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299 EpisodesProduced by BBC World ServiceWebsite

Explorations in the world of science.

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Patient zero: Spillover in suburbia

May 10th, 2021


Episode One: Spillover in Suburbia

A horse mysteriously falls ill in her paddock, and before long dozens of other horses from her stables are sick. As …

The noises that make us cringe

May 3rd, 2021


Why do some people find noises like a fork scraping a plate so terrible? asks Findlay in Aberdeenshire. Rutherford and Fry endure some horrible noises to find out the answer.

Warning - This episode contains some horrible …

The Hamster Power Hypothesis

April 26th, 2021


"How many hamsters on wheels would it take to power London?" asks Judah from Virginia in the USA. Rutherford & Fry return with engineering, …

The Martian Mission

April 19th, 2021


What would it take for humans to live permanently on Mars? asks Martin in Weston-super-Mare, UK. The doctors dig into requirements and possibilities …

The equal rights stuff

April 12th, 2021


In 1976, Nasa launched a campaign to help recruit the next generation of Astronauts. It was fronted by African-American actress Nichelle Nichols, …

Lithium: Chile’s white gold

April 5th, 2021


The Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2019 was awarded to John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino "for the development of lithium-ion batteries." These rechargeable batteries are in our phones, and in our …

Patient zero: Coronavirus and contact tracing

March 29th, 2021


Today’s episode is about the history we’re still living. From Melbourne to Munich, Lombardy to Wuhan and all the way back again, this episode is about what happened when we faced those first coronavirus cases. Where …

The Evidence: Mental health and the pandemic

March 27th, 2021


Year two of the pandemic, and in tandem with rising rates of illness, death, acute economic shock and restrictions on everyday life, mental health problems have risen too.

Claudia Hammond and her panel of global experts …

Patient zero: The December transplant

March 22nd, 2021


Three transplant patients died within a week of each other in Melbourne in December 2006 and alarm bells started ringing. One of the patients was Karen. When she got a phone call from the hospital offering her a kidney …

Patient zero: something in the water

March 15th, 2021


It was October 2010 when reports first emerged of a mysterious disease spreading through Haiti. In a hospital in Saint Marc, about an hour north of …

The Life Scientific: Jane Hurst

March 8th, 2021


Mice, like humans, prefer to be treated with a little dignity, and that extends to how they are handled.

Pick a mouse up by its tail, as was the norm in laboratories for decades, and it gets anxious. Make a mouse anxious …

The Life Scientific: Cath Noakes

March 1st, 2021


Professor Cath Noakes studies how air moves and the infection risk associated with different ventilation systems. Early in the pandemic, she was invited to join the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for …

The Evidence: Keeping out Covid-19

February 27th, 2021


From flight bans and entry bans to compulsory quarantine and virus testing, most countries have introduced travel restrictions in an effort to …

The Life Scientific: Giles Yeo

February 22nd, 2021


Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work.

The power of night

February 15th, 2021


Lucy Cooke meets some of the animal kingdom’s nocturnal inhabitants to understand why it pays to stir once the sun goes down.

She examines some of the extraordinary nocturnal adaptations from the largest group of …

The power of one

February 8th, 2021


We humans are a supremely social species, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us into solitary confinement.

It feels like an unnatural, …

The power of celibacy

February 1st, 2021


You might think that sex is essential for life, but you'd be wrong!

Lucy Cooke travels to the Hawaiian island of Oahu to meet a community of mourning geckos - self-cloning sisters who have done away with males altogether.

The Evidence: The Shapeshifting Virus

January 30th, 2021


News that at least three new variants of SARS-CoV-2 have emerged in three separate continents have sent a chill throughout the scientific community. All viruses mutate but the speed and scale of the changes and the fact …

Science Trumped

January 25th, 2021


When US health expert sighed last week that science could now speak again, his sense of relief was shared by many scientists. Since the start of the …

Plant scientist Dale Sanders

January 18th, 2021


Professor Dale Sanders has spent much of his life studying plants, seeking to understand why some thrive in a particular environment while others …

Astrophysicist Andy Fabian

January 11th, 2021


Professor Andrew Fabian from Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy has spent his career trying to unravel the mystery of how some of the most dramatic …

Marine conservationist Heather Koldewey

January 4th, 2021


Professor Heather Koldewey wants to protect our oceans from over-fishing and plastic pollution. An academic who is not content to sit back and let …

Climate meltdown

December 28th, 2020


The year 2020 started with wildfires raging across parts of Australia, exceptional floods in East Africa, and a heatwave in the Arctic. Extremes persisted through the year in the north - where wild fires consumed record …

Hopes and fears for Covid-19 vaccines

December 26th, 2020


Less than a year in, and the first vaccines are already being rolled out, with many more in the pipeline. It is an unprecedented scientific response …

Evolutionary biologist Alice Roberts

December 21st, 2020


It’s amazing what we can learn from a pile of old bones. Having worked as a paediatric surgeon for several years (often doing the ward round on …

Steve Haake

December 14th, 2020


Steve Haake has spent much of his career using technology to help elite sports people get better, faster and break records. He has turned his hand to …

The Space Burrito

December 7th, 2020


Is there a point in space where the Sun could heat a burrito perfectly? asks Will. The doctors tackle this and a plethora of other conundrums from …

The Zedonk Problem

November 30th, 2020


Today I learnt that tigons and ligers are what you get when lions and tigers interbreed?!’ surprised listener Jamz G tells the doctors. ‘What determines whether species can interbreed?’

Geneticist Aoife McLysaght studies …

The Evidence: Pandemic rules: follower or flouter?

November 28th, 2020


Millions of us, across the world, are subject to curfews, stay-at-home orders and lockdowns but what makes us stick to the rules, bend them or ignore …

The end of everything

November 23rd, 2020


Everyone knows about the Big Bang being the beginning of the universe and time - but when and how is it going to end? ask brothers Raffie and Xe from Rome. For this series, with lockdown learning in mind, Drs Rutherford …

Broad spectrum

November 16th, 2020


Autism is a lifelong condition, often seen as particularly ‘male’. Yet a growing number of women, and those assigned female at birth, are being …

Birds: singing for survival

November 9th, 2020


As large areas of the world have locked down this year, many of us have become more aware of the birdsong around us. The relative silence has allowed us to listen in. But scientists have known for several years that the …

Digital touch

November 2nd, 2020


Claudia Hammond asks if touch can be replicated digitally? What devices exist already and how likely are we to use them?
Michael Banissy, co-creator of the Touch Test, neuroscientist David Eagleman and researcher Carey …

The Evidence: Are national lockdowns evidence of policy failure?

October 31st, 2020


As a surge of cases risks overwhelming health services in parts of Europe, Claudia Hammond and experts from around the world examine the evidence behind using lockdowns to supress the virus.

Lockdowns describe a huge …

Affectionate touch

October 26th, 2020


Claudia Hammond looks at the neuroscience behind our sense of touch. Why does a gentle touch from a loved one make us feel good? This is a question that neuroscientists have been exploring since the late 1990's, …

Unwanted touch

October 19th, 2020


Claudia Hammond explores unwanted touch and who we do and don’t mind touching us – and where. She draws on insights from the largest study that’s ever been conducted on the topic of touch – The Touch Test - commissioned …

Touch hunger

October 12th, 2020


Claudia Hammond explores our experience of touch hunger, and asks if we have enough touch in our lives. Covid-19 and social distancing have changed how most people feel about touch but even before the pandemic there was …

Megadrought in Chile

October 5th, 2020


Drought is a massive problem for Chile. Jane Chambers has been living in the capital Santiago for more than ten years and has seen huge changes in that time. It used to rain frequently in the winter months between June …

The sting in the tail

September 28th, 2020


"What’s the point of wasps?" asks listener Andrew, who is fed up with being pestered. For this series, with lockdown learning in mind, Drs Rutherford and Fry are investigating scientific mysteries for students of all …

The Evidence: Covid lessons for safe school reopening

September 26th, 2020


Claudia Hammond and experts from around the world consider the evidence behind schools, colleges and coronavirus spread. Listeners from India, Cuba, …

The seeded cloud

September 21st, 2020


"Could you make a machine to make it rain in minutes?" asks listener Alexander from Hampshire, aged 12. For this series, with lockdown learning in …

The growling stomach

September 14th, 2020


"Why do our tummies rumble - and when they do, does it always mean we are hungry?" asks listener James, aged 12. For this series, with lockdown learning in mind, Drs Rutherford and Fry are investigating scientific …

Return to Mars

September 7th, 2020


In February 2021, three spacecraft will arrive at Mars. One is the United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbiter - the first interplanetary probe sent by the Arab world. Tianwen-1 will be China’s first mission to reach Mars – …

Liz Seward

August 31st, 2020


Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to Liz Seward, Senior Space Strategist for Airbus Defence and Space. Liz's young interest in Science Fiction led to a career designing spacecraft and robots for exploring our own earth, …

Professor Emma Bunce

August 24th, 2020


Emma Bunce, Professor of Planetary Plasma Physics at the University of Leicester, was inspired to study the solar system as a child by a TV programme …

Frank Kelly

August 17th, 2020


Long before most of us gave air pollution a second thought, Frank Kelly was studying the impact of toxic particles on our lungs. In a pioneering set …

On the menu

August 10th, 2020


Shark, bear and crocodile attacks tend to make the headlines but humans fall prey to a much wider variety of predators every year, from big cats and …

Human Genome Project's 20th Anniversary

August 3rd, 2020


Adam Rutherford celebrates the 20th anniversary of one of the most ambitious and revolutionary scientific endeavours of all time - the Human Genome …

Brian Greene

July 27th, 2020


Brian Greene studies the universe at the largest and smallest scales imaginable. When he was just twelve years old, Brian wandered round Columbia …

Jane Goodall

July 20th, 2020


Jane Goodall, aged 86, reflects on the years she spent living with the wild chimpanzees in Gombe in eastern Tanzania and tells Jim Al Khalili why she believes the best way to bring about change is to ‘creep into …


July 13th, 2020


After a long journey, there’s nothing nicer for Katy than climbing into her own bed. It’s often the first major purchase we make when we grow up and leave home.

Its significance was not lost on our ancestors. The bed was …

Covid-19: Recovery

July 11th, 2020


Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.

Our panel of experts discuss how many people …


July 6th, 2020


You may call it the toilet, the loo, the privy, the potty, the can or even the bathroom, but whatever you call it, this everyday object has its roots in Bronze Age Pakistan. It even had a seat!

But how did the toilet …

Wine glass

June 29th, 2020


Have you got one of those wine glasses that can hold an entire bottle of wine? Katy Brand does and she’s even used it for wine - albeit because of a …

The Evidence: Covid 19: vaccines and after lockdown

June 27th, 2020


Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.

We look at vaccines to stop the spread of …


June 22nd, 2020


The fork is essential. Even camping without one is a false economy, in Katy’s experience. Even a spork - with a spoon at one end and a fork at the other, with a knife formed along one prong - just won’t do. You need …

High heel

June 15th, 2020


Katy Brand loves a high heel. Once known by friends and family for her ‘shoe fetish’, her dad even gave her a ceramic heel that could hold a wine …

The Evidence: Covid 19: Transmission and South America

June 13th, 2020


Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.

As the disease spreads how is South America …


June 8th, 2020


What is the most personal item you own - one you don’t want anyone else using?

For Katy Brand it’s her toothbrush. So how did the toothbrush become one of life’s essentials?

With the help of resident public historian of …


June 1st, 2020


Andrea Sella, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London, celebrates the art and science of the chemical elements. Today he looks …

The Evidence: Covid 19: Sub-Saharan Africa and Testing

May 30th, 2020


Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world. As the disease spreads how is sub-Saharan …

Aluminium and strontium

May 25th, 2020


Andrea Sella, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London, celebrates the art and science of the chemical elements. Today he looks …

Gold and silver

May 18th, 2020


Andrea Sella, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London, celebrates the art and science of chemical elements. In this episode he …

The Evidence: Covid 19: ending lockdowns

May 16th, 2020


Claudia Hammond and her panel of scientists and doctors analyse the latest science on the coronavirus and answer the audience’s questions on the impact of the pandemic.

Dr Lucy van Dorp of UCL explores the genetics of …

Science of Dad

May 13th, 2020


Whilst most men become fathers, and men make up roughly half the parental population, the vast majority of scientific research has focused on the …

Ignaz Semmelweiss: The hand washer

May 4th, 2020


Lindsey Fitzharris tells the story of Ignaz Semmelweiss, the hand washer. In a world that had no understanding of germs, he tried to apply science to halt the spread of infection. Ignaz Semmelweis observed that many …

The Evidence: Mental health and Covid 19

May 2nd, 2020


Now that more than half the population of the world has been living for a time in lockdown, Claudia Hammond and her panel of psychologists and …

Desert locust swarms

April 27th, 2020


The pictures coming in from East Africa are apocalyptic. Billions of locusts hatching out of the wet ground, marching destructively through crops, and launching into flight in search of new terrains. "This is certainly …

Anne Magurran

April 20th, 2020


Anne Magurran started her career as an ecologist counting moths in an ancient woodland in northern Ireland in the 1970s, when the study of biological …

The Evidence: Young people, lifting lockdowns, USA and Kenya updates

April 18th, 2020


Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.
As the disease spreads, younger people have …

Richard Wiseman

April 13th, 2020


How do you tell if someone is lying? When Richard Wiseman, Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, …

Professor Saiful Islam

April 6th, 2020


Not so long ago, all batteries were single use. And solar power was an emerging and expensive technology. Now, thanks to rechargeable batteries, we …

The Evidence: Taiwan, Vaccines, Africa Preparedness

April 4th, 2020


International experts discuss the latest research into Covid-19

Elizabeth Fisher: Chromosomes in mice and men

March 30th, 2020


Elizabeth Fisher, Professor of Neurogenetics at University College London, spent 13 years getting her idea – finding a new way of studying genetic …

Adrian Owen

March 24th, 2020


Neuroscientist Adrian Owen has spent much of his career exploring what he calls ‘the grey zone’, a realm of consciousness inhabited by people with severe brain injuries, who are aware yet unable to respond to those …

The Evidence: Coronavirus Special

March 21st, 2020


A panel of international experts take a global look at the science of Covid-19. We hear about vaccines, treatments, strategies to contain the virus …

Professor Martha Clokie

March 16th, 2020


Professor Martha Clokie tells Jim Al-Khalili how she found viruses that destroy antibiotic-resistant bugs by looking in stool samples, her son's …

Demis Hassabis

March 10th, 2020


Jim Al-Khalili finds out why Demis Hassabis wants to create artificial intelligence and use it to help humanity.

Thinking about how to win at chess when he was a boy got Demis thinking about the process of thinking …

Isaac Newton and the story of the apple

March 2nd, 2020


The story of how Newton came up with his gravitational theory is one of the most familiar in the history of science. He was sitting in the orchard at …

Science Stories - Sophia Jex-Blake

February 24th, 2020


Naomi Alderman tells the science story of Sophia Jex-Blake, who led a group known as the Edinburgh Seven in their bid to become the first women to graduate as doctors from a British university. Her campaign was long …

Science Stories - Mary Somerville, pioneer of popular science writing

February 17th, 2020


Mary Somerville was a self-taught genius who wrote best-selling books translating, explaining and drawing together different scientific fields and who was named the nineteenth century's "queen of science". Born Mary …

Stem cells: Hope and hype

February 10th, 2020


Lesley Curwen reports on the magical aura that has been drawing so many people around the world to pay for “regenerative” therapies which harness the healing power of stem cells. In this programme, she reports on the …

Stem cell hard sell

February 3rd, 2020


Stem cells are cells with superpowers. They can become many different types of cells in our bodies, from muscle cells to brain cells, and some can even repair tissue. But the remarkable promise of this exciting new …

The road to Glasgow

January 27th, 2020


Climate change is upon us. In 2018 the IPCC published a report with the most significant warning about the impact of climate change in 20 years. Unless the world keeps warming to below 1.5% degrees Celsius the impact …

Ecological grief

January 20th, 2020


As the Earth experiences more extreme weather, and wildlife is dying, from corals, to insects, to tropical forests, more people are experiencing …

The misinformation virus

January 13th, 2020


In this online age, the internet is a global megaphone, billions of messages amplified and shared, even when they're false. Fake science spreads …

The silence of the genes

January 6th, 2020


In summer of 2019 NICE approved the use of a completely new class of drugs: the gene silencers. These compounds are transforming the lives of families who have rare debilitating – and sometimes fatal - diseases such as …

Alexis Carrel and the immortal chicken heart

December 30th, 2019


Philip Ball tells the story of Alexis Carrel, the French surgeon who worked to preserve life outside the body and create an immortal chicken heart in a dish. His quest was to renew ageing flesh, repair and rebuild our …

Ramon Llull: Medieval prophet of computer science

December 23rd, 2019


Philip Ball tells the story of Ramon Llull, the medieval prophet of computer science. During the time of the Crusades Llull argued that truth could …

Ignaz Semmelweiss: The hand washer

December 16th, 2019


Lindsey Fitzharris tells the story of Ignaz Semmelweiss, the hand washer. In a world that had no understanding of germs, he tried to apply science to halt the spread of infection. Ignaz Semmelweis observed that many …

Madame Lavoisier's Translation of Oxygen

December 9th, 2019


Philip Ball tells the story of Madame Lavoisier; translator of oxygen. At a time when science was almost a closed book to women, Madame Marie Anne Lavoisier’s skills were indispensable. A translator, illustrator and …

Galileo's lost letter

December 2nd, 2019


Galileo famously insisted in the early 17th Century that the Earth goes round the Sun and not vice versa – an idea that got him into deep trouble …

Robin Dunbar

November 25th, 2019


Maintaining friendships is one of the most cognitively demanding things we do, according to Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Robin Dunbar. So why …

Katherine Joy

November 18th, 2019


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


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


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


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


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


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 …


October 7th, 2019


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


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


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


“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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"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


“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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 …


December 24th, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 …


September 17th, 2018


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 …


September 10th, 2018


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 …


September 3rd, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Two small creatures are at the heart of today’s questions, sent in to

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


Two astronomical questions today sent in to 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


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


Domestic science is on the agenda today, with two culinary questions sent in by listeners to

The Curious Cake-Off

Can chemistry …

Why Do Some Songs Get Stuck in Your Head?

May 7th, 2018


Two very annoying cases today sent in by listeners to 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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 …


March 12th, 2018


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 …


March 5th, 2018


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 …


February 26th, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Two deadly cases today sent in by listeners to

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


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


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


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


“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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Can Robots be Truly Intelligent?

June 5th, 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 …

Robots - More Human than Human?

May 29th, 2017


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Swooning maidens and clever horses feature in today's Curious Cases, sent in by listeners to

The Squeamish Swoon
Science …

Why do people shout on their cellphones?

September 5th, 2016


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

The Business of Failure

July 12th, 2016


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 …

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