Cover art for podcast BBC Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

300 EpisodesProduced by BBC Radio 4Website

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


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

Britain faces a referendum on whether to leave Europe. Science, and scientists, often cross borders in collaborations, so what would the implications be for a British exit from the EU? The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have an ongoing inquiry into how EU membership influences British science. Inside Science condenses the pertinent points.

The stem cells that make up our organs 'know' whether they are 'male' or 'female', and that this sexual identity could influence how they grow and behave. Dr Irene Miguel-Aliaga, at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London, wanted to ask a very basic question: whether it is just the cells of the sex organs of a fully developed organism that 'know' their sexual identity, or whether this is true of cells in other organs too - and whether that matters. It was previously thought that non-reproductive organs are the same in both sexes, and function differently because of the differences in circulating hormones, but her new research suggests that cells know their sex.

At Birmingham University, chemical engineers have built a working prototype of an artificial human colon, the first of its kind. The colon does the last bit of moving your food out of your body, mixing it, squeezing the last few nutrients and excess water out of it. The team want to use it to measure drug delivery to the colon.

Talking with your mouth full is an unattractive trait, but for other, non-human, great apes it is a normal part of meal time. The noises recorded by a team at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology are from the silverback Western lowland Gorilla. Primatologist Eva Luef explains that this humming and singing during meal time is a way of signalling without wasting valuable eating time.

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