Mosaic Science Podcast

In-depth stories about the science of life. Each week, we tell a story about ideas, trends and people, and how science and medicine affect our lives, our health and our society. More at Published by the Wellcome Trust.

0 Likes     0 Followers     2 Subscribers

Sign up / Log in to like, follow, recommend and subscribe!

The Mosaic Science Podcast - audio documentaries and audio versions of our weekly longread. Mosaic is a digital magazine that publishes compelling stories exploring the science of life. Produced by the Wellcome Trust. More at
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-08-19 14:02
last episode published
2019-08-19 00:30
publication frequency
7.17 days
Mosaic science owner   author  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture Science & Medicine Health



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Studying an emerging sign language won’t kill it – so what are linguists scared of?

Emerging sign languages could reveal how all language evolved – but keeping these fragile languages isolated for research may mean the people who rely on them lose out. Written by Michael Erard. Read by Michael Regnier. Produced by Graihagh Jackson. iT...

The superhero in your vagina

While it’s healthy to have a variety of bacteria in our guts, there’s one place where a single dominant type is best: the vagina. Meet the researchers trying to make the world healthier, one vagina at a time. Written by Kendall Powell. Read by Kirsten ...

How Rwanda could be the first country to wipe out cervical cancer

The East African country’s campaign to end cervical cancer through the HPV vaccine has had to overcome cultural taboos and rumours about infertility – but it’s saving lives. Written by Sophie Cousins. Read and produced by Graihagh Jackson. iTunes itune...

Science for the people!

In the 1970s, radical scientists thought they could change the world – if they could change science first. As told to Alice Bell. Written by Alice Bell. Read by Nick Dent. Produced by Barry J Gibb. iTunes…id964928211?m...

Cancer I could deal with. Losing my breast I could not

For those with breast cancer, a mastectomy may seem the best option. Joanna Moorhead thought so – until the last minute. Now she’s glad she chose less extensive surgery. Written and read by Joanna Moorhead. Produced by Graihagh Jackson. To read this st...

Doing disability differently

"I am so accustomed to thinking of wheelchair use in binary terms: you either use one or you don’t. Now I’m struggling to unlearn that notion." In Canada, wheelchair basketball brings people together regardless of their abilities. Lesley Evans Ogden as...

How to survive climate change: a lesson from Hurricane Maria

The rest of the world can learn from Puerto Rican communities rallying together to recover from a natural disaster fuelled by climate change. Written by Jane Palmer. Read by Michael Regnier. Produced by Graihagh Jackson. To read the story online, head...

Colour to dye for

The basic chemistry of hair dyes has changed little over the last century, but what do we know about the risks of colouring our hair, and why do we do it? Written by Rebecca Guenard Read by Rebecca McIntosh Produced by Barry J Gibb iTunes

The hidden epidemic of compulsive hair pulling

Whether hair pulling, skin picking or cheek biting, body-focused repetitive behaviours blight many people’s lives. How can science help us understand and treat these distressing conditions better? Written by Sara Talpos. Read by Kirsten Irving. Produce...

The 96th Street divide: why there’s so much diabetes in Harlem

In East Harlem, four times as many adults have diabetes as in the neighbouring Upper East Side. Meera Senthilingam meets the New Yorkers stopping poverty being a death sentence. Audio producer: Meera Senthilingam Fact checker: Laura Dawes Editor: Mun-K...

Fake drugs: the global industry putting your life at risk

The manufacture and distribution of medicines is a global industry, tainted by fake and substandard products. Not only might these drugs not work as expected, but some are even contributing to antimicrobial resistance. So, what’s in your medicine cabin...

The Cost of Pure Water

Ghana has plenty of water. So why do its people buy plastic pouches from street vendors? Shaun Raviv investigates.   Written by Shaun Raviv. Read by Pip Mayo. Produced by Barry J Gibb. Audio editing by Geoff Marsh.   Read the full text original and acc...

How HIV became a matter of international security

Governments around the world were slow to get to grips with HIV/AIDS. But a big change came when they started understanding it not just as a health issue but as a security threat too.  Written by Alexandra Ossola. Read by Rebecca McIntosh. Produced by ...

How malaria defeats our drugs

"The parasite has started to become resistant. The wonder drug is failing. It is the latest reprise of a decades-long theme: we attack malaria with a new drug, it mounts an evolutionary riposte." In the war against malaria, one small corner of the glob...

The DNA detectives hunting the causes of cancer

Cancer rates vary wildly across the world, and we don’t know why. To solve this mystery, scientists are tracking down causes of cancer by the fingerprints they leave in the genome. Written and read by Kat Arney.  Produced by Graihagh Jackson. To read t...

How we became the heaviest drinkers in a century

Chrissie Giles on her generation’s climb to Peak Booze.  "I didn’t feel that I had a problem with alcohol, nor did any of my friends. We got drunk, sometimes too drunk, and then suffered the consequences. We were just doing what young people did. But r...

Why are so many people getting a meat allergy?

Becoming allergic to meat turns your life upside down. Known as alpha-gal allergy, the condition dictates what you can eat, wear, how you relax, and even which medicines are safe. Is research finally starting to catch up? Editor: Chrissie Giles Copyedi...

Suicide of the Ceasefire Babies

In loving memory of Lyra McKee (1990-2019). This episode was originally broadcast in April 2016. In Northern Ireland, more people took their own lives in the 16 years after the Troubles than died during them. Why? Lyra McKee finds out. Written by Lyra ...

How a wooden bench in Zimbabwe is starting a revolution in mental health

In the early 2000s, when there were just two psychiatrists serving over 12 million people, Zimbabwe had to get creative to treat depression. Now, one bright idea – the Friendship Bench – is spreading far and wide. Written by Alex Riley. Read by Kirsten...

Brazil’s billion-dollar gym experiment

Can a grand vision of 4,000 free public gyms overcome inequality and fight Brazil’s health crisis? Catherine de Lange reports. Written by Catherine de Lange, read by Pip Mayo, produced by Barry J Gibb For more stories and to read the text original, vis...

How big data is changing science

New biomedical techniques, like next-generation genome sequencing, are creating vast amounts of data and transforming the scientific landscape. They’re leading to unimaginable breakthroughs – but leaving researchers racing to keep up. Editor: Rob Redd...

The fight of your life

Boxers know they risk injury in the ring. But there’s a more insidious danger they don’t often talk about: the long-term brain damage that repeated blows to the head can cause. Lyra McKee meets the families who are breaking the silence. Written by Lyra...

The little yellow box that’s made thousands of operations safer

Millions of people are left dead or disabled by surgical complications each year when one simple piece of kit could have saved them. Jane Feinmann discovers how it has helped transform medicine in Mongolia. Written by Jane Feinmann.  Read by Rebecca Mc...

Can meditation really slow ageing?

Is there real science in the spiritualism of meditation? Jo Marchant meets a Nobel Prize-winner who thinks so. Written by Jo MarchantRead by Pip MayoProduced by Barry J Gibb For more stories and to read this story, visit Subscribe to ...

Psychosis in Parkinson’s: now we can treat it without making other symptoms worse

Half of people with Parkinson’s disease experience hallucinations, paranoia and delusions. Mary O’Hara reports on a new hope. Written by Mary O'Hara Read by Michael Regnier Produced by Graihagh Jackson

India is training ‘quacks’ to do real medicine. This is why

Priyanka Pulla asks if there can ever be legitimacy in ‘quackery’. Written by Priyanka Pulla, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb, audio editing by Geoff Marsh. If you liked this story, we recommend Can meditation really slow ageing? by Ma...

The only emotions I can feel are anger and fear

One in ten people struggle to recognise their emotions. New research suggests a vital link between our ability to sense our physical bodies and knowing how we feel. Written by Emma Young Read by Charlotte Hussey  Produced by Graihagh Jackson

Killer dust

Why is asbestos still killing people? Nic Fleming finds out in a twisting tale of industry cover-ups and misinformation that spans decades. Written by Nic Fleming, read by Pip Mayo, produced by Barry J Gibb

The people who help you die better

A network of compassionate volunteers caring for their terminally ill neighbours is allowing more people in Kerala, India, to end their days at peace and at home. Jeremy Laurance meets the man leading the movement. Written by Jeremy Laurance Read by Ki...

Can America cope with a resurgence of tropical disease?

Having stamped out a number of tropical diseases – including malaria – decades ago, is America today complacent about a rising wave of infectious disease? By Carrie Arnold. Written by Carrie Arnold, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb, aud...

How to mend a broken heart

The need to mend broken hearts has never been greater. But what if we could simply manufacture a new one? Alex O’Brien studies the legacy of Texan surgeons and artificial hearts. Written by Alex O'Brien, read by Pip Mayo, produced by Barry J Gibb, audi...

What can we learn when a clinical trial is stopped?

An early halt to a trial of deep brain stimulation for depression reveals little about the treatment but more about the changing nature of clinical trials. Written by David Dobbs Read by Brian Yim Lim Produced by Graihagh Jackson

Why the calorie is broken

Calories consumed minus calories burned: it’s the simple formula for weight loss or gain. But dieters often find that it doesn’t work. Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley of Gastropod investigate. Written by Cynthia Graber, read by Charlotte Hussey, prod...

Psychedelic therapy

Notoriously illegal and synonymous with hedonism, LSD and ecstasy started life as aids to psychotherapy. Sam Wong meets the band of psychiatrists who are looking to reclaim them for medicine again. Written by Sam Wong, read by Pip Mayo, produced by Bar...

Light at the end of the scalpel

Telling cancer from non-cancer is tough for brain surgeons. Scorpions, and the legacy of a dying girl might change that, writes Alex O'Brien. Written by Alex O'Brien, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb For more stories and to r...

Abortion, contraception, pregnancy: how women’s bodies became a battlezone

Women’s reproductive rights are under attack across the globe. Sophie Cousins investigates the challenges women face in accessing abortion and contraception in two very different countries – India and the USA. Written by Sophie Cousins Read by Kirsten ...

The fat city that declared war on obesity

Oklahoma has lost a million pounds of fat. Ian Birrell asks how – and whether declaring ‘war on obesity’ can really change a city’s infrastructure and encourage healthy living. Written by Ian Birrell, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb If...

Violent crime is like infectious disease – and we know how to stop it spreading

Headlines scream about “epidemics” of shootings and stabbings – but what if we took that literally? From Chicago to Glasgow, treating violence as a public health problem has produced great results. Written by Samira Shackle Read by Kirsten Irving Produ...

Can you supercharge your brain?

Applying mild electrical currents to your head could take away pain, help memory and improve attention – and the US military is very interested. Emma Young reports. Written by Emma Young, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb If you liked th...

Sick building syndrome: is it the buildings or the people who need treatment?

In Finland, people whose sickness is linked to certain buildings fear being labelled as mentally ill, while scientists search for evidence that their condition is ‘real’. Written by Shayla Love Read by Graihagh Jackson  If you liked this story, we reco...

Hacking the nervous system

One nerve connects your vital organs, sensing and shaping your health. If we learn to control it, the future of medicine will be electric. Written by Gaia Vince, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb, edited by Geoff Marsh For more stories a...

How the mafia is causing cancer

When doctors in rural Italy began to see a surge in cancer cases, they were baffled. Then they made the link with industrial waste being dumped by local crime syndicates. Ian Birrell learns about the tragic consequences.  Written by Ian Birrell Read by...

Hungary's cold war with polio

"Polio was unpredictable. Often no more harmful than any other childhood infection, it could on occasion ‘turn’ with swift, inexplicable savagery, destroying a child’s nerve cells and leaving him paralysed for life. If it damaged the nerves controlling...

The sex workers who are stopping HIV

Sex workers in Mozambique are providing health support to those at the margins of society. They face political and financial challenges, but against the odds they are helping thousands. Written by Jules Montague  Read by Kirsten Irving  Produced by Gra...

What the nose knows

"Losing enjoyment of food and drink is a common complaint for people who lose their sense of smell. You can taste sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami with your tongue. More complex flavours – like grapefruit or barbecued steak – depend on smell. But f...

This disease kills half the people it infects. So why isn’t more being done?

Melioidosis is a bacterial infection that quietly causes thousands of deaths each year. Meet the doctor who made it his mission to make the world take notice. Written by Carrie Arnold Read by Michael Regnier Produced by Graihagh Jackson For more storie...

Facial discrimination

In a world obsessed with beauty, living with a facial disfigurement can be hard. Neil Steinberg explores the past and present to find out what it’s like to look different. Written by Neil Steinberg Read by Pip Mayo Produced by Barry J Gibb Edited by Ge...

Staying awake: the surprisingly effective way to treat depression

Using sleep deprivation to lift people out of severe depression may seem counterintuitive, but for some people, it’s the only thing that works.  Written by Linda Geddes Read by Rebecca McIntosh  Produced by Graihagh Jackson For more stories and to read...

Porklife: building a better pig

How have the farm animals of today been shaped by centuries of domestication and selective breeding? Sujata Gupta investigates. Written by Sujata Gupta, read by Kirsten Irving, produced by Barry J Gibb, edited by Geoff Marsh For more stories and to rea...

How far would you go to be able to smile?

Smiling is one of the fundamental ways people communicate, so what happens if your face can’t do it? Written by Neil Steinberg Read by Charlotte Hussey Produced by Graihagh Jackson For more stories and to read the text original, visit