324 episodes

Named after Charles Babbage, a 19th-century polymath and grandfather of computing, Babbage is a weekly podcast on science and technology. Host Kenneth Cukier talks to our correspondents about the innovations, discoveries and gadgetry making the news. Published every Tuesday on Economist Radio.

Babbage from The Economist The Economist

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Named after Charles Babbage, a 19th-century polymath and grandfather of computing, Babbage is a weekly podcast on science and technology. Host Kenneth Cukier talks to our correspondents about the innovations, discoveries and gadgetry making the news. Published every Tuesday on Economist Radio.

    Babbage: Protein power

    Babbage: Protein power

    Google’s DeepMind has developed an artificial-intelligence system that can predict the three-dimensional shape of proteins. How will this monumental step-change for biology be used? Also, a new study shows how wearable devices could help doctors understand long covid. And how songbirds reacquired an ability lost by their dinosaur ancestors. Kenneth Cukier hosts 


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    • 27 min
    Babbage: Cloud of suspicion

    Babbage: Cloud of suspicion

    High stakes and big money lead some athletes to cheat at the Olympic games. Tim Cross, The Economist’s Technology editor, investigates the prevalence of doping in sport and asks if testing can ever keep a lid on the use of performance enhancing drugs. He finds out the impact of the pandemic on testing at the Tokyo games, talks to Olympians about the pressures involved and imagines what if doping restrictions were removed.


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    • 29 min
    Babbage: Best behaviour

    Babbage: Best behaviour

    Countries with high covid-19 vaccination rates, including England, are lifting social restrictions. Behavioural scientist Katy Milkman and health-policy editor Natasha Loder assess the impact of these changes. Will mask-wearing and social distancing stick? And, how people may one day drill for copper as they now drill for oil. Kenneth Cukier hosts


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    • 26 min
    Babbage: Urban jungles

    Babbage: Urban jungles

    As urbanisation progresses and lethal heatwaves become more common, could miniature forests help air-condition cities? Plus, how virtual clinical trials could save money, time and lives. And, counting the hidden costs of artificial intelligence with Kate Crawford, cofounder of the AI Now Institute at NYU and author of “Atlas of AI”. Kenneth Cukier hosts


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    • 31 min
    Babbage: Power play

    Babbage: Power play

    An unlimited supply of clean, carbon-free energy—nuclear fusion is a technology that could change the world. Can engineers make fusion work on a commercial scale? Also, mathematician Jordan Ellenberg on how geometry shapes the world. And, why one of the most common sporting injuries is more of a risk to women than men—and how to prevent it. Kenneth Cukier hosts 


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    • 28 min
    Babbage: The other environmental emergency

    Babbage: The other environmental emergency

    The loss of biodiversity poses as great a risk to humanity as climate change. Catherine Brahic, The Economist’s environment editor, investigates whether technology can help to monitor, model and protect Earth’s ecosystems. Also, do conservation scientists need to employ a new approach to work better with technologists?


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    • 28 min

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