100 episodes

'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.

Oxford Sparks Big Questions Oxford Sparks

    • Science
    • 4.5 • 10 Ratings

'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.

    When did we start kissing?

    When did we start kissing?

    Have you ever considered when kissing first started? Who, or what, first decided that this was a good way to show affection?
     
    Ancient historian, Troels Pank Arbøll, and hedgehog researcher, Sophie Lund Rasmussen, joined forces to attempt to find an answer. Cuneiform scripts, which are the world’s oldest written text, have the first mention of romantic kissing in a mythological narrative dating back to 2500 BCE.
     
    But animals can also help us to answer this question. Bonobos have been shown to kiss romantically to strengthen pair bonds and assess a mate’s suitability. Perhaps the origins of kissing could be much older than human history! Find out more by listening to our latest podcast.

    • 12 min
    How do you stay warm in your house without central heating?

    How do you stay warm in your house without central heating?

    How do we battle the energy use and soaring costs required to keep our homes warm?
    We spoke to Dr Brenda Boardman from the Environmental Change Institute about the best ways to keep out the winter chill. Did you know that draughts not only let cold air in, but they also push the warm out of your home? And that sitting or sleeping next to external walls can make you colder?
    Discover simple and inexpensive methods you can try to stay toasty, starting with the idea of heating the human rather than the home. Tune in to learn more!

    • 14 min
    How will climate change affect wine?

    How will climate change affect wine?

    People have been interested in wine growing and quality vintages since the Roman times, but as the climate warms, what does this mean for the future of wine growers in the UK (and beyond)?
     
    Andrew Wood, from the Department of Biology, has been studying the records of wine critics, which reveal much more than whether the bottle is a good vintage or not. The vintage can tell scientists what the growing conditions were like for the grapes in a given year – was it hot or cold? Was there flooding or drought? Was light more intense?
     
    As the UK experiences more ‘BBQ summers’, we may see new grape varieties flourishing, producing new flavours of wine. But it’s not good news for all vineyards. Find out why in our latest podcast!

    • 15 min
    What are the odds of a white Christmas?

    What are the odds of a white Christmas?

    As we count down to the festive season and the days get colder, will we see a white Christmas this year? In the last episode of the Big Questions podcast for 2023, Dr Neven Fučkar from the Environmental Change Institute tells us more about the science behind weather forecasts and how climate change is impacting Earth’s weather patterns. Using advanced modelling, scientists can predict weather patterns to different degrees of certainty. So in a few days’ time, we should know whether we will see snow on the big day. But what do the predictions look like for the next five or ten years? Find out in this podcast!
    We hope you have enjoyed getting into the science of the everyday questions you want to know the answers to. We’ll be back in the new year to share more science from the University of Oxford. See you in 2024!

    • 10 min
    How do you reintroduce lions?

    How do you reintroduce lions?

    Lions are iconic species, but they are threatened with extinction. In Zambia, researchers and conservationists are working together to find ways of conserving these majestic animals and preventing them from becoming by-catch of poaching. In this new episode of the Big Questions podcast, we speak to Dr Egil Dröge from the Department of Biology to share the steps involved in bringing lions back to a national park in Zambia. Careful selection of a few young female lions which are genetically similar to those lost from the national park, and collaboration with local communities could pave the way for lions to return to the area over the next decade.

    • 14 min
    Does banning smoking work?

    Does banning smoking work?

    As the UK government proposes new plans to reduce the number of people who smoke, we talk to behaviour change researcher Nicola Lindson from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences to find out how the plan would work. Could we see a generation that is smoke free? Would banning flavours in e-cigarettes stop children from taking up smoking? Tune in to the latest episode of the Big Questions podcast to find out more.

    • 11 min

Customer Reviews

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10 Ratings

Boicarguy ,

Ideological not scientific.

Obvious points of tension within philosophy. This program makes claims without presenting facts.

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