BBC Inside Science podcast

BBC Inside Science

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

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

 

#541

World’s oldest forest fossils

The world’s oldest fossilised forest was uncovered in Somerset last week. We head to palaeobotanist, Dr Christopher Berry’s, lab at Cardiff University to learn about these cladoxylopsids. They lived 390 million years ago and although they are not the ancestors of today’s trees, they reveal some extraordinary evolutionary secrets. Also, Marnie speaks to Dr Chris Thorogood of the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens about his new book Pathless Forest: The Quest to Save the World’s Largest Flowers. Called “Rafflesia” plants and found in the remotest parts of South East Asia, their flowers burst from the rain forest floor the size of pumpkins and are critically endangered. Chris talks of his world of extreme fieldwork and hair-raising expeditions, braving leeches, lizards and lethal forest swamps, to discover the rarest of rare blooms. Plus, the Wildlife Trust’s Making Friends with Molluscs campaign starts today, and I’m sure many gardeners will declare this an impossible task! We visit some allotments in Bristol to find out how people are managing slug and snail populations. And chat to Brian Eversham from the Trust of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, who explains why these garden creatures should be considered our friends, not foes. And finally, Dr Stewart Husband from last week’s programme returns to answer more of your burning questions about your tap water. ... Read more

11 Apr 2024

28 MINS

28:14

11 Apr 2024


#540

How pure is the water from your tap?

A recent study on how to get rid of microplastics in water sparked presenter Marnie Chesterton’s curiosity. When she turns on the tap in her kitchen each day, what comes out is drinkable, clean water. But where did it come from, and what’s in it? Dr Stewart Husband from Sheffield University answers this and more, including listener questions from around the UK. Is water sterile? Should I use a filter? And why does my water smell like chlorine? Also, new research indicates that bumblebees can show each other how to solve puzzles too complex for them to learn on their own. Professor Lars Chittka put these clever insects to the test and found that they could learn through social interaction. How exactly did the experiment work, and what does this mean for our understanding of social insects? Reporter Hannah Fisher visits the bee lab at Queen Mary University in London. And finally, more than 20 million years ago, our branch of the tree of life lost its tail. At that point in time, apes split from another animal group, monkeys. Now, geneticist Dr Bo Xia at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard thinks he may have found the specific mutation that took our tails. Marnie speaks with evolutionary biologist Dr Tom Stubbs from the Open University about why being tail-less could be beneficial. What would a hypothetical parallel universe look like where humans roam the earth, tails intact? And what would these tails look like? Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producers: Louise Orchard, Florian Bohr, Jonathan Blackwell, Imaan Moin Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

04 Apr 2024

28 MINS

28:12

04 Apr 2024


#539

Dimming the Sun

Switzerland has submitted a proposal to create a United Nations expert group on solar geoengineering to inform governments and stakeholders. The idea was discussed at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, this week. Professor Aarti Gupta shares how, after tense negotiations, the different member states could not agree, and the proposal was withdrawn. Why is solar geoengineering a controversial issue? How would dimming the sun even work? And should we consider it a genuine option in our fight against climate change? Dr Pete Irvine and Professor Joanna Haigh join presenter Marnie Chesterton in the studio to discuss. Animal welfare charities have been celebrating a ban on donkey skin trade, agreed to this month by 55 African countries. This will make it illegal to slaughter donkeys for their skin across the continent, where around two thirds of the world’s 53 million donkeys live. Victoria Gill tells Marnie that the demand for the animals' skins is fuelled by the popularity of an ancient Chinese medicine called Ejiao, believed to have health-enhancing and youth-preserving properties and traditionally made from donkey hides. Lastly, Dr Jess Wade, physicist and science communicator at Imperial College London, discusses Breaking Through: My Life in Science. It’s the memoir of Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Dr Katalin Karikó, whose passion and dedication to mRNA research led to the development of the life-changing COVID mRNA vaccines. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producers: Florian Bohr, Louise Orchard Assistant Producer: Imaan Moin Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

28 Mar 2024

33 MINS

33:14

28 Mar 2024


#538

Laboratory-Grown Meat

Professor Ben Garrod guest presents. As a new 'meaty rice' is created and Fortnum & Mason launch a scotch egg made with cultivated meat that they hope to have on sale as early as next year, we investigate the world of laboratory-grown meat. Mark Post made the first ever synthetic meat in 2012 to the tune of £200,000. He tells us how these lab-grown meats are made and how, he thinks, they could play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and feeding a growing population. Jenny Kleeman, author of Sex, Robots and Vegan Meat, is more sceptical, citing concerns over food security and if the public really want to eat this stuff. A stingray called Charlotte has become pregnant, despite there being no other stingrays in her tank at the Aquarium & Shark Lab in North Carolina. Marine biologist Dr Helen Scales considers how this may have happened. And cosmic minerologist Sara Russell from the Natural History Museum tells us how astronomers tracked and found a particularly unusual asteroid entering Earth’s atmosphere and what we might learn from it.  Presenter: Professor Ben Garrod Producers: Hannah Robins, Florian Bohr, Alice Lipscombe-Southwell and Jonathan Blackwell Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

21 Mar 2024

28 MINS

28:10

21 Mar 2024


#537

The Gulf Stream’s tipping point

The Gulf Stream, also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), is essential to stable global climate, and the reason we have moderate temperatures in Northern Europe. Now, a new modelling study suggests that this circulation could, at some point, be at a tipping point and collapse. We hear from one of the minds behind the model, post-doctoral researcher René van Westen from Utrecht University. But how likely is it that this will actually happen in the real world? Presenter Victoria Gill speaks to Jonathan Bamber who cautions that a gulf stream collapse is not imminent, and that it may just weaken slowly over time. Every summer in the Hudson Bay, on the Eastern side of Arctic Canada, the sea ice melts and the region’s polar bears head inland. But that ice-free season is getting longer, depriving the bears of that frozen platform that they use to pounce on their favourite prey – seals. So what do the bears do all summer? Research Wildlife Biologist Karyn Rode shares how she and her colleagues put a collar with video cameras on 20 polar bears, and what it revealed about their lives. Is CERN finally going to get a gigantic new particle accelerator? Almost exactly one decade ago, Roland Pease reported from Switzerland about the very first meeting about the successor of the Large Hadron Collider which was used to discover the Higgs Boson. Now there’s an update to the story. Roland is back to tell Vic how far along CERN is with their plans, and how much more time and money it will take to build the Future Circular Collider. Lovers of certain famous, creamy French cheeses could be in for a bit of a shock. Camembert and Brie are facing extinction as we know them! The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris has stated that, over the last 100 years, the food and farming industry has placed too much pressure on the production of these types of cheeses. Now, the fungus traditionally used to grow the famous, fluffy white rinds has been cloned to a point where the lack of diversity in its genetic makeup means it can no longer be reproduced. Turophiles must learn to appreciate more diversity of tastes, colours and textures to protect the cheeses’ future. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Florian Bohr, Louise Orchard, Alice Lipscombe-Southwell  Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

14 Mar 2024

28 MINS

28:01

14 Mar 2024


#536

Ancient Roman writings revealed

As part of the Vesuvius Challenge, computer scientists have used machine learning to successfully reveal 2,000 characters from the Herculaneum scrolls. These artefacts were charred to a crisp following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Papyrologist Federica Nicolardi has been translating the writings, and tells us what exactly has been deciphered. Following this week’s launch of NASA’s PACE satellite, NASA scientist Dr Susanne Craig tells us how the mission will be giving our planet a health check. Bird flu is still an issue. This month, scientists have reported that hundreds of penguin chicks have died from the virus in the Falklands. Meanwhile, in Argentina, avian flu has killed huge numbers of elephant seal pups. Professor Wendy Barclay, a virologist from Imperial College London, tells us more about the virus and how it can jump between species. Sunday 11th February is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Physicist Dr Jess Wade, who has written hundreds of Wikipedia biographies of women and underrepresented scientists, reveals one of her favourite scientists that people haven’t heard of. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Alice Lipscombe-Southwell, Florian Bohr, Louise Orchard Assistant Producer: Jonathan Blackwell Researcher: Imaan Moin Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

07 Mar 2024

28 MINS

28:16

07 Mar 2024


#535

When brains and computers meet

Are cyborgs now reality? Elon Musk certainly thinks so. His company, Neuralink, has successfully implanted one of its wireless brain chips in a human. Although billed as a breakthrough, they’re not the first to do it. In fact, similar devices have already been implanted, all with the aim of connecting our brains to computers with the aim of tackling complex neurological conditions. Joining Inside Science is neuroscientist and author, Dean Burnett. In this episode, Dean helps to break down the technology behind the brain-computer interface and digs into the ethical implications. Plus, game changing smart technology gets a run out as Rugby Union’s Six Nations Championship kicks-off. This year, all players will be wearing “Smart Mouth Guards.” These are intelligent gum shields containing miniature gyroscopes, accelerometers and Bluetooth, which provide - with incredible accuracy - a measure of the magnitude and frequency of forces experienced by players. An athlete making their international debut in this competition could have their entire collision history mapped from now until retirement, providing invaluable information for training and treatments. Crucial not only for elite squads, but ultimately for community and schools rugby where the technology will eventually land, leading to a safer game. And finally, it turns out that we can actually understand chickens even if we’ve never met them before! After assessing a group of around 200 volunteers, a team at the University of Queensland has discovered that humans with no experience of chickens at all, could understand the birds’ calls of satisfaction, or frustration. The research has serious implications for what’s known as precision farming, an area of livestock farming with little, to no, human interaction that requires automated systems of welfare detection using sound recognition. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Louise Orchard, Florian Bohr, Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

29 Feb 2024

27 MINS

27:12

29 Feb 2024


#534

Hydrogen and the race to net zero

Hydrogen has long been touted as a potential wonder gas that could play a significant role in our race to net zero. Now, planning permission has been granted for the UK’s largest production hub of its kind, and one of the most advanced in the world. Located in Cheshire, it bills itself as a vital piece of Northwest England’s mission to help manufacturers in the region decarbonise their processes and support UK jobs. We speak to chemical engineer and the plant’s site manager, Richard Holden, and we also catch up with Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society at University College London, about hydrogen and our future energy economy. Almost 25 years ago, Dr Marc Lammers stumbled across a mystery. The humpback whale singing he was recording via an underwater microphone near the shore was quieter during the day than at night. But he wasn’t able to answer why. Many years later, a PhD student, Anke Kuegler, joined his research team and took on the task of uncovering what was really going on. Using multiple ways of listening to and tracking the whales, she found out that the singing humpbacks were moving off-shore during the day, and closer to shore at night. Part of the mystery was solved, but it raised an even bigger question: what is driving this behaviour? Plus, a recent study has shown that terrestrial hermit crabs around the world are using non-organic materials, like plastic bottle caps, as their homes. Professor Marta Szulkin and her team at the University of Warsaw looked through social media photographs and videos (known as iEcology, or Internet Ecology) to find evidence for this new behaviour. Marta has theories about why the crabs are doing this, but it will take many years of research to uncover the long-term effects on hermit crab populations and their evolutionary trajectory. And, resident materials expert, Mark Miodownik, chats to Viv about what we can, and cannot, solve about the global plastic emergency. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Florian Bohr, Louise Orchard Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

22 Feb 2024

28 MINS

28:12

22 Feb 2024


#533

A New Volcanic Era?

As lava consumes homes on the Reykjavik Peninsula in Iceland, evacuated communities have been witnessing eruptions shifting and intensifying. We take a look at the latest science that’s helping teams on the ground accurately predict where the danger is coming from, helping people to stay safe. Our go-to volcanologist, Dr Evgenia Ilyinskaya, and her colleague, Professor Andrew Hooper, from the University of Leeds tell presenter Victoria about these new technological advancements, and ask the crucial question: are we entering a new millennium of volcanic activity in Iceland? When looking at clear ocean water, you might assume that, aside from fish and some algae, there isn’t much living in it. But Prof Carlos Duarte knows it is full of life. In fact, his new study shows just how many different microbes – bacteria, viruses & fungi – live in all parts of our ocean. He and his team at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have created the largest ocean genome catalogue to date. Prof Mark Blaxter from the Wellcome Sanger Institute joins us to discuss this new study, the benefits of hypothesis-free science, and why he believes cataloguing the code of life of all the species on earth is an important endeavour. And, lastly, an old dinosaur fossil in New Mexico has been re-examined. What was believed to be of the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex may have been a different species all along. But not all palaeontologists agree. How do scientists even tell a dinosaur species from a fossil? Prof Stephen Brusatte tells Vic that it’s all about comparing bones. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Florian Bohr, Louise Orchard, Hannah Robbins Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

15 Feb 2024

27 MINS

27:53

15 Feb 2024


#532

Understanding Flood Forecasting

When Lois Pryce arrived at her boat in Berkshire, the area was already completely flooded. The only way to get to it was via a small pontoon. She is one of many across the UK that have been affected by the current floods, and is very familiar with the flood warning system accessible to the public. But how exactly does this system work? What information is taken into account? Marnie Chesterton speaks to Dr Linda Speight about flood forecasting, and the delicate balance of when to send out flood alerts and warnings. Plus, a supersized spacecraft is launching this October. Europa Clipper will assess whether the most intriguing of Jupiter’s 95 moons is habitable, meaning, could it support life? The evidence is tantalising. Jenny Kempmeir, Science Systems Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tells us why Europa might be the second body in our solar system on which life could exist. And, if you’ve been procrastinating over the housework – or should we say, mousework? - take a leaf out of a little rodent’s book. Apparently, mice do like to keep things clean, but a video that went viral this week seemingly takes this idea to another level entirely! You may well have seen the footage of a Welsh mouse gathering up objects in a shed and placing them neatly inside a box, night after night. It’s certainly very cute - Tidy Mouse carrying out its mousekeeping..but what’s the scientific explanation behind this curious behaviour? Finally, how do exercise and video games affect cognitive performance? Professor Adrian Owen is launching a new experiment to find out and he needs your help. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producers: Louise Orchard, Florian Bohr, Hannah Robbins Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

08 Feb 2024

28 MINS

28:21

08 Feb 2024


#531

Space Exploration

2024 is an exciting year for lunar exploration. For Inside Science this week Marnie Chesterton investigates the planned missions to the Moon over the next twelve months. It’s been more than fifty years since the last manned mission to the Moon was completed. But that’s about to change with NASA’s upcoming Artemis II mission. This will not only be the first manned lunar flyby of the Moon since 1972, but also the first mission to have a woman and person of colour on board. Reid Wiseman, Commander of the Artemis II manned mission explains more about the mission and even lets us into a few secrets about what culinary delights await astronauts in space. But it’s not just NASA going to the Moon in 2024. China’s Chang’e 6 mission is lifting off in May, aiming to collect samples of rock from the far side of the moon. Quentin Parker, Director of the Laboratory for Space Research at the University of Hong Kong has a unique insight into China’s mission and has been following progress. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producers: Hannah Fisher Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

01 Feb 2024

28 MINS

28:45

01 Feb 2024


#530

12 days of Christmas - science version

Marnie Chesterton & Victoria Gill embark on a science-themed version of the classic Christmas song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ in this festive edition of BBC Inside Science. Twelve of the biggest moments of the year in science include discussion about a very special treefrog discovered in the Ecuadorian Andes. We also hear about two new promising drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. An astronomer and visualisation scientist tells us about three new sonifications of space data. There’s more on the discovery of a 476,000 year-old wooden structure found earlier this year in Zambia and how it has changed archaeologists' understanding of ancient human life. The year has also seen 5,000 new species discovered in a deep ocean abyssal plain. Saturn has 62 new moons and is now the planet with the most moons in our solar system. A report was published deeming 75% of UK rivers as posing a risk to human health. We gathered together experts from Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff University, Bangor University and the Wye and Usk Foundation who discussed why the help from citizen science is essential for their work. And a new record has been set which is really worrying scientists - the highest average global ocean surface temperature, which reached 20.98 degrees centigrade. Other notable moments from the year include: a Japanese twelve-legged robot, eighteen video-calling parrots, proposals for the 10km long Einstein telescope and the theory behind why one player in every football team views the world slightly differently. To help us along the journey the BBC’s Radio Drama Company put all the science together into a brand-new rendition of the well-known 12 days of Christmas song. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton & Victoria Gill Producer: Hannah Fisher Assistant Producer: Emily Bird Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

25 Jan 2024

28 MINS

28:20

25 Jan 2024


#529

The Science of the South Pole

We’re on board the RSS Sir David Attenborough for the vessel’s first big science season in the Antarctic, since it launched in 2020. It’s crewed by scientists involved in Project Biopole, a 5-year mission attempting to better understand carbon cycle at the poles. Nadine Johnston, a microbiologist with the British Antarctic Survey, joins Inside Science to talk about her work on copepods; zooplankton that build up huge fat reserves over the spring and summer months, then hibernate at 3000m during winter, taking carbon with them which is then locked-up in the deep ocean for up to 600yrs! Her research is a world first in the Southern Ocean and could help improve global carbon modelling of the earth system. Staying in the South Pole, neuroscientist John-Antoine Libourel, talks about his latest research into the surprising sleeping habits of chinstrap penguins. And after weeks of intense earthquake activity, the volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula of south-west Iceland has erupted. Dr Evgenia Ilyinskaya, our go-to volcanologist, provides an update. Plus, a nod to the festive season, as composer and AI artist, LJ Rich, explains why Christmas music makes us feel all fuzzy. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Hannah Robins, Harrison Lewis & Louise Orchard Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth    BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

18 Jan 2024

28 MINS

28:12

18 Jan 2024


#528

Biggest COP in history

COP 28, the largest climate summit in history, has drawn to a close. Marnie Chesterton examines some of the main stories to emerge from this lengthy conference. The way we look after our oceans, measures needed to ensure food security and an agreement to transition away from fossil fuel dependence were some of the big themes of the summit. The BBC’s climate reporter Georgina Rannard takes us through the final agreement. We hear from Glada Lahn, senior research fellow at international affairs think-tank Chatham House, who explains how we might one day wean ourselves off so-called ‘brown energy’. Farming is also a source of greenhouse gases. Growing, processing and packaging food account for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions. How we feed the 8.1 billion of us on the planet continues to be a contentious issue. Casper Chater from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew explains what we can do to adapt our existing crops to cope with more frequent flood and drought events. Oceans are warming, losing oxygen and acidifying. Sea levels are rising. We speak to Ko Barrett, a senior climate advisor at the US's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about the role oceans have played so far in helping us mitigate the worse effects of climate change. And we meet Mervina Paueli, a 25-year-old Tuvaluan negotiator, whose small archipelago in the South Pacific is on the frontline. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producers: Louise Orchard, Hannah Robins and Harrison Lewis Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

11 Jan 2024

28 MINS

28:26

11 Jan 2024


#527

Vagrant Birds

Vagrant birds are those that appear in locations where they are not usually found. They might have been blown off course by a storm or have been affected by changing weather patterns due to climate change. Although a treat for birders, these visitors can also have a big impact on their new environments as Victoria Gill finds out when she heads to Burton Mere Wetlands on the Dee Estuary with Dr Alexander Lees, reader in biodiversity at Manchester Metropolitan University. As former Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives his testimony, we hear the latest from the UK Covid-19 Public Inquiry with BBC Health Reporter Jim Reed. A new study reveals that, contrary to a commonly-held view, the brain does not have the ability to rewire itself to compensate for the loss of, for example sight, an amputation or stroke. This is despite what most scientists believe and teach. Moreover, the assumption that it has this ability has led to all manner of erroneous treatments for amputees, stroke victims and other conditions, the study suggests. We’re joined by the study’s authors, Professor John Krakauer from Johns Hopkins University and Professor Tamar Making of the University of Cambridge. We’ll also hear from one of Tamar’s key case studies, Kirsty Mason, an amputee from the age of 18 who advanced the scientists’ experiments exponentially.   Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Hannah Robins and Louise Orchard Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

04 Jan 2024

28 MINS

28:17

04 Jan 2024


#526

Finding Tunnels

Tunnels have been the focus of much attention this week as the war in Gaza continues and 41 workers were rescued in India, after 17 days trapped underground. Forensic geoscientists Jamie Pringle and Ruth Morgan explain the science behind identifying what’s beneath the surface, from above ground, and how you might work out what a tunnel is being used for. This winter, the Northern Lights are going to be the most spectacular they’ve been in twenty years. With the aurora borealis already appearing as far south as Stonehenge, Katie Herlingshaw, a space physicsist from the University Centre in Svalbard, explains what’s happening. The Conference of the Parties, or COP28, begins in Dubai. BBC’s Georgina Rannard gives us the rundown of which countries are the best and worst for sticking to climate goals and assesses the UK’s own standing after Rishi Sunak rowed back on key climate commitments earlier this year.   The UK Covid-19 Inquiry hears from some of the most important ministers this week as key government ministers give evidence. BBC Health Reporter Jim Reed gives us the update. Presenter:  Marnie Chesterton Producers: Hannah Robins, Louise Orchard and Hannah Fisher Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

28 Dec 2023

28 MINS

28:28

28 Dec 2023


#525

UK Covid-19 Inquiry

Key scientific witnesses including former Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty are called to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry. The BBC’s Jim Reed brings us his three key moments from the evidence heard over the past few days that have been dubbed “science week”. NASA has managed to let loose a tool kit in the Earth’s orbit -- and you can even see it in the night sky with binoculars. Lucinda King explains how this is possible and if space junk is getting out of control. The United Nations has warned we’re heading towards 3 degrees warming and another Conference of the Parties, known as COP, is about to take place. The BBC’s Georgina Rannard reminds us there is still hope for our planet to curb global warming. The winner of the 2023 Royal Society Trivedi Science Book Prize was announced on Wednesday night. It’s Ed Yong for his book ‘An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us’. Marnie Chesterton was at the ceremony and nabbed Ed as well as Chair of the Judges Alain Goriely to find out what made this book the winner. Presenter:  Marnie Chesterton Producers: Harrison Lewis, Hannah Robins and Louise Orchard Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

21 Dec 2023

28 MINS

28:17

21 Dec 2023


#524

Iceland Volcano

An underground river of magma and thousands of tremors have been observed across the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland. We speak to the scientists monitoring the Fagradalsfjall volcano who explain how this might be ushering in a new era of huge volcanic activity in the country. Sir Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England and Sir Patrick Vallance, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government are due to appear at the Covid-19 Inquiry next week. It’s the next stage of the public inquiry that began proceedings in July last year. Now it’s focussing on the key questions surrounding how science and the scientific community informed government strategy before, during and after the pandemic. BBC Health Reporter Jim Reed has been attending the inquiry and explains what we know from the evidence that’s been given so far – and what to expect next week. David Quammen discusses his book ‘Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus’. It's a thriller-style narrative revealing how scientists responded to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s our final shortlisted book for the Royal Society Science Book Prize. The winner will be announced next week. Presenter:  Victoria Gill Producers: Hannah Robins, Harrison Lewis, Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Editor: Richard Collings    Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

14 Dec 2023

28 MINS

28:12

14 Dec 2023


#523

Loss and damages for vulnerable countries

Professor Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, has died. He was instrumental in pushing for a loss and damages fund for vulnerable countries affected by climate change. Last year’s COP27 climate conference made a pledge to set up this fund. But, as yet, there is not one in place. Marnie Chesterton speaks to BBC climate reporter Esme Stallard about Professor Huq’s legacy, and where the money will come from for a loss and damages fund. We also hear about an unusual snail that’s looking for love, with the help of matchmaking academic Dr Angus Davison. He’s hoping to find a suitor for the mollusc. Marnie talks to Lev Parikian, author of Taking Flight: The Evolutionary Story of Life on the Wing, which has been shortlisted for this year’s Royal Society Trivedi Science Book Prize. Geneticist, Professor Giles Yeo, who recently cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats with two glucose monitors attached to his arms, gives us an update on his research. He wanted to find out how diet and exercise affected his body’s sugar levels. Presenter:  Marnie Chesterton Producers: Hannah Robins, Harrison Lewis and Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

07 Dec 2023

30 MINS

30:47

07 Dec 2023


#522

Metal Mines

Long abandoned metal mines are having a huge impact on rivers across the UK. BBC Inside Science reporter Patrick Hughes visits Cwmystwyth in Wales, where he finds lead, zinc and cadmium seeping into waterways. It’s the costly legacy left after hundreds of years of mining. Roma Agrawal breaks down our modern world into seven essential basic inventions in her book Nuts and Bolts which has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize. She talks to Marnie about the surprising history behind some of these inventions.  And, as a cryogenic tank of bull semen is stolen from a farm in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, it got us thinking: how can selective breeding help reduce carbon and methane emissions from cattle? Professor Eileen Wall from Scotland’s Rural College tells us more. Presenter:  Marnie Chesterton Producers: Harrison Lewis, Hannah Robins and Patrick Hughes Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth BBC Inside Science is produced in Cardiff by BBC Wales and West in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

30 Nov 2023

28 MINS

28:24

30 Nov 2023


#521

Forever chemicals

PFAS chemicals, also known as forever chemicals, don’t break down in the environment. They can accumulate in the body and are found to have an array of harmful effects on human health. A major mapping project has revealed worryingly high levels of PFAS across thousands of sites in the UK. Experts are concerned that not enough is being done to reduce these chemicals from drinking water. They’re urging the government to re-evaluate current regulation. This week we dive into the properties of these chemicals: how dangerous are they and what can be done to protect public health? Professor Crispin Halsall, an environmental chemist from Lancaster University, tells us more. As charges are brought against four people for stealing and selling on US$1 million of dinosaur bones, we find out about the illegal – and legal – trade in fossils from palaeontologist Professor Steve Brusatte. New research has discovered the Moon is 40 million years older than we previously thought. Professor Sara Russell, a cosmic mineralogist and planetary scientist from the Natural History Museum, tells us more. And is there something we can we learn from animals about how to age better? Nicklas Brendborg discusses his book, Jellyfish Age Backwards: Nature’s Secrets to Longevity, which has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Trivedi Science Book Prize. Presenter:  Victoria Gill Producers: Hannah Robins, Harrison Lewis and Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University. ... Read more

23 Nov 2023

30 MINS

30:03

23 Nov 2023