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The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry

BBC

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries sent by listeners.

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries sent by listeners.
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Location:

United Kingdom

Networks:

BBC

Description:

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries sent by listeners.

Language:

English


Episodes

Jurassic Squawk

5/3/2019
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"Is there is any way of knowing what noises, if any, dinosaurs would have made?" asks Freddie Quinn, aged 8 from Cambridge in New Zealand. From Jurassic Park to Walking with Dinosaurs, the roars of gigantic dinosaurs like T.Rex are designed to evoke fear and terror. But did dinosaurs actually roar? And how do paleontologists investigate what noises these extinct animals may have produced? Hannah and Adam talk to dinosaur experts Steve Brusatte and Julia Clarke to find out. Plus Jurassic...

Duration:00:37:13

The Lunar Land Pt2

4/26/2019
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In the second installment of our double episode on the Moon we ask what life would be like if we had more than one Moon. From the tides to the seasons, the Moon shapes our world in ways that often go unnoticed. And, as we'll find out, it played a vital role in the creation of life itself. This week we celebrate the many ways the Moon and the Earth are linked. If one Moon is so great, why not have two? We discover why multiple moons could spell disaster for our planet, from giant volcanoes...

Duration:00:29:07

The Lunar Land Pt 1

4/19/2019
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A double episode to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, and the first humans to walk on the Moon. Harley Day emailed curiouscases@bbc.co.uk to ask “Why do we only have one Moon and what would life on Earth be like if we had more? I'll be over the moon if you can help me solve this mystery.” In this first episode, Hannah and Adam look at how the Moon was formed and why we only have one. Featuring Maggie Aderin-Pocock space scientist and author of 'The Book of the Moon' and cosmic...

Duration:00:30:28

An Instrumental Case

4/12/2019
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“We play many musical instruments in our family. Lots of them produce the same pitch of notes, but the instruments all sound different. Why is this?” asks Natasha Cook aged 11, and her Dad Jeremy from Guelph in Ontario, Canada. For this instrumental case Hannah and Adam are joined by the Curious Cases band - Matt Chandler and Wayne Urquhart - to play with today's question. Bringing the science we have acoustic engineer and saxophone player Trevor Cox. Plus materials expert Zoe Laughlin...

Duration:00:39:22

The Periodic Problem

4/5/2019
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"Will the periodic table ever be complete?" asks Philip Craven on Twitter. In 2016 four new chemical elements were given the official stamp of approval - nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson. And 2019 was named by the UN as the International Year of the Periodic Table. In this episode, Hannah and Adam dive into the test tubes of history to hear why the first element was discovered in boiled urine, why chips don't explode and how a cancelled trip to a cheese factory resulted in...

Duration:00:28:37

The Mesmerist

3/29/2019
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“Is hypnosis real, and if so how does it work? Does it have any practical uses and which of Hannah and Adam is most susceptible?” This question came from two Curios, Peter Jordan aged 24 from Manchester and Arran Kinnear aged 13 from Bristol. Arch sceptics Hannah and Adam visit stage hypnotist Ben Dali to find out if they are susceptible to the power of suggestion. One of them will be successfully hypnotised, but who will it be? Along the way we hear about the history of hypnosis from...

Duration:00:35:35

Coming Soon – More Curious Cases

3/22/2019
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Hannah and Adam return to crack open the Curious Cases they’ll be examining during the coming series, from the sound of musical instruments to the science of hypnosis. Please send your questions for future episodes and entries for Curio of the Week to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk. Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford Producer: Michelle Martin

Duration:00:04:08

The Horrible Hangover

12/21/2018
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"My name is Ava and I've never had a hangover," writes Ava Karuso. "I'm a 25 year-old Australian and I enjoy going out for drinks. However, the next day when everyone else sleeps in and licks their wounds, I get up early and get right back to my normal routine.” Drs Rutherford and Fry investigate the ancient origins of alcohol, from Sumerians drinking beer through straws, to Aristotle's teachings ‘On Intoxication’. But what can modern science tell us about how alcohol affects our brains?...

Duration:00:31:13

The Good Bad Food

12/14/2018
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“Why does bad food taste so good?” asks Alan Fouracre from Tauranga, New Zealand. "And by ‘bad’ food, I mean the things we are told to hold back on like sausage, chips and chocolate." From sugar to salt and fat, we investigate why our body derives pleasure from the very foods we're often told to avoid. Adam discovers why retronasal smelling makes bacon taste delicious on a trip to the BBC canteen with materials scientist, Mark Miodownik. Hannah consults food scientist Linda Bartoshuk on...

Duration:00:26:20

Two Infinities and Beyond Part 2

12/7/2018
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This is the second part of our eternal quest to investigate infinity, inspired by this question from father and son duo Sorley and Tom Watson from Edinburgh: “Is anything in the Universe truly infinite, or is infinity something that only exists in mathematics?” Hannah and Adam try and find something that is truly infinite, from the infinitely small particles that live in the subatomic world to the infinitely dense heart of a black hole. But how about the Universe itself? We find out how...

Duration:00:31:08

Two Infinities and Beyond Part 1

11/30/2018
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“Is anything in the Universe truly infinite, or is infinity something that only exists in mathematics?” This momentous question came from father and son duo from Edinburgh Sorley aged 10 and Tom, aged adult. It's a subject so big, that we've devoted two episodes to our never-ending quest to investigate infinity. The first installment is a story of mathematics, music and murder. We'll find out why the ancient Pythagoreans decided that infinity was evil, and why some infinities are bigger...

Duration:00:32:21

The Stressful Scone

11/23/2018
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"How do accents start and where did they come from?” asks Sachin Bahal from Toronto in Canada. Hannah is schooled in speaking Geordie by top accent coach Marina Tyndall. And Adam talks to author and acoustics expert Trevor Cox about how accents evolved and why they persist. We meet Debie who has Foreign Accent Syndrome - an extremely rare condition in which your accent can change overnight. After a severe bout of flu, which got progressively worse, Debie's Brummie accent suddenly...

Duration:00:33:20

The Viking Code

11/16/2018
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"Is it true all British people can trace their ancestry to Vikings and how do ancestry DNA tests work?" asks Chloe Mann from Worthing. Genetic ancestry tests promise to reveal your ancestral origins and map your global heritage, but do they? Rutherford and Fry are here to bust some myths. Adam takes a trip through Norse history with Viking historian Janina Ramirez, whilst flying over the Medieval town of Ludwig. Meanwhile Hannah discovers how DNA ancestry tests work with evolutionary...

Duration:00:26:15

A World of Pain

9/7/2018
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"Why do people experience pain differently when they go through the same event?" asks Claire Jenkins from Cwmbran in Wales. Professor of Pain Research, Irene Tracey, welcomes Adam in to the room she calls her 'Torture Chamber'. Burning, electrocuting, lasering and piercing are all on the menu, but which will hurt the most? Hannah speaks to Steve Pete from Washington who has a rare genetic condition which means he doesn't feel pain. For chronic sufferers, this sounds like heaven, but a life...

Duration:00:34:06

The Random Request

8/31/2018
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Two random questions in this episode. "Is anything truly random, or is everything predetermined?" asks Darren Spalding from Market Harborough. Hannah and Adam go in search of random events, from dice throws to lava lamps. Can we predict the outcome of any event? And "how do computers manage to pick random numbers?", asks Jim Rennie from Mackinaw in Illinois. Joining them are a random selection of experts: mathematician Colva Roney-Dougal, technology journalist Bill Thompson, Science Museum...

Duration:00:26:15

The Running Joke

8/24/2018
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"How fast can a human run and would we be faster as quadrapeds?" This question flew in via Twitter from historian Greg Jenner. Is there a limit to human sprinting performance? In this episode we investigate the biomechanics of running, statistical trends in human performance and which kind of monkey runs the fastest. But first, an experiment. Due to some spurious and possibly fictional injuries, neither Hannah nor Adam are fit enough to take part in a sprint trial at the University of Bath....

Duration:00:38:16

The Alien Enterprise Part 2

8/17/2018
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Do alien civilisations exist? When will ET phone home? In the second part of our alien double bill, Hannah and Adam boldly go in search of intelligence. They may be some time. What will aliens look like? Where should we look for them? And what are the chances of finding complex life in the cosmos? Featuring astronomer Seth Shostak from the SETI Institute in California, exoplanet hunter Sara Rugheimer from the University of St Andrews and zoologist Matthew Cobb from Manchester University,...

Duration:00:24:35

The Alien Enterprise Part 1

8/10/2018
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Mike Holcombe from Largs in Scotland asks, "How do we look for alien life and what are we expecting to find?" In the first of two episodes on the search for ET, Hannah and Adam look for life inside the Solar System. How do we define life and why we obsessed with finding it on Mars? Or should we be looking for space squid on Europa instead? Features interviews with planetary scientist Monica Grady from the Open University, senior astronomer Seth Shostak from SETI and zoologist Matthew Cobb...

Duration:00:26:12

The Dawn Chorus

6/1/2018
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"Winter is finally over and the birds are all singing their hearts out at dawn. What's all the noise about? And why are some songs so elaborate?" asks Tony Fulford from Ely in Cambridgeshire. We find out how birds produce multiple notes at once, which one has the widest repertoire of songs, and why males like to show off quite so much. Plus, we talk to researcher Lauryn Benedict about the project which aims to solve the mystery of why female birds sing - www.femalebirdsong.org. Featuring...

Duration:00:27:23

The Lucky Number

5/25/2018
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"My boss insists that if you choose the same numbers in the lottery each time your probability of winning will increase. Is this true?" asks Vince Scott from Edinburgh. National lotteries are played in more than 80 countries worldwide, but can you increase your chances of winning? Hannah consults statistician Jen Rogers to discover the best way to select your lucky numbers. Adam talks chance and luck with David Spiegelhalter and hears how the field of probability began with a philandering...

Duration:00:25:37