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We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.

CrowdScience BBC World Service

    • Wetenschap
    • 4,8 • 20 beoordelingen

We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.

    Why am I afraid of this building?

    Why am I afraid of this building?

    Buildings inspire many emotions, like awe, serenity or even dread. CrowdScience listener Siobhan was struck by this as she passed a huge apartment block with tiny windows; it reminded her of a prison. So, she asked us to investigate the feelings that buildings can trigger.

    Architects have long considered how the effect of buildings on their occupants or passersby: asking whether certain features elicit feelings of wonder or joy... or sadness and fear. And now modern neuroscience has started to interrogate these very questions, too.

    How much of the way we feel about a building is to do with its intrinsic design, and how much is due to our individual brain chemistry and life experiences? Presenter Caroline Steel talks to designer Thomas Heatherwick about his ideas for improving public spaces; enters a virtual reality simulation in Denmark to learn about the emerging field of ‘neuroarchitecture’; and finds out why people just can’t agree what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ building.
    Thomas Heatherwick, Heatherwick Studios, London
    Professor Zakaria Djeberra, University of Aalborg
    Professor Lars Fich, University of Aalborg
    Professor Edward Vessel, City College of New York

    Presenter: Caroline Steel
    Producer: Richard Walker
    Editor: Cathy Edwards
    Production Coordinator: Ishmael Soriano
    Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
    (Image: Rear view of woman surrounded by old traditional residential buildings and lost in city, Hong Kong, China. Credit: d3sign via Getty Images)

    • 26 min.
    What is the weight of the internet?

    What is the weight of the internet?

    How do you think about the internet? What does the word conjure up? Maybe a cloud? Or the flashing router in the corner of your front room? Or this magic power that connects over 5 billion people on all the continents of this planet? We might not think of it at all, beyond whether we can connect our phones to it.
    Another chance to hear one of our favourite episodes, inspired by a question from CrowdScience listener Simon: how much does the internet weigh?
    First of all, this means deciding what counts as the internet. If it is purely the electrons that form those TikTok videos and cat memes, then you might be surprised to hear that you could easily lift the internet with your little finger. But presenters Caroline Steel and Marnie Chesterton argue that there might be more, which sends them on a journey.
    They meet Andrew Blum, the author of the book Tubes – Behind the Scenes at the Internet, about his journey to trace the physical internet. And enlist vital help from cable-loving analyst Lane Burdette at TeleGeography, who maps the internet.
    To find those cables under the oceans, they travel to Porthcurno, once an uninhabited valley in rural Cornwall, now home to the Museum of Global Communications thanks to its status as a hub in the modern map of worldwide communications. With the museum’s Susan Heritage-Tilley, they compare original telegraph cables and modern fibre optics.
    The team also head to a remote Canadian post office, so correspondent Meral Jamal can intercept folk picking up their satellite internet receivers, and ask to weigh them. A seemingly innocuous question becomes the quest for everything that connects us... and its weight!
    Producer: Marnie Chesterton
    Presenters: Marnie Chesterton & Caroline Steel
    Editors: Richard Collings & Cathy Edwards
    Production Coordinators: Jonathan Harris & Ishmael Soriano
    Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald
    (Image: Blue scales with computer coding terms. Credit: Alengo via Getty Images)

    • 37 min.
    How does a snake climb a tree?

    How does a snake climb a tree?

    Snakes are often seen as slithery, slimy and scary. But these intriguing non-legged creatures have made CrowdScience listener Okello from Uganda wonder how they move – more specifically, he wants to know how they climb trees so easily, and so fast.
    Presenter Caroline Steel meets snake expert Mark O’Shea to investigate the ingenious methods different snakes use to scale a tree trunk, and gets a demonstration from a very agreeable corn snake at a zoo.
    Snake movement isn’t just your typical S-shaped slithering: these reptiles move in a remarkably diverse range of ways. Melissa Miller from the University of Florida explains all the range of motion snakes can employ to effectively travel along the ground as well as at height.
    Caroline witnesses this in action as we pay a steamy visit to the Everglades National Park in Florida, USA, tracking pythons across the vast swamps there. We find out why understanding these pythons’ movement is vitally important for conserving the local ecosystem.
    Dr Melissa Miller, Research Assistant Scientist, University of Florida
    Brandon Welty, Wildlife Biologist, University of Florida
    Prof Mark O’Shea MBE, Professor of Herpetology, University of Wolverhampton
    Presenter: Caroline Steel
    Producer: Hannah Fisher
    Editor: Cathy Edwards
    Production Co-ordinator: Ishmael Soriano
    Studio Manager: Neva Missirian

    • 27 min.
    How many flies have ever existed?

    How many flies have ever existed?

    The CrowdScience team like a challenge. And listeners Jenny and Kai in the UK have come to us with a big one. They want to know how many flies have ever existed.
    Flies first appeared around 270 million years ago, so presenter Caroline Steel prepares herself to calculate a very, very large number indeed. She enlists the help of Dr Erica McAlister, Curator of Flies at the Natural History Museum in London. As Erica introduces her to specimens from the Museum’s collection of over 30 million insects, they start with the basics. Like... how do you define a fly in the first place?
    Caroline also explores the incredible diversity of flies… from fast-moving predators like robber flies which catch other insects on the wing to midges which are a vital part of chocolate-production; and from blood-sucking mosquitoes which transmit fatal diseases to the housefly buzzing lazily around a room.
    And that leads to another fly-related question. Listener Brendan in Colombia wonders why they always fly in circles around a particular area of his apartment. For an explanation we turn to Prof. Jochen Zeil from the Australian National University who reveals that this apparently aimless behaviour is, in fact, a battle for sex.
    And Collin in Barbados has e-mailed to ask how flies and mosquitoes benefit us. He’s had first-hand experience of their negative effects through contracting the disease chikungunya from a mosquito bite so he’s wondering if these insects are anything other than a nuisance. However, passionate fly advocate Erica McAlister is ready with plenty of reasons that we should be extremely grateful for them!
    Dr Erica McAlister, Natural History Museum, London
    Dr David Yeates, Director, Australian National Insect Collection
    Prof. Jochen Zeil, Australian National University
    Prof. Jo Lines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
    Presenter: Caroline Steel
    Producer: Jeremy Grange
    Editor: Cathy Edwards
    Production Co-ordinator: Ishmael Soriano
    Studio Manager: Sarah Hockley
    (Image: Close-up of insect on leaf, Kageshwori Manohara, Bagmati Province, Nepal. Credit: Aashish Shrestha via Getty Images)

    • 30 min.
    Is every atom unique?

    Is every atom unique?

    It’s hard to imagine something as mind-bogglingly small as an atom.
    But CrowdScience listener Alan has been attempting to do just that. All things in nature appear to be different and unique; like trees and snowflakes, could it be that no two atoms are ever the same?
    Alan isn’t the first person to wonder this. Philosopher and scientist Gottfried Leibnitz had a similar idea in the 17th century; in this episode, philosopher of physics Eleanor Knox helps us unpick the very idea of uniqueness.
    And with the help of physicist Andrew Pontzen, presenter Anand Jagatia zooms into the nucleus of an atom in search of answers. Listener Alan has a hunch that the constant movement of electrons means no atom is exactly the same at any given moment in time. Is that hunch right? We discover that the world of tiny subatomic particles is even stranger than it might seem once you get into quantum realms.
    Can we pinpoint where uniqueness begins? And if the universe is infinite, is uniqueness even possible?
    In the podcast edition of this show, we peer into that expansive universe, as we discover that the quantum world of hydrogen - the tiniest and most abundant of all atoms - allows us to observe galaxies far, far away.

    Dr Eleanor Knox – King’s College London
    Prof Andrew Pontzen – University College London
    Dr Sarah Blyth – University of Cape Town
    Dr Lucia Marchetti – University of Cape Town
    Presented by Anand Jagatia
    Produced by Florian Bohr
    Editor: Cathy Edwards
    Production Coordinators: Ishmael Soriano and Liz Tuohy
    Studio Manager: Emma Harth
    (Photo: Twelve snow crystals photographed under a microscope, circa 1935. Credit: Herbert/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

    • 32 min.
    Why are the seas salty?

    Why are the seas salty?

    Listener Julie lives close to the coast in New Zealand and wants to know why the water that washes up on the beach isn't fresh. How exactly does all that salt get into the world's oceans?
    In India, a country where salt became symbolic of much more than well-seasoned food, host Chhavi Sachdev visits coastal salt farms and a research institute dedicated to studying all things saline, to better understand our relationship with salty seas.
    The team also ventures to a very briny lake on the other side of the globe in Salt Lake City, Utah, to learn how salt makes its way into water bodies.
    Speaking to an expert in deep sea exploration, we learn how hydrothermal vents may play a role in regulating ocean saltiness, and how much the field still has to explore.
    Meanwhile, listener Will wants to know how much melting ice sheets are affecting ocean salinity. But ice melt isn’t the only thing affecting salt levels when it comes to the impacts of climate change.
    And... how many teaspoons of salt are in a kilogram of sea water anyway? We do the rigorous science to answer all these salient saline questions.
    Deepika - small scale salt farmer
    Mark Radwin - PhD candidate in geology and geophysics at the University of Utah
    Brenda Bowen - Geology & Geophysics, Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah
    Chris German - Geology & Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    Prasan Khemka - Chandan Salt Works
    Paul Durack - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
    Bhoomi Andharia - Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute
    Presenter: Chhavi Sachdev
    Producer: Sam Baker
    Editor: Cathy Edwards
    Production Coordinator: Liz Tuohy
    Studio Manager: Sarah Hockley
    (Photo: Shiv Salt Works, Bhavnagar, Gujarat in India. Credit: Chhavi Sachdev, BBC)

    • 31 min.


4,8 van 5
20 beoordelingen

20 beoordelingen

jeroenwijnands ,

Interesting and well made

Almost always an interesting question answered well

nnick nnname ,

Great show

Educational and fun

berbatovkarl ,


I find the podcast very interesting and educative.

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