'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.
Why build a magnetically shielded room?
One way to delve deep into the ancient history of the Earth - or other planetary bodies for that matter - is to examine the magnetism recorded by rocks. Kind of like a fossilised magnetic fingerprint. But trying to do this in an environment where another magnetic field exists (i.e. everywhere on Earth!) is pretty challenging. Enter the 'magnetically shielded room'! Join us as we catch up with Prof James Bryson from Oxford's Department of Earth Sciences, and find out all about this very special DIY project.
Why is Rudolph's nose red?
"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose..." Many of us will be very familiar with Santa's famous antlered friend. But did you know that many reindeer actually do have red noses? But why? In this festive episode of the Big Questions Podcast, we ask Oxford polar biologist Ignacio (Nacho) Juarez Martinez to share some of the reasons we find red pigments in animals, and to explain why he thinks Rudolph's nose is so red!
How do you tackle hate speech one emoji at a time?
Online communication channels are popular, to say the least. Sadly, these open channels of communication also open up the potential for harm, through online hate speech. The problem is so large that we require AI to help detect it. But what about when it comes to emoji? When the same emoji can have vastly different meanings depending on the context, how can we use AI to detect their use as hate speech? We speak to Oxford AI researcher Hannah Rose Kirk to find out.
Umm...Should I be wearing a mask?
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic there was a lot of confusion, as we all tried to figure out what we should and shouldn't do to best protect ourselves and others. Fortunately, we now have more definitive answers to some of our most pressing questions - which are backed-up by data - including "umm...should I be wearing a mask?". As COVID cases are again on the rise across Europe, this is the question we're putting to demographer and behavioural scientist Prof Melinda Mills.
How can satellites prevent mining disasters?
Satellites have been orbiting our planet for the past few decades. We might be familiar with how they can be used to track weather, or beam television and phone signals around the world. But did you know, that by capturing images of the Earth outside the visible spectrum, they're able to offer a unique perspective of the ground beneath our feet? They could even - as Earth observations specialist Maral Bayaraa tells us - provide a remote early warning system for an environmental catastrophe, dam collapse.
How do you stop megafires?
From California to Greece to Australia, it seems like every time we switch on the news there's another wildfire report. Some fires are natural - in fact, they're a fundamental part of many ecosystems - but the severity and frequency of the wildfires we are now witnessing is beyond natural levels. Human-ignited "megafires" are causing devastation across the planet. Climate change and inadequate ecosystem management are key contributors to the problem, but what are the possible solutions?
Ideological not scientific.
Obvious points of tension within philosophy. This program makes claims without presenting facts.