Babbage from Economist Radio

Babbage from Economist Radio
Named after Charles Babbage, a 19th-century polymath and grandfather of computing, Babbage is a weekly podcast on science and technology. Host Kenneth Cukier talks to our correspondents about the innovations, discoveries and gadgetry making the news. P…

Reality check
Nov 20 • 23 min
Virtual reality continues to make people sick. Will the technology ever take off and is it designed for women? Leo Murray, from “Riding Sunbeams”, on using solar power to propel future commuter journeys. Also, how slippery toilets could reduce water-use.…
Private patients
Nov 13 • 28 min
Google has teamed up with US-healthcare provider Ascension to access patient data without them being notified. What are the privacy concerns and implications for digital healthcare? And, how will 3D printing change the way we build everything from…
Designer genes
Nov 6 • 23 min
How far away are “designer babies” from being a reality? Host Kenneth Cukier explores the ethical questions around the applications of a genome-wide association study. Journalist and author Gaia Vince on how “cultural evolution” shapes society. Also, a…
Home o’Sapiens
Oct 30 • 23 min
Scientists believe they have located the ancestral home of one of humanity’s early ancestors—in northern Botswana. Tom Siebel, a Silicon Valley veteran and the founder of, explains how digital transformation stops companies from going extinct. And,…
Libra takes a pounding
Oct 23 • 21 min
Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, has suffered setbacks in recent weeks, as the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg appears before a congressional committee to defend it. The Economist’s technology editor Tim Cross explains what’s at stake. Also, how a…
Cough up
Oct 16 • 25 min
Over the past two decades the Global Fund has fought the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, but now many in the field fear its progress is under threat. The founder and CEO of language-learning app Duolingo, Luis von Ahn, on his plans to help the…
The promise and peril of AI
Oct 9 • 28 min
Artificial intelligence—the technique of using data and algorithms to make decisions as well as (or better) than humans—is on track to become a mainstream technology, on a par with electricity or computing. But in order to flourish it needs to overcome…
Steak and Chips
Oct 2 • 26 min
As the trade war intensifies, China wants to reduce its reliance on imports of foreign computer chips. Could open-source technology solve its problems? Also, new research on red meat pits statisticians against nutritionists. And Brad Smith, president of…
Carbon sucks
Sep 25 • 25 min
Scientists are experimenting with different ways to reduce the amount of carbon being emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere. Nilay Shah, of Imperial College London, explains how carbon capture and storage works. And, Wang Jian, a tech chief of Alibaba, on…
Climate. Change
Sep 18 • 25 min
As global leaders prepare for the UN climate change summit next week, we debate what changes individuals can make today to help limit the effects of climate change. The Economist’s environment editor, Catherine Brahic, hosts a roundtable with Christiana…
Taxis for take-off
Sep 11 • 24 min
Flying taxis could soon become commonplace in cities if operators can overcome strict regulations on their use. Journalist Rebecca Fannin explores the future of technology giants in China. And, how can the sound of sand reveal its source? Kenn Cukier…
Innovation around innovation
Sep 4 • 27 min
Innovation: it’s more than just a buzzword that companies use when trying to sound dynamic. But what does it actually mean? Some entrepreneurs and economists like Patrick Collison and Tyler Cowen think that it needs to be studied as a science of progress.…
Oh, grow up
Aug 28 • 22 min
Investors are ploughing hundreds of millions of dollars into vertical farming. Could towers of vegetables help feed the world’s growing population? Also, how studying gravitational waves could unlock the deepest mysteries of the universe and prove…
Gut Feeling
Aug 21 • 21 min
How can understanding the link between gut bacteria and Autism Spectrum Disorder help scientists develop a treatment? Broken heart syndrome, or Takotsubo, is a serious condition that can be caused by the death of a loved one. Scientists have recently…
A cure for Ebola?
Aug 14 • 20 min
Two treatments for Ebola have emerged from a clinical trial in Africa. Scientists estimate that sea-levels across the globe will rise by 50cm or so in the next 80 years; in some places they could go up by twice as much. Are governments and businesses…
Aug 7 • 20 min
Can pioneering surgery help delay the menopause and how will it impact women’s lives? And, Clara Vu, of Veo Robotics, explains some of the challenges of designing “cobots”, robots that work collaboratively with humans on manufacturing tasks. Also, should…
Hot as hell
Jul 31 • 28 min
Record-breaking heatwaves are becoming routine and they are killing people. But many of the potentially life-saving solutions are both low-tech and low-cost. Governments should be doing more. Also, we visit Lake Chad in the Sahel to understand how climate…
Return of the king
Jul 24 • 18 min
Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft has reclaimed its crown as the world’s most valuable listed company. What can other firms learn from its reboot? Also, Reshma Shetty, cofounder of Gingko Bioworks, explains the potential of synthetic biology to harness – and…
The next giant leap for mankind
Jul 17 • 22 min
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 moon mission. Is humankind about to return there? And what do the next 50 years of space exploration hold? The task of moderating a platform with over two billion active users is a…
How tech is my valley?
Jul 10 • 22 min
China is promoting a tech district that it hopes will be a serious contender to America’s Silicon Valley. Hal Hodson, The Economist’s technology correspondent, visits the new hub. Lord John Browne, author of “Make, Think, Imagine”, on how advancements in…
DeepMind games
Jul 3 • 20 min
The child chess prodigy who created a computer that outplays human grandmasters—Demis Hassabis, founder of DeepMind, explains how games are a testing ground for algorithms and what real-world challenges he hopes to tackle with artificial intelligence.…
Curing the big sea
Jun 27 • 19 min
Researchers hope to use disease-fighting genes found in whales to help find treatments for cancer in humans. Airliners that mix batteries and fossil fuel could dominate the skies in the future. And, are people more honest than they think they are? Kenneth…
Jun 19 • 19 min
Facebook wants to create a global digital currency—what could possibly go wrong? Also, why billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, founder of Blackstone private-equity firm, is donating £150m to fund a humanities centre at Oxford University. And, what can be done…
Space invaders
Jun 12 • 23 min
The business opportunities from small satellite technology are infinite: from an ‘ambulance’ which rescues malfunctioning spacecraft to devices that can measure the oil level in a tanker from space. Are we on the verge of making gene-editing technology…
Fusing the future
Jun 5 • 20 min
In this week’s Babbage, Alok Jha investigates the organisations and companies trying to crack a technology that could solve all of the world’s energy problems in a stroke—nuclear fusion. From Iter, the world’s largest collaborative fusion experiment, to…
Rash behaviour
May 29 • 19 min
The measles resurgence around the world has been blamed on parents refusing to vaccinate their children but is vaccinating children enough? Also, how a new glove for humans is teaching robots how to feel. And Kenneth Cukier asks Carl Benedikt Frey,…
Data to the rescue
May 22 • 24 min
Access to the right data can be as valuable in humanitarian crises as water or medical care, but it can also be dangerous. Misused or in the wrong hands, the same information can put already vulnerable people at further risk. Kenneth Cukier hosts this…
Facing the future?
May 15 • 21 min
Legislators in San Francisco have just voted to ban the use of facial recognition—is this a victory for privacy or a setback for technology? Also, new research on how machine learning can be used to predict the likelihood of breast cancer. And Amazon’s…
Uber traffic
May 8 • 20 min
As Uber prepares for its public listing this week, a new study in San Francisco shows that ride-hailing companies cause major road congestion. Also, how much should smart speakers see as well as hear? And, author Douglas Rushkoff explains why he views…
Net zero Britain
May 1 • 21 min
This week the Committee on Climate Change releases its anticipated recommendations for Britain to become a carbon-free economy, but will the Government take meaningful action? Also, the controversial subject of lung cancer screening. And David…
The genetic revolution
Apr 24 • 21 min
Kenneth Cukier takes a look at the future of genetic engineering and what it means to be human. He speaks to leading scientists, doctors and philosophers to ask if ethics and regulations are able to keep up with the technology For information regarding…
Apr 17 • 24 min
Amazon’s use of artificial intelligence has long outstripped Facebook and Google. Just how ingrained is AI at Amazon? Also, journalist and author David Wallace Wells explains the diminishing optimism of the climate change movement. And, how natural…
Hypersonic Boom
Apr 10 • 18 min
America, China and Russia are developing long range, gliding missiles that travel at speeds greater than Mach 5. What are the threats and safeguards? Also, Dame Stephanie Shirley, the programmer who set up Britain’s first all-female software company in…
Apr 3 • 20 min
A little-known paleontologist may have found the last piece of the puzzle explaining the fate of the dinosaurs: what actually happened when the giant asteroid struck the Earth. Also, Paul Davies, a renowned physicist, explains the systems of information…
Mar 27 • 24 min
How scientists followed the nose of a super-smeller to identify a new test for Parkinson’s disease. Also, historian Kate Brown tells us what she uncovered from decades of researching the Chernobyl disaster. And scientists in China have found a potential…
Mar 20 • 19 min
The insect apocalypse may not be imminent, but the decline of insect species is still a concern. And we speak to Dr Angela Gallop about her career as one of Britain’s most eminent forensic scientists. Also, when will a robot barista serve you a latte?…
Pioneers of the WWW
Mar 13 • 20 min
Kenneth Cukier gets in the Babbage time machine and travels to 1989, when Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote the famous memo that laid the foundations for the world wide web. Kenn speaks to some of the other key figures that influenced its invention, like Ted…
Breaking the ice
Mar 6 • 21 min
We have an exclusive interview with Dr Huw Griffiths on the mission to investigate a recently uncovered marine ecosystem in the Antarctic. And the author and scholar Shoshana Zuboff explains surveillance capitalism. Also, how the makers of the game…
The element-hunters
Feb 27 • 20 min
It is 150 years since Dmitri Mendeleev discovered the periodic table, the innate order underpinning the elements. Kenneth Cukier explores how this simple grid has shaped our understanding of the universe and our place in it. In a laboratory near Moscow…
Joker AAAStronauts
Feb 20 • 21 min
The latest buzz from the AAAS, the largest general science meeting in the world, from The Economist’s science correspondent, Alok Jha. NASA scientists presented initial findings on how a year in space changes astronauts’ bodies. Why a good sense of humour…
Regulating fake news
Feb 13 • 20 min
Tech giants face regulation on news after UK media review. Its author, Dame Frances Cairncross, tells us even the technology platforms recognise the need for change. Roger McNamee, one of Facebook’s early investors, asks if it’s now too powerful. And the…
A bill of data rights
Feb 6 • 20 min
Should individuals have rights over their data that are protected similar to human rights? We discuss the universe with Jo Dunkley of Princeton. And why the oceans are turning a different shade of blue. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information regarding your…
Ethically challenged
Jan 30 • 16 min
As the controversial story of the editing of the genomes of two babies in China unfolds, we ask how can science be more ethical — and how to tackle “ethics dumping”. Also, how environmental factors can influence the national security of countries affected…
Droning on
Jan 23 • 19 min
How can new technology deal with rogue drones? And what can be learned from Dutch hospitals in the fight against superbugs. Also, the development of a simple camera that can see around corners. Tim Cross hosts For information regarding your data privacy,…
A growing conCERN
Jan 16 • 17 min
We discuss CERN’s latest plans for a successor to the Large Hadron Collider. Also, our healthcare editor explains how scientists hope to develop vaccines more quickly for unexpected viruses. And, how altering the genetic code of E.coli is leading to…
Will China dominate science?
Jan 9 • 16 min
In a special show, we examine China’s impressive scientific advances and question what they mean for the future of the sciences—and of China. Among the guests is the Chinese-American astronaut Leroy Chiao, discussing China’s recent feat of landing a probe…
Success of ‘disability tech’
Jan 2 • 13 min
In this special episode of Babbage, we discuss some of the advancements in technology that could change the lives of those living with a disability — an app that is helping those who are visually impaired. Also, how the sit-ski has benefited from research…
Best of 2018
Dec 26, 2018 • 14 min
In this festive special we look back at some of our favourite stories from 2018. Could IVF could save the northern white rhino from extinction? Also, the discovery of liquid water on Mars. And, how the amphibious life of the Bajau people has led to their…
A little more conservation
Dec 19, 2018 • 19 min
We ask how can conservationists preserve biodiversity through new ideas. Also, what can be done to increase the number of women in the technology industry? And Hossein Derakhshan, a formerly jailed Iranian blogger, discusses whether the web is becoming…
Lots in space
Dec 12, 2018 • 20 min
The race is on to launch satellites to connect the entire world to the internet. We talk to psychologist and geneticist Robert Plomin, about his career and his latest book. And, is the fax machine facing extinction? Kenneth Cukier hosts For information…
Waymo to go
Dec 5, 2018 • 18 min
Waymo, a division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, launched its self-driving taxi service, but is it really a landmark for driverless vehicles? Also, a vast study seeks to understand the genetic underpinnings of ADHD. And we celebrate the 50th…
The baby crisperer
Nov 28, 2018 • 19 min
A Chinese scientist has claimed to have edited the genomes of two babies using the revolutionary genome-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9. Also, how the production of semiconductors is becoming a new battlefield. And Kenneth Cukier asks the author,…
The dos and don’ts of data
Nov 21, 2018 • 18 min
In this special episode we examine the controversial gang-mapping database of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. Also, a new pilot project to study how a “data trust” might increase access to information while retaining privacy. And how sharing mapping…
The blame game
Nov 14, 2018 • 15 min
Should climate change be a matter of human rights? Also, gene drives’ controversial potential to wipe out entire species of mosquitoes. And, a novel watch spring that could change the way mechanical watches are designed. Kenneth Cukier hosts For…
Economist in space
Nov 7, 2018 • 23 min
Highlights from The Economist’s Space Summit in New York, including an interview with Apollo 9 astronaut Russell ‘Rusty’ Schweickart. Also, how to prepare for space exploration with Dava Newman, Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at MIT. And,…
Turning the oceans green
Oct 31, 2018 • 20 min
Can greenhouse emissions be cut in maritime transport? Also, with the US midterms a week away, Courtney Kennedy from PEW Research Centre discusses the reliability of polling data. And the artificial intelligence system being tested as a way to cut down…
Pie in the sky
Oct 24, 2018 • 18 min
Could delivering goods by drone soon become a common occurrence? Also, cyber-security expert Bruce Schneier discusses his latest book. And a new innovation for the disposing of human waste from Mount Everest. Hal Hodson hosts For information regarding…
The quantum conundrum
Oct 17, 2018 • 19 min
Is the internet about to be unravelled by quantum computing? And how artificial intelligence could be used to diagnose the need for lung transplants in patients with cystic fibrosis. Also, our technology correspondent, Hal Hodson, discuss some of the…
What a difference half a degree makes
Oct 10, 2018 • 23 min
This week’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report recommends keeping the global increase in temperature below 1.5°C. We ask how governments and companies can reach “net zero” and whether the global economy can both grow and go green? Kenneth…
The Nobel winners explained
Oct 3, 2018 • 16 min
Economist science correspondents break down the discoveries that won this year’s Nobel prizes. Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, discusses the dangerous ways that the tech industry competes for our attention. And: the story of blackest…
Lessons from Spanish flu
Sep 26, 2018 • 17 min
What can we learn from the Spanish flu pandemic which killed over 50 million people a hundred years ago? Carl Malamud, founder of, wants to make more data public. And, is food actually scarce at the bottom of the ocean? Kenneth Cukier…
Up in smoke
Sep 19, 2018 • 17 min
Are e-cigarettes the answer to giving up tobacco smoking? And SpaceX revives its plans to send tourists around the moon. Also, we speak to Zia Chishti of Afiniti about the role of artificial intelligence in business. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information…
Ma waves ali bye bye
Sep 12, 2018 • 15 min
How China will struggle to produce another Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, who steps down as chairman next year. And we discuss cyber-security with former United States Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information…
Content liability
Sep 5, 2018 • 14 min
Should tech companies be legally responsible for all their content? Also, major European research funders have announced ‘Plan S’ to make all scientific works free to read. And how optical fibre made in orbit could be better than the terrestrial sort.…
Peaks and Valleys
Aug 29, 2018 • 16 min
Has Silicon Valley’s influence as a technology hub peaked? Also, how artificial intelligence is gaining a sense of curiosity. And how a shampoo bottle is saving lives in Bangladesh. Kenneth Cukier hosts. For information regarding your data privacy, visit…
Will Google translate?
Aug 22, 2018 • 14 min
If Google does reintroduce its search engine to China what will it have to omit? And how future helicopters will fly in new ways, with pilots optional. Also, the discovery of a 3,200-year-old ancient Egyptian cheese and what we can learn from it. Hal…
Jumping the Q
Aug 15, 2018 • 19 min
Is quantum technology getting ahead of itself? And we look into what is being done to find a cure for celiac disease. Also, we explore random control trials and the placebo effect of sham surgery. Tim Cross hosts Music by Daniel Birch “Brushed bells in…
My corona
Aug 8, 2018 • 19 min
We speak to project scientist for the Parker Solar Probe, Dr Nicola Fox, about the spacecraft’s upcoming mission to the sun’s atmosphere. We also discuss the upsides of artificial intelligence with professor Max Tegmark. And how seal whiskers are helping… time
Aug 1, 2018 • 19 min
Should AI systems be more human-centric? We look at how a trial of self-driving vehicles in Texas is focusing on what the technology can do now. Rufus Pollack, the founder of Open Knowledge International, discusses how freedom of choice promotes…
Too hot to handle
Jul 25, 2018 • 15 min
Are the recent heat waves around the world a sign of things to come? Geoffrey Carr, our science editor, finds out at the meeting of the International AIDS Society what more needs to be done to eradicate the disease. Also, has liquid water on Mars finally…
Paranoid android
Jul 18, 2018 • 16 min
What does the European Commission’s record fine of Google mean for the future of its Android operating system? And how a popular gene editing tool is raising a few questions. Also, we speak to Dr David Fajgenbaum about the first ever World Castleman…
The Roboburger
Jul 11, 2018 • 17 min
Are robots going to replace chefs in the kitchen? And how footsteps can be used for ID and health checks. Also, we focus on the very latest discoveries from the Gaia space mission. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information regarding your data privacy, visit…
Saving white rhino
Jul 4, 2018 • 20 min
How IVF could save the northern white rhino from extinction. And Jaron Lanier tells us why we should delete our social media accounts. Also, how understanding animal behaviour could reduce errors in the operating theatre. Kenneth Cukier hosts For…
Fixing the internet
Jun 27, 2018 • 14 min
The internet was meant to make the world a less centralised place, but the opposite has happened. The Economist’s technology editor Ludwig Siegele explores why it matters and what can be done about it. Music by Fabian Measures “Open Cab” cc by 4.0 For…
Fuel for thought
Jun 20, 2018 • 19 min
How a privately owned Chinese company called OneSpace is using solid fuel for launching rockets. Also, the worrying growth of bogus scientific journals. And is there an optimal strategy for the dreaded penalty shoot-out? Kenneth Cukier hosts For…
Polio returns
Jun 13, 2018 • 21 min
Why has polio made a comeback in Venezuela and how does it spread? Tien Tzuo, founder of Zuora, says there will be no need to own anything in the future — you will subscribe to everything. And research into how marine mammals respond to predators shows…
AI will see you now
Jun 6, 2018 • 18 min
How companies are using artificial intelligence in medicine to help with diagnosis. We hear why a Dutch park that mimics nature is riling animal-rights activists. Also, what can be learnt from a new study on the calls of the bottlenose dolphin. Tim Cross…
Gene genius
May 30, 2018 • 17 min
Has new research into the human genome discovered the secret to human evolution? And how studying HIV in every organ helps understand how to eliminate it. Also, we review the book “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup”. Kenneth Cukier…
Fake views
May 23, 2018 • 17 min
Deep-fakes – how can we trust what people appear to be saying in online videos? Also, how to contain the recent outbreak of ebola in the DRC. And, a new study of biomass that is putting human’s place in the world into perspective. Kenneth Cukier hosts For…
Show me the way to Cordillera
May 16, 2018 • 14 min
Now that the war between the Colombian government and the FARC has ended, scientists are exploring parts of the country previously held by the rebels. The aim is to make Colombia a “bio-power” by 2030. Also, how lead pollution in Greenlandic ice shows…
When an algorithm decides your fate
May 9, 2018 • 20 min
Computer algorithms are being used with increasing frequency to make decisions about humans - from whether a job applicant makes it through a selection process or if a prison inmate gets released on parole. But how are the algorithms making their…
Big data versus privacy
May 2, 2018 • 31 min
Data is becoming the world’s most valuable resource. Governments use it to monitor and control their citizens. Corporations use it to persuade consumers to buy their products. But as machine learning and algorithms advance, will people still be able to…
Insane in the methane
Apr 25, 2018 • 16 min
What is causing the rising rates of methane in the atmosphere? Also, how an amphibious life for the Bajau people has led to unique evolutionary traits. And the excitement around the Gaia space probe’s latest data release. Hal Hodson hosts For information…
The planet hunter
Apr 18, 2018 • 16 min
Professor Sara Seager joins us to discuss the launch of the spacecraft TESS, and its two-year mission to discover new planets. Also, physicist and author Leonard Mlodinow explains elastic thinking. And, how robots are learning to assemble flat-pack…
Zuckerberg faces Capitol Hill
Apr 11, 2018 • 20 min
Hal Hodson, our technology correspondent, joins us from Washington to discuss Mark Zuckerberg and the future for Facebook. Also, the connection between personality and music. And, how possible is it to populate other planets? Kenneth Cukier hosts. For…
The information game
Apr 4, 2018 • 19 min
How requesting personal data from companies leads to a bureaucratic tangle. Also, nurturing scientific talent in Africa. And, the surprising importance of paint colour for self-driving cars. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information regarding your data…
Working AI to five
Mar 28, 2018 • 18 min
Alexandra Suich Bass, our US technology editor, discusses the rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace. Also, the link between genetics and exam success. And, understanding the language of bees. Kenneth Cukier hosts. For information regarding your…
Saving Face…book
Mar 21, 2018 • 15 min
Silkie Carlo from Big Brother Watch joins host Tim Cross to discuss the latest privacy issues involving Facebook. Also, ageing the rings of Saturn. And, the cost of using antibiotics on the human gut. For information regarding your data privacy, visit…
Remembering Stephen Hawking
Mar 14, 2018 • 19 min
We speak to leading scientists about the life and legacy of Professor Stephen Hawking. And, what is being done to help the ailing Coral reefs? Also, the out of control Chinese space station. Hal Hodson hosts For information regarding your data privacy,…
Exploring the ocean’s hidden depths
Mar 7, 2018 • 14 min
In this week’s programme, we dive into The Economist’s Technology Quarterly issue on oceans. We discuss offshore aquaculture, how to map the sea floor and the threat of plastics. Joining us is Dr Jyotika Virmani, from the Ocean XPRIZE For information…
Automation for the people
Feb 28, 2018 • 17 min
What are the social problems facing the world of vehicle automation? Also, the rise of robot laboratories. And looking for life in the Atacama desert. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Feb 21, 2018 • 18 min
We bring you the highlights from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, including how children can inherit acquired characteristics from their fathers, asteroid mining and how to grow a human organ. Tim Cross hosts For information…
The World in 2018: Technology and us
Feb 14, 2018 • 25 min
In the final episode in our six-part series, we look at the scientific and technological advances that will shape the coming year - from algorithms that can make judgments about us online, to robots that are more effective than humans in the work place.…
Cars to Mars?
Feb 7, 2018 • 16 min
Oliver Morton, our briefings editor, wonders what’s next after Elon Musk’s latest mission to Mars. We ask whether homemade drones can fight conventional armed forces - and could there be lithium under Cornwall? Tim Cross hosts. For information regarding…
Tech giants go to medical school
Jan 31, 2018 • 18 min
The world’s biggest technology firms are poised to transform health care. Will it empower patients and lead to a better diagnosis? Also, ways to prevent passengers in driverless cars from feeling queasy. And how genes play a role in the likelihood of…
Out-of-body organ
Jan 23, 2018 • 18 min
A medical breakthrough means a human liver can now be kept alive outside the body. Will this result in more transplants? Also, a new idea for deadening an aircraft’s sonic boom. And the universal signals in music that cross cultural boundaries. Hal Hodson…
The ethics of AI
Jan 17, 2018 • 20 min
Artificial intelligence heralds the fourth industrial revolution. But what are its ethical challenges? Also, Anne McElvoy and producer Cheryl Brumley head under Manhattan to inspect New York’s newest water tunnel. And the biggest rocket in the world…
Submarine drones hunt for missing flight
Jan 10, 2018 • 16 min
A Norwegian research vessel has joined the search to find missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Can its contingent of self-navigating submarine drones find what others have missed? Also, do we really understand the laws of physics? And what’s new at the…
Trees take a bough
Jan 3, 2018 • 17 min
They are the longest living organisms on earth and supply a timber industry worth $600 billion. But do we value trees enough? Also, how reforesting is one of the biggest changes to land use changes. And the growing threat to tree health. Kenneth Cukier…
Highlights special
Dec 27, 2017 • 12 min
In this special festive episode, we look back at some of the highlights from this year’s coverage. A better way to sail into the stars, why birds are weaving cigarette butts into their homes and what the future of electric cars might look like when…
Remaking tigerland
Dec 20, 2017 • 21 min
Science correspondent Hal Hodson tells the story of T3, a tiger whose bid for freedom and remarkable journey across India highlighted the underlying tensions between humans, nature and conservation For information regarding your data privacy, visit…
Greetings, Earthlings
Dec 13, 2017 • 18 min
Astronomers say a curious cigar-shaped asteroid passing by the sun is not native to our solar system. Could it be an alien spacecraft? Also, a pioneering patient who set out to find a cure for his own life-threatening disease. And the great avocado…
Archeology without the digging
Dec 6, 2017 • 16 min
Google is changing how we view ancient artefacts. Plus, governments could soon regulate video games, as a new money-making method using ‘loot boxes’ emerges. Some say it’s too similar to gambling. And Melinda Gates discusses the importance of…
The electric-flight plan
Nov 29, 2017 • 17 min
Electric cars have become a common sight. So are battery-powered planes likely to take off soon? Also, the engineered bacterium that uses two synthetic DNA letters to make artificial proteins. And how digital technology is transforming speakers and…
The whizz of Oz
Nov 22, 2017 • 19 min
China’s rising demand for electric car batteries has produced a mineral boom in the Australian outback. But is there enough mined cobalt to go round? Also, how the European Union is working towards mitigating climate change. And why the humble fusebox…
Negative emissions
Nov 15, 2017 • 19 min
Countries around the world have agreed to cut carbon emissions but what are they doing to remove the existing CO2 from the air? And how a new generation of surgical robots is about to enter the operating theatre. Also, why do birds really have such…
Leapfrogging forward
Nov 8, 2017 • 14 min
Technology in Africa is making huge advances but will it enough to close the economic gap between Africa and the West? Plus, how scientists are trying to harness the microbiome to rid us of tooth rot. And scientists have developed a ‘spaghetti’ probe that…
Unidentified flying rock
Nov 1, 2017 • 15 min
The first interstellar visitor to the solar system arrives, turns and leaves. What can be learned from the mysterious object? Also, researchers are kitting out drones to deliver supplies to the battlefield. And if wireless charging takes off, electric…
All about that base
Oct 25, 2017 • 19 min
Minutes ago, Nature announced an important development in gene editing. Host Hal Hodson and Natasha Loder discuss how this technique is so precise and what this means for curing genetic diseases. Plus, why sperm whales like heavy metal music. And why are…
Deus ex machina
Oct 19, 2017 • 22 min
With the release of Blade Runner 2049, we explore the future of artificial intelligence and whether it could teach us how the human mind works. The Economist’s Oliver Morton and Jan Piotrowski debate with host Tim Cross. For information regarding your…
Are C-sections fuelling the obesity epidemic?
Oct 11, 2017 • 15 min
Babies born via a Caesarean section are more likely to be obese says new research. Plus how glass is getting a makeover and we explore the question of why you’re attracted to the people you’re attracted to. The Economist’s science correspondent Tim Cross…
Sleep, space and a striking storm-source
Oct 4, 2017 • 19 min
This year’s Nobel science prizes have been announced and The Economist’s science team explain the discoveries behind them. Plus: the link between international trade and lightning strikes, and research suggests that standing desks might be good for your…
Send in the microbots
Sep 27, 2017 • 17 min
The hunt is on among the world’s airlines for faster and more efficient ways to keep jet engines in tip-top condition. Could the answer be tiny robots that inspect and fix them from the inside? Also, a new study shows that birds deliberately weave…
Sailing through space
Sep 20, 2017 • 16 min
Electronic sails could lead to faster, cheaper space exploration by harnessing the energy from solar wind. A new paper suggests climate change predictions could have been slightly overheated. And some antivenoms might be more like snake oil than salvation…
Curing cancer
Sep 13, 2017 • 16 min
Miracles in a test tube won’t cure cancer; using and adapting the technology we’ve already got will. Plus how WiFi’s little brother LoRa will enable our smart cities to flourish. And why Saturn’s space probe Cassini is diving to its death on Friday. For…
I can see you
Sep 6, 2017 • 15 min
Facial recognition software can identify you in a crowd. But it will soon be able to judge your mood, your age and ethnicity. We discuss the merits and pitfalls of this fast-advancing technology. Plus, could fish food be the source of antibiotic…
Weird weather
Aug 30, 2017 • 14 min
As heatwaves sear across Europe and hurricanes wreak havoc in Houston, we ask why extreme weather events are becoming more common. Plus why the anti-inflammatory injection canakinumab will not be the next miracle drug and why Norway might leave $65…
Memorable moments in technology and science this year
Aug 23, 2017 • 16 min
In this special summer episode, we look back at this year’s coverage. What are the ethics of human cloning? Is it possible to fuse a computer into the human brain? And could mysterious signals picked up by an observatory really be from space aliens? For…
Water and the Jevons Paradox
Aug 16, 2017 • 16 min
Technology is helping us access previously inaccessible water reserves. But the more efficient we become at extracting it, the more we use. Is the world’s water crisis set to get worse? Also, we ask the Royal Horticultural Society how we should prepare…
A plug for batteries
Aug 9, 2017 • 17 min
Better batteries are providing the jump start that electric cars need. Plus, could nuclear power plants soon be floating at sea? And why most areas on Earth are more biodiverse now than ever before, thanks to humans For information regarding your data…
Aug 2, 2017 • 18 min
Holograms have fallen short of the vivid, floating projections seen in science fiction. However, one scientist is copying an iridescent butterfly to create better effects. Also, how blow flies are helping to solve murder mysteries. And why genetic testing…
A boring episode
Jul 26, 2017 • 20 min
Elon Musk may be the most prominent advocate of boring technology, but there are projects across the world revamping the way we dig tunnels. The co-founders of the venture firm Public discuss how technology is transforming public services. Also, military…
Winter is coming
Jul 19, 2017 • 16 min
Scientists have pinpointed the cause of a catastrophic freeze across Europe during the Middle Ages—could a similar event be on the horizon? Author Douglas Rushkoff on why technology firms are criticised so often. And beauty in the eyes of artificial…
The power of young blood
Jul 12, 2017 • 19 min
Scientists are investigating the apparent benefits of infusing young blood into the body of an older animal. Author and academic Tim Wu explains why our attention is such a vital commodity. And virtual reality is breathing new life into old rollercoasters…
Fluid intelligence
Jul 5, 2017 • 16 min
Zapping the brain with a weak electric current enhances its visual cortex. Is this a way to help squeeze more value out of our grey matter? Also, how a new miniature phone camera is making us rethink every aspect of photography. And why whales have become…
Printing the future
Jun 28, 2017 • 16 min
3D printing is finally revolutionising the mass production of everything from trainer soles and teeth to metal car parts. We explore a new realm of fake news, as creating convincing video and audio of false events becomes far easier. Also, how to stop…
Taxi for Travis
Jun 21, 2017 • 15 min
What next for Uber following the departure of the company’s CEO Travis Kalanick? A pathogen that causes cystic fibrosis is being used to fight tuberculosis. Also, the head of Bloomberg’s venture capital fund Roy Bahat on the complexities of AI replacing…
Civilian drones take flight
Jun 15, 2017 • 18 min
Most drones today are either cheap toys or expensive weapons. But innovative commercial uses are emerging in the middle, says our deputy editor Tom Standage. Also, physicist Geoffrey West on his theory of scale and how it relates to cities. And do…
Battle of the maps
Jun 7, 2017 • 19 min
Companies are striving to control an evolving digital infrastructure that will guide everything from self-driving cars to drones. Veteran investor Bill Janeway explains the parallels between artificial intelligence and electricity. Also, a…
When AI makes music
May 31, 2017 • 16 min
Can computer-generated composition compete with human creativity? 3D printing is adopting traditional techniques to give us reinforced floors. And cricket adds yet more technology into the game: what does this mean for the sport’s hallowed commentators?…
Anticipating terrorism
May 24, 2017 • 15 min
In the wake of the Manchester bombing, Dr Robert Wesley explains how artificial intelligence can spot extremist behaviour early. Coloured light can now be used to control how genetically-engineered organisms behave. Also, what we must to do to preserve…
Megatech: Technology in 2050
May 17, 2017 • 31 min
This feature-length episode dives into the technology that will shape our world over the next decades. Host Kenn Cukier and The Economist’s Executive Editor Daniel Franklin are joined by experts in artificial intelligence, cyber-security, healthcare and…
Goodbye glaciers
May 10, 2017 • 17 min
Miranda Johnson explains why ice in the Arctic is melting at such an alarming rate. Philip Auerswald takes us on a 40,000-year history of human society. And an idea borrowed from lizards could make your waterproof jacket last even longer For information…
Soundscape of the deep ocean
May 3, 2017 • 18 min
A new form of bioengineering ditches the cell and could speed up innovation. Five giant tech firms are hoarding most of the world’s data. Is it time to break up the oligopoly? Also, an ambient soundscape from the deepest known part of the ocean For…
When cars fly
Apr 26, 2017 • 18 min
Uber announces flying cars to replace taxi systems in the future. How realistic is this? Plastic-munching moths could save the world from the scourge of shopping bags. And an artificial womb could one day help premature babies to survive For information…
The new world of voice cloning
Apr 19, 2017 • 16 min
The debate over internet regulation is heating up again in America. Also on the show: genetically-engineered bacteria could be used to light up hidden landmines. And voice-cloning technology can now reproduce speech. What does this mean in an era of fake…
What can science do for my garden?
Apr 12, 2017 • 24 min
The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew has unlocked the DNA sequence of thousands of plants. Is the ability to manipulate colour and smell good news for the worldwide floral industry? Also: Pests and pathogens thriving in a warmer climate could wipe out our…
Defending data
Apr 5, 2017 • 19 min
Security crises soar as computers meld further into our lives, but who is liable when hacking happens? We explore a potential charter to exploit the commercial value of data while also protecting privacy. And how humans can teach computers to avoid racist…
Of machines and men
Mar 29, 2017 • 17 min
Elon Musk’s new venture Neuralink wants to meld computers with the human brain. We explore how this concept could lead to artificial memory. Also, a paralysed man is able to use his own arm again after chips were implanted in his brain. And a new glove…
Uber’s trail of woes
Mar 22, 2017 • 18 min
Why the ride-sharing company is in turmoil following the departure of its president Jeff Jones. Scientific publishing is slowing down progress; how might it be reformed? Also, dust devils in the Atacama desert solve one mystery—and spark another For…
Little green men
Mar 15, 2017 • 17 min
Earth has received a cluster of mysterious radio signals; some scientists believe they could be propelling alien spacecraft across the universe. So what’s the verdict? Also, an outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil is decimating local monkey populations. And…
Building from the atom up
Mar 8, 2017 • 17 min
A second quantum revolution is happening at the atomic level. What will it mean for the future of computers? Also: a new battery based on aluminium provides up to ten times the power. And why yellow taxis are much less likely to get into accidents. Kenn…
Dragon’s blood medicine
Mar 1, 2017 • 17 min
Komodo dragon blood contains compounds that help combat human diseases. So can lizards help in the battle against antibiotic-resistant infections? Also: switch the power off and a microprocessor forgets everything but now there’s a way to give it a…
Oceans of pollutants
Feb 22, 2017 • 15 min
Even the deepest reaches of the sea have been contaminated by man-made pollution. Author Alan Schwartz reveals the extent of ADHD overdiagnosis in America. And how is the scientific community reacting to President Trump? For information regarding your…
Cloning time
Feb 15, 2017 • 16 min
Twenty years ago, Dolly the sheep became the first adult mammal clone. Are we on the cusp of copying humans, too? And we explore how technology is aiding refugees and migrants with their treacherous journeys to Europe For information regarding your data…
Game of drones
Feb 9, 2017 • 16 min
Robotic insects could help pollinate plants if bee numbers continue to decline. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on the pitfalls of crowdsourcing knowledge in an era of disinformation. And a protein’s structure is key its function but hard to decipher; we…
Adding to reality
Feb 1, 2017 • 16 min
Augmented reality technology blends the virtual with the real world, so how might this alter the way humans interact with computers, and each other? Also, we explore how artificial intelligence can enhance selling techniques. For information regarding…
Printing parts
Jan 25, 2017 • 17 min
We’re now pretty good at printing body parts, so what are the possibilities and limitations? Healthcare expert George Halvorson explains the importance of language development in the first few months of life. Also, the researchers trying to tune in to the…
The automation game
Jan 18, 2017 • 23 min
How quickly will robots disrupt global industries and what will the implications be? We explore with economist Andrew McAfee at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Also, neuroscientists often compare the human brain to a computer chip, so what happened…
Conversational computers
Jan 11, 2017 • 18 min
When will computers truly be able to understand what we are saying? We discuss with our guest, Amazon’s Alexa. Also, long-distance electrical supergrids could flood the planet with renewable energy For information regarding your data privacy, visit…
War of the words
Jan 4, 2017 • 19 min
We explore a clutch of new words from 2016 and how technology contributes to the evolution of language. Vishal Sikka, the CEO of a technology services company explains how artificial intelligence can enhance the labour force. Also, science correspondent…
year end review and preview of 2017
Dec 23, 2016 • 17 min
How artificial intelligence moved from the research lab into the real world, plus the challenges facing cyber security. And we explore the development of data donorship in the year ahead. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information regarding your data privacy,…
The man himself
Dec 21, 2016 • 15 min
Charles Babbage was a British polymath, mathematician and a man widely hailed as the father of modern computing. In this special episode, host Emma Duncan is joined by two renowned computer science experts to explore the life and work of the eponymous…
Thinking deeply
Dec 14, 2016 • 15 min
Alphabet’s artificial intelligence company DeepMind doesn’t make a profit, so why it is arousing long-term interest? Dr Pedro Alonso from the World Health Organisation explores advances in the fight against malaria. And the amateur enthusiast who found…
What Einstein got wrong
Dec 7, 2016 • 15 min
This week: clues to dinosaur evolution lurk in the amber mines of Myanmar. Author David Bodanis tells us about Einstein’s greatest mistake. And why solar energy is due soon to pay back its carbon debt. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information regarding your…
Big bomber is watching
Nov 30, 2016 • 15 min
This week: how optical navigation can help a bomb find its target without GPS. Researchers at MIT are investigating super-slippery surfaces. Also, why computers are replacing manpower in port security. Kenneth Cukier hosts For information regarding your…
Snapping planets
Nov 23, 2016 • 17 min
Long-distance photography could help us understand far more about exoplanets. We report on the sense of global resilience at climate talks in Marrakech and an audacious plan to tackle air pollution using old jet engines For information regarding your data…
No news like fake news
Nov 16, 2016 • 20 min
Our deputy editor Tom Standage weighs in on the debate about false news in the aftermath of America’s presidential election. We speak to female entrepreneurs at the Web Summit in Lisbon about gender balance in the technology industry. And a new way to…
Fighting falsehoods
Nov 10, 2016 • 16 min
We are joined by Martin Sweeney, co-founder of Ravelin, to explain how artificial intelligence is being used to stop fraud. Our environment correspondent discusses climate-change scepticism in America. Also, a long-standing bet about the underpinnings of…
Super new defibrillator ameliorates prognosis
Nov 2, 2016 • 15 min
Host Kenneth Cukier explores new research into light-based treatments for patients at high risk of fatal heartbeat irregularities. Also: a new crypto-currency promises greater privacy and how to blend wine via touch screen For information regarding your…
Can the American election be hacked?
Oct 26, 2016 • 18 min
In the second episode of Economist Radio specials running up to the presidential election, security expert Bruce Schneier examines vulnerabilities in electoral voting systems. We hear from Dr Darren Schreiber about whether our political inclinations are…
Prospects for new life
Oct 19, 2016 • 13 min
Scientists in Japan grow artificial mouse pups from skin cells; could the same technique one day be used for humans? Planetary scientist Dr Claire Cousins explains where we might find life on Mars as the ExoMars satellite and probe arrive at the red…
Samsung’s meltdown
Oct 12, 2016 • 17 min
Our technology editor examines the long-term fallout after Samsung’s flagship smartphone is pulled from production. The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a new drug for muscular dystrophy proves controversial and Matt Kaplan explains why…
Elevated intelligence
Oct 5, 2016 • 14 min
Google launches a handful of hardware to deliver its artificial intelligence. We speak to Professor Chris Phillips about this year’s Nobel prize for physics, and research analyst Alberto Noel discusses how machine learning is enhancing factory automation…
Interplanetary travel
Sep 28, 2016 • 15 min
We assess Elon Musk’s ambitious intentions to make humans a multiplanetary species. As the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission ends, Dr Matt Taylor explains what information the probe will gather on its final descent and we discuss the consequences of…
A climate of change
Sep 21, 2016 • 15 min
Our environment correspondent, Miranda Johnson, assesses the latest efforts to curb climate change as the UN General Assembly gets underway. Dr Brent Seales explains how we can now read an ancient, burnt scroll without unrolling it. And Ananyo…
Undermining infection
Sep 14, 2016 • 16 min
Should disease-bearing mosquitoes be made extinct? Natasha Loder lays out the arguments for using gene drives to do so. We hear an update on the known unknowns of the Zika virus from Slavea Chankova and whether “feed a fever, starve a cold” is sound…
The renaissance of wood
Sep 7, 2016 • 13 min
Paul Markillie explains why wooden skyscrapers could soon be on the horizon, we hear from an Indian scientist making electricity with fish scales and Tim Cross explores the fallout for Space X after last week’s explosion at Cape Canaveral For information…
The Countess of Computers
Aug 31, 2016 • 16 min
The Economist’s Emma Duncan and author Sydney Padua explore the story of 19th century data geek, Ada Lovelace, who presaged the power of computers by writing one of the first programs. And have we entered a new geological epoch? Tim Cross discusses the…
Exploring the final frontier
Aug 24, 2016 • 14 min
An E​arth-like planet has been discovered orbiting the nearest star to our solar system, reveals astronomer Richard Nelson. Oliver Morton discusses the new space technology closer to home, and Tom Standage describes the state of the art in — and the…
The brain that stopped remembering
Aug 17, 2016 • 15 min
Paul Markillie buckles up for a future of 48-volt hybrid cars. Matt Kaplan examines whether self-control is really a finite resource. And Luke Dittrich, the author of a new book, explains how a lobotomy gone wrong paved the way for the science of memory.…
The evolution of bromance
Aug 10, 2016 • 14 min
Host Jason Palmer ​asks Natasha Loder if scientists are getting ever closer to the fountain of youth in pill form. Richard Wrangham explains why men are more touchy-feely than women after competitive sport. A​nd Matt Kaplan ​examines how one sea…
Didi overtakes Uber
Aug 3, 2016 • 14 min
As Didi buys up Uber China, Kenneth Cukier discusses the implications with editors Tom Standage and from Shanghai, Vijay Vaitheeswaran. And Tim Cross explains the importance of IBM’s new artificial neuron-on-a-chip For information regarding your data…
When AI meets reality
Jul 27, 2016 • 14 min
How can artificial intelligence leave the lab and get down to business? Kenneth Cukier explores an innovative method with Tractable founder Alexandre Dalyac. Also, a new way to measure ancient oxygen is changing our understanding of evolution, and we…
What’s the matter with the universe?
Jul 20, 2016 • 15 min
The asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the Universe perplexes physicists. Could the tiny particle, the neutrino, offer an explanation? Kenneth Cukier explores the issues with our Babbage producer, Louisa Field. Also, a flaw in the way brain-scan…
Fishing beyond borders
Jul 13, 2016 • 14 min
Bigger trawlers and better mapping allow fishermen to cast their nets where fish were once plentiful. Kenneth Cukier and environment correspondent Miranda Johnson explore the possibilities of monitoring the unregulated frontier of fishing. Also, Trevor…
Autonomous cars put to the test
Jul 6, 2016 • 15 min
A fatal accident in a Tesla vehicle on autopilot calls the technology into question. Kenneth Cukier and innovation editor Paul Markillie discuss the use of virtual reality to test driverless safety. Also on the show: Should algorithms be transparent to…
The origins of Jupiter
Jun 29, 2016 • 15 min
This week: After five years of travel, the Juno spacecraft finally nears Jupiter. Our science correspondent, Tim Cross speaks to host Jason Palmer about its vital and dangerous mission. And, Matt Kaplan discusses how the shifty eyes of gamblers can…
What history might tell us about AI
Jun 22, 2016 • 16 min
Concerns abound about the impact of artificial intelligence, but could history suggest a brighter future? A new algorithm is designed to hunt down hateful videos on the Internet. And we hear from two scientists, Mauro Costa-Mattioli and Shelly Buffington,…
Gaming goes to Hollywood
Jun 15, 2016 • 14 min
Green screens could soon be a thing of the past as studios switch to video game technology to build special effects*; and a group of scientists in Syria and Europe find a nifty way to rid of a nasty, organic pollutant ^ See…
The price of a private phone call
Jun 8, 2016 • 15 min
Would you spend £10,000 on a smartphone? Tom Standage and Anne McElvoy visit the world of luxurious technology. Matthew Kaplan explains how your holiday snaps can have scientific uses, and researcher Lauren Sherman reveals how teenage brains react to…
Escaping black holes
Jun 1, 2016 • 14 min
Stephen Hawking revises his theory of black holes and argues that everything may not be lost at the “event horizon” after all. And new sensors made by inkjet printers can tell when a new layer of sunscreen is needed to prevent sunburns. Hosted by Kenneth…
The evolution of intelligence
May 25, 2016 • 12 min
New technology combines 3D printing with traditional machining, and a fresh theory on how humans became so smart For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Trending: The demise of antibiotics
May 19, 2016 • 17 min
We talk to Jim O’Neill about how the overconsumption of antibiotics has eroded their effectiveness and discuss whether Facebook is turning into a news publisher For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Yellow fever - the next pandemic?
May 11, 2016 • 14 min
Kenneth Cukier investigates the burgeoning yellow fever outbreak in Angola. Also, astrobiologist Sanjoy Som fills us in on his research into the Earth’s early atmosphere, and there’s some eggstatic news for the egg industry For information regarding your…
Will your surgeon be a robot?
May 4, 2016 • 14 min
Surgical operations become more akin to driverless cars. And users try out IBM’s quantum computer For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The legacy of Chernobyl
Apr 28, 2016 • 15 min
We discuss the political and scientific impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on its 30th anniversary, and a new way to protect cells from many different kinds of virus For information regarding your data privacy, visit
One blockchain to rule them all?
Apr 20, 2016 • 12 min
This week we discuss how to keep drones away from manned aircraft and talk to Vitalik Buterin, inventor of Ethereum For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Better lives for autistic people
Apr 14, 2016 • 16 min
Researcher Simon Baron-Cohen joins our writers to discuss autism in the workplace. And our innovation editor on mapping technology in driverless cars. For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Mark Zuckerberg’s vision
Apr 6, 2016 • 13 min
An efficient, low-cost way to detect explosives, and our US technology editor analyses Facebook’s future after an interview with its boss, Mark Zuckerberg For information regarding your data privacy, visit
What’s in a yeast?
Mar 30, 2016 • 12 min
New yeasts could open up new flavours for clever chocolate and coffee producers, and sonic booms may become less loud, unleashing faster private air travel For information regarding your data privacy, visit
How to crack an iPhone
Mar 23, 2016 • 13 min
The FBI claims it may be able to bypass the privacy protections on a terrorist’s Apple phone. But the broader dispute over balancing user privacy and national security remains. For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Data heard, memories retrieved
Mar 16, 2016 • 11 min
Scientists find ways of analysing data sonically, not visually, and a new study suggests how memory problems in Alzheimer’s disease aren’t with storage, but with retrieval For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The future of computing
Mar 9, 2016 • 13 min
In a milestone for artificial intelligence, a program designed to play the ancient Asian game of Go has won the first of its five games against a human champion. It’s an example of how smarter software, not just more powerful hardware, will drive progress…
From footies to selfies
Mar 2, 2016 • 13 min
Brain scans of American footballers reveal the darker side of contact sports and a new study on social media uncovers why we take selfies For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Apple and the reason for sex
Feb 24, 2016 • 9 min
Apple clashes with the FBI over accessing iPhone data and scientists finally prove why we keep having sex For information regarding your data privacy, visit
5G to unite them all
Feb 17, 2016 • 12 min
The fifth generation of mobile network promises to take us one step closer to wireless paradise and researchers infect patients with modified viruses to fight cancer For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Slimy, underwater light-eaters
Feb 10, 2016 • 12 min
This week we look at how selectively bred coral-dwelling algae might survive warmer waters and at how bacteria bend light to direct their tiny bodies toward the sun For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Frosty organs and doped-up horses
Feb 3, 2016 • 12 min
A charity in America rallies transplant-organ preservation scientists, and researchers in Hong Kong think they’ve found a way to detect doping in racehorses For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Schizophrenic genes
Jan 27, 2016 • 13 min
Scientists identify the genes that are driving schizophrenia and as touchscreens become more responsive, imaginative new uses may emerge For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Viruses and Facebook friends
Jan 20, 2016 • 13 min
A mosquito-borne virus is linked to a worrying number of birth defects in Brazil and has social media expanded the number of friendships we can maintain? For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The pollution solution
Jan 13, 2016 • 12 min
How big data can help tackle air pollution and a bright idea makes for a better light bulb For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Blackholes and hoverboards
Jan 6, 2016 • 10 min
Scientists are learning more than ever about black holes as astronomical objects and an American firm brings a real McFly hoverboard to market For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The ghosts of Babbage future
Dec 30, 2015 • 13 min
In our second holiday special, our hosts look back from 2115. Pluto’s portraits may be humdrum by then, but AI, gene editing and quantum computing may have changed the world For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The ghost of Babbage past
Dec 22, 2015 • 11 min
In the first of two holiday specials, our hosts look at the stories of a century ago, from X-ray crystallography to sonar, continental drift and the first sighting of Pluto For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Climate of change
Dec 16, 2015 • 17 min
A look at last week’s climate talks in Paris: what was agreed on, how realistic the goals are and whether there is reason to be optimistic For information regarding your data privacy, visit
A bit of peace, round the corner
Dec 9, 2015 • 11 min
The end of bitcoin’s civil war and a look at new technology that can be used to see round corners For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Materials for making and cleaning
Dec 2, 2015 • 14 min
New materials are changing the way we make things from light bulbs to cars and aircraft, and there’s a better way to capture carbon from fossil fuels before it is burned For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Relativity’s revelations
Nov 25, 2015 • 13 min
Our correspondents discuss the importance of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity and how it is still revealing the secrets of our cosmos For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The rise of the drone-selfie
Nov 18, 2015 • 11 min
Google makes its core machine-learning system, TensorFlow, open-source and the Flying Robot International Film Festival kicks off in San Francisco For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Things visible and invisible
Nov 11, 2015 • 13 min
How satellites can save lives in the aftermath of an earthquake and a tantalising signal looks increasingly like it could be from dark matter For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The big chill
Nov 4, 2015 • 11 min
Hypersonic air-breathing engines may at least be a reality and the Cassini spacecraft has a close encounter with Saturn’s icy moon For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Time and energy
Oct 28, 2015 • 11 min
Why stock traders will soon need atomic clocks and Dupont finally tries to crack cellulosic biofuel For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Fusion and confusion
Oct 21, 2015 • 11 min
Fusion energy gets a new star player and an unusual find in our galaxy both perplexes astronomers and gives hope to alien hunters For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Swine lifelines
Oct 14, 2015 • 11 min
Dell makes a $67 billion bet in the form of the technology industry’s largest ever merger and scientists prepare pig organs for human transplants For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Nobel’s neutrinos
Oct 7, 2015 • 14 min
A data transfer pact between the EU and America is struck down in Europe and two scientists working on the changing identities of neutrinos receive the Nobel Prize in Physics For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Opportunity and curiosity
Sep 30, 2015 • 11 min
Countries pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris and NASA discovers water on Mars reigniting hopes for life on the red planet For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Zoning drones
Sep 23, 2015 • 12 min
The rise in drone hobbyism raises questions about how best to control the skies, and scientists hope to catch sight of Einstein’s gravitational wave For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Hybrid fliers
Sep 16, 2015 • 13 min
The hybrid and electric plane industry takes off and advanced artificial intelligence is used to diagnose disease For information regarding your data privacy, visit
What lies beneath
Sep 9, 2015 • 10 min
Radar scans reveal an enormous site of underground stone monoliths near Stonehenge and subterranean plant seed banks could save harvests and lives in the face of climate change For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Inspectors’ gadgets
Sep 2, 2015 • 11 min
New technology used by nuclear weapons inspectors and 3D printing buildings on Earth and in outer space For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The microbes in our midst
Aug 26, 2015 • 10 min
Scientists say a universal flu vaccine is on the horizon and a new study unearths the thousands of bacteria and fungi in our homes For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Climate’s wild child
Aug 19, 2015 • 13 min
A new technique makes editing the human genome much easier and this year’s El Niño, a disrupting climate phenomenon, could be the strongest ever For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Thinking with your tentacles
Aug 12, 2015 • 11 min
The secret to the intelligence of the octopus lies in its genome and scientists explore how big data disrupts the principle of anonymity For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Notes from the oeno files
Aug 5, 2015 • 10 min
Fine wine is priced by using artificial intelligence and President Obama announces new rules to reduce carbon emissions For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Sunset and sunrise in the Kuiper belt
Jul 29, 2015 • 11 min
Scientists fit living cells with lasers to track what they get up to and New Horizons gets a stunning final look back at Pluto For information regarding your data privacy, visit
The Jodie Foster moment
Jul 22, 2015 • 13 min
Clinical trials for drugs are not as closely scrutinised as they should be and a Russian billionaire is on the hunt for extraterrestrials For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Atomic vision
Jul 15, 2015 • 11 min
Hackers threaten the “internet of things”, and scientists use atomic microscopes to observe and control chemical reactions in real time For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Hacking the hackers
Jul 8, 2015 • 9 min
The Hacking Team gets hacked, exposing alleged illegal activities, and NASA’s New Horizons probe flickers back to life as it approaches the planetoid Pluto For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Jul 1, 2015 • 11 min
Embryos frozen during relationships lead to legal troubles down the road, and SpaceX loses a cargo carrier in the risky business of rocketry For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Mapping crises with mobiles
Jun 24, 2015 • 10 min
How mobile phone data can help aid workers during humanitarian crises and start-ups which tweak your phone’s connectivity take on the big mobile network companies For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Quantum leaps and bee-conomics
Jun 17, 2015 • 9 min
Computer companies are harnessing the power of quantum mechanics and why the majority of bees have no economic value For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Up in e-smoke
Jun 10, 2015 • 7 min
Organs on chips allow researchers to mimic complicated human systems and Wales plans to ban e-cigarettes For information regarding your data privacy, visit
AI and IA
Jun 3, 2015 • 9 min
Ad-blocking software has reached the mainstream and is going mobile, and handheld robots begin to marry what both man and machine do well For information regarding your data privacy, visit
May 27, 2015 • 7 min
Nokia attracts bids for its HERE mapping service and tests of a few brave mice suggest space travel could be terrible for the skin For information regarding your data privacy, visit
Home-brewed heroin
May 20, 2015 • 8 min
How lab experiments got a step closer to yeast that can make morphine, and how app experiments by developers such as Facebook happen in New Zealand For information regarding your data privacy, visit
May 13, 2015 • 6 min
This week our correspondents discuss the effects gadget-use can have on teenagers’ sleep, and Silicon Valley’s billion-dollar “unicorns”. For information regarding your data privacy, visit