744 episodes

Explorations in the world of science.

Discovery BBC World Service

    • Science
    • 4.4 • 93 Ratings

Explorations in the world of science.

    Unstoppable: Florence Bell

    Unstoppable: Florence Bell

    Dr Julia Ravey and Dr Ella Hubber both have a love of science, but it turns out there’s a lot they don’t know about some of the leading women at the front of the inventing game. In Unstoppable, Dr Julia and Dr Ella tell each other the hidden, world-shaping stories of the engineers, innovators and inventors they wish they’d known about when they were starting out as scientists. This week, the story of the woman who mastered viewing the world in microscopic detail – ultimately helping us discover the structure of DNA.
    Florence Bell’s scientific career began in the 1930s whilst studying at Cambridge University. The University didn’t grant degrees to women at the time, but this didn’t dissuade Florence. She was so talented at an imaging technique called X-ray crystallography that she started a PhD in the field – and it was during this time that she would make a pivotal discovery about the molecule of life.
    Florence is an unsung hero of the DNA story. Her work laid the foundation for a vital field of research, yet her contribution was buried for years. Dr Julia and Dr Ella tell Florence’s tale, with input from Dr Kersten Hall, science historian and visiting fellow at the University of Leeds.
    Presenters: Dr Ella Hubber and Dr Julia Ravey
    Producers: Ella Hubber and Julia Ravey
    Assistant producer: Sophie Ormiston
    Production Coordinator: Elisabeth Tuohy
    Editor: Holly Squire
    (Photo: Florence Bell. Credit: Courtesy of her son Chris Sawyer. No reuse)

    • 26 min
    Unstoppable: Nzambi Matee

    Unstoppable: Nzambi Matee

    Dr Julia Ravey and Dr Ella Hubber both have a love of science, but it turns out there’s a lot they don’t know about some of the leading women at the front of the inventing game. In Unstoppable, Dr Julia and Dr Ella tell each other the hidden, world-shaping stories of the engineers, innovators and inventors they wish they’d known about when they were starting out as scientists. This week, the story of an engineer who turned plastic into gold, all starting from her mother’s backyard.
    Every day, around 500 tonnes of plastic waste is generated in the Kenyan city of Nairobi. Hardly any of it is recycled – but engineer Nzambi Matee is on a mission to change that. Frustrated by the level of pollution, in 2017 Nzambi constructed a laboratory in her mother’s backyard. It was here that she used her self-taught engineering skills to convert plastic waste into bricks that are stronger and more eco-friendly than concrete.
    Since then, Nzambi’s backyard operation has grown into a company – Gjenge Makers – and the bricks are widely used across Nairobi. And at only 31, Nzambi is just getting started. As Dr Julia and Dr Ella trace Nzambi’s journey, we hear from Nzambi herself about what it took to get to this point, as well as her ambitions for the future.
    Presenters: Dr Ella Hubber and Dr Julia Ravey
    Producers: Ella Hubber and Julia Ravey
    Assistant producer: Sophie Ormiston
    Production Coordinator: Elisabeth Tuohy
    Editor: Holly Squire
    (Photo: Nzambi Matee, Kenyan entrepreneur and inventor, holds plastic polymer recycled to make bricks. Credit: SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images)

    • 26 min
    Unstoppable: Hedy Lamarr

    Unstoppable: Hedy Lamarr

    Dr Julia Ravey and Dr Ella Hubber both have a love of science, but it turns out there’s a lot they don’t know about some of the leading women at the front of the inventing game. In Unstoppable, Dr Julia and Dr Ella tell each other the hidden, world-shaping stories of the engineers, innovators and inventors they wish they’d known about when they were starting out as scientists. This week, the story of the Hollywood starlet whose brilliant ideas would go on to revolutionise the way we live.
    Known as the ‘most beautiful woman in film’ during the 1940s, Hedy Lamarr was one of the most in demand Hollywood actresses of her time. But she wasn’t just a movie star. From a young age, she also had a knack for inventing – she liked to take her toys apart just to see how they worked. And she carried this passion into her adult life – creating an invention that laid the groundwork for technology many of us couldn’t live without: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
    But it didn’t come without struggle. Dr Julia and Dr Ella take us through Hedy’s remarkable journey, and we get a first-hand look into Hedy’s life from her daughter Denise Loder-DeLuca.
    Presenters: Dr Ella Hubber and Dr Julia Ravey
    Producers: Ella Hubber and Julia Ravey
    Assistant producer: Sophie Ormiston
    Production Coordinator: Elisabeth Tuohy
    Editor: Holly Squire
    (Photo: Hedy Lamarr, Austrian-born American actress and inventor. Credit: Eric Carpenter/John Kobal Foundation/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    • 26 min
    The Evidence: Maternal Health in Malawi

    The Evidence: Maternal Health in Malawi

    The process of childbirth can be painful yet amazing, but at times and in some places, also very dangerous. Recorded in Malawi, East Africa, Claudia Hammond is joined by a panel of maternal health experts to figure out why it is that the equivalent of a large jumbo jet full of women die every day due to pregnancy or childbirth. Together, they examine how so many women can still be at risk during this period despite a greater access to healthcare. They also look into whether an eighty-year-old drug could be a game-changer when it comes to haemorrhage. Plus, they consider a study of 1.3 million women which asked what it is that women actually want from maternal healthcare. With Owen Chikwaza from the Malawi Ministry of Health, Linda Mipando of Kamuzu University and Elimase Kamanga-Gama, Director of the White Ribbon Alliance Malawi, Claudia looks at the many challenges and successes within the field, drawing from local experiences to offer global insights.
    Produced by: Margaret Sessa-Hawkins
    Editor: Holly Squire
    Production Coordinator: Siobhan Maguire
    Presenter: Claudia Hammond
    Studio Engineers: Andrew Saunderson and David Sproule
    (Photo: Pregnant woman being examined by a doctor. Credit: Holly Squire BBC)

    • 49 min
    Obsessed with the Quest: Humpback Heat Run

    Obsessed with the Quest: Humpback Heat Run

    Underwater cameraman Roger Munns set himself and his team an incredible challenge. In 2008, they visited Tonga to film the biggest courtship ritual of the animal kingdom, the humpback heat run, for the very first time underwater and up close.
    In the first few days, Roger had intimate encounters with the whales but most of the time, he was sat on the back of the boat, waiting to find a heat run. After two unsuccessful weeks, he started to wonder whether they would ever see one.
    But a few days later somebody spotted a heat run, and everything sprang into action. Roger got in position and dove down ten meters underwater on a single breath. From then on, his job was just to wait and hold his camera ready. In a moment that seemed to stretch out time, he waited, nervously, for a group of 40-ton bus-sized whales to speed past him…
    And Victor Vescovo describes his adventures into the deep, diving to the deepest parts of all five oceans.
    Victor's longest dive was solo to the lowest point on Earth - the Challenger Deep at the bottom of the Marianas trench in the western Pacific. On reaching the bottom, some 35,853 feet below the ocean surface, should something have gone wrong, there was no hope of rescue.
    Victor describes his feelings before making this historic descent and on the way down. Touching down on the sea bed, he was astounded by the abundance of marine life. Victor describes how he hopes that the mapping, observations and sample collections he has made on his dives will advance scientific understanding of the deep oceans, and where his eternal quest to explore might take him next.
    Produced by Florian Bohr and Diane Hope

    Credits:
    Humpback whale mother and calf sounds - Acoustic Communications CNRS team & CETAMADA
    Humpback whale calf sounds - Lars Bejder (MMRP Hawaii), Peter T. Madsen (Aarhus University) & Simone Videsen (Aarhus University)

    • 26 min
    Obsessed with the Quest: Inside the Minds of Chimpanzees

    Obsessed with the Quest: Inside the Minds of Chimpanzees

    Primatologist Catherine Hobaiter has spent more of her adult life in the rain forests of Uganda, with family bands of chimpanzees, than she has with her own human family members. For more than 20 years now she has spent 6 months every year at a remote field station, getting up before dawn every day to observe and collect behavioural data on family bands of chimps as they wake up and go about their daily lives. What is she trying to find out, that has gripped her for so long?
    It turns out that life in a chimpanzee troupe is every bit as gripping as a soap opera. But there are many more moments of beauty, revelation and the joy of discovery, as Catherine pursues her continuing, multi-decadal quest to understand what it means to be a chimpanzee.
    And when Sara Dykman set out to bicycle with the monarch butterfly migration, from the mountains of central Mexico, across the USA to Canada, she didn't think about the 10,201 miles that she would cover. Coping with headwinds, heavy rain storms, and everything from dirt roads to busy highways were not the challenge for Sara though. It was seeing how little of the Monarch's only food plant, milkweed, was left for them to feed on during their amazing, multigenerational, multinational migration.
    However, Sara found solace in the many conservationists and backyard butterfly gardeners she met along the way, and in the 9000 schoolchildren she gave talks to en route. The most emotional part of the journey for Sara was the last three miles - arriving successfully back at the monarch's overwintering site in Mexico.
    Produced by Diane Hope.
    Credits:
    Monarch butterfly recordings - Robert Mackay

    • 26 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
93 Ratings

93 Ratings

boohem ,

Review

Makes science and the latest research very accessible. Sometimes at the start of the podcast I think the topic will be boring but the complex science behind everyday activities is amazing. Thank you!

Bigted. ,

Great podcast

Awesome podcast, brilliant topics, but please please please can you label repeat podcasts so I can decide whether or not to skip without having to listen part way through. Current series of life scientific replays are repeats, but there is absolutely nothing in description to indicate original release date (I really had a good look)

Wanakamac ,

Discovery gateway to the mind

I found most of the series Discovery of great interest. It goes to great effort to get details across. The microbiome of course is a relative new and exciting area of research. There is a lot going on around the world. The Americans did have single podcast called The Microbiome 3-4 years back. Of course it was full of advertising and dropped in popularity. I am convinced there is enough interest around the world in that area of the microbial research to keep the podcast going at least once a month. Your podcast is called Discovery. So I cannot think of a better platform than yours to take us forward in this revolutionary and sometimes controversial research.
Thanks so far. T J McConnell

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