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BBC Inside Science

BBC Radio 4

555
Followers
3.1K
Plays
BBC Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

BBC Radio 4

555
Followers
3.1K
Plays
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About Us

Dr Adam Rutherford and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

Latest Episodes

Satellite navigation in the UK; the science of the World Wide Web and Neolithic genomics

Is the UK losing its way when it comes to satellite navigation? There's GPS from the US, but other countries and regions, including Russia, China, India and Japan, either have, or are building, satellite navigation systems of their own. The EU has Galileo, but with Brexit, Britain is no longer involved. The Government has announced that it’s just acquired a satellite technology company called OneWeb. It’s primary role is enhanced broadband, but there’s talk of adding in a navigation function to the constellation of satellites. But how feasible will that be? In an era of cyber-crime, misinformation, disinformation, state-sponsored attacks on rival countries’ infrastructure, government-imposed internet shutdowns in places like Eritrea and Kashmir, the World Wide Web is an increasingly dark and troubled place. Making sense of how the internet has changed from the democratic, sharing, open platform it was designed to be, and predicting what’s next, are the web scientists. Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and a co-founder of the whole field of web science, is hosting an online, annual conference this week. The theme this year is 'Making the web human-centric'. Communal burial sites tend to suggest an egalitarian society, where everyone is considered equal. And this is what we expected the Neolithic societies that spread across Europe with the birth of agriculture around 6000 years ago would be. But DNA evidence from a single human, NG10, buried in 3200 B.C.E in the vast tomb of Newgrange, 25 miles north of Dublin, in Ireland, shows very strong inbreeding. Couple this with the fact the body was buried and not cremated and placed in a highly adorned chamber. Does this indicate an elite ruling class where marrying one’s close kin was the order of the day? Dr. Lara Cassidy, palaeogeneticist at Trinity College Dublin, decoded NG10’s DNA and she tells Adam Rutherford the story. Presenter - Gareth Mitchell Producers - Fiona Roberts and Beth Eastwood

33 MIN2 d ago
Comments
Satellite navigation in the UK; the science of the World Wide Web and Neolithic genomics

Preventing pandemics, invading alien species, blood types & COVID-19.

As we’re beginning to understand more about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, we’re hopefully starting to get some clues on how to deal with the next viral pandemics, and even look at ways of stopping them from happening. To do this, we have to go back to where the virus jumped from its animal host into humans. Like this current coronavirus, many of the pandemic viruses (SARS, MERS HIV, Ebola…to name a few) are zoonotic diseases. They start in wild animals and evolve to jump to humans (sometimes via another animal species). It’s not the animal’s fault. It’s evolution. But has our tangled, often exploitative relationship with wild animals made it harder to stop future pandemics? A paper just published asks these questions and tries to figure out how to prevent future zoonotic epidemics. Dr. Silviu Petrovan (Researcher in the Department of Zoology in Cambridge) and Associate Professor Alice Hughes (Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences) h...

28 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Preventing pandemics, invading alien species, blood types & COVID-19.

The Human Genome Project's 20th Anniversary

Adam Rutherford is back to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most ambitious and revolutionary scientific endeavours of all time - the Human Genome Project. Its scope and scale was breath-taking, set up to read every one of the 3 billion nucleotides, or letters of genetic information, contained within the DNA in every cell of the human body. It took seven years, hundreds of scientists, cost almost $3 billion and, amazingly, came in under budget and on time. Adam reflects back on that momentous time with Ewan Birney, Director of the European Bio-informatics Institute, part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Twenty years ago, he was a PhD student working on the project, in the months leading up to the first draft. The Human Genome Project underpins many branches of science, from human evolution and synthetic biology to forensic genetics and ancestry testing. But a key motivation for the project was to alleviate human suffering. While the ‘cures’, hyped by the me...

32 MIN2 w ago
Comments
The Human Genome Project's 20th Anniversary

Coronavirus conspiracy, Listeners' mask questions, Solar Orbiter gets close to the Sun

Throughout the pandemic, we've seen an explosion in information about the science of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, COVID-19. An article online, or a text forwarded, could be true and sounds about right, but how do you know that it's accurate? When scrolling through your social feed, how do you decipher fact from fiction? A new report, by Kings College London and Ipsos MORI, reveals that those of us who get our news from social media are more likely to believe misinformation about the pandemic. Marnie talks to Jack Goodman of the Anti-Disinformation Unit at BBC Online, a new team set up to tackle the problem. She finds out how science fact turns to science fiction online, and what the team is doing to try to counter this. Now that wearing face masks are now mandatory in a number of situations, a lot of us are making our own. BBC Inside Science listeners sent in lots of ideas about the design, maintenance and durability of face masks, and other ways to protect agai...

40 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Coronavirus conspiracy, Listeners' mask questions, Solar Orbiter gets close to the Sun

Engineering out of lockdown and should we castrate male dogs?

As the UK gradually begins to ease out of lockdown, Marnie explores how engineers are hoping to reduce the spread of Covid-19. We’ve learned how infected people exhale droplets and aerosols, containing the virus, and how we can then either inhale them, or transfer them to our faces by touching contaminated surfaces. Many shops already have screens and physical barriers, while schools and offices are re-configuring desks and walkways. What role does the environment play in our overall risk of becoming infected and what can we do about it? This is the focus of the SAGE Environmental Working Group. Marnie talks to its Chair, Catherine Noakes, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at Leeds University. Minimising the risks that contaminated surfaces pose is a key challenge that engineers are now trying to address. Marnie asks Birmingham University Research Scientist, Felicity de Cogan, about the surface she created which kills bacteria in seconds. She's now re-purposing t...

28 MINJUN 11
Comments
Engineering out of lockdown and should we castrate male dogs?

Back to School and Covid-19 and Ordnance Survey and the pandemic

As the lockdown eases and some children, in preschool and primary years, start heading back to school, what impact will this have on the pandemic, how will we know and is there anything we can do about it? Marnie Chesterton talks to Professor of Mathematical Biology at Cambridge University, Julia Gog, who co-chaired the group that advised the government on the impact of easing school closures. She explains why the limited opening of schools provides a golden opportunity to learn about its impact on the pandemic, and inform what happens in September when the new school year begins. Marnie also talks to Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, to find out what parents can do to help control the spread of the virus in their communities. He runs the COVID Symptom Study, a huge citizen science project that’s pinpointing the symptoms most closely associated with Covid-19. Millions of British adults have downloaded the app, to take part in the study, loggi...

27 MINJUN 4
Comments
Back to School and Covid-19 and Ordnance Survey and the pandemic

Testing & Tracing the coronavirus, and the traces our movements leave behind

Inside Science this week is all about our information - the stuff we volunteer and the traces our everyday movements leave behind. With the launch of NHS Test and Trace across England, if you start to feel unwell with suspected Covid-19 and call a new NHS hotline 119, you’ll be tested for the virus. Your close contacts will be traced and, if you test positive, you'll be asked to self-isolate for 7 days, and your contacts asked to quarantine for 14 days. The route to those close contacts is currently through manual tracing - you have to give the details of everyone with whom you’ve been in close contact. But in the coming weeks, the plan is to integrate the NHSX app, currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight. This will pick up close contacts with people you don't know, on public transport, for example, provided they also have the app. It’s a new way to fight a pandemic, but the pioneers here are the residents of the English town of Haslemere in Surrey who, back in 2017, were t...

30 MINMAY 28
Comments
Testing & Tracing the coronavirus, and the traces our movements leave behind

Coronavirus-free science, the impact of lockdown on climate change and the odds of both life and intelligent life existing.

In response to listeners who have expressed coronavirus fatigue in recent weeks, Marnie Chesterton brings us up to date on some of the best and brightest breaking science we might have missed, with BBC’s Non-Covid-19 Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos. Inching back to pandemic news, Marnie investigates the fallout of the lockdown from a climate perspective. In many countries, citizens have been asked to stay at home and not to travel unless it’s strictly necessary. As a result, the hubbub of normal life has slowed to a trickle. What impact has this had on levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Corinne Le Quéré, the Royal Society Professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia, explains just how dramatically these emissions have been affected around the world. And the chances that intelligent life exists on other planets. David Kipping, Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University in the US, has calculated the odds of both life and intelligen...

28 MINMAY 21
Comments
Coronavirus-free science, the impact of lockdown on climate change and the odds of both life and intelligent life existing.

Coronavirus R number, genome study of Covid-19 survivors and using aircraft messages to assess aviation

R seems to have found its way into the newspapers and on Radio 4 as if it’s a word, or a letter, that we should all be familiar with and understand. As part of the government’s briefing on Sunday, it appeared in a pseudo-equation, the infographic - 'COVID alert level = R + number of infections' - the Government called R the 'Rate of Infection', but it is commonly known as the 'Reproduction Number'. So what exactly is R, and what does it do? Mathematical Biologist, Kit Yates, from the University of Bath, clears up the confusion, and explains how R was first calculated for covid-19. And one of the scientists tracking R in the UK is Petra Klepac, who is Assistant Professor in Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She explains how crucial R is in tracking the pandemic and how it’s now being used to shape the way we get out of lockdown. There are so many variables about who will survive Covid-19 and who, unfortunately, will not. Many peopl...

32 MINMAY 14
Comments
Coronavirus R number, genome study of Covid-19 survivors and using aircraft messages to assess aviation

Should the public wear face masks? Did SARS-Cov-2 escape from a laboratory in Wuhan?

Advice about whether the public should wear face masks, to protect against infection by the coronavirus, differs around the world. In Europe, policy recommendations are mostly geared towards homemade masks. As this country waits to find out how we’ll venture out of lock down, should we be wearing face masks out in public too? The government’s mantra throughout the pandemic has been “follow the science” but on this issue there is ongoing debate, with strongly held and differing views. The Royal Society’s DELVE Initiative (Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics) put out a report this week to try to bring some clarity to the issue. Marnie Chesterton asks Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University, Trisha Greenhalgh, and microbiologist and Professor of Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, William Keevil, why there is so little science to inform the policy-makers. If the government recommends that we all wear cloth masks, we'll be ...

29 MINMAY 7
Comments
Should the public wear face masks? Did SARS-Cov-2 escape from a laboratory in Wuhan?

Latest Episodes

Satellite navigation in the UK; the science of the World Wide Web and Neolithic genomics

Is the UK losing its way when it comes to satellite navigation? There's GPS from the US, but other countries and regions, including Russia, China, India and Japan, either have, or are building, satellite navigation systems of their own. The EU has Galileo, but with Brexit, Britain is no longer involved. The Government has announced that it’s just acquired a satellite technology company called OneWeb. It’s primary role is enhanced broadband, but there’s talk of adding in a navigation function to the constellation of satellites. But how feasible will that be? In an era of cyber-crime, misinformation, disinformation, state-sponsored attacks on rival countries’ infrastructure, government-imposed internet shutdowns in places like Eritrea and Kashmir, the World Wide Web is an increasingly dark and troubled place. Making sense of how the internet has changed from the democratic, sharing, open platform it was designed to be, and predicting what’s next, are the web scientists. Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and a co-founder of the whole field of web science, is hosting an online, annual conference this week. The theme this year is 'Making the web human-centric'. Communal burial sites tend to suggest an egalitarian society, where everyone is considered equal. And this is what we expected the Neolithic societies that spread across Europe with the birth of agriculture around 6000 years ago would be. But DNA evidence from a single human, NG10, buried in 3200 B.C.E in the vast tomb of Newgrange, 25 miles north of Dublin, in Ireland, shows very strong inbreeding. Couple this with the fact the body was buried and not cremated and placed in a highly adorned chamber. Does this indicate an elite ruling class where marrying one’s close kin was the order of the day? Dr. Lara Cassidy, palaeogeneticist at Trinity College Dublin, decoded NG10’s DNA and she tells Adam Rutherford the story. Presenter - Gareth Mitchell Producers - Fiona Roberts and Beth Eastwood

33 MIN2 d ago
Comments
Satellite navigation in the UK; the science of the World Wide Web and Neolithic genomics

Preventing pandemics, invading alien species, blood types & COVID-19.

As we’re beginning to understand more about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, we’re hopefully starting to get some clues on how to deal with the next viral pandemics, and even look at ways of stopping them from happening. To do this, we have to go back to where the virus jumped from its animal host into humans. Like this current coronavirus, many of the pandemic viruses (SARS, MERS HIV, Ebola…to name a few) are zoonotic diseases. They start in wild animals and evolve to jump to humans (sometimes via another animal species). It’s not the animal’s fault. It’s evolution. But has our tangled, often exploitative relationship with wild animals made it harder to stop future pandemics? A paper just published asks these questions and tries to figure out how to prevent future zoonotic epidemics. Dr. Silviu Petrovan (Researcher in the Department of Zoology in Cambridge) and Associate Professor Alice Hughes (Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences) h...

28 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Preventing pandemics, invading alien species, blood types & COVID-19.

The Human Genome Project's 20th Anniversary

Adam Rutherford is back to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most ambitious and revolutionary scientific endeavours of all time - the Human Genome Project. Its scope and scale was breath-taking, set up to read every one of the 3 billion nucleotides, or letters of genetic information, contained within the DNA in every cell of the human body. It took seven years, hundreds of scientists, cost almost $3 billion and, amazingly, came in under budget and on time. Adam reflects back on that momentous time with Ewan Birney, Director of the European Bio-informatics Institute, part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Twenty years ago, he was a PhD student working on the project, in the months leading up to the first draft. The Human Genome Project underpins many branches of science, from human evolution and synthetic biology to forensic genetics and ancestry testing. But a key motivation for the project was to alleviate human suffering. While the ‘cures’, hyped by the me...

32 MIN2 w ago
Comments
The Human Genome Project's 20th Anniversary

Coronavirus conspiracy, Listeners' mask questions, Solar Orbiter gets close to the Sun

Throughout the pandemic, we've seen an explosion in information about the science of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, COVID-19. An article online, or a text forwarded, could be true and sounds about right, but how do you know that it's accurate? When scrolling through your social feed, how do you decipher fact from fiction? A new report, by Kings College London and Ipsos MORI, reveals that those of us who get our news from social media are more likely to believe misinformation about the pandemic. Marnie talks to Jack Goodman of the Anti-Disinformation Unit at BBC Online, a new team set up to tackle the problem. She finds out how science fact turns to science fiction online, and what the team is doing to try to counter this. Now that wearing face masks are now mandatory in a number of situations, a lot of us are making our own. BBC Inside Science listeners sent in lots of ideas about the design, maintenance and durability of face masks, and other ways to protect agai...

40 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Coronavirus conspiracy, Listeners' mask questions, Solar Orbiter gets close to the Sun

Engineering out of lockdown and should we castrate male dogs?

As the UK gradually begins to ease out of lockdown, Marnie explores how engineers are hoping to reduce the spread of Covid-19. We’ve learned how infected people exhale droplets and aerosols, containing the virus, and how we can then either inhale them, or transfer them to our faces by touching contaminated surfaces. Many shops already have screens and physical barriers, while schools and offices are re-configuring desks and walkways. What role does the environment play in our overall risk of becoming infected and what can we do about it? This is the focus of the SAGE Environmental Working Group. Marnie talks to its Chair, Catherine Noakes, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at Leeds University. Minimising the risks that contaminated surfaces pose is a key challenge that engineers are now trying to address. Marnie asks Birmingham University Research Scientist, Felicity de Cogan, about the surface she created which kills bacteria in seconds. She's now re-purposing t...

28 MINJUN 11
Comments
Engineering out of lockdown and should we castrate male dogs?

Back to School and Covid-19 and Ordnance Survey and the pandemic

As the lockdown eases and some children, in preschool and primary years, start heading back to school, what impact will this have on the pandemic, how will we know and is there anything we can do about it? Marnie Chesterton talks to Professor of Mathematical Biology at Cambridge University, Julia Gog, who co-chaired the group that advised the government on the impact of easing school closures. She explains why the limited opening of schools provides a golden opportunity to learn about its impact on the pandemic, and inform what happens in September when the new school year begins. Marnie also talks to Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, to find out what parents can do to help control the spread of the virus in their communities. He runs the COVID Symptom Study, a huge citizen science project that’s pinpointing the symptoms most closely associated with Covid-19. Millions of British adults have downloaded the app, to take part in the study, loggi...

27 MINJUN 4
Comments
Back to School and Covid-19 and Ordnance Survey and the pandemic

Testing & Tracing the coronavirus, and the traces our movements leave behind

Inside Science this week is all about our information - the stuff we volunteer and the traces our everyday movements leave behind. With the launch of NHS Test and Trace across England, if you start to feel unwell with suspected Covid-19 and call a new NHS hotline 119, you’ll be tested for the virus. Your close contacts will be traced and, if you test positive, you'll be asked to self-isolate for 7 days, and your contacts asked to quarantine for 14 days. The route to those close contacts is currently through manual tracing - you have to give the details of everyone with whom you’ve been in close contact. But in the coming weeks, the plan is to integrate the NHSX app, currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight. This will pick up close contacts with people you don't know, on public transport, for example, provided they also have the app. It’s a new way to fight a pandemic, but the pioneers here are the residents of the English town of Haslemere in Surrey who, back in 2017, were t...

30 MINMAY 28
Comments
Testing & Tracing the coronavirus, and the traces our movements leave behind

Coronavirus-free science, the impact of lockdown on climate change and the odds of both life and intelligent life existing.

In response to listeners who have expressed coronavirus fatigue in recent weeks, Marnie Chesterton brings us up to date on some of the best and brightest breaking science we might have missed, with BBC’s Non-Covid-19 Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos. Inching back to pandemic news, Marnie investigates the fallout of the lockdown from a climate perspective. In many countries, citizens have been asked to stay at home and not to travel unless it’s strictly necessary. As a result, the hubbub of normal life has slowed to a trickle. What impact has this had on levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Corinne Le Quéré, the Royal Society Professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia, explains just how dramatically these emissions have been affected around the world. And the chances that intelligent life exists on other planets. David Kipping, Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University in the US, has calculated the odds of both life and intelligen...

28 MINMAY 21
Comments
Coronavirus-free science, the impact of lockdown on climate change and the odds of both life and intelligent life existing.

Coronavirus R number, genome study of Covid-19 survivors and using aircraft messages to assess aviation

R seems to have found its way into the newspapers and on Radio 4 as if it’s a word, or a letter, that we should all be familiar with and understand. As part of the government’s briefing on Sunday, it appeared in a pseudo-equation, the infographic - 'COVID alert level = R + number of infections' - the Government called R the 'Rate of Infection', but it is commonly known as the 'Reproduction Number'. So what exactly is R, and what does it do? Mathematical Biologist, Kit Yates, from the University of Bath, clears up the confusion, and explains how R was first calculated for covid-19. And one of the scientists tracking R in the UK is Petra Klepac, who is Assistant Professor in Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She explains how crucial R is in tracking the pandemic and how it’s now being used to shape the way we get out of lockdown. There are so many variables about who will survive Covid-19 and who, unfortunately, will not. Many peopl...

32 MINMAY 14
Comments
Coronavirus R number, genome study of Covid-19 survivors and using aircraft messages to assess aviation

Should the public wear face masks? Did SARS-Cov-2 escape from a laboratory in Wuhan?

Advice about whether the public should wear face masks, to protect against infection by the coronavirus, differs around the world. In Europe, policy recommendations are mostly geared towards homemade masks. As this country waits to find out how we’ll venture out of lock down, should we be wearing face masks out in public too? The government’s mantra throughout the pandemic has been “follow the science” but on this issue there is ongoing debate, with strongly held and differing views. The Royal Society’s DELVE Initiative (Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics) put out a report this week to try to bring some clarity to the issue. Marnie Chesterton asks Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University, Trisha Greenhalgh, and microbiologist and Professor of Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, William Keevil, why there is so little science to inform the policy-makers. If the government recommends that we all wear cloth masks, we'll be ...

29 MINMAY 7
Comments
Should the public wear face masks? Did SARS-Cov-2 escape from a laboratory in Wuhan?
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