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Futureproof Gold: Time

We conventionally think of time as something simple and fundamental that f lows uniformly, independently from everything else, from the past to the future, measured by clocks and watches. In the course of time, the events of the universe succeed each other in an orderly way: pasts, presents, futures. The past is fixed, the future open. . . . And yet all of this has turned out to be false. Carlo Rovelli is Director of the quantum gravity group of the Centre de Physique Théorique (CPT) of the...


Sensing Earth's Magnetic Field

A recent study seems to show that like many birds and animals, human beings can detect the magnetic field of the earth. As they say on the internet, huge, if true. Joseph L. Kirschvink, Van Wingen Professor of Geobiology at Caltech led the research.


Futureproof Extra: The Science of Food

Food, glorious food! It's a wonderful, exciting, strange, life affirming, and at times infuriating thing. Sometimes it is all of those things at once. Our relationship with food can change over time in some ways but the actual ways that we process a lot of foods is very similar to techniques our ancestors would have used. But how much do we actually know about the chemical concoctions we create and then shovel into our mouths? Alan Kelly is a Professor in the School of Food and Nutritional...


Futureproof Gold: The Limits of Knowledge

Where do we come from? How did the universe come about? And what is it? These are some of the biggest questions we as a species can ask and for a lot of us science provides the best method by which to arrive at some answers. But can science really answer these questions and if not, why do we persist with it? Marcelo Gleiser is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College and author of The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning First aired 17/3/2018



Looking up into the night sky can be awe inspiring. For as long as we have walked this earth, humans beings have been able to gaze up into the darkness of night and wonder at the majesty of the cosmos, the ever-present, solitary moon or spy a shooting star. But they're not all natural entities. Some of those twinkling little dots were put there by us - and if Elon Musk has his way, there will be up to 12,000 more of them whizzing around above us in a constellation of satellites which will...


Futureproof Extra: Landscape of Fear

Humans have had a profound effect on the world. Since we first emerged almost 200,000 years ago we have spread across the globe with a speed like no other animal on earth. While we are only now beginning to fully grasp the gravity of our actions and activities on the environments and ecosystems we share - what if it wasn't our actions but the very sound of our voice which affected the way animals behave? Justin Suraci, an Ecologist in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of...


Futureproof Gold: Body Farms

What happens to us when we die? Not in a ponderous, philosophical way but what phisically happens to us? Scientific facilities where researchers can study how corpses decompose are opening up all aroud the United States and are helping detectives, anthropologists & forensic crime scene investigators better undestand real-life cases where human remains are discovered. To find out just what happens when our bodied begin to decompose and what roles the climate, environment or ecology play in...


Treating cancer as a chronic disease

What if we managed cancer treatment like a chronic disease? Bob A. Gatenby, chairman of the Department of Radiology at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Co-Director of the Cancer Biology and Evolution Program is on the program to discuss his work and a different approach to treating cancer.


High Altitude Adaptations

Who conquered Everest? Most people will say Edmund Hillary. Everyone forgets Tenzing Norgay! Norgay was the Sherpa who reached the summit with Hillary on the 29th of May 1953. And indeed all of the major expeditions at this time, though led by foreigners, included Sherpas as an integral part of the team. But why? Why share the glory? Gianpiero Cavalleri is Professor of Human Genetics at Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland & SFI Deputy Director of Future Neuro


Futureproof Gold: How 8 Technologies Made Us Human & Changed Society

We often think of philosophers, politicians, trendsetters and artists as the catalysts for great ideas and real change. However, it is technology and technological advancement that provides the conditions within which great ideas can be developed. In his book, Unbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human, Transformed Society, and Brought Our World to the Brink, Richard Currier delves deep into our past to look at the fundamental technological advancements that brought us to where we are...


Floating Cities

We humans are land lovers. But we do like to be beside the seaside. Oh we do like to be beside the sea. This is reflected in the fact that almost 50% of the people on this planet live in coastal areas. However, increased urbanisation and global warming mean that a projected 90% of the world’s biggest cities will be exposed to rising sea levels by 2050. So what should we do? Move back inland? Our next guest has an alternative solution. Marc Collins Chen is the co-founder and CEO of Oceanix


Futureproof Extra: Amphibio

As sea levels rise, many of us may well find ourselves having to adapt to a life around the water. Millions of people across the world currently live in coastal towns and cities and so any rise in sea levels would have a profound and potentially damaging effect on their day-to-day lives. So, what is to be done? While work is being done to mitigate the affects of global warming through the reduction of greenhouse gasses, turning to green energy sources, and the construction of sea-walls - one...


Futureproof Gold: Memories

Our personalities are largely shaped by our experiences. The decisions we make and the things we see, hear and feel. But where do we store our records of all of those things. Where are our memories and how are they stored and retrieved? Are they Energy? Mystical spirit? Clumps of cells in the distributed warehouse of my brain? Dr. Tomás Ryan is assistant professor in the Trinity College Dublin Institute of Neuroscience


Futureproof Extra: Slow Death

Death is inevitable. It is the single unerring truth in this world and a journey which we all must take. But, what is it exactly and when does it occur? When are we here, and when are we not? The answer is not as simple as you think. Far from being just one single event, it appears to be more of a slow, drawn-out process in which some cells continue to survive even after death. But how, and why is this the case? Dr Peter Noble of the University of Washington in Seattle joins Jonathan to...


Moon Special

It’s 50 years to the day that a human being first landed on another world. It is undoubtedly one of the most monumental moments in human history. This week's Futureproof is a very special show to try to bring home the sheer audacity of what happened half a century ago on this day. We’ll hear about Ireland’s very own piece of the moon. Planetary Scientist and Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the UC Davis, Sarah T Stewart, tells us how the rocks that Apollo...


Futureproof Gold: Astronaut Gregory H. Johnson

Becoming an astronaut is hard. Not only does it require high levels of intelligence, determination, skill, and sacrifice, there is also an element of luck involved. As a result, very few of us have or ever will have the privilege of going into space, and so speaking to those who made that journey is the closest we will ever get. But, if you are fortunate enough to go just what is it like once you get there? Just what do the astronauts on the ISS do with their time and what can we learn from...


Futureproof Extra: A Secret History of The Space Rocket

With the 50th anniversary of the moon landing just a few days away we’re starting to think back to names like Armstrong, Aldrin and Kennedy One name you won’t be thinking about is Frank Malina. In fact even if you were to delve into the archives you might struggle to find mention of his name at all So why has the founder of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory been denied his place in the story of American space flight? Dr Fraser McDonald is a Lecturer in Historical Geography in the School of...


Helpless Babies, Smart Parents & The Marshmallow Test

We humans are pretty smart. We’re top of the food-chain, wield the immense power of the atom, we explore the outer reaches of space and time and every day unravel more and more of the inner-workings of the world around us. Yeah, we’re pretty impressive. So how come our babies aren’t. How can a species so highly developed and intelligent give birth to infants so completely dependant on their caregivers? So utterly helpless? Dr Celeste Kidd is Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator...


Futureproof Gold: The Science & Magic of Pixar

The marriage of the technology of computer graphics and animation seems almost natural to us now. Computer genereated imagery transformed, not just the way animators worked, but the way in which stories were told - a union which continues to mesmerise children and adults alike the world over. Jonathan speaks to Ed Catmull, American computer scientist and former president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios about the genesis of computer graphics and and how his background in science...


The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

Are human beings fundamentally good or bad? Does society keep us in check or corrupt us? From Aristotle to Freud, Hobbes to Rousseau, philosophers and ethicists have pondered these ideas for centuries, perhaps with the reasonable expectation that they may be unanswerable questions. But could science finally provide an answer? Nicholas Christakis is the Director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University and Author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society