hogenboom eavesdrops on a school in Lancashire, …

Cosmic inflation; LISA; Photonic radar; Bird stress camera; Water research; Taxidermy

March 20th, 2014


Cosmic Inflation and Gravity waves
Scientists in the BICEP 2 Group say they've found the earliest rumbles of the Big Bang. Theory predicts how the universe first expanded. Now we have the first observation of the …

Tracking planes; Peer review; Mega-virus; Astronaut

March 13th, 2014


Are black boxes outdated technology? With GPS widely available in everyday gadgets like mobile phones, how could Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 just …

LG - Chemical weapons, Turtles, Tech for wildlife, Climate

March 6th, 2014


Chemical weapons
Disposing of Syria's chemical weapons is a difficult task, both politically and technically. The Organisation for the Prohibition of …

Brain Machine Interfaces; Question on Gay Genes; Studying Drinking Behaviour

February 27th, 2014


Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis is one of the world's leading researchers into using the mind to control machines. He is involved in the "Walk Again …

Bees; Whales; Pain; Gay genes

February 20th, 2014


Bees - Nearly all bees in the UK suffering serious declines. They're mostly threatened by habitat and land-use change. But disease also plays a part. Adam Rutherford talks to Professor Mark Brown about new work he's …

Whales from space; Flood emails; SUYI JET Lasers; CERN's new tunnel; Discoveries exhibition

February 13th, 2014


Whales from Space. Scientists have demonstrated how new satellite technology can be used to count whales, and ultimately estimate their population …

Engineering for floods; Neanderthal genes; Switching senses; Genes in Space game

February 6th, 2014


The warning that floods are likely to become more common, or more severe, won't be a high priority for those with homes currently deluged. But it is something architects, engineers and planners have been taking very …

Neanderthals; Plague; Wind Tunnel; Music Timing; Stem Cells

January 30th, 2014


We now know that Neanderthals and our ancestors interbred over 40,000 years ago. Recent research has shown that most people of European or East Asian descent carry a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA - about 2%. But …

Higgs Boson; Neutrinos; Antarctic echo locator; Rainforest fungi; Alabama rot

January 23rd, 2014


The Higgs boson has been discovered, providing the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for the Standard Model of particle physics, a description of how the universe works. But what physicists haven't found yet, which they …

Personal genetics kits; Persister cells; Earthquake mapping; Scorpions

January 16th, 2014


For a couple of hundred quid, one of many companies will send you a kit for sampling your own genome, and most will tell you your genetic risk for some diseases. In December the US Food and Drug Administration imposed a …

Antarctica weather and climate change; GM Fish Oils; Melanin Fossils; Time Travel

January 9th, 2014


Scientists following in the footsteps of Edwardian explorer, Douglas Mawson, have been trapped in pack ice in the Antarctic. The Chinese vessel that …

Ancient Human Occupation of Britain

January 6th, 2014


The ancient inhabitants of Britain; when did they get here? Who were they? And how do we know? Alice Roberts meets some of the AHOB team, who have been literally digging for answers.

The Natural History Museum's Chris …

Bacteriophages; Breath-detecting disease; Our bees electric and DNA Barcoding

December 26th, 2013


Professor Alice Roberts talks bacteriophages: viruses that infect the bacteria that infect us. With the rise of antibiotic resistance they are a …

Antimicrobial soap; GAIA; Stone-age jellybones; Antarctica

December 19th, 2013


Antibacterial soaps and body washes make up an industry worth millions of pounds, but in the USA, producers have been told that they have just over a …

Horsemeat; NanoSims; Early bacteria; Crystallography

December 12th, 2013


Food crime is now big business that criss crosses national boundaries, according to today's report into the safety and authenticity of our food. Public Analyst, Dr Duncan Campbell tells Dr Adam Rutherford that he and …

Badger culls; Douglas Mawson; Plastics; Uptalk

December 5th, 2013


Badger culls in England have ended and Professor Roland Kao from the University of Glasgow discusses with Dr Adam Rutherford the scientific options …

Therapeutic hypothermia; Cameras on Gaia; Methane; Wine microbiota

November 28th, 2013


Therapeutic hypothermia is standard treatment for cardiac arrest patients to protect against the damaging or deadly repercussions of a beatless heart. But this global practice has been called into question after …

Bird Atlas; Flywheels; Energy capture; Science lessons for MPs

November 21st, 2013


Every twenty years there's a detailed survey of the birds of the UK and Ireland and today, the 2007-2011 Bird Atlas is published. Adam Rutherford …

DNA to ID typhoon victims; Volcanic ash; Hope for red squirrels; Robogut

November 14th, 2013


Global experts in DNA identification are flying to the Philippines to assess whether they can help families to determine, beyond doubt, which of the hundreds of victims of Typhoon Haiyan are their relatives. The …

Personal genome; Solar cells and music; Asteroids; Alfred Russel Wallace

November 7th, 2013


A hundred thousand Britons are being asked to donate their sequenced DNA, their personal genome, to a vast database on the internet, so scientists can use the information for medical and genetic research.
The Personal …

Moon dust; Electro-ceuticals; Soil and climate change; Dogs' tails

October 31st, 2013


A NASA spacecraft the size of a sofa is currently orbiting the Moon, gathering information about the toxic perils of moon dust. Dirt from the moon is sharp, spiky and sticky and it caused enormous problems for early …

Nuclear Waste; Exoplanets; BBC time and pips, Synthetic Biology Olympics

October 24th, 2013


Britain's legacy of nuclear waste dates back 60 plus years and a long term solution to deal with it hasn't yet been found. After this week's …

Genetics and education; Golden Rice inventor; Chimp Chatter and Lightning Lab

October 17th, 2013


The link between genetics and a child's academic performance hit the headlines this week when Education Secretary, Michael Gove's outgoing special …

US shutdown; Nobels; New climate science; Airport heart attack headlines

October 10th, 2013


The US has shut down government science with potentially devastating results for American and international science projects. Many individual …

Menopause; IPCC; Fracking feedback; Particle accelerator; Zombie chemicals

October 3rd, 2013


Dr Adam Rutherford and guests explore the scientific mysteries of the menopause after scientists in the US and Japan successfully induced pregnancy …

Fracking FAQs; Fingerprint feedback; Lipstick forensics; Snake hook

September 26th, 2013


Fracking is touted as a technology that will lower UK energy bills. It's a controversial technique which unlocks natural gas from shale rock. But it …

Chemical weapons; Crowd-sourcing weather; Fingerprint ID; Dino drill

September 19th, 2013


As Syria agrees to destroying its chemical weapon stocks, Adam Rutherford looks at how you solve a problem like Sarin. Dr Joanna Kidd from King's …

Stem cell news; Science practicals; Phantom head; Sewage power

September 12th, 2013


As Spanish researchers unveil new stem cell research, Dr Adam Rutherford talks to Professor of Regenerative Medicine Fiona Watt. They look back at …

Fukushima ice wall; Martian menus; Science practicals; Eye tracker

September 5th, 2013


Dr Adam Rutherford asks whether the proposed ice wall around the Fukushima nuclear plant will finally halt the radioactive leaks they've suffered since the tsunami in 2011.

BBC Tokyo correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes …

Research bias; Sniffer dogs; Lasers; Roadkill

August 29th, 2013


Science is supposed to be objective. Research by Professor John Ioannidis suggests the reality is falling short of the ideal. He talks to Alice Roberts about bias in softer science disciplines, and how having an …

Artificial reefs; Scanning beehives; Ape feet; NMR

August 22nd, 2013


Prof Alice Roberts goes Inside Science this week to discuss the science behind artificial reefs. The 70 concrete blocks around Gibraltar are currently causing a diplomatic controversy as the Spanish government claim …

Universal flu vaccine; Science games; AllTrials; Penguin camera

August 15th, 2013


Influenza causes up to five million cases of severe illness and half a million deaths globally every year. Yet, as Adam Rutherford finds out, our current vaccination strategy is a seasonal game of chance, based on …

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