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CrowdScience

BBC

We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.

We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.
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Location:

United Kingdom

Networks:

BBC

Description:

We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.

Language:

English


Episodes

Global infertility - could The Handmaid’s Tale become reality?

8/16/2019
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CrowdScience listeners Mark and Jess have been watching TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale. It's an adaptation of a book by Margaret Atwood and depicts a dystopian future where many have become infertile. The remaining few fertile women, known as Handmaids, are forced into child-bearing servitude. Why so many have become infertile isn’t clear but the series hints at several possible causes, from radiation to environmental pollutants. All of which got Mark and Jess wondering… What could cause...

Duration:00:40:12

Can I predict the future?

8/5/2019
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Humans have been trying to predict the future since ancient times. The Chinese had the I-Ching while the Greeks preferred to search for answers in animal entrails. These days intelligence agencies around the world mostly rely on expert opinions to forecast events. But there are ordinary people among us that routinely outperform experts when it comes to making accurate predictions about the future. Listener Cicely wants to know whether these non-experts, so-called “super-forecasters”, really...

Duration:00:36:04

How many fossils are there?

8/2/2019
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The odds of becoming a fossil are vanishingly small. And yet there seem to be an awful lot of them out there. In some parts of the world you can barely look at a rock without finding a fossil, and museum archives worldwide are stuffed with everything from ammonites to Archaeopteryx. But how many does that leave to be discovered by future fossil hunters? What’s the total number of fossils left to find? That’s what listener Anders Hegvik from Norway wants to know and what CrowdScience is off...

Duration:00:30:05

Why do we pull faces when we concentrate?

7/26/2019
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Do you stick your tongue out or scowl when you concentrate? Maybe, like one of our listeners, you screw up your face when you’re playing music. Do these facial expressions actually help with the task in hand? And could they hold clues to humans’ evolutionary past? In this edition of CrowdScience we tackle the science of face-pulling, along with several more burning science questions sent in from listeners around the world. We explore why it’s almost impossible to talk without moving your...

Duration:00:33:55

Where’s my time machine?

7/19/2019
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Laser swords, time machines, matter transporters - before the turn of the millennium, movies, books and television promised some extraordinary future technology. Now we’re twenty years into the next century and CrowdScience listeners are wondering: Where is it all? Marnie Chesterton delves into the sci-fi cupboard to dust off some imaginary gadgets and find out if any are finally becoming reality. How far into the future will we have to go to find a time machine as imagined by H.G. Wells in...

Duration:00:42:52

Who were the first farmers?

7/12/2019
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Farming is a relatively recent invention for our species. For most of human history, people were hunter-gatherers. They moved around the landscape to get their food, hunting prey and gathering fruits and cereals from their environment. But then, around 10 thousand years ago, human society shifted, and the first farmers appear in archaeological records around the world. So how did this idea start? Who planted the first seed and domesticated the wild ancestors of our cows and chickens? That’s...

Duration:00:28:47

Why do some people eat soil?

7/5/2019
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For some people, the idea of eating soil is weird at best and at worst disgusting and dirty. But globally the practice of geophagy – or the regular and intentional consumption of earth – is more common than you might imagine. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates described it 2500 years ago and even today, eating soil, earth and clay can be seen in a wide range of human cultures as well in hundreds of animal species. But what’s the point of it? And what’s going on in the body to drive...

Duration:00:33:23

Can we prevent traffic jams?

6/28/2019
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It’s frustrating to be stuck in traffic. Listener Collins from Nairobi, Kenya, spends at least three hours a day in traffic and he counts himself lucky. Many of his friends will easily spend six hours in traffic jams to get back and forth from work. Collins wants to know whether there is hope for his hometown – has any city managed to eliminate the worst of the traffic hot spots and how did they do it? Collins is not alone in his frustration. CrowdScience finds that congestion plays a major...

Duration:00:34:56

What’s the best way to breathe?

6/21/2019
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Breathing is automatic: awake or asleep, running or resting, our bodies unconsciously make sure we get enough oxygen to function. But - unlike other bodily functions such as heart rate and digestion - it’s not hard to control our breathing consciously. If you’ve ever been to an exercise, meditation or yoga class, you’re probably familiar with instructions about how and when to breathe. It was one of these instructions - “breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth” - that...

Duration:00:31:04

Are there new ways to beat depression?

6/14/2019
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For decades, people suffering from chronic depression have relied on medicines that affect the levels of chemicals in the brain like serotonin, which regulate mood and emotion. But ten percent of people don’t benefit from any of the existing treatments for this devastating condition. Sisters Annie and Kathryn have both been diagnosed with long-term depression that makes it hard for them to experience pleasure as others do. But they’re interested in whether there are new solutions on the...

Duration:00:26:28

Can singing improve our health?

6/7/2019
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Singing can lift our spirits, but research suggests it could also benefit our health, improving breathing for people with lung conditions and helping us cope with dementia. Could it even have a preventative effect? CrowdScience heads to Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK county of Gloucestershire - one of the first places to pioneer this kind of “social prescribing” - to find out. Presenter Anand Jagatia teams up with panellists Dr Daisy Fancourt, Senior Research Associate in Behavioural...

Duration:00:32:41

How are we evolving?

5/31/2019
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Medical intervention has disrupted natural selection in humans as many more children survive into adulthood than did a few centuries ago. And as our DNA continues to evolve, in order to adapt to our environment, how might human beings of the future be different from us? Anand Jagatia explores how some humans, over just a few thousand years, have adapted genetically to live at high altitudes of the Tibetan Himalayas or in the cold climates of Inuit Greenland. Several Crowdscience listeners...

Duration:00:34:06

Could our household microbes help or harm us?

5/24/2019
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As scientists keep finding ever more fascinating facts about the invisible housemates that share our homes, we dust off our episode on what might be lurking in quiet household corners or under our beds. Marnie Chesterton reminds us how dust can contain all sorts of secrets about our habits and everyday lives, and Anand Jagatia bravely ventures into parts of our homes that are usually overlooked. He heads out on a microbial safari with expert tour guide Dr Jamie Lorimer from the University of...

Duration:00:32:34

Bonus: 13 Minutes to the Moon

5/20/2019
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Introducing the new podcast about how humans reached the moon. Theme music by Hans Zimmer. Search for 13 Minutes to the Moon or go to www.bbcworldservice.com/13Minutes #13MinutestotheMoon

Duration:00:05:20

Could dark matter harbour dark life?

5/17/2019
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Where the conditions are right, life can arise. But what might the ‘right’ conditions be? Could the dark sector of our Universe be inhabited? That’s what Gautam from Delhi, India has been wondering. He points out that dark matter and dark energy make up around 95% of the Universe and the remaining segment is normal matter - the stuff we’re all made up of. Given that there’s so much of this dark material, could dark life have evolved? Marnie Chesterton investigates with Dr Matt Middleton, Dr...

Duration:00:31:24

How does a single cell become me?

5/10/2019
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Our bodies are made of cells, tens of trillions of cells. They all have particular roles and functions in the body, from digesting food, to producing hair, to hunting down pathogens. But all of this incredible complexity started as just a single cell. Gila, from Israel, asked CrowdScience to find out how the development of incredible structures, and systems in the body are coordinated by the cells. Are cells communicating? How do cells know what they should be doing? To find out, Geoff Marsh...

Duration:00:28:09

Did cooking make us human?

5/3/2019
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Many of us enjoy cooking – but when did we switch from eating our food raw, to heating it? Listener Logan enjoys his beef burgers rare, but wants to know why he still feels compelled to grill them? Presenter Anand Jagatia travels to a remote South African cave where our ancestors first used fire at least a million years ago, which one man says could help prove when our species started cooking. And he talks to a scientist who shows how the composition of food changes when it’s cooked, to...

Duration:00:29:56

Could viruses help fight super-bugs?

4/26/2019
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We are slowly running out of ammunition to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria. Listener Peter wants to know whether a therapy that he’d heard about in the 1980s could be revived to help us where antibiotics falls short. CrowdScience travels to Georgia where “phages”, viruses that hunt and kill bacteria, have been used for nearly 100 years to treat illnesses ranging from a sore throat to cholera. Phages are fussy eaters – a specific phage will happily chew on one bug but ignore another. In...

Duration:00:30:31

Will we ever know what the universe is made of?

4/19/2019
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We are all made of particles – but what are particles made of? It’s a question that’s been perplexing scientists for centuries - for so long, in fact, that listener Doug in Canada wants to know if there’s a limit to how much they can ever discover. CrowdScience heads out to CERN, in Switzerland, to find out. Birthplace of the internet, home to the Large Hadron Collider, and the site of the Higgs Boson’s discovery – the fundamental particle that is thought to give all other particles their...

Duration:00:35:25

Why do we find things beautiful?

4/12/2019
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Humans seem programmed to appreciate beauty - whether that’s an attractive face, a glorious sunset, or a stirring piece of music. Of course, our individual tastes are all different, and culture plays a huge part too - but why are we so struck by whatever it is we find beautiful? What is that pleasurable sensation we get when we see or hear something we like? And has the ability to appreciate beauty given us any evolutionary advantages? In a special edition of CrowdScience from the...

Duration:00:30:19