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Discovery

299 EpisodesProduced by BBC World ServiceWebsite

Explorations in the world of science.

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Katherine Joy

November 18th, 2019

26:28

Katherine Joy studies moon rock. She has studied lunar samples that were brought to earth by the Apollo missions (382kg in total) and hunted for …

Sir Gregory Winter

November 11th, 2019

26:28

In an astonishing story of a scientific discovery, Greg Winter tells Jim Al-Khalili how decades of curiosity-driven research led to a revolution in …

Turi King: Solving the mystery of Richard III through DNA

November 4th, 2019

27:07

When a skeleton was unearthed in 2012 from under the tarmac of a car park in Leicester in the English East Midlands, Turi King needed to gather irrefutable evidence to prove that this really was the body of Richard III, …

Plastic pollution with Richard Thompson

October 28th, 2019

27:55

A Professor of Marine Biology who was not particularly academic at school, Richard Thompson went to university after running his own business selling …

Protecting heads in sports

October 21st, 2019

26:28

The death last week of boxer Patrick Day, four days after he was stretchered out of the ring in a coma, is the latest reminder of how vulnerable …

Early diagnosis and research

October 14th, 2019

26:28

James Parkinson described a condition known as the “shaking palsy” over 200 years ago. Today there are many things that scientists still don’t understand explaining why diagnosis, halting the progression or finding a …

Exercise

October 7th, 2019

26:28

Can exercise help people living with Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative condition, with symptoms such as loss of balance, difficulty walking and …

Living with Parkinson's

September 30th, 2019

26:28

BBC newsreader Jane Hill knows all about Parkinson’s. Her father was diagnosed in t1980s and lived with the condition for ten years — her uncle had …

Preventing pesticide poisoning

September 23rd, 2019

26:28

Thanks to a ban on several hazardous pesticides Sri Lanka has seen a massive reduction in deaths from pesticide poisoning, and the World Health …

The power of peace

September 16th, 2019

26:28

“Nature red in tooth and claw”. “Dog eat dog”. “Fighting for survival". You may well think that the natural world is one dangerous, violent, lawless …

The power of petite

September 9th, 2019

26:28

Bigger is better, right? An ancient lore in biology, Cope's rule, states that animals have a tendency to get bigger as they evolve. Evolution has …

The power of deceit

September 2nd, 2019

26:28

Lucy Cooke sets out to discover why honesty is almost certainly not the best policy, be you chicken, chimp or human being. It turns out that …

Patient Undone

August 26th, 2019

27:31

Professor Deborah Bowman reveals how a diagnosis of cancer has transformed her view of medical ethics and what it means to be a patient.

As Professor of Ethics and Law at St George's, University of London, Deborah has …

The Great Science Publishing Scandal

August 19th, 2019

27:18

Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, explores the hidden world of prestige, profits and piracy that lurks behind …

Erica McAlister

August 12th, 2019

27:23

Dr Erica McAlister, of London's Natural History Museum, talks to Jim Al-Khalili about the beautiful world of flies and the 2.5 million specimens for …

Richard Peto

August 5th, 2019

27:22

When Sir Richard Peto began work with the late Richard Doll fifty years ago, the UK had the worst death rates from smoking in the world. Smoking was …

Lovelock at 100: Gaia on Gaia

July 29th, 2019

27:29

James Lovelock is one of the most influential thinkers on the environment of the last half century. His grand theory of planet earth, Gaia, the idea that from the bottom of the earth's crust to the upper reaches of the …

What next for the Moon?

July 22nd, 2019

27:37

The Moon rush is back on. And this time it’s a global race. The USA has promised boots on the lunar surface by 2024. But China already has a rover exploring the farside. India is on the point of sending one too. Europe …

Irene Tracey on pain in the brain

July 15th, 2019

27:28

Pain, as we know, is highly personal. Some can cope with huge amounts, while others reel in agony over a seemingly minor injury. Though you might feel the stab of pain in your stubbed toe or sprained ankle, it is …

Paul Davies on the origin of life and the evolution of cancer

July 8th, 2019

27:27

Physicist Paul Davies talks to Jim al-Khalili about the origin of life, the search for aliens and the evolution of cancer.

Paul Davies is interested …

Can psychology boost vaccination rates?

July 1st, 2019

26:30

In the 1950s a batch of polio vaccine in the US was made badly, resulting in 10 deaths and the permanent paralysis of 164 people. Paul Offit, a …

Global attitudes towards vaccines

June 24th, 2019

26:31

Global attitudes towards vaccinations are revealed in the Wellcome Trust’s Global Monitor survey. Our guide through the new data is Heidi Larson, …

Why do birds sing?

June 17th, 2019

27:56

"What happens to the human voice as we age? If I hear a voice on the radio, I can guess roughly how old they are. But singer's voices seem to stay …

Does infinity exist?

June 10th, 2019

26:28

“Is anything in the Universe truly infinite, or is infinity something that only exists in mathematics?” This question came from father and son duo …

Why do we get déjà vu?

June 3rd, 2019

26:28

4/6 Part 1: Déjà vu

"Do we know what causes déjà vu?" asks Floyd Kitchen from Queenstown in New Zealand.

Drs Rutherford and Fry investigate this …

Will we ever find alien life?

May 27th, 2019

27:29

3/6 In this instalment of The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, Hannah and Adam boldly go in search of scientists who are hunting for ET, …

Why people have different pain thresholds

May 20th, 2019

26:28

2/6 "How fast can a human run and would we be faster as quadrapeds?" This question flew in via Twitter from Greg Jenner.

Is there a limit to human …

How do instruments make music?

May 13th, 2019

28:24

1/6 "We play many musical instruments in our family. Lots of them produce the same pitch of notes, but the instruments all sound different. Why is this?" asks Natasha Cook aged 11, and her Dad Jeremy from Guelph in …

A sense of time

May 6th, 2019

26:28

Our senses create the world we experience. But do animals have a ‘sense’ of time, and does that differ between species, or between us and other animals?

We know that animal senses reveal a wealth of information that …

Cat Hobaiter on communication in apes

April 29th, 2019

26:51

Dr Catherine Hobaiter studies how apes communicate with each other. Although she is based at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, she spends a lot of her time in the forests of Uganda, at the Budongo Research …

Carlo Rovelli on rethinking the nature of time

April 22nd, 2019

26:48

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist who became a household name when his book Seven Brief Lessons on Physics became an unexpected international …

Corinne Le Quéré on carbon and climate

April 15th, 2019

26:27

Professor Corinne Le Quéré of University of East Anglia talks to Jim Al-Khalili about tracing global carbon. Throughout the history of planet Earth, the element carbon has cycled between the atmosphere, the oceans and …

Ken Gabriel on why your smartphone is smart

April 8th, 2019

26:28

Jim Al-Khalili talks to Ken Gabriel, the engineer responsible for popularising many of the micro devices found in smartphones and computers. Ken …

Donna Strickland and extremely powerful lasers

April 1st, 2019

26:28

Donna Strickland tells Jim Al-Khalili why she wanted to work with lasers and what it feels like to be the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Physics in 55 years. When the first laser was built in 1960, it was an …

Unbottling the past

March 25th, 2019

29:43

Imagine finding a notebook containing the secret recipes of some of the world’s most iconic perfumes? Formulas normally kept under lock and key. …

California burning

March 18th, 2019

26:28

When Paradise burned down last year, it made the Camp Fire the most destructive and deadly in Californian history. A few months earlier the nearby Ranch Fire was the largest. In southern California, a series of …

ShakeAlertLA - California’s earthquake early warning system

March 11th, 2019

28:26

Los Angeles is a city of Angels, and of earthquakes. Deadly earthquakes in 1933, 1971 and 1994 have also made it a pioneer in earthquake protection – for example with tough engineering standards to save buildings. Since …

From the Cold War to the present day

March 4th, 2019

28:19

For more than 100 years chemical weapons have terrorised, maimed and killed soldiers and civilians alike. As a chemist, the part his profession has …

From the Crimean War to the end of World War Two

February 25th, 2019

27:42

In the first of two programmes he looks back to the first attempts to ban the use of chemical weapons at the end of the 19th century. Heavily defeated in the Crimea, Russia succeeded in getting unanimous agreement at …

Tracks across time

February 18th, 2019

26:58

In a dry creek bed in the middle of the Australian outback is a palaeontological prize like no other: 95-million-year-old footprints stamped in a …

Trouble in paradise

February 11th, 2019

26:29

The atoll of Tetiaro is a string of tiny islands in French Polynesia, about 60km away from Tahiti. The islands – known as ‘motus’ to local …

Back from the Dead

February 4th, 2019

27:47

The Night Parrot was supposed to be extinct and became a legend among birdwatchers in Australia: a fat, dumpy, green parrot that lived in the desert and came out at night. The last bird seen alive was promptly shot dead …

Eye in the Sky

January 28th, 2019

26:29

On this mission, SOFIA is setting out to study Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon, by flying into the faint shadow that it casts as it blocks the light …

Kepler's Snowflake

January 14th, 2019

26:28

The Six Cornered Snowflake, a booklet written by Johannes Kepler as a New Year's gift, sought to explain the intricate and symmetrical shape of …

Lucretius, Sheep and Atoms

January 7th, 2019

26:28

2000 years ago Lucretius composed a long poem that theorised about atoms and the natural world. Written in the first century BCE, during a chaotic …

Eddington's eclipse and Einstein's celebrity

December 31st, 2018

26:28

Philip Ball's tale is of a solar eclipse 100 years ago observed by Arthur Eddington, a British astronomer who travelled to the remote island of …

Earthrise

December 24th, 2018

27:49

On Christmas Eve in 1968 Bill Anders was in orbit around the moon in Apollo 8 when he took one of the most iconic photos of the last fifty years: …

The Supercalculators

December 17th, 2018

26:28

Alex Bellos is brilliant at all things mathematical, but even he can't hold a candle to the amazing mathematical feats of the supercalculators. Alex …

The China Syndrome

December 10th, 2018

28:39

Plastic waste and pollution have become a global problem but is there any sign of a global solution? And how did we allow this to happen in the first …

How Much Plastic Can We Recycle?

December 3rd, 2018

26:27

Plastics are fantastically versatile materials that have changed our lives. It is what we do with them, when we no longer want them, that has …

Why We Fell In Love with Plastic

November 26th, 2018

26:28

Plastic waste and pollution have become a global problem but is there any sign of a global solution? And how did we allow this to happen in the first …

Finding the Coelacanths

November 19th, 2018

26:28

The first Coelacanth was discovered by a woman in South Africa in 1938. The find, by the young museum curator, was the fish equivalent of discovering …

The Big Bang and Jet Streams

November 12th, 2018

26:28

Evidence for the big bang was initially thought to be a mistake in the recording. Jet streams in the upper atmosphere were revealed by the dust …

Viagra and CRISPR

November 5th, 2018

26:28

Viagra’s effects on men were first discovered as an unexpected side-effect during trials for a medication meant to help patients with a heart …

Tracking the First Animals on Earth

October 29th, 2018

26:28

What were the earliest animals on Earth? The origin of the animal kingdom is one of the most mysterious chapters in the evolution of life on Earth. …

Mary Anning and Fossil Hunting

October 29th, 2018

26:28

Mary Anning lived in Lyme Regis on what is now known as the Jurassic Coast in the first half of the 19th century. Knowing the shore from childhood …

Cooling the City

October 22nd, 2018

26:27

The summer of 2003 saw the largest number of deaths ever recorded in a UK heatwave - but by 2040 climate models predict the extreme summer temperatures experienced then will be normal. We will also be experiencing …

Tourism and Transparency

October 15th, 2018

26:27

In the second programme exploring the Chinese approach to organ transplantation, Matthew Hill looks at what is happening today. Where are the organs coming from today? Have the Chinese overcome their traditional …

Who To Believe?

October 8th, 2018

26:28

For many years the Chinese sourced organs for transplant from executed prisoners. Around a decade ago the authorities acknowledged that this practice had gone on and announced that it was to be stopped. In the first …

The Long Hot Summer - Part Two

October 1st, 2018

26:28

This summer the Northern Hemisphere has been sweltering in unusually high temperatures. It has been hot from the Arctic to Africa. This has led to increased deaths, notably in Canada, and more wildfires, even in …

The Long Hot Summer

September 24th, 2018

27:11

This summer the Northern Hemisphere has been sweltering in unusually high temperatures. It’s been hot from the Arctic to Africa. This has led to increased deaths, notably in Canada, and more wildfires, even in …

Sodium

September 17th, 2018

26:28

Sophie Scott on why sodium powers everything we do, and why it might be the key to a new generation of pain killers.

Putting sodium into water is one …

Iron

September 10th, 2018

26:28

Beyond war and peace, Dr Andrew Pontzen explores how iron has shaped human biology and culture.

From weapons to ploughshares, iron holds a key place …

Fluorine

September 3rd, 2018

26:28

Chemist Andrea Sella tells the story of how the feared element ended up giving us better teeth, mood and health.

Many chemists have lost their lives …

Hypatia: The Murdered Mathematician

August 20th, 2018

26:28

Naomi Alderman's tale is a murder mystery, the story of Hypatia, the mathematician murdered by a mob in the learned city of Alexandria, around the …

Descartes' "Daughter"

August 13th, 2018

28:36

There's a story told about French philosopher René Descartes and his daughter. He boards a ship for a voyage over the North Sea with a large wooden …

Making Natural Products in the Lab

August 6th, 2018

27:00

Philip Ball tells the science story of German chemist Friedrich Wöhler’s creation of urea, an organic substance previously thought only to be produced by living creatures. Yet in 1828 Wöhler created urea from decidedly …

The Real Cyrano de Bergerac

July 30th, 2018

26:41

Philip Ball reveals the real Cyrano de Bergerac - forget the big nosed fictional character - and his links to 17th Century space flight. Cyrano was a …

The Nun’s Salamander

July 23rd, 2018

26:28

A convent of Mexican nuns is helping to save the one of the world's most endangered and most remarkable amphibians: the axolotl, a truly bizarre …

The Aztec Salamander

July 16th, 2018

26:53

Victoria Gill tells the extraordinary story of the Mexican axolotl: an amphibian that is both a cultural icon and a biomedical marvel. In its …

Gateway to the Mind

July 9th, 2018

26:52

The microbiome is the strange invisible world of our non human selves. On and in all of us are hoards of microbes. Their impact on our physical health is becoming clear to science, but a controversial idea is emerging …

Dirt and Development

July 2nd, 2018

26:52

BBC Health and Science correspondent James Gallagher explores the latest research into how our second genome, the vast and diverse array of microbes …

Manipulating Our Hidden Half

June 25th, 2018

26:53

Are we on the cusp of a new approach to healthy living and treating disease? BBC Health and Science correspondent James Gallagher explores the latest research into how our second genome, the vast and diverse array of …

Do Insects Feel Pain?

June 18th, 2018

26:53

Insects such as fruit flies provide important insights into human biology and medicine. But should we worry whether insects experience pain and …

Killing Insects for Conservation

June 11th, 2018

26:54

Prof Adam Hart stirred a hornet’s nest of controversy by asking the public to kill wasps for science. He explores why scientists kill insects to save …

What’s the Tiniest Dinosaur?

June 4th, 2018

26:46

Two small creatures are at the heart of today’s questions, sent in to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk.

The Tiniest Dinosaur

"What is the tiniest dinosaur?" asks young listener Ellie Cook, aged 11.

Our hunt takes us from the …

Can Anything Travel Faster Than Light?

May 28th, 2018

26:49

Two astronomical questions today sent in to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk for Drs Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford to answer.

The Cosmic Speed Limit

"We often read that the fastest thing in the Universe is the speed of light. Why …

Why Do We Dream?

May 21st, 2018

26:48

Adventures in Dreamland

"Why do we dream and why do we repeat dreams?" asks Mila O'Dea, aged 9, from Panama.

Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford delve into the science of sleep. From a pioneering experiment on rapid eye …

Can We Use Chemistry to Bake the Perfect Cake?

May 14th, 2018

26:50

Domestic science is on the agenda today, with two culinary questions sent in by listeners to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

The Curious Cake-Off

Can chemistry …

Why Do Some Songs Get Stuck in Your Head?

May 7th, 2018

26:46

Two very annoying cases today sent in by listeners to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk to our scientific sleuths, mathematician Dr Hannah Fry and geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford.

The Sticky Song

Why do songs get stuck in our heads? …

Behaving Better Online

April 30th, 2018

26:53

Humans have become the most successful species on earth because of our ability to cooperate. Often we help strangers when there is no obvious benefit …

The Cooperative Species

April 23rd, 2018

26:53

People are incredibly rude to each other on social media. Much ruder than they would ever be face to face. The great potential of the internet to …

Bringing Schrodinger's Cat to Life

April 16th, 2018

26:56

Schrodinger's cat is the one that's famously alive and dead. At the same time. Impossible! Roland Pease meets the quantum scientists hoping to bring …

Barbara McLintock

April 9th, 2018

26:52

Barbara McClintock’s work on the genetics of corn won her a Nobel prize in 1983. Her research on jumping genes challenged the over-simplified picture of chromosomes and DNA that Watson and Crick’s discovery has all too …

D'Arcy Thompson

April 2nd, 2018

26:53

One hundred years ago D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson published On Growth and Form, a book with a mission to put maths into biology. He showed how the …

The Far Future

March 26th, 2018

26:53

How do we prepare for the distant future? Helen Keen meets the people who try to.

If our tech society continues then we can leave data for future generations in huge, mundane quantities, detailing our every tweet and …

Why We Cut Men

March 19th, 2018

26:28

Male circumcision is one of the oldest and most common surgical procedures in human history. Around the world, 1 in 3 men are cut. It’s performed as …

Iodine

March 12th, 2018

26:33

The phrase 'essential 'element' is often incorrectly used to describe the nutrients we need, but can aptly be applied to iodine - without it we would …

Phosphorus

March 5th, 2018

26:31

What links trade unions with urine, Syria with semiconductors, and bones and bombs? The answer is phosphorus, UCL Inorganic Chemistry Professor Andrea Sella, who is himself engaged in researching new phosphorus based …

Lead

February 26th, 2018

27:12

From the plumbing of ancient Rome, to lead acid batteries, paint, petrol and a dangerous legacy, the metal lead has seen a myriad of uses and abuses …

The Power of Sloth

February 19th, 2018

26:28

Zoologist and founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society, Lucy Cooke, unleashes her inner sloth to discover why being lazy could actually be the …

Pain of Torture

February 12th, 2018

26:48

Does knowing that someone is inflicting pain on you deliberately make the pain worse? Professor Irene Tracey meets survivors of torture and examines the dark side of pain.

Producer: Geraldine Fitzgerald

(Photo: A woman …

Controlling Pain

February 5th, 2018

26:47

What if your brain could naturally control pain? Professor Irene Tracey and her colleagues are trying to unlock the natural mechanisms in the brain …

Knowing Pain

January 29th, 2018

26:50

Scientists reveal why we feel pain and the consequences of life without pain. One way to understand the experience of pain is to look at unusual situations which give clues to our everyday agony.

Phantom limb pain was …

Seeing Pain

January 22nd, 2018

26:49

Mystery still surrounds the experience of pain. It is highly subjective but why do some people feel more pain than others and why does the brain appear to switch off under anaesthesia so we are unaware of the surgeon’s …

Humphry Davy

January 15th, 2018

26:32

In Bristol in 1799, a young man started to experiment with newly discovered gases, looking for a cure for tuberculosis. Humphry Davy, aged 20, nearly …

Lise Meitner

January 9th, 2018

26:32

Philip Ball reveals the dramatic tale of Lise Meitner, the humanitarian physicist of Jewish descent, who unlocked the science of the atom bomb after a terrifying escape from Hitler's Germany. One of the most brilliant …

The Day the Earth Moved

January 1st, 2018

26:33

Roland Pease tells the story of how fifty years ago geologists finally became convinced that the earth’s crust is made up of shifting plates. The …

Maria Merian

December 25th, 2017

26:28

Maria Merian was born in 1647. At the time of her birth, Shakespeare had been dead for 30 years; Galileo had only just stood trial for arguing that the Earth moved around the Sun. And yet, here in Germany, was a child …

Alcuin of York

December 18th, 2017

26:28

The Dark Ages are often painted as an era of scholarly decline. The Western Roman Empire was on its way out, books were few and far between, and, if …

Cheating the Atmosphere

December 11th, 2017

26:28

All countries are supposed to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions but BBC environment correspondent, Matt McGrath, reveals there are …

Better Brains

December 4th, 2017

27:33

Every three seconds someone is diagnosed with dementia, and two thirds of the cases are Alzheimer’s Disease. As the global population ages, this is …

What would happen if you fell into a black hole?

November 21st, 2017

26:29

Two deadly cases today sent in by listeners to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

The Dark Star
"What's inside a black hole and could we fly a spaceship inside?" …

What will happen when the Earth’s poles swap?

November 20th, 2017

26:29

The Polar Opposite
No one knows why the Earth's magnetic North and South poles swap. But polar reversals have happened hundreds of times over the …

Why can’t we remember being a baby?

November 13th, 2017

26:28

The Astronomical Balloon
"How far up can a helium balloon go? Could it go out to space?" asks Juliet Gok, aged 9.
This calls for an experiment! Dr Keri …

Why can’t we remember being a baby?

November 13th, 2017

26:28

The Astronomical Balloon
"How far up can a helium balloon go? Could it go out to space?" asks Juliet Gok, aged 9.
This calls for an experiment! Dr Keri …

How do cats find their way home?

November 6th, 2017

26:28

“How on earth do cats find their way back to their previous home when they move house?" asks Vicky Cole from Nairobi in Kenya.

Our enduring love for …

How much of my body is bacteria?

October 30th, 2017

26:28

Science sleuths Drs Rutherford & Fry take on everyday mysteries and solve them with the power of science. Two cases in this episode concerning …

Sydney Brenner: A Revolutionary Biologist

October 23rd, 2017

26:28

Sydney Brenner was one of the 20th Century’s greatest biologists. Born 90 years ago in South Africa to impoverished immigrant parents, Dr Brenner …

SOS Snail

October 16th, 2017

26:42

This is a big story about a little snail. Biologist Helen Scales relates an epic tale that spans the globe and involves calamity, tragedy, extinction …

Indian Science – The Colonial Legacy

October 9th, 2017

26:28

For more than 200 years Britain ruled India, bringing many aspects of British culture to India - including European science developed during the …

India's Ancient Science

October 2nd, 2017

26:26

We go behind the scenes of a new exhibition on India at London’s Science Museum. What can historical objects tell us about India’s rich, and often hidden scientific past? We look at the influential mathematics, …

Africa’s Great Green Wall

September 25th, 2017

26:28

Can Africa’s Great Green Wall beat back the Sahara desert and reverse the degrading landscape? The ambitious 9 miles wide and 5000 miles long line of vegetation will stretch all the way from Dakar in the west to …

Internet of Things

September 18th, 2017

26:58

Can we Control the Dark Side of the Internet?

The Internet is the world's most widely used communications tool. It’s a fast and efficient way of …

Dark Side of the World Wide Web

September 11th, 2017

26:59

With the coming of the World Wide Web in the 1990s internet access opened up to everybody, it was no longer the preserve of academics and computer hobbyists. Already prior to the Web, the burgeoning internet user …

The Origin of the Internet

September 4th, 2017

26:58

Just how did the Internet become the most powerful communications medium on the planet, and why does it seem to be an uncontrollable medium for good …

Silicon - The World's Building Block

August 28th, 2017

26:57

Silicon is literally everywhere in both the natural and built environment, from the dominance of silicate rocks in the earth crust, to ubiquitous sand in building materials and as the basis for glass.

We've also …

The Day the Sun Went Dark

August 21st, 2017

26:43

For the first time in almost 100 years the USA is experiencing a full solar eclipse from coast to coast on August 21st 2017.

Main image: Totality …

Carbon - the backbone of life

August 14th, 2017

26:58

Carbon is widely considered to be the key element in forming life. It's at the centre of DNA, and the molecules upon which all living things rely.

And then there was Li

August 7th, 2017

26:59

From the origins of the universe, though batteries, glass and grease to influencing the working of our brains, neuroscientist Sophie Scott tracks the incredible power of lithium.

It's 200 years ago this year that lithium …

Oxygen: The breath of Life

August 1st, 2017

26:57

Oxygen appeared on Earth over two billion years ago and life took off. Now it makes up just over a fifth of the air. Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford, England, tells the story …

Mercury - Chemistry's Jekyll and Hyde

July 24th, 2017

30:32

The most beautiful and shimmering of the elements, the weirdest, and yet the most reviled.

Chemist Andrea Sella tell the story of Mercury, explaining …

Eating Well in Lyon: Healthy Diets to prevent Bowel Cancer

July 17th, 2017

26:51

Anu Anand is in Lyon, looking at what we eat and drink and the risk of bowel cancer

Catching Prostate Cancer Early in Trinidad

July 10th, 2017

26:42

Anu Anand on detecting and treating prostate cancer in Trinidad and Tobago.

The USA’s Deadly Racial Divide: Black Women & Breast Cancer

July 3rd, 2017

26:24

Anu Anand explores why more black women are more likely to die of breast cancer in the US

Screening and Treating Cervical Cancer in Tanzania

June 26th, 2017

26:24

Anu Anand on how vinegar and a head torch are used to tackle cervical cancer in Tanzania

Taking On Tobacco - Lung Cancer in Uruguay

June 21st, 2017

26:22

For more than 65 years we have known that smoking kills. So how can it be that a Mexican wave of tobacco use, disease and death is heading at breakneck speed towards the world’s poorest people? Millions will die of lung …

Dying in Comfort in Mongolia

June 16th, 2017

26:22

The Mongolian matriarch who is helping people with terminal liver cancer die in comfort

Can Robots be Truly Intelligent?

June 5th, 2017

26:58

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 …

Robots - More Human than Human?

May 29th, 2017

26:59

Robots are becoming present in our lives, as companions, carers and as workers. Adam Rutherford explores our relationship with these machines. Have we made them to be merely more dextrous versions of us? Why do we want …

History of the Rise of the Robots

May 22nd, 2017

26:58

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 …

Quantum Supremacy

May 15th, 2017

28:06

IBM is giving users worldwide the chance to use a quantum computer; Google is promising "quantum supremacy" by the end of the year; Microsoft's Station Q is working on the hardware and operating system for a machine …

Re-engineering Life

May 8th, 2017

26:59

Synthetic biology, coming to a street near you. Engineers and biologists who hack the information circuits of living cells are already getting …

Hunting for Life on Mars

May 1st, 2017

26:57

As a small rocky planet, Mars is similar in many respects to the Earth and for that reason, many have thought it may harbour some kind of life. A hundred years ago, there was serious talk about the possibility of …

Lifechangers: Charles Bolden

April 24th, 2017

27:00

In Lifechangers, Kevin Fong talks to people about their lives in science.

Major General Charles Bolden – a former NASA administrator – talks to Kevin …

Lifechangers: Neil deGrasse Tyson

April 17th, 2017

26:59

In Lifechangers, Kevin Fong talks to people about their lives in science.

Astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, Neil deGrasse Tyson is well known in the US since he presented the TV …

Lifechangers: George Takei

April 10th, 2017

27:00

In the start of a new series of Lifechangers, Kevin Fong talks to three people about their lives in science.

His first conversation is with a man better known for his life in science fiction, George Takei, the Japanese …

The Bee All and End All

April 6th, 2017

26:49

Bees pollinate and can detect bombs and compose music. What would we do without them? The world owes a debt of gratitude to this hard working but …

Extending Embryo Research

March 27th, 2017

26:59

Since the birth of Louise Brown - the world’s first IVF baby - in England in 1978, many children have been born through in vitro fertilisation. IVF doesn’t work for everyone but over the last few decades basic research …

The Split Second Decision

March 20th, 2017

26:59

As the pace of technology moves at ever greater speeds, how vulnerable are we when making split second decisions? Kevin Fong flies with the …

Human Hibernation

March 13th, 2017

26:59

Ever wished you could miss an entire cold dark winter like bears or dormice? Kevin Fong explores the possibilities than humans could hibernate. This …

Delivering Clean Air

March 3rd, 2017

26:28

Internet shopping continues to rise worldwide. That means a lot more delivery vans on the streets of our towns and cities. Those vans and trucks, …

Make Me a Cyborg

February 27th, 2017

27:29

Frank Swain can hear Wi-Fi.

Diagnosed with early deafness aged 25, Frank decided to turn his misfortune to his advantage by modifying his hearing aids to create a new sense. He documented the start of his journey three …

Why do some people have no sense of direction?

February 21st, 2017

27:00

Two challenges for the team today involving singing and navigating.

The Melodic Mystery
"Why is my mother tone deaf?" asks listener Simon, "and can I …

Why am I left-handed?

February 13th, 2017

27:00

Neal Shepperson asks, "What determines left or right handedness and why are us lefties in the minority?"

One in ten people are left-handed, but where …

Does the full Moon make us act oddly?

February 6th, 2017

26:59

Listener Paul Don asks: "I'm wondering what's the feasibility of terraforming another planet ie Mars and if it is possible to do the same thing with …

Why do we get middle-aged spread?

January 30th, 2017

26:59

Two cases today for Drs Adam Rutherford & Hannah Fry to investigate, involving strength and weight.

The Portly Problem

"Why do we have middle aged …

Does nothing exist?

January 23rd, 2017

27:00

"Is there any such thing as nothing?" This question from Bill Keck sparked a lot of head scratching.

Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry first consider the philosophy and physics of nothing. As Prof Frank Close, author …

Sesame Open

January 16th, 2017

26:59

There's a new light of hope in the Middle East. It's a scientific experiment called SESAME - intended to do world-class science and bring together researchers from divided nations. Its members include Palestine and …

The Future of the Climate Deal

January 9th, 2017

37:53

The incoming administration of President Trump has frightened many in the international environmental community. The result of US election in …

Science Stories: Series 3 - Mesmerism and Parapsychology

January 2nd, 2017

26:58

Anton Mesmer was a doctor who claimed he could cure people with an unknown force of animal magnetism. He was the subject to a committee that found …

Science Stories: Series 3 - The Woman Who Tamed Lightning

December 26th, 2016

26:30

Naomi Alderman tells the story of Hertha Marks Ayrton, the first woman to be admitted to the Institution of Electrical Engineers, who improved …

Science Stories: Series 3 - Testosterone: Elixir of Masculinity

December 19th, 2016

26:59

Testosterone has been claimed as one of the most important drivers of human life – through the agency of sex and aggression. In the 19th century, Charles-Eduoard Brown-Séquard injected himself with extracts from …

Science Stories: Series 3 - Making the Earth Move

December 12th, 2016

26:58

Prior to 1543 it was generally believed that the earth lay static in the centre of the universe, while the Sun, moon, planets and stars revolved …

Origins of Human Culture

December 5th, 2016

26:59

We humans are such a successful species. Homo sapiens have been around for only around 100 000 years and in that time we have utterly transformed the …

Mind Reading

November 28th, 2016

26:59

Whether it's gossiping over a drink, teaching our children, or politicians debating we use words to communicate with each other and share ideas. It’s …

Custom of Cutting

November 21st, 2016

31:40

More than 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, or cutting. It is where parts or all of a girl's genitals are damaged or removed. There are no medical benefits to FGM, and …

The Inflamed Mind

November 14th, 2016

26:58

Depression or psychotic illness is experienced by hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people in the UK. James Gallagher talks to the psychiatrists investigating this new understanding of mental illness and to …

The City that Fell into the Earth

November 7th, 2016

26:28

How do you move a city? Lesley Riddoch travels to Arctic Sweden to find out. Kiruna is gradually sliding into Europe's biggest iron ore mine. The city has to be rebuilt two miles away. That requires an extraordinary …

The Sun King of China

October 31st, 2016

26:28

Meet Huang Ming, the Chinese inventor who describes himself as, 'the number one crazy solar guy in the world'. One of the prize exhibits of his …

The Mars of the Mid-Atlantic

October 24th, 2016

26:28

Ascension Island is a tiny scrap of British territory, marooned in the tropical mid-Atlantic roughly halfway between Brazil and Africa. It is the tip …

Creating the Crick

October 17th, 2016

26:59

The Francis Crick Institute, in the centre of London, is the UK’s brand new, game-changing centre for biology and medical research. Roland Pease …

Black Holes: A Tale of Cosmic Death and Rebirth

October 10th, 2016

26:59

The discovery of gravitational waves by the LIGO observatory opens up a new form of astronomy, which will allow scientists explore the ultimate fate …

The Whale Menopause

October 3rd, 2016

26:58

Killer whales and humans are almost unique in the animal kingdom. The females of both species go through the menopause in their 40s or 50s, and then live for decades without producing any more offspring themselves. It …

Reversing Parkinson's

September 26th, 2016

26:59

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the major neurodegenerative conditions. Cells die, for reasons not fully understood, causing a reduction in the …

Could we send our litter into space?

September 19th, 2016

27:00

Two spacey cases today for doctors Rutherford and Fry to investigate, both sent in to BBC Future via Facebook.

The Stellar Dustbin
'Can we shoot garbage into the sun?' asks Elisabeth Hill. The doctors embark on an …

Why do we faint?

September 13th, 2016

27:00

Swooning maidens and clever horses feature in today's Curious Cases, sent in by listeners to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk.

The Squeamish Swoon
Science …

Why do people shout on their cellphones?

September 5th, 2016

26:58

How does traffic jam? And, why do some people shout into their cellphones in public places? Two subjects guaranteed to annoy even the most patient listeners.

The Phantom Jam
Listener Matthew Chandler wrote to us: "I …

How do you make the perfect cup of tea?

August 29th, 2016

26:59

A story of sorrow and comfort today, as Doctors Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry investigate two mysteries sent in by listeners.

The Psychic Tear
Edith …

What makes gingers ginger?

August 22nd, 2016

27:00

Doctors Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry set out to solve the following perplexing cases sent in by listeners:

The Scarlet Mark
Sheena Cruickshank in …

China Science Rising

August 15th, 2016

26:59

China is super-sizing science. From building the biggest experiments the world has ever seen to rolling out the latest medical advances on a massive …

The Power of Cute

August 8th, 2016

26:59

Zoologist and broadcaster Lucy Cooke explores the science behind our seeming obsession with all things adorable. There has been an explosion in …

Failing Gracefully

August 1st, 2016

26:59

Dr Kevin Fong concludes his exploration of the boundaries between the medical profession and other industries for valuable lessons that might be of use to us all.

In this final episode, Kevin talks to people who have …

Going Lean: Health and the Toyota Way

July 25th, 2016

26:59

In the third programme in the series, Dr Kevin Fong explores the concept of ‘lean’ in healthcare. He visits Toyota’s largest car assembly plant in the United States and discovers how the company’s legendary management …

“Faster, Better, Cheaper”

July 18th, 2016

26:58

Kevin Fong explores the success and failure of NASA’s missions to Mars

The Business of Failure

July 12th, 2016

27:00

Dr Kevin Fong flies with a US air ambulance crew and discovers why it’s seen as one of the most dangerous occupations in America.

Cleaning Up the Oceans

July 4th, 2016

26:59

More than five million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the oceans every year. The abandoned fishing gear and bags and bottles left on beaches can smother birds and sea life. Now there is also evidence that the small …

Life on the East Asian Flyway - Part 4: The Arctic

June 27th, 2016

27:00

After flying thousands of kilometres from faraway Bangladesh and New Zealand via the Yellow Sea, the shorebirds of the East Asian Flyway complete their northward migration. They touch down in the Arctic Russia and …

Life on the East Asian Flyway - Part Three: Yellow Sea North

June 20th, 2016

26:59

Can China’s new generation of birdwatchers and North Korea’s weak economy save migratory birds from extinction?

Habitat loss for shorebirds in the Yellow Sea is rapid as the mudflats on which they depend are converted …

Life on the East Asian Flyway – Part Two: Yellow Sea South

June 13th, 2016

26:59

Ann Jones flies north to Shanghai as shorebirds from as far away as Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh arrive on the coast of the Yellow Sea.

Here she meets a traditional whistling bird hunter who …

Life on the East Asian Flyway

June 6th, 2016

26:59

One of the great wonders of the natural world is in deep trouble.

Millions of shorebirds fly from Australia and Southeast Asia to the Arctic every …

The Neglected Sense

May 30th, 2016

27:01

We may fear going blind, deaf or dumb, but few of us worry about losing our olfactory senses. And yet more than 200,000 people in the UK are anosmic …

After Ebola

May 23rd, 2016

26:59

Last November Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free. By then, the epidemic had killed over 11,000 people in West Africa. The speed at which it took …

Benefits of Bilingualism - Part Two

May 16th, 2016

26:58

More than half the world speaks more than one language. New research is showing that being multilingual has some surprising advantages – it can help …

Benefits of Bilingualism - Part One

May 9th, 2016

26:59

More than half of the world's people speak more than one language. Some people may have been forced to learn a language at school or had to pick up …

Our Unnatural Selection

May 2nd, 2016

26:59

Humans have been altering animals for millennia. We select the most docile livestock, the most loyal dogs, to breed the animals we need. This 'artificial selection' is intentional. But as Adam Hart discovers, our …

Science Stories: Series 2 - Margaret Cavendish

April 25th, 2016

26:59

In the spring of 1667 Samuel Pepys queued repeatedly with crowds of Londoners and waited for hours just to catch a glimpse of aristocrat writer and …

Science Stories: Series 2 - Orgueil Meteorite

April 18th, 2016

26:58

In 1864 a strange type of rock fell from the sky above Orgueil in rural France. Shocked and frightened locals collected pieces of the peculiar, peaty …

The Horn Dilemma

April 11th, 2016

26:59

The majority of white and black rhinoceros are found in South Africa. This stronghold for these magnificent creatures is now being threatened by …

African Einsteins

April 1st, 2016

26:58

Will Einstein’s successors be African? It’s very likely - and some of them will be women.

Back in 2008 South African physicist Neil Turok gave a …

Feeding the World - Part Two

March 28th, 2016

26:58

As the world’s population grows and the climate challenges our ability to grow crops, how can agriculture provide enough food? Can we get more from …

Feeding the World - Part One

March 21st, 2016

26:59

As the world’s population grows and the climate challenges our ability to grow crops, how can agriculture provide enough food? Can we get more from …

Editing the Genome - Part Two

March 14th, 2016

27:00

There is a new genetic technology which promises to revolutionise agriculture and transform our influence over the natural world. Research is well …

Editing the Genome

March 7th, 2016

26:59

Over the last four years, scientists have discovered a simple and powerful method for altering genes. This will have massive implications for all of …

Science Stories: Series 1 - Einstein’s Ice Box

February 29th, 2016

26:59

In the late 1920s Einstein was working on a grand unified theory of the universe, having given us E=mc2, space-time and the fourth dimension. He was also working on a fridge.

Perhaps motivated by a story in the Berlin …

Science Stories: Series 1 - Eels and Human Electricity

February 22nd, 2016

27:00

Naomi Alderman presents an alternate history of electricity. This is not a story of power stations, motors and wires. It is a story of how the electric eel and its cousin the torpedo fish, led to the invention of the …

Science Stories: Series 1 - Cornelis Drebbel

February 15th, 2016

26:59

Philip Ball dives into the magical world of Cornelis Drebbel , inventor of the world's first submarine in 1621.

How did the crew of this remarkable vessel manage to breathe underwater, completely cut off from the …

El Nino

February 8th, 2016

26:59

Floods in South America, fires in Indonesia, famine threatened in Ethiopia, yet more drought in Southern Africa and central America. Plus, a stunning peak in global temperatures for 2015. The current El Nino, just past …

An Infinite Monkey's Guide to General Relativity

February 1st, 2016

27:01

Brian Cox and Robin Ince explore the legacy of Einstein's great theory, and how a mathematical equation written 100 years ago seems to have predicted …

An Infinite Monkey's Guide to General Relativity

January 25th, 2016

27:00

It is 100 years since the publication of Einstein's great theory, and arguably one of the greatest scientific theories of all time. To mark the occasion, Brian Cox takes Robin Ince on a guided tour of General …

Scotland’s Dolphins

January 18th, 2016

27:00

The chilly waters of north-east Scotland are home to the world’s most northerly group of bottlenose dolphins. They are protected by EU conservation …

Nature's Numbers

January 11th, 2016

27:00

Mathematics is one of the most extraordinary things humans can do with their brains but where do our numerical abilities come from? Maths writer Alex Bellos looks for answers from a tribe in the Brazilian Amazon which …

Nature's Numbers

January 4th, 2016

26:58

Lemurs and parrots accompany maths writer Alex Bellos as he explores the foundations of our ability to understand numbers. What are the fundamental numerical skills we share with other animals? What accounts for our …

Future of Energy

December 28th, 2015

27:00

Professor Jim Skea, from the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, joins Jack Stewart in the …

The Power of Equations

December 21st, 2015

26:58

Jim al-Khalili was sitting in a physics lecture at the University of Surrey when he suddenly understood the power of equations to describe and predict the physical world. He recalls that sadly his enthusiasm was lost on …

Enceladus: A second genesis of life at Saturn?

December 14th, 2015

26:58

Discovery invites you on a mission to the most intriguing body in the solar system – Saturn’s moon Enceladus. It’s a small icy world with gigantic …

Humboldt - the Inventor of Nature

December 7th, 2015

26:58

Alexander Von Humboldt - the forgotten father of environmentalism - warned of harmful human induced climate change over 200 years ago.

Explorer, …

Unbreathable: The Modern Problem of Air Pollution

November 30th, 2015

26:59

The shock news three months ago, that Volkswagen had used defeat devices to circumvent emissions tests in the United States, has brought back into …

Future of Biodiversity

November 23rd, 2015

26:59

"I'm determined to prove botany is not the 'Cinderella of science'". That is what Professor Kathy Willis, director of Science at the Royal Botanic …

Problems of Developing Drugs

November 16th, 2015

26:59

Patrick Vallance is something of a rare breed - a game-keeper turned poacher; an academic who has moved over into industry. And not just any industry, but the pharmaceutical industry. At the time, Patrick Vallance was …

The Genetics of Intelligence

November 9th, 2015

26:58

Professor Robert Plomin talks to Jim al-Khalili about what makes some people smarter than others and why he is fed up with the genetics of intelligence being ignored. Born and raised in Chicago, Robert sat countless …

How to Make an Awesome Surf Wave

November 2nd, 2015

26:59

Can we make better surfing waves than the wild ocean, asks marine biologist and writer Helen Scales.

Helen loves surfing but she describes it as an …

Lion Hunting in Africa

October 26th, 2015

27:00

In June 2015 the death of Cecil the lion was international news and a social media sensation. Yet trophy hunting of lions and other species is common in Africa. Foreigners pay big money to adorn their walls with heads …

The Infinite Monkey Cage USA Tour: San Francisco

October 19th, 2015

27:00

Brian Cox and Robin Ince take to the stage in San Francisco for the last of their USA specials. They talk alien visitations, UFOs and other close …

The Infinite Monkey Cage USA Tour: Chicago

October 12th, 2015

27:01

Brian Cox and Robin Ince take to the stage in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss fossil records and evolution. They are joined on stage by host of NPR's …

The Infinite Monkey Cage USA Tour: Los Angeles

October 5th, 2015

26:59

Brian Cox and Robin Ince continue their tour of the USA, as they take to the stage in LA, as they ask what happens when science meets Hollywood. They …

The Infinite Monkey Cage USA Tour: New York

September 26th, 2015

27:00

The BBC’s award-winning radio science/comedy show The Infinite Monkey Cage has transported itself to the USA bringing its unique brand of witty, irreverent science chat to an American audience for the first time.

In the …

Life Changers - Didier Queloz

September 21st, 2015

26:59

One night in 1995, PhD student Didier Queloz was running a routine test on a new detector they had just built at the Observatoire de Haute Provence in France, when he noticed something strange. They had pointed the …

Life Changers - Anita Sengupta

September 14th, 2015

26:59

When Anita Sengupta was a little girl, she dreamed of time travel aboard the TARDIS, along with Tom Baker, her favourite incarnation of Dr Who. It was this and watching episodes of Star Trek with her dad, which led her …

Life Changers - Venki Ramakrishnan

September 7th, 2015

26:59

Kevin Fong talks to Venki Ramakrishnan, Professor of structural biology in Cambridge and joint-winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009. …

Life Changers - Kathryn Maitland

August 31st, 2015

26:59

Kathryn Maitland is a doctor with a burning passion to transform clinical research across Africa, where she has spent most of her career. Determined to improve the outcomes for critically sick children in hospital, she …

Women on the ‘Problem with Science’

August 24th, 2015

27:00

Earlier in the year, the reported remarks about 'the problem with girls' by British biologist and Nobel Laureate Professor Tim Hunt' brought the …

Truth about the Body Mass Index

August 17th, 2015

26:59

Dr Mark Porter is a family doctor in the UK and in his 50s. He’s tall and slim and thinks he’s fit and healthy – after all he goes to the gym several times a week. Mark meets experts who measure his weight, height and …

The Great Telescopes and Evolution

August 10th, 2015

26:58

Today, astronomers believe the universe is a violent, constantly changing place. But it was not always the case.

At the beginning of the 19th …

The Colour Purple

July 27th, 2015

26:59

In 1856, a teenager experimenting at home accidentally made a colour that was more gaudy and garish than anything that had gone before. William …

Maurice Wilkins

July 20th, 2015

26:57

What does it take to be remembered well? The discovery of the structure of DNA is often attributed to James Watson and Francis Crick. But a third man shared the stage with them for the 1962 Nobel Prize for medicine - …

James Watt and Steam Power

July 13th, 2015

27:01

Naomi Alderman tells the story of James Watt and the steam engine that nearly never got made. A breath of steam hits cold metal. It cools suddenly …

Sounds Of Space: Deep Space

July 6th, 2015

26:59

A sonic tour of the universe, with solar scientist, Dr Lucie Green.

In the previous episode, we listened in to the sounds of the Solar System. This …

Sounds of Space: The Solar System

June 29th, 2015

26:59

The previously silent world of outer space is getting noisier. In this audio tour of the Solar System, Dr Lucie Green listens in to the Sounds of …

Future of European Science

June 22nd, 2015

27:00

A debate about the state of scientific research in Europe, recorded in Brussels on the day when the European Research Council was celebrating its 5000th grant. Since 2007 the ERC has written cheques totalling the …

The Bone Wars

June 15th, 2015

26:57

Tracey Logan takes us back to the wild west of America, and looks at the extraordinary feud that came to be known as the Bone Wars. This is a tale of corruption, bribery and sabotage - not by cowboys, but by two …

Stephanie Shirley: Software Pioneer

June 8th, 2015

26:58

As a young woman, Stephanie Shirley worked at the Dollis Hill Research Station building computers from scratch but she told young admirers that she …

Origins of War

June 1st, 2015

26:58

Is our desire to wage war something uniquely human or can its origins be traced much further back in our evolutionary past?

To suggest that warfare …

What the Songbird Said

May 25th, 2015

27:00

Could birdsong tell us something about the evolution of human language? Language is arguably the single thing that most defines what it is to be …

Shedding Light on the Brain

May 18th, 2015

26:58

Biologists are using light to explore the brain - and to alter it. Roland Pease meets some of the leading players in optogenetics, who use …

Future of Solar Energy

May 11th, 2015

27:01

Roland Pease looks into perovskites - the materials enthusiasts say could transform solar power.

Solar power is the fastest growing form of renewable …

Scotland's Forgotten Einstein, James Clerk Maxwell

May 4th, 2015

27:00

Dr Susie Mitchell hears the story of the 19th Century Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell's lifelong curiosity about the world and his …

Science of Stammering

April 27th, 2015

27:00

In this edition of Discovery, Erika Wright explores the science of Stammering, a widely misunderstood condition that occurs at the same level in all …

Jane Francis

April 20th, 2015

26:59

Just twenty years ago, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) would not allow women to camp in Antarctica. In 2013, it appointed Jane Francis as its …

The Teenage Brain: Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

April 13th, 2015

26:59

Until recently, it was thought that human brain development was all over by early childhood but research in the last decade has shown that the …

Matt Taylor

April 6th, 2015

27:00

Matt Taylor talks to Jim Al-Khalili about being in charge of the Rosetta space mission to the distant comet, 67P. It is, he says, 'the sexiest thing alive', after his wife. He describes his joy when, after travelling …

John O'Keefe

March 30th, 2015

26:59

John O'Keefe tells Jim al-Khalili how winning the Nobel Prize was a bit of a double-edged sword, especially as he liked his life in the lab, before being made famous by the award.

John won the prize for his once radical …

Does Money Make you Mean?

March 23rd, 2015

26:59

Can money really make a person mean? In this second and final programme, Jack heads to Hong Kong to explore whether our preoccupation with money is affecting the way we treat other people.

Jack hears about the growing …

Does Money Make you Mean?

March 16th, 2015

26:59

Jack Stewart heads to Los Angeles, home to many of America's rich and famous, to explore what impact wealth has on our moral behaviour. Hollywood …

Finding Your Voice

March 9th, 2015

26:59

Comedy performer and broadcaster Helen Keen, explores a rare condition that she herself once suffered from - selective mutism or SM. It is an anxiety disorder that develops in childhood. Those affected by SM can …

Placebo Problem

March 2nd, 2015

26:59

In recent years the term 'placebo effect' - the beneficial effects on health of positive expectations about a drug or some other treatment - has …

Throwaway Society 2/2

February 23rd, 2015

27:00

How can manufacturers of the world supply the growing demand for consumer products without breaking the planet’s bank of natural resources? By the middle of the century, there will be 2 billion more people in the …

Throwaway Society

February 16th, 2015

26:59

Hundreds of millions of computers, mobile phones and televisions are thrown away every year around the world. In this week’s Discovery Gaia Vince will be looking at the reasons behind this rapidly growing mountain of …

The Science of Smell

February 9th, 2015

26:59

Pamela Rutherford explores our neglected sense of smell. How is the brain able to detect and tell apart the countless number of smells it comes across and what happens when the system goes wrong? She finds out how …

The Life Scientific: Richard Fortey

February 2nd, 2015

27:00

Richard Fortey found his first trilobite fossil when he was 14 years old and he spent the rest of his career discovering hundreds more, previously …

The Life Scientific: Margaret Boden on Artificial Intelligence

January 26th, 2015

26:59

Maggie Boden is a world authority in the field of artificial intelligence – she even has a robot named in her honour. As research professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, Maggie has spent a lifetime …

Hot Gossip - Part Two

January 19th, 2015

27:00

In the second of two programmes, Geoff Watts continues to explore the science, history and cultural implications of gossip.

Gossip has a bad …

Hot Gossip - Part One

January 12th, 2015

27:00

If language elevates us above other animals, why does human society seem to spend so much time gossiping? Perhaps it's because without gossip there …

Virtual Therapy

January 5th, 2015

26:59

E-Therapy has come a long way since the (slightly tongue in cheek) days of Eliza, a very early attempt at computer based psychotherapy. Eliza was little more than an algorithm that spotted patterns in words and returned …

Animal Personality

December 29th, 2014

26:59

Professor Adam Hart explores the newest area in the science of animal behaviour – the study of personality within species as diverse as chimpanzees, song birds, sharks and sea anenomes. What can this fresh field of …

Can Maths Combat Terrorism?

December 22nd, 2014

27:00

Dr Hannah Fry investigates the hidden patterns behind terrorism and asks whether mathematics could be used to predict the next 9/11. When computer …

New Space to Fly

December 15th, 2014

26:58

As our skies become more crowded Jack Stewart examines the long awaited modernisation of air traffic control. With traffic predicted to reach 17 …

Vagus Nerve

December 8th, 2014

26:58

Many people are living with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions in which the body attacks itself. Although drug treatments have improved over recent years they do not work for …

Elspeth Garman

December 1st, 2014

26:58

Jim al-Khalili talks to professor Elspeth Garman about a technique that has led to 28 Nobel Prizes in the last century.

X- ray crystallography, now celebrating its 100th anniversary, is used to study the internal …

Painful Medicine

November 24th, 2014

26:59

Addictions researcher, Dr Sally Marlow, investigates fears that easy access to powerful painkillers could be creating a large, but hidden problem of …

Chris Toumazou

November 17th, 2014

26:59

European Inventor of the Year, Chris Toumazou, reveals how his personal life and early research lie at the heart of his inventions.

As chief …

The Making of the Moon

November 10th, 2014

26:59

It is 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?

Trauma at War

November 3rd, 2014

27:00

They call them 'The Unexpected Survivors'. The casualties from the war in Afghanistan whose injuries were so severe that they were not expected to survive, but who survived nevertheless. In October, after 13 years …

Trauma: The Fight for Life

October 27th, 2014

26:59

Dr Kevin Fong explores the development of modern trauma medicine and discovers how the lessons from conflict and catastrophe have equipped us to deal …

Brian Cox

October 20th, 2014

26:59

Professor Brian Cox of Manchester University describes how he gave up appearing on Top of the Pops to study quarks, quasars and quantum mechanics.

Although he describes himself as a simple-minded Northern bloke, he has …

Urine Trouble: What’s in our Water

October 13th, 2014

27:00

You have a headache and take a pill. The headache is gone, but what about the pill? What we flush away makes its way through sewers, treatment works, rivers and streams and finally back to your tap. Along the way most …

Patients Doing It for Themselves

October 6th, 2014

26:58

Patient power is on the rise. But is it rising too far? Frustrated by the time it takes to develop new drugs, the ethical barriers to obtaining clinical data or the indifference of the medical profession to obscure …

Preventing Disease in Animals

September 29th, 2014

27:00

Diseases devastate livestock around the world. In chickens for example the deadly strain of bird flu and the lesser known bacterial infection Campylobacter, not only harms the chickens but is also a real threat to human …

Beyond the Abyss

September 22nd, 2014

26:55

Rebecca Morelle talks to explorers of deep ocean trenches, from film-maker James Cameron to biologists discovering dark realms of weird pink …

Power Transmission

September 15th, 2014

26:57

Gaia Vince looks at the future of power transmission. As power generation becomes increasingly mixed and demand increases, what does the grid of the future look like?

Biosafety

September 8th, 2014

26:59

Accidents happen in science labs all over the world, but when you’re working with deadly pathogens the consequences can be disastrous. The reputation …

Mum and Dad and Mum

September 1st, 2014

26:59

Alana Saarinen is a 13-year-old girl who lives with her mum and dad in Michigan, USA. She loves playing golf and the piano, listening to music and …

Antibiotic Resistance Crisis - Part Two

August 25th, 2014

26:59

Infectious bacteria are becoming resistant to the drugs that used to kill them. The last new class of antibiotics was discovered in the 1980s. There is little in the development pipelines of the world’s pharmaceutical …

Antibiotic Resistance Crisis - Part One

August 18th, 2014

26:27

The discovery and harnessing of antibiotic drugs in the mid-20th Century led some medics to predict the end of infectious diseases. But the bacteria …

Cosmology

August 11th, 2014

26:58

In March astronomers in the BICEP2 collaboration announced they had found gravitational waves from the Big Bang. But now the evidence is being …

Rosetta Mission Arriving At Comet

August 4th, 2014

29:27

On 6th August, the space probe Rosetta ends its 10 year journey and arrives at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. If all goes well, Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to go into orbit around a comet. The European …

Professor Sir Michael Rutter

July 28th, 2014

26:59

Professor Sir Michael Rutter has been described as the most illustrious and influential psychiatric scientist of his generation. His international reputation has been achieved despite the fact that as a young doctor, he …

What has Happened to El Nino?

July 21st, 2014

27:00

At the start of 2014 meteorologists warned of a possible El Nino event this year. The portents were persuasive – a warming of the central Pacific …

Swarming Robots

July 14th, 2014

26:58

Adam Hart looks at how new developments in understanding insect behaviour, plant cell growth and sub cellular organisation are influencing research …

Anaesthesia

July 7th, 2014

26:59

General anaesthetics which act to cause reversible loss of consciousness have been used clinically for over 150 years. Yet scientists are only now really understanding how these drugs act on the brain and the body to …

Janet Hemingway

June 30th, 2014

26:56

Janet Hemingway, the youngest woman to ever to become a full professor in the UK, talks about her career at the frontline of the war on malaria. …

Ageing and the Brain

June 23rd, 2014

26:59

Geoff Watts investigates the latest thinking about our brain power in old age. He meets researchers who argue that society has overly negative views …

Driverless Cars

June 16th, 2014

26:59

Jack Stewart meets the engineers who are building vehicles that drive themselves. He has a ride in Google's driverless car, which has no steering wheel and no pedals. Google's Chris Urmson explains the company's …

Driverless Cars

June 9th, 2014

26:56

Most traffic accidents are caused by human error. Engineers are designing vehicles with built in sensors that send messages to other cars, trucks, …

Taming the Sun

June 2nd, 2014

27:00

ITER is the most complex experiment ever attempted on this planet. Its aim, to demonstrate that nuclear fusion, the power of the Sun, can give us …

Beauty and the Brain

May 26th, 2014

27:00

Dr Tiffany Jenkins asks what our brains can tell us about art. Can there ever be a recipe for beauty? Or are the great works beyond the powers of …

Alf Adams

May 19th, 2014

27:00

Alf Adams FRS, physicist at the University of Surrey, had an idea on a beach in the mid-eighties that made the modern internet, CD and DVD players, and even bar-code readers possible. You probably have half a dozen …

Mark Miodownik

May 12th, 2014

26:59

Mark Miodownik's chronic interest in materials began in rather unhappy circumstances. He was stabbed in the back, with a razor, on his way to school. …

Sue Black

May 5th, 2014

26:59

Forensic anthropologist professor Sue Black began her career with a Saturday job working in a butcher's shop. At the time she didn't realise that …

Whatever Happened to Biofuels - Part Two

April 28th, 2014

26:58

Whatever happened to biofuels? They were seen as the replacement for fossil fuels until it was realised they were being grown on land that should …

Whatever Happened to Biofuels?

April 21st, 2014

26:59

Biofuels were hailed as the environmental solution to fossil fuels not that long ago. Made from living crops they take up carbon dioxide as they …

Peter Higgs

April 14th, 2014

27:00

An extended interview with the Nobel prize laureate. Peter Higgs tells Jim Al-Khalili that he failed to realise the full significance of the Higgs …

Vikram Patel

April 7th, 2014

27:00

Jim al-Khalili talks to psychiatrist Vikram Patel about the global campaign he is leading to tackle mental health. He reflects on his early career working in Zimbabwe, when he doubted any western diagnosis or treatments …

Inside the Shark's Mind

March 31st, 2014

26:59

Fatal shark attacks on humans have been on the increase in Australia. For Discovery, marine biologist Dr Helen Scales finds out how scientists are …

The Biology of Freedom

March 24th, 2014

26:59

Is free will unique to humans or a biological trait that evolved over time and across species? Whilst the existence and nature of free will has been …

Fructose: the Bittersweet Sugar

March 17th, 2014

27:01

If you believe the headlines fructose is 'addictive as cocaine', a 'toxic additive' or a 'metabolic danger'. So how has a simple sugar in fruit and …

Hack my Hearing

March 10th, 2014

26:46

Audiologists are concerned there may be a rising tide of 'hidden hearing loss' among young people. As electronic prices have fallen, sound systems …

Show me the Way to Go Home

March 3rd, 2014

26:41

Gardening grandmother Ruth Brooks, also known as 'the snail lady', was chosen as the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year in 2010. She noticed that despite repeatedly throwing her snails over the garden fence, her …

Saving the Oceans - Part Four

February 24th, 2014

26:59

In part four of Saving the Oceans, Joel finds out how knowledge of the seas from Australia’s Aboriginal communities can feed into modern ocean science. And at Seasim - the world’s largest marine research laboratory - he …

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