'Will my bacon sandwich kill me?', 'Is vaping better than smoking?', 'How do you become an astronaut?' - just some of the Big Questions we ask some of the brightest minds behind Oxford science. Join us in each podcast as we explore a different area of science.
Should all robots have an ethical black box?
Nowadays, the idea of encountering robots in our daily lives isn't pure science fiction. Many of us interact with AI every day, and the use of robots in, for example, healthcare settings, is already on the horizon. But what if something goes wrong? The RoboTIPS team is developing an innovative feature - an 'ethical black box' that acts like a data recorder for use when adverse incidents or accidents occur. How would it work? Listen and find out as we present our very own radio play!
Is a snack tax on the horizon?
Do you remember when the price of fizzy drinks in the UK went up slightly a few years ago? Well, this was because the UK government introduced a sugar tax (or the Soft Drinks Industrial Levy, to be precise), requiring manufacturers to pay a tax on sugary drinks - a cost which was then passed on to the customer. Following the success of this tax (perhaps not for your pocket, but fizzy drinks now contain less sugar) we're asking public health nutritionist Dr Lauren Bandy - is a snack tax on the horizon?
What's an arboretum anyway?
An arboretum could be described as a "living library". A beautifully curated collection of woody plants from across the globe, each one carefully labelled and managed. In this episode of the Big Questions Podcast we chat to Ben Jones, Arboretum Curator at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum, about what makes an arboretum so special.
Did the pandemic make us moodier?
Lockdowns, social distancing, restrictions on 'normal' activities - we've all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But how has it impacted on our mood and mental wellbeing? We chat to Dr Maxime Taquet from the Department of Psychiatry about 'mood homeostasis' (the interplay between people's activities and the way they feel), and how this has been affected over the past year. He also tells us about a new study into the impact of COVID-19 infection itself on mental health.
Will climate change kill off the great tits?
Their distinctive 'teacher teacher' call is synonymous with British gardens, but great tits are facing a big problem - climate change. As our springtime becomes warmer and begins earlier, peak caterpillar abundance is also shifting earlier. As a crucial food source for great tit chicks, this is cause for concern. In this episode, we catch up with ecologist Dr Charlotte Regan, one of the scientists who monitors the Wytham Woods great tit population, which has been systematically studied since the 1960s.
Can we build an eco-friendly aeroplane?
Remember those days when it was possible to climb aboard a plane and jet off around the world? Well, while we might be yearning for foreign shores, there's no denying that air travel comes with a big ol' carbon footprint. But is it possible to make aeroplanes 'greener'? We chat to Dr Chiara Falsetti, a researcher at the Oxford Thermofluids Institute, who is looking at ways to improve the cooling mechanisms of aircraft engines, to boost their efficiency and ultimately make flying more sustainable.