299 episodes

Explorations in the world of science.

Discovery BBC

    • Science
    • 4.5, 573 Ratings

Explorations in the world of science.

    Toilet

    Toilet

    You may call it the toilet, the loo, the privy, the potty, the can or even the bathroom, but whatever you call it, this everyday object has its roots in Bronze Age Pakistan. It even had a seat!

    But how did the toilet come to be? Given one third of the world’s population still live without one, how much is our embarrassment around toilet habits to blame? And what scientific developments are underway to help make them truly universal?

    Water and Sanitation Expert, Alison Parker, from Cranfield University believes part of the solution lies in a waterless toilet which creates ash, water from the waste it receives, and the energy it needs to operate, from the waste it receives.

    Even in the UK, we don’t always have access to a toilet when we need one. Over the past decade, the number of public conveniences has dropped by a half, leaving older people and the disabled, who may need easy access, unable to leave their homes. Raymond Martin, Managing Director of the British Toilet Association, hopes to stop our public conveniences going down the pan.

    Also featuring resident public historian Greg Jenner.

    Producer: Beth Eastwood

    Picture: Bathroom/Getty Images

    • 27 min
    Wine glass

    Wine glass

    Have you got one of those wine glasses that can hold an entire bottle of wine? Katy Brand does and she’s even used it for wine - albeit because of a sprained ankle, which would have stopped her from hobbling back and forth to the kitchen for refills.

    But if we skip back a few hundred years, the wine glass was tiny. Footmen brought their masters what was essentially a shot glass. They quaffed back their wine in one. So how did we go from those dinky little things to the gargantuan goblets we have today? Is it because letting the wine breathe in a bigger glass makes it smell and taste better? Or is it a reflection of our drinking habits?

    Join Katy and the show's resident public historian, Greg Jenner, is glass expert Russell Hand from Sheffield University and Barry Smith, Director for the Study of the Senses at London University.

    Producer: Graihagh Jackson

    Picture: Wine glass, Credit: Albina Kosenko/Getty Images

    • 27 min
    The Evidence: Covid 19: vaccines and after lockdown

    The Evidence: Covid 19: vaccines and after lockdown

    Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.

    We look at vaccines to stop the spread of the coronavirus. And as travel opens up in many countries and visiting family and friends is allowed, how do we navigate this new world while avoiding catching the virus.

    On the panel are Dr George Hu, clinical psychologist & Section Chief of Mental Health at Shanghai United Family Pudong Hospital in China, Vaccine expert - Professor Gagandeep Kang Executive Director of the Translational Health Science Technology Institute in Faridabad India, Dr Jenny Rohn is an expert in microbiology and viruses at University College London and Dr Margaret Harris, a Spokesperson at the World Health Organisation.

    The Evidence is produced in association with Wellcome Collection.
    Producers: Geraldine Fitzgerald and Caroline Steel
    Editor: Deborah Cohen

    • 48 min
    Fork

    Fork

    The fork is essential. Even camping without one is a false economy, in Katy’s experience. Even a spork - with a spoon at one end and a fork at the other, with a knife formed along one prong - just won’t do. You need both - a fork to steady the meat and a knife to cut it with.

    So how did the fork come to be so indispensable?

    We didn’t always love the fork. Public historian, Greg Jenner, reveals how it was abandoned for the chopstick in Ancient China, and greeted with scorn in Western Europe when a Byzantine princess ate with a golden double-pronged one.

    It was only after the traveller, Thomas Coryat, in 1608, celebrated its use by pasta-loving Italians that the English started to take note. By the mid-19th century, there was a fork for every culinary challenge – from the pickle and the berry, to ice-cream and the terrapin. The utensil transformed the dining experience, bringing the pocket knife onto the table in a blunt, round-tipped form, and ushering in British table manners.

    So is there a perfect version of the fork? With the help of tomato, milkshake and mango, Katy discovers that the material a fork is made from can drastically alter a food’s taste.

    Featuring material scientist, Zoe Laughlin, and food writer and historian, Bee Wilson.

    Picture: a fork, Credit: BBC

    • 27 min
    High heel

    High heel

    Katy Brand loves a high heel. Once known by friends and family for her ‘shoe fetish’, her dad even gave her a ceramic heel that could hold a wine bottle at a jaunty angle.

    These days, Katy’s cherished heels from her torture days live in her cupboard. She has traded the pain for the statement trainer. But their art, history and construction still fascinate her.

    So what is it about the high heel that has made it stand the test of time?

    With the help of resident public historian, Greg Jenner, Katy explores the heel’s fascinating passage through time, finding a place on the feet of men, as well as women, in high and low places. Heels donned the feet of men on horseback in 17th century Persia, were adored by King Louis XIV, and gained an erotic currency with the invention of photography.

    But how has science and engineering ensured the high heel’s survival?

    Footwear Technologist, Mike George, shows us how the high heel is engineered, and how he can test if a particular design is teetering on the edge of safety. Social scientist, Heather Morgan, reveals the perceived benefits of wearing heels, as well as the risks when she fell foul to when fell in heels and broke her ankle.

    Producer: Beth Eastwood

    Picture: High heels, Credit: European Photopress Agency

    • 27 min
    The Evidence: Covid 19: Transmission and South America

    The Evidence: Covid 19: Transmission and South America

    Claudia Hammond and a panel of international experts look at the latest research into Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which is sweeping through the world.

    As the disease spreads how is South America handling the pandemic? How are the indigenous people of the Amazon protecting themselves? We also look at the aerodynamics of infection - if the air in an ITU room is changed 12 times and the virus still lingers what hope do offices have?

    On the panel are Professor Lydia Bourouiba, Associate Professor at the Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr Adam Kucharski from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Professor Holgar Schunemann, co-director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, Dr David Collier, Clinical Director at Queen Mary University London and Barbara Fraser, health journalist in the Peruvian capital Lima.

    The Evidence is produced in association with Wellcome Collection.
    Producers: Geraldine Fitzgerald and Caroline Steel
    Editor: Deborah Cohen

    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
573 Ratings

573 Ratings

ThisNicknameIsTaken99999999999 ,

Consumers are not solely to blame for plastic issues

Overall, I am enjoying this podcast and really appreciate the episode exploring the history of plastic and how and why it became so widely used. It’s so much more interesting and useful than simply hearing for the millionth time how evil plastics are. However, the conclusion of the episode on plastic recycling had an overly simplistic viewpoint offered that it’s the job of the consumer to make sure that companies do a better job of recycling more and manufacturing less. Way to let government and corporations off the hook! There was also no argument made against Unilever’s standpoint that they won’t simplify their packaging because they believe in “consumer choice”. Again - blaming bad environmental practices on the individual.

NC_Listener ,

Disappointed in the COVID19 episode

Listened hoping to learn more about COVID19. Unfortunately, the majority of the episode was leftist ranting from Lisa Cooper of Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. and others about the usual socialist perceived ills in society. Only a very small fraction of this episode answered logical questions from the listeners. Miss Cooper astoundingly gave New York as a “positive” example of dealing with the crisis, when they lead in the number of deaths! In the future, listeners would like to hear from knowledge experts in relevant fields, not administrative staff with some political message to rant about — pretty useless for the listener.

Chuideus ,

Highlighting Scientists works

I love that your using time to highlight scientists their jobs and have to talk on their point view. Keep them coming.

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