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Podcast Profile: BBC Inside Science

podcast imageTwitter: @BBCRadio4 (followed by 12 science writers)
Site: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b036f7w2
300 episodes
2016 to present
Average episode: 32 minutes
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Categories: Broadcast Radio Programs • Science-Adjacent • Story-Style

Podcaster's summary: A weekly programme that illuminates the mysteries and challenges the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

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List Updated: 2022-Sep-28 12:10 UTC. Episodes: 300. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

Episodes
2022-Sep-22 • 27 minutes
Return of the ozone hole
Research on recent extreme fire events shows they have a direct effect on the size of the seasonal ozone hole over Antarctica. Climate scientist Jim Haywood is concerned more frequent and extreme fires predicted by climate models could negate all the work done to reduce the ozone depleting chemical pollutants which became such a concern more than 30 years ago. We look at two very different approaches to marine conservation , and discuss how the combination of monitoring and surveillance technology and e...
2022-Sep-15 • 31 minutes
A Possible Sequel to the Dinosaur Armageddon
Did the Chicxulub meteor that did for the dinosaurs have a smaller companion? Dr Uisdean Nicholson and Professor Sean Gulick talk to Vic Gill about the newly discovered Nadir Crater. Located on the other side of the Atlantic, it’s raising questions about whether Earth was bombarded with not one, but two, meteors on the day the dinosaurs were wiped out. Back in January, the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcano in Tonga erupted explosively, triggering a massive tsunami across the Pacific. Now, engineers are rem...
2022-Sep-08 • 28 minutes
Amplified Arctic Amplification and Microclot Clues to Post-Viral Disease
Professor Anna Hogg joins us on today’s programme for some polar explorations, we speak to one team recalculating arctic warming estimates and another who are storm chasing in Svalbard. Antii Lipponen from the Finnish Meterological Institute talks us through how quickly the arctic is really warming and Professor John Methven and PhD student Hannah Croad from the University of Reading send greetings from Svalbard where they’re chasing arctic storms. Also, new evidence for a possible biomarker of ME/Chronic ...
2022-Sep-01 • 31 minutes
Shaun The Sheep Jumps Over The Moon, Bronze Age Kissing and PPE Rubbish
ESA announce that Shaun The Sheep will fly around the moon this month aboard Artemis-1 mission. Philippe Deloo tells Gaia Vince what's in store for the woolly astronaut this month. Philippe is the team lead on the European Service Module, the part of NASA's Orion spacecraft which will be the workhorse of the new moon missions, ferrying four astronauts at a time to the moon and perhaps even beyond one day. This first Artemis mission, slated for launch 29th August, will check all the engineering bravado of th...
2022-Aug-25 • 35 minutes
Heatwave: the consequences
The severity of last week's heatwave is changing the narrative. Gaia Vince talks to Simon Evans, deputy editor of the climate publication Carbon Brief, who has been following the media coverage of this heatwave, and Lorraine Whitmarsh, professor of environmental psychology at the university of Bath. What has the recent hot weather done to the plants in our gardens, and the crops in our fields? Dr Nicola Cannon from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester tells us the low-down. Expect your potatoe...
2022-Aug-18 • 28 minutes
Multiverses, melting glaciers and what you can tell from the noise of someone peeing
The Multiverse Laura Mersini-Houghton is an internationally renowned cosmologist and theoretical physicist and one of the world's leading experts on the multiverse and the origins of the universe. She talks to Gaia Vince about finding evidence that supports her multiverse theory as more than just a hypothetical collection of diverse universes, including the one that houses our planet. She also shares her story of growing up with the horrors of a brutal Albanian communist regime. Glacier Collapse In Italy ...
2022-Aug-11 • 28 minutes
Deep Space and the Deep Sea - 40 years of the International Whaling Moratorium.
The James Webb Space Telescope is finally in business - what further treasures will it find? Also, the origins of the International Moratorium on Whaling, 40 years old this month. This week NASA invited President Joe Biden to help them publish the first of five images of full scientific value from the newest super telescope now operating a million miles away from us. It is capable of gazing as far deep into the sky as humans have ever gazed. That first image, an upgrade of one of the Hubble Telescope's "De...
2022-Aug-04 • 28 minutes
Robotic Thumbs, Mending Bones with Magnets, and the State of Science this Summer
Gaia Vince takes you for a mosey around his year's Summer Science Exhibition, held by London's Royal Society. Along the way, PRS Sir Adrian Smith talks of reforming A-Levels and a sorry international science collaboration situation as many european research grants are terminated amidst a Brexit withdrawal agreement stand-offs. The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is on until Sunday 10th July, it is free to attend and there are many activities and events online too. Presented by Gaia Vince Produced ...
2022-Jul-28 • 35 minutes
10 Years of the Higgs Boson
In 1964 a theoretical physicist called Peter Higgs suggested a mechanism via which elementary particles of a new theoretical scheme could obtain mass. It had been a thorny mathematical stinker in the framework that today we now call the standard model of particle physics. Ten years ago this July, the particle this mechanism predicted, the Higgs Boson, was confirmed to exist in experiments conducted at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Prof Frank Close, whose new book - Elusive - is published this week, is...
2022-Jul-21 • 30 minutes
Engineering Around Mercury, Science Festivals, and The Rise of The Mammals
How hard is it to get to Mercury and why are we going? Also, do science festivals work? And why did mammals survive when dinosaurs died? Marnie Chesterton and guests dissect. As this programme went out, scientists and engineers eagerly wait for new images of the planet Mercury to arrive, snapped from a speeding probe passing just 200km from the surface, as it desperately tries to shed some velocity on its seven-year braking journey. ESA/JAXA's BepiColombo mission to Mercury is using gravitational swing-sho...
2022-Jul-14 • 28 minutes
Inside Sentience
Marnie Chesterton and guests mull over the saga of an AI engineer who believes his chatbot is sentient. Also, climate scientists propose a major leap in earth system modelling, that might cost £250m a year but would bring our predictive power from 100 km to 1km. And the story of a Malaysian Breadfruit species that turns out to be two separate strains - something locals knew all along, but that science had missed. Philp Ball's latest book, The Book of Minds, explores the work still to be done on our concept...
2022-Jul-07 • 33 minutes
Miscounting Carbon, EU Funding Stalemate, and How to Make a Royal Hologram
This week on inside science Marnie Chesterton is looking at how companies measure and account for their use of renewable energy, how politics is impacting science funding in the UK and the technology behind the Queen’s holographic stand in at jubilee celebrations. Dr Anders Bjorn from Concordia university in Montreal talks us through ‘Renewable Energy Certificates’ explaining how they can sometimes be disconnected from real-life reductions in emissions. As he explains in a paper in Nature Climate Change ...
2022-Jun-30 • 39 minutes
A Reign of Science
Society itself and the ways we live have been transformed in 70 years of science. Marnie Chesterton, Andrea Sella, and Gemma Milne take a tour of the archive to evaluate some of the biggest hits on Inside Science's jubilee list. What did we miss? Presented by Marnie Chesterton. Assistant Producer Emily Bird Produced by Alex Mansfield
2022-Jun-23 • 35 minutes
Monkeypox, Pompeii aDNA, and Elephant Mourning Videos
Why are non-African monkeypox cases causing concern? Also, the first complete human genome from a Pompeiian cadaver, and how YouTube is aiding animal behaviourists. As cases of monkeypox appear strangely dispersed around Europe and elsewhere in the world outside of Africa, BBC health and science correspondent James Gallagher outlines to Vic the symptoms and some of the mysterious elements of this outbreak. In Pompeii, scientists have for the first time managed to sequence the whole genome of an individual...
2022-Jun-16 • 28 minutes
Buried Mars Landers, Freezing Species, and Low-Tide Archaeology
Since 2018, Nasa's InSight Mars lander has been sitting on the surface listening to the seismic rumbles of the red planet's deep interior. But this week, plans were announced to finally phase down its activity, as martian dust obscures too much of its solar panels to power it through the forthcoming winter. Jon Amos tells Vic Gill of some of its many successes, and quite why it didn't fly with a duster on board. 50 years of observations across Australia's northern tropical forests suggest yet more bad new...
2022-Jun-09 • 28 minutes
Running Rings Around Matter
Astronomers have captured the first image of Sagittarius A*, the gargantuan black hole at the centre of our galaxy. Dr Ziri Younsi, University College London, shares what it took to capture a picture of a supermassive black hole that is 26,000 light-years away and from which (almost) nothing, not even light, can escape. The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, is restarting after three years of upgrades. Roland Pease visits the European Particle Physics Labor...
2022-Jun-02 • 32 minutes
Precious Metals, Earlier Eggs, and Meaningful Meteorites
With the cost of living spiralling, many are probably thinking more about the price of food than lithium, titanium, copper or platinum. But the volatility in the global market for these materials - partly because of the pandemic and geopolitical unrest - is causing 'chaos' in the technology supply chain. Elizabeth Ratcliffe, Royal Society of Chemistry, tells Vic that many of us are unwittingly stockpiling these precious metals in our homes, in our old phones and defunct computers, because we don't know wha...
2022-May-26 • 44 minutes
The Ebb and Flow of the Tidal Power Revolution
This week, we begin with a disturbing medical mystery. Since the start of the year, almost 200 children worldwide have fallen ill with hepatitis—or liver inflammation—without any apparent cause. Most of the children are under five, and nearly half of the cases were in the UK. Vic Gill asks clinical epidemiologist Deepti Gurdasani, Queen Mary University of London, what we do and don't know about these rare cases. Also on the programme, with a huge tidal range, Wales and the west coast of England have become...
2022-May-19 • 34 minutes
Building Better Engagement
Victoria Gill and guests ask why does scientific communication matters in society and how it might be done better, with Sam Illingworth, Berry Billingsley and Ozmala Ismail. The climate crisis and Covid-19 have shown over the recent years the importance of reliable, relatable, transparent and trusted science communication. But just like science itself, it comes in different forms and takes different approaches. Always keen to keep you up to date, BBC Inside Science takes a moment to discuss good practice a...
2022-May-12 • 35 minutes
A Trip-Switch for Depression?
Could magic mushrooms be the key to a revolution in treating depression? Professor David Nutt, director of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research, thinks so. He tells Vic Gill about recent research suggesting that psilocybin - the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms - triggers rewiring of the brain in people with treatment-resistant depression. Vic Gill speaks with trial participant Steve Shorney who was diagnosed with depression 30 years ago. Nanobodies. That's the name scientists have gi...
2022-May-05 • 36 minutes
Declining Data, Climate Deadlines and the Day the Dinosaurs Died
Covid-19 infections in the UK are at an all-time high. But most people in England can no longer access free Covid-19 tests, and the REACT-1 study, which has been testing more than 100,000 individuals since the pandemic began, ended last week after its funding stopped. Martin Mckee, Prof of European Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, shares his insights on what these changes might mean for ambitions to 'live with the virus'. This week, the UN's latest Intergovernmental Panel on C...
2022-Apr-28 • 28 minutes
How can the UK get to zero carbon?
Energy is essential: every living thing needs energy to survive, and today’s industrialised societies consume enormous quantities of it. At the moment, the vast majority of this comes from burning fossil fuels that emit carbon. But the government is committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Meanwhile, oil and gas prices are rocketing, exacerbated by the ongoing war in Ukraine. And the energy price cap is being raised on April 1st, hitting millions of householders in the UK. While we await t...
2022-Apr-21 • 32 minutes
Racial inequality in UK science
This month the Royal Society of Chemistry released a shocking report on racial inequality at all stages of academia, from research funding to career progression. Black scientists in particular are unfairly disadvantaged when it comes to funding allocation. This is bad for them, bad for science, and bad for society. So how do we change things? Dr Diego Baptista from the Wellcome Trust, Professor Melanie Welham from the UKRI, and Dr Addy Adelaine, from the non-profit organisation Ladders4Action, join us to di...
2022-Apr-14 • 29 minutes
Global food security during Ukraine conflict
The Russian conflict in Ukraine is already causing hunger there, and as Ukraine and Russia are huge grain exporters, the crisis will be far reaching. Food prices everywhere are expected to rise, and there’s fear that the war could affect food supplies in some of the poorest parts of the world. Tim Lang, Emeritus Professor of Food Policy at City University of London, and Dr Hannah Ritchie, Head of Research at the website Our World in Data, join us to discuss food security. Lead is highly toxic to humans an...
2022-Apr-07 • 29 minutes
High Seas treaty talks and discoveries from the deep
The High Seas make up most of our oceans but belong to no-one and are largely unregulated, leaving them at risk of plunder. UN talks start afresh this week with the aim of protecting the marine biodiversity of these vast swathes of living ocean. Covid-19 can shrink our brains and lead to cognitive decline, even in mild cases, according to a new study out this week. Professor Gwenaëlle Douaud, who led the research, explains how they used hundreds of brain scans to discover the effects of Covid infection. ...
2022-Mar-31 • 28 minutes
Cyber frontlines in Ukraine
As conflict continues in Ukraine, there are invisible ‘cyber frontlines’ running in parallel to the physical fighting. We hear how the country’s tech scene is responding to the Russian invasion, as Mike Sapiton, Tech Editor at Forbes Ukraine gives us a view from the ground, and Professor Madeline Carr explains why cyber warfare can be particularly dangerous. A major report published this week speaks to a different kind of crisis: climate change. There are stark warnings for humanity and the planet, with t...
2022-Mar-04 • 1 minutes
Inside Science is now first on BBC Sounds
Looking for the latest episode? New episodes of Inside Science will now be available first on BBC Sounds for four weeks before other podcast apps. If you haven’t already, you can download the BBC Sounds app to listen to the Inside Science podcast first. BBC Sounds is also available in lots of other places. Find us on your voice device or smart speaker, on your connected TV, in your car, or at bbc.co.uk/sounds. The latest episode is available on BBC Sounds right now. BBC Sounds – you can find exclusive m...
2022-Feb-24 • 29 minutes
World’s largest Jurassic pterosaur found on Skye
In a week of exciting fossils finds we get up close to a 170 million year old pterosaur, found on the Isle of Skye. And over in the States, some fossilised fish hold the clue to what time of year the dinosaurs, along with three quarters of life on Earth, met their end. We hear from researcher Melanie During who tells us how growth patterns in sturgeons' bones reveal the season of this mass extinction. Predictions for how our climate will change over the coming years are essential in setting and meeting em...
2022-Feb-17 • 33 minutes
COVID-19: Beginnings... and endings?
With the prime minister proposing an end to self-isolation requirements as early as the end of the month, we thought we would check in with all things pandemic-related this week. We hear from mathematical biologist Dr Kit Yates from the University of Bath and UCL’s Professor Christina Pagel, who, like many scientists, are concerned about the consequences of relaxing protective measures. However, epidemiologist Professor Irene Petersen tells us why she feels it is the right time to loosen restrictions. ...
2022-Feb-10 • 29 minutes
Fusion energy smashes world record
This week the UK-based JET Laboratory broke its 25-year-old record for energy extracted by nuclear fusion - the process that powers the stars. Using temperatures 10 times hotter than the sun, nuclear fusion has the potential to provide vast amounts of energy at a very low carbon cost. But re-creating the power of the stars here on earth is no easy feat, and Roland Pease has been in Culham, speaking to the scientists at the forefront of this breakthrough. We discuss the Advanced Research and Invention Agenc...
2022-Feb-03 • 37 minutes
The Continuing Story of the Nuclear Waste Bill
Whilst energy prices are shooting up due to gas demand, in the UK the plans for the next generation nuclear reactors are moving ahead. The costs of eventually decommissioning these, and the spent fuel products they will create is all part of the new contract. But what is to be done, and how far have we got with the 70 years of legacy waste piling up in the UK? Claire Corkhill of Sheffield university helps advise the government about nuclear waste disposal. As she tells Marnie, it's a long-term problem that ...
2022-Jan-27 • 36 minutes
Predicting Long Covid, and the Global Toll of Antimicrobial Resistance
Prof Onur Boyman, Director of department of Immunology at University Hospital, Zurich, this week published a paper in the journal Nature Communications that presents a way of quantifying the risk of a Covid patient going on to develop Long Covid (or PACS as some call it) based on certain symptoms, but crucially also two key biomarkers in the blood. As he explains to Gaia, combining the levels in the blood of two key immunoglobulins (IgM and IgG3) with other pointers, first identified last year, allowed him ...
2022-Jan-20 • 37 minutes
The 'perfect' depth for a destructive eruption
Why was the blast from the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano so explosive? Where are we on the global climatic thermostat? And how you can get involved in the Big Repair Project. Gaia Vince speaks with Auckland University volcanologist Prof Shane Cronin, one of the few human beings to have visited the now-disappeared volcanic land bridge that stretched until last week between the islands of Hunga-Tonga and Hunga-Ha'apai. It was destroyed in the disastrous eruption of the volcano beneath it last week that h...
2022-Jan-13 • 28 minutes
The Rutland ‘Sea Dragon’, An Astronomer's Christmas and some Animal Magic
After 20 years of planning, preparation and a nail-biting build up fraught by delays The James Webb Space telescope finally launched on Christmas day 2021. Anxious astronomers across the globe looked on as the JWST then completed even riskier manoeuvres to unfurl the 18 hexagonal components that make up its 6.5 meter diameter primary mirror. Cosmologist Dr Sheona Urquhart from the Open University tells us about the astronomical community’s tense Christmas day. Fresh from a TV spot on BBC Two’s Digging for...
2022-Jan-06 • 37 minutes
Deep ocean exploration
UCL oceanographer Helen Czerski explores life in the ocean depths with a panel of deep sea biologists. They take us to deep ocean coral gardens on sea mounts, to extraordinary hydrothermal vent ecosystems teeming with weird lifeforms fed by chemosynthetic microbes, to the remarkable biodiversity in the muds of the vast abyssal plains. Helen's guests are Adrian Glover of the Natural History Museum in London, Kerry Howell of Plymouth University and Alex Rogers, scientific director of REV Ocean. They disc...
2021-Dec-30 • 42 minutes
A new space age?
Dr Kevin Fong convenes a panel of astronautical minds to discuss the next decade or two of space exploration. 2021 was an eventful year in space. Captain James Kirk a.k.a William Shatner popped into space for real for a couple of minutes, transported by space company Blue Origin's tourist rocket New Shepard. Elon Musk's Space X ferried more astronauts and supplies between Earth and the International Space Station, using its revolutionary resuable launchers and Dragon spacecraft. On Mars, the latest NA...
2021-Dec-23 • 38 minutes
The Origin of Celtic Culture in Britain?
Victoria Gill hears of ancient DNA evidence for an unrecognised mass migration from continental Europe 3,000 years ago that may even have brought the Celtic languages with it. In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers have gathered hundreds of middle-late Bronze Age DNA samples to identify a moment in pre-history when half the ancestry of people living in southern Britain became continental European. Sometime around 1000 BC, continental Europeans living in Kent spread rapidly i...
2021-Dec-16 • 34 minutes
The James Webb Space Telescope
The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope is only days away. Scheduled for lift off on 24 December, the largest and most complex space observatory ever built will be sent to an orbit beyond the moon. James Webb is so huge that it has had to be folded up to fit in the rocket. There will be a tense two weeks over Christmas and the New Year as the space giant unfurls and unfolds. Its design and construction has taken about 30 years under the leadership of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. With ...
2021-Dec-09 • 31 minutes
Initial Omicron Lab Data, Creative Naps, and Fishy Sounds.
T-Cells in vaccinated people may be holding the fort, or at least fighting serious illness, against the latest SARS CoV2 variant. Also, how the briefest of sleeps aids creativity. Prof Penny Moore, of South Africa’s National Centre for Infectious Disease and Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, joins us again this week to give us an update from the front line of scientists trying to get the data we need to try to predict the seriousness of the omicron variant. These early data, published as pre-prints...
2021-Dec-02 • 41 minutes
When Pandemics Collide
As virologists around the world race to investigate the latest SARS CoV2 variant of concern, the UN’s World AIDS Day this week reminds us of the other global pandemic raging for some 40 years. Much of the work achieved over the last two years on SARS CoV2 has been achieved because of the investment made into, and the understanding gained from, HIV research over the last two decades. But to what further extent do they overlap in the population? There is a theory that the omicron variant, displaying so very m...
2021-Nov-25 • 36 minutes
Malaria: what's in it for the mosquito?
Malaria, a disease that infects hundreds of millions of people and kills hundreds of thousands each year. It is caused after a plasmodium parasite is passed from a blood-feeding mosquito into a human host. Subject to much research over hundreds of years, of both host and parasite, one of the evolutionary mysteries has been why the plasmodium so prospers in the mosquito populations in infected areas. Why haven’t mosquitoes’ immune systems learned to fight back for example? In short, what’s in it for the mozz...
2021-Nov-18 • 37 minutes
Yet More Space Junk; COP-up or COP-out; The End of Bias.
Earlier in the week the current ISS crew had to prepare to evacuate after Russia tested an anti-satellite weapon, spreading thousands of high velocity shards of ex-satellite into a reasonably low-earth orbit and potentially endangering many other earth observation and communication satellites of all nations. How can we clear this and all the other debris? BBC Space Correspondent Jonathan Amos tells Gaia Vince about the Russian test and of efforts to de-orbit some other deceased orbital vehicles. Simon Evan...
2021-Nov-11 • 39 minutes
Propane: Keeping Your Cool as the World Warms Around You
How propane might prevent air conditioning and refrigeration becoming an even bigger burden as our planet warms. Also, covid antiviral pills, and how we forgot to breathe properly. The Montreal Protocol is famous for reducing CFC emissions to help protect the Ozone Layer. We only started using things like CFCs as refrigerants in our fridges and air-conditioning because they weren't as flammable as many alternatives. They were mainly replaced by HFCs, though these are also on the way out. The reason? Their ...
2021-Nov-04 • 34 minutes
How Whales Farmed For Food, COP progress, and The Last Stargazers
Gaia Vince hears how blue whales' huge appetites and energetic eating behaviours helped generate more food for themselves. Also, an update from COP26, and Emily Levesque on The Last Stargazers. New research published this week in the journal Nature reveals new insights into blue whales eating habits. Matthew Savoca and colleagues suggest these biggest of marine animals actually eat up to three times the mass of krill previously estimated. And they do this by finding the blooms of krill and using a spectacu...
2021-Oct-28 • 34 minutes
Atmospheric Pollutants and Where to Find Them
This week London's Ultra Low Emission Zone was extended to 18 times its previous size. In an effort to cut levels of various nitrogen oxides and other gases dangerous to humans from urban air, cities encouraging lower emission vehicles is a trend soon stretching across the UK and other European countries. But some are sceptical as to their efficacy. Dr Gary Fuller of Imperial College London is author of The Invisible Killer, and has been studying the air in London and elsewhere since these zones began. As ...
2021-Oct-21 • 39 minutes
The Possible Impact of false-negative PCR Tests
As many as 43,000 PCR tests for people living in and around the South West of England could have been wrongly returned as negative recently, thanks to a seemingly unknown error, or errors, at a laboratory near Wolverhampton. For an extraordinarily long time the mistakes went undetected, and every day many hundreds of people who really had Covid, were told they hadn't. To discuss the numbers and difficulty in calculating the full tragic consequences of the events, Marnie Chesterton speaks to Dr Deepti Gorda...
2021-Oct-14 • 32 minutes
Early Alzheimer's Alert
Marnie Chesterton hears of a simple test for the earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease. She finds out about UK scientists using robots to map radiation at Chernobyl, and talks to Merlin Sheldrake about fungi. Roland Pease travels to Bath University to meet scientists who may have developed a way to diagnose Alzheimer's in the earliest stages of the disease. Dr George Stothart, has led the team in the development of this simple 2 minute test. Prof Thomas Scott of Bristol University and team develop roboti...
2021-Oct-07 • 32 minutes
Surprising choice for Nobel prizes in a pandemic?
This week saw the announcement of the Nobel prizes for physiology or medicine, chemistry and physics. None of them reward research connected with Covid. Roland Pease, science journalist and Nobel watcher, and Gaia Vince discuss the decisions, which some have said are controversial in this pandemic year. The BepiColombo space craft, a joint European and Japanese mission, has just completed its first fly-by of Mercury, after a three year journey. Professor Dave Rothery, a planetary geologist at the Open Un...
2021-Sep-30 • 33 minutes
Covid vaccine boosters; why we don't have a tail; cassowary domestication; Royal Society Science book prize shortlist
Booster vaccines are now being offered to people in England most at risk of Covid, who had their second jab at least 6 months ago. Most people are getting an mRNA vaccine as a booster, mainly the Pfizer one. Dr Andrew Ustianowski, national clinical lead for the UK COVID Vaccine Research Programme, and infectious diseases consultant in Manchester, explains why people are not being offered new vaccines, specifically tweaked to prevent the current highly transmissible delta variant. And he talks about a trial...
2021-Sep-23 • 32 minutes
La Palma volcano; wind energy in the UK; origins of SARS-Cov2; Formula 1 safety
Thousands of people have been forced to flee the path of the lava that has been spewing from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma since Sunday 18th September. Dr Rebecca Williams of Hull University is an expert on the geology of the Canary Islands and tells Gaia Vince that eruptions are regular events on the islands. There's been much discussion about where we are going to get our energy from in the UK. Gas prices are soaring, a fire has knocked out a key power cable, and the weather has affected the amou...
2021-Sep-16 • 31 minutes
Perseverance drills on Mars; space tourism; Australian fire debris and algal blooms; DNA vaccines against Covid
NASA's Perseverance rover has been trundling around the Jezero crater since it landed successfully in February 2021. A few weeks ago it made its first attempt at collecting a sample of rock. Unfortunately the rock turned out to be so crumbly it disintegrated away. But Perseverance lives up to its name and has been drilling elsewhere and has now collected two samples. The rover has stored them in special canisters for later collection. Katie Stack-Morgan, Deputy Project Scientist of the Mars 2020 mission at...
2021-Sep-09 • 29 minutes
Climate change and oil and gas exploration; cutting methane emissions; African wild dog populations; freezing eggs and sperm
We’re just weeks away from the big international climate talks in Glasgow, where governments will be trying to figure out a workable plan for how to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. Gaia Vince explores a couple of strategies to tackle climate change. By far the biggest source of the rise comes from the release of greenhouse gases when we burn fossil fuels, like coal, oil and gas. So it’s no surprise that we need to cut back on this habit - but much of the discussions are over how much of our...
2021-Sep-02 • 29 minutes
Rugby and the brain
Victoria Gill talks to Professor Damian Bailey who's leading research at the University of South Wales into the potential risks to brain health in contact sports players, from impacts to the head and body sustained during play. His latest study found that over the course of a 31 game season, the brains of members of a professional rugby union team underwent measurable changes, particularly the forward players who sustained most tackles, knocks and falls. The findings may help to identify why professional...
2021-Aug-26 • 29 minutes
Window to solve pandemic origins closing
Virologist Marion Koopmans is one of the independent researchers appointed by the World Health Organisation to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The team visited China in January this year as a first step to answer how, when and where SARS-Cov-2 first infected humans. Professor Koopmans tells Victoria Gill that time is beginning to run out to launch the next phase of studies, to trace the first people in China to be exposed and identify the animals from which the virus jumped the species...
2021-Aug-19 • 30 minutes
Mammoth Journey
A 17,000 year old tusk contains a remarkable story of the lifetime travels of a woolly mammoth which roamed the grasslands of Ice Age Alaska. The animal travelled 70,000 kilometres over the course of three decades before his premature death north of the Arctic Circle. The University of Alaska's Matthew Wooller tells Victoria Gill how his team pieced together the mammoth's life from isotopic clues captured in the tusk. Also in the programme: The search for storage capacity underground for all the hydrogen w...
2021-Aug-12 • 30 minutes
IPCC report - extreme weather events
Victoria Gill talks to climate scientist Friedericke Otto about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's new landmark report. The report this week states that the evidence for humanity's role in changing global change is now unequivocal. Dr Otto was a lead author on the chapter on extreme weather events and explains how human influence can be attributed to the increasing incidence and intensity of heat waves and heavy rainfall events. Also in the programme: Immunological evidence to support a c...
2021-Aug-05 • 32 minutes
Bees and multiple pesticide exposure
Victoria Gill looks at the latest stories from the world of science. In this week's episode: the threat to bees from multiple pesticide exposure, how bee colonies can evolve defences against the varroa parasite, more problems for the Starliner space capsule, and what may be the oldest fossil animals yet found.
2021-Jul-29 • 30 minutes
Covid 19 – reaching the unvaccinated
In the UK we have seen a recent fall in Covid 19 cases. Good news, but we don’t know yet if this will be sustained. The virus is now thought to be spreading predominantly amongst the under 30s, most of whom remain unvaccinated. Young adults are the demographic most likely to be vaccine hesitant or vaccine averse. Kavita Vedhara from Nottingham University discusses the delicate balancing act of managing personal choice and collective responsibility needed to persuade people to get vaccinated to help stop ...
2021-Jul-22 • 33 minutes
A life-changing database
Proteomes, the sequences of protein within the DNA of every living thing, are notoriously difficult to model. The usual chemical methods can take months, but a new computational model using the ability of artificial intelligence to learn the complex sequences is able to predict structures within a matter of hours. Thousands of protein structure predictions are now available on a public database for anyone to access. Understanding such proteins is seen as key to treating nearly all disease. It also hold t...
2021-Jul-15 • 28 minutes
Covid19 - should we test everybody ?
Epidemiologist Julian Peto is advocating mass testing as the key part of a plan to stop the virus spreading. Studies where everyone has been tested have picked up asymptomatic cases. With the addition of isolation and contact tracing this method of testing has been able to massively reduce the spread of the virus. The hope is such a coordinated scheme implemented nationally could help bring the numbers down. There’s a question over which type of test is best to use for mass testing. At the moment many of ...
2021-Jul-08 • 28 minutes
Covid and our ancient ancestors
A global project looking at the genomes of over 2 million people has found a number of distinct genetic markers which seem to either make Covid infection more likely or the symptoms more severe. Some of these markers are known to be associated with susceptibility to cancer and lung disease. However the researchers say on their own these genetic factors are not determinants of how sick people will become. Underlying health, age and sex and a range of environmental and social factors are likely more importan...
2021-Jul-01 • 32 minutes
Gene editing gets real
For the first time the gene editing technique CRISPR has been used by injecting the CRISPR instructions into the bloodstream rather than directly into the affected organ. In a trial, six adult patients showed improvements after the treatment was used to prevent the expression of deformed proteins associated with a genetic disease. The hope is this method could treat a range of other genetic diseases, says Megan Molteni from Stat News. In the near future domestic gas boilers may be replaced by heat pumps. H...
2021-Jun-24 • 34 minutes
UK science policy shake-up; Ivermectin & Covid; black fungus in Indian Covid patients; many hominins in Siberian cave
The Prime Minister has announced his desire for the UK to become a 'science superpower'. A new office within the cabinet to look at science will work alongside existing science strategy and funding structures. So far it's unclear where the responsibilities between the various science policy bodies lie. James Wilsdon, Professor of Research Policy at the University of Sheffield, helps Gaia Vince pick her way through the spaghetti of overlapping organisations and Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI Chief Executive, g...
2021-Jun-17 • 30 minutes
Cov-Boost trial; SARS-Cov 2 infection in action; sapling guards; why tadpoles are dying
Scientists are now looking at the question of third doses of vaccines against SARS-Cov2, and this week the Cov-Boost trial was launched. It’s being run from University of Southampton and is going to be using seven different vaccines, some at half doses, in people over the age of 30 who were early recipients of their two doses. The Chief Investigator, immunologist Professor Saul Faust explains the aims of the trial. Once we've breathed the coronavirus into our lungs, how does it spread through our bodies, d...
2021-Jun-10 • 32 minutes
Covid vaccines in children; preventing dengue; algal blooms; supersonic flight
Should we be vaccinating children in the UK against SARS-Cov 2? Children are rarely seriously ill if they catch Covid but infections mean missed school, and they can pass it onto older vulnerable people. The US, Canada, Israel and Dubai are some places that are already vaccinating the under 18s and Pfizer has recently published data from a trial of its mRNA vaccine in just over 2000 12-15 year olds, showing no safety concerns. Gaia Vince discusses the issue with Professor Beate Kampmann, consultant paediatr...
2021-Jun-03 • 32 minutes
Lab origin theory of SARS-Cov2; gene for obesity; dark matter map; rock art in Scotland
Sars Cov2, as the Covid19 coronavirus is called, probably began as the vast majority of new diseases do, when an animal virus infected a person – perhaps in a market or farm. There’s a large animal market in the city of Wuhan that sold wild as well as farmed animals, and studies have shown that different species of animals can infect each other with coronaviruses on their journey to market. But there’s also a possibility that the virus originated in one of two government laboratories in Wuhan. After all, we...
2021-May-27 • 36 minutes
Human use of plants beyond the limits of history.
Human impact on planet earth’s plant life might be detectable several thousand years back in fossil pollen cores taken from mud columns around the world. As Suzette Flantua and Ondrej Mottl describe in a paper published in the journal Science, a rapid acceleration in the changes in pollen species goes back further than we might have expected. This matters particularly when it comes to decisions around re-wilding and re-planting areas today in the name of conservation. As they hope to build on in future work...
2021-May-20 • 43 minutes
Blood Clot Cure, Synthetic Fuels and Coal Mine Heat Pumps
Vic Gill talks to scientists who have cured a vaccine-induced blood clot patient, and meets a former top F1 chief engineer who wants to transform the fuel industry. Scientists in Vienna have been continuing to look at the rare blood clots associated with the AZ Covid-19 vaccination. Paul Knoebl describes to Vic his paper describing the diagnosis and successful treatment of a patient who developed a fever whilst skiing six days after taking it. Whilst the side effect is still condsidered incredibly rare, Pa...
2021-May-13 • 36 minutes
Microplastics in UK river beds
Untreated wastewater "routinely released into UK rivers" is creating microplastic hotspots on riverbeds. That is the conclusion of a study in Greater Manchester, which revealed high concentrations of plastic immediately downstream of treatment works. The team behind the research concluded: untreated wastewater was the key source of river microplastic. Jamie Woodward takes Vic Gill wading in the River Tame in Greater Manchester to show some of the sites they studied, while co-author Rachel Hurley talks fro...
2021-May-06 • 28 minutes
Early burials, diversity in Tudor England, a malaria vaccine, and rogue brain waves
Despite being home to our early ancestors, attempts to find evidence of early burials in Africa have proved unsuccessful. That is until now. Professor María Martinón-Torres explains how findings from a 78,000-year-old Kenyan grave shed light on how our ancestors related to the dead. In keeping with the theme of clues from the past, Cardiff University academics have been studying the remains of crew who drowned on King Henry VIII’s favourite ship, the Mary Rose. As it turns out, Tudor England was more ethn...
2021-Apr-29 • 32 minutes
Dragonfly on Titan, Retreating Glaciers, Surge Testing, Acoustic lighthouses
Now that NASA engineers have successfully flown a helicopter remotely on Mars planetary scientists are exploring how to use the technology elsewhere. Marnie Chesterton talks to Elizabeth "Zibi" Turtle, from Johns Hopkins University who is working on a mission to fly a drone, called Dragonfly, above Titan, one of Saturn's moons. A new report that has measured the state of over 200 000 of the world's glaciers has just been published. Bob McNabb of the University of Ulster explains why it's not good news as ...
2021-Apr-22 • 29 minutes
Coronavirus variants and vaccines, climate change resistant coffee, dare to repair and how to get rid of moths
This week has seen a huge surge in Covid- 19 in India leading to concern of a "double mutant" variant, but what do we know about this B.1.617 as it is otherwise known. It was first described in October and is now in other countries including the UK. Virologist Dr Muge Cevik looks at the emerging evidence around vaccines and new variants. Climate change threatens coffee crops so it's exciting to know that researchers have found an ancient coffee variety that is drought resistant and can tolerate higher temp...
2021-Apr-15 • 28 minutes
Blood clots, grieving and the emotion of screams
The story of what we understand about the rare cases of blood clots associated with certain Covid-19 vaccines is constantly evolving. In today’s programme Professor Beverley Hunt looks at the emerging evidence. How have the restrictions due to Covid 19 affected how we grieve? Professor Claire White, an expert in grief and mourning, is investigating what it means to the grief process when the traditional ways of acknowledging death are changed. Sascha Fruholz has the unenviable task of listening to people...
2021-Apr-08 • 31 minutes
Disobedient particles, noisy gorillas, sharks and fictional languages
In 2016, an accelerator physics centre called Fermilab acquired a massive circular 50 foot magnet from a lab in New York. Too big for the roads, the magnet had to take a 2000km detour via New Orleans to get to its new home. This was the start of the “muon g-2” experiment. Last week, Fermilab announced some of their results, and they don’t quite add up. UK experiment lead Professor Mark Lancaster from Manchester University tells us what they have discovered about the tiny particle that is disobeying the laws...
2021-Apr-01 • 29 minutes
Science funding cuts; Mice get Covid-19; Native oyster reintroductions
Scientists were delighted earlier this year to find they would still have access to the EU Horizon 2020 funding and collaborations. Now, it has been revealed that membership of this group, which was previously paid for through fees to the European Union, may come directly from the science budget, at a cost of about £15 billion over the next 7 years. That’s £1-2 billion a year. Marnie Chesterton speaks with Beth Thompson, head of policy at the Wellcome Trust about the implications, and Roland Pease asks scie...
2021-Mar-25 • 32 minutes
Halfway to net zero; hydrogen as a fuel; Fagradalsfjall, Iceland’s active volcano
The UK is reportedly halfway towards meeting its 2050 target of "net zero" carbon emissions. How did we get there and how will we achieve the next stage? ‘UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 were 51% below 1990 levels, according to a new Carbon Brief analysis. This means the UK is now halfway to meeting its target of “net-zero” emissions by 2050.’ Simon Evans explains his predictions from the report, outlines how we define net zero and what is required from the next few decades to ensure that the UK meets...
2021-Mar-18 • 32 minutes
Human embryo research and ethics; sperm whale social learning; Antikythera mechanism
We still know very little about exactly how the embryo forms out of a mass of dividing cells in those crucial first weeks after conception. This is also the time when many miscarriages occur, and scientists want to understand why. Couples going through IVF donate spare embryos for research and scientists are permitted to study them in a test tube, or in vitro, allowing them to grow and develop for up to 14 days. This 14 day rule is abided by globally, and it’s enshrined in the Human Fertilisation and Embryo...
2021-Mar-11 • 28 minutes
China's green growth plan
On Friday 5th March China published a draft for its 14th five-year plan in Beijing. The document acts as a national economic blueprint and was expected to provide an outline as to how the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions planned on tackling its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2060, put forward by President Xi Jinping last September. It appears that greenhouse emissions could continue to increase by 1% or more each year up until 2021. Sam Geal, acting CEO at China dialogue, explai...
2021-Mar-04 • 31 minutes
Blue carbon; inside Little Foot's skull; reading locked letters
With global warming continuing to increase at an alarming rate, we need all the help we can get to lock up the carbon that we’ve released into the atmosphere. Fortunately, plants have evolved to do just this, but there’s a whole class of plants that often get forgotten: the mangroves and seagrasses that grow between land and sea, which are among the planet’s most effective carbon sinks. Gaia Vince talks to Fanny Douvere, head of the marine programme at UNESCO, about its new report that shows the importance ...
2021-Feb-25 • 30 minutes
Good COP Bad COP, Shotgun Lead Persistence, and Featherdown Adaptation
On Thursday, The UN Environmental Programme published a report called Making Peace With Nature. It attempts to synthesise vast amounts of scientific knowledge and communicate “how climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution can be tackled jointly within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals”. But it also offers clear and digestible messages that governments, institutions, businesses and individuals can act upon. Concluding BBC Inside Science’s month-long look at some of the challenges ahea...
2021-Feb-18 • 50 minutes
Nasa's Perseverance - will it pay off? And spotting likely hosts for future pandemics.
On Thursday 18th Feb 2020 Nasa’s Perseverance Rover is due to touch down – gently and accurately – in the Jezero crater on Mars. Using similar nail-biting Sky Crane technology as its predecessor Curiosity, if successful it will amongst many other things attempt to fly the first helicopter in the thin Martian atmosphere, and leave small parcels of interesting samples for future missions to collect and return to earth. Unlike previous Martian landings of course, there are no mass-landing parties to be held be...
2021-Feb-11 • 41 minutes
Meeting Mars, Melting Ice, Ozone on the Mend Again, and A Sea Cacophany
Victoria Gill and guests discuss the signs and symptoms of melting ice and anthropogenic climate warming, illicit CFC production and the racket we make in the seas. As two robotic missions from UAE and China arrive at Mars , and a third from NASA arrives next week, UK astronaut Tim Peake talks of the international collaboration in Mars research that is to come. And continuing BBC Inside Science's look at some of the issues facing COP26 delegates to Glasgow this autumn, Victoria is joined by cryosphere sci...
2021-Feb-04 • 42 minutes
Putting a number on biodiversity
Ahead of the COP summit in Glasgow at the end of the year, this week an important study was published that attempts to enumerate the value of biodiversity in the economics of humankind. Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta's review makes it clear how essential and yet vulnerable it is. Trees play a large part in the biosystems of the planet, and replanting them is often touted as a solution to many of the carbon challeneges of the next century. But a paper and forthcoming conference hosted by Kew points out just how c...
2021-Jan-28 • 36 minutes
Next Gen Covid Vaccines; Man's Oldest Bestest Friend; Bilingual Brain Development
A year after the first SARS-Cov2 sequences were received in the vaccine labs, Dr Alex Lathbridge and guests look into ongoing development and what next year's booster shots might be like. Prof Robin Shattock's team at Imperial College are still working on their vaccine technology - called 'Self Amplifying RNA' or saRNA. A little bit behind their well financed corporate colleagues, this week they announced that instead of pressing ahead with a phase III trial, they will instead look to developing possible ...
2021-Jan-21 • 31 minutes
Vaccine Hesitancy and Ethnicity; The Joy of catnip; Lake Heatwaves
Reports this week talk of some BAME ethnic minorities being significantly less likely to take a covid vaccine if offered. Vittal Katikireddi and Tolullah Oni both sit on the SAGE ethnicity subgroup, and they discuss with Alex Lathbridge where the figures come from and quite what they might mean. Some of these same groups have suffered some of the worst outcomes from infection. Addressing any underlying problems that bely the figures will take a nuanced approach. Researchers in Japan and Liverpool have been...
2021-Jan-14 • 33 minutes
UK Science post Brexit; GMOs vs Gene Editing regulation; Identical Twins That Aren't Indentical
In the new EU-UK deal, the UK is to be an associate member of the latest EU research funding round, known as Horizon Europe. Costing around £2bn to take part, what can UK scientists now do and what has changed? UKRI CEO Otteline Leyser and the Wellcome Trust EU specialist Beth Thompson discuss ways in which UK researchers are breathing a sigh of relief. Of all the ways the UK can now diverge from the EU, DEFRA is currently holding an open consultation on whether to tweak the current GMO regulations so as n...
2021-Jan-07 • 39 minutes
Vaccine Dosing and Biodiversity Soundscape Monitoring
After the decision by the UK government last week to change the spacing between dosings of vaccine from the recommended 3 weeks to 12 weeks, immunologists around the world have been discussing with some urgency the wisdom of such a move. The FDA and the WHO are deeply sceptical, and the manufacturers have distanced themselves to some extent, by cautioning not to deviate from the regime tested in last year's phase III trials. The thinking behind the move is to get more people injected with a single dose in a...
2020-Dec-31 • 39 minutes
Brian Cox and Alice Roberts on a decade of extraordinary science
As a new decade ticks over, Dr Adam Rutherford, Professor Alice Roberts and Professor Brian Cox look back on a decade of science that has transformed perceptions of our medicine, our history and our universe. From advances in genetics that have brought personalized medicine to reality, and revealed the ghosts of ancestral human species never before identified, to quantum computing lessons that hint at the nature of existence and causation throughout the universe, it has been an interesting time. New observ...
2020-Dec-24 • 32 minutes
Space Rocks, Aquatic Dinosaurs and Global Temperatures; 2020 science reviewed
Nobody could have failed to notice the one story dominating the science news this year - but what about the discoveries that have been overshadowed in 2020? This week, Dr Adam Rutherford eschews all mentions of the pandemic as he invites dinosaur researcher Dr Susie Maidment, climate scientist Dr Tamsin Edwards and astrophysicist Dr Emma Chapman to share their science highlights of the year. We journey to the moon and beyond to discuss the many missions that have been blasting and grabbing bits of space r...
2020-Dec-17 • 33 minutes
Covid mutation; On the facial expression of emotions; A mystery object
Dr Alex Lathbridge with your peek at the week in science. This week in the House of Commons Matt Hancock announced a new variant in the Covid virus, discovered to be spreading through the south east of the UK. As Professor Jonathan Ball of the University of Nottingham describes, there have been many slight mutations and changes to the DNA in the virus since it first emerged, and most are of no added danger. But it is important that new ones - and new combinations of them - are tracked through collaboration...
2020-Dec-10 • 37 minutes
Future risk planning; Millennium Seed Bank; Urban trees
Dr Alex Lathbridge brings you the week in science. As the first COVID vaccines are delivered this week hastening the first glimmers of a return to normal life, is it too soon to be thinking about other future threats to humanity? James Arbuthnot, chair of a House of Lords select committee tasked to look at risk planning, and fellow committee member Martin Rees discuss their meeting this week and the assessment of the scientists invited to share their interpretations of future threats like AI, solar flares ...
2020-Dec-03 • 37 minutes
Protein folding; Hyabusa sample return; Holiday Covid testing
Has one of the biggest problems in biology been solved by AI? Dr Alex Lathbridge brings you the week in science. This week google's Deep Mind team presented results of their latest efforts at cracking the 50 year old problem of Protein Folding. AlphaFold has built on previous success at predicting the 3D structures of biological proteins from just knowing the sequence of amino acids of which it is made. It is a computational problem that thousands of researchers around the world have been trying to solve f...
2020-Nov-26 • 30 minutes
26/11/2020
Last weekend a joint European-US satellite blasted into space to begin its mission - monitoring the oceans back here on earth. Sentinel 6 Michael Freilich is one of a long line of satellites and has a striking design – appearing like a bright gold farmyard barn with a big pitched roof. Anand Jagatia speaks to Dr Ralph Cordey at Airbus Space and Defence about the latest design iteration and the technology on-board. Oceanographer Professor Penny Holiday from the National Oceanography Centre explains how Sent...
2020-Nov-19 • 31 minutes
COVID Operation Moonshot; Big Compost Experiment; Gulf of Mexico meteorite and new life
Earlier this month, the government rolled out a pilot in Liverpool for ‘Operation Moonshot’, their proposal to spend £100 billion pounds to regularly test the entire UK population for SARS CoV 2. Anand Jagatia speaks to screening expert Dr Angela Raffle and medical test evaluator Professor Jon Deeks from the University of Birmingham. They share their concerns about the scheme and the benefits it may bring. A year ago, BBC Inside Science helped launch the Big Compost Experiment, a citizen science project ru...
2020-Nov-12 • 36 minutes
mRNA vaccinations; bacterial space miners; Artemis accords
Scientists this week announced hopeful results in two of the big COVID-19 vaccination trials. Trudie Lang, Professor of Global Health at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, Oxford, describes some of the methodology used, what the efficacy statistic means, and how the novel approach of inserting mRNA rather than deactivated virus parts, is so exciting. Prof Charles Cockell has been investigating how bacteria might be grown in space on lumps of asteroid to extract precious minerals, and as Kim McAllister re...
2020-Nov-05 • 31 minutes
COVID in families; earthquake under Aegean Sea; Camilla Pang wins science book prize
We know that children can catch the SarsCov2 virus, even though adverse side effects are incredibly rare. But what isn't clear is how likely they are to transmit the virus? If you’re a parent, are you in danger of catching the virus, maybe brought home from school by your child? A large study, using the anonymised health experiences of around 12 million adults registered with GPs in England, has just been published that explores that question. Dr Laurie Tomlinson, of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Me...
2020-Oct-29 • 34 minutes
A new saliva gland, Bill Bryson on the Human Body, and the return of the Dust Bowl
Marnie Chesterton presents an update on the week's science. Behind your eyes, above your mouth but below the brain, two 3cm saliva glands have been hiding since anatomy began. So reports a new study by Matthijs Valstar and Wouter Vogel of The Netherlands Cancer Institute. They describe to Marnie how they found these hitherto unnoticed glands, and importantly how knowledge of these will help people treated for head and neck cancers to get on with their lives in the future. It may be that radiotherapies have...
2020-Oct-22 • 34 minutes
COVID reinfections, Susannah Cahalan questions psychiatry and sense of smell and COVID
If you contracted COVID will you then be protected from further infections and illness from SARS-CoV-2 in the future? We’re starting to hear about cases of people being infected by the novel coronavirus for a second time. A handful of these cases have been published in peer reviewed journals. Nottingham University’s Professor of Virology Jonathan Ball discusses how big the problem of reinfection might be. Is it likely to be a common event which could hamper efforts to bring the pandemic under control? ...
2020-Oct-15 • 40 minutes
Test and trace - how the UK compares to the rest of the world; Linda Scott's book The Double X Economy
From the very start of the COVID pandemic, test and trace has been the mantra. But here in the UK it was started, then abandoned as the number of cases rose too high to manage. It’s now been reintroduced and we’re all being encouraged to download the ‘NHS COVID-19’ phone app which can detect whether you’ve been near an infected person using Bluetooth technology. How have other countries around the world been managing to find, test, trace, isolate and support (FTTIS) their COVID patients? And what lessons ca...
2020-Oct-08 • 34 minutes
08/10/2020
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, following the discovery of a special class of nerve fibres in the skin. There seems to be a neurological system dedicated to sensing and processing the gentle stroking you might receive from a parent or lover or friend, or that a monkey might receive from another grooming it. Claudia talks to ...
2020-Oct-01 • 37 minutes
Brian May's Cosmic Clouds 3-D; How fish move between waterbodies and Jim Al-Khalili's take on physics
There are few images as awe-inspiring as those of the deep cosmos. Photos of the stars, galaxies, constellations and cosmic nebulae are difficult to improve on, but a new book might have done just that, by making them stereoscopic. David Eicher, Editor-in-Chief of Astronomy Magazine teamed up with astro-photographer J. P. Metsavainio, all engineered by astrophysicist and stereoscope enthusiast Dr Brian May, and they’ve created the first ever book on nebulae in 3-D, It’s called ‘Cosmic Clouds 3-D’, and is pu...
2020-Sep-24 • 35 minutes
Royal Society Science Book Prize - Gaia Vince; Biodiversity loss and Science Museum mystery object
The Royal Society’s Insight Investment Science Book Prize’s shortlist has just been announced. Over the next few weeks, Marnie and Adam will be chatting to the six authors in line for the prestigious prize. They’ll be getting a guided tour of ‘The Body – a Guide for Occupants’ with Bill Bryson; Discussing ‘Life According to Physics’ with Jim Al Khalili; Explaining Humans: Discovering ‘What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships’ with Camilla Pang; Linda Scott will be exploring ‘The Epic ...
2020-Sep-17 • 31 minutes
COVID-19 in Winter, Acoustics of Stonehenge and Dog years
As it starts to get colder and we crank up the central heating in our homes, what will the effect be on the SARs-CoV-2 virus? As a respiratory virus like the common cold and influenza, will the coronavirus have a distinct season and will the incidence of COVID get worse in the winter? A pre-print study of over 7000 hospitalised patients across Europe and China during the early days of the pandemic plotted severity of the disease with outside temperature. In European countries as we came out of winter, into ...
2020-Sep-10 • 29 minutes
Coronavirus: The types of vaccine; How the UK is scaling up vaccine production
Vaccination has eradicated smallpox, a disease that decimated populations through the 20th century. Polio is almost gone too, and measles is no longer the pervasive childhood threat it once was. It’s clear that vaccination is our best tool to halt the threat of SARS CoV 2, and allow the return to a less restricted way of life. But it takes time to develop and test vaccines although the technologies used to create them have moved on significantly over the last few decades. Professor Jonathan Ball, a virolog...
2020-Sep-03 • 28 minutes
Bird and dinosaur skull evolution; the wonders of yeast and Science Museum mystery object
Skulls give researchers a great deal of insight into how an animal might have evolved, and skulls can be sensibly compared between species and groups of animals. The 10,000 species of bird around the world are what’s left of an even more diverse group, the dinosaurs. But research on their skulls has revealed that despite the birds’ exceptional diversity, they evolve far more slowly than their dinosaur relatives ever did. This is one of the findings of a huge skull mapping project at the Natural History Muse...
2020-Aug-27 • 32 minutes
What does the science say about the COVID risks of schools reopening? Dolphin ear autopsy
Over the next couple of weeks almost all children in the UK will be back to school. But the pandemic hasn’t ended, and we are far from having a complete understanding of how this virus works, including how it is transmitted and how it affects younger people. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that kids need to be back at school, as the costs of not being physically in classrooms are great - for the education of kids, for their mental health, and for the finances of parents needing to work. But what does ...
2020-Aug-20 • 28 minutes
Smart bricks, The Royal Academy of Engineering awards for pandemic engineering solutions and detecting SARS-Cov-2 in sewage
Red clay bricks are among the most ubiquitous building materials worldwide. Julio D'Arcy, a chemist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, describes to Adam Rutherford how he and his team have turned ordinary house bricks into energy storage units that can power home electronic devices – thanks to the red iron oxide (rust) pigment and a conductive plastic nano-material infused into the bricks These new ‘smart bricks’ can be charged to hold electricity a bit like a battery. As the pandemic conti...
2020-Aug-13 • 28 minutes
Land use and zoonoses, California's earthquake risk and the Tuatara genome
COVID19 is a chilling reminder of how pathogens from animals can jump into humans. But it’s not the first time. SARS, Ebola, West Nile virus and bubonic plague are all serious infectious diseases that sat in a host species before crossing to us. But what causes this to happen? Individual case studies suggest that we are partly to blame in the way we use the land, either through urbanisation or agriculture. But how widespread is this, and do our global patterns of land use systematically put us at risk? A...
2020-Aug-06 • 28 minutes
How sperm swim, the theory of soil & the Big Compost Experiment update
Adam reveals new research which overturns received wisdom about how sperm swim. More than three centuries after Antonie van Leeuwenhoek peered down his early microscope to observe human sperm or ‘animalcules’ swimming with a ‘snakelike movement, like eels in water’, high-tech observations now reveal that this was, in fact, an optical illusion. Hermes Gadelha from Bristol University used 3D microscopy, a high-speed camera and mathematics, to reconstruct the true movement of the sperm tail. Much to his ama...
2020-Jul-30 • 32 minutes
Science Museum mystery objects; home security camera security and Rosalind Franklin at 100
The Science Museum Group looks after over 7.3 million items. As with most museums, the objects you see on display when you visit are only the tip of the iceberg of the entire collection. Up until now, many of the remaining 300,000 objects have been stored in Blythe House in London. But now the collection is being moved to a purpose-built warehouse in Wiltshire. The move is a perfect opportunity for curators to see what’s there, re-catalogue long hidden gems and to conserve and care for their treasures. But ...
2020-Jul-23 • 32 minutes
Pre-prints over peer review during the COVID pandemic and roads and birds
A pre-print is a way for scientists to get their work out quickly for other scientists to comment on and debate. But pre-prints are not peer reviewed; they have not undergone the scrutiny of reviewers and journal editors. They're generally seen as a good thing, but are just a step on the way for science to be verified and published. But it's important to note that the science can be wrong or sloppy in pre-prints, so they have never really been part of the process by which science is disseminated to the gene...
2020-Jul-16 • 28 minutes
Science Fraud & Bias, Immunity to COVID-19
Science is all about self-reflection. Scientists constantly check themselves, share their work, and check each other’s data. But how robust is the science upon which civilisation is built, the science which has mapped genomes, cured diseases, split atoms and sent people to the moon? Adam talks to Stuart Ritchie, a psychologist from Kings College London, about his new book Science Fictions which explores everything from biases and human fallibility, to outright fraud. He also talks to microbiologist turne...
2020-Jul-09 • 34 minutes
Satellite navigation in the UK; the science of the World Wide Web and Neolithic genomics
Is the UK losing its way when it comes to satellite navigation? There's GPS from the US, but other countries and regions, including Russia, China, India and Japan, either have, or are building, satellite navigation systems of their own. The EU has Galileo, but with Brexit, Britain is no longer involved. The Government has announced that it’s just acquired a satellite technology company called OneWeb. It’s primary role is enhanced broadband, but there’s talk of adding in a navigation function to the constell...
2020-Jul-02 • 28 minutes
Preventing pandemics, invading alien species, blood types & COVID-19.
As we’re beginning to understand more about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, we’re hopefully starting to get some clues on how to deal with the next viral pandemics, and even look at ways of stopping them from happening. To do this, we have to go back to where the virus jumped from its animal host into humans. Like this current coronavirus, many of the pandemic viruses (SARS, MERS HIV, Ebola…to name a few) are zoonotic diseases. They start in wild animals and evolve to jump to humans (sometimes ...
2020-Jun-25 • 32 minutes
The Human Genome Project's 20th Anniversary
Adam Rutherford is back to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most ambitious and revolutionary scientific endeavours of all time - the Human Genome Project. Its scope and scale was breath-taking, set up to read every one of the 3 billion nucleotides, or letters of genetic information, contained within the DNA in every cell of the human body. It took seven years, hundreds of scientists, cost almost $3 billion and, amazingly, came in under budget and on time. Adam reflects back on that momen...
2020-Jun-18 • 41 minutes
Coronavirus conspiracy, Listeners' mask questions, Solar Orbiter gets close to the Sun
Throughout the pandemic, we've seen an explosion in information about the science of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, COVID-19. An article online, or a text forwarded, could be true and sounds about right, but how do you know that it's accurate? When scrolling through your social feed, how do you decipher fact from fiction? A new report, by Kings College London and Ipsos MORI, reveals that those of us who get our news from social media are more likely to believe misinformation about the ...
2020-Jun-11 • 28 minutes
Engineering out of lockdown and should we castrate male dogs?
As the UK gradually begins to ease out of lockdown, Marnie explores how engineers are hoping to reduce the spread of Covid-19. We’ve learned how infected people exhale droplets and aerosols, containing the virus, and how we can then either inhale them, or transfer them to our faces by touching contaminated surfaces. Many shops already have screens and physical barriers, while schools and offices are re-configuring desks and walkways. What role does the environment play in our overall risk of becoming in...
2020-Jun-04 • 28 minutes
Back to School and Covid-19 and Ordnance Survey and the pandemic
As the lockdown eases and some children, in preschool and primary years, start heading back to school, what impact will this have on the pandemic, how will we know and is there anything we can do about it? Marnie Chesterton talks to Professor of Mathematical Biology at Cambridge University, Julia Gog, who co-chaired the group that advised the government on the impact of easing school closures. She explains why the limited opening of schools provides a golden opportunity to learn about its impact on the pa...
2020-May-28 • 31 minutes
Testing & Tracing the coronavirus, and the traces our movements leave behind
Inside Science this week is all about our information - the stuff we volunteer and the traces our everyday movements leave behind. With the launch of NHS Test and Trace across England, if you start to feel unwell with suspected Covid-19 and call a new NHS hotline 119, you’ll be tested for the virus. Your close contacts will be traced and, if you test positive, you'll be asked to self-isolate for 7 days, and your contacts asked to quarantine for 14 days. The route to those close contacts is currently thr...
2020-May-21 • 28 minutes
Coronavirus-free science, the impact of lockdown on climate change and the odds of both life and intelligent life existing.
In response to listeners who have expressed coronavirus fatigue in recent weeks, Marnie Chesterton brings us up to date on some of the best and brightest breaking science we might have missed, with BBC’s Non-Covid-19 Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos. Inching back to pandemic news, Marnie investigates the fallout of the lockdown from a climate perspective. In many countries, citizens have been asked to stay at home and not to travel unless it’s strictly necessary. As a result, the hubbub of normal life...
2020-May-14 • 33 minutes
Coronavirus R number, genome study of Covid-19 survivors and using aircraft messages to assess aviation
R seems to have found its way into the newspapers and on Radio 4 as if it’s a word, or a letter, that we should all be familiar with and understand. As part of the government’s briefing on Sunday, it appeared in a pseudo-equation, the infographic - 'COVID alert level = R + number of infections' - the Government called R the 'Rate of Infection', but it is commonly known as the 'Reproduction Number'. So what exactly is R, and what does it do? Mathematical Biologist, Kit Yates, from the University of Bath, cle...
2020-May-07 • 29 minutes
Should the public wear face masks? Did SARS-Cov-2 escape from a laboratory in Wuhan?
Advice about whether the public should wear face masks, to protect against infection by the coronavirus, differs around the world. In Europe, policy recommendations are mostly geared towards homemade masks. As this country waits to find out how we’ll venture out of lock down, should we be wearing face masks out in public too? The government’s mantra throughout the pandemic has been “follow the science” but on this issue there is ongoing debate, with strongly held and differing views. The Royal Society’s DE...
2020-Apr-30 • 31 minutes
Testing for immunity to COVID-19 and Citizen science on BBC Radio past and present
This week, the Government’s target to be testing 100,000 a day for COVID-19 looks like it won’t be met. But we’ve heard about many people who experienced the virus mildly, or who’ve tested positive with no symptoms at all. If you really want to know who has had the virus, the only way to tell for certain is with an antibody, or serology, test. Describing how they work is Professor of Virology at Nottingham University, Jonathan Ball. Eleanor Riley, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at Edinburgh ...
2020-Apr-23 • 42 minutes
Understanding Covid-19 death rates; Contact tracing apps; Whale sharks and atomic bombs
Every death is a tragedy for grief-stricken families, but every set of statistics is an opportunity to understand the virus and the disease Covid-19 a bit more. In fact gathering these data, quickly and accurately, is a priority at the moment, up there with developing a vaccine and rolling out widespread testing. Gareth Mitchell discusses, with, David Spiegelhalter, who is the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, why it’s so hard ...
2020-Apr-16 • 28 minutes
Lockdown lessons for climate change and the carbon neutral Cumbrian coal mine
While the world is dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, those who are concerned about the environment are saying that an arguably bigger crisis is being side-lined. Climate change, or climate breakdown, is still happening. Just like the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be the poorest people in the poorest countries that pay the highest price for the breakdown in our climate. But can we learn something from the current lockdown that can be applied to climate change? Can it provide the impetus for us to do things...
2020-Apr-09 • 29 minutes
Testing for asymptomatic coronavirus carriers, Human Cell Atlas, and invasive parakeets
You can’t build up a picture of Covid-19’s spread throughout the UK without testing those who might have it and those who might have already had it. Britain currently is only testing people who are hospitalised, some healthcare workers and a handful of exceptions. The upshot is that we don't have reliable numbers on how many people in the community have, or have had, Covid-19. Even self-reporting doesn’t pick up those who carry the virus, but do not show any symptoms. Professor Mike Bonsall is part of a t...
2020-Apr-02 • 32 minutes
Coronavirus: Models & being ‘led by the science’; Mars500 isolation tips; Kids’ science - singing glasses
Marnie Chesterton reveals how important the models and graphs are in informing government strategies for the Covid-19 pandemic. Christl Donnelly, Professor of Statistical Epidemiology at Imperial College London and Professor of Applied Statistics at the University of Oxford, and Dr Kit Yates, Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Biology at the University of Bath and author of 'The Maths of Life and Death', explain what epidemiological models can and can’t tell us about the progression of the disease, infection r...
2020-Mar-26 • 43 minutes
Coronavirus - Lockdown efficacy; viral testing; surface survival; dog walking safety
Last week, we promised we’d tackle your coronavirus and associated Covid 19 questions and you came up trumps. So this week we’re be talking about the latest from the lockdown, why there are bottlenecks in the testing system, how long the virus lives on your door handles and whether your dog can spread coronavirus. Joining us to answer your questions are Jonathan Ball, Professor of Virology at the University of Nottingham, and BBC Radio Science presenter and reporter Roland Pease. On Monday evening, Prime ...
2020-Mar-19 • 29 minutes
TB vaccination to replace culling in badgers; Neil Shubin on the wonders of evolution
The government have announced that the controversial cull of badgers across England will begin to be phased out in the next few years. It will be replaced by vaccinating badgers for bovine TB. The cull is intended to cut tuberculosis in cattle and has killed at least 100,000 badgers since 2013. TB in cattle is a severe problem for farmers and taxpayers, leading to the compulsory slaughter of 30,000 cattle and a cost of £150m every year. However culling is thought to have failed because frequent trading of c...
2020-Mar-12 • 28 minutes
Biology of the new coronavirus
Adam Rutherford explores what makes the new coronavirus so effective at making us ill. Jonathan Ball, Professor of Virology at Nottingham University, explains the structure of the virus and how it gets into our lungs. Evolutionary virologist at Cambridge University, Dr Charlotte Houldcroft talks to Adam about how labs are detecting the virus and how they are studying the way it mutates to understand how it's moving around the world. Kate Jones, Professor of Ecology at UCL, tells Adam how bats live with co...
2020-Mar-05 • 34 minutes
Banning lead shot for hunting; UK Fireball Network and Extremely thin gold
We have known for centuries about the toxic properties of lead, and we have known since at least 1876 that birds die of lead poisoning when they eat lead gunshot (which they do, thinking its grit). To address this, in 1999, the use of lead ammunition in England was restricted. These Regulations prohibit the use of lead ammunition in certain habitat (predominately wetlands) and for the shooting of all ducks and geese, coot and moorhen. However compliance with these Regulations is low. And what about other an...
2020-Feb-27 • 28 minutes
The Big Compost Experiment; Using AI to screen for new antibiotics; Science of slapstick
Composters - we need you! Or rather materials scientists at UCL, Mark Miodownik and Danielle Purkiss, need you to take part in their Big Compost Experiment. Launched back in November, the team asked members of the public to fill in an online questionnaire about their composting and recycling habits. With special reference to plastic packaging labelled as 'compostable', they want you to see whether your compost bin at home can break down these products. Despite starting in the coldest season, where compost p...
2020-Feb-20 • 42 minutes
Coronavirus questions; HMS Challenger and ocean acidification; Sean Carroll's quantum world
Adam Rutherford is joined by Professor of Virology at Nottingham University, Jonathan Ball, to help answer some of your questions on the latest coronavirus outbreak. Will it become endemic, and once infected and recovered how long are we resistant to the virus? And can face masks and alcohol hand gels help prevent infection? In the 1870's the scientific research ship, HMS Challenger, sailed all the world's oceans measuring sea temperatures, ocean depths and sampling the geology of the seabed. But it's the ...
2020-Feb-13 • 41 minutes
Ordnance Survey - Britain's 220-year-old tech company; Launching synthetic voices and personality test
For the past 220 years, Ordnance Survey have been mapping Great Britain with extraordinary accuracy. But as Gareth discovers when he visits their HQ in Southampton, GB's master map is not a static printed document. It's a 2 petabyte database which is updated up to 20,000 times a day. This adds up to 360 million updates a year. Since the development of the theodolite and the first detailed map in 1801 of the county of Kent, Ordnance Survey have used cutting edge technology, not only to map our lands, but to ...
2020-Feb-06 • 28 minutes
Solar Orbiter launch; Mutational signatures in cancer; paleo-oncology
The latest space mission to the Sun is due to launch on Sunday. SolO, the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter, will loop around our star in an elliptical orbit, sling-shotting around Venus. Professor Richard Harrison at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory has been on the mission from its conception, he details the instruments and what they're hoping to discover about the Sun and its impact on space weather back here on Earth. If chemicals in cigarette smoke or exposure to UV light played a role in causin...
2020-Jan-30 • 37 minutes
Coronavirus update, Typhoid Mary and 200th anniversary of the first sighting of Antarctica
With the recent coronavirus outbreak spreading around the world, and concerns about people being infectious before they exhibit any symptoms. Professor of Virology at Nottingham University Jonathan Ball explains infection rates, quarantines and why he's worried about it spreading to the developing world. 'Alice in Typhoidland' is a new exhibition in Oxford recording how that city dealt with typhoid. It’s called that after one of its 19th century residents, Alice Liddell (the girl after whom Alice in Wonder...
2020-Jan-23 • 31 minutes
Coronavirus outbreak in China; Genetic diseases in Amish communities and getting an Egyptian mummy to speak
With news reports moving as quickly as the virus may be spreading, the latest coronavirus outbreak which is thought to have started in Wuhan in central China is fast becoming a global health concern. Adam Rutherford speaks to BBC Inside Science's resident virologist Professor Jonathan Ball from Nottingham University, who says one of the most urgent things to do is to find out where the virus came from, and what animal it jumped to humans from. The Anabaptist Amish communities are some of the fastest growin...
2020-Jan-16 • 30 minutes
Reproducibility crisis in science; Aeolus wind-measuring satellite; electric cars
Science is built upon the idea that results can be verified by others. Scientists do their experiments and write up their methods and results and submit them to a journal that sends them to other scientists, who check them and if they pass muster, the study gets published for further scrutiny. One of the keystones of this process is that results can be reproduced. If your results can’t be replicated, something is amiss. Over the last few years, particularly in the field of psychology, many high profile find...
2020-Jan-09 • 32 minutes
Australian bush fires; Veganuary and LIGO
2019 was the hottest and driest year on record in Australia. The Indian Ocean Dipole and the Southern Annular Mode weather systems, plus existing drought conditions, all primed the continent for the horrific fire season currently raging in the east and south east of the country. Climate scientist at the University of New South Wales Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick is in no doubt global warming played a role in making these the worst fires in recent history. Making matters even worse is that the ferocity of the bu...
2020-Jan-02 • 28 minutes
The hidden history in our DNA - Part 2 - Travel and Culture
Our genomes are more than just an instruction manual for our bodies. They are maps, diaries, history books and medical records of our and our ancestor's lives...if you know how to read them. In the second part of BBC Inside Science's special, series, Adam Rutherford, UCL geneticist Lucy van Dorp and other scientists discover how travel and even culture of our ancestors can be decoded in our DNA today.
2019-Dec-26 • 33 minutes
The hidden history in our DNA - Part 1 - Sex and Disease
Our genomes are more than just an instruction manual for our bodies. They are maps, diaries, history books and medical records of our and our ancestors' lives.....if you know how to read them. In this programme and the next Adam Rutherford is joined by UCL geneticist Lucy van Dorp and other scientists who are cracking these genomic codes to tell the human story. This week they explore how sex and disease over the past few thousand years has left indelible marks on our DNA.
2019-Dec-19 • 30 minutes
Ten years of Zooniverse; what happened to volcano Anak Krakatau and visualising maths
Adam Rutherford talks to Chris Lintott about the citizen science platform he set up ten years ago. Zooniverse is a place where the public can help scientists analyse huge swathes of data. Projects such as spotting distant galaxies, counting penguins and tagging WW2 diaries have all has a huge boost thanks to the people-power of the Zooniverse. The Indonesian volcano Anak Krakatau, which means 'Son of Krakatoa', was born out of the ashes of the mega volcano which erupted and collapsed in the 1880s. Last yea...
2019-Dec-12 • 28 minutes
Earliest hunting scene cave painting; animal domestication syndrome
A cave painting in Sulawesi, Indonesia, has been dated and is at least 43,900 years old. The mural portrays a group of part-human, part-animal figures (called therianthropes), hunting large mammals with spears and ropes. It is thought to be the oldest representation of a hunting scene in human history, and perhaps Homo sapiens' oldest known figurative rock art. Adam Brumm at Griffith University in Brisbane is part of an international team that has been exploring this cave complex. He speculates with Adam Ru...
2019-Dec-05 • 32 minutes
Global Carbon Emissions; Parker Solar Probe and simulating swaying buildings
Reports from the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25) in Madrid are saying that global warming is increasing and that we're not doing enough, fast enough, to change things. The World Meteorological Organisation's provisional State of the Climate 2019 report lists atmospheric carbon dioxide reaching record levels. Global mean temperatures for Jan-Oct 2019 were 1.1+/-0.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Arctic ice extent minimum in Sept 2019 was the second lowest on satellite record. Tropical...
2019-Nov-28 • 30 minutes
What's the problem with palm oil and should we be supporting sustainably grown oil? Virtual reality skin
Palm oil is now such a dirty word for household products and processed food, that it often hides behind a list of dozens of pseudonyms (from the ubiquitous sodium laureth sulphate to the slightly more obvious palm kernel oil, to the totally opaque vegetable oil). It’s becoming a major global concern, and there is on going debate between enforcing a ban or shifting to more sustainable production. It’s always complicated, but as we’ve learned so many times in the past, we have to tread carefully to avoid the ...
2019-Nov-21 • 37 minutes
Noise pollution and wildlife; No till farming; Cornwall's geothermal heat
The effects of human-made noise on the natural world has been surprisingly little studied. Hanjoerg Kunc at Queen's University in Belfast has collected all experimental data on the effects of anthropogenic noise on wild animals and found it to be overwhelmingly harmful., And Cambridge University's PhD student Sophia Cooke is looking at the impact of roads, including road noise on British birds, and the impact could be huge. Last week we spoke to Jane Rickson at Cranfield University about how healthy soils ...
2019-Nov-14 • 29 minutes
Soils and floods, Air pollution and ultra-low emission zones, detecting the drug Spice
The UK's soils are the first line of defence against flooding, but the condition of the soil is vital to how well it can soak up and slowly release rainwater. Jane Rickson, Professor of soil erosion and conservation at Cranfield University, explains to Adam what makes a healthy soil and what farmers can do to try to prevent floods. "Spice" is a catch-all phrase for a large variety of psycho-active compounds - commonly called legal highs. They interact with the same receptors in the brain as cannabis does...
2019-Nov-07 • 28 minutes
Fracking moratorium; Bloodhound; Big Compost Experiment; transit of Mercury
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an indefinite moratorium this week on mining of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, in the UK, citing fears of earthquakes and seismic activity caused by fracking in the past. In August this year, a 2.9 magnitude earthquake was recorded at the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire, which prompted an immediate shutdown, as required by the strict protocols that we have in place. Adam Rutherford talks to Dr James Verdon, a geophysicist at Bristol U...
2019-Oct-31 • 29 minutes
African genomes sequenced; Space weather; sports head injuries
Since the human genome was first sequenced nearly 20 years ago, around a million people have had theirs decoded, giving us new insights into the links between genes, ancestry and disease. But most of the genomes studied have been in people of European descent. Now a decade-long collaboration between scientists in the UK and in Uganda has created the largest African genome dataset to date. Dr Deepti Gurdasani discusses her research with Gaia Vince. After 7 years of orbiting the Earth and sending us import...
2019-Oct-24 • 28 minutes
Organic farming emissions; Staring at seagulls; Salt and dementia
Switching to 100% organic food production in England and Wales would see an overall increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Although going fully organic would produce fewer direct emissions than conventional farming, researchers say it would limit food production. Making up the shortfall with imports from overseas would increase overall emissions. But is the sustainability of our food production about more than greenhouse gas emissions alone? Professor Dave Reay is Chair in Carbon Management & Education at th...
2019-Oct-17 • 28 minutes
Ebola model, Partula snails, Malaria origin
Zoonotic diseases are infections that transfer from animals to people, and include killers such as bubonic plague, malaria, ebola and a whole host of others. Trying to understand how diseases make the leap from animals to humans – so called spillover – and how outbreaks occur is a crucial part of preventing them. But outbreaks are complex and dynamic, with a huge number of factors playing a role: What animal is hosting the disease, the environment in which it lives, the changing climate, human presence and ...
2019-Oct-10 • 28 minutes
Extinction Rebellion, UK net zero emissions and climate change; Nobel Prizes
Extinction Rebellion is in the news with its stated aim of civil disobedience and protest, and goal to compel governments around the world to act on the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the UK government this week announced that it was overruling its own Planning Inspectorate, by approving in principle new gas-fired turbines at the Drax power station in North Yorkshire. The Inspectors had advised that the new developments would undermine UK climate policies on carbon emissions. In the UK we are committed to reach...
2019-Oct-03 • 36 minutes
HIV protective gene paper retraction, Imaging ancient Herculaneum scrolls, Bill Bryson's The Body
In November 2018 news broke via YouTube that He Jiankui, then a professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China had created the world’s first gene-edited babies from two embryos. The edited gene was CCR5 delta 32 - a gene that conferred protection against HIV. Alongside the public, most of the scientific community were horrified. There was a spate of correspondence, not just on the ethics, but also on the science. One prominent paper was by Rasmus Nielsen and Xinzhu Wei’s of th...
2019-Sep-26 • 35 minutes
Oceans, ice and climate change; Neolithic baby bottles; Caroline Criado-Perez wins RS Book Prize
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's special report on the oceans and cryosphere makes pretty grim reading on the state of our seas and icy places. Ocean temperatures are rising, permafrost and sea ice are melting, sea levels are rising and marine life is either moving or suffering the effects of temperature changes and acidification. Dr Phil Williamson, research fellow at the University of East Anglia, worked on the report and he explains to Adam Rutherford how the watery and icy parts of the ...
2019-Sep-19 • 31 minutes
MOSAiC Arctic super-expedition, Likely extinction of the Bahama nuthatch, Tim Smedley's book on air pollution
On Friday, 20 September, a powerful icebreaker called The Polarstern will set sail from Tromsø, Norway, with the aim of getting stuck into the polar ice. The plan is for the ship to spend the next year drifting past the North Pole, and this should enable scientists to collect unprecedented data on the Arctic. The Polarstern is the ‘mothership’ of a substantial international collaboration called the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (or project MOSAiC). Scientists from ov...
2019-Sep-12 • 36 minutes
Model embryos from stem cells, Paul Steinhardt's book on impossible crystals, Mother Thames
One of the most fundamental developmental stages we humans go through is extremely poorly understood. The first few days of the embryo, once it's been implanted in the womb is incredibly hard to study. Yet it's the time when the majority of pregnancies fail. Professor Magdalena Zernika-Goetz at Cambridge University is a leader in the field of making 'model embryos' in both mice and humans. Model embryos until now have been grown in the lab from donated fertilised eggs, but these are hard to come by and gove...
2019-Sep-05 • 30 minutes
Inventing GPS, Carbon nanotube computer, Steven Strogatz and Monty Lyman discuss calculus and skin
Global Positioning System, or GPS is perhaps the best known of the satellite navigation systems, helping us find our way every day. Back in the 1970's Bradford Parkinson and Hugo Fruehauf were two of the inventors who miniaturised atomic clocks and launched them in Earth orbit satellites. This was part of the US Department of Defense's plan to track ships and aircraft and guide targeted missiles. In the intervening years, Brad and Hugo had no idea just how far the civilian applications of GPS would go. Alon...
2019-Aug-29 • 28 minutes
Amazon fires, Royal Society Book Prize shortlist announced, John Gribben on quantum physics
Satellite data has shown an 85% increase in the number of fires across Brazil this year. There are more than 2,500 fires active across the Amazon region. This represents the most active number of fires since 2010. The increase in fires has been attributed to deliberate deforestation and clearing for agriculture or mining. The new president of Brazil, Jair Bolsanaro, supports the commercialisation of the Amazon forest and this is said to have encouraged the wide scale burning. Professor of Earth System Scien...
2019-Aug-22 • 28 minutes
UK's black squirrels' genetic heritage; nuclear fusion in the UK and the Royal Society's science book prize
Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to spot the uncommon black grey squirrel in the UK. The bizarre mutation that causes a change in fur colour has finally divulged its historic evolution. Dr Helen McRobie at Anglia Ruskin University studies the black version of the introduced grey squirrel. She explains to Gareth Mitchell how the grey squirrel might have got the genetic mutation for black fur back when it was in North America. She describes how she stumbled across a finding that questions how we define a spec...
2019-Aug-15 • 34 minutes
UK power cut, Huge dinosaur find in Wyoming, Micro-plastics in Arctic snow
Following the simultaneous outages of two UK power plants last Friday, affecting nearly 1 million people across the country, we at Inside Science wanted to get back to the basics of electricity and get our heads round how the National Grid keeps the nation running. Keith Bell explains the difference between AC and DC (Alternating and Direct current), and why it's essential to keep the frequency of the grid steady at 50Hz. They’re calling it ‘Mission Jurassic’. A site so full of dinosaur bones that it wo...
2019-Aug-08 • 28 minutes
Making the UK's dams safe, AI spots fake smiles, How many trees should we be planting?
In the light of the evacuation of the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge due to damage to the Todbrook reservoir dam and the threat of a catastrophic collapse, questions inevitably arise as to how ‘future proofed’ UK dams are? This is doubly worrying in light of climate change and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events. With the average age of UK dams being over 100 years and the UK climate forecast to become wetter and warmer, should we be concerned? Gareth Mitchell speaks to Rachel Pether from ...
2019-Aug-01 • 30 minutes
Lovelock at 100; Hydrothermal vents and antibiotic resistance in the environment
James Lovelock is one of the most influential thinkers on the environment of the last half century. His grand theory of planet Earth - Gaia, which is the idea that from the bottom of the Earth's crust to the upper reaches of the atmosphere, Earth is one giant inter-connected and self-regulating system, has had an impact way beyond the world of science. As Lovelock celebrates his hundredth birthday (he was born on 26th July 1919) he is still writing books and thinking about science. Science writer Gaia Vince...
2019-Jul-25 • 28 minutes
False positives in genetic test kits, Impact of fishing on ocean sharks, Sex-change fish
Dr Adam Rutherford uncovers the worrying number of false positive results that the DNA sequencing technologies used by 'direct to consumer' genetic test kits are producing. Many of these tests offer analysis on your ancestry, but some also offer to check you out for the likelihood of you being at risk of some genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis or certain types of breast cancer. The tests look for variants in your genome, little changes in your DNA that alter the risk of developing a number of genetic dis...
2019-Jul-18 • 28 minutes
Turing on the new £50 note, Moon landing on the radio, 25 years since Shoemaker-Levy comet
Code-breaker and father of computer science, Alan Turing has been chosen to celebrate the field of science on the new £50 note. Adam Rutherford asks Chief Cashier at the Bank of England, Sarah Johns how and why he was selected and he asks Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University, who campaigned to save Bletchley Park, what this accolade means. In 1969, while millions watched the Apollo 11 moon landing on the television, BBC radio was providing scientific and e...
2019-Jul-11 • 31 minutes
Earliest modern human skull, Analysing moon rocks, Viruses lurking in our genomes
A new study shows that 210,000-year-old skull found in Greece is the earliest evidence for modern humans in Eurasia. A second skull found in the same site is found to be a Neanderthal from 170,000 years ago. These findings suggest that modern humans left Africa earlier and reached further than previously thought. Analysing moon rocks The Apollo missions were scientific explorations, bringing back hundreds of kilograms of moon rock to help us understand the formation of the Moon, the Earth and life itself....
2019-Jul-04 • 35 minutes
X-Rays on Mercury, Monkey Tools, Music of Molecules, AI Drivers
The 2019 Royal Society Summer Science exhibition in London is free to enter and continues until Sunday 7th July. BBC Inside Science this week comes from the Society’s HQ in central London. BepiColombo and the X-rays from Mercury Prof Emma Bunce, has been part of the team that last year launched an x-ray telescope on a space probe to Mercury. It will be a long journey, not arriving until 2025. As Emma describes, the MIXS instrument, designed and built in the UK, will analyze the x-rays emitted by the differ...
2019-Jun-27 • 32 minutes
Global Food Security, Reactive Use-By Labels, Origins of the Potato
On the day that the UK government launches a year long “food-to-Fork” review of food production in the UK, we present a food themed special edition. Global Food Security Maia Elliot is an analyst and writer for Global Food Security, who recently held a competition for young food researchers to present their work in a compelling way in less than 3 minutes. Maia and the winner, Claire Kanja of Rothamstead Research discuss with Adam the broader issues “Food Security” seeks to address, and also how best to com...
2019-Jun-20 • 36 minutes
Rinderpest destruction, Noise and birdsong, Science as entertainment
Rinderpest – Sequence and Destroy Last week the UK’s Pirbright Institute announced that it had destroyed its remaining stocks of the deadly cattle virus Rinderpest. This repository was one of the biggest remaining stores of it since it was announced in 2011 that vaccines had eradicated it in the wild. Dr Michael Baron, amongst others, has been arguing for years that because we can now obtain a full sequence of such viruses, we no longer need to run the risk of such scientific samples ever being released, th...
2019-Jun-13 • 30 minutes
Net-Zero carbon target, Science Policy Under Thatcher, Screen time measures
Net-Zero Carbon Target The UK is set to become the first member of the G7 industrialised nations group to legislate for net-zero emissions after Theresa May’s announcement this week. The proposed legislation would commit the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net-zero’ by 2050, which would mean that after reducing emissions as much as possible, any remaining emissions would be offset through schemes such as planting trees or investing in renewable energy infrastructure. Dr Jo House, from the department of Ge...
2019-Jun-06 • 38 minutes
CCR5 Mutation Effects, The Surrey Earthquake Swarm, Animal Emotions
Some people have a genetic mutation in a gene called CCR5 that seems to bestow immunity to a form of HIV. This is the mutation which controversial Chinese scientist Jianqui He tried to bestow upon two baby girls last year when he edited the genes in embryos and then implanted them in a mother. A paper in the journal Nature Medicine this week uses data from the UK Biobank to look at the long term health patterns associated with this gene variant. It suggests that whilst the HIV-1 immunity may be considered a...
2019-May-30 • 29 minutes
How maths underpins science
Adam Rutherford and guests at the Hay Festival discuss how maths underwrites all branches of science, and is at the foundation of the modern world. His guests are the following. Professor Steve Strogatz, of Cornell University, the author of a new book on calculus, Infinite Powers. He’s worked on all kinds of problems including some biological ones such as the shape of DNA, how fireflies create light and the grandness of small world theories. Dr Emily Shuckburgh, is a climate change scientist at Unive...
2019-May-23 • 28 minutes
New CFC emissions, Cannabis and the Environment, The Noisy Cocktail Party, Automated Face Recognition
New CFC emissions Researchers say that they have pinpointed the major sources of a mysterious recent rise in a dangerous, ozone-destroying chemical. CFC-11 was primarily used for home insulation but global production was due to be phased out in 2010. But scientists have seen a big slowdown in the rate of depletion over the past six years. This new study published in the Journal Nature says this is mostly being caused by new gas production in eastern provinces of China. Dr Matt Rigby of the University of Bri...
2019-May-16 • 34 minutes
Hubble Not-So Constant, Synthetic E. Coli, The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt
The Hubble Constant The Hubble constant is the current expansion rate of the universe but it seems to have changed over time. Hiranya Peiris, Professor of Astrophysics from University College London and Adam Riess, Professor of Physics and Astronomy from Johns Hopkins University, are both using different methods to obtain a value for the Hubble constant. But there is a discrepancy in their values. It used to be that the error bars on the two values overlapped, and so cosmologists thought they would converge...
2019-May-09 • 29 minutes
Forensic science provision, optimal garden watering strategy, and a mystery knee bone
A damning House of Lords' report into the provision of forensic science in England and Wales makes for uncomfortable reading for some but is broadly welcomed by those in the field. Prof. Niamh Nic Daeid, one of many who gave evidence to the Science and Technology Committee, gives her reaction and suggests how a combination of unsatisfactory regulation, profit and austerity pressures in a uniquely commercialised sector, and some surprising gaps in the science knowledge base has lead to a sorry situation. S...
2019-May-02 • 28 minutes
Sex, gender and sport - the Caster Semenya case and the latest Denisovan discovery
In 2018, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) introduced new eligibility regulations for female athletes with differences in sex development (DSDs). These regulations are based on the contention that women with high levels of endogenous testosterone and androgen sensitivity have a performance advantage over their peers. South African middle distance runner, Mokgadi Caster Semenya, who won two Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016, and Athletics South Africa, are contesting the legali...
2019-Apr-25 • 28 minutes
Thought-to-speech machine, City Nature Challenge, Science of Storytelling
Patients who suffer neurological impairments preventing them from speaking potentially face a severely limited existence. Being able to express yourself in real time is a large part of our identity. In the journal Nature this week, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, report a new technique for synthesising speech based on measurements of neural signals taken from the brain. Author Dr Gopala Anumanchipalli tells Adam about how this proof of principle could one day form the basis for ...
2019-Apr-18 • 33 minutes
Notre-Dame fire, Reviving pig brains, ExoMars, Evolution of faces
The horror of the blazing Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris has been slightly quenched by the fact that so much of the French landmark has been saved. But what was it about the structure of the roof, with some the beams dating from the 13th century, that meant it burned like a well-stacked bonfire? Guillermo Rein is Professor of Fire Science at Imperial College London , and he explains to Adam Rutherford how wood burns and how it was the intricate mixture of large and small beams, and very poor fire protection ...
2019-Apr-11 • 39 minutes
Visualising a black hole, Homo luzonensis, Two ways to overcome antimicrobial resistance
"We have now seen the unseeable" according to scientists who are part of the Event Horizon Telescope group. The international team has released a picture of the first black hole. Data gathered from an array of over 8 radio telescopes has been crunched to create a picture of the super-hot plasma surrounding the black hole M87. It shows extremely excited photons on the brink of being swallowed up by the supermassive black hole, 500 million trillion km away. Marnie Chesterton, asks UCL cosmologist Andrew Pontz...
2019-Apr-04 • 39 minutes
Cretaceous catastrophe fossilised, LIGO and Virgo, Corals, Forensic shoeprint database
About 66 million years ago an asteroid at least 6 miles wide crashed into the Earth, in the shallow sea that is now the Yucatan Peninsular in Mexico. It gouged the Chicxulub crater 18 miles deep; threw 25 trillion tonnes of debris into the atmosphere, much of which was hotter than the Sun, created huge seismic waves and massive tsunamis churning the Gulf of Mexico, tearing up coastlines and peeling up 100’s of metres of rock. 75% of the Earth’s forest burned. Debris was thrown out across the Solar System an...
2019-Mar-28 • 28 minutes
UK pollinating insect numbers, Tracking whales using barnacles, Sleep signals
One of the longest running insect pollinator surveys in the world, shows that a few generalist pollinators are on the increase, whereas specialist insects are declining. Using data collected by volunteers across Great Britain to map the spatial loss of pollinator insect species, the study by the CEH (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) measured 353 wild bee and hoverfly species across the country. The results showed that on average, each 1km2 survey patch lost an average of 11 species from 1980-2013. CEH's Pr...
2019-Mar-21 • 32 minutes
Where next World Wide Web? Space rocks and worms
30 years ago Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web as a way to let physicists share their papers and data on a distributed network. It's changed a lot since then and not all for the better. Dominant technology companies monopolise our data and many, including Berners-Lee are worried about the growth of state sponsored hacking, misinformation and scamming. One solution is to re-decentralise the web, giving us more control of our information and what is done with it, but at what cost? Founder and direct...
2019-Mar-14 • 31 minutes
Rules and ethics of genome editing, Gender, sex and sport, Hog roasts at Stonehenge
When the news broke last December that Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui had successfully edited the genomes of twin girls using the technique known as CRISPR-Cas9, scientists and the public were rightly outraged that such a procedure had taken place. Jiankui is currently being investigated by Chinese authorities for breaking legal and ethical guidelines on human genome editing. This week, in the journal Nature, several top scientists have called for a global moratorium on gene editing in the clinic. Which mi...
2019-Mar-07 • 29 minutes
A cure for HIV? Sleepy flies, Secrets of the Fukushima disaster, Science fact checking
An HIV-1 sufferer, who had developed aggressive cancer, and underwent a revolutionary stem cell transplant, has been declared HIV resistant. It's been 18 months since the 'London patient' underwent a stem cell transplant of donated HIV resistant cells. This has only happened once before, in the case of the ‘Berlin Patient' – who, after two transplants, has now been HIV and cancer free for 10 years. Professor Ravindra Gupta at Cambridge University is careful not to say the work carried out at UCL has ‘cured’...
2019-Feb-28 • 28 minutes
Falling carbon and rising methane; Unsung heroes at the Crick
Efforts to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and tackle climate change in many developed economies are beginning to pay off, according to research led by Corinne Le Quere at the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia. The study suggests that policies supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency are helping to reduce emissions in 18 developed economies. The group of countries represents 28% of global emissions, and includes the UK, US, France and Germany. The research team analysed the var...
2019-Feb-21 • 34 minutes
Mars - rovers v humans? Forests and carbon, Ethiopian bush crow
Nasa have called time on the 14 year mission with the Mars Opportunity rover. Curiosity is still there. But what's next for our exploration of the Red planet? Adam asks Senior Strategist in Space Systems at Airbus, Liz Seward and BBC space correspondent, Jonathan Amos. Airbus are working with the European and Russian Space Agencies on the next rover, part of the Exomars mission. This new rover is called the Rosalind Franklin, after the UK scientist and when it hopefully lands in 2021, it'll be drilling down...
2019-Feb-14 • 28 minutes
Insect decline, Gut microbiome, Geomagnetic switching
A very strongly worded, meta-review paper (looking at 73 historical reports from around the world published over the past 13 years) has just been published looking at the fate of insects around the world. The researchers have collated other people’s research, including the big 27 year study from Germany, that showed 75% loss of insects by weight (biomass). The basic headlines are quite scary: 40% of insect species are declining; 33% are endangered; we’re losing a total mass of 2.5% of insects every year. Th...
2019-Feb-07 • 28 minutes
Sea Level Rise, Equine Flu, Generator Bricks, Iberian Genes
In 2016 some scientists suggested that with climate change so much ice in Antarctica could melt that the global sea level could rise up to a metre. There would be an "ice apocalypse". Now another group has refined the models and in a paper published this week has concluded that the rise will be lower. Adam Rutherford and lead author Dr Tamsin Edwards of Kings College London discuss the latest research and how policy makers and the public should react to changing results from ice sheet studies. All race mee...
2019-Jan-31 • 28 minutes
Sprinting Neanderthals, Geodynamo, Spreading Sneezes and Dying Hares
Many physical features of Neanderthals might not be for cold climate adaptation as previously thought. They may be for types of locomotion. Which, according to paleo-ecologist, John Stewart at Bournemouth University, makes the long thigh to calf ratios more likely that Neanderthals were adapted to fast, powerful sprints, as part of their hunting and survival. The clues to this lie less in the bones and more in the evidence that Neanderthals lived in wooded areas rather than tundra. Earth’s solid iron inne...
2019-Jan-04 • 31 minutes
Ultima Thule, Dry January, Periodic Table
2019 means the opportunity to explore the most distant object yet encountered in our solar system – the brilliantly named Ultima Thule as Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft hit the headlines this week when it flew past an object 4 billion miles away, took photos and sent them back to earth. The stunning images confirmed that Ultima Thule looks a bit like a snowman, only several miles in length and orbiting somewhere much colder than any earth winter. Inside Science talked to Dr Carly Howett, a member of the New...
2018-Nov-29 • 28 minutes
Gene-edited twins, Placenta organoids in a dish, When the last leaves drop
Claims by a Chinese scientist that he has gene-edited human embryos, transplanted them producing genetically edited twins, who will pass on these changes to their offspring, has the scientific community outraged. The work, which was carried out in secret, has not been officially published or peer reviewed, but if the claims are to be taken seriously, this work severely flaunts international ethical guidelines at many levels. BBC Health and Science Correspondent James Gallagher explains the story so far. Li...
2018-Nov-22 • 37 minutes
Mars InSight mission, Detecting dark matter, Redefining the kilogram, Bovine TB
The Government's strategy to eradicate TB in cattle is a contentious topic. The disease is extremely complicated and lots of people have different ideas on how to manage it. Professor of Zoonotic and Emerging Disease at the University of Nottingham, Malcolm Bennett, helps Adam Rutherford understand just how complex the TB bacterium is, how difficult it is to test for infection and why the vaccine BCG does and doesn't work and answers listener's question of why don't we vaccinate cows? Citizen scientists a...
2018-Nov-15 • 31 minutes
Bovine TB and badger culling, Shrimp hoover CSI, Shark-skin and Turing
The Bovine TB Strategy Review has just been released. It contains a review of the science and offers advice and guidance to Government ministers on how to eradicate this costly and hard to manage disease in cattle. Controversially it does not include the results from the on going badger culling trials in the West of England and it states that the majority of disease transmission is from cow to cow. But it addresses the efficacy of skin TB tests and repeatedly states that the long-term aim is to end culling ...
2018-Nov-08 • 29 minutes
Oldest cave picture; the Anthropocene under London; a new scientist for the £50 note
What could be the oldest figurative cave paintings in the world have been found in a cave complex in remote Borneo. A reddish orange depiction of an animal that could be a Banteng (wild cattle found in the region) is at least 40,000 years old. Humans are now the greatest force in shaping the surface of the Earth. We now move more than 24 times as much rock, rubble and sediment than all the world’s rivers. Dr Anthony Cooper of the British Geological Society has been weighing this anthropogenic global force...
2018-Nov-01 • 28 minutes
Repairing potholes, Ozone hole, Internet of hives, Drugs from fingerprints
Potholes are one of the biggest frustrations to any road-user, but why do they keep occurring? Following Philip Hammond’s announcement of £420 million for councils to tackle potholes, Malcolm Simms, Director of the Mineral Products Association’s Asphalt & Pavement group, explains how potholes form and why they continue to occur. Alvaro Hernandez of Nottingham University chats to Marnie about new solutions he is investigating to improve our roads and reduce the number of potholes. Roland Pease meets John A...
2018-Oct-25 • 28 minutes
Science and Brexit, Antibiotic livestock growth promoters, Bepicolombo goes to Mercury
How might Brexit affect UK Science? Why is feeding a 'last resort' antibiotic to farm animals not a good idea? Why is space probe Bepicolombo going to Mercury? Adam Rutherford is your host. This week, leading British and European scientists wrote to the British Prime Minister and European Commission President. They expressed their concerns about the potential impact if there is a no-deal departure by the UK from the European Union. We hear from one of the signatories Professor Venki Ramakrishnan, Pres...
2018-Oct-18 • 28 minutes
Old Dogs and Physics in Space
How far back can we trace the ancestry of dogs? For just how long have they been following us around? The answer is for a very long time - long before humans settled down and developed societies. Scientists in France have been looking at ancient dog DNA to try and work out whether people tamed and domesticated local dogs as they migrated across the planet, or brought dogs with them. The answer tells us much about the relationship - or rather lack of it, between early farmers and the hunter gathers they rep...
2018-Oct-11 • 28 minutes
IPCC report, Cairngorms Connect project, grass pea, the Sun exhibition at Science Museum
Adam Rutherford speaks to Dr Tamsin Edwards, a lecturer in Physical Geography at Kings College London and a lead author for the latest IPCC report. Dr Edwards describes what happens in the making of the report, including the summarising of the wealth of scientific literature available into an understandable document for the policy makers. Cairngorms National Park in Scotland is part of an ambitious project to restore the habitat to its former natural state. Four organisations have joined together as the 'C...
2018-Oct-04 • 28 minutes
Nobel Prizes - Hayabusa 2 latest - IPCC meeting - North Pole science
Adam Rutherford reviews this year's Nobel science prizes, and talks to Professor Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, a 2009 laureate and president of the Royal Society, about the experience of being tipped as a Nobel winner. This can included a stressful condition known as Pre-Nobelitis and having unidentified Scandinavians turn up in the audiences of your scientific talks. The Japanese space probe Hayabusa 2 dropped an exploratory robot onto the surface of the asteroid Rguyu early on Wednesday morning. The autono...
2018-Sep-27 • 28 minutes
Hyabusa 2 at Ryugu, deadly 1918 flu pandemic; WW2 bombing and ionosphere, teenage brain
Japan’s Hayabusa-2 spacecraft has arrived after more than a three year journey at the Ryugu asteroid which is just over half a mile long. It has successfully sent probes onto the surface and is sending pictures back to Earth. Gareth Mitchell discusses the achievement with BBC Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos. A hundred years ago, the 1918 flu pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide and infected around half a billion. Seasonal flu accounts for about 650,000 deaths per year. As this y...
2018-Sep-20 • 28 minutes
Science of Addiction
The Science Gallery London at Kings College London, right under the Shard, is a brand new venue for the collision of art, science and culture, and its opening exhibition is called Hooked, a series of installations and works by people who have experienced addiction. Adam Rutherford explores the neuroscience, the psychology and the epidemiology of addiction; what the latest research says about what addiction is, and how that can help us treat people experiencing addiction. He discusses these questions with ...
2018-Sep-13 • 28 minutes
First human drawing, Cycling genes, Oden Arctic expedition, Hello World
A new discovery of abstract symbolic drawings on a rock has been found in the Blombos Cave, about 300 km east of Cape Town in South Africa. The fragment - which some say looks a bit like a hashtag - puts the date of the earliest drawing at 73,000 years ago. As archaeologist Chris Henshilwood tells Adam Rutherford, the discovery is a "a prime indicator of modern cognition" in our species. Nearly half the human genome contains genes that regulate what your organs should be doing at a specific time of day, Th...
2018-Sep-06 • 40 minutes
Complexity in Biology
Adam Rutherford takes the show to Dublin this week, to wrestle with great matters of biological complexity. Trinity College Dublin has organised a mass gathering of some of the world's leading researchers in the life sciences to mark the 75th anniversary of one of the most influential series of lectures in the 20th century. The talks were delivered by the celebrated physicist Erwin Schrodinger in 1943 who applied his mind to a fundamental biological question: what is life? Some of his ideas were an influenc...
2018-Aug-30 • 28 minutes
Electronic brain probe; Rural stream biodiversity; Arctic weather research trip; Science book prize
Scientists have shown how an electronic gadget, implanted in the brain, can detect, treat and even prevent epileptic seizures. Epilepsy is usually treated using anti-epilepsy drugs, but can cause serious side-effects. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, are aiming to create something more specific to the part of the brain with the problem. Professor Malliaras tells Marnie Chesterton about the unique properties of this new implant, which could be used for a range of brain-related conditions from Park...
2018-Aug-23 • 28 minutes
Cavendish banana survival; Guillemot egg shape; Unexpected Truth About Animals; Tambora's rainstorm
The last banana you probably ate was a type called Cavendish. But this, our last commercially viable variety is under severe threat, as the fungus, called Tropical Race 4, is laying waste to swathes of Cavendish banana plants across China, Asia and Australia. Recently, scientists & horticulturalists gathered in Istanbul to discuss the best ways to fight the threat. Professor James Dale from the Institute of Future Environments at the University of Queensland has been conducting successful field trials in pr...
2018-Aug-16 • 28 minutes
Capturing greenhouse gas, Beating heart failure with beetroot, Why elephants don't get cancer, Exactly - a history of precision
Researchers have found a way to produce a naturally occurring mineral, magnesite, in a lab, that can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, offering a potential strategy for tackling climate change. They've accelerated a process that normally takes thousands of years to a matter of days, using panels made from tiny balls of polystyrene. Gareth Mitchell meets Ian Power of Trent University in Ontario who led the research. Could this be a viable technology for tackling global warming and carbon dioxide in the atmosph...
2018-Aug-09 • 28 minutes
New Horizons' next mission, Helium at 150, The Beautiful Cure, Oden arctic expedition
Astronomers this week have been warming up for an encounter as far from the Sun as ever attempted. It's the finale of the New Horizons mission which successfully passed Pluto in 2015 and is now on its way to Ultima Thule - a Kuiper belt object on the edge of the solar system. Marc Buie is just back from Senegal where he and a team of fellow astronomers have been observing this ancient rock to get a final look at its size and shape, before the momentous flyby on Jan 1st 2019. He explains why the encounter wi...
2018-Aug-02 • 28 minutes
Parker solar probe, Diversity in the lab, Royal Society book prize, Arctic circle weather
The sun still has many mysterious properties. The Parker Solar Probe, launched next week will be the closest a spacecraft has ever flown to our star. It's a mission that's been on the drawing board for decades which space scientists have only dreamt of. It will fly into the mysterious solar corona, where so much of the action at 3 million degrees centigrade takes place. Nicola Fox from Johns Hopkins University is the Parker Probe Project Scientist. Adam Rutherford speaks to her from Cape Canaveral, where th...
2018-Jul-26 • 28 minutes
Liquid water on Mars, Early embryo development, Earth Biogenome Project, Marine wilderness
The European Space Agency's satellite Mars Express has identified what we think is a subterranean lake of liquid near the south pole of the red planet. The question of water on Mars has been around for years, and we've known about water ice, and there's been the possibility of seasonal flowing water on Mars for a while. But if this result is right, this is the first case of a substantial stable body of liquid water on Mars. Adam Rutherford talks to Roberto Orosei of the Radio Astronomy Institute in Bologna ...
2018-Jul-19 • 32 minutes
Peatbog wildfires, Coral acoustics, Magdalena Skipper, Fuelling long-term space travel
The wildfires on Saddleworth Moor may well be the most widespread in modern British history. Thanks to herculean efforts by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the military, they are now extinguished, though the peat continues to smoulder. Now the longer term ecological impact is being assessed. Adam Rutherford talks to geochemist Chris Evans from the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology about what's been unleashed into the environment from the burning of the peat and lessons we've learnt in maintain...
2018-Jul-12 • 31 minutes
Out of Africa, Predicting future heatwaves, Virtual reality molecules, Life in the dark
Scientists have found the earliest known evidence of a human presence outside Africa. A set of 96 stone tools has been found in the mountains of south-east China, which is the furthest afield this type of tool has been located. The scientists who found them have put the date of these tools at 2.1 million years old, which is at least 300,000 years earlier than the current evidence for early human presence outside of Africa. John Kappelman, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Texas, discusses how we're...
2018-Jul-05 • 28 minutes
Northern white rhino preservation, Deep sea earthquake detection, Twitter's rare Heuchera discovery, Human roars
The northern white rhinoceros is the world's most endangered mammal. The death earlier this year of the last male of this rhino subspecies leaves just two females as its only living members. New research out this week has adopted new techniques in reproductive medicine as a last ditch attempt to preserve these animals. Thomas Hildebrandt from Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and Terri Roth, Director of Conservation Research at Cincinnati Zoo, discuss the ambition, and how realistic this appro...
2018-Jun-28 • 28 minutes
Hyabusa mission; ProtoDUNE neutrino detector; Caledonian crow skills; Koala microbiome
Yesterday a small Japanese ion-thruster spaceship arrived at its destination after a three year and half year, 2 billion mile journey. Hyabusa2 is currently floating alongside the asteroid known as 162173 Ryugu. BBC Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos dissects the aims of this audacious sample-return mission and the initial images that have just arrived back on earth. There's a plethora of neutrinos flowing through your body right now. Adam Rutherford goes inside 'protoDune', the world's latest and largest...
2018-Jun-21 • 28 minutes
The Large Hadron Collider Upgrade, Voltaglue, Cambridge Zoology Museum, Francis Willughby
It's been 8 years since the Large Hadron Collider went online and started smashing protons together at just below the speed of light. CERN announced this week that they're ready for a massive upgrade, and on Friday last week, there was a ceremony to break ground on what is being called the High luminosity LHC. Particle physicist Jon Butterworth from UCL discusses the next generation of particle accelerators that are undergoing early trials and what the newly announced upgrade means for particle physics. Me...
2018-Jun-18 • 32 minutes
Antarctic melt speeds up, Antarctica's future, Cryo-acoustics, Narwhals
Adam Rutherford goes totally polar this week with news of accelerating ice melt in Antarctica, two visions of the continent's future, and the sounds of collapsing icebergs and the songs of narwhals. Two hundred billion tonnes of Antarctic ice are now being lost to the ocean every year, pushing up global sea level by 0.6 millimetres a year. This is a three fold increase since 2012. This finding comes from IMBIE, the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise. Leeds glaciologist Andy Shepherd and Durham...
2018-Jun-14 • 32 minutes
Dinosaur auction, Who owns the genes of the ocean life, Cancer immunotherapy
A spectacular predatory dinosaur fossil was auctioned this week in Paris. It was bought by a private collector at the cost of about 2 million Euros. Academic palaeontologists are not happy about the sale. Anjali Goswami of the Natural History Museum and Steve Brussatte of Edinburgh University air their views to Adam Rutherford on the legal and illegal markets for premium vertebrate fossils. Who owns the genetic biodiversity of the oceans? One single multinational corporation - the chemicals giant BASF - ...
2018-May-31 • 40 minutes
Hay Festival
Adam Rutherford and his guests at the Hay Festival, neurologist Dr Suzanne O'Sullivan, acoustic engineer Professor Trevor Cox and science writer Dr Philip Ball discuss what scientists learn when things go wrong. Suzanne O'Sullivan, author of Brainstorm, talks about how she helps her patients with strange and unusual forms of epilepsy; Trevor Cox, whose new book is called Now You're Talking, describes cases where our voices change, such as stammering and foreign language syndrome; and Philip Ball, who is par...
2018-May-24 • 33 minutes
CO2 and rice, Underground farming, Ancient interstellar asteroid, Microplastics air pollution
New research suggests that rice will be depleted in important B vitamins and minerals by rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Adam Rutherford to talks to Kristie Ebi of the University of Washington, one of the scientists behind the finding, and consults Marco Springmann of the Future of Food project at the University of Oxford. Is the future of farming subterranean? Marnie Chesterton visits a farm called Growing Underground for some answers. Specialising in salad and herbs, it is located beneath Clapham Co...
2018-May-17 • 30 minutes
Face Recognition, ‘Thug’ plants, Cancer Funding Inequalities, Feynman’s 100th birthday
Facial recognition technology is on the rise and in some places used to fight crime. In the UK the police have been heavily criticised for falsely identifying people using the technology. But are their results really that bad? Professor Hassan Ugail tells Adam Rutherford that – though there is room for improvement – the results may not be as catastrophic as critics claim. Wild flowers are being outcompeted by ‘thug’ plants on our roadside verges, a study by the charity Plantlife has found. Pollution fro...
2018-May-10 • 28 minutes
Rat eradication; elephant talk; the rise of the dinosaurs; physics of snooker
On the remote island of South Georgia, the invasion of rats from passing ships has wreaked havoc on the local wildlife. But the South Georgia Heritage Trust announced this week that all rats have been eradicated thanks to an extensive project. Adam Rutherford speaks to chairman Professor Mike Richardson about the achievement and how the wildlife is already healing. Elephants don’t only communicate using their trunks but also their feet. A new study taps into this underground communication using seismic e...
2018-May-03 • 28 minutes
Antarctic, Kew, Paleogenomics, Sea birds
The Thwaites glacier in Western Antarctica is twice the size of the UK and accounts for about 4% of sea level rise, but what is unknown is whether the glacier will collapse as a result of environmental change. Adam Rutherford speaks to 2 scientists from a major new study who with the help of seals and Boaty McBoat face will be investigating what goes on under the glacier and what drilling into the rocks under the sea can tell us. And while the work of the new Antarctic team-up is studying the impact of t...
2018-Apr-26 • 31 minutes
Human Consciousness: Could a brain in a dish become sentient?
As the field of neuroscience advances, scientists are increasingly growing brain tissue to study conditions like autism, Alzheimer's and Zika virus. But could it become conscious? And if so, how far away is that scenario? Wind, changing water temperatures and salt are all factors known to control ocean currents. But new research suggests there's another element in the mix. When sea monkeys amass, the thousands of swimming legs can create powerful currents that mix hundreds of meters of water. Wheneve...
2018-Apr-19 • 39 minutes
Plastic-eating bacteria, Foam mattresses for crops, The evolved life aquatic, The Double Helix
A breakthrough for closed loop plastic recycling? Two years ago Japanese scientists discovered a type of bacteria which has evolved to feed on PET plastic - the material from which fizzy drink bottles are made It was isolated at a local recycling centre. An international team has now characterised the structure of the plastic-degrading enzyme and accidentally improved its efficiency. John McGeehan of the University of Portmouth led the team and talks to Adam about where the discovery may lead. If you can't...
2018-Apr-12 • 31 minutes
Pesticides in British Farming
A few weeks ago, Inside Science featured an item on neonicotinoids and the negative impact these pesticides have on insects like honey bees. The discussion turned to alternatives, including organic farming. Many listeners wrote in about some issues that went unchallenged. So this week, Adam returns to the subject to get into the nuts and bolts of both organic and conventional farming. Next week sees the launch of a NASA mission called TESS. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is surveying the brighte...
2018-Apr-05 • 30 minutes
Stephen Hawking Tribute
Adam Rutherford presents a special tribute to the science of Stephen Hawking. He is joined by Fay Dowker, a former PhD student of Hawking and now a professor of theoretical physics at Imperial College, Professor Carlos Frenk, a long-time colleague and friend and fellow physicist and science communicator Professor Brian Cox. They look at the scientific legacy of Stephen Hawking and the role that his work played in bringing us a step closer to a single grand theory that explains how the universe works.
2018-Mar-29 • 31 minutes
Genes and education, John Goodenough, Caring bears and hunting
A widely reported study published last week suggests that on average children at selective schools have more gene variants associated with higher educational attainment than children at non-selective schools. It also suggests that selective schools achieve better GCSE exam results because their selection procedures favour children with those genetic variants, and not because of the teaching and facilities at private and grammar schools. Adam Rutherford talks to the senior researcher Robert Plomin of the Ins...
2018-Mar-22 • 28 minutes
Data Scraping
The story of how Cambridge Analytica had scraped Facebook data in its attempt to influence voting behaviour has been reported widely this week. Andrew Steele, a medical researcher at the Crick Institute in London, explains how data mining or scraping actually works and how it is used by many scientists to find ways of improving human health. The Government Office for Science published a massive report this week, entitled the 'Future of the Sea' which sets out the UK's stall with regard to our future rela...
2018-Mar-15 • 32 minutes
Buzz kill
As spring and Brexit loom, Adam Rutherford examines what stance the UK might take on neonicotinoids. The pesticide has been shown to harm bee populations by many scientific studies. Now, the largest report of its kind has put pressure on the EU to vote on whether three types of neonics should be banned. Will the UK follow Europe's lead if the ban is legislated? Fly tipping is a problem faced by most authorities. But conservationists at the Creekside Discovery Centre in Deptford are embracing the carpets a...
2018-Mar-08 • 31 minutes
Russian Spy Poisoning
A former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia are in a serious condition after being exposed to a nerve agent on Sunday. The first police officer to attend the scene also remains in hospital. It is being treated as 'a major incident involving attempted murder.' We ask what happens next: what antidotes are available, how do they work and what's the prognosis? Today marks International Women’s Day. Its aim is to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. B...
2018-Mar-01 • 33 minutes
Weird Weather?
With many parts of the country seeing large snowfalls we ask what's driving our current weather? What factors need to be in place to create snowfalls, and how do these differ from sleet or frozen rain? And we address the impact of climate change, while a series of weather events might show a pattern, at what point should we go looking for explanations beyond natural events? Dutch Elm Disease laid waste to millions of British Elm trees back in the 1970's, Now a new tree bacteria which mimics the effects of...
2018-Feb-22 • 30 minutes
Science after Brexit
The UK is one of the largest recipients of research funding in the EU. Marnie Chesterton discusses what the future of UK science funding will look like with MP Norman Lamb, who chairs the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and Ed Whiting, Director of Policy and Chief of Staff at the Wellcome Trust. Around 4,500 years ago, 90% of the British population was replaced by incomers known as the Beaker people. Across Europe archaeologists have uncovered elements of the Beaker culture - bell-shaped...
2018-Feb-15 • 30 minutes
Shipping air pollution; Cheddar Man; Millirobots in the body;Dog brain training
Sulphur belched out of vessels' smokestacks is a serious health problem for coastal communities around the world. Four hundred thousand premature deaths from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease and around 14 million childhood asthma cases annually are reckoned to be related to shipping emissions. The International Maritime Organisation has finally agreed to drastically reduce polluting emissions from 2020. Gareth Mitchell discusses with James Corbett of the University of Delaware the impact of the emissi...
2018-Feb-08 • 29 minutes
Democracy in Space
This week a US based billionaire launched a giant space rocket and sent a car vaguely in the direction of Mars. As a space mission it was to say the least unconventional, and for those involved in promoting space science it presents a quandary. Is such a mission largely a publicity stunt or is it useful for engaging people in the potential of space exploration? Gareth Mitchell looks at one project which enables schoolchildren to programme computers on the International Space Station and he talks to the Euro...
2018-Feb-01 • 33 minutes
Scientists on Trial
In 2016 there was an attempted coup in Turkey. This led to many people who the government saw as opposition figures being sacked from their jobs and in some cases held without trial. They include prominent intellectuals, medics and scientists. In recent days there has been a similar crackdown on people voicing criticism of Turkey's current military actions in Syria. Stephen Reichter, Professor of Psychology at St Andrews University has been to Turkey to observe the trial of one of his former colleagues. He ...
2018-Jan-25 • 29 minutes
Did typhoid kill the Aztecs, DNA stored in Bitcoin, Glow-in-the-dark plants and levitating humans
What killed the Aztecs? In some areas of the Americas, as many as 95% of the indigenous population died of diseases brought in by the discoverers of the New World. Pandemics hit the population who had little immunity to diseases carried by people and livestock. One outbreak responsible for killing millions started in 1545 and was locally called 'cocoliztli'. But for the last 500 years, exactly what this deadly disease was has remained a mystery. Adam talks to Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute who ...
2018-Jan-18 • 28 minutes
African swine fever, Oil spill update, CRISPR gene editing, Rat eradication in New Zealand, Chimp kin recognition
African Swine fever is deadly to pigs and is spreading west from Russia across Europe. The virus that causes it is very resilient and can stick around on clothing, hay and in infected pork products for as long as 150 days. Biosecurity is crucial to preventing its arrival in the UK. If just one pig eats some infected meat from discarded human food the disease could quickly spread causing thousands of pigs to be culled and costing the industry millions. But what is the current progress on developing a vaccine...
2018-Jan-11 • 28 minutes
Sanchi oil tanker, Gut gas-monitoring pill and Chimpanzee portraits
After the Sanchi oil tanker collided with another ship it discharged its cargo of 1 million barrels of condensate oil. This could cause one of the biggest oil disasters in 25 years. What is condensate, can it be cleaned up and how toxic to marine life is it if large amounts of it leak or the tanker sinks? Adam talks to Simon Boxall from Southampton Oceanography Centre. A long-held belief that babies look more like their fathers is being put to the test by scientists at St Andrews University. They are laun...
2018-Jan-04 • 33 minutes
Tabby's Star, Space 2018, Mosquito sounds, C diff and food additive link
Adam Rutherford talks to astronomer Tabetha Boyajian at Louisiana State University about the wierd star that's perplexed astronomers since its discovery two years ago. KIC 8462852 has the unique habit of intermittently and sometimes dramatically dimming and then brightening. Some scientists even suggested vast alien megastructures around the star might be the explanation. After twenty months of almost continuous observation, Professor Boyajian has much more information about what the star is doing. But the ...
2017-Dec-28 • 34 minutes
Ancient DNA and Human Evolution
Twenty years ago, a revolution in the study of human evolution began. A team in Leipzig in Germany successfully extracted DNA from the bones of a Neanderthal man who died about 40,000 years ago. Thirteen years later, the same group unveiled the first complete genome sequence of another Neanderthal individual. Last year, they announced they'd retrieved DNA from much oldest archaic human bones, more than 400,000 years old. Adam Rutherford talks to Svante Paabo, the scientist has led these remarkable achievem...
2017-Dec-21 • 29 minutes
Antisense RNA therapy, Fossils vs Trump, Printing mini-kidneys, Electric eel power
Promising results from a small clinical trial of Huntingdon's disease patients have led to RNA-directed therapy such as antisense RNA being hailed as possibly a turning point in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Adam Rutherford discusses this class of drugs with Heidi Ledford of Nature News. At the beginning of the month, Donald Trump decreed that two national monument landscapes be drastically down-sized. Strict protections against exploitation were removed from vast tracts of land bearing some...
2017-Dec-14 • 35 minutes
The Future of Coral Reefs, Little Foot, Arthur C Clarke
Oxford is hosting the European Coral Reef Symposium this week. Climate change is seen as the number one threat to the future of coral reefs. Adam talks to Morgan Pratchett of James Cook University about the two recent coral bleaching events that hit the Great Barrier Reef, and to Barbara Brown of Newcastle University about the potential for coral species to adapt to warmer seas. After twenty years of excavation and preparation, the most complete fossil skeleton of an Australopithecine has been unveiled to ...
2017-Dec-07 • 31 minutes
Trophy hunting, Gene drives, Nuclear lightning, Peregrine falcons and drones
Trophy hunters are always after the lion with the largest darkest name and the stag with the most impressive antlers. Research by Rob Knell at Queen Mary University of London finds that removing a small proportion of these top males can drive whole populations to extinction, if their environment is changing. Gene drive is a new genetic technology that could be used to eradicate populations of species of 'pest' animals. The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh has just announced it is to begin research on gene d...
2017-Nov-30 • 39 minutes
Prehistoric Strong Women, Semi-synthetic Life, Listener Feedback, Artificial Superintelligence
More than 5,000 years of heavy agricultural labour by women can be read from the bones found in ancient cemeteries from the Neolithic to Iron Age times. Cambridge University anthropologist Alison Macintosh compared the arm bone dimensions and strength of women from these times with those of modern female athletes such as runners to rowers. Her conclusion is that average upper body strength of women through the Neolithic to the Iron age times exceeded that of today's semi-elite female rowers. A laboratory a...
2017-Nov-23 • 34 minutes
Interstellar visitor, Svante Paabo, Synthetic biology, Plight of the Axolotl
On 19th October, a mysterious object sped through our solar system. It was first spotted by astronomers with a telescope in Hawaii. Its trajectory and speed told of its interstellar origins. It is the first body to be detected from outside our solar system. Scientists are now publishing their papers on the enigmatic visitor. They estimate that it was about 400 metres long and bizarrely elongated in shape. Adam Rutherford talks to astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons of Queens University in Belfast. Twenty years ag...
2017-Nov-16 • 36 minutes
Can we forecast earthquakes?, Britain's space race rocket Skylark, Francis Galton
What might the length of the day have to do with the likelihood of destructive earthquakes around the world? According to Professors Rebecca Bendick and Roger Bilham, there's a correlation between changes in the rate at which the Earth rotates and the incidence of earthquakes of Magnitude 7 and above. The rotation speed of the planet increases and decreases over periods of years and decades. From their research, the earth scientists say that there's an substantial increase in the number of powerful earthqua...
2017-Nov-09 • 33 minutes
Boy gets New Skin, The York Gospels, Stephen Hawking's Thesis
Researchers in Italy and Germany have saved the life of a boy with a life threatening genetic skin disease, using a combination of stem cell and gene therapy. 7 year old Hassan had lost 60% of his protective epidermis because of the condition, junctional epidermolysis bullosa. The severe blistering and consequent bacterial infections put his life in imminent danger. In a final attempt to save him, the scientists took a small area of unblistered epidermis from his body, separated the constituent skin cells a...
2017-Nov-02 • 34 minutes
Climate Change and Health; Moth Snow Storm Feedback; Whale Brain Evolution; Pharoah's Serpent
Adam Rutherford talks to researchers on a major global study that aimed to quantify how climate change has already damaged the health of millions of people. Hugh Montgomery is the co-chair of the Lancet Countdown report and says that climate change is the largest single threat to global health. Climate scientist Peter Cox talks about his stark findings on the increase in the number of vulnerable people exposed to heat waves between now and the turn of the century. We hear anecdotes and concerns from listen...
2017-Oct-26 • 34 minutes
Insects disappearing, DNA Biosensor, Dog faces, Bandit dinosaur
The total biomass of flying insects in the environment has decreased by 75% in the last quarter of a century. That's the conclusion of research published at the end of last week in the journal PLOS One. The discovery, made in Germany, has shocked many, but should we in the UK be worried too? The answer is yes, according to Adam Rutherford's guests Dave Goulson, professor of biology at the University of Sussex, and Michael McCarthy, environmental journalist and author of 'The Moth Snow Storm.' The speed and...
2017-Oct-19 • 34 minutes
Colliding Neutron Stars, Krakatoa, Centigrade vs Celsius
Adam Rutherford talks to astrophysicists about the astronomical discovery of the year, if not the last couple of decades: the collision of two neutron stars and the cosmic gold-forging aftermath. The discovery of this long-hypothesized event on 17th August came from the much awaited marriage of the capabilities of the gravitational wave detectors LIGO and Virgo with those of ground-based and space-based telescopes. Samaya Nissanke of Radboud University, Sheila Rowan of the University of Glasgow and Nial Tan...
2017-Oct-05 • 38 minutes
HiQuake, Plate [email protected], Sonic Weapon Puzzle, The Chinese Typewriter
Gareth Mitchell talks to Gillian Foulger of Durham University about HiQuake, the world's largest database of human-induced earthquakes. Professor Foulger and her colleagues have so far compiled close to 750 seismic events for which there are reasonable cases to be made for anthropogenic triggers. Triggers include mining operations, fossil fuel extraction, reservoir filling, skyscraper construction and tunnelling. Among the surprises is the fact that the US state of Oklahoma is more seismically active than C...
2017-Sep-28 • 31 minutes
Gravity wave breakthrough, The antibiotic pipeline, Microbial waste recycling, Fausto - an AI opera
The gravitational waves produced by two massive black holes colliding have for the first time been detected by three gravitational wave detectors. Professor Sheila Rowan of the University of Glasgow explains the importance of this new three way observation. The World Health organisation reports that there are too few new candidate antibiotics in the development pipelines to replace those becoming obsolete through the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance. Professor Willem van Shaik of the University of Bir...
2017-Sep-21 • 28 minutes
Cassini's finale; Science and Technology Select Committee; Crick's lecture; Cave acoustics
After last week's Inside Science's edition devoted to Cassini ended, the Cassini spaceship plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn, and became part of the planet it studied. But the project lives on, as the data and photos generated by Cassini right up until contact was lost will be studied and scrutinised for years to come. Linda Spilker is the Project Scientist for the Cassini mission. Adam Rutherford spoke to her to find out what was captured in the last few moments of Cassini's closest and fatal encounter...
2017-Sep-14 • 36 minutes
Farewell to Cassini, the epic 20 year mission to Saturn
As Cassini's epic journey to Saturn finally ends tonight, Adam Rutherford celebrates the incredible discoveries of a mission that has changed the way we see our solar system. BBC Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos is at Mission Control in Pasadena as scientists assemble to witness the final few hours of the Saturnian observations beforeCassini completes its death dive into the planet. We also hear from key scientists who've played a role in capturing and interpreting the multitude of data from the last 12 ...
2017-Sep-07 • 33 minutes
North Korea Bomb Tests, Warming Antarctic Sea Life, the Microbiome, Cuckoo Chuckle
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea claims to have successfully tested a thermonuclear weapon, a hydrogen bomb. Tom Plant, director of Proliferation and Nuclear Policy at the Royal United Services Institute, talks to Adam Rutherford about how the boast might be proved by monitoring technology around the world. How will marine life respond to warming of the seas around Antarctica this century? Dramatically, according to the results of the most realistic attempt so far to warm the sea bed to temperatur...
2017-Aug-31 • 28 minutes
Noxious haze over south coast; In Pursuit of Memory book; technosphere; Big Wasp Survey
Last weekend a chemical ‘haze’ on the East Sussex coast saw 150 people needing hospital treatment after something in the air led to streaming eyes, sore throats and nausea. Leading theories so far include a chemical spill from shipping in the English channel, a localised spike in ozone levels and an algal bloom, where algae suddenly proliferate and release harmful gasses. Dr Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton tells Gareth Mitchell why he’s favouring the algal b...
2017-Aug-24 • 28 minutes
Killer robots; Myths and superstitions and conservation; Science book prize nominee - Cordelia Fine; Taxidermy
Once again, the ethical side of fully autonomous weapons has been raised, this time by over 100 leading robotics experts, including Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, and Mustafa Suleyman of DeepMind. They have sent an open letter to the United Nations urging them to take action in order to prevent the development of "killer robots". The letter says "lethal autonomous" technology is a "Pandora's box", once opened it will be very difficult to close - they have called for a ban on the use of AI in managing weapon...
2017-Aug-17 • 29 minutes
Antarctica's volcanoes, science book prize nominee - Mark O'Connell, US solar eclipse and 40 years of NASA's Voyager mission
Not so much hiding in plain sight, but tucked under the ice-sheet in Antarctica are 91 volcanoes. This adds to the 47 volcanoes already known on the continent. After a graduate student posed the question,"are there any volcanoes in Western Antarctica?", Dr Robert Bingham, and colleagues, at Edinburgh University, scoured the satellite and database records to find the volcanoes. This huge region is likely to dwarf that of East Africa's volcanic ridge, which is currently the most volcano-dense region on Earth....
2017-Aug-10 • 28 minutes
European heatwave and climate change, Eugenia Cheng, Next generation batteries for electric cars, Joseph Hooker exhibition.
The current heat wave in Europe is proving deadly. High day and night temperatures, coupled with high humidity, can be a very dangerous combination. A new study has calculated the risk of deadly heat on a global basis, and shown that between 48% and 74% of the world's population will be subjected to life-threatening heat and humidity for at least 20 days a year. Ed Hawkins, Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading, discusses the findings. Gareth also asks BBC weatherman, Darren Betts, wheth...
2017-Aug-03 • 36 minutes
Gene-editing human embryos, Spaceman's eyes, Science book prize, Sexual selection in salmon
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the heart condition that can lead to seemingly super-fit athletes collapsing with heart failure. It affects one in 500 people, and is a heritable disorder. Scientists using the precise gene-editing technique, Crispr CAS 9, have identified one of the genes responsible for the disease and 'fixed' it. This is in very early stage human embryos, prior to implantation. Dr. Fredrik Lanner at the Karolinska institute, is a leader in this field and he describes the work as purely at th...
2017-Jul-27 • 30 minutes
Cod fisheries, Our connection to nature, Domestic electricity and Gamma ray bursts
News that the Marine Stewardship Council has reopened the North Sea cod fishery is met by some concern from marine biologist Professor Callum Roberts at the University of York. He says, this may be good news for cod and cod fishermen, but other marine species getting caught up in the drag nets may not be so capable of bouncing back. In a report out this week, the UK Government announced they are funding £246 million for major changes to the way electricity is produced and stored. New rules will make it e...
2017-Jul-20 • 32 minutes
Genetics and privacy, Global plastic, Great Ape Dictionary, Ocean Discovery X Prize
Should our genomes be private? Professors Tim Hubbard and Nils Hoppe join Adam Rutherford to discuss concerns about data security and privacy of our genetic data. Once our DNA has been extracted, sequenced and stored as a digital file, what is done with it, who gets to see it and what say do we have in all this? Back in the 1950's at the dawn of the new plastic age, its everlasting properties were a major selling point. Now, we're dealing with escalating plastic pollution and bulging landfill. But how m...
2017-Jul-13 • 29 minutes
Genetic testing; Pugs on treadmills; Frankenstein
What can genome science do for you? Chief Medical officer Dame Sally Davies recently published her annual report, issuing a plea for a revolution in the use of genetic information in the NHS. She wants DNA tests to be as routine as biopsies or blood tests. Adam chats to geneticist Ewan Birney, head of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, about the potential uses and limitations of genetic testing. Pugs are set to become Britain's most popular breed in the next couple of years. Together with si...
2017-Jul-06 • 30 minutes
Neonics dispute, Hygenic bees, Hip-hop MRI
The results of the first large-scale field study looking at neonicotinoid pesticides and their impact on bees has caused controversy. It was carried out by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and commissioned and funded by the agricultural chemical companies Syngenta and Bayer. However, both companies have expressed dissatisfaction with the paper. Adam Rutherford talks to Dr Peter Campbell from Syngenta and Dr Ben Woodcock from CEH about the results. In a separate project, beekeepers have been try...
2017-Jun-29 • 28 minutes
Sex bias in biology, Engineering prize, Olympic bats, Angry Chef
Teams from all over the world have been looking at the differences between male and female mice. They've assessed hundreds of characteristics, from weight changes to cholesterol to blood chemistry. The surprising results show huge differences between the sexes, which have great repercussions for drug development which mostly uses male mice, and humans, for testing. Medicines may be less effective in females, or have greater side-effects, due to the extent of genetic differences being found between the sexes...
2017-Jun-22 • 28 minutes
Forensics Centre in Dundee; D'Arcy Thompson centenary; Scottish science adviser; Coffee and climate
The Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee has expanded to test new psychoactive substances. Adam Rutherford talks to Professors Sue Black and Niamh Nic Daeid, who jointly run the Centre, about how they can keep up with the many new illegal drugs coming onto the market and about how they intend to modernise forensics. 2017 is the centenary of the publication of On Growth and Form, the book by D'Arcy Thompson that influenced many people from mathematical biologists to a...
2017-Jun-15 • 28 minutes
Science in Fire Prevention
Applying scientific techniques to reduce fire risk in tall buildings. We look at practical measures to prevent building fires and also how science can improve evacuation plans. Modeling the brain with maths. new research using multidimensional models is helping researchers understand the levels of complexity in brain function. Sexism in science, its as old as...science. We look at how sex bias has influenced the outcome of scientific research throughout history. And also look at how science itself is...
2017-Jun-08 • 28 minutes
Early Humans Were Even Earlier Than We Thought
Early human fossils from Morocco suggest our ancestors walked the earth much earlier than previously thought. Human ancestral fossils from the area were first discovered in the 1960's, but now a re-examination of these and more recent finds suggests they are from an early form of us - Homo sapiens - living in the area around 300,000 years ago. We have news of a one in a million stellar observation: light bending around a distant star. This is the first time the phenomenon has been observed outside our sola...
2017-Jun-01 • 44 minutes
The Importance of Basic Research
Adam Rutherford discusses the relationship between basic and applied scientific research with guests at the Hay Festival. Adam is joined by the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, physicist Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf, the director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University and author of a new essay introducing On the Usefulness of Useless Knowledge, behavioural psychologist Professor Theresa Marteau of Cambridge University and geneticist and writer Professor Steve Jones of University...
2017-May-25 • 33 minutes
Sherpas - dolphin rescue - quantum computing - hot lavas
The superior performance of Sherpa guides on Mountain Everest is legendary. New findings reveal how their bodies make the most of low oxygen levels at high altitude. Presenter Gareth Mitchell also talks to the Mexican biologist heading a last ditch attempt to save the world's most endangered marine mammal - a small porpoise called vaquita. There are fewer than 30 animals left, all of them in the Gulf of California. The plan is to capture up to half of them and move them to a safe haven in the Gulf, away fr...
2017-May-18 • 28 minutes
Childhood cancers - Ghana telescope - Nano-listening device for cells - Ancient whales
Adam Rutherford goes the pathology archive of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to hear how tumour samples from child patients about one hundred years ago may improve the diagnosis and treatment of very rare cancers in children today. He meets cancer geneticist Sam Behjati of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Great Ormond Street pathologist Neil Sebire in the hospital's basement archive. Africa now has its first radio telescope outside South Africa. It is located in Ghana near the capital Accra....
2017-May-11 • 33 minutes
Violins - Social networks and cliques in great tits and snow monkeys - Exploring DNA and art
Classical music fans will know well the legendary violins made by the likes of Stradivarius and Guarneri in the 17th and 18th century. But new acoustical research has found that concert goers rated the music of new fiddles higher than that from old and revered Italian violins. Dr Claudia Fritz of the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris explains how she did this study and what she found. Virtuoso soloist Tasmin Little plays her 260 year old Italian instrument for presenter Adam Rutherford and offers h...
2017-May-04 • 33 minutes
The moral brain, stem cell developments, ancient DNA in cave dirt, mangrove forest
Adam Rutherford talks to neuroscientist Molly Crockett about moral decision-making in the brain. She combined brain scanning with a test involving money and electric shocks. Geoff Marsh reports from Japan where stem cell research appears to be bringing regenerative medicine for a common cause of blindness ever closer. A team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has pulled off another triumph in the study of ancient human DNA. Viviane Slon explains how they've extracted DNA of extinct ...
2017-Apr-27 • 28 minutes
Homo naledi, First humans in America, Dark matter detector, New theory of dark matter
Controversy has followed the remains of a new species of human, Homo naledi, since it was described in 2015. Buried deep in a South African cave, its primitive features led scientists to believe it was up to three million years old. This week it's been revealed that this estimate was wrong. New dating evidence suggests the skeletons are only 200 000 to 300 000 years old and that means they may have lived alongside other homo species. Previously, humans were thought to have travelled to America via a land ...
2017-Apr-20 • 28 minutes
Cassini’s death, scrapping diesel, weather balloon, satellites monitoring volcanos
The Cassini-Huygens mission has been monumental for science. For thirteen years the probe has gathered data on Saturn, revealing more about the gas giant than we have ever known before. But now, Cassini is running out of fuel. Adam Rutherford talks to Professor Michele Dougherty of Imperial College about the plans for Cassini's spectacular end, which will be to burn up in Saturn's atmosphere later this year. The descent begins this week and Cassini will collect exciting new data until the end. Next week...
2017-Apr-13 • 28 minutes
23andMe Genetic Sequencing, Human Knockout genes, Coral Bleaching
23andMe is one of the biggest providers of home genetic testing kits and if you live in the UK, it's the only one that also includes various genetic analyses relevant not just to ancestry, but also to health. After a previous ban, the Food and Drug Administration for the first time approved marketing of the 23andMe Genetic Health Risk tests for diseases in the US. Adam Rutherford talks to geneticist Professor Matthew Cobb of the University of Manchester and to medical ethicist Dr Sarah Chan of the Universit...
2017-Apr-06 • 28 minutes
Creation of island Britain, Sleep gene, Mary Kelly forensics, Global Tree Search survey
Adam Rutherford examines a new study published this week which reveals how a megaflood and giant waterfalls severed our connection to what is now France, resulting in the creation of island Britain and the watery moat of the English Channel. Jenny Collier of Imperial College London uncovers the ancient evidence dating back 450 000 years ago. The dream of unbroken sleep is a complex interaction between our environment and our genes, and new research is a step towards understanding the genetics of sleeping p...
2017-Mar-30 • 28 minutes
Climate change and extreme weather; Primate brain size; Earthquake forecasting; Planet 9
Following yesterday's US House Committee on Science,Space,and Technology's controversial hearing on scientific method and climate change, Adam Rutherford meets atmospheric scientist Professor Michael Mann after he emerged from the heated debate and who's just published a new paper suggesting a direct link between extreme weather and greenhouse gases via a particular behaviour of the jet stream across the northern hemisphere How has intelligence evolved? For over 2 decades the idea has prevailed that primat...
2017-Mar-23 • 28 minutes
Comet 67P images; Etna eruption; Brain navigation; Octopus intelligence
The recent Rosetta mission to image and land a probe on a comet was an astounding achievement. Rosetta took thousands of photos mapping the entire surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko , as it dramatically changed over 2 years. This week analysis of 18000 67P pictures are out of the shade and into the sunlight. Adam Rutherford talks to study leader Raamy El Maary on the intriguing insights and what they suggests about the evolution of comets as they pass through our solar system. And while no-one has ...
2017-Mar-16 • 28 minutes
Boaty McBoatface in Antarctica, Aeroplane biofuels, Bakhshali manuscript, Goldilocks zones
The submarine famously named Boaty McBoatface is deployed this week for its first mission to examine a narrow submarine gap in the South Atlantic. Mike Meredith of the British Antarctic Survey tells Adam Rutherford how this research into the behaviour of deep water at this crucial point in the oceans will help us answer key questions about global ocean temperature flows. Some close-quarter flying in the wake of a jet has provided new insights on reducing aircraft pollution. Richard Moore at NASA Langley in...
2017-Mar-15 • 28 minutes
Rise of the Robots: 3. Where is my mind?
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 and making diagnoses about our health. Adam Rutherford asks if we are ready for AI, when fiction becomes reality, and we create thinking machines.
2017-Mar-09 • 58 minutes
Cells and Celluloid: Aliens on Film
With Adam Rutherford and Francine Stock.
2017-Mar-06 • 28 minutes
Rise of the Robots: 2. More human than human
Adam Rutherford explores our relationship with contemporary humanoid robots
2017-Mar-03 • 28 minutes
Rise of the Robots: 1. The history of things to come
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 century a Duke of Burgundy had his chateau filled with automata that played practical tricks on his guests, such as spraying water at them. By the 18th century craftsmen were making life like performing robots. In 1738 in Paris people queued to see the amazing flute playing automaton, designed a...
2017-Mar-02 • 29 minutes
Earth's Earliest Life, The Benefits of Pollution, Sexuality and Science and New ideas on Evolution
The World's oldest sedimentary rocks reveal traces of our earliest ancestors. New analysis shows life forms existed more than 3.7 billion years ago which were very similar to those found in our deepest oceans today, microbial life around hydro thermal vents. Some pollution might be good for the world oceans. New finding from China show how iron oxide pollution from power generation and industry has been turned into a source of nutrients for phytoplankton - by interacting with other chemical pollutants. ...
2017-Feb-23 • 28 minutes
The perils of fake science news, The neanderthal inside us, What The Beatles really sang - statistically speaking
A woolly story about resurrecting mammoths raises serious questions for medical ethics. News of a scientist's plan to resurrect mammoths has spread around the world. However the story is largely untrue. We look at how this kind of 'fake science news' story can impact on perceptions of real medical research - some times with negative consequences. Almost all Europeans and Asians carry Neanderthal genes. Until recently these were thought to have little impact on us today, but new research shows they may be ...
2017-Feb-16 • 29 minutes
Science and cyber security, Dinosaur babies, Winston Churchill and level crossings
Testing cyber security with science. The UK now has a new National Cyber Security Centre. However there is very little scientific evidence against which to test the detection of cyber attacks and effectiveness of measures to prevent them. We ask what is needed to turn cyber security into a more scientific discipline. Winston Churchill and Aliens. Throughout his life Churchill maintained a strong interest in scientific developments and wrote widely on subjects from quantum mechanics to nuclear energy. Newly...
2017-Feb-09 • 28 minutes
Measuring human impact on earth, Awards for engineers, Sounds of space junk.
Quantifying the impact of humanity on the earth's natural systems. Why human activity now has a larger effect on our planet than the forces of nature. We look at how mathematical equations can now be used to compare historical natural processes with contemporary man made changes. And we ask where current developments will take us in years to come. The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering has been awarded to the inventors of digital imaging sensors. First invented in the 1970's, many of us use this techn...
2017-Feb-02 • 29 minutes
Wildlife trafficking, New quantum computers, Ancient bird beaks, Glassblowing.
Conservation and conflict. A year long BBC investigation has exposed an illegal animal trafficking network stretching from West Africa to the Middle East and Asia. Traffickers have used fake permits to undermine international conservation efforts. New developments in Quantum computing. Sussex University are building a new type of modular Quantum computer. We attempt to explain what Quantum computing is. A Massive citizen science project to map bird beak evolution- using records from the Natural History Mu...
2017-Jan-26 • 28 minutes
Crime, volcanoes, ghosts and how we are influenced by the genes of unrelated others
The genes of unrelated others can influence our health and behaviour. New research suggests the genetic make up of our partners can have a profound influence on our lives. Scientists have quantified genetic influence , in mice at present but the plan is to try to extend this to human interactions. If accepted this has potentially far reaching consequences for studying heritability and also perhaps modern medicine as the findings suggest an illness can in part be influenced by those we live with. The use o...
2017-Jan-19 • 28 minutes
Antarctic science rescue, Killing cancer with viruses, Measuring wind from space and the Last man on the moon
Why the British Antarctic science base is being temporarily abandoned. New cracks have appeared in the Ice shelf on which the Halley research station sits. The promise of viro-therapy for treating cancer. Scientists have successfully used a virus to kill cancer cells. They say this could form the basis for a vaccine that could be injected to destroy tumours. The limitations of mouse models. Many animals are used for testing treatments intended for humans, we explain why the results of such experiments...
2017-Jan-12 • 31 minutes
The perils of explaining science, Living to 500, What's good for your teeth and The future of stargazing
Why the simplest explanations are not always the best when it comes to science. Where you read about a scientific subject can affect not just what you learn but also how much you think you know about the subject. Quahogs are a kind of clam and they can live for hundreds of years. Analysis of their shells provides a record of historical climate change. Researchers studying their shells have found big differences between the drivers of climate change now and in the pre-industrial era. Trips to the dent...
2017-Jan-05 • 33 minutes
RIP Granny the oldest Orca - Graphene + Silly Putty - Moving a Giant Magnet - Space in 2017
The world's oldest known killer whale is presumed dead. At an estimated age of 100 years, 'Granny' was last seen with her family in October. The scientists who've followed her and her pod for four decades announced that they believe she has died somewhere in the North American Pacific. Adam Rutherford talks to evolutionary biologist Darren Croft of the University of Exeter about this remarkable animal and the insights that Granny and her clan have provided on killer whale social life and the evolution of th...
2016-Dec-29 • 44 minutes
Listeners' Questions
Adam Rutherford puts listeners' science questions to his team of experts: physicist Helen Czerski, cosmologist Andrew Pontzen and biologist Yan Wong. Queries include gravity on sci-fi space ships, how animals would evolve on the low gravitational field of the Moon, gravitational waves, mimicry in parrots, sea level rise, the accelerating universe, dinosaur intelligence, the Higgs field and concerns about oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Further questions are answered in the podcast version of the show. T...
2016-Dec-22 • 29 minutes
Inuits and Denisovans, Sex and woodlice, Peace through particle physics, Caspar the octopus in peril?
Can Inuit people survive the Arctic cold thanks to deep past liaisons with another species? Adam Rutherford talks to geneticist Rasmus Nielsen who says that's part of the answer. His team's research has identified a particular section of the Inuit people's genome which looks as though it originally came from a long extinct population of humans who lived in Siberia 50,000 years ago. The genes concerned are involved in physiological processes advantageous to adapting to the cold. The conclusion is that at som...
2016-Dec-08 • 37 minutes
Rock traces of life on Mars, Desert fireball network, Gut microbes and Parkinson's Disease, Science Museum's maths exhibition
Could rocks studied by the Mars rover Spirit in Gusev Crater in 2007 contain the hallmarks of ancient life? Geologist Steve Ruff of Arizona State University talks about what he found in hot springs in Chile which begs that question. He says the evidence is intriguing enough for NASA to send its next and more sophisticated Mars robot back to the same spot on the Red Planet in 2020. Adam also talks to Phil Bland of Curtin University in Australia - one of the creators of the Desert Fireball Network - an array...
2016-Dec-01 • 33 minutes
Alzheimers research, Lucy in the Scanner, Smart bandages, From supernovae to Hollywood
Alzheimers disease is now the leading cause of death in the UK, but there are as yet no treatments to halt or reverse it. There was huge disappointment last week when the drug company Eli Lilly announced that a large, phase 3 clinical trial had failed to show any benefit to mild dementia sufferers from its antibody therapy, solanezumab. So where does this leave our basic understanding of biology of Alzheimers disease and how we might most effectively treat or cure it? Adam Rutherford talks to Alzheimers res...
2016-Nov-24 • 28 minutes
Predator bacteria therapy, New money for UK science, Stick-on stethoscope, Taming fears in the brain scanner
Bdellovibrio is a small bacterium which preys and kills other bacteria. A team of researchers in the UK has shown in animal experiments that injections of the predator microbe can successfully treat infections. So how close does this take us to Bdellovibrio therapy for human patients and what part might it play in tackling the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance? Adam Rutherford talks to Professor Liz Sockett of the University of Nottingham. The British government has announced that it will be spendin...
2016-Nov-17 • 28 minutes
Does Pluto have an ocean, Antarctica's oldest ice, Meat emissions, Swifts fly ten months non-stop
Does the distant dwarf planet Pluto have an ocean beneath its thick crust of ice? It's certainly possible, according to a group of researchers who are analysing the data from the New Horizons Pluto flyby last year. They argue that a deep ocean of water would best explain the position of the great heart shaped depression on Pluto's surface. Adam Rutherford quizzes planetary scientist Francis Nimmo about this new hypothesis. Adam also talks to glaciologist Robert Mulvaney of the British Antarctic Survey, who...
2016-Nov-10 • 28 minutes
Climate change questions, Animal computer interaction, Sounds and meaning across world's languages
Climate change is in the news this week. The international Paris agreement to curb global temperature rise has just come into effect but President Elect Donald Trump has said he would take the United States out of the process. In BBC Inside Science, Adam Rutherford puts listener's questions and views about climate change to experts, such as the emissions reduction impact of becoming a vegan to a proposed technology to remove carbon dioxide from the planet's atmosphere. Myles Allen and Peter Scarborough of t...
2016-Nov-03 • 28 minutes
Italy's quakes, Ebola virus, Accidental rocket fuel, China in space
In the past three months, central Italy has been shaken by several large earthquakes. The quake near Norcia on 30th October was the most powerful for decades. In late August, another struck near Amatrice, causing 300 lost lives. Adam Rutherford talks to seismologist Ross Stein about why this part of the Italian peninsula is so prone to shaking, whether there is a pattern in the recent activity and whether the scientists are getting any better at earthquake forecasting. The recent Ebola epidemic in West Afr...
2016-Oct-27 • 31 minutes
Making mozzies safe with a microbe, CO2 at 400 ppm, Chixculub crater rocks, Why Mars Lander failed
Adam Rutherford meets the Australian scientist behind a radical new technique to prevent mosquitoes from spreading the zika and dengue fever viruses to people. The method involves infecting mosquitoes with a harmless bacterium. The microbe doesn't kill the mosquitoes but stops the viruses multiplying inside them and spreads rapidly through wild mosquito populations. After 15 years of research, the mosquito control method is about to be deployed in large scale trials in urban areas in South America. Also in...