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.

 

#191

Could it be magic?

Brian Cox and Robin Ince pull scientific explanations out of a hat and go down the rabbit hole to explore the science of magic with comedian Alan Davies, sleight of hand artist Laura London and two experts in the psychology of magic Richard Wiseman and Gustav Kuhn. They ask what our predilection to be bamboozled by sleight of hand can tell us about how our minds work. Alan has a card trick played on him and we learn how our choices aren’t always what we think they are. Producer: Melanie Brown Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

21 Feb 2024

42 MINS

42:44

21 Feb 2024


#190

Egyptian Mummies

Brian Cox and Robin Ince peel back the layers to explore mummification and the science of Ancient Egypt. They are joined by comedians Russel Kane, Lucy Porter and bio-medical Egyptologists Rosalie David and Lidija McKnight from the University of Manchester, as they learn about the scientific techniques that are helping to uncover the lives of Ancient Egyptians, including that of a woman who died running away from an axe murderer. They find out that much of modern western medicine was built on the Ancient Egyptians sophisticated pharmacology, though they should probably avoid the treatment for migraines which involves being slapped in the head by a fish. Producer: Melanie Brown Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

14 Feb 2024

42 MINS

42:24

14 Feb 2024


#189

The Monkeys meet The Sky at Night

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by the longest running science show in the world, The Sky at Night, alongside comedian and astronomy enthusiast Dara O Briain for the ultimate guide to studying the stars from your own back garden. Sky At Night presenters Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock, Chris Lintott and Pete Lawrence join the panel to offer their top tips to backyard astronomy over the winter season. From binoculars to telescopes and even the naked eye: meteor showers, planetary moons and odd behaving galaxies are just some of the heavenly phenomena visible with or without equipment from the comfort of your own garden or local park. An out of this world seasonal special. And you can catch the monkey's on a special edition of the Sky At Night on BBC iplayer from November 13th. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

20 Dec 2023

57 MINS

57:23

20 Dec 2023


#188

Jo Brand's Quantum World

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are subject to a non-hostile takeover by comedian and non-physicist Jo Brand, as she challenges the panel to help her understand the almost unbelievable world of cheeky particles who may or may not be in several places at once. To help Jo get to grips with the bizarre and strange world of our quantum universe, Brian and Robin are joined by theoretical physicist Prof Ben Allanach from the University of Cambridge and cosmologist Prof Fay Dowker from Imperial College London, who introduce Jo to the weird and wonderful ways of quantum theory, dead and alive cats and multiverses. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem. ... Read more

13 Dec 2023

42 MINS

42:16

13 Dec 2023


#187

Hollywood in Space

Brian Cox and Robin Ince put Hollywood under the microscope to unpick the science fact v science fiction of some of the biggest movies set in space. They are joined by a truly out of this world panel of space experts including astronauts Tim Peake, Nicole Stott and Susan Kilrain alongside Oscar-winning Special FX director Paul Franklin, whose movies include Interstellar and First Man. Tim, Nicole and Susan fact check how space travel and astronauts are portrayed in movies such as Gravity and The Martian, whilst Brian and Robin argue about Robin's lack of enthusiasm for Star Wars. They look back at some of the greatest space movies including Alien and 2001 A Space Odyssey, and ask whether some fictional aspects of these blockbusters may not be so far from our future reality. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem. ... Read more

06 Dec 2023

42 MINS

42:23

06 Dec 2023


#186

The Scale of Life (or were dinosaurs just too big?)

Brian and Robin are joined by palaeontologist Dr Susie Maidment, evolutionary biologist Dr Tori Herridge and comedian Dave Gorman to pitch giant creatures against tiny creatures in their bid to avoid extinction. They explore the scale of life and ask why some organisms are large and some small and what the optimum size for successful survival is. From the prokaryotic cell to the grandest dinosaur, how does the modern synthesis explain the huge variation in scale, form and function? What are the advantages and disadvantages to being huge like the dinosaurs, or was it their size that really did them in, in the end? New episodes released Wednesdays. If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

29 Nov 2023

42 MINS

42:22

29 Nov 2023


#185

How I is AI?

Brian and Robin (the real ones) are joined by mathematician Prof Hannah Fry, compute scientist Dr Kate Devlin and comedian Rufus Hound to discuss the pros and cons of AI. Just how intelligent is the most intelligent AI? Will our phones soon be smarter than us – will we fail a Turing test while our phone passes it? Will we have AI therapists, doctors, lawyers, carers or even politicians? How will the increasing ubiquity of AI systems change our society and our relationships with each other? Could radio presenters of hit science/comedy shows soon be replaced with wittier, smarter AI versions that know more about particle physics... surely not! New episodes released Wednesdays. If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem. ... Read more

22 Nov 2023

42 MINS

42:57

22 Nov 2023


#184

The Science of Coincidence

Are some people just lucky? Is there any scientific formula behind coincidences? Is randomness the norm? Brian and Robin team up with comedian Sophie Duker, mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy and statistician David Spiegelhalter to uncover the reality and the maths behind seemingly incredible coincidences. How many people do you need in a room to find two with the same birthday? What is the weirdest coincidence that the panel have ever encountered? Is there a mathematical formula to being lucky? How good are we at judging how likely something is to happen? The answer is not very, as Brian and Robin unluckily discover. New episodes released Wednesdays. If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem. ... Read more

14 Nov 2023

42 MINS

42:30

14 Nov 2023


#183

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... Audience Favourites

There’s no shortage of surprising science in The Infinite Monkey Cage and this episode is dedicated to you, the audience, as we hear some of your favourite clips from the past 14 years of the show. Palaeontologist Susie Maidment explains why licking rocks is the best way to determine their age, but you were just as interested in whether Robin is older than Brian, who also admits Jon Culshaw’s impression of him is surprisingly accurate. Entomologist Erica McAlister explains what to do if a fly lands in your wine, but be warned, it might put you off drinking! And actor Brendan Hunt gets excited by the prospect of chatty trees. Episodes featured: Series 24: The Wood Wide Web Series 23: A History of Rock Series 5: What’s the North Ever Done for Us? Series 20: Dinosaurs Series 23: In Praise of Flies Series 21: Science of Laughter New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3Jzy Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

08 Nov 2023

23 MINS

23:58

08 Nov 2023


#182

Octopuses!

If Aliens really are amongst us, the most likely candidates may not be little green men, but living in plain sight, just below our ocean waves, in the form of the mysterious and awe-inspiringly clever Octopus. Scientists are only just discovering the amazing intelligence of these elegant and highly unusual creatures that seem to have evolved in a completely different way to nearly any other creature on the planet. Brian and Robin are joined by marine biologist Dr Tim Lamont, Neuroscientist Dr Amy Courtney and comedian Russell Kane to uncover just how clever these mysterious creatures are, how they've evolved intelligence in an entirely unique way and whether 8 brains, as well as 8 legs are really better than 1. The panel also discover the alarming truth about the unique sex lives of the octopus - lets just say it doesn't end well for at least one of the participants. New episodes released Wednesdays. If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

08 Nov 2023

42 MINS

42:54

08 Nov 2023


#181

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... Infinity

Endless inflation seems to be everywhere at the moment, including on this episode examining the nature of infinity. Brian and Robin dive through the back catalogue to discover there might be no limit to the number of parallel universes that exist. This leads to an argument between astronomer royal Lord Rees and comedy producer John Lloyd, who says the whole suggestion is total speculation. Even cosmologist Carlos Frenk can’t get his head round the idea, as he contemplates the suggestion that new big bangs may be happening all the time. Episodes featured: Series 10: Before the Big Bang Series 6: Parallel Universes Series 21: Quantum Worlds Series 9: To Infinity and Beyond Series 10: Numbers Numbers Everywhere New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3Jzy Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem ... Read more

01 Nov 2023

18 MINS

18:10

01 Nov 2023