Reaching for the Stars

This month, I get all starry eyed over our Sun. Where did it come from? Where is it going? And what it’s taught us about the universe? Plus, the mission that’s taking us the closer to the Sun than we’ve ever been before…

The unlikely mathematical genius

Srinivasa Ramanujan was born in a small village outside Madras, India. And in an unlikely turn of events this man, despite having no formal education, became one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century. This week, biopic ‘The Man who knew Infinity’ comes out to celebrate the man’s achievements, just over a hundred years after he came to Cambridge to study under Trinity College’s G.H. Hardy. I went to learn more about his life in Cambridge…

 

Will an artificially intelligent robot steal your job?

With the recent rise of the machines and robots – could an artificially intelligent robot take your job any time soon? And could they then take over the world, terminator-style? In this edition of the Naked Scientists, I journey into the world of cyborgs to see if Skynet, Ex Machina and the realms of science fiction could turn into science fact and if so, when? And what can we do about it?

Why scaring animals is good for the environment…

… It’s surprising to think that roaring at a raccoon may in fact be good for the environment. Raccoons and many other species like deer have become numerous because of us – we’ve killed off all their predators and thus, they can live in what Justin Suraci describes as ‘raccoon paradise.’

But what Justin’s research shows is that the fear of a predator may be as effective in keeping numbers down as predation itself. In other words, scaring a raccoon could be a good thing.

People like my aunty will be thrilled to hear that’s all it takes to stop them digging up the garden…

In search of a truly local cup of coffee…

In my life at least, coffee makes up a good portion of my diet. But have you ever thought about how a humble bean turns into a delicious cup of java?

Well, below is a video about I made about the journey of coffee…

If you’re not caffeinated enough after that, check out the Naked Scientists show on caffeine.

The Next Revolution in Astronomy: Gravitational Waves

This month, the LIGO team of astronomers announced they’d found gravitational waves, nearly 100 years after Albert Einstein had predicted them.  Everyone is getting very excited about the whole thing but I had a couple of questions of my own like if I dance around, do I create gravitational waves? And if so how big? And how much do they distort spacetime – could I momentarily get taller and skinnier (or shorter and fatter!)

I put these questions, as well as some more sensible ones, to the LIGO scientists to get to the bottom of how fundamental this detection is…

Why are the sperm whales beaching?

In January, a lot of sperm whales washed up across Northern Europe. Disturbing as it was, I went to see what I could learn about the beachings from previous episodes…

Cosmic Quandries: The Origins of Time

Last month, I launched my own podcast – Naked Astronomy and  thought what better place than to start a podcast all about cosmology than at the beginning of time!

One of the big questions in cosmology is what happened at the beginning of the universe and what happened before? Astrophysicists are edging closer to answering this question – we can now look back to a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. But what happened before that still remains elusive and there are still many loose ends to tie up. In this episode of Naked Astronomy, I take a look at the the origins of time…

Do you have skinny genes?

I have a very clear memory of my brother holding clinging on to a pole and managing to lift himself horizontal to the floor, aged 7. Charlie had incredible strength and actually, has always been one of those people who were very good at any sport they tried. Infuriating as this was, I now have to admit, it’s pretty impressive.

But, I had one remaining question – why is it that Charlie was insanely strong whilst Scotty, my youngest brother, and I were comparatively ‘weak?’ Well, I set out to answer just this in my latest Naked Scientists programme.

Expect cold water immersions, lots of shrieking, singing about DNA and much, much more…

Broadcast: BBC 5 live, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, ABC Radio National and as a Naked Scientists podcast. 

Electric vs Petrol: Who will win?

Thanks to our friend Waseem Mirza at the BBC, we managed to race a petrol car against an electric Tesla in time trials to see what would win…

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