Discovery: The Colour Purple07/28/15
How William Perkin brought purple to the people in Victorian London
The Colour Purple
In 1856, a teenager experimenting at home accidentally made a colour that was more gaudy and garish than anything that had gone before. William Perkin was messing about at home, trying to make the anti-malarial Quinine - but his experiment went wrong....
Discovery: Maurice Wilkins
The third man behind the unravelling of DNA's double helix Maurice Wilkins
What does it take to be remembered well? The discovery of the structure of DNA is often attributed to James Watson and Francis Crick. But a third man shared the stage with them for the 1962 Nobel Prize for medicine - Maurice Wilkins. He was a...
James Watt and Steam Power
Naomi Alderman tells the story of James Watt and the steam engine that nearly never got made. A breath of steam hits cold metal. It cools suddenly and becomes a drop of water. There an idea. But the designs for Watt’s radically more efficient steam...
Sounds Of Space: Deep Space
A sonic tour of the universe, with solar scientist, Dr Lucie Green. In the previous episode, we listened in to the sounds of the Solar System. This week in Discovery, we travel further out into the cosmos to bring you more Sounds of Space. Some are...
Sounds of Space: The Solar System
The previously silent world of outer space is getting noisier. In this audio tour of the Solar System, Dr Lucie Green listens in to the Sounds of Space. You may have heard the famous ‘singing comet’ – the soundscape created using measurements taken by...
Future of European Science
A debate about the state of scientific research in Europe, recorded in Brussels on the day when the European Research Council was celebrating its 5000th grant. Since 2007 the ERC has written cheques totalling the equivalent of around 10 Billion...
The Bone Wars
Tracey Logan takes us back to the wild west of America, and looks at the extraordinary feud that came to be known as the Bone Wars. This is a tale of corruption, bribery and sabotage - not by cowboys, but by two palaeontologists, Edward Drinker Cope...
Stephanie Shirley: Software Pioneer
As a young woman, Stephanie Shirley worked at the Dollis Hill Research Station building computers from scratch but she told young admirers that she worked for the Post Office, hoping they would think she sold stamps. In the early 60s she changed her...
Origins of War
Is our desire to wage war something uniquely human or can its origins be traced much further back in our evolutionary past? To suggest that warfare is a regular feature of human civilization would be to state the obvious. But just how deeply rooted is...
What the Songbird Said
Could birdsong tell us something about the evolution of human language? Language is arguably the single thing that most defines what it is to be human and unique as a species. But its origins and its apparent sudden emergence around a hundred thousand...
Shedding Light on the Brain
Biologists are using light to explore the brain - and to alter it. Roland Pease meets some of the leading players in optogenetics, who use light-sensitive molecules to take direct control of neural systems in worms, flies, and maybe one day, humans....
Future of Solar Energy
Roland Pease looks into perovskites - the materials enthusiasts say could transform solar power. Solar power is the fastest growing form of renewable energy. But most of it collected by panels made of silicon - the material that also goes into...
Scotland's Forgotten Einstein, James Clerk Maxwell
Dr Susie Mitchell hears the story of the 19th Century Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell's lifelong curiosity about the world and his gift for solving complicated puzzles led him to a string of discoveries. He was the first person to...
Science of Stammering
In this edition of Discovery, Erika Wright explores the science of Stammering, a widely misunderstood condition that occurs at the same level in all cultures, countries and languages. There is a window of opportunity in early childhood when stammering...
Just twenty years ago, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) would not allow women to camp in Antarctica. In 2013, it appointed Jane Francis as its Director. Jane tells Jim Al-Khalili how an intimate understanding of petrified wood and fossilised leaves...
Until recently, it was thought that human brain development was all over by early childhood but research in the last decade has shown that the adolescent brain is still changing into early adulthood. Jim al-Khalili talks to pioneering cognitive...
Matt Taylor talks to Jim Al-Khalili about being in charge of the Rosetta space mission to the distant comet, 67P. It is, he says, 'the sexiest thing alive', after his wife. He describes his joy when, after travelling for ten years and covering four...
John O'Keefe tells Jim al-Khalili how winning the Nobel Prize was a bit of a double-edged sword, especially as he liked his life in the lab, before being made famous by the award. John won the prize for his once radical insight into how we know where...
- London, United Kingdom