299 episodes

Explorations in the world of science.

Discovery BBC World Service

    • Science
    • 4.2 • 25 Ratings

Explorations in the world of science.

    The mysterious particles of physics, part 1

    The mysterious particles of physics, part 1

    The machine that discovered the Higgs Boson 10 years ago is about to restart after a massive upgrade, to dig deeper into the heart of matter and the nature of the Universe.

    Roland Pease returns to CERN’s 27-kilometre Large Hadron Collider (LHC) dug deeper under the Swiss-French border to meet the scientists wondering why the Universe is the way it is. He hears why the Nobel-prize winning discovery of the “Higgs Particle” remains a cornerstone of the current understanding of the nature of matter; why the search for “dark matter” – 25% of the cosmos - is proving to be so hard; and CERN’s plans for an atom smasher 4 times as big to be running by the middle of the century.

    • 30 min
    The Life Scientific: Adam Hart

    The Life Scientific: Adam Hart

    Ant-loving professor, Adam Hart, shares his passion for leaf cutting ants with Jim Al Khalili. Why do they put leaves in piles for other ants to pick up?

    Talking at the Hay Festival, Adam describes the experiments he designed to test the intelligence of the hive mind. When does a waggle dance become a tremble dance? And how do the honey bees know when this moment should be?

    We like the phrase ‘as busy as a bee’. In fact, bees spend a lot of time doing nothing at all, a sensible strategy from the point of view of natural selection.

    And where does Adam stand on insect burgers?

    Producer: Anna Buckley

    • 27 min
    The Life Scientific: Jacinta Tan

    The Life Scientific: Jacinta Tan

    When a person with severe anorexia nervosa refuses food, the very treatment they need to survive, is that refusal carefully considered and rational, as it can appear to those around them? Or is it really the illness that’s causing them to say ‘no’?

    This is one of the thorny ethical dilemmas that Jacinta Tan has wrestled with over the course of her career. She is deeply curious about the mind, and has spent hundreds of hours sitting with people with anorexia nervosa, not persuading them to eat, rather listening to them talk about what’s going on in their minds and how the illness influences their decisions.

    These rich internal worlds, that she has revealed, shape her work as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, where she treats people with eating disorders. The views of those with the condition and their families have been central to the recent government reviews of the Eating Disorder Services that she led in Scotland and Wales.

    These conditions can be hugely challenging to treat. Jacinta Tan tells Jim al-Khalili how it's the art of medicine, as much as the science, that helps people recover.

    Producer: Beth Eastwood

    • 27 min
    The Life Scientific: Pete Smith

    The Life Scientific: Pete Smith

    Pete Smith is very down to earth. Not least because he’s interested in soil and the vital role it plays in helping us to feed the world, mitigate climate change and maintain a rich diversity of species on planet earth. He was born in a pub and failed the 11+ exam (designed to identify bright children just like him) but he became a distinguished professor nonetheless.
    Tackling climate change in isolation is a mistake, he says. We need to consider all the challenges facing humanity and identify strategies that deliver benefits on all fronts: food security, bio-diversity and human development goals.
    He tells Jim Al-Khalili about his life and work and the urgent need for our degraded peat bogs to be restored. Peat bogs that have been drained (for grazing or to plant trees) add to our carbon emissions. Healthy peat bogs, however, are carbon sinks.
    Producer: Anna Buckley

    • 27 min
    The colour conundrum

    The colour conundrum

    The world is full of colour! But, listener Maya Crocombe wonders ‘how do we see colour and why are some people colour blind?’

    Dr Rutherford and professor Fry set out to understand how special light-sensitive cells in our eyes start the process of colour perception, why people sometimes have very different experiences of colour and whether, in the end, colour is really just ‘in our heads’.

    Dr Gabriele Jordan from Newcastle University explains why lots of men struggle to discriminate between certain colours and why there were lots of complaints from colour-blind viewers when Wales played Ireland at rugby.

    Professor Anya Hurlbert, also from Newcastle University, tackles the most divisive of internet images: The Dress! Did you see it as blue-black or yellow-gold? Anya explains why people see it so differently, and why our ability to compensate for available light is so useful.

    To see the Dunstanborough Castle illusion as described in the episode, check out the Gallery on this page and also on the Discovery homepage.

    • 27 min
    The Turn of the Tide

    The Turn of the Tide

    Mathematician Hannah Fry and geneticist Adam Rutherford investigate your everyday science queries. Today, they get stuck into two questions about tides. Lynn Godson wants to know why isn’t high tide at the same time at all points around the coast? Whilst Tim Mosedale asks, could we ever harness tidal power commercially?
    Did you think tides are caused by the pull of the Moon? And that they come in and out twice a day? Well, yes, that’s true but it turns out there’s so much more to it than that, especially here in the UK, which has the second largest tidal range in the world at the Severn Estuary near Bristol, coming in at an average of 15 metres (50ft in old money). But why should high and low tide times be so different even in places that are relatively close to each other?

    The answer partly lies in something called bathymetry (which has more to do with baths than you might think – well basins at any rate). As for harnessing sea power, there are some ambitious projects currently in development and predictions that wave and tidal could make up as much as 15 percent of the UK’s energy needs in future. But how realistic is this and how do you ensure that your power generators can survive the rigours of the ocean – storms, saltwater and all those pesky barnacles?

    To help answer these queries, Hannah and Adam are joined by Physicist and Oceanographer, Helen Czerski and Professor Deborah Greaves OBE, who heads up the COAST lab at the University of Plymouth which studies marine renewable energy technologies.

    • 27 min

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