BBC Inside Science

Episodes

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20150409

Dr Lucie Green investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Dr Lucie Green and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

20150416

Tracey Logan investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20150423

Tracey Logan investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20150430

The news in science and science in the news.

20150507
20150514
20150528
20150604
20150611
20150618
20150625
20150702
20150709

Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20150716

The flyby of Pluto. Adam Rutherford with early pictures from New Horizons space probe.

It's billed as the last great encounter in planetary exploration. For the past nine years the New Horizons spacecraft has travelled 5bn km (3bn miles) to get to Pluto and on July 14th it performs its historic fly-by encounter with the dwarf planet.

Adam Rutherford examines the first images from the New Horizon's probe and hears the first interpretations from mission leaders and scientists at the NASA New Horizon's space centre as the data arrives back to earth. Expect new light to be shed on the Solar System's underworld.

For people who grew up with the idea that there were "nine planets", this is the moment they get to complete the set. Robotic probes have been to all the others, even the distant Uranus and Neptune. Pluto is the last of the "classical nine" to receive a visit. Of course, this 2,300km-wide ice-covered rock was demoted in 2006 to the status of mere "dwarf planet", but scientists say this shouldn't dull our enthusiasm.

It was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh on 18 February 1930 and is named after the Roman god of the underworld. It lies an average of 5.9bn km from Sun and orbits every 248 years and has a thin nitrogen atmosphere that comes and goes.

As Adam Rutherford reveals, nothing about this corner of the solar system has been straightforward. Little is known about Pluto's creation -but as the New Horizons probe passes Pluto for this first close up of the dwarf planet , scientists anticipate new insights into how planets and moons form.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

20150723
20150730

Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20150813
20150820

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20150827

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20150903

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20150917

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20150924
20151008
20151022

Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20151105
20151203
20151210
20151217
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20151231

Adam Rutherford and guests oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski, astrophysicist Chris Lintott and zoologist Dr Tim Cockerill share their highlights of the science year and answer listeners' science questions.

Producer: Adrian Washbourn.

Adam Rutherford and guests answer listeners' science questions.

20160114
20160121
20160211

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20160303

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20160310

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20160317
20160414
20160428
20160505
20160526

Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20160602

From the Hay Festival, Adam Rutherford asks how science can save the world from disaster.

Adam Rutherford and guests, geneticist Professor Steve Jones, mathematician Professor Marcus du Sautoy and writer Gaia Vince, discuss what science can tell us about the state of our planet. Can research stop humans destroying the Earth?

20160616

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

20160707

Earlier this week, the US space agency successfully put a new probe in orbit around Jupiter. The Juno satellite, which left Earth five years ago, had to fire a rocket engine in a tricky and precise manoeuvre in order to brake and become ensnared by Jupiter's gravity.

Fran Baganal is a mission scientist for Juno and tells Adam Rutherford what measurements Juno is now in position to make.

Space is full of junk left over from past space missions: from flecks of paint to used rockets, dead satellites, also debris from past collisions of space junk. This junk is speeding around the Earth at several thousand miles per hour. At those speeds even small pieces of rubbish just fractions of a millimetre across can damage communication satellites which are vital for the web, mobile phones, and satellite navigation on earth.

The Surrey Space centre team are preparing to launch the world's first space litter-picking mission. The RemoveDebris team share their clean up designs with Adam.

Researchers have had success growing body parts like windpipes and ears in the laboratory for use in transplants. A group of scientists at Barts Cancer Institute in London are making own tumours; tissues we don't want. However, it is important to study how they grow, and co-opt other cells in the body. Reporter Anand Jagatia heads to their tissue lab to see what they've grown.

All animals take risky decisions all the time. The ability to assess the potential gain from the potential harm, and make the right choice, gives the animal an evolutionary advantage. A new study suggests that plants are capable of making similar calculations, despite not having brains. Alex Kacelnik at Oxford University is one of the scientists behind the experiment that suggests that pea plants are willing to gamble.

Presenter: Adam Rutherford

Producer: Adrian Washbourne.

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

20160714
20160721
20160811

20160818

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

20160825

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

20160901

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

20160908
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Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

20161006
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Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

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20170601

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Adam Rutherford discusses the relationship between basic and applied scientific research with guests at the Hay Festival.

Adam is joined by the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, physicist Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf, the director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University and author of a new essay introducing On the Usefulness of Useless Knowledge, behavioural psychologist Professor Theresa Marteau of Cambridge University and geneticist and writer Professor Steve Jones of University College London.

20170608

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Early human fossils from Morocco suggest our ancestors walked the earth much earlier than previously thought. Human ancestral fossils from the area were first discovered in the 1960's, but now a re-examination of these and more recent finds suggests they are from an early form of us - Homo sapiens - living in the area around 300,000 years ago.

We have news of a one in a million stellar observation: light bending around a distant star. This is the first time the phenomenon has been observed outside our solar system, and is further proof of Einstein's theory of General Relativity. It involved measurements millions of miles away and many times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Gold mining is a highly polluting process involving toxic chemicals. Marnie Chesterton visits a Scottish gold mine and looks at attempts to make the extraction of gold more environmentally friendly by replacing the toxic chemicals with ingredients more commonly found in vitamins and natural fertilisers.

And US President Trump has announced his intention to pullout of the Paris climate agreement. We look at the implications of the decision for global emissions reduction.

20170615

Gareth Mitchell explores the science that is changing our world.

Applying scientific techniques to reduce fire risk in tall buildings. We look at practical measures to prevent building fires and also how science can improve evacuation plans.

Modeling the brain with maths. new research using multidimensional models is helping researchers understand the levels of complexity in brain function.

Sexism in science, its as old as...science. We look at how sex bias has influenced the outcome of scientific research throughout history. And also look at how science itself is changing as opportunities for women to pursue scientific careers increase.

And a unique study which turns recordings from police body cameras into empirical data that can be used to assess and improve police interactions with the public.

20170622

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

The Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee has expanded to test new psychoactive substances. Adam Rutherford talks to Professors Sue Black and Niamh Nic Daeid, who jointly run the Centre, about how they can keep up with the many new illegal drugs coming onto the market and about how they intend to modernise forensics.

2017 is the centenary of the publication of On Growth and Form, the book by D'Arcy Thompson that influenced many people from mathematical biologists to architects. Adam discusses the man and the book with Matthew Jarrron in the D'Arcy Thompson Museum at the University of Dundee.

Astrophysicist Sheila Rowan has been the Chief Science Adviser to the Scottish Government for just over a year. Adam asks her about the role and how she deals with controversial issues such as GM crops.

And Aaron Davis of Kew Gardens explains the impact of climate change on coffee growing in Ethiopia.

20170629

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Teams from all over the world have been looking at the differences between male and female mice. They've assessed hundreds of characteristics, from weight changes to cholesterol to blood chemistry. The surprising results show huge differences between the sexes, which have great repercussions for drug development which mostly uses male mice, and humans, for testing. Medicines may be less effective in females, or have greater side-effects, due to the extent of genetic differences being found between the sexes. Adam talks to one of the authors, Prof Judith Mank from University College London.

Three global engineering technologies are in the running for this year's coveted MacRobert Award, the UK's top innovation prize. Adam Rutherford talks to judge Dr Dame Sue Ion to find out more about each of the finalists - Darktrace, Raspberry Pi and Vision RT.

Urban bats are getting smart - sensors newly installed at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford are using machine learning algorithms to recognise and record the different colonies that emerge after dark. One in five mammal species are bats, and they are often used as an indicator to measure the health of our environment. BBC Science reporter Helen Briggs talks to Prof Kate Jones and the team involved in creating and installing these hi-tech bat phones.

Anthony Warner is a chef. And he's angry. With a background in biochemistry he's pledged to fight fad diets, bogus nutritional advice and celebrity food nonsense wherever he finds it. From Clean Eating to the Paleo Diet, he busts some diet myths for us, and explains why we've unfairly demonised ingredients like gluten.

Presenter: Adam Rutherford
Researcher: Caroline Steel
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Teams from all over the world have been looking at the differences between male and female mice. They've assessed hundreds of characteristics, from weight changes to cholesterol to blood chemistry. The surprising results show huge differences between the sexes, which have great repercussions for drug development which mostly uses male mice, and humans, for testing. Medicines may be less effective in females, or have greater side-effects, due to the extent of genetic differences being found between the sexes. Adam talks to one of the authors, Prof Judith Mank from University College London.

Three global engineering technologies are in the running for this year's coveted MacRobert Award, the UK's top innovation prize. Adam Rutherford talks to judge Dr Dame Sue Ion to find out more about each of the finalists - Darktrace, Raspberry Pi and Vision RT.

Urban bats are getting smart - sensors newly installed at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford are using machine learning algorithms to recognise and record the different colonies that emerge after dark. One in five mammal species are bats, and they are often used as an indicator to measure the health of our environment. BBC Science reporter Helen Briggs talks to Prof Kate Jones and the team involved in creating and installing these hi-tech bat phones.

Anthony Warner is a chef. And he's angry. With a background in biochemistry he's pledged to fight fad diets, bogus nutritional advice and celebrity food nonsense wherever he finds it. From Clean Eating to the Paleo Diet, he busts some diet myths for us, and explains why we've unfairly demonised ingredients like gluten.

Presenter: Adam Rutherford
Assistant Producer: Caroline Steel
Producer: Michelle Martin.

20170713

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

What can genome science do for you? Chief Medical officer Dame Sally Davies recently published her annual report, issuing a plea for a revolution in the use of genetic information in the NHS. She wants DNA tests to be as routine as biopsies or blood tests. Adam chats to geneticist Ewan Birney, head of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, about the potential uses and limitations of genetic testing.

Pugs are set to become Britain's most popular breed in the next couple of years. Together with similar dogs, like bulldogs and Frenchies, they are classed 'brachycephalic', having short snouts and compact skulls which makes them susceptible to a breathing problems. Veterinary surgeon Jane Ladlow has studied 1,000 dogs to improve their health today and in future generations. Reporter Graihagh Jackson went to visit the team at Cambridge Veterinary School.

To mark the forthcoming 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, a new edition has been created especially for scientists and engineers. Adam talks to editor David Guston, from Arizona State University about the lessons this cautionary tale contains for science today.

Presenter: Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

20170720

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Should our genomes be private? Professors Tim Hubbard and Nils Hoppe join Adam Rutherford to discuss concerns about data security and privacy of our genetic data. Once our DNA has been extracted, sequenced and stored as a digital file, what is done with it, who gets to see it and what say do we have in all this?

Back in the 1950's at the dawn of the new plastic age, its everlasting properties were a major selling point. Now, we're dealing with escalating plastic pollution and bulging landfill. But how much plastic are we dealing with? Dr. Roland Geyer has calculated the production, use and fate of all plastics ever made.

Chimpanzees are very communicative animals: they tend to use gestures foremost with vocalisation just to emphasise the flick of a wrist or a stretch of the hand. In an attempt to get a grasp on why, and how, we humans made the shift from gesture-led communication to talking, we need to see how well we can decipher our ape relatives. A new online study called the 'Great Ape Dictionary' wants you to have a go.

The bottom of our seas remains a mysterious other world. Yet, adventuring into the deep depths of the ocean is a major challenge, which is probably why only 5% of it has ever been explored - even though it covers more than 70% of our planet. So to start learning more about our own planet, the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is awarding a total of $7 million to teams that develop autonomous, unmanned vehicles to map and image the bottom of the seas. Dr Jyotika Virmani tells Adam why ocean exploration is so important, and why it tends to take a backseat to adventuring into space.

Presented by Adam Rutherford
Produced by Fiona Roberts.

20170727

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

News that the Marine Stewardship Council has reopened the North Sea cod fishery is met by some concern from marine biologist Professor Callum Roberts at the University of York. He says, this may be good news for cod and cod fishermen, but other marine species getting caught up in the drag nets may not be so capable of bouncing back.

In a report out this week, the UK Government announced they are funding £246 million for major changes to the way electricity is produced and stored. New rules will make it easier for people to generate their own power with solar panels, and store it in batteries. But do we have the technology to make it work in a cost effective way? Steven Harris, a consultant in sustainable energy, thinks we'll soon have smart domestic appliances in our homes which better manage the fluctuating supply and demand for power. Expert in energy systems, at the University of Newcastle, Professor Phil Taylor, is researching the next generation of smart appliances and domestic storage batteries.

A new study reports that 69% of Brits feel they have lost touch with nature. Dr. Rachel Bragg, at the Green Exercise Research Unit at the University of Essex and Care Farming UK, unpicks the anecdotal evidence from the facts and explores why a connection with the natural world is so important, why the connection is being broken and what we need to do about it.

Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy at the University of Bath, Carole Mundell, explains how she and other astronomers captured the most complete picture yet of the most powerful type of explosion in the universe - Gamma Ray Bursts. These short-lived bursts of the most energetic form of light, shine hundreds of times brighter than a supernova and trillions of times brighter than our sun.

20170810

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

The current heat wave in Europe is proving deadly. High day and night temperatures, coupled with high humidity, can be a very dangerous combination. A new study has calculated the risk of deadly heat on a global basis, and shown that between 48% and 74% of the world's population will be subjected to life-threatening heat and humidity for at least 20 days a year. Ed Hawkins, Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading, discusses the findings. Gareth also asks BBC weatherman, Darren Betts, whether the recent wave of climate trend animations, or gifs, doing the rounds on social media, are a helpful tool in communicating climate change risks.

Professor of Mathematics, Eugenia Cheng, is one of the shortlisted authors for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2017. She talks Gareth through the inspiration for her book "Beyond Infinity: An expedition to the Outer Limits of the Mathematical Universe".

The UK Government announced last week that it was aspiring to remove all petrol and diesel vehicles from roads by 2040. Current battery technology relies on lithium-ion batteries. Are lithium, and the other metals required for batteries, sustainable for a totally electric transport system? And do they have the charge capacity to make them a reliable alternative to fossil fuels? Dr Billy Wu, of the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London, goes through the alternatives and the next generation of battery technology.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of Victorian Britain's most important scientists, Joseph Hooker (1817-1911), Kew Royal Botanic Gardens is holding an exhibition titled Joseph Dalton Hooker: Putting plants in their place. It's a fascinating selection of his photographs, journals and paintings. Gareth is taken on a tour by the curators - historian Professor Jim Endersby of the University of Sussex and Galleries and Exhibitions Leader at RBG Kew, Maria Devaney. They explain how as a tireless traveller and plant collector, Hooker was the founder of modern botanical classification and a close friend of Charles Darwin.

Produced by Fiona Roberts
Presented by Gareth Mitchell.

20170817

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Not so much hiding in plain sight, but tucked under the ice-sheet in Antarctica are 91 volcanoes. This adds to the 47 volcanoes already known on the continent. After a graduate student posed the question,"are there any volcanoes in Western Antarctica?", Dr Robert Bingham, and colleagues, at Edinburgh University, scoured the satellite and database records to find the volcanoes. This huge region is likely to dwarf that of East Africa's volcanic ridge, which is currently the most volcano-dense region on Earth.

Journalist Mark O'Connell is the second of our Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2017 nominees. His broad-minded, yet sceptical look at the world of 'transhumanism', "To be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death", questions how and why some of us are looking to use technology to fundamentally change the human condition.

On Monday 21st of August 2017, some of the United States will go dark. This is the first total solar eclipse, visible from coast to coast in the US for 99 years. Gareth gets excited with veteran eclipse watchers, David Baron and Jackie Beucher.

On the 20th of August 1977, NASA's probe Voyager 2 launched. This was quickly followed two weeks later by the launch of Voyager 1 (which was on a faster trajectory). Since then the two spacecraft have been exploring our Solar System, the Heliosphere and interstellar space. Surpassing all expectations, the probes have taught us so much about our planets, their moons and beyond. Gareth looks back at the highlights with the Voyager mission's chief scientist, Professor Ed Stone, in a celebration of the 40 year mission.

Produced by Fiona Roberts
Presented by Gareth Mitchell.

20170831

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Last weekend a chemical ‘haze’ on the East Sussex coast saw 150 people needing hospital treatment after something in the air led to streaming eyes, sore throats and nausea. Leading theories so far include a chemical spill from shipping in the English channel, a localised spike in ozone levels and an algal bloom, where algae suddenly proliferate and release harmful gasses. Dr Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton tells Gareth Mitchell why he’s favouring the algal bloom theory.

We know about extinct species from fossils in rocks. But in the future there will be techno-fossils too, evidence of our civilisation. Katie Kropshofer has been finding out from Professors Jan Zalasiewicz and Sarah Gabbot of the University of Leicester what we’re leaving for the hypothetical geologists of the future.

Neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli's book, In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's, is the one of the six titles on the shortlist of the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize. He explains to Gareth Mitchell that it was his grandfather's development of the condition that made him interested in Alzheimer’s.

The Big Wasp Survey is a citizen project to trap wasps and send them off to teams at the University of Gloucester and University College London, so that scientists can then learn more about the distribution of different species around this land. One of the organisers, entomologist and professor of Science Communication at the University of Gloucester Adam Hart, talks to Gareth about why these unpopular insects are ecologically valuable.

20170907

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea claims to have successfully tested a thermonuclear weapon, a hydrogen bomb. Tom Plant, director of Proliferation and Nuclear Policy at the Royal United Services Institute, talks to Adam Rutherford about how the boast might be proved by monitoring technology around the world.

How will marine life respond to warming of the seas around Antarctica this century? Dramatically, according to the results of the most realistic attempt so far to warm the sea bed to temperatures predicted for the coming decades. The British Antarctic Survey installed gently heated panels at 12 metres depth off the West Antarctic coast to mimic rock surfaces and then over 9 months monitored how marine creatures colonised and grew on them. All creatures flourished on panels at 1 degree C above today's chilly waters and in fact grew astonishingly quickly on them. But a 2 degree increase saw some continue to flourish vigorously but many species fail. Experiment mastermind Lloyd Peck tells Adam what the findings may mean, and describes the extraordinary cold water diving skills that made the experiment a success.

'I contain Multitudes' is shortlisted for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize this year. Its subject is the microbiome - the trillions of benign , friendly and not so friendly bacteria which inhabit our bodies and those of all other animals.

For 30 years, Cambridge University zoologists have studied the evolutionary arms race between the cuckoo and the reed warbler that rears the cheating bird's offspring. They have figured out many of the deceptions and counter-tactics adopted by the two co-evolving species. The latest revelation concerns the strange chuckling call which the female cuckoo makes after laying her egg in the warbler's nest. Jenny York describes the experiments which show that the cuckoo is mimicking a predatory sparrow hawk which distracts the warblers and makes them much more likely to not recognise her egg as something they should reject from the nest.

20171012

Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

The agricultural use of antibiotics is contributing to the global spread of resistance to these life-saving medicines. What do we know about farming's role in the world's antibiotic resistance crisis and what are the critical outstanding questions? Adam Rutherford talks to Matthew Avison of the University of Bristol and Elizabeth Wellington of the University of Warwick.

A team at the Georgia Institute of Technology has built a record-breaking mechanical pump. The machine pumped molten tin at 1200 degrees Celsius continuously for 72 hours, and it has worked at even higher white hot temperatures. The pump is fabricated entirely from a heat-resistant ceramic material. Georgia Tech's Asegun Henry is developing the technology to transform the contribution that solar and wind energy generation can make in storing energy and supplying the electricity grid.

Caroline Steel reports on an opportunistic research project that used sound recordings to monitor biodiversity health in Singapore, when the island nation was engulfed in forest fire smoke haze in 2015.

Has the wreck of the first British ship to be sunk during World War II been found? Wreck-hunter David Mearns believes he's done so, using high-resolution sonar maps of the sea bed northwest of Ireland.

04/05/201720170504

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Adam Rutherford talks to neuroscientist Molly Crockett about moral decision-making in the brain. She combined brain scanning with a test involving money and electric shocks.

Geoff Marsh reports from Japan where stem cell research appears to be bringing regenerative medicine for a common cause of blindness ever closer.

A team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has pulled off another triumph in the study of ancient human DNA. Viviane Slon explains how they've extracted DNA of extinct species of humans from the soil in caves across Europe and Russia. Adam discusses the significance with Ian Barnes, ancient DNA specialist at the Natural History Museum in London.

Dan Friess of the National University of Singapore studies mangrove forests around the coasts of tropical Pacific and Indian ocean countries. This kind of forest has turned out to store much more carbon than even rainforests, as measured by the hectare. Dr Friess talks about carbon counting in mangroves and how this research may save the forests from further destruction.

18/05/201720170518

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Adam Rutherford goes the pathology archive of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to hear how tumour samples from child patients about one hundred years ago may improve the diagnosis and treatment of very rare cancers in children today. He meets cancer geneticist Sam Behjati of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Great Ormond Street pathologist Neil Sebire in the hospital's basement archive.

Africa now has its first radio telescope outside South Africa. It is located in Ghana near the capital Accra. The telescope is in fact a defunct telecoms satellite dish which was spotted on Google Earth images and then re-purposed for cutting edge astrophysics. It is hoped the dish will be the founding instrument of a pan African network of radio telescopes scrutinising exotic celestial objects in the skies above the continent. South African science journalist Sarah Wilds tells the story of how the Ghanaian dish was found and converted.

Nano-engineers in California have created a device 100 times thinner than a human hair which they have used to measure the turbulence created by swimming microbes and record the sounds of heart cells contracting. Don Sirbuly is the professor of nano-engineering at the University of California San Diego who led the team.

A spectacular new whale fossil unearthed Peru is the oldest known member of the evolutionary branch which gave rise to the giant filter-feeding baleen whales of today. The 36 million year old fossil provides evidence for how ancestral whales transitioned from capturing prey with their teeth to filter-feeding with baleen fibres. They may gone through a period of sucking prey from the sea bed.

25/05/201720170525

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Air Pollution Monitoring, Britain Breathing, Tracking Hannibal20160407

This week a "Faraday Discussion" - a unique way of presenting and sharing cutting edge science - is underway at the Royal Society of Chemistry in London looking specifically at Chemistry in the Urban Atmosphere. As Prof Ally Lewis of York University tells Adam Rutherford, atmospheric chemistry is so complex, and detector standards so variable - in particular the cheaper commercial brands - that it can be hard to check whether our environmental policies are working. Whilst local and national governments spend precious public money checking for compliance with a number of common pollutants, atmospheric chemists would like a more investigative approach, looking at the chemistry in action, rather than the end products.

Do you suffer in the spring and summer? Allergies are on the increase in the UK. And scientists don't know why. But the environment, and what we breathe from it, is thought to be key. A new app for smartphones called Britain Breathing has been developed by scientists at Manchester University working with allergy sufferers. Hay fever affects millions of Britons but is under-reported and poorly understood. Combining large numbers of reports of symptoms with their location and time could lead to valuable insights.

Last December, BBC Inside Science reported on the mothballing of several Carbon Capture and Storage pilot schemes, following withdrawal of government funding. But some work continues. Doug Connelly of the National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton tells Adam about a scheme currently trialling carbon storage in the North Sea, to see whether disused oil and gas fields can be used to store our dangerous emissions.

A little over 2200 years ago, Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca infamously led a huge army of elephants and horses across the Alps, almost to the gates of Rome. It has been celebrated as one of the most audacious military campaigns in history, but his exact route has always been subject to debate. This week further results from a consortium of disparate scientists have been published, supporting their preferred route taken by the grand army. Microbiologist Chris Allen from Queen's University talks Adam Rutherford through the "deposition of data", marking the passage of thousands of animals. What is the new evidence? A microbially recalcitrant, precisely dated, phylogenetically relevant layer of euphemism.

Dung Roman: the historical mess of Hannibal's elephant march may have been cleared up.

Ancient Dna And Human Evolution20171228

Adam Rutherford on the DNA revolution in our understanding of human evolution.

Twenty years ago, a revolution in the study of human evolution began. A team in Leipzig in Germany successfully extracted DNA from the bones of a Neanderthal man who died about 40,000 years ago. Thirteen years later, the same group unveiled the first complete genome sequence of another Neanderthal individual. Last year, they announced they'd retrieved DNA from much oldest archaic human bones, more than 400,000 years old.

Adam Rutherford talks to Svante Paabo, the scientist has led these remarkable achievements. Professor Paabo and his colleague Janet Kelso at the Max Planck Institute of Biological Anthropology in Leipzig discuss the genes in many European people alive today that originated in Neanderthals and were passed to modern humans when the two species interbred.

Adam also speaks to Johannes Krause who worked on the Neanderthal genome project in Leipzig but is now director of the Max Planck Institute of the Science of Human History. His latest research adds a new layer of intrigue and complexity to the relationship between our species and Neanderthals in deep time.

David Reich at Harvard University focuses on using ancient DNA to uncover the ancestry and movements of modern human hunter-gatherers in Eurasia from about 50,000 years to the Bronze Age, a few thousand years ago. Population movements occur on a cinematic scale, he says. (Podcast only).

The revelations of ancient genetics would not be possible and meaningful without the traditional disciplines of palaeoanthropology and archaeology. Adam goes to Gibraltar to seek the perspective of Clive Finlayson who leads excavations there as director of the Gibraltar Museum. Gibraltar is the most concentrated site of Neanderthal occupation in the world. As well as remains of a young Neanderthal child last year, the Rock's caves have also recently yielded the first example of Neanderthal cave art.

Ancient Farmers' Genomes, Alice At Cern, Astrophysics Questions20151126

Ancient genome research shows the effect of the introduction of farming to Europe.

Ancient farmers' genomes

New research looking at the DNA of people who lived in Europe as early as 8500 years ago shows signs of evolution, of natural selection, and of how farming has changed Europe in the last few millennia. The huge sample of 230 ancient individuals includes 26 Neolithic people from Anatolia thought to be the very first farmers.

Cern's ALICE Experiment

Adam visits CERN in Geneva, to see ALICE (A Large Ion Collision Experiment). ALICE is designed to investigate one of the four fundamental forces in the Universe. The strong nuclear force is the most powerful, but only over a very short distance. It is what holds quarks together, and quarks stuck together in the right conformation make neutrons and protons. Protons and neutrons stuck together plus electrons make up atoms, which is what everything is made of

Listeners Questions on Astrophysics

Space physicists, Dr. Carole Haswell from the Open University and Dr Andrew Pontzen from UCL answer your questions about the force of gravity, the size of stars, the volume of matter and more.

Producer:Fiona Roberts.

Ancient Human Occupation Of Britain20140102

Antarctic Ice Sheet Instability, Groundwater, Accents, Fluorescent Coral20151119

Melting Antarctic ice sheet will not lead to as big a sea level rise as previously thought

Antarctic ice-sheet instability

A new study models how the ice sheets in Antarctica will react if greenhouse gases rise at a medium to high rate. They predict the most likely outcome is a rise in global sea level of about 10cm by 2100. Previous research had put this figure at 30cm: this has not been ruled out by the new research, but it's been ruled much less likely.

Groundwater

The Earth's groundwater has been quantified - it's estimated to be 23 million cubic km. (which is equivalent to the Earth's entire land surface covered in a layer some 180m deep.) However, just 6% of the water is available for our use and to take part in the hydrogeological cycle. That small fraction is referred to as "modern" groundwater: it is extractable because it is near the surface, and can be used to supplement above-ground resources in rivers and lakes. But it's also the most sensitive to over use, climate change and to human contamination.

Fluorescent coral

Adam visits the National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton to see some fluorescent corals and asks how they can be utilised for medical imaging.

Accents

How are our accents changing? A three year study at University of Glasgow has found that Scottish accents haven't changed as much as English accents (which have become much more homogenised over the past 100 years). By listening to recordings from first World War Scottish prisoners of war, the Sounds of the City project has noticed that changes to Glaswegian accents have occurred over a much longer time frame than previously thought. But these changes have occurred locally - not in the same way or to the extent that it is thought English accents have evolved.

Producer: Fiona Roberts.

Antarctica Weather And Climate Change; Gm Fish Oils; Melanin Fossils; Time Travel20140109
Antisense Rna Therapy, Fossils Vs Trump, Printing Mini-kidneys, Electric Eel Power20171221

A turning point in treating brain diseases? Why are palaeontologists suing Donald Trump?

Promising results from a small clinical trial of Huntingdon's disease patients have led to RNA-directed therapy such as antisense RNA being hailed as possibly a turning point in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Adam Rutherford discusses this class of drugs with Heidi Ledford of Nature News.

At the beginning of the month, Donald Trump decreed that two national monument landscapes be drastically down-sized. Strict protections against exploitation were removed from vast tracts of land bearing some of the world's most important fossil bearing strata. President of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists, Professor David Polly explains why his organisation is now suing Trump.

At Harvard University, bioengineers are growing parts of functioning kidneys in small chips using a form of 3D printing. Jennifer Lewis' lab is doing this to learn how kidneys function and explore the possible therapeutic applications of the mini-kidneys-in-a-chip. Roland Pease visits the team at work.

The electric eel can deliver a 600 volt shock, from a stack of electrically charged cells along the length of its body. Inspired by the eel's biology, Michael Mayer and his colleagues at the Universities of Fribourg and Michigan have now created their own version of its electric organ with the help of jelly babies and clever origami. In the future, it could power devices in the human body.

Boy Gets New Skin, The York Gospels, Stephen Hawking's Thesis20171109

A young boy is saved by a remarkable combination of stem cell and gene therapy

Researchers in Italy and Germany have saved the life of a boy with a life threatening genetic skin disease, using a combination of stem cell and gene therapy. 7 year old Hassan had lost 60% of his protective epidermis because of the condition, junctional epidermolysis bullosa. The severe blistering and consequent bacterial infections put his life in imminent danger. In a final attempt to save him, the scientists took a small area of unblistered epidermis from his body, separated the constituent skin cells and then engineered them with a normal version of the gene that was malfunctioning in Hassan's body. Sheets of healthy epidermis of an area of about one square metre were then grown in culture, and then grafted onto 80% of his body. Hassan is now living a normal life, back at school, playing football. Lead researcher Michele de Luca describes the remarkable recovery and Fiona Watt, director of the Centre for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at Kings College London, explains how the procedure worked.

Scientists at the University of York are investigating medieval livestock farming through the study of the 1,000 year old York Gospels manuscript: not by reading it but by extracting proteins and DNA from its animal skin parchment pages.

Inside Science listener and Middle Eastern archaeologist Melissa Sharp takes the programme to task for suggesting that anyone can now use publically available sonar and satellite data to search for shipwrecks and other archaeological sites. It opens up the world's ancient and not so ancient heritage to looters, she says.

Since the University of Cambridge made Stephen Hawkings 1966 PhD thesis free to view and download last month, more than a million people have at least looked at it. Adam Rutherford talks to cosmologist Andrew Pontzen, biologist Matthew Cobb and neuroscientist Sophie Scott about the record-breaking thesis and asks whose first research project they'd like to download.

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

Can We Forecast Earthquakes?, Britain's Space Race Rocket Skylark, Francis Galton20171116

Does the length of the day influence the risk of large earthquakes?

What might the length of the day have to do with the likelihood of destructive earthquakes around the world? According to Professors Rebecca Bendick and Roger Bilham, there's a correlation between changes in the rate at which the Earth rotates and the incidence of earthquakes of Magnitude 7 and above. The rotation speed of the planet increases and decreases over periods of years and decades. From their research, the earth scientists say that there's an substantial increase in the number of powerful earthquakes around the world five years after the Earth attains a peak in its spin speed and enters a period of slow down. The difference in day length is tiny but it is enough, say the researchers, to trigger already stressed faults in the crust to move sooner than later.

In the year that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into orbit, the UK launched its own rocket into the Space Race. 1957 saw the launch of the first Skylark space rocket. Inside Science talks to two veterans of the Skylark programme - Professors John Zarnecki and Ken Pounds - who cut their space research teeth with some of the 440 launches. The Science Museum in London is staging a Skylark exhibition in celebration.

Francis Galton was one of the UK's most influential 19th century scientists and laid important methodological foundations for genetics and other fields of science today. But he was also a racist and leading proponent of eugenics. Adam discusses Galton's legacy with historian Subhadra Das of University College London and clinical geneticist Han Brunner of the Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Both guests attended a meeting of the Galton Institute in London which brought together researchers of many disciplines to discuss the bad and the good in Francis Galton's legacy.

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.

Cassini’s Death, Scrapping Diesel, Weather Balloon, Satellites Monitoring Volcanos20170420

Cassini's death; scrapping diesel cars; weather balloons; satellites monitoring volcanoes

The Cassini-Huygens mission has been monumental for science. For thirteen years the probe has gathered data on Saturn, revealing more about the gas giant than we have ever known before. But now, Cassini is running out of fuel. Adam Rutherford talks to Professor Michele Dougherty of Imperial College about the plans for Cassini's spectacular end, which will be to burn up in Saturn's atmosphere later this year. The descent begins this week and Cassini will collect exciting new data until the end.

Next week, Theresa May will unveil her plans to kerb air pollution and it is believed that some diesel drivers could be paid up to £2,000 to trade in their vehicles. Diesel cars emit nitrogen oxides - a pollutant that has been linked to nearly 12,000 UK deaths in 2013. This is the second highest in Europe after Italy. However, this isn't the first scrappage scheme to be brought in. Philippa Oldham from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Adam discuss the merits and pitfalls of an initiative like this.

Thousands of balloons are launched every day to measure temperature, pressure and humidity of the air. Kerri Nicoll from the University of Reading wants to add cheap, volcanic ash sensors to these balloons which are going up anyway. This could vastly improve the limited information we currently have on volcanic eruptions, allowing us to quickly see rises in ash particles and therefore improve ash cloud forecasting.

Many of the world's volcanoes aren't monitored but a new technology from the University of Leeds should mean that scientists can keep track of all 1,500 them by the end of the year. The technology involves monitoring changes in ground deformation from satellites in space, which will give clues as to whether a volcano is about to erupt. For those living near unmonitored volcanoes, this could provide an early warning system and save their lives.

Cassinis Finale Science And Technology Select Committee Cricks Lecture Cave Acoustics20170921

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

After last week's Inside Science's edition devoted to Cassini ended, the Cassini spaceship plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn, and became part of the planet it studied. But the project lives on, as the data and photos generated by Cassini right up until contact was lost will be studied and scrutinised for years to come. Linda Spilker is the Project Scientist for the Cassini mission. Adam Rutherford spoke to her to find out what was captured in the last few moments of Cassini's closest and fatal encounter with the ringed planet.

The House of Commons has announced its Science and Technology Select Committee - the body of MPs that holds the Government to account on scientific matters, and offers advice on scientific issues of the day. Some controversy has followed, concerning the scientific credentials and the gender imbalance of the committee make-up so far. Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk was elected chair of the committee, and he came into the Inside Science studio to discuss the committee selection and its future ambitions.

This week was the 60th anniversary of one of the greatest conceptual leaps in all biology, made by Crick at a lecture at University College London. Matthew Cobb, biologist and historian from Manchester University, who's written a new account of the lecture, discusses its fundamental significance.

It has long been suggested that there's something about the acoustics of a cave that correlates with the location of motifs and sometimes paintings on the walls.Bruno Fazenda is an acoustic scientist at the University of Salford, and reveals how he went into the caves to conduct the first methodical study of this theory by listening to the past.

Climate Change And Extreme Weather; Primate Brain Size; Earthquake Forecasting; Planet 920170330

Following yesterday's US House Committee on Science,Space,and Technology's controversial hearing on scientific method and climate change, Adam Rutherford meets atmospheric scientist Professor Michael Mann after he emerged from the heated debate and who's just published a new paper suggesting a direct link between extreme weather and greenhouse gases via a particular behaviour of the jet stream across the northern hemisphere

How has intelligence evolved? For over 2 decades the idea has prevailed that primate brain size and intelligence has been driven mainly by complex social hierarchies. But a new study by Alex DeCascien of New York University suggests that diet is a better predictor of brain size.

This month is the 6th anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of Japan's coastline. Roland Pease reports on new research that aims to embrace uncertainty to improve quake forecasting

And we hear how you can join in the search for the missing mysterious 9th planet of our solar system. Adam Rutherford hears from astronomer Brad Tucker on Walkabout at the Mount Stromlo Observatory in New South Wales

Producer: Adrian Washbourne.

Climate change and extreme weather; primate brain size; earthquake forecasting; planet 9.

Climate Change And Health; Moth Snow Storm Feedback; Whale Brain Evolution; Pharoah's Serpent20171102

A major global study finds that climate change has already damaged the health of millions.

Adam Rutherford talks to researchers on a major global study that aimed to quantify how climate change has already damaged the health of millions of people. Hugh Montgomery is the co-chair of the Lancet Countdown report and says that climate change is the largest single threat to global health. Climate scientist Peter Cox talks about his stark findings on the increase in the number of vulnerable people exposed to heat waves between now and the turn of the century.

We hear anecdotes and concerns from listeners following our item last week on the catastrophic decline in flying insects in the last quarter century and the disappearance of moth snow storms.

What can the social lives and brains of whales and dolphins tell us about the evolution of our species cognitive capacities and white matter? Adam talks to Susanne Shultz of the University of Manchester.

Everyone's favourite indoor firework, the Pharoah's Serpent, is under scientific scrutiny from chemists Tom Miller and Andrea Sella at University College London.

Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Climate Change Questions, Animal Computer Interaction, Sounds And Meaning Across World's Languages20161110

Climate change is in the news this week. The international Paris agreement to curb global temperature rise has just come into effect but President Elect Donald Trump has said he would take the United States out of the process. In BBC Inside Science, Adam Rutherford puts listener's questions and views about climate change to experts, such as the emissions reduction impact of becoming a vegan to a proposed technology to remove carbon dioxide from the planet's atmosphere. Myles Allen and Peter Scarborough of the University of Oxford, and Anna Harper of the University of Exeter are consulted.

The programme also visits a lab at the Open University which studies the way animals interact with computer technology. Research includes technology to enable dogs to phone the emergency services if humans get into trouble, and using dogs to detect cancer. Reporter Marnie Chesterton meets researcher Clara Mancini and dogs Ozzie and Tory.

Are there commonalities across the world's languages between the sounds in particular words and the meanings of those words? The traditional thinking in linguistics says no. But new research surveying the meaning and sounds of words across 6,000 languages from the Americas, Asia, Europe and Australasia finds otherwise. The 'r' sound is used in words for the colour 'red' all around the world at frequencies much higher than by chance. The case is the same for the words for 'nose' and other parts of the body. Morten Christiansen of Cornell University talks to Adam Rutherford about the research.

Climate change - listeners' questions answered.

Climate Change, State Of The World's Plants, Antibiotic Resistance, Telephone Metadata, Bat Detective20160519

Today we're asking how anyone can make sense of the deluge of climate change data that is almost continually published. By the end of last month, nearly 200 countries had signed up to the Paris climate change agreement, and in doing so they were nominally committing to keep global temperatures "well below" 2C. So now comes the tricky bit: How best to do that - and what is the scientific evidence for policymakers to decide? Climate change expert Dr Tamsin Edwards of the Open University joins Adam Rutherford to help us unpick the research.

Last week a major new report on the State of the World's Plants was unveiled at Kew Gardens in London. There are some 391,000 vascular plants known to science - that's ones with vessels, xylem and phloem - and over 2000 were discovered last year alone. But just over a fifth of all plants are estimated to be threatened with extinction - and global climate change forms part of this threat. Our reporter Cathy Edwards met Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Kew, to find out how plants are responding to the changing climate, and also spoke to Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Oxford University, and Kay Havens, Chicago Botanic Garden.

The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, headed by economist Jim O'Neill, was published today. Molecular microbiologist Professor Matt Hutchings from the University of East Anglia, gave us a brief summary.

A new paper out this week looks into exactly what the act of making a phone call can reveal. The study, which was led by Patrick Mutchler and Jonathan Mayer at Stanford University in the States, is the culmination of work looking into what metadata really can show - you may have seen reports of some of their findings, as they've been revealing them in the public interest since 2013. They collected metadata volunteered by 823 participants, in total, more than 250,000 calls, and 1 million text messages. Stephen Murdoch from the Information Security Research Group at University College London joined us to put this into context.

As part of the BBC's Do Something Great season celebrating volunteers, Adam joined Professor Kate Jones from University College London on a Hampstead Heath bat watch, part of the citizen science project Bat Detective.

Producers: Marnie Chesterton and Jen Whyntie.

How can complex science tell us what to do about the effects of climate change?

Colliding Neutron Stars - Krakatoa - Centigrade Vs Celsius20171019

Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Adam Rutherford talks to astrophysicists about the astronomical discovery of the year, if not the last couple of decades: the collision of two neutron stars and the cosmic gold-forging aftermath. The discovery of this long-hypothesized event on 17th August came from the much awaited marriage of the capabilities of the gravitational wave detectors LIGO and Virgo with those of ground-based and space-based telescopes. Samaya Nissanke of Radboud University, Sheila Rowan of the University of Glasgow and Nial Tanvir of the University of Leicester take Inside Science through the story.

What made the infamous 1883 eruption of Krakatoa so devastating? Roland Pease meets the earth scientists trying to answer the question by recreating in the lab the conditions under the volcano prior to the eruption.

Following a temperature-related faux pas by Adam in the last episode, Michael de Podesta of the National Physical Laboratory explains the difference between Celsius and Centigrade.

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.

Drug Abuse In Athletes, Last Common Ancestor, Lichens And Beatrix Potter, Philae Farewell20160728

Much of the Rio Olympics build-up in the last few weeks has centred around drug abuse. The recent report from World Anti-doping Agency has resulted in 67 Russian athletes being barred, as well as bans for swimming, canoeing, and sailing. Adam Rutherford visits the Drugs Control Lab at Kings College London to meet its director David Cowan. He ran the drugs testing lab at the London Olympics four years ago and discusses how science is addressing new methods to evade detection.

Many scientists think life first emerged not in a primeval soup, but in hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. But we don't have much of an idea of what that life would have been like. We call it LUCA - the 'last universal common ancestor' - basically the root of all life on Earth. Professor of Biochemistry Bill Martin has used the genomes of living organisms to piece together the first ever profile of LUCA.

Lichens cover gravestones and rocks and trees all over the planet. But they're scientifically fascinating because a lichen is not one organism at all. Lichens have been described as "dual organisms", one an alga and the other a fungus living in symbiotic harmony. But as researcher Toby Spribille reveals, we've been wrong about that for more than a century. Lichen is not one organism, or two, but a very comfortable ménage a trois.

Who can forget the joy we all felt when the Rosetta Mission deployed its solar-powered lander Philae onto the surface of the comet 67p in November 2014. Yesterday, the European Space Agency switched off the Electrical Support System Processor Unit on-board the Rosetta orbiter, meaning that communications with the Philae lander are at an end. Project scientist Matt Taylor bids farewell to Philae

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

Drug abuse in athletes, Last Common Ancestor, Lichens and Beatrix Potter, Philae farewell.

El Nino Special20160107

How the current El Nino event is affecting lives in the UK and around the world.

El Niño is releasing vast quantities of heat normally stored in the Pacific, causing floods, droughts and fires. Adam Rutherford discusses the latest with our El Niño expert Roland Pease.

This weather event arrives every 2-7 years but it's hard to work out how profound it will be. Back in May last year, the Met Office climate scientist Adam Scaife correctly predicted an El Niño. He returns to give an overview of this phenomenon.

How does an altered weather pattern in the Pacific end up altering the weather in Cumbria. Tim Stockdale and Richard Allan at Reading University explain the science behind the current events.

The rains are coming to drought-ridden California as a result of El Niño. Jack Stewart explains why this is not entirely a good thing.

Professor Sue Page from Leicester University and Professor Martin Wooster from KCL study the Indonesian fires exacerbated by an El Niño event. They describe the devastating effects of these fires. An estimated 15,000 deaths can be attributed to the previous El Niño burning and it has added 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

El Nino, Echolocation, Seasons, Snakes20150521
Embryos From Non Egg Cells, Gaia Galaxy Census, Stratolites, Female And Male Body Clocks20160915

Scientists have shown for the first time that mice embryos can be made from non egg cells. They've succeeded in creating healthy baby mice by tricking sperm into believing they were fertilising normal eggs. Adam Rutherford talks to lead researcher Tony Perry from Bath University. Might it one day be possible to achieve a similar result in humans using cells that are not from eggs?

The spaceship Gaia launched in 2013 to create the most accurate 3D map of the Milky Way ever. Yesterday, we got back Gaia's first data dump that contains mysteries yet unexplored, and new information on more than a billion stars. Gerry Gilmore from Cambridge University is the mission boss. What has Gaia has been up to in its first 1000 days in space?

Many of us would love to go into space but, almost 60 years after the dawn of the space age, very few can afford it. But there might soon be a cheaper option. BBC Future Space Correspondent, Richard Hollingham, reports from Tucson, Arizona, where a balloon company is planning to fly tourists high into the stratosphere and also take on services provided by satellites - such as communications and weather forecasting - with 'stratolites'.

Research suggests that women on average are less alert late at night, and are far more prone to insomnia than men. We're not sure why these differences exist, largely because women are underrepresented in sleep research. Diane Boivin from McGill University in Montreal discusses her new research that has specifically attempted to address this historical shortfall with surprising outcomes.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

Embryos from non egg cells; Gaia galaxy census; stratolites; female and male body clocks.

Eu Membership And Uk Science, Quantum Games, Fixing Genes20160421

What are the consequences for UK science of leaving the EU? Adam investigates.

The UK science community draws vital benefits from EU membership and could lose influence in the event of an exit, says a House of Lords report out this week.

UK researchers placed a high value on collaboration opportunities afforded by EU membership.

A number also believe the UK would lose its ability to influence EU science policy in the event of leaving - something that's disputed by pro-Brexit campaigners. To debate the ins and outs of being in or out of the EU, Adam is joined by Viscount Matt Ridley, a member of the committee, and Professor Paul Boyle, the Vice Chancellor of Leicester University and former president of Science Europe.

Scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark are developing a quantum computer. To help them solve a particular problem, they have turned to human brain power, harnessing our ability to play computer games. The team have designed video games, such as Quantum Moves - that are helping them to understand the problem of 'slosh'- that atoms move about, when moved, like water sloshing in a cup.

Many diseases are caused by a particular type of DNA error called a 'point mutation'. In our genomes, the substitution of a single letter of genetic code can be the root cause of diseases such as Alzheimer's, sickle cell anaemia, and a whole range of cancers. Recently, a new technique for editing DNA, called CRISPR, a precise genetic engineering tool, was developed, which might help combat these diseases. The problem is that the cell often reacts to this editing; trying to mend what it perceives as damage to its DNA. This week, David Liu, from Harvard University, published new research showing how his team have managed to switch out a single letter, a base pair, whilst tricking the cell into not correcting this edit.

Farewell To Cassini The Epic 20 Year Mission To Saturn20170914

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

As Cassini's epic journey to Saturn finally ends tonight, Adam Rutherford celebrates the incredible discoveries of a mission that has changed the way we see our solar system. BBC Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos is at Mission Control in Pasadena as scientists assemble to witness the final few hours of the Saturnian observations beforeCassini completes its death dive into the planet. We also hear from key scientists who've played a role in capturing and interpreting the multitude of data from the last 12 years.

With contributions from Michele Dougherty, Professor of space physics at Imperial College
Robert Brown, Professor Planetary surface processes Arizona University
Carl Murray, Professor of Astronomy, Queen Mary,University of London
Ellen Stofan, former chief NASA scientist

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance20160609

What can be done to tackle antimicrobial resistance, a massive threat that humans face?

This week we're dedicating the whole programme to one of the biggest threats to humanity. We're already at 700,000 preventable deaths per year as a result of antibiotic resistance, and the O'Neill Report suggests that this will rise to 10 million people per year by 2050. Today, we're focussing on the attempts to discover new antibiotics, and alternative therapies for combating bacterial infection. Firstly, we wanted to know why new antibiotics aren't being produced. Dr Jack Scannell, an expert on the drug development economics, told Adam Rutherford why money has been the main barrier.

Most of the antibiotics we use were discovered in the mid-20th century, but as the threat of drug resistant infections increases, the race is on to find new organisms that make novel medicines. We have only identified a tiny fraction of the microbes living on Earth and are "bioprospecting" for useful ones in wildly different locations. Microbiologist Matt Hutchings has been looking to the oldest farmers in the world - leaf cutter ants.

From exotic locations to under your fridge: Dr Adam Roberts runs a scheme called Swab and Send. It's a citizen science project that asks members of the public to swab a surface and send the sample to him – he'll analyse them to look for the presence of new antibiotic-producing bacteria. We joined in the hunt by swabbing spots around the BBC: Adam's microphone, the Today programme presenters' mics, our tea kitchen's sponge, the revolving entryway doormat, and lastly, the Dalek standing on guard outside the BBC Radio Theatre.

Antibiotics are not the only weapon in the war against bacteria. A hundred years ago, a class of virus that infect and destroy bacteria were discovered. They're called bacteriophages. Phage therapies were used throughout the era of Soviet Russia, and still are in some countries, including Georgia. Phage researcher Prof Martha Clokie told us whether phage therapy might be coming to the UK.

Flu, Coffee Yeasts, Wave Machine, Cochlear Implants20160324

Predicting how the flu virus mutates could help make better vaccines to fight it.

The flu season is running later this year. And it has been unusually virulent.

Professor Wendy Barclay, virologist at Imperial College London, tells Tracey Logan about the constant race to keep up with flu mutations in order to build an effective vaccine.

Wine has a microbial terroir which is thought to affect its taste. A new paper suggests coffee and chocolate might do too. Aimee Dudley from the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute in Seattle has studied global populations of yeast found on cacao and coffee beans. She explains that these yeast varieties are genetically diverse. Tracey Logan travels to coffee supplier Union, to meet scientist-turned-coffee-buyer, Steve Macatonia, and unpick the flavours of coffee.

In Delft, the world's biggest artificial waves are pitted against a new kind of super-strong sea wall. The Delta Flume team, led by Mark Klein Breteler, has created a giant concrete channel with a wave generator. Reporter Roland Pease turns up in time to see the team testing their artificial waves against a 10 metre dyke.

People with cochlear implants hear a degraded version of speech. Using subtitles helps train the brain to understand it faster. Matt Davis and Ed Sohoglu from the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Science Unit in Cambridge suggest that this feeds into a model of how the brain learns called Perception Learning.

Gene-editing Human Embryos - Spacemans Eyes - Science Book Prize - Sexual Selection In Salmon20170803

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the heart condition that can lead to seemingly super-fit athletes collapsing with heart failure. It affects one in 500 people, and is a heritable disorder. Scientists using the precise gene-editing technique, Crispr CAS 9, have identified one of the genes responsible for the disease and 'fixed' it. This is in very early stage human embryos, prior to implantation. Dr. Fredrik Lanner at the Karolinska institute, is a leader in this field and he describes the work as purely at the experimental stages, but the team have managed to overcome various issues with the technique.

Despite the obvious benefits of being an astronaut... exploring new worlds, seeing Earth from space, and of course the glory and fame, it can take a real toll on the body. Astronauts' skeletons and muscles deteriorate in zero gravity, their immune system weakens, and they experience nasal congestion and sleep disturbance. Many symptoms persists once they're back on Earth. But, there's another to add to the list, space flight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome or SANS. Ophthalmologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, Dr Andrew Lee explains that the build-up of fluid in the brain can squeeze the eye and optic nerve and lead to visual disturbance and even vision loss.

The shortlist for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2017 has just been announced. Adam pesters judge Claudia Hammond for the name of the winner (she doesn't tell!) and discusses the criteria for this £25,000 prestigious award. The top 6 books will be featured over the next 6 weeks on BBC Inside Science.

Sexual selection - who you decide to have babies with - is usually decided at the dating stage. But the choice does not have to stop at copulation. Post-mating sexual selection is a thing. Mechanisms such as sperm competition, and cryptic female choice, can happen after sex, but before the sperm fertilises the egg. It's not just an internal thing either, it happens in 'external fertilizers', where eggs are laid, and then fertilized by the male sperm outside the female's body, like come fish do in water. Professor Neil Gemmell, at the University of Otago in Dunedin in New Zealand, has been studying just such processes in Chinook salmon. His findings are surprising and could inform us about human reproduction and fertility.

Produced by Fiona Roberts.

Genetic Testing; Pugs On Treadmills; Frankenstein20170706

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

The results of the first large-scale field study looking at neonicotinoid pesticides and their impact on bees has caused controversy. It was carried out by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and commissioned and funded by the agricultural chemical companies Syngenta and Bayer. However, both companies have expressed dissatisfaction with the paper. Adam Rutherford talks to Dr Peter Campbell from Syngenta and Dr Ben Woodcock from CEH about the results.

In a separate project, beekeepers have been trying to improve hive health by breeding 'hygienic bees'. These nifty insects love to keep their homes clean and free from disease, improving colony numbers and reducing the need to use antibiotics. Reporter Rory Galloway embarks on some fieldwork at the University of Sussex, with Luciano Scandin, Honeybee Research Facility Manager and Francis Ratnieks, Professor of Apiculture.

What happens when you rap inside an MRI scanner? Neuroscientist Sophie Scott wanted to find out. She's been making movies of the internal workings of some extraordinary voice boxes, owned by beatboxers, opera singers and rappers, like biochemist Alex Lathbridge aka Thermoflynamics.

Presenter: Adam Rutherford
Researcher: Caroline Steel
Producer: Michelle Martin.

Genetics And Education, Eyam Plague, Pint Of Science, Labradors And Chocolate20160512

The biggest study of the relationship between genes and educational attainment - in this case, basically the measure of how long you stay in education - has been published this week. A huge number of environmental factors influence this trait, but genes also play a small role. In the new study, a large team of researchers looked at over 300,000 people and identified 74 genetic variants, slight differences in our DNA, that do seem to associate with how long those individuals stayed in formal education. Senior author Dan Benjamin, University of Southern California, and social genetics researcher Eva Krapohl from Kings College London helped steer us through this complex quagmire.

The Derbyshire village of Eyam is famous amongst Plague historians because when the disease arrived in a bale of cloth in 1665, the local vicar took a bold step and quarantined the whole village. 260 villagers died, but the sacrifice is thought to have saved surrounding populations. This noted event yielded a rich data set, which Eyam residents Francine Clifford and her late husband John meticulously mined over the last few decades. When epidemiologist Xavier Didelot of Imperial College London visited the local museum whilst on holiday, he couldn't resist investigating.

Later this month, in pubs around Britain, and bars in 11 other countries, audiences will gather to hear about everything from black holes to cancer treatments - all part of a phenomenon called 'Pint of Science'. Marnie Chesterton went to The Castle in Farringdon to hear more.

Finally, last week we met Poppy, one of the Labradors likely to have a newly discovered genetic reason for eating her owners out of house and home. Poppy's most notable devouring was of a large birthday cake, resulting in a trip to the vet's to get her stomach pumped. A fellow cake-eating-Lab-owning listener got in touch to ask why this procedure was necessary. It all comes down to the flavour of the cake: Chocolate.

Producers: Marnie Chesterton and Jen Whyntie.

Gravitational Waves, Uk Spaceport, Big Brains And Extinction Risk, Conservation In Papua New Guinea20160218

Adam Rutherford puts listeners' gravitational wave queries to cosmologist Andrew Pontzen.

Gravitational waves were announced last week, in what may be the science discovery of the decade. The Ligo detector, the most sensitive instrument on the surface of the planet, detected the ripples given off by the collision of two black holes. Adam Rutherford puts a selection of listener questions to UCL cosmologist Dr Andrew Pontzen.

In March 2015, Campbeltown, Glasgow Prestwick, Stornoway, Newquay, Llanbedr and Leuchars were shortlisted by the government as possible sites for a "cosmodrome" or spaceport. With the UK space industry worth an estimated £40 billion by 2030, various stakeholders met for the UK spaceport conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London to discuss the progress of the project. What would the impact be for scientists, industry and the public?

Big brains have traditionally been considered an advantage. Animals with larger brains are better at using tools, working as a social group and assessing how to react to predators. But when Dr Eric Abelson cross referenced relative brain size against the mammals on the endangered list, he found something surprising. Many animals with the bigger brains are threatened within extinction. He talks to Adam about why that may be.

Tim Cockerill, ecologist and adventurer, returns from Papua New Guinea to discuss how one group of indigenous people have decided to work with scientists in order to conserve and study their local environment.

Gravity Wave Breakthrough - The Antibiotic Pipeline - Microbial Waste Recycling - Fausto, An Ai Opera20170928

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

The gravitational waves produced by two massive black holes colliding have for the first time been detected by three gravitational wave detectors. Professor Sheila Rowan of the University of Glasgow explains the importance of this new three way observation.

The World Health organisation reports that there are too few new candidate antibiotics in the development pipelines to replace those becoming obsolete through the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance. Professor Willem van Shaik of the University of Birmingham and pharma-biotech analyst Dr Jack Scannell discuss where the problems and solutions might lie.

Could bacteria recycle all of our waste? Waste disposal is a growing concern as nations run out of space and ecosystems are increasingly polluted. Microorganisms may hold the key for turning household waste into biodegradable plastic and perhaps one day even into food and basic chemical feedstocks. Hans Vesterhoff, Professor of Systems Biology at Amsterdam University is developing microbial networks with the aim of converting all carbon-based waste into useful or edible stuff.

AI and Opera: Prof Luc Steels, an AI and language researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies of Catalonia is also a composer. He has just had his new opera premiered. With a libretto written by a neuropsychiatrist colleague, the opera 'Fausto' is a re-telling of the Faust story. It explores the dangers and flawed thinking of silicon-based transhumanism. In the opera, the Faust character is a social media-obsessed hipster and Mephistopheles is a malevolent AI in the cloud. In a twist on the original, Fausto trades his body rather than his soul so that he can be uploaded and reunited with his lover in the cloud.

Hfc Ban; Human Cell Atlas; Origin Of Hunting With Dogs20161020

Biologists are to begin a 10 year international project to map the multitude of different kinds of cell in the human body. The average adult is built of 37 trillion cells and if you look in a text book, it will say there are about 200 distinct varieties of cells. But this is a grand underestimate. There could in fact be 10,000. The Human Cell Atlas project aims to identify every type and subtype of cell in every tissue of the body - a massive endeavour which, the cell mappers argue, will have profound benefits for medicine.

Adam Rutherford also talks to zoological archaeologist Angela Perri whose research is aimed at discovering when our ancestors first started to use dogs as 'hunting' technology. Her work involves joining hunts with dogs in the modern day as well as traditional archaeological field work.

He also explores the science behind exploding smart phone batteries and the new international climate agreement to rid the world of hydrofluorocarbons.

A map of the 37 trillion cells in the body and when did humans first use dogs for hunting?

Higgs Boson; Neutrinos; Antarctic Echo Locator; Rainforest Fungi; Alabama Rot20140123
Hiquake Plate Tectonics - Sonic Weapon Puzzle - The Chinese Typewriter20171005

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Gareth Mitchell talks to Gillian Foulger of Durham University about HiQuake, the world's largest database of human-induced earthquakes. Professor Foulger and her colleagues have so far compiled close to 750 seismic events for which there are reasonable cases to be made for anthropogenic triggers. Triggers include mining operations, fossil fuel extraction, reservoir filling, skyscraper construction and tunnelling. Among the surprises is the fact that the US state of Oklahoma is more seismically active than California because of quakes and tremors set off by the local oil and gas industry.

The theory of plate tectonics is 50 years old. It's as fundamental to understanding the Earth as evolution by natural selection is to understanding life. Roland Pease meets geologists such as Dan McKenzie, John Dewey and Xavier Le Pichon who played key roles in proving the hypothesis in the late 1960s.

The United States has removed more than half of its diplomats from its embassy in Havana, Cuba. A signficant number of staff have complained of ailments such as hearing loss, dizziness, headaches and nausea, and there has been speculation that some kind of sonic or acoustic weapon might be responsible. Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford, discusses the likelihood with Gareth.

Stanford University's Tom Mullaney is the author of 'The Chinese Typewriter: A History'. He talks to Gareth about the great engineering and linguistic challenge in the 19th and 20th centuries of getting the Chinese language onto a table top machine. The survival of the ancient language or China's entry into the modern world depended on the success of numerous inventors. In fact one consequence was the development of predictive text in the Chinese IT world long before it appeared in the West.

Note: In the podcast version of this programme, there is an additional item on new research on the role of the world's botanical gardens in global plant conservation. One of the scientists involved, Dr Paul Smith of Botanical Gardens Conservation International, tells Gareth that there's good news about these institutions' contributions and there are areas where there is room for improvement.

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

Hiroshima Radiation, Anthropocene, Bonobo Noises, Physicist Henry Moseley20150806

In the 70 years since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what are the long term effects of exposure to radiation? Adam Rutherford talks to Professor Richard Wakeford who has been studying radiation for many years about his research following the nuclear bombings as well as nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Marnie Chesterton talks to one of the short-listed entries for the Royal Society Winton book prize, Gaia Vince for her book, Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet we Made. Other short-listed entries are:

*The Man Who Couldn't Stop by David Adam - a scientific and personal memoir of a life with OCD.

*Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe Mcfadden and Jim Al-Khalili

*Alex Through the Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life by Alex Bellos

*Smashing Physics by Jon Butterworth - an insider's account of the discovery of the Higgs boson

*Life's Greatest Secret: The Story of the Race to Crack the Genetic Code by Matthew Cobb

Also, Adam talks to Zanna Clay about research into our closest relatives, the bonobos and the unique 'peep' noises they make and why they could provide clues to the evolution of human language. Roland Pease reports on one of Britain's great yet little known physicists, Henry Moseley. He died in the First World War but in just 18 months of research transformed ideas about X-rays and the atom and the Periodic Table of elements.

Adam Rutherford presents discussion on the radiation effects from the Hiroshima bomb.

Homo Naledi, First Humans In America, Dark Matter Detector, New Theory Of Dark Matter20170427

Homo naledi; first humans in America; dark matter detector; new theory of dark matter.

Controversy has followed the remains of a new species of human, Homo naledi, since it was described in 2015. Buried deep in a South African cave, its primitive features led scientists to believe it was up to three million years old. This week it's been revealed that this estimate was wrong. New dating evidence suggests the skeletons are only 200 000 to 300 000 years old and that means they may have lived alongside other homo species.

Previously, humans were thought to have travelled to America via a land bridge between eastern Siberia and modern day Alaska, somewhere between 17 000 - 40 000 years ago when sea levels were lower than they are today. Researchers from the San Diego Natural History Museum now present evidence that suggests this transition could have been much earlier - nearly 100 000 years earlier. Adam talked to Chris Stringer, researcher in human evolution at the Natural History Museum in London, to unpick the evidence.

Dark matter is a mystery that has evaded scientists for decades. Now the biggest and most sensitive detector is being built in South Dakota and scientists believe the Lux-Zeppelin experiment will soon be able to detect one of the candidates for dark matter, the elusive particle known as a weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP). Graihagh Jackson got a sneak peak of the key components, including the 'eyes' of the detector, before they're sent off for installation.

Adam Rutherford talks to cosmologist Carlos Frenk from the University of Durham and learns of an alternative theory to describe this mysterious dark matter - a whole new dark sector. This sector contains a vast range of different dark particles, from photons to bosons, that could interact with normal particles.

Homo Naledi, New Spacesuit, Quantum Biology, A Possible Cure For Motion Sickness20150910

Tracey Logan talks to Professor Chris Stringer about the discovery a new human ancestor, Homo Naledi. With ape and human like features its age isn't known yet but could it be evidence of the origin of the genus homo? Astronauts' spines can elongate as much as 7 centimetres in space because of the loss of gravity potentially causing severe back problems. Tracey talks to David Green from Kings College, London about a new elastic suit he has helped develop to mimic the effects of gravity. What exactly is quantum biology? Marnie Chesterton talks to Jim Al Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden authors of 'Life on the Edge, The coming of age of Quantum Biology which is short-listed for the Royal Society Winton Book prize. Tracey meets Dr Qadeer Arshad at Charing Cross hospital to try a new potential cure for sea sickness. By applying an electric current to the scalp is it possible to prevent the symptoms of nausea? A limited number of tickets for Write on Kew are available by emailing writeonkew@kew.org with BBC Inside Science in the subject line.

Tracey Logan investigates an ancient human and a zero-gravity space suit.

Insects Disappearing, Dna Biosensor, Dog Faces, Bandit Dinosaur20171026

Where have all the insects gone?

The total biomass of flying insects in the environment has decreased by 75% in the last quarter of a century. That's the conclusion of research published at the end of last week in the journal PLOS One. The discovery, made in Germany, has shocked many, but should we in the UK be worried too? The answer is yes, according to Adam Rutherford's guests Dave Goulson, professor of biology at the University of Sussex, and Michael McCarthy, environmental journalist and author of 'The Moth Snow Storm.'

The speed and ease of precise infection diagnosis could be transformed by synthetic biologists at Imperial College, London. Paul Freemont tells Adam about a simple DNA biosensor that turns green in the presence of a pneumonia-causing bacterium that is a particular problem for people with Cystic Fibrosis. He adds that the technology is adaptable to any kind of bacteria and may also aid efforts to curb the spread of antibiotic resistance.

When dogs know you are looking at them, they ramp up the expressiveness of their faces. Marnie Chesterton visits the Dog Cognition Centre at the University of Portsmouth to talk to the researchers who made this discovery, and to meet Jimmy the Staffy.

Palaeontologists at the University of Bristol have figured out the colour patterning on a dinosaur that lived 120 million years ago. Sinosauropteryx was a small feathered dinosaur. Two spectacular fossils of it were found in northeast China. The specimens are so well preserved that remnants of pigment remain in the feathers. This allows Jakob Vinter and colleagues to see that Sinosauropteryx was reddish brown in colour, with light stripes on its tail, light and dark counter-shading on its body and a dashing bandit-style face mask.

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.

Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Interstellar Visitor, Svante Paabo, Synthetic Biology, Plight Of The Axolotl20171123

Oumuamua - the first known visitor from beyond the solar system.

On 19th October, a mysterious object sped through our solar system. It was first spotted by astronomers with a telescope in Hawaii. Its trajectory and speed told of its interstellar origins. It is the first body to be detected from outside our solar system. Scientists are now publishing their papers on the enigmatic visitor. They estimate that it was about 400 metres long and bizarrely elongated in shape. Adam Rutherford talks to astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons of Queens University in Belfast.

Twenty years ago, geneticist Svante Paabo began a revolution in human evolution science when he extracted fragments of DNA from the 40,000 year old bone of a Neanderthal. Among other first, he went onto sequence the entire genome sequence of Homo Neanderthalenisis. Professor Paabo was in the UK this week at a conference on DNA and human evolution at the Wellcome Genome Campus to mark the anniversary. He tells Adam about one of the new directions of research for him now.

What does the future hold for synthetic biology? Who will be the practitioners of this fast-growing branch of bioengineering and what will be its impact on the world - for good and possibly ill? Experts in the field have just published a horizon-scanning report in the journal eLife. One of its authors, Jenny Molloy of the University of Cambridge, talks to Adam about the nascent democratisation of the discipline and where this might lead the field and society.

The paradoxical plight of the axolotl: popular aquarium pet, laboratory animal and critically endangered species in the wild. This species of salamander is a wonder of nature. It's the amphibian that never grows out of its larval stage yet it's able to reproduce. Most remarkable is its abilty to regrow limbs, which is of great potential interest to researchers developing regenerative medicine. There are many thousands of axolotls in labs and homes around the world. But in the wild, in their native Mexico, they are on the very edge of extinction. Inside Science talks to conservation biologist Richard Griffiths of the University of Kent and axolotl researcher Tatiana Sandoval Guzman of the Technical University in Dresden, Germany.

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.

Italy's Quakes, Ebola Virus, Accidental Rocket Fuel, China In Space20161103

Italy's earthquakes: is there a pattern?

In the past three months, central Italy has been shaken by several large earthquakes. The quake near Norcia on 30th October was the most powerful for decades. In late August, another struck near Amatrice, causing 300 lost lives. Adam Rutherford talks to seismologist Ross Stein about why this part of the Italian peninsula is so prone to shaking, whether there is a pattern in the recent activity and whether the scientists are getting any better at earthquake forecasting.

The recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa was the largest and most deadly of its kind so far. More than 11,000 people were killed by the virus. Now two groups of virologists have discovered that early in the epidemic's course, the Ebola virus underwent a genetic change which allowed it to infect human cells more easily. Could this mutation explain the terrible scale of the outbreak of 2013 to 2016?

Also in the show, the chemists who are aiming to make ammonia fertiliser production more environmentally friendly but made rocket fuel instead; and the past and future of the Chinese space programme.

Juno, Nanotech Art Conservation, Robots Fix The City, Eel Conservation20160630

Nasa's Juno space mission approaches Jupiter.

NASA's Juno Probe arrives at Jupiter on 4th July, where it will execute a daring loop-the-loop in order to get closer to the giant planet than any other spacecraft in history. Juno is constructed like an armoured tank, because Jupiter is surrounded by a belt of very intense radiation that can quickly fry most spacecraft electronics. On July 4, Juno's engines will attempt to slow the probe down so it can be sucked into Jupiter's orbit. The slightest error could mean Juno misses this window, putting an end to the $1.1 billion mission. The man in charge is Dr Scott Bolton, and he speaks to Adam from Pasadena in California.

Traditional art conservation tends to focus on paintings - how to stop paint from peeling. But contemporary art uses a much broader range of materials; plastics, rubber; pickled sharks. This means that an ever-increasing array of techniques are needed to conserve those materials. A new project is looking at the role nanotechnology can play, as Rob Thompson reports.

It's National Robot Week. There is a fear that robots will replace many of the jobs done by humans. But what if robots just stuck to emptying the gutters and fixing potholes; the chores that humans find tedious? Professor Phil Purnell from Leeds University has just launched a project that aims to use robots to fix bits of the city - finding and patching tiny defects before they turn into massive sinkholes.

The European eel may be mysterious, and delicious but it is also critically endangered.

The only reason we know this is because of organisations like the Zoological Society of London. They do the unglamorous job of monitoring these fish caught in traps in rivers around the UK. Marnie Chesterton went along to count eels in rainy Brentford with ZSL's Joe Pecorelli, who shares his knowledge of this creature's epic life journey.

Killer Robots Myths And Superstitions And Conservation Science Book Prize Nominee - Cordelia Fine Taxidermy20170824

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Once again, the ethical side of fully autonomous weapons has been raised, this time by over 100 leading robotics experts, including Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, and Mustafa Suleyman of DeepMind. They have sent an open letter to the United Nations urging them to take action in order to prevent the development of "killer robots". The letter says "lethal autonomous" technology is a "Pandora's box", once opened it will be very difficult to close - they have called for a ban on the use of AI in managing weaponry. Gareth asks AI expert, Professor Peter Bentley from University College London, if this is the right approach or is this just an attempt to delay the inevitable?

When a paper titled "Fantastic Beasts and Why to Conserve Them" is printed in the journal Oryx, we had to take a closer look. Far more than a publicity stunt, this work by George Holmes, an expert in conservation and society at the University of Leeds, covers an important point. It explores the dangers of neglecting local beliefs, myths and superstitions about the natural world, and animals in particular, when trying to come up with conservation strategies.

Cordelia Fine is a professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Melbourne. She is the third shortlisted author of the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize. Her book "Testosterone Rex" explores the science behind gender. She argues that testosterone isn't necessarily the basis for masculinity and that there is so much more to gender than merely our biological sex.

200 years ago, taxidermy was a crucial part of zoological teaching and research, and in the days before BBC wildlife films, often the only way that many people could see strange and exotic wildlife from other lands. Lots of those early specimens are incredibly valuable, and can still be found in museums around the world, although being so old they are often in need of urgent repair. Usually this happens out of sight behind the scenes, but not so at the Grant Museum of Zoology in London, which has been doing its conservation live in the gallery for all to see, to draw attention to the art and science of taxidermy. Some of the more serious repairs get sent to taxidermy conservator Lucie Mascord in Lancashire.

Produced by Fiona Roberts
Presented by Gareth Mitchell.

Life On Mars? Quantum Gravity. The Deep Origins Of Bird Song20161013

New mission searching for signs of life on Mars about to arrive at the Red Planet

Mars is about to be visited by the first space mission for 40 years which is designed to seek signs of life on the Red Planet. Adam Rutherford talks to Dr Manish Patel of the Open University, a senior scientist on the European Space Agency's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Once the spacecraft starts work, it may solve the mystery of ebbs and flows of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere. It may answer whether the gas is being produced by life beneath the planet's cold dusty surface.

The American space agency Nasa already has a mission well underway on the Martian surface.. For four years, Curiosity has been exploring the deep geological past of a huge Martian crater and mountain. Recently possible signs of liquid water have been seen nearby. But rather than going closer to study it, Nasa wants the rover to avoid it. Project scientist Ashwin Vasavada explains why.

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist and writer. His latest book 'Reality is not what it Seems' explores the history of thought about the physical nature of the universe and one of the latest incarnations of that great quests - loop quantum gravity theory. He talks to Adam about the fine grain of space and time, and exploding black holes.

Palaeontologist Julia Clarke has discovered the oldest fossil of a bird's organ of song, the syrinx. At the University of Texas, Austin the delicate structure turned up in an X ray scan of a 66 million year old bird fossil from Antarctica. The fossil syrinx is so well preserved, it is possible to say what the call of this ancient bird Vegavis would have sounded like. It's also a massive boost in the quest to discover when birds first sang and recreating the dawn chorus back in the Age of Dinosaurs.

Listeners' Questions20161229

Adam Rutherford puts listeners' science questions to his team of experts: physicist Helen Czerski, cosmologist Andrew Pontzen and biology Yan Wong. Queries include gravity on sci-fi space ships, how animals would evolve on the low gravitational field of the Moon, gravitational waves, mimicry in parrots, sea level rise, the accelerating university, dinosaur intelligence, the Higgs field and concerns about oxygen levels in the atmosphere.

Further questions are answered in the podcast version of the show. They cover Antarctic dinosaurs, reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere by trapping it as limestone, and Neanderthal DNA.

Adam Rutherford puts listeners' science questions to his team of experts.

National Insect Week, Venus' Electric Field, Green Mining, Wimbledon Grass Science20160623

This week is National Insect Week. Almost all animals on Earth are insects, and entomologist Adam Hart told us why we're celebrating and studying them in such detail - particularly diamondback moths, which have recently arrived the UK in large numbers. On the first official (and rather rainy) day of summer, we went down to Butterfly Paradise at London Zoo for the event launch. Entomologist Adam Hart tells us what the Week is all about.

New research out this week suggests that a so called "electric wind" has stripped all the water away from the surface of Venus. Space scientist Glyn Collinson at NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre has led this electrical field study.

Wales has 1300 rivers with illegal levels of heavy metals. Toxic metals like lead, zinc and copper are a legacy left over from when the area was heavily mined. Natural Resources Wales and Innovate UK set a competition to look for technology that would clean up these rivers. One of the winners was Steve Skill from Swansea University, who has come up with some biotechnology that uses algae to suck the poison out of the rivers.

The Championships at Wimbledon start next week, and whatever the weather, the grass has to be perfect. Adam Rutherford headed to London's SW19 to find out how the ground staff are using scientific evidence to cultivate the courts.

Producers: Marnie Chesterton and Jen Whyntie.

Adam Rutherford finds out why insects are being celebrated across the UK.

Neanderthals; Plague; Wind Tunnel; Music Timing; Stem Cells20140130
Oxygen On Comet 67p; Bees And Antimicrobial Drugs; Reproducibility Of Science Experiments; Reintroduction Of Beavers20151029

Oxygen on comet 67P

Molecular oxygen (O2) detected on comet Churymov-Gerasimenko 67P, has scientists baffled. Current models of the formation of our Solar System do not predict conditions that would allow for O2.

Bees and antimicrobial drugs

The antibacterial properties of honey have been exploited for thousands of years, but now scientists at the University of Cardiff are using honeybees to collect and identify plant-derived drugs which could be used to treat antibiotic resistant hospital pathogens. By screening honey for these plant compounds and identifying the plant through the pollen grains in the honey, researchers can narrow down the active ingredients and even exploit this to get bees to make medicinal honey.

Reproducibility of science experiments

A lot of science experiments, when redone, produce different result. Professor Dorothy Bishop chaired a report, out this week, on reproducibility in science. She explains why reproducibility is important, why failures are due to many factors beyond fraud, and how measures, such as pre-registration and collaboration on large expensive experiments, can help make science more robust and repeatable.

Reintroduction of beavers

In National Mammal Week and the Mammal Society UK is giving a whole day of its national conference at Exeter University over to the reintroduction of European beavers. In February last year a group of beavers were spotted apparently having been living and breeding on the River Otter in Devon for quite some time. By March this year an attempt by DEFRA to remove them had been challenged by local campaigners and now a 5 year watch period has been set up over which time the effects of the beavers on the ecosystem will be monitored. But how might the renegade rodents have been influencing the ecosystem? And with another project currently underway to reintroduce the Pine Marten, a large relative of the weasel, to Wales is there a new public focus on mammal reintroductions in the UK?

Producer: Fiona Roberts

Oxygen detected on comet 67P doesn’t fit with models of early Solar System formation.

Personal Genetics Kits; Persister Cells; Earthquake Mapping; Scorpions20140116
Predator Bacteria Therapy, New Money For Uk Science, Stick-on Stethoscope, Taming Fears In The Brain Scanner20161124

Can we use predatory bacteria as treatments for antibiotic resistant infections?

Bdellovibrio is a small bacterium which preys and kills other bacteria. A team of researchers in the UK has shown in animal experiments that injections of the predator microbe can successfully treat infections. So how close does this take us to Bdellovibrio therapy for human patients and what part might it play in tackling the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance? Adam Rutherford talks to Professor Liz Sockett of the University of Nottingham.

The British government has announced that it will be spending an additional £2 billion on research and development by 2020. Commentators say it is the largest hike in public funding for science in a very long time. Dr Sarah Main of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, and Dr Arnab Basu, physicist and CEO of Kromek, discuss the new money and how it would be best used.

Also in the programme, materials and electronics engineers in the US have devised a small wearable heart monitor - the size and thickness of a sticking plaster. Adam talks to its lead designer Professor John Rogers of Northwestern University in Chicago. And could phobias be cured without exposure to the thing which frightens people? Dr Ben Seymour outlines an intriguing experiment which involved reading people's thoughts in a brain scanner, which suggests ultimately it may be possible.

Prehistoric Strong Women, Semi-synthetic Life, Listener Feedback, Artificial Superintelligence20171130

Prehistoric women were as strong as today's top female rowers.

More than 5,000 years of heavy agricultural labour by women can be read from the bones found in ancient cemeteries from the Neolithic to Iron Age times. Cambridge University anthropologist Alison Macintosh compared the arm bone dimensions and strength of women from these times with those of modern female athletes such as runners to rowers. Her conclusion is that average upper body strength of women through the Neolithic to the Iron age times exceeded that of today's semi-elite female rowers.

A laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute have created a semi-synthetic bacterium with two new man-made genetic letters in its DNA, in addition to the natural four A, G, T and C. What's more, the engineered microbe can use its enhanced genetic alphabet to build synthetic amino acids into the proteins it makes. Chemist Floyd Romesberg talks to Adam Rutherford about what we can learn from his team's extraordinary feat of synthetic biotechnology, what we might gain from it and why, in his opinion, we've no need to be worried.

Adam deals with some of your correspondence on axolotls by talking to laboratory salamander breeder Randal Voss at the University of Kentucky. He also notes listeners' comparisons of the recent visit by interstellar asteroid Oumuamua with the alien vessel in Arthur C Clarke's 'Rendezvous with Rama'.

Cosmologist and AI researcher Max Tegmark visits BBC Inside Science to discuss the possibility of artificial intelligence machines with super-intelligence and how humanity should be preparing for their advent.

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.

Rock Traces Of Life On Mars, Desert Fireball Network, Gut Microbes And Parkinson's Disease, Science Museum's Maths Exhibition20161208

Could rocks studied by the Mars rover Spirit in Gusev Crater in 2007 contain the hallmarks of ancient life? Geologist Steve Ruff of Arizona State University talks about what he found in hot springs in Chile which begs that question. He says the evidence is intriguing enough for NASA to send its next and more sophisticated Mars robot back to the same spot on the Red Planet in 2020.

Adam also talks to Phil Bland of Curtin University in Australia - one of the creators of the Desert Fireball Network - an array of automated cameras across Australia, built to locate where shooting stars land as meteorites and also pinpoint from where they came in the solar system. Boosting the chances of collecting these meteorites and knowing their space origins should helps us to better understand how the Earth and other planets formed 4.5 billion years ago.

There's new compelling evidence that microbes in the gut play a role in the development of Parkinson's disease. Tim Sampson of Caltech in the US outlines his experiments which raise this possibility and Patrick Lewis, another Parkinson's researcher at the University of Reading, puts the new findings into a wider context.

Adam takes a tour of the spectacular new mathematics gallery at the Science Museum in London. The Winton Gallery's exhibited objects and design by the celebrated architect Zaha Hadid focusses on mathematics in the real world. Adam's guide is lead curator David Rooney.

Could rocks discovered by the Mars rover Spirit contain the hallmarks of ancient life?

Science And Cyber Security, Dinosaur Babies, Winston Churchill And Level Crossings20170216

Testing cyber security with science. The UK now has a new National Cyber Security Centre. However there is very little scientific evidence against which to test the detection of cyber attacks and effectiveness of measures to prevent them. We ask what is needed to turn cyber security into a more scientific discipline.

Winston Churchill and Aliens. Throughout his life Churchill maintained a strong interest in scientific developments and wrote widely on subjects from quantum mechanics to nuclear energy. Newly discovered papers show he also had an interest in the potential for life on other planets.

Dinosaurs and egg laying. A new fossil find revealing a dinosaur with an unborn baby suggests live births may have occurred many years earlier than previously thought.

Turn off at level crossings. New research suggests personal messages about the impact of engine fumes on health may be the most effective way of persuading drivers to switch off their engines at level crossings.

Testing cyber security with science.

Sex-change Tree, Pluto's Cryovolcanoes, Sellafield's Plutonium, Ant Super-organisms20151112

Britain's oldest tree changes sex - The science behind the headlines - this week it was reported that the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire (known to be a male tree, over 2-5000 years old) had started to produce berries (female) on one of its branches. Dr. Max Coleman from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh explains that sexuality in plants is more fluid than in animals.

Cryo-volcanoes on Pluto

The latest observations from the New Horizons mission to Pluto show possible volcanic-type structures made from ice. The mountains have what appear to be caldera-like depressions in the top.

Unlike volcanoes on Earth, that erupt molten rock, the suspected volcanoes on Pluto, would likely erupt an icy slush of substances such as water, nitrogen, ammonia or methane.

Sellafield's plutonium

The nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria has amassed around 140 tonnes of plutonium on site. This is the largest stockpile of civil plutonium in the world. For now it is being stored without a long-term plan, which is costly and insecure. At some point a decision will need to be taken on how it is dealt with. The estimated clean-up costs are between £90-250 billion, which means the pressure to make the right decision is massive. Should we convert it into useable fuel or get rid of it? And how secure is it in its current state?

Ant super-organisms

Ants behave as a super-organism when under predation threat - complex chemical communication in rock ants are key to how they behave as a unit to different threats.

Producer: Fiona Roberts.

Adam Rutherford asks whether Britain's oldest tree has changed sex.

Signs Of Life On Planets, Royal Society Book Prize, Queen Bee Control, Galactic Prom 2920160804

What clues should we look for when searching for life on other planets?

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Solar Farm, Gravity Machine, Kakapo20160331

The world's second largest floating solar farm has just started generating power. Built on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir in West London, it's the size of eight football pitches and can provides enough power for 1,800 homes. Its construction was a race against time, because the UK government cuts subsidies for new solar farms from April. Adam Rutherford talks to Leev Harder from Lightsource Renewable Energy about the project. Dr Iain Staffel is a sustainable energy expert at Imperial College London and he explains the main issue with solar: the difficulties in storing the electricity produced until it's needed.

A team from Glasgow University has invented a portable gravity detector. Volcanologist Hazel Rymer from the Open University discusses how this cheap and portable device can detect tiny changes in gravity in the ground. She hopes to use this kind of device to monitor what's happening inside volcanoes soon.

In New Zealand, the near-extinct kakapo will become the first species to have the genome of every single member sequenced, thanks to a crowd-funded conservation project. Adam Rutherford meets geneticist Peter Dearden, in the Zealandia conservation area in Wellington, to chat about these charming but daft birds, and efforts to save them from extinction.

Producers: Marnie Chesterton and Jen Whyntie.

As Europe's largest floating solar farm goes online, Adam Rutherford discusses solar power

Tabby's Star, Space 2018, Mosquito Sounds, C Diff And Food Additive Link20180104

Adam Rutherford talks to astronomer Tabetha Boyajian at Louisiana State University about the wierd star that's perplexed astronomers since its discovery two years ago. KIC 8462852 has the unique habit of intermittently and sometimes dramatically dimming and then brightening. Some scientists even suggested vast alien megastructures around the star might be the explanation. After twenty months of almost continuous observation, Professor Boyajian has much more information about what the star is doing. But the big mystery hasn't gone away.

BBC News science correspondent Jonathan Amos joins Adam to share some highlights in space exploration for the coming 12 months.

Zoologists and engineers at the University of Oxford are developing an app that identifies one species of mosquito from another by analysing the sounds their rapid wing beats make. Graihagh Jackson visits Marianne Sinka at the Zoology Department to listen to her collection of mosquito songs.

Did the widespread introduction of the food additive trehalose fuel the emergence of epidemics of virulent Clostridium difficile in hospitals from the early 2000s? Microbiologist Robert Britton tells Adam about the evidence his team has gathered and published this week in the journal 'Nature'.

The Future Of Coral Reefs, Little Foot, Arthur C Clarke20171214

Adam Rutherford considers the future of coral reefs and the visions of Arthur C Clarke.

Oxford is hosting the European Coral Reef Symposium this week. Climate change is seen as the number one threat to the future of coral reefs. Adam talks to Morgan Pratchett of James Cook University about the two recent coral bleaching events that hit the Great Barrier Reef, and to Barbara Brown of Newcastle University about the potential for coral species to adapt to warmer seas.

After twenty years of excavation and preparation, the most complete fossil skeleton of an Australopithecine has been unveiled to the public in South Africa. Its discoverer Ron Clarke explains its significance for understanding human evolution.

December 16th is the 100th anniversary of Arthur C Clarke. Science writer Marcus Chown and cultural journalist Samira Ahmed join Adam to discuss Clarke's visions and works of science fiction.

The Perils Of Explaining Science, Living To 500, What's Good For Your Teeth And The Future Of Stargazing20170112

Why the simplest explanations are not always the best when it comes to science. Where you read about a scientific subject can affect not just what you learn but also how much you think you know about the subject.

Quahogs are a kind of clam and they can live for hundreds of years. Analysis of their shells provides a record of historical climate change. Researchers studying their shells have found big differences between the drivers of climate change now and in the pre-industrial era.

Trips to the dentist may become less frequent if an experimental treatment with stem cells becomes widespread. The treatment involves regrowing damaged dentine, bringing about a natural tooth repair.

Radio telescopes have brought us signals from the far reaches of the known universe and listened in on the space race. Now a new generation will take us further than ever before.

Producer Julian Siddle.

Why the simplest explanations are not always the best when it comes to science.

Time Travel In Science And Cinema20151015

Adam Rutherford and Francine Stock explore time travel in science and cinema.

In a special programme to mark, amongst other things, the centenary of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, Adam Rutherford is joined by The Film Programme's Francine Stock to explore the theme of time-travel - in science, in film and as film. With studio guest, science writer Marcus Chown, they'll discuss time-machines - as imagined by scientists and film-makers; the grandfather of all paradoxes; the notion of the multiverse and how the pioneers of cinema created their own 'time-machines' through the art of editing. And to mark Back the Future Day, otherwise known as 21 October 2015, they talk to director Robert Zemeckis about how and why he imagined a future with hover-boards but, oddly, no smart phones.

Producers: Stephen Hughes and Rami Tzabar.

In a special programme to mark, amongst other things, the centenary of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, Adam Rutherford is joined by The Film Programme's Francine Stock to explore the theme of time-travel - in science, in film and as film. With studio guest, science writer Marcus Chown, they'll discuss time-machines - as imagined by scientists and film-makers; the grandfather of all paradoxes; the notion of the multiverse and how the pioneers of cinema created their own 'time-machines' through the art of editing. And to mark Back the Future Day, otherwise know as 21 October 2015, they talk to director Robert Zemeckis about how and why he imagined a future with hover-boards but, oddly, no smart phones.

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Trophy Hunting, Gene Drives, Nuclear Lightning, Peregrine Falcons And Drones20171207

Does trophy hunting threaten big game species with extinction?

Trophy hunters are always after the lion with the largest darkest name and the stag with the most impressive antlers. Research by Rob Knell at Queen Mary University of London finds that removing a small proportion of these top males can drive whole populations to extinction, if their environment is changing.

Gene drive is a new genetic technology that could be used to eradicate populations of species of 'pest' animals. The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh has just announced it is to begin research on gene drives to control rat and mouse populations. The Institute's Bruce Whitelaw and Simon Lillico explain how the approach would work and argue that it would be humane compared to traditional methods of vermin control. However there are concerns about its potential ecological consequences - namely the risk of female infertility in the targeted species spreading without no geographical limits. Kevin Esvelt of MIT voices his reservations. Bruce Whitelaw outlines how future research aims to bring gene drives under more control.

Researchers in the USA and Japan talk about their discovery of nuclear reactions in lightning strikes, and Caroline Brighton and Graham Taylor of the University of Oxford explain why they have been attaching small cameras and GPS units to peregrine falcons and recording the birds chasing drones.

Uk Pollinators' Food, Brain Implant, Holograms, Lunar 920160204

Some much-needed good news for our troubled bees and other pollinators: between 1998 and 2007, the amount of nectar produced from Britain's flowering plants rose by 25%. A new study suggests this may be due to reductions in atmospheric pollution. But researchers looked at records spanning over 80 years, and also found that the UK flowers which provide nectar suffered substantial losses during the 20th century. Considering the services that nectar-feeding pollinators perform for agriculture and our ecosystems, this is something worth knowing. Professor Jane Memmott, ecologist at the University of Bristol, explains how bad things really are for Britain's pollinators and what lessons conservation could learn from her team's latest findings about nectar.

In 2014, neuroscientist Dr Phil Kennedy flew to Belize and paid a surgeon to insert electrodes into his otherwise healthy brain, in order to experiment on himself. His aim was to unpick the electrical signals given from his brain during speech. BBC science reporter Jonathan Webb went to his lab in Georgia, US to meet the maverick. Jonathan and Tracey discuss the motivation, scientific outcome and ethics behind Dr Kennedy's highly unusual experiment.

The aim of hologram technology, according to Birmingham University researchers, is to make it cheaper, faster and better. Holographic tattoos are a solution they are developing. Currently, holograms are made with lasers and mirrors. Roland Pease went to visit researchers Dr Haider Butt, Bader Al Qattan and Rajib Ahmed in order to make his very own hologram.

On 4th February 50 years ago, the Soviet lander Lunar 9 sent a signal back from the moon. Scientists at Jodrell Bank intercepted this and realised that it sounded like a picture image. Professor of Astrophysics at Manchester University Tim O'Brien explains how, with the help of a fax machine borrowed from the Daily Express, British scientists scooped the first pictures of the moon's surface.

How charting the UK's nectar-providing flowers could help pollinating insects.

Uk Science And The Eu, Sex Of Organs, Artificial Colon, Gorillas Call When Eating20160225

What does a Brexit mean for UK science?

Britain faces a referendum on whether to leave Europe. Science, and scientists, often cross borders in collaborations, so what would the implications be for a British exit from the EU? The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have an ongoing inquiry into how EU membership influences British science. Inside Science condenses the pertinent points.

The stem cells that make up our organs 'know' whether they are 'male' or 'female', and that this sexual identity could influence how they grow and behave. Dr Irene Miguel-Aliaga, at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London, wanted to ask a very basic question: whether it is just the cells of the sex organs of a fully developed organism that 'know' their sexual identity, or whether this is true of cells in other organs too - and whether that matters. It was previously thought that non-reproductive organs are the same in both sexes, and function differently because of the differences in circulating hormones, but her new research suggests that cells know their sex.

At Birmingham University, chemical engineers have built a working prototype of an artificial human colon, the first of its kind. The colon does the last bit of moving your food out of your body, mixing it, squeezing the last few nutrients and excess water out of it. The team want to use it to measure drug delivery to the colon.

Talking with your mouth full is an unattractive trait, but for other, non-human, great apes it is a normal part of meal time. The noises recorded by a team at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology are from the silverback Western lowland Gorilla. Primatologist Eva Luef explains that this humming and singing during meal time is a way of signalling without wasting valuable eating time.

Violins - Social Networks And Cliques In Great Tits And Snow Monkeys - Exploring Dna And Art20170511

Do new violins sound better than old famed instruments? A scientist and soloist discuss.

Classical music fans will know well the legendary violins made by the likes of Stradivarius and Guarneri in the 17th and 18th century. But new acoustical research has found that concert goers rated the music of new fiddles higher than that from old and revered Italian violins. Dr Claudia Fritz of the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris explains how she did this study and what she found. Virtuoso soloist Tasmin Little plays her 260 year old Italian instrument for presenter Adam Rutherford and offers her thoughts on the findings.

Adam also hears about personality and social cliques in great tits in Oxfordshire, and social networks and disease in Japanese snow monkeys. Adam chats with Leicester University geneticist Turi King and artists Ruth Singer and Gillian McFarland about their collaborative project to explore DNA through art.

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

What's Left To Explore?20160922

Adam Rutherford explores the science that is changing our world.

Write On Kew Festival At Kew Gardens, Preserving Global Biodiversity20151001

Adam Rutherford is at Kew Gardens to discuss challenges in preserving global biodiversity.

A special edition recorded in front of an audience at Write on Kew, the Royal Botanical Garden's new literary festival. Adam Rutherford examines the science behind the global challenges and innovative solutions to preserving the essential biodiversity of the planet. From new perspectives on how plant populations can be made more resilient, to the remarkable genetic diversity of plants just being revealed by new analytical techniques, to coffee - and how one of our most prolific yet threatened commodities be protected from a changing climate. Do we need a radical new approach - are the large scale climate fixes offered by geoengineering the right solution? Adam Rutherford is joined by panellists: Kew's Director of Science, Kathy Willis; evolutionary botanist, Ilia Leitch, Kew's research leader in plant resources, Aaron Davis and author Oliver Morton.

Producer: Adrian Washbourne.

Zika, Penguins, Erratum, Fossil Fish20160128

What can science reveal about the Zika virus and microcephaly?

The Zika virus is dominating the news this week. The latest data says it's been found in 21 countries so far. The symptoms are generally mild, but the possibility of a link to microcephaly has been raised in Brazil. Microcephaly is a serious condition where children are born with abnormally small heads and sometimes incomplete brain development. Trudie Lang, Professor of Global Health at Oxford University, and virologist Professor Jonathan Ball from Nottingham University discuss what we know so far.

All the way from Antarctica our reporter Victoria Gill brings us the latest news about the citizen science project 'Penguin Watch'. Victoria installed new cameras with Dr Tom Hart and collected guano with Hila Levy. Gemma Clucas (Oxford and Southampton University) gives an update on what will happen with the collected data.

Back in October we featured a major paper by a team of scientists lead by Dr Andrea Manica from Cambridge University. By comparing the 4500 year-old genome of a prehistoric man called Mota to other genomes from living Africans they had mapped a migration of Middle Eastern farmers back into the whole African continent. This week, colleagues identified an error in the way the original team had processed the data, thus overturning one of the key results. But the rest of the findings remain intact. Andrea talks to us about how and why science must make corrections along the path of progress.

Heard a few stories about giant dinosaur fossils lately? Usually the giant A-list superstar fossils get all the attention. But according to curator Mark Carnall, about 90% of the collections are mainly uninteresting specimens. Marnie Chesterton went out to meet Mark at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford. He celebrates fragmentary fossils in his blog 'Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month'. Warning: Lower your expectations!

Producer: Jen Whyntie

Assistant Producer: Julia Lorke.

56Science's Fascination With The Face20140724

Adam discusses the ethics and privacy issues surrounding facial recognition programmes.

Face recognition

The software that analyses images of your face, captured online or when you're out and about, has rapidly improved. Adam visits Amscreen, to test the cameras they deploy at supermarket checkouts to determine your age and sex, to inform advertisers of the best demographic to target. This raises ethical and privacy issues which Adam discusses with privacy expert Professor Colin Bennett and author of "The formula, about algorithms and the algorithm culture", Luke Dormehl.

Quantifying expressions

Is a look of contempt, or a smile, a universal expression or do they vary across cultures? Marnie Chesterton visits Glasgow University's Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, where the scientists are building a huge database of faces, in order to unpick and quantify our expressions. Dr Oliver Garrod from the Generative Face Grammar Group demonstrates how they can capture your face, and animate it.

Evolutionary psychology

There is a long list of evolutionary explanations for the human condition. Mostly these are quite trivial. Teen boys develop acne on their faces to deter females from fertile but psychologically immature mates. Babies cry at night to prevent parents further procreating, resulting in potential sibling rivals. At the other end of the scale, these sorts of explanations have been used to suggest deeply problematic ideas, such as rape being an evolutionary strategy.

Professor David Canter, a psychologist from University of Huddersfield has railed against this fashion for 'biologising' our behaviour. And evolutionary biologist Professor Alice Roberts is also critical of 'adaptionism' - the idea that everything has evolved for an optimal purpose.

Producer: Fiona Roberts.

57Experimental; Rosetta; Moocs20140731

Alice Roberts indulges in some science experiments for kids, including Bubblecano!

ExpeRimental

There's an online wealth of science demonstrations you can try at home with your kids. But what's sometimes lacking is the encouragement of questioning the science in these DIY experiments. Science teacher and film maker Alom Shaha has devised a series of videos with the Royal Institution showing parents experimenting with home-made lava lamps, bubbles and bottle cannons. He hopes that amidst the mess and mistakes, some scientific thinking can be nurtured.

Rosetta

The European Space Agency's robotic spacecraft Rosetta is about to start its detailed study of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In the audacious and risky mission, the craft will follow the orbit of the comet as it approaches and passes the Sun. It will attempt to land a probe on the surface of the icy, rocky mass. It's hoped the mission will provide great insight into what comets are made of, how they behave as they heat up, creating its gassy coma and tail. And it's hoped Rosetta and its lander will be able to tell about where Earth's water and even some of the building blocks for life might have come from.

MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses are free and open to anyone with access to the internet. You can study a huge range of topics from cancer and dental photography to quantum physics, and even the archaeology and history of Hadrian's Wall. Critics say these higher education courses are just a PR exercise by universities, and that it will set up a two tier system in education. But Kathryn Skelton from FutureLearn, a platform for many of these MOOCs, argues that they encourage people who would not normally extend their education to take part and the universities providing the courses can gain great insight into the changing face of teaching methods.

Evolutionary Psychology

Last week Adam Rutherford and Alice Roberts had a robust discussion on the biologising of the human condition, with Professor David Canter. Listeners wrote in to complain that we didn't give an evolutionary psychologist a right to reply, so this week, listener and evolutionary psychologist Rob Burriss has his say.

Producer: Fiona Roberts.

58New Dinosaur; Gm Chickens; Lightning; Rosetta; Diatoms20140807

Professor Alice Roberts reveals Laquintasaura, a new dinosaur found in South America.

Dinosaur

A jumble of bones found in Venezuela belong to a group of very early dinosaurs, that could have been herd animals. Paul Barrett from the Natural History Museum explains to Professor Alice Roberts how a jumble of bones found in a 'bone bed' belong to a number of individual Laquintasaura venezuelae dinosaurs. They are an ancient, small, omnivorous dinosaur, which could have survived the Tertiary/Jurassic extinction event 200 million years ago.

Genetically Editing Chickens

Diseases devastate livestock around the world. In chickens for example the deadly strain of bird flu and the lesser known bacterial infection Campylobacter, does not only harm the chickens but is also a real threat to human health and welfare. Scientists are continually trying to develop vaccines, but the strains of bacteria keep evolving resistance to them. One of the solutions being explored at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, is genetic. Using a subtle form of genetic modification, called genome editing. The team are trying to find the genetic components of natural resistance in a wide group of chicken breeds, which they can then insert into the genome of livestock fowl in the hope of breeding healthier, safer chickens.

Lightning

A listener asks why lightning is jagged. Rhys Phillips from Airbus Group in Cardiff makes lightning in a lab. He has the answer.

Rosetta

The European Space Agency's robotic spacecraft Rosetta has reached the orbit of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and is about to start its detailed study. In the audacious and risky mission, the craft will follow the orbit of the comet as it approaches and passes the Sun. It will attempt to land a probe on the surface of the icy, rocky mass. It's hoped the mission will provide great insight into what comets are made of, how they behave as they heat up, creating its gassy coma and tail. And it's hoped Rosetta and its lander will be able to tell about where Earth's water and even some of the building blocks for life might have come from.

Diatoms

A type of phytoplankton, found in water, called Diatoms build hard silicon-based cell walls. Researchers, at the University of Galway, have shown it's possible to chemically transform the shells of living diatoms so they could carry drugs into our bodies in entirely new ways.

Producer: Fiona Roberts.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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65Cosmic Inflation Latest; Indian Space Success; Science And Language; Wax Venus20140925

Claims of evidence for cosmic super-expansion just after the Big Bang are questioned.

BICEP - gravitational waves and dust

One of the biggest scientific claims of 2014 has received another set-back. In March this year, the BICEP2 research team claimed it had found a swirling pattern in the sky left by the rapid expansion of space just fractions of a second after the Big Bang. This announcement was quickly criticised by others, who thought the group had underestimated the confounding effects of dust in our own galaxy. And now, new analysis from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite suggests dust found in our own galaxy may have confounded what was thought to be a universal revelation.

India's Mars satellite enters orbit

India has successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars, becoming the fourth nation or geo-bloc to do so. Following a few teething troubles with a planned engine burn shortly after launch on 5 November 2013, and a long journey, the Mangalyaan probe has started sending back images of the Red Planet. It is the first time a maiden voyage to Mars has entered orbit successfully and it is the cheapest mission to-date.

Science of language

Professor Steven Pinker talks to Adam Rutherford about the language of scientists and the science of language. He has a new book out, "The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century", discussing how the latest research on linguistics and cognitive science can improve writing.

The Anatomical Venus

Adam visits the Wellcome Collection to see an 18th-Century Florentine Wax Venus - complete with removable abdominal organs. He discusses our preoccupation with death, with Joanna Ebenstein. And finds out if these beautiful, if slightly unnerving, statues were the cutting edge of anatomical learning, or a gory sideshow.

Producer: Fiona Roberts

Assistant Producer: Jen Whyntie.

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Dr Lucie Green investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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70The Making Of The Moon20141030

Lucie Green investigates the past, present and future of the moon.

It's the nearest and most dominant object in our night sky, and has inspired artists, astronauts and astronomers. But fundamental questions remain about our only natural satellite.

Where does the Moon come from?

Although humans first walked on the Moon over four decades ago, we still know surprisingly little about the lunar body's origin. Samples returned by the Apollo missions have somewhat confounded scientists' ideas about how the Moon was formed. Its presence is thought to be due to another planet colliding with the early Earth, causing an extraordinary giant impact, and in the process, forming the Moon. But, analysing chemicals in Apollo's rock samples has revealed that the Moon could be much more similar to Earth itself than any potential impactor. Geochemist Professor Alex Halliday of the University of Oxford, and Dr Jeff Andrews-Hanna, Colorado School of Mines - who is analysing the results from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar mission - discuss the theories and evidence to-date.

Are we going back?

Settling the question of the Moon's origin seems likely to require more data - which, in turn, requires more missions. BBC Science correspondent Jonathan Amos tells us about the rationale and future prospects for a return to the Moon, including the Google Lunar XPrize.

As the Moon's commercial prospects are considered, who controls conservation of our only natural satellite?

If commerce is driving a return to the Moon, who owns any resources that may be found in the lunar regolith? Dr Saskia Vermeylen of the Environment Centre at Lancaster University is researching the legality of claiming this extra-terrestrial frontier.

Producer: Jen Whyntie.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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73Comet Landing Detects Organics Molecules; Lunar Mission One; Biological Warfare20141120

Philae lander detects organic molecules on Comet 67P.

Rosetta scientist, Professor Monica Grady from the Open University discusses the latest news from last week's historic comet mission. Philae, the Rosetta robot probe, made history last week when she finally landed on the surface of Comet 67P. But she ended up lying on her side, and only in partial sunlight. Her batteries were on borrowed time. After around 60 hours, Philae powered down, and went into hibernation mode. However, her instruments harvested some data and now the first results are in.

UK-led crowdfunded Moon mission

Lunar Mission One aims to land a robotic spacecraft on the unexplored lunar South Pole by 2024. It's a space mission with a difference: it could be funded by you. For a small fee supporters can send a human hair to the Moon in a Blue Peter-style time capsule. And the spacecraft will drill up to 100 metres below the surface to ask questions about the Moon's origin, aiming to find out more about the minerals that exist there, several of which are potentially valuable. Our reporter Sue Nelson went to the British Interplanetary Society's Reinventing Space conference in London to hear more.

The Selfish Gene debate

As another bout of biological warfare breaks out between two scientific superpowers, Adam Rutherford gets to grips with evolutionary theory, with social insect expert Professor Adam Hart. He hears from Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson and finds out why, after forty years of promoting the idea of kin selection, E O Wilson now dismisses the whole idea as 'rhetoric'.

Presenter: Adam Rutherford

Producer: Anna Buckley

Assistant Producer: Jen Whyntie.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Series that investigates the news in science and science in the news. With Adam Rutherford.

78Listeners' Science Questions20150101

Adam Rutherford and guests oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski, cosmologist Dr Andrew Pontzen and zoologist Dr Tim Cockerill answer the listeners' science questions.

Producer: Adrian Washbourne.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

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81Gmos; International Year Of Light; Coral Health20150122

Proposed failsafe for genetically modified organisms and the International Year of Light.

It is likely that scientists will soon engineer strains of "friendly" bacteria which are genetically recoded to be better than the ones we currently use in food production. The sorts of bacteria we use in cheese or yoghurt could soon be made to be resistant to all viruses, for example.

But what if the GM bacteria were to escape into the wild?

Researchers writing in the Journal Nature propose this week a mechanism by which GMO's could be made to be dependent on substances that do not occur in nature. That way, if they escaped, they would perish and die.

George Church, of Harvard Medical School, tells Adam Rutherford about the way bacteria - and possibly eventually plant and animal cells - could be engineered to have such a "failsafe" included, thus allowing us to deploy GM in a range of applications outside of high security laboratories.

Adam reports from this week's launch in Paris of the International Year of Light marking 100 years since Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. Amongst the cultural and scientific events at UNESCO in Paris, Nobel Prize winner Bill Philips explains how using lasers can achieve the most accurate atomic clocks imaginable and we hear how Google X is embracing new ways to manipulate light to ignite some of the team's futuristic technologies

And as the global decline in coral reefs continues as a result of human activity, Adam talks to Hawaii based biologist Mary Hagedorn who is using unusual techniques normally adopted for fertility clinics, to store and regrow coral species that are in danger

Producer: Adrian Washbourne.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Producer Alex Mansfield.

84Earth's Core; What Can Chemistry Do For Us?; Ocean Acidification; Darwin Day20150212

Adam Rutherford investigates new insights into what lies at the centre of the Earth.

Adam Rutherford explores new insights into what lies at the very centre of the Earth. New research from China and the US suggests that the innermost core of our planet, far from being a homogenous iron structure has another, distinct region at its centre. He talks to the study's lead researcher Xiangdong Song and to geophysicist Simon Redfern about what this inner-inner core could tell us about the very long history of the Earth and the long suspected swings in the earth's magnetic field.

Professor Andrea Sella, from University College London is a recipient of the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Prize, in recognition, like Faraday himself, of exemplary science communication to the lay public. Andrea gave his prize lecture this week, describing chemistry as one of the 'crowning intellectual achievements of our age'. How justified is the claim? What have chemists ever done for us?

The sea forms the basis of ecosystems and industries, and so even subtle changes to the waters could have serious knock on effects. Dr Susan Fitzer from the University of Glasgow has been wading into Scottish lochs to study shelled creatures; they form a vital basis for marine ecosytems and the global food industry. But what effects could ocean acidification have on this vital organism?

And to mark Darwin Day Adam Rutherford examines the origins of Creationism and its most recent variation Intelligent Design. Why do opinion polls in the US routinely find that about half of the population denies the truth of Darwin's theory and believes instead that humans were created supernaturally by God at some point within the last few thousand years? He hears from historian Thomas Dixon, and from Eugenie Scott, former director of the National Centre for Science Education - a US organisation committed to keeping evolution (and now climate change) in the US schools' curriculum.

Producer: Adrian Washbourne.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Producer: Adrian Washbourne.

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