7 episodes

Interested in science and the people behind the science? Looking for an informative, entertaining, thought-provoking and accessible read? Join Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft and her guests as they discuss their favourite popular science books, share their love of science and the books they consider most enjoyable and that offer something to everyone. Episodes will be published fortnightly.

Professor Ashcroft is Professor of Physiology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Trinity College Oxford. Her own books include Life at the Extremes: the science of survival and The Spark of Life: electricity in the human body.

A Good Science Read Oxford University

    • Education

Interested in science and the people behind the science? Looking for an informative, entertaining, thought-provoking and accessible read? Join Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft and her guests as they discuss their favourite popular science books, share their love of science and the books they consider most enjoyable and that offer something to everyone. Episodes will be published fortnightly.

Professor Ashcroft is Professor of Physiology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Trinity College Oxford. Her own books include Life at the Extremes: the science of survival and The Spark of Life: electricity in the human body.

    A Good Science Read: How everything works

    A Good Science Read: How everything works

    Dr Roger Highfield joins Professor Frances Ashcroft to discuss Pain: A Ladybird Expert book by Irene Tracey and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Pain is a very short book but it encompasses everything you want to know about pain in a clear and informative way. What it is, how we measure it, why we need it, and how we can – and often alas, cannot – treat it. A Short History of Nearly Everything is a highly accessible and entertaining account that of the world we live on that ranges from the creation of the solar system, to the structure of the atom, plate tectonics, the rise of life, the development of modern humans and how your cells work. The book won the Royal Society Aventis Science Book Prize in 2004 and the Descartes Prize in 2005, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade.

    Roger is the Science Director of the Science Museum Group, a group of five museums that includes the Science Museum in London. He is also a Visiting Professor of Public engagement at the Universities of Oxford and University College London, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Honorary president of the Association of British Science Writers. Previously, Roger was the science editor of The Daily Telegraph for more than 20 years, and Editor of New Scientist for 4 years. He has written or co-authored nine books, most recently The Dance of Life, Symmetry Cells and How we become Human.

    Websites
    https://www.rogerhighfield.com/my-sites
    https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/home
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Bryson
    https://www.ox.ac.uk/about/organisation/university-officers/vice-chancellor

    • 34 min
    A Good Science Read: How humans changed the landscape and ourselves

    A Good Science Read: How humans changed the landscape and ourselves

    Professor Peter Burge joins Professor Frances Ashcroft to discuss Dust: The Modern World in a Trillion Particles by Jay Owens and The Species that Changed Itself or How prosperity reshaped humanity by Edwin Gale. Dust is all around us and we breathe it in with every breath we take, but it is not something most of think much about. Yet it impacts all our lives in multiple ways, causing environmental disaster and damaging our health. In Dust, Jay Owens combines history, politics, travel writing and science to tell the story of dust, from particulates that cause air pollution, to toxic dust from dried up seas, radioactive nuclear fallout and the role of dust in shaping the climate.

    The Species that Changed Itself combines biology, anthropology, history, epidemiology, and science with fascinating stories and literary references to tell the story of our phenotype. Our phenotype – the way we look and behave – things like height, weight, skin colour and so on, is determined by the interaction between our genes and our environment. But unlike all other species we have created our own environment and in doing so, Gale argues, we have reshaped ourselves - both our physical bodies and our behaviour.

    Peter Burge is an Honorary Consultant at the Oxford University Hospitals, a Departmental Lecturer in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Oxford and a past President of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand.

    • 39 min
    A Good Science Read: Evolution - from Fossils to Finches

    A Good Science Read: Evolution - from Fossils to Finches

    Professor Paul Smith and Professor Frances Ashcroft discuss Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould and The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner. Wonderful Life focuses on the weird and wonderful fossils found in the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies – their discovery, what they tell us about evolution and their re-evaluation many years later. The Beak of the Finch is also about evolution but rather than fossils it is about evolution in action on a tiny volcanic island in the Galapagos. It describes the painstaking work of Peter and Rosemary Grant who studied Darwin’s famous finches for over 40 years and showed that evolution can take place in real time. Their story is interwoven with that of Darwin and his studies of the Galapagos finches.

    Professor Paul Smith is Director of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Professor of Natural History at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Kellogg College Oxford. He is both a geologist and a palaeontologist whose research has focussed on the origin of vertebrates. He has worked extensively in the Arctic and in 2017 he was awarded the Polar medal for outstanding achievements in the field of polar research

    Websites
    https://oumnh.ox.ac.uk/people/paul-smith
    https://oumnh.ox.ac.uk/
    https://eeb.princeton.edu/people/b-rosemary-grant

    • 37 min
    A Good Science Read: The Secret Life of the Cuckoo

    A Good Science Read: The Secret Life of the Cuckoo

    Professor Richard Boyd joins Professor Frances Ashcroft to discuss Cuckoo - Cheating by Nature by Nick Davies. The cuckoo is a ruthless parasite that lays its egg in another bird’s nest, tricks them into accepting the egg as its own and entices them to feed its chick. This book is a riveting account of an extraordinary bird and it reads like a detective story. Nick Davies asks every question you can possibly imagine about how the female cuckoo and the cuckoo chick itself manage to deceive their host, and he describes the intricate experiments he and his colleagues have conducted to unravel the answers. He interweaves this with stories of naturalists from the past who have studied the cuckoo. He writes beautifully and his passion for the cuckoo and the natural world shines through.

    Richard Boyd, Emeritus Professor of Physiology at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Brasenose College is a distinguished physiologist and an Honorary Fellow of the Physiological Society. He also happens to have a passion for birds.

    Website: https://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/directory/nick-davies

    • 22 min
    A Good Science Read: The importance of Mathematics and Engineering

    A Good Science Read: The importance of Mathematics and Engineering

    Professor Marcus du Sautoy joins Professor Frances Ashcroft to discuss A Mathematician’s Apology by GH Hardy and Exactly: How Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester. A Mathematician’s Apology is GH Hardy’s panegyric on pure mathematics in which he claims that pure maths is the pinnacle of the sciences and that it has an inherent beauty. Exactly tells the stories of the pioneering engineers who developed the precision tools and machinery that underpin the modern world. Along the way, the author addresses questions like why is precision important, how do we measure it, can we be too precise?

    Marcus du Sautoy is Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. A distinguished mathematician with a particular interest in symmetry and number theory, he is also the author of several popular science books about mathematics, including the critically acclaimed The Music of the Primes, and he has presented numerous TV programmes.

    Website: https://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/

    • 42 min
    A Good Science Read: The Story of Penicillin

    A Good Science Read: The Story of Penicillin

    Professor Matthew Freeman and Professor Frances Ashcroft discuss "The Mould in Dr Florey's Coat" by Eric Lax This book tells the true story of the penicillin miracle – penicillin being the mould in Dr Florey’s coat. When most people are asked who discovered penicillin they invariably answer Alexander Fleming. But he was merely one of the people involved and arguably not even the most important. This book sets the record straight and tells the story of how it was 3 Oxford scientists, Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley who isolated penicillin and turned it into a life-saving drug. It is a remarkable story, very well told, about a scientific breakthrough conducted on a shoestring budget in the middle of the second world war, that has benefitted all humanity.
    Matthew Freeman is Professor of Pathology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of both Lincoln College Oxford and the Royal Society of London. He is also Head of the Dunn School of Pathology which plays a very special part in the story the book tells about the discovery of penicillin.
    Website: https://www.path.ox.ac.uk/research-group/matthew-freeman/

    • 39 min

Top Podcasts In Education

The Mel Robbins Podcast
Mel Robbins
The Jamie Kern Lima Show
Jamie Kern Lima
The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Mick Unplugged
Mick Hunt
School Business Insider
John Brucato
Digital Social Hour
Sean Kelly