Programme exploring new ideas in science and meeting the scientists and researchers responsible for them, as well as hearing from their critics

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Programme exploring new ideas in science and meeting the scientists and researchers responsible for them, as well as hearing from their critics
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-04-02 22:48
last episode published
2014-12-24 00:00
publication frequency
26.79 days
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BBC Radio 4 author  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Science & Medicine



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Virtual Therapy

"e-Therapy" has come a long way since the (slightly tongue in cheek) days of ELIZA, a very early attempt at computer based psychotherapy. ELIZA was little more than an algorithm that spotted patterns in words and returned empty, yet meaningful-sounding...
BBC Radio 4 author

Can Maths Combat Terrorism?

Dr Hannah Fry investigates the hidden patterns behind terrorism and asks whether mathematics could be used to predict the next 9/11. When computer scientists decided to study the severity and frequency of 30,000 terrorist attacks worldwide, they found...
BBC Radio 4 author

Animal Personality

Professor Adam Hart explores the newest area in the science of animal behaviour - the study of personality variation within species as diverse as chimpanzees, wandering albatrosses, sharks and sea anemones. What can this fresh field of zoology tells us...
BBC Radio 4 author

New Space to Fly

As our skies become more crowded Jack Stewart examines the long awaited modernisation of air traffic control. With traffic predicted to reach 17 million by 2030 more flights will mean more delays. For many a new approach to controlling flights is long ...
BBC Radio 4 author

Vagus Nerve

Many people are living with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions in which the body attacks itself. Although drug treatments have improved over recent years they do not work for everyone and can have serious si...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Rosetta Mission

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to 67P/Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko reached its most dramatic moment on 12th November. BBC News correspondent Jonathan Amos has covered the event for a special edition of Radio 4's 'Frontiers' programme. I...
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In March astronomers in the BICEP2 collaboration announced they had found gravitational waves from the Big Bang. But now the evidence is being questioned by other scientists. Dr Lucie Green reports on the debate and asks if scientists can ever know wha...
BBC Radio 4 author

Swarming robots

Adam Hart looks at how new developments in understanding insect behaviour, plant cell growth and sub cellular organisation are influencing research into developing robot swarms. Biological systems have evolved elegant ways for large numbers of autonom...
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General anaesthetics which act to cause reversible loss of consciousness have been used clinically for over 150 years. Yet scientists are only now really understanding how these drugs act on the brain and the body to stop us feeling pain. Linda Geddes ...
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Power Transmission

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

Geoff Watts investigates the latest thinking about our brain power in old age. He meets researchers who argue that society has overly negative views of the mental abilities of the elderly - a dismal and fatalistic outlook which is not backed up by rec...
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Driverless cars

Most traffic accidents are caused by human error. Engineers are designing vehicles with built in sensors that send messages to other cars, trucks, bikes and even pedestrians, to prevent collisions happening. The idea is to make the vehicles react to wh...
BBC Radio 4 author


Are you a lark or an owl? Are you at your best in the morning or the evening? Linda Geddes meets the scientists who are exploring the differences between larks and owls. At the University of Surrey's Sleep Research Centre she talks to its director, Pro...
BBC Radio 4 author


Geoengineering is a controversial approach to dealing with climate change. Gaia Vince explores putting chemicals in the stratosphere to stop solar energy reaching the earth. When volcanoes erupt they put sulphur in the stratosphere. The particles refl...
BBC Radio 4 author

Nitrogen Fixing

3.5 billion people are alive today because of a single chemical process. The Haber-Bosch process takes Nitrogen from the air and makes ammonia, from which synthetic fertilizers allow farmers to feed our massive population. Ammonia is a source of highl...
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Self-Healing Materials

Quentin Cooper takes a look at the new materials that can mend themselves. Researchers are currently developing bacteria in concrete which, once awakened, excrete lime to fill any cracks. In South America you can choose a car paint that heals its own s...
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The Power of the Unconscious

We like to think that we are in control of our lives, of what we do, think and feel. But, as Geoff Watts discovers, scientists are now revealing that this is just an illusion. A simple magic trick reveals just how limited our conscious awareness of th...
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Gut Microbiota

What is it about the microbes in our guts that can have such an impact on our lives? The human gut has around 100 trillion bacterial cells from up to 1,000 different species. Every person's microbiota (the body's bacterial make-up) is different as a r...
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The hormone oxytocin is involved in mother and baby bonding and in creating trust. Linda Geddes finds out if taking oxytocin can help people with autism become more sociable. Larry Young, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Emory Universi...
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Crossrail - Tunnelling under London

Tracey Logan goes underground to find out how Crossrail is using the latest engineering techniques to create 26 miles of tunnels below London's tube network, sewers and foundations and through its erratic, sometimes unpredictable geology. She finds out...
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Plate Tectonics and Life

Earthquakes are feared for their destructive, deadly force. But they are part of a geological process, plate tectonics, that some scientists say is vital for existence of life itself. Without the ever-changing land surfaces that plate tectonics produce...
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Whatever happened to biofuels?

Whatever happened to biofuels? They were seen as the replacement for fossil fuels until it was realised they were being grown on land that should have been used for food crops. But now there is serious research into new ways of producing biofuels, from...
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England's chief medical officer recently warned that within twenty years, the spread of antibiotic resistance may have returned us to an almost 19th century state of medicine. Infections following routine operations will be untreatable and fatal becaus...
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Build Me a Brain

When President Obama recently complained, that although "we can identify galaxies light years away, study particles smaller than an atom ... we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears" - he called on ...
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Forensic Phonetics

Many crimes are planned, executed and sometimes gloated over using mobile phones. And the move to digital means that recordings are cheap and easy to make for the criminals themselves, as well as for their victims and witnesses. Ranging from death thr...
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A decade ago, the Human Genome Project revealed that only 1% of our DNA codes for the proteins that make our bodies. The rest of the genome, it was said, was junk, in other words with no function. But in September another massive international project,...
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Brain Machine Interfaces

Can reading the mind allow us to use thought control to move artificial limbs? Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, is one of the world's leading researchers into using the mind to control machines. One of his aims is to build a suit that a quadriplegic ...
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Humanity's impact on the Earth is so profound that we're creating a new geological time period. Geologists have named the age we're making the Anthropocene. The changes we're making to the atmosphere, oceans, landscape and living things will leap out o...
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Why do women live longer than men?

In the UK today, male life expectancy is 78 years old, whereas women will on average live four years longer. Evolutionary biologist Dr Yan Wong looks at the latest evidence suggesting that where ageing is concerned, men seem to be at a genetic disad...
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Future of Particle Physics

Finding the Higgs boson on July 4th was the last piece in physicists' Standard model of matter. But Tracey Logan discovers there's much more for them to find out at the Large Hadron Collider. To start with there is a lot of work to establish what kind ...
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