Science Weekly

Science Weekly
The award-winning Science Weekly podcast is the best place to learn about the big discoveries and debates in biology, chemistry, physics – and sometimes even maths. Ian Sample, Hannah Devlin and Nicola Davis meet the great thinkers and doers in science and technology. Science has never sounded so good! We’d love to hear what you think, so get in touch via @guardianaudio or [email protected]

The dangers of DIY genetic testing – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 11 • 28 min
Whether for ancestry or health, millions of us are choosing to have our genetic fingerprints analysed by using direct-to-consumer kits from private companies. But can the results of these tests be trusted in a clinical setting? Senior doctors have called…
Cleaning up our air – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 4 • 33 min
An estimated 7 million people die every year from exposure to polluted air. Nicola Davis looks at the science behind air pollution and at the policies to tackle it. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
The menopause: a new treatment for hot flushes? – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 27 • 21 min
Despite being something that will affect half the world’s population, the menopause, and how it can lead to things such as hot flushes, has historically been a bit of a ‘black box’ for scientists. But thanks to new insights from animal research, a…
‘Nature is quantum from the start’: Sean Carroll, many worlds, and a new theory of spacetime – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 20 • 26 min
Ian Sample speaks to the theoretical physicist Sean Carroll about his mission to demystify quantum mechanics. It won’t be easy, though, as Carroll’s favoured interpretation of this fundamental theory – the ‘many worlds’ interpretation – results in a…
How to find life beyond Earth - Science Weekly podcast
Sep 13 • 35 min
As scientists at University College London announce the discovery of water in the atmosphere of a potentially habitable ‘super Earth’, Ian Sample explores our prospects for finding life beyond our own planet. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
How to stop MS in its tracks – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 6 • 35 min
Ian Sample visits Professor Richard Reynolds at the MS Society tissue bank to hear how research on brains of patients who died with multiple sclerosis is leading to novel insights and new treatments. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
Soundscape ecology with Bernie Krause - Science Weekly podcast
Aug 30 • 26 min
Do you know what noise a hungry sea anemone makes? Soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause does. Armed with over 5,000 hours of recordings, he takes Ian Sample on a journey through the natural world and demonstrates why sound is a powerful tool for…
Oceans of Noise: Episode Three – Science Weekly
Aug 23 • 36 min
During our summer break, we’re revisiting the archives. Today, Wildlife recordist Chris Watson concludes this three-part journey into the sonic environment of the ocean, celebrating the sounds and songs of marine life and investigating the threat of noise…
Oceans of Noise: Episode Two – Science Weekly podcast
Aug 16 • 28 min
During our summer break, we’re revisiting the archives. Today, Wildlife recordist Chris Watson presents the second instalment of a three-part journey into the sonic environment of the ocean, celebrating the sounds and songs of marine life and…
Oceans of Noise: Episode One – Science Weekly podcast
Aug 9 • 34 min
During our summer break, we’re revisiting the archives. Today, Wildlife recordist Chris Watson begins a three-part journey into the sonic environment of the ocean, celebrating the sounds and songs of marine life and investigating the threat of noise…
The psychology of climate science denial – Science Weekly podcast
Aug 2 • 35 min
We revisit the archive as Ian Sample looks at why some people continue to deny anthropogenic global heating, despite the scientific evidence. Could better communication be the key? And what tips can scientists and journalists take from political…
The interplay between gender and autism spectrum disorder – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 26 • 29 min
The Science Weekly team are taking a bit of a break so we’ll be revisiting some of our favourite shows from the archive. Including this one from 2017, when Nicola Davis looked at why so many women with autism are misdiagnosed and how this issue resonates…
Mercury 13: the forgotten women of the space race - Science Weekly podcast
Jul 19 • 30 min
As the space race heated up in the 1960s, 13 aviators passed the same tests as Nasa’s first astronauts, later going on to be called the Mercury 13. But because they were women, Nasa wouldn’t even consider them. One of those women was Wally Funk, who joins…
Dark Patterns: the art of online deception – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 12 • 26 min
Have you ever been caught out online and subscribed to something you didn’t mean to? Ian Sample has and so he tasked Jordan Erica Webber with finding out how companies play on our psyches to pinch our pennies and what we can do about it. Help support our…
Cross Section: Giles Yeo – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 5 • 26 min
Why do some of us pile on the pounds, while others seem to get away with it? Hannah Devlin speaks to Dr Giles Yeo about some of the latest findings from the field of obesity research – from the role of our genes and how heritable our weight is, to how, as…
What happens when we can’t test scientific theories? – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 28 • 26 min
String theory gained traction 35 years ago but scientists have not found any evidence to suggest it is correct. Does this matter? And should it be tested? Ian Sample debates this with Eleanor Knox, David Berman and Peter Woit. Help support our independent…
150 years of the periodic table – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 21 • 24 min
Nicola Davis invites Prof Brigitte Van Tiggelen and Dr Peter Wothers on to the podcast to look at how the periodic table took shape and asks whether it might now be in jeopardy. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
The fight against HIV: then and now – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 14 • 26 min
Earlier this year, the UK government announced it wanted to end new HIV transmissions in England by 2030. Hannah Devlin looks at the history of the epidemic, including its impact on the gay community, recent promising drug trials and whether Britain can…
Cross Section: Frans de Waal – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 7 • 28 min
What can we learn from chimps when it comes to politics and power? Ian Sample meets the leading primatologist Prof Frans de Waal of Emory University to discuss good leadership and what we can learn from our closest living relatives.. Help support our…
Tomorrow’s weather forecast: fair with a good chance of improvement – Science Weekly podcast
May 31 • 26 min
Science Weekly joins forces with our sister technology podcast, Chips with Everything, to look at the future of weather forecasting. Graihagh Jackson finds out how accurate predictions currently are, while Jordan Erica Webber discusses how street cameras…
Cross Section: Hiranya Peiris – Science Weekly podcast
May 24 • 25 min
What happened before the Big Bang? This is one of the hardest questions scientists are trying to answer, but Prof Hiranya Peiris is not daunted by the challenge. Hannah Devlin invited Peiris on the podcast to discuss the origins of our universe. Help…
Are alternative meats the key to a healthier life and planet? – Science Weekly podcast
May 17 • 30 min
How do protein substitutes compare with the real deal? Graihagh Jackson investigates by speaking to dietician Priya Tew, the Guardian’s Fiona Harvey and author Isabella Tree. This podcast was amended on 18 May 2019. An earlier version incorrectly claimed…
The problem with sex – Science Weekly podcast
May 10 • 34 min
Access to help for sexual problems is patchy and many fear the consequences of cuts to sexual health services could be profound. Nicola Davis investigates Please note: this podcast contains discussion of sexual abuse. Help support our independent…
Oceans of Noise: Episode Three – Science Weekly podcast
May 3 • 34 min
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson concludes a three-part journey into the sonic environment of the ocean examining the possible threats caused to marine life by noise pollution. In this final episode he looks at solutions and discovers an unlikely…
Oceans of Noise: Episode Two – Science Weekly podcast
May 3 • 29 min
Wildlife recordist Chris Watson is joined by award-winning sound artist Jana Winderen on a voyage around Norway’s Austevoll islands, aboard a research vessel recording the grunting of spawning cod. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
Oceans of Noise: Episode One – Science Weekly podcast
May 3 • 34 min
Wildlife recordist Chris Watson begins a three-part journey into the sonic environment of the ocean, celebrating the sounds and songs of marine life and investigating the threat of noise pollution. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
Black holes: seeing ‘the unseeable’ – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 26 • 26 min
Using a global network of telescopes, scientists have managed to capture an image of a black hole for the first time. Hannah Devlin investigates why it’s more than just a pretty picture. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
Cross Section: Barry Smith - Science Weekly podcast
Apr 19 • 23 min
Coffee is a drink adored the world over. But have you ever wondered why a fresh brew smells better than it tastes? Prof Barry Smith has spent his career pondering how the senses work together to produce flavour perception and so Graihagh Jackson invited…
Why fast fashion should slow down – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 12 • 25 min
Science Weekly teams up with the Chips with Everything podcast to examine the environmental price tag of our throwaway culture and explore how technology could help the clothing industry follow a more sustainable model. Graihagh Jackson and Jordan Erica…
Cross Section: David Spiegelhalter – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 5 • 23 min
Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter has a passion for statistics but some argue this type of number crunching is losing its influence and its ability to objectively depict reality. Nicola Davis and Ian Sample investigate how significant statistics are in today’s…
Vitamania: should we all be popping vitamin pills? – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 22 • 21 min
With almost half of British adults taking a daily vitamin, Graihagh Jackson and guests examine our love of supplements - including recent announcments about fortifying flour with folic acid. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
Blood: the future of cancer diagnosis? – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 22 • 17 min
Could a simple blood test catch cancer before symptoms appear? Nicola Davis goes beyond the hype and investigates the future of blood diagnostics and cancer. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
Cross Section: Matt Parker - Science Weekly podcast
Mar 15 • 22 min
Happy International Pi Day. To celebrate, Hannah Devlin is joined by the mathematician and comedian Matt Parker to discuss maths anxiety, how much today’s world relies on number crunching and what happens when we get it wrong. Help support our independent…
Gender data gap and a world built for men
Mar 8 • 24 min
Today is International Women’s Day, and so Science Weekly teams up with the Guardian’s tech podcast, Chips with Everything. Nicola Davis and Jordan Erica Webber look at the repercussions of a male-orientated world – from drugs that don’t work for women to…
Farewell to Nasa’s Mars rover Opportunity – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 1 • 25 min
Nicola Davis bids a fond farewell to the Mars rover Opportunity after Nasa declared the mission finally over, 15 years after the vehicle landed on the red planet.. Help support our independent journalism at <a…
Do we need another massive particle collider? Science Weekly podcast
Feb 22 • 30 min
With the Large Hadron Collider reaching its upper limits, scientists around the world are drawing up plans for a new generation of super colliders. Ian Sample weighs up whether or not the potential new discoveries a collider may make will justify the cost…
Cross Section: Paul Davies – Science Weekly podcast
Feb 15 • 23 min
Nicola Davis talks to the theoretical physicist Paul Davies, who has been trying to find the solution to one of humankind’s trickier questions – what is life?
Where on earth is North? - Science Weekly podcast
Feb 8 • 22 min
Earth’s north magnetic pole wandering so quickly in recent decades that this week, scientists decided to update the World Magnetic Model, which underlies navigation for ships and planes today. Ian Sample looks at our relationship with the magnetic north.
Cross Section: Jo Dunkley – Science Weekly podcast
Feb 1 • 24 min
Jo Dunkley is a professor of physics and astrophysical sciences at Princeton University. Hannah Devlin talks to her about what it’s like to work on the Atacama Cosmology Telescope in Chile, where they need to bring oxygen tanks for safety.
Toxic legacy: what to do with Britain’s nuclear waste – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 25 • 31 min
The UK has a problem and it isn’t going to go away anytime soon. But what to do about it? This week Geoff Marsh explores plans to bury the UK’s nuclear waste deep underground
How do we define creativity? - Science Weekly podcast
Jan 18 • 24 min
In our latest collaboration, Ian Sample teams up with Jordan Erica Webber of Chips with Everything to look at why artwork produced using artificial intelligence is forcing us to look at how we define creativity
Exploring the far side of the moon – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 11 • 25 min
Hannah Devlin looks at why there is renewed interest in lunar exploration following the Chinese Chang’e 4 adventure on the far side of the moon
Did a supervolcano cause the dinosaurs’ demise? – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 4 • 25 min
Some scientists are beginning to question whether it really was an asteroid impact that led to the dinosaurs’ extinction – instead, they think it may have been a supervolcano in India. Graihagh Jackson investigates
Cross Section: Hannah Fry – Science Weekly podcast
Dec 28, 2018 • 22 min
Dr Hannah Fry won the Christopher Zeeman medal in August for her contributions to the public understanding of the mathematical sciences. Ian Sample has invited her on the podcast to discuss her love of numbers. Plus, he asks, can we really use this…
Cross Section: Dame Jane Francis - Science Weekly podcast
Dec 21, 2018 • 23 min
Prof Dame Jane Francis knows Antarctica better than most: she’s spent the majority of her career researching this icy landscape. Ian Sample talks to her about what it’s like to camp in Antarctica and what her findings can tell us about our future on this…
Oh my: a psychological approach to awe – Science Weekly podcast
Dec 14, 2018 • 28 min
Nicola Davis asks what’s behind one of humanity’s most powerful and possibly evolutionarily important emotions
Gene-edited babies: why are scientists so appalled? – Science Weekly podcast
Dec 7, 2018 • 22 min
Last week Dr He Jiankui announced he had created the world’s first gene-edited babies. Hundreds of Chinese scientists have signed a letter condemning the research. Hannah Devlin delves into why He’s research has caused such uproar
Cross Section: Tim Peake - Science Weekly podcast
Nov 30, 2018 • 24 min
Tim Peake beat 8,172 applicants for a spot on the European Space Agency’s astronaut training programme. Ian Sample talks to him about the selection process and the intensive training he went through
Can we trust artificial intelligence lie detectors? – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 23, 2018 • 26 min
Liar liar, pants on fire? In this collaboration between the Guardian’s Science Weekly and Chips with Everything podcasts, we explore whether it will ever be possible to build intelligent machines to detect porky pies
Treating cancer: what role could our diet play? - Science Weekly podcast
Nov 16, 2018 • 19 min
Food is an essential part of everyone’s life but how does what we eat affect our health? Could we eat to treat our illnesses? Top oncologists from around the world are beginning to study the role of diet in cancer treatment and early results look…
Cross Section: Sir Venki Ramakrishnan – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 9, 2018 • 19 min
Nicola Davis sits down with Nobel prize-winning scientist Sir Venki Ramakrishnan to discuss the competition he faced in the race to discover the ribosome – AKA the gene machine. Is competition good for science, or would a collaborative approach be better?
What role should the public play in science? - Science Weekly podcast
Nov 2, 2018 • 27 min
There are concerns that a science journal may revise a paper amid pressure from activists. What role should the public play and should science have boundaries to protect its integrity? Ian Sample presents. Since publishing, we received complaints. We…
Falling fertility: lessons learned from Botswana – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 26, 2018 • 24 min
Fifty years ago, the average woman in Botswana had seven children. Now she will have fewer than three. Enabling women to control their fertility has had huge ramifications for their health, education and employment – could President Trump’s ‘ global gag…
Mars is barred: why we shouldn’t go to the red planet – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 19, 2018 • 27 min
Elon Musk believes we should colonise Mars to ensure the survival of the human race. But is this reasoning compelling enough? Hannah Devlin ponders the case against setting our sites on Mars
A step in the right direction: could implants help people walk again? – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 12, 2018 • 25 min
Four people with paraplegia were recently implanted with electrodes in their lower backs. They all regained movement below their injuries, and two walked again. This week Nicola Davis investigates this technique – epidural stimulation – and other…
The weight is over: will kilograms get an upgrade? – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 5, 2018 • 25 min
On 16 November, scientists vote on whether to update the way we measure the kilogram. This week, Ian Sample investigates the history of the metric system, and finds out how universal constants might now make it more robust
Cross section: Mark Miodownik – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 28, 2018 • 34 min
What can a materials scientist learn from artists? How do you make robotic trousers? And what should we do about plastics? Hannah Devlin sits down with Mark Miodownik to find out
Opioid addiction: can the UK curb the looming crisis? – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 21, 2018 • 25 min
The US has been in the grip of an ‘opioid epidemic’ since the 1990s, and now a rise in opioid prescriptions and deaths is being seen across the pond. Ian Sample investigates and asks: what can we do the curb the looming crisis?
Are fungi the secret to a sweet sounding violin? – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 14, 2018 • 27 min
From making violins sound beautiful, to beer and bread, to creating life-saving medicine, fungi have an array of very useful attributes. This week, a report demonstrates just how little we know about this kingdom of life and what we are set to gain if we…
Could a new force of nature reveal the universe’s dark side? – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 7, 2018 • 22 min
We can see only 4% of the observable universe – the rest is made up of invisible ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’. Now scientists are looking for a postulated force of nature that could open a door to the dark side. Ian Sample investigates
Conservation: there will (not) be blood - Science Weekly podcast
Aug 31, 2018 • 21 min
Invasive species have been blamed for wiping out native populations. Conservationists face a hard choice: should they kill one species to save another? The answer is often yes. Nicola Davis explores this dilemma and asks whether there’s a more…
Huntington’s disease: the price paid for our big brains? – Science Weekly podcast
Aug 24, 2018 • 26 min
This degenerative illness has a few genetic quirks which scientists believe could cause secondary health benefits. Emerging research suggests that people with Huntington’s are less sickly, don’t get cancer as often and even have more brain cells. Hannah…
Heatwaves: the next silent killer? - Science Weekly podcast
Aug 17, 2018 • 21 min
Heatwaves have ravaged much of the northern hemisphere, causing wildfires, destruction and death. Some are blaming heat stress for an increase in chronic kidney disease in Central America. Graihagh Jackson investigates the causes and health effects of…
Biomimicry: Does nature do it better?
Aug 10, 2018 • 24 min
In this special collaboration between the Guardian’s Science Weekly and Chips with Everything podcasts, we explore why it’s so hard to mimic nature
Tricky taxonomy: the problems with naming new species – Science Weekly podcast
Aug 3, 2018 • 24 min
Species are hard to define, as they don’t fit neatly into the categories that science wants to put them into. But increasingly, people are naming new species without enough evidence to suggest they are indeed a separate taxon. Graihagh Jackson…
In vitro fertilisation: 40 years on – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 27, 2018 • 27 min
This week, the world’s first IVF baby turned 40. The procedure has come a long way since 1978, and more than 6 million IVF babies have now been born. But should we be concerned about the rising numbers of fertility treatments? And are we becoming less…
The dark side of happiness – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 20, 2018 • 28 min
Happiness means something different to all of us, be it contentment, pleasure or joy. But could pursuing it leave us sad instead? Nicola Davis explores the science and psychology of happiness
From Ebola to Nipah: are we ready for the next epidemic? – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 13, 2018 • 27 min
The 2014 Ebola outbreak killed over 10,000 people before it was eventually brought under control. As new infectious diseases appear around the world, what can we learn from past outbreaks to better prepare ourselves?
Did dinosaurs stop to smell the flowers? – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 6, 2018 • 29 min
Is it true that dinosaurs had a role to play in the emergence of flowers? Nicola Davis investigates whether herbivores caused plants to blossom
Slice of PIE: a linguistic common ancestor – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 29, 2018 • 29 min
Nicola Davis explores Proto-Indo-European, the hypothetical common ancestor of modern Indo-European languages and asks, where did it come from? How and why did it spread? And do languages evolve like genes?
Gene-edited pigs: can we engineer immunity? – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 22, 2018 • 24 min
Pigs have been rendered immune to a disease that has cost billions. Hannah Devlin questions whether this could be the future of eliminating debilitating and costly viruses in livestock
Soundscape ecology with Bernie Krause – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 15, 2018 • 27 min
Do you know what noise a hungry sea anemone makes? Soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause does. Armed with over 5,000 hours of recordings, he takes Ian Sample on a journey through the natural world and demonstrates why sound is such a powerful tool for…
The psychological effects of inequality – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 8, 2018 • 28 min
Wealth inequality has skyrocketed in the UK, as has anxiety, stress and mental illness. Could the two be linked? Richard Lea investigates
Finding a voice: why we sound unique – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 1, 2018 • 26 min
Each and everyone of us has a voice that is unique. As a result, we make a lot of assumptions about someone from just the way they speak. But are these judgements fair? And what if they’re wrong? Nicola Davis explores
Radiophobia: why do we fear nuclear power? – Science Weekly podcast
May 25, 2018 • 25 min
Nuclear energy is back on the UK government’s agenda. However, concerns about safety have plagued this technology for decades. Given it kills less people than wind, coal or gas, why are we so radiophobic? Ian Sample investigates.
Why is asbestos still killing people? – Science Weekly podcast
May 18, 2018 • 25 min
Every year, more people die from asbestos exposure than road traffic accidents in Great Britain. Many countries still continue to build with this lethal substance – but why? Hannah Devlin investigates
Growing brains in labs – Science Weekly podcast
May 11, 2018 • 30 min
This week: Hannah Devlin explores how scientists are growing human brains in labs. Why are they so keen to explore the possibilities? What are the ethical concerns being raised by experts?
Cross Section: Carlo Rovelli – Science Weekly podcast
May 4, 2018 • 34 min
Guest host Richard Lea reimagines time with theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. What is time, after all? Should we be thinking about it differently?
The curious case of the dodo – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 27, 2018 • 29 min
This week: Nicola Davis investigates the death by fowl play of one of the world’s most famous dodo specimens. So what do we know about the dodo as a species? And what questions does this murder case raise?
The science behind why we fight – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 20, 2018 • 28 min
This week, Ian Sample asks: why do humans fight? Can science tell us anything about what drives us to violence?
Alternative medicine and its sceptics – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 13, 2018 • 30 min
This week, Hannah Devlin asks: what are sceptics of alternative medicine saying about its rise? And what can their thoughts tell us about how the scientific sceptic movement is approaching the conversation?
A Neuroscientist Explains: how we read words
Apr 9, 2018 • 34 min
For our final episode of this series, Daniel Glaser (with a little misguided help from his producer Max) attempts to unpick what the brain does – and doesn’t do – when we read
What our teeth tell us about our evolutionary past – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 6, 2018 • 28 min
This week, Nicola Davis asks: what clues do our teeth hold about our species? And what can they tell us about our past?
A Neuroscientist Explains: where perception ends and hallucination begins
Apr 2, 2018 • 37 min
When it comes to perceiving the world around us, how much of it is due to ‘bottom-up’ sensory data and how much comes from the ‘top-down’ predictions we make? Most importantly; how can the delicate dance between the two lead to hallucinations?
The trouble with science - Science Weekly podcast
Mar 30, 2018 • 26 min
Scientists are tasked with helping us understand our world. When the science is right, they help move humanity forward. But what about when science is wrong?
Inside the secret life of the teenage brain – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 23, 2018 • 28 min
Hannah Devlin speaks to neuroscientist Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore about her groundbreaking research into the adolescent brain
A Neuroscientist Explains: how whooping increases your enjoyment
Mar 23, 2018 • 28 min
Daniel Glaser explores the complex relationship between mind and body when it comes to emotion
A Neuroscientist Explains: psychology’s replication crisis – podcast trailer
Mar 20, 2018 • 1 min
In episode three of the second season of A Neuroscientist Explains, Daniel Glaser revisits a weekly column that saw him roped into what is now being called a crisis for psychology and further afield
What do the chemical signatures of deadly nerve agents tell us about their origins? – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 16, 2018 • 27 min
Ian Sample talks to two fellow Guardian reporters and a professor of environmental toxicology about the Salisbury spy poisoning
A Neuroscientist Explains: the origins of social behaviour – podcast trailer
Mar 15, 2018 • 1 min
In episode two of the second season of our A Neuroscientist Explains podcast, Daniel Glaser explores the evolutionary origins of social conformity
Is it possible to enhance and rewire the adult brain? – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 9, 2018 • 25 min
Nicola Davis asks: can we increase the window of brain plasticity in the later stages of life? And what do we know about the implications of doing so?
A Neuroscientist Explains: is the internet addictive?
Mar 5, 2018 • 35 min
Dr Daniel Glaser is back. To kick off season two he asks whether there is a connection between reward and addiction. And can we really get addicted to Twitter?
Cross Section: Steven Pinker – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 2, 2018 • 37 min
We ask Prof Steven Pinker whether today’s doom and gloom headlines are a sign we’re worse off than in centuries gone by, or if human wellbeing is at an all-time high
A Neuroscientist Explains: season two trailer
Feb 27, 2018 • 1 min
Dr Daniel Glaser and Producer Max are back for a second season of A Neuroscientist Explains – and this time they’re going it alone!
What happened to US diplomats in Cuba? – Science Weekly podcast
Feb 23, 2018 • 27 min
Ian Sample delves into a preliminary study of US embassy staff said to have been targeted by an energy source in Cuba. With no unifying explanation, what do scientists think happened?
E-cigarettes and the burning issues around vaping - Science Weekly podcast
Feb 16, 2018 • 31 min
Ian Sample asks: how safe is vaping? Can it help people stop smoking? And should it be available via a doctor’s prescription?
Culture and the mind: a new theory of human intelligence – Science Weekly podcast
Feb 7, 2018 • 40 min
What role might culture play in intelligence? And how does human culture differ from culture found in other animals? Nicola Davis explores our evolutionary history
Why is the flu so bad this year? - Science Weekly podcast
Feb 1, 2018 • 32 min
Hannah Devlin explores why 2018 is such a bumper year for seasonal flu and asks how scientists are trying to fight back
Questioning AI: does artificial intelligence need an off switch? - Science Weekly podcast
Jan 24, 2018 • 40 min
Our final mini-series episode asks what impact might AI have on society – and who decides when to turn it off?
Questioning AI: what can scientists learn from artificial intelligence? – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 17, 2018 • 33 min
In this episode of our new mini-series, Ian Sample explores how AI is providing insights into cancer diagnosis, intelligence, and physics
Questioning AI: what kind of intelligence will we create? – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 10, 2018 • 38 min
In the second episode of this mini-series, Ian Sample asks if human-level intelligence is what we should be aiming for. And can we replicate something we can’t even define?
Questioning AI: what are the key research challenges? – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 4, 2018 • 35 min
In the first episode of our Questioning Artificial Intelligence mini-series, Ian Sample explores some of the key hurdles for machine learning, including reasoning and social intelligence
Frankenpod 200: celebrating Mary Shelley’s masterpiece - Science Weekly podcast
Dec 27, 2017 • 34 min
Two hundred years after the publication of Frankenstein, how relevant are the themes and concerns of Shelley’s gothic tale to today’s readers?
DIY Crispr: biohacking your own genome – Science Weekly podcast
Dec 20, 2017 • 33 min
With do-it-yourself Crispr kits now available online, Hannah Devlin asks if it’s really possible to edit your own DNA, is it safe and how should it be regulated?
Poles apart: how do we save society? - Science Weekly podcast
Dec 13, 2017 • 32 min
Divisions between left and right, young and old, metropolitan and rural have never been greater. How can we connect with those we disagree with? And what happens if we fail?
Fighting infection: from Joseph Lister to superbugs - Science Weekly podcast
Dec 6, 2017 • 33 min
Nicola Davis explores the origins of antiseptic surgery and asks what we might learn from its founding father about taking on today’s biggest healthcare threats
Cross Section: Sophie Scott - Science Weekly Podcast
Nov 29, 2017 • 31 min
Where did human language come from? What role does it serve? And how might emojis and GIFs enhance human interaction?
Healthy body, healthy mind: a new approach for mental disorders - Science Weekly podcast
Nov 22, 2017 • 28 min
What role might the immune system play in mental illness? And how might this challenge long-held beliefs about the divide between body and brain?
Tomorrow’s technology: from asteroid mining to programmable matter – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 15, 2017 • 30 min
Ian Sample looks to the future and asks what might the technologies of tomorrow look like? And how might they change our world?
Running smart: the science of completing a marathon – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 8, 2017 • 31 min
Hannah Devlin discusses the limits of human performance with sports scientist Professor John Brewer and amateur marathon runner Vicky Solly
How does socioeconomic position affect our health? - Science Weekly podcast
Nov 1, 2017 • 28 min
This week, Ian Sample and Nicola Davis explore the complex relationship between poverty, stress, and life expectancy
Science, comedy, and society: Brian Cox and Robin Ince answer your questions
Oct 25, 2017 • 32 min
In this week’s Science Weekly podcast, Nicola Davis asks two of popular science’s best known stars a host of pressing questions. What role should scientists play in society? What might the future hold for humanity? And will we ever build Northampton on…
Decisions, decisions: the neuroscience of how we choose – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 18, 2017 • 26 min
Ian Sample speaks with two members of an ambitious project that hopes to crack one of neuroscience’s biggest mysteries
The Party: how can gender affect autism spectrum disorders? – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 12, 2017 • 24 min
Why are so many women with autism often misdiagnosed? And how does this issue resonate with broader ideas of neurodiversity?
From zero to infinity: a brief history of counting – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 4, 2017 • 28 min
Nicola Davis is joined by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy to explore zero, infinity and everything in between
Childhood cancer survivors: a unique perspective – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 27, 2017 • 23 min
What does later life look like for the growing population of childhood cancer survivors? And how might their experiences change the way we treat this group of diseases?
The cybercrime arms race: fighting back against the hackers - Science Weekly podcast
Sep 20, 2017 • 28 min
Nicola Davis speaks with two experts on the frontline of cybercrime to find out how the changing digital landscape is leaving us all vulnerable to cyber attacks
Statistical vigilantes: the war on scientific fraud – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 14, 2017 • 27 min
Hannah Devlin delves into the case of a shamed Japanese scientist to explore how statistical malpractice is damaging science - whether employed knowingly or not
The grey zone: reaching out to patients with disorders of consciousness
Sep 6, 2017 • 26 min
In this edition of Science Weekly, Ian Sample explores whether it is possible to communicate with those in a ‘vegetative’ state – and what are the ethical and legal ramifications?
Plastics: a villainous material? Or a victim of its own success? – Science Weekly podcast
Aug 30, 2017 • 32 min
Nicola Davis delves into the world of plastics to find out exactly how and why they became so widespread, and what can now be done to curtail the ever-present problems they can cause
Being human in the age of artificial intelligence - Science Weekly podcast
Aug 23, 2017 • 28 min
Ian Sample speaks with Prof Max Tegmark about the advance of AI, the future of life on Earth, and what happens if and when a ‘superintelligence’ arrives
Cross Section: Dame Stephanie Shirley – Science Weekly podcast
Aug 16, 2017 • 26 min
Hannah Devlin speaks with the IT pioneer about her life as a woman in tech, having a son with autism, and how it all led to her later role as a philanthropist
Editing the embryo: removing harmful gene mutations - Science Weekly podcast
Aug 10, 2017 • 27 min
Hannah Devlin explores the science and ethics behind a landmark study that successfully edited the genomes of developing embryos. How did they do it? What did they hope to achieve? And, further down the line, what kind of doors might research like this…
A peek behind the cosmic curtain: Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw answer your questions
Aug 2, 2017 • 32 min
Science Weekly hosts the authors of Universal: a guide to the cosmos for a special live recording answering questions about the big bang, the multiverse and more
Minds and machines: can we work together in the digital age? - Science Weekly podcast
Jul 26, 2017 • 32 min
Ian Sample sits down with Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson to discuss the future of the workplace and the role artificial intelligence will play
Science Weekly live: call for listener’s questions - Science Weekly podcast
Jul 25, 2017 • 1 min
This Thursday, we’ll be recording a very special Q&A episode with Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw and we want your questions!
Hearing voices: the science of auditory verbal hallucinations - Science Weekly podcast
Jul 19, 2017 • 28 min
What can advances in neuroscience and psychology reveal about this age-old phenomenon? And how might digital avatars help patients answer back?
Big data: what can the internet tell us about who we really are? – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 12, 2017 • 30 min
In an age where Google sees trillions of searches a year, what can our usage of it reveal? How accurate are these ‘big data’ representations? And how might this all be used for the greater good?
A history of human creativity: the good, the bad, and the ugly – Science Weekly podcast
Jul 6, 2017 • 28 min
Ian Sample delves into our evolutionary past to explore the role creativity and collaboration may have played in early human societies
Cross section: Athene Donald – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 28, 2017 • 31 min
Hannah Devlin sits down with experimental physicist Athene Donald to explore her work in polymers and role as an advocate for gender equality in science
Out with the old: new treatment on cell ageing process – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 21, 2017 • 31 min
Ian Sample explores research on cellular senescence and the role this therapeutic approach can play in age-related diseases and health issues
Face value: the science of first impressions – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 16, 2017 • 34 min
Hannah Devlin delves into the world of human faces and asks: how does the brain process them? And how do faces affect our ideas about people?
Solar spacecraft: two missions to the sun - Science Weekly podcast
Jun 11, 2017 • 31 min
Nicola Davis speaks with two scientists about their respective missions to the sun - what burning questions do they hope to answer? And what are some of the obstacles?
Cross Section: Robbert Dijkgraaf – Science Weekly podcast
Jun 4, 2017 • 30 min
This week, Nicola Davis sits down with mathematical physicist Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf to discuss The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge
The Bell-Beaker folk - Science Weekly podcast
May 28, 2017 • 18 min
Hannah Devlin looks at a genome study that may explain the spread of bell-shaped pottery beakers across Europe 4,500 years ago
Is graphene really worth the hype – science weekly
May 21, 2017 • 30 min
Nicola Davis investigates what makes graphene the ‘wonder material’ and whether it can bring commercial success to the UK
Science weekly: can we cure Alzheimer’s?
May 14, 2017 • 27 min
Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of people worldwide. But despite decades of research costing hundreds of millions of dollars, we have no cure. Why?
Erica answers: responses from an android - Science Weekly podcast
May 3, 2017 • 16 min
Erica - the world’s ‘most beautiful and intelligent’ android - responds to people’s questions about her memories, superintelligence, and the future of humanity
How Artificial Intelligence will change the world: a live event - Science Weekly podcast
Apr 27, 2017 • 47 min
Recorded in front of a live audience as part of our Brainwaves series, Ian Sample asks a group of experts how AI will change our social landscape - for better or worse
Breakthrough Starshot: getting to Proxima Centauri b – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 20, 2017 • 34 min
Hannah Devlin explores the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative, which aims to use lasers to propel spherical sails to Alpha Centauri - our closest star system - over four light years away
The evolution of reason: a new theory of human understanding – Science Weekly podcast
Apr 13, 2017 • 39 min
Ian Sample and Nicola Davis delve into the world of reason and ask why do we have it? How does it work? And what insights might our evolutionary past provide?
First Impressions: what can babies see? - Science Weekly Podcast
Apr 11, 2017 • 31 min
What can we see when we’re born? How does this develop with time? And how can our culture and language affect the way we perceive the world around us?
Cross Section: Lawrence Krauss - Science Weekly podcast
Apr 5, 2017 • 28 min
Nicola Davis asks theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and science communicator Professor Lawrence Krauss about the secrets of the universe
Built on bones: the history of humans in the city - Science Weekly podcast
Mar 28, 2017 • 31 min
Ian Sample and bioarchaeologist Brenna Hassett explore the history of our relationship with an urban lifestyle – the good, the bad, and the ugly
Cryogenic preservation: from single cells to whole organs – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 22, 2017 • 29 min
Hannah Devlin looks at recent advances in the field of cryopreservation and asks how close we are to applying these technologies to whole organs
How to write a successful science book – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 15, 2017 • 28 min
To celebrate the announcement of the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize shortlist, Hannah Devlin asks three of its featured authors about the secrets to writing a successful science book
Is it time for an update to evolutionary theory? - Science Weekly podcast
Mar 8, 2017 • 42 min
The extended evolutionary synthesis is controversially proposed as an update to evolutionary theory as we know it. Nicola Davis explores the arguments
Exoplanets orbiting Trappist-1 and the search for life – Science Weekly podcast
Mar 1, 2017 • 23 min
Hannah Devlin explores the research behind the recent announcement of seven Earth-size planets and asks how we might probe their nature, including a suitability for life Exoplanet discovery: seven Earth-sized planets found orbiting nearby star
A neuroscientist explains: teaching morality to robots
Feb 26, 2017 • 31 min
Dr Daniel Glaser delves into the murky world of Artificial Intelligence and asks whether true intelligence can exist without an understanding of morality
Nudge theory: the psychology and ethics of persuasion - Science Weekly podcast
Feb 22, 2017 • 35 min
This week, Ian Sample explores the psychology behind ‘nudging’, its usage by governments, and some of the ethical quandaries involved
A neuroscientist explains: magnetic resonance imaging
Feb 19, 2017 • 48 min
Dr Daniel Glaser explores the history and science behind a well known method of brain imaging, including a trip for producer Max into an MRI scanner
Poison tales: the chemistry of crime fiction – Science Weekly podcast
Feb 15, 2017 • 35 min
Nicola Davis sits down with Dr Kathryn Harkup to discuss a shared love of crime fiction and the chemistry contained within their poisonous plots
A neuroscientist explains: listener’s emails about empathy
Feb 14, 2017 • 12 min
Responding to some of our listener’s emails, Dr Daniel Glaser ponders whether dogs have a Theory of Mind, the neuroscience behind bilingualism, and the value of introspection
A neuroscientist explains: how we perceive the truth
Feb 12, 2017 • 33 min
Dr Daniel Glaser explores what the wiring of the brain can tell us about how we perceive the world
Is emergent quantum mechanics grounded in classical physics? - Science Weekly podcast
Feb 9, 2017 • 38 min
Does strange quantum behaviour emerge from run-of-the-mill classical physics? If so, what does this tell us about the fundamental nature of reality?
A neuroscientist explains: listener’s emails about memory
Feb 8, 2017 • 8 min
Responding to some of our listener’s emails, Dr Daniel Glaser explores the role of photographs for recall, and the vividness of musical memory
A neuroscientist explains: the need for ‘empathetic citizens’
Feb 5, 2017 • 37 min
What is the neuroscience behind empathy? When do children develop it? And can it be taught?
Cross Section: Uta Frith – Science Weekly podcast
Feb 1, 2017 • 33 min
Nicola Davis sits down with Professor Uta Frith to talk autism, passion, rebellion and the role of women in science
A neuroscientist explains: how the brain stores memories
Jan 29, 2017 • 34 min
How do brains and computers differ when it comes to memory storage? And what clues can we get from the ageing brain?
The narcissistic scientist: big brain, big head? – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 25, 2017 • 25 min
How prevalent is narcissism in science? Has this changed over time? And how could it threaten the fundamental pillars of science?
A neuroscientist explains: how music affects the brain
Jan 22, 2017 • 40 min
In the first episode of this new podcast, Dr Daniel Glaser asks what effect does music have on our brains? And how can it be harnessed for therapy?
Communicating climate change: a psychoanalysis – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 19, 2017 • 35 min
What is the psychology behind climate change denial? Can it be overcome? And what communication tips can scientists take from political campaigns?
Universal grammar: are we born knowing the rules of language? – Science weekly podcast
Jan 11, 2017 • 29 min
Do all human languages share a universal grammar? And can science shed light on a schism that’s divided the world of linguistics for over half a century?
Stephen Hawking at 75: a brief history – Science Weekly podcast
Jan 8, 2017 • 36 min
The origin of the universe, the distribution of galaxies, and the nature of black holes – it’s all in a day’s work for one of the most prominent scientists of all time
Recast: Us and Them - Science Weekly podcast
Dec 27, 2016 • 32 min
Are we biologically primed to fear outsiders? And can science help us bridge the divide when conflicts arise?
Juno probe’s Jupiter mission update - Science Weekly podcast
Dec 20, 2016 • 27 min
What has Juno revealed since it dropped into Jupiter’s orbit earlier this year? And how is the probe holding up against the solar system’s largest gas giant?
The male contraceptive pill: how close are we? – Science Weekly podcast
Dec 14, 2016 • 27 min
Over 100 million women around the world use the female contraceptive pill. But why isn’t there a male alternative? And are the barriers to its creation scientific or social?
Cross Section: Neil deGrasse Tyson – Science Weekly podcast
Dec 7, 2016 • 33 min
What first attracted one of the world’s foremost astrophysicists to the night sky? Are we alone in the universe? And how can scientific thinking benefit us all?
Big Unknowns: can we stop ageing? – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 29, 2016 • 34 min
With advances in medicine, science, and technology allowing humans to live longer than ever, can we finally crack the code of ageing and stop it altogether?
Big Unknowns: what is dark matter? – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 22, 2016 • 30 min
Matter as we know it accounts for less than 5% of the known universe - the rest remains something of a mystery
Big Unknowns: is free will an illusion? – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 15, 2016 • 32 min
Free will has been debated by philosophers and theologians for centuries. Neuroscientists and psychologists have now entered the fray - but what new light can they shed? And just how free are we when it comes to “free” will?
Big Unknowns: how did life begin? – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 8, 2016 • 39 min
According to our best estimates, life first appeared on planet Earth around 3.8bn years ago. But what happened leading up to it? What conditions were necessary? And what is ‘life’ anyway’?
Big Unknowns Series 2 trailer - the Science Weekly podcast
Nov 4, 2016 • 3 min
How did life begin? Is free will an illusion? Where’s all the dark matter? And can we live forever? These are some of science’s big unknowns and in this returning mini-series, we’re going to pull some of them apart
Cross Section: Mike Massimino – Science Weekly podcast
Nov 1, 2016 • 40 min
Like many kids, Mike Massimino dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Against all odds, he turned that dream into reality. This is his story
Ethics and genetics: opening the book of life – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 25, 2016 • 37 min
When it comes to the ethics of genetic technologies who decides how far we should go in our pursuit for perfection?
False memories: from the lab to the courtroom - Science Weekly podcast
Oct 18, 2016 • 29 min
How much of our memory is fictitious? And how is this psychological research now being applied to the world of eyewitness testimony and victim statements?
The quest for a theory of everything – Science Weekly podcast
Oct 11, 2016 • 32 min
In the race for a unifying ‘theory of everything’ two frontrunners are miles ahead. But what will win? String theory? Loop quantum gravity? Or something else entirely?
Weapons of math destruction: how big data and algorithms affect our lives
Oct 4, 2016 • 25 min
In this special collaboration between the Guardian’s Science Weekly and Chips with Everything podcasts, we explore how big data and algorithms affect our lives - for better and worse
The eureka moment: how scientists learn to trust their gut
Sep 29, 2016 • 31 min
In the final episode of Brain waves, Dr Kevin Fong and Nathalie Nahai move from the science of emotion to the emotion of science. We learn about the years of research behind a flash of inspiration – and ask where the stereotype of the unemotional…
The man who lost touch – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 27, 2016 • 24 min
What happens without proprioception, our innate ability to know where and how our body is moving through space? And what can we learn from those who have lost it?
Express yourself: how music plays with our emotions
Sep 22, 2016 • 32 min
In the fourth instalment of Brain waves, Dr Kevin Fong and Nathalie Nahai explore the power that music has to trigger our emotions, and ask if there’s an evolutionary function behind it all. Plus, why do sad songs say so much?
Cross Section: Sir Roger Penrose – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 20, 2016 • 39 min
Has string theory become too fashionable? Do we place too much faith in quantum mechanics? And does mathematics exist in the external objective world?
Fever pitch: how sport hacks your emotions - Brain Waves podcast
Sep 15, 2016 • 25 min
In the third episode of Brain waves, Dr Kevin Fong and Nathalie Nahai discover how our love of sport evolved out of ancient emotional experiences and ask how modern stadiums are designed to maximise sensation. Plus, we meet the world’s first “thrill…
The nature of intelligence - Science Weekly podcast
Sep 13, 2016 • 30 min
How do we define intelligence? How do we decide which animals possess it? And why are some people so uncomfortable with the idea of intelligence and consciousness existing outside the world of Homo sapiens?
Scents and sensibility: what’s it like to live without smell?
Sep 8, 2016 • 29 min
In the second instalment of Brain waves, Dr Kevin Fong and Nathalie Nahai explore what it’s like to live without smell. Plus, can a multisensory chef help anosmiac Lucy Mangan appreciate the joy of food?
The fate of Arctic sea ice – Science Weekly podcast
Sep 6, 2016 • 32 min
The extent of the Arctic sea ice continues to drop, but how accurate are the predictions that measure it? And what could happen if it finally disappears?
Brain waves: the science of emotion
Sep 1, 2016 • 35 min
What is love – and what does it have to do with meeting a bear in the woods? In the first of a five-part series, Dr Kevin Fong and Nathalie Nahai unpick the causes of emotions. But where’s the best place to start – history, culture, society or our bodies?
The secret lives of cities
Aug 28, 2016 • 37 min
Are cities anything more than the bricks, mortar, and steel that make them up? And what role can science and technology play in the cities of tomorrow?
Big unknowns: what will become of us?
Aug 21, 2016 • 31 min
What does the future hold for humanity? And can we ever really know? Join us for a journey into the unknown
Big unknowns: is time an illusion? – Science Weekly podcast
Aug 12, 2016 • 34 min
Is time a figment of the human mind or the most fundamental of phenomena? And what do the physical laws of nature reveal about its mysteries?
Big unknowns: what is consciousness?
Aug 5, 2016 • 40 min
What does it mean to be you? And how can science unpick the age-old debates around conscious experience? Join us for a journey into the unknown
Big unknowns: is our universe infinite?
Jul 29, 2016 • 29 min
Does our universe go on forever? Or does it have boundaries? And what clues can science uncover? Join us for a journey into the unknown
Us and Them: are we biologically primed to fear outsiders? - Science Weekly podcast
Jul 22, 2016 • 31 min
Is there a biological basis for human division? And can science help us bridge the divide when conflicts arise?
What is the future of touch? - Science Weekly podcast
Jul 15, 2016 • 21 min
We get a feel for how the latest advances in haptic technologies are bringing us all closer together
The Juno probe: unearthing Jupiter’s past - Science Weekly podcast
Jul 8, 2016 • 20 min
After five years and 1.4bn miles, the Nasa spacecraft has arrived at its final destination, but what is this plucky little probe hoping to find?
Do we want robots to be like humans?
Jul 1, 2016
Should machines have a concrete Mr Spock-like regard for logic or are there times when the best decision is a more human one?
The search for planet Earth’s twin
Jun 24, 2016 • 32 min
Ian Sample talks to Stuart Clarke about his new book exploring exoplanets and alien worlds, and how to find another Earth
Second chance saloon: the power of old ideas
Jun 17, 2016 • 37 min
Why do ideas discarded for centuries, like electric cars, return to the cutting edge of science and technology?
The future of gene research
Jun 10, 2016 • 31 min
How does our genetic makeup help or hinder our chances in life? And as our ability to unravel DNA becomes more powerful, what are the implications?