BBC Inside Science

A weekly programme that illuminates the mysteries and challenges the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

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Last Episode : September 21, 2023 12:00pm

Last Scanned : 5.3 hours ago


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Why do we want to go back to the Moon?
Two plucky spacecraft, one Russian and one Indian, are currently blasting towards the Moon’s South Pole. Both Russia’s Luna-25 and India’s Chandrayaan-3 are due to touch down next week. They’re heading to that particular region of the Moon in order to hunt for water, the presence of which could have huge implications for our further exploration of the Solar System. Victoria Gill talks to Dr Becky Smethurst, an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford, to find out more. Victoria then heads to the Lake District to witness the release of water voles into the ecosystem. Next up, Professor Lewis Griffin, a computer scientist from University College London, tells us how bad we are at distinguishing between real and deepfake voices. He then reveals what implications this might have for scams. Finally, Dr Helen Pilcher tells us all about the intriguing ways that animals can bend time. You can find out more in her book, How Nature Keeps Time. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producer: Hannah Robins Content producer: Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Research: Patrick Hughes Editor: Richard Collings
Published 09/14
Time is still ticking for the Amazon
After decades of exploitation, time is running out for the Amazon rainforest. Eight South American nations came together this week for the first time in 14 years in an attempt to draw up a plan for a more sustainable future. The BBC’s South America correspondent Katy Watson sends us an update on the summit from Belém, Brazil. We also hear from Brazilian scientist Joice Ferreira who tells us why the Amazon is so important for the entire planet. Next up Victoria Gill finds out more about how British Sign Language is adding key scientific concepts to its dictionary in order to open up science communication to a broader community of people. There are still many words and phrases that have not yet been ‘signed’. Now did you know that the inhalers used by asthmatics emit a tiny amount of greenhouse gas with every puff? Victoria speaks to Dr Veena Aggarwal, a GP registrar and former member of Greener NHS, about whether the government’s new plan for environmentally friendly inhalers will help. Finally Victoria catches up with palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger. He’s written a book that tells a harrowing tale about his trip into a labyrinth of underground tunnels to find out more about an ancient human-like creature called Homo naledi. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Hannah Robins and Harrison Lewis Content producer: Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Research: Patrick Hughes Editor: Richard Collings
Published 09/07
Reality check: carbon capture and storage
This week the UK government announced that around 100 new oil and gas licences for the North Sea will be issued. At the same time the Prime Minister said the government would back two new carbon capture and storage plants, one in Aberdeenshire and one in the Humber. Victoria Gill speaks to Angela Knight, former chief executive of Energy UK, about what this decision means for the UK’s aim of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. She then discovers more about the capabilities of carbon capture and storage from Paul Fennell, a professor of clean energy at Imperial College London. Next Victoria travels to the sunnier shores of Spain where orcas have been ramming fishing boats. She speaks to one of the sailors who witnessed an attack. To find out more about the orcas’ behaviour, she interviews Dr Luke Rendell, a whale and dolphin expert from the University of St Andrews. We then move to Skomer, off the coast of West Wales. This important seabird colony has recently recorded an avian flu outbreak. Reporter Roland Pease speaks to Lisa Morgan from the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales. To finish the show Dr Stuart Farrimond is back with the final instalment of his science of gardening series. Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Alice Lipscombe-Southwell, Hannah Robins Research: Patrick Hughes Editor: Richard Collings
Published 08/31
Battles with flames
We're in the heart of summer in Europe, where extreme heat has spiralled into out-of-control wildfires across the Mediterranean, leading thousands to flee their homes. Previously on Inside Science we've looked at how and why temperatures are soaring across the globe. Now we're homing in on one of the most visible effects of that. First, BBC climate and science reporter Georgina Rannard paints a picture of the link between these fires and climate change. Next up we hear from Professor Stefan Doerr, director of the Centre for Wildfire Research at Swansea University, on whether Europe is prepared for a future where these blazes are more frequent and intense. Another effect of climate change you might have heard about this week is the potential collapse of the Gulf Stream. Georgina explains why leading researchers have reservations about the science behind that claim. We investigate a sometimes overlooked and under-reported source of pollution: particles from vehicle tyres. Dr Marc Masen from Imperial College London tells us about the impact they’re having on our health. And pollution from tyres is affecting flora and fauna too. Dr Paul Donald, senior researcher at Birdlife International, explains how vehicles on our roads have impacted wildlife in the environment. Finally, from four wheels to two wheels! Geneticist and body weight scientist Dr Giles Yeo is cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats with two glucose monitors on his arm. He tells us what he's hoping to learn. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Hannah Fisher Content producer: Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Research: Patrick Hughes Editor: Richard Collings
Published 08/24
The wide-ranging effects of climate change
This week China hit a record high temperature, a scorching 52.2°C, while Death Valley in California measured 53.9°C. Elsewhere, Europe has been battling searing heat and raging wildfires. In previous editions of Inside Science we’ve explored the effects of heat on our health. This week we’ve zoomed out to get a wider perspective on the impacts of soaring temperatures. First up, Rebecca Tobi from the Food Foundation reveals how this weather will impact the range of foods we are used to seeing on supermarket shelves. Next we hear from Hayley Fowler, professor of climate change impacts at Newcastle University. She explains how the jet stream – which plays a large role in the UK’s weather – is affecting extreme weather patterns. Another country experiencing particularly extreme weather at the moment is China. BBC correspondent in Hong Kong, Danny Vincent, tells us how record temperatures could have wide-ranging effects beyond China’s borders. Changing heat patterns could even unlock new habitats for wildlife. Jo Lines, professor of malaria and vector biology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, says that we need to be aware of mosquito-borne diseases that could take hold in Europe. Then it’s off to Reading University, where reporter Harrison Lewis chats to meteorologist Dr Rob Thompson and senior researcher Dr Natalie Harvey, to find out more about how weather balloons can help with storm forecasting. Finally, we’re heading back to Trowbridge, near Bath, where Dr Stuart Farrimond explains exactly how our gardens can help in the battle against climate change. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Harrison Lewis Content producer: Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Assistant producer: Robbie Wojciechowski Editor: Richard Collings
Published 08/17
How social media can affect the health of teenagers
The Threads social media app launched on 5th July. Instagram users were able to sign up with just a few clicks. It joins a plethora of other social media apps like Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok, all of which are readily accessible on our phones. With all these apps at our fingertips, it’s never been easier for us to discover new people to follow, keep in touch with our friends and stay up to date with the latest news about our favourite celebrities. But Professor Devi Sridhar, the chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, is concerned about the harmful effect that all these apps could potentially be having on the health of young people. She talks to Marnie Chesterton about why they should be better regulated in order to protect our children. Marnie is then joined by Professor Andrew Przybylski from the University of Oxford who says that more studies need to be carried out. Next up we find out more about phages – ‘good’ viruses that infect and destroy bacteria and could hold the key to fighting disease. Tom Ireland, author of a new book, The Good Virus, tells Marnie about the history of phages and their potentially exciting future. This week the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of middle-distance runner and Olympic champion Caster Semenya in a case related to testosterone levels in female athletes. Marnie speaks to developmental biologist Dr Emma Hilton about what causes differences in sexual development and the impact they can have. We also hear from Dr Stuart Farrimond who explains how the microclimates in your garden can affect the plants you can grow. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Harrison Lewis Content producer: Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Assistant producer: Robbie Wojciechowski Editor: Richard Collings
Published 08/10