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The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast

The Infinite Monkey Cage

Brian Cox and Robin Ince host a witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists' eyes.

Brian Cox and Robin Ince host a witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists' eyes.

 

#157

Hunting for Exoplanets

Brian Cox and Robin Ince continue their LA science adventure as they visit Caltech in Pasadena to meet the scientists hunting for planets orbiting distant stars in solar systems far far from our own. They are joined in their quest by Python Legend Eric Idle and Exo-planet hunters Dr Jessie Christiansen from Caltech and Dr Tiffany Kataria from NASA's JPL who are using the latest telescopes to identify distant planets outside of our own solar system. Despite their distance from us, incredible new techniques allow exoplanet hunters to paint extraordinary pictures of the atmospheres and conditions on some of the 500 or so planets that have now been identified, and allow for the tantalising possibility of one day identifying other earth like planets that could even support life. Brian and Robin chat to Sean about what the discovery of life elsewhere out in the cosmos might mean for life here on planet earth, or whether the fact we haven't found any yet is evidence we are in fact all alone? Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

15 hrs Ago

42 MINS

42:31

15 hrs Ago


#156

Exploring our solar system

The Infinite Monkey Cage teleports to California for this special episode recorded at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They are joined by comedian and talk-show host Conan O'Brien, alongside JPL's Dr Katie Stack Morgan and Dr Kevin Hand, and discuss the incredible missions that are hunting for signs of life within our own solar system. From the iconic Mars Rovers currently exploring the martian surface, to amazing future missions to Jupiter's icy moon Europa, the panel discuss the tantalising prospect of finding signs of life this close to home, and the incredible engineering and ingenuity that goes into planning these missions. Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

19 Nov 2022

42 MINS

42:40

19 Nov 2022


#155

What have we learnt from Covid?

Brian Cox and Robin Ince return for a new series with an illustrious panel of experts to discuss what scientists have learnt from Covid and what we have all learnt about the nature of science by watching it happen so spectacularly over the course of the pandemic. They are joined by Dame Sarah Gilbert, creator of one of the very first Covid vaccines, Immunologist Prof Dan Davis and Dr Chris Van Tulleken, infectious disease clinician and broadcaster. They discuss the incredible speed of vaccine delivery and whether we have learnt lessons for future pandemics, the gaps that Covid has revealed in our knowledge of our immune system, and what the public have witnessed in terms of science happening in real time as we all lived through the pandemic. Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

12 Nov 2022

42 MINS

42:55

12 Nov 2022


#154

How to Teach Maths

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Sara Pascoe and the very numerate Prof Hannah Fry, maths comedian Matt Parker and statistician Prof David Spiegelhalter for a unique maths class. Are some of us just innately bad at maths or can everyone get to grips with algebra and calculus? What do our panel wish they'd been taught at school, and what is the key to a life-long love of numbers? Get your calculators ready! Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

03 Sep 2022

42 MINS

42:38

03 Sep 2022


#153

Brains

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Alan Davies and neuroscientists Prof Uta Frith and Prof Sophie Scott. They discover the secret to why humans are such social creatures and why two brains are definitely better than one. Our brains are wired to learn from and mimic other brains we come into contact with, even though most of the time we don't even realise that is what they/we are doing. The subtle cues we get from other people and the information in their brains, affects our own wiring and experience of the world. With this incredible complexity, might we ever be able to create an artificial brain that mimics our own and the human experience? Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

27 Aug 2022

42 MINS

42:25

27 Aug 2022


#152

Astronauts

Brian Cox and Robin Ince look back at Planet Earth from the unique perspective of space with the help of astronauts Nicole Stott and Chris Hadfield, Space scientist Carolyn Porco and comedian and author Katy Brand. What can we learn about our own planet by looking back at it from space? The panel talk about the emotional response of looking back on earth, either from the ISS or via amazing photographs like Voyager's Pale Blue Dot, and the importance of realising our own place and significance in the vast cosmos. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

20 Aug 2022

42 MINS

42:41

20 Aug 2022


#151

Black Holes

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by Monty Python's Eric Idle, and cosmologists Dr Netta Engelhardt and Dr Janna Levin as they tackle one of the biggest challenges in cosmology. What happens when you throw something (Robin!) into a black hole? Is the information about Robin lost forever, or is there a chance, sometime in the far future, a super intelligent alien civilisation could piece back some key information to discover proof he ever existed? Are Robin and his cardigans lost for all eternity? Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

13 Aug 2022

42 MINS

42:11

13 Aug 2022


#150

The Wood Wide Web

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by Ted Lasso's Brendan Hunt, Professor of forest ecology and author of "The Mother Tree", Suzanne Simard and botanist Mark Spencer to discover how trees and plants communicate and what they are saying. Suzanne's incredible discovery that trees form a wood wide web of communication has changed our entire understanding of forests and how they work. With the help of amazing fungi, this incredible network of communication allows the trees and plants in a forest to pass information backwards and forwards to help protect themselves against predators and optimize resource. Incredibly, this could even be viewed as a form of intelligence. Brian and Robin find out how this should change the way we look at all plants, and in particular how we manage our forests and discover some of the secrets of those whispering trees. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

06 Aug 2022

42 MINS

42:51

06 Aug 2022


#149

Exploring the Deep

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian and musician Tim Minchin and oceanographers Diva Amon and Jon Copley to uncover what mysteries still lie at the bottom of our oceans. It is often said that we know more about the surface of the Moon then we do about our own ocean floor, but is that really true? What have modern-day explorers such as Diva and Jon discovered during their many expeditions to the deepest points of our oceans, and can they persuade Tim to join them on their next voyage? From extraordinary life forms with incredible survival strategies, to the gruesome sex life of the angler fish, the panel discuss some of the greatest discoveries of the last few years, and what questions they still hope to answer. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

30 Jul 2022

42 MINS

42:49

30 Jul 2022


#148

Bats v Flies

Brian Cox and Robin Ince kick off the new series by tackling one of the greatest questions ever posed by science: which are better, bats or flies? Joining them for this unusual version of animal Top Trumps are a bat expert (Prof Kate Jones), a fly expert (Dr Erica McAlister) and Dave Gorman. Pitching arguably two of the least-lovable groups of creatures against each other, the battle for victory explores why we should favour flies or find bats beautiful. Although both are much maligned thanks to their association with some nasty diseases, Erica and Kate battle furiously to show why their respective species should be loved not loathed and how our planet would simply not be the same without them. Dave Gorman joins the panel in an attempt to help adjudicate. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

23 Jul 2022

42 MINS

42:49

23 Jul 2022


#147

A History of Rock

A History of Rock Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by rock enthusiasts Ross Noble, Paleontologist Susie Maidment and Geologist Chris Jackson to look at the history of rock. Unfortunately for Ross, this turns out to mean actual rolling stones, rather than THE Rolling Stones. We hear what secrets the study of rock reveals about the very birth of our planet, to the incredible creatures that walked the Earth many millions of years ago, preserved in our ancient stones. Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

15 Feb 2021

42 MINS

42:31

15 Feb 2021


#146

The Fundamentals of Reality

The Fundamentals of Reality Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by Nobel prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek, cosmologist Janna Levin, and comedians Eric Idle and Sara Pascoe to look at what physics has revealed about the reality of our universe. From Einstein's equations more than 100 years ago through to the amazing discoveries we've made in the last few years about black holes and gravitational waves, the universe we think we see is not necessarily the true fundamental reality that physics has uncovered. What is real and what is not? All will be revealed. Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

08 Feb 2021

41 MINS

41:18

08 Feb 2021


#145

The Science of Cooking

The Science of Cooking Brian Cox and Robin Ince get their chef's hats on as they look at the science of cooking. They are joined by comedian Katy Brand, author and food critic Grace Dent, material scientist Mark Miodownik and science writer Harold McGee, whose seminal book on the science of the kitchen launched the craze for molecular gastronomy. They look at some of the lores of the kitchen are backed up by the science, and ask whether a truly delicious dinner is really a science or an art. Is cooking just chemistry? Producer: Alexandra Feachem. ... Read more

01 Feb 2021

43 MINS

43:27

01 Feb 2021


#144

Neanderthals

The Neanderthals Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by hominids Alan Davies, Neanderthal expert and author Rebecca Wragg Sykes, and paleontologist and woolly mammoth expert Tori Herridge and learn just how misunderstood our ancestors have been. The image of the lumbering, ape like, simple, grunting Neanderthal has been turned on its head with the discovery that we are far more related to Neanderthals then we ever thought possible. Nearly all Europeans will have around 2% Neanderthal DNA, and the revelation of widespread interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans has turned the idea of our exceptionalism on its head. It seems that what defines us may have defined the Neanderthals as well, and we are not so different after all. Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

25 Jan 2021

38 MINS

38:58

25 Jan 2021


#143

Under our Night Sky

Under The Night Sky Brian Cox and Robin Ince discover the importance of the night sky to human history and how our relationship with the stars has changed over the centuries. They are joined by star-gazer Jon Culshaw, astronaut Tim Peake, astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith and astronomy writer Stuart Clark as they chart the changing nature of our relationship with the sky above us. They discuss ancient cave paintings depicting Orion's belt, the astronomical revolution that came with our understanding of how planets orbit the Sun, and how astronauts like Tim who have "touched the sky" have seen the stars in a totally unique way. Has our ever expanding knowledge about the stars twinkling above us removed some of the magic, or have modern missions and the incredible images of space we now see brought us closer, quite literally, to the sky above us? Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

18 Jan 2021

57 MINS

57:26

18 Jan 2021


#142

In Praise of Flies

In Praise of Flies Brian Cox and Robin Ince kick off a new series of Infinite Monkey Cage with a look at probably the least revered or liked group of insects, the flies. They are joined by fly sceptic David Baddiel , fly enthusiast and champion Dr Erica McAlister and maggot expert Matthew Cobb to discover why a life without flies would be no life at all. Can Erica and Matthew persuade David to put his fly gun down and learn to love those pesky pests, or is their reputation for being disgusting and annoying justified? What would a planet without flies look like? Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

11 Jan 2021

38 MINS

38:51

11 Jan 2021


#141

Does Time Exist?

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by actor and writer Mark Gatiss, theoretical physicists Carlo Rovelli and Fay Dowker to ask timely questions about time. Is time real, does it exist in the fundamental laws of physics, and if it doesn't, why do we experience the sensation of time passing? They look at the idea of the block universe, where our future is as real as our past, which worryingly leads to Robin's favourite question about free will...is that an illusion too? A timely look at the question of time and hopefully just in time... Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

26 Aug 2020

43 MINS

43:36

26 Aug 2020