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The Infinite Monkey Cage

BBC

Brian Cox and Robin Ince host a witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists' eyes.

Location:

London, United Kingdom

Networks:

BBC

Description:

Brian Cox and Robin Ince host a witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists' eyes.

Language:

English


Episodes

The Infinite Monkey Cage: Series 29: Could it be magic?

2/24/2024
Brian Cox and Robin Ince conjure up scientific explanations for magical goings on.

Duration:00:45:00

Could it be magic?

2/21/2024
Brian Cox and Robin Ince pull scientific explanations out of a hat and go down the rabbit hole to explore the science of magic with comedian Alan Davies, sleight of hand artist Laura London and two experts in the psychology of magic Richard Wiseman and Gustav Kuhn. They ask what our predilection to be bamboozled by sleight of hand can tell us about how our minds work. Alan has a card trick played on him and we learn how our choices aren’t always what we think they are. Producer: Melanie Brown Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:42:44

The Infinite Monkey Cage: Series 29: Egyptian Mummies

2/19/2024
Brian Cox and Robin Ince unwrap the science of Egyptian mummies.

Duration:00:30:00

Egyptian Mummies

2/14/2024
Brian Cox and Robin Ince peel back the layers to explore mummification and the science of Ancient Egypt. They are joined by comedians Russel Kane, Lucy Porter and bio-medical Egyptologists Rosalie David and Lidija McKnight from the University of Manchester, as they learn about the scientific techniques that are helping to uncover the lives of Ancient Egyptians, including that of a woman who died running away from an axe murderer. They find out that much of modern western medicine was built on the Ancient Egyptians sophisticated pharmacology, though they should probably avoid the treatment for migraines which involves being slapped in the head by a fish. Producer: Melanie Brown Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:42:24

The Monkeys meet The Sky at Night

12/20/2023
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by the longest running science show in the world, The Sky at Night, alongside comedian and astronomy enthusiast Dara O Briain for the ultimate guide to studying the stars from your own back garden. Sky At Night presenters Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock, Chris Lintott and Pete Lawrence join the panel to offer their top tips to backyard astronomy over the winter season. From binoculars to telescopes and even the naked eye: meteor showers, planetary moons and odd behaving galaxies are just some of the heavenly phenomena visible with or without equipment from the comfort of your own garden or local park. An out of this world seasonal special. And you can catch the monkey's on a special edition of the Sky At Night on BBC iplayer from November 13th. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:57:23

Jo Brand's Quantum World

12/13/2023
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are subject to a non-hostile takeover by comedian and non-physicist Jo Brand, as she challenges the panel to help her understand the almost unbelievable world of cheeky particles who may or may not be in several places at once. To help Jo get to grips with the bizarre and strange world of our quantum universe, Brian and Robin are joined by theoretical physicist Prof Ben Allanach from the University of Cambridge and cosmologist Prof Fay Dowker from Imperial College London, who introduce Jo to the weird and wonderful ways of quantum theory, dead and alive cats and multiverses. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

Duration:00:42:16

Hollywood in Space

12/6/2023
Brian Cox and Robin Ince put Hollywood under the microscope to unpick the science fact v science fiction of some of the biggest movies set in space. They are joined by a truly out of this world panel of space experts including astronauts Tim Peake, Nicole Stott and Susan Kilrain alongside Oscar-winning Special FX director Paul Franklin, whose movies include Interstellar and First Man. Tim, Nicole and Susan fact check how space travel and astronauts are portrayed in movies such as Gravity and The Martian, whilst Brian and Robin argue about Robin's lack of enthusiasm for Star Wars. They look back at some of the greatest space movies including Alien and 2001 A Space Odyssey, and ask whether some fictional aspects of these blockbusters may not be so far from our future reality. Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

Duration:00:42:23

The Scale of Life (or were dinosaurs just too big?)

11/29/2023
Brian and Robin are joined by palaeontologist Dr Susie Maidment, evolutionary biologist Dr Tori Herridge and comedian Dave Gorman to pitch giant creatures against tiny creatures in their bid to avoid extinction. They explore the scale of life and ask why some organisms are large and some small and what the optimum size for successful survival is. From the prokaryotic cell to the grandest dinosaur, how does the modern synthesis explain the huge variation in scale, form and function? What are the advantages and disadvantages to being huge like the dinosaurs, or was it their size that really did them in, in the end? New episodes released Wednesdays. If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:42:22

How I is AI?

11/22/2023
Brian and Robin (the real ones) are joined by mathematician Prof Hannah Fry, compute scientist Dr Kate Devlin and comedian Rufus Hound to discuss the pros and cons of AI. Just how intelligent is the most intelligent AI? Will our phones soon be smarter than us – will we fail a Turing test while our phone passes it? Will we have AI therapists, doctors, lawyers, carers or even politicians? How will the increasing ubiquity of AI systems change our society and our relationships with each other? Could radio presenters of hit science/comedy shows soon be replaced with wittier, smarter AI versions that know more about particle physics... surely not! New episodes released Wednesdays. If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

Duration:00:42:57

The Science of Coincidence

11/14/2023
Are some people just lucky? Is there any scientific formula behind coincidences? Is randomness the norm? Brian and Robin team up with comedian Sophie Duker, mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy and statistician David Spiegelhalter to uncover the reality and the maths behind seemingly incredible coincidences. How many people do you need in a room to find two with the same birthday? What is the weirdest coincidence that the panel have ever encountered? Is there a mathematical formula to being lucky? How good are we at judging how likely something is to happen? The answer is not very, as Brian and Robin unluckily discover. New episodes released Wednesdays. If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem.

Duration:00:42:30

Octopuses!

11/8/2023
If Aliens really are amongst us, the most likely candidates may not be little green men, but living in plain sight, just below our ocean waves, in the form of the mysterious and awe-inspiringly clever Octopus. Scientists are only just discovering the amazing intelligence of these elegant and highly unusual creatures that seem to have evolved in a completely different way to nearly any other creature on the planet. Brian and Robin are joined by marine biologist Dr Tim Lamont, Neuroscientist Dr Amy Courtney and comedian Russell Kane to uncover just how clever these mysterious creatures are, how they've evolved intelligence in an entirely unique way and whether 8 brains, as well as 8 legs are really better than 1. The panel also discover the alarming truth about the unique sex lives of the octopus - lets just say it doesn't end well for at least one of the participants. New episodes released Wednesdays. If you're in the UK, listen to the newest episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:42:54

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... Audience Favourites

11/8/2023
There’s no shortage of surprising science in The Infinite Monkey Cage and this episode is dedicated to you, the audience, as we hear some of your favourite clips from the past 14 years of the show. Palaeontologist Susie Maidment explains why licking rocks is the best way to determine their age, but you were just as interested in whether Robin is older than Brian, who also admits Jon Culshaw’s impression of him is surprisingly accurate. Entomologist Erica McAlister explains what to do if a fly lands in your wine, but be warned, it might put you off drinking! And actor Brendan Hunt gets excited by the prospect of chatty trees. Episodes featured: Series 24: The Wood Wide Web Series 23: A History of Rock Series 5: What’s the North Ever Done for Us? Series 20: Dinosaurs Series 23: In Praise of Flies Series 21: Science of Laughter New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3Jzy Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:23:58

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... Infinity

11/1/2023
Endless inflation seems to be everywhere at the moment, including on this episode examining the nature of infinity. Brian and Robin dive through the back catalogue to discover there might be no limit to the number of parallel universes that exist. This leads to an argument between astronomer royal Lord Rees and comedy producer John Lloyd, who says the whole suggestion is total speculation. Even cosmologist Carlos Frenk can’t get his head round the idea, as he contemplates the suggestion that new big bangs may be happening all the time. Episodes featured: Series 10: Before the Big Bang Series 6: Parallel Universes Series 21: Quantum Worlds Series 9: To Infinity and Beyond Series 10: Numbers Numbers Everywhere New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3Jzy Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:18:10

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... Being Human

10/25/2023
Brian Cox and Robin Ince consider the quirks that make human beings unique and check in with experts from The Infinite Monkey Cage back catalogue. Prof Alice Roberts explains that our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals to make us who we are today. We’re also excellent at communicating with other species, as comedian Bill Bailey learns when he gets a lesson in chimp speak from the legendary primatologist Dr Jane Goodall. Then there are the bits of us that are pretty different, like our large brains and Conan O’Brien says his has been wired for comedy. Everyone agrees natural selection hasn’t always equipped us with the best tools for the job and David Baddiel argues the eye is a perfect example of a human design flaw. Episodes featured: The Infinite Monkey Cage 100 Series 22: When the Monkeys met the Chimps Series 22: The Human Brain Series 19: Are Humans Still Evolving? New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3Jzy Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:17:54

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... Oceans

10/18/2023
If there’s any doubt that the deep sea is as exciting to explore as the moon or Mars, this episode puts the question to rest, as Robin and Brian wade through the back catalogue to learn all about the ocean. Professor Lloyd Peck from the British Antarctic Survey tells them about the weird and wonderful creatures he’s encountered at sea, from rat-tailed fish to bacteria that feed off sulphides that could kill them, but Dave Gorman is still sceptical that it’s an environment worth investigating. And he's not the only one – fellow comedian Tim Minchin might live near Australia’s best beaches but says he’s terrified by the idea of getting in a submarine, let alone sharing such a small space with Brian Cox! Episodes featured: Series 6: Oceans: The Last Great Unexplored Frontier? Series 21: Coral Reefs Series 24: Exploring the Deep New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3Jzy Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:23:45

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... Building a Universe

10/11/2023
While most of us believe the universe began with a big bang, Brian and Robin hear some of the alternative theories, including an Egyptian myth that it actually started with a giant ejaculation, as they question the origins of life as we know it. With so much still to be discovered about the cosmos, Rufus Hound says we need more bangs and flashes in chemistry classes, arguing lessons aren’t dangerous enough anymore. So could comedians play a role in advancing the science? Matt Lucas says he’s happy to jump into a black hole when he learns there’s high speed internet and Eric Idle gets poetic about the tiniest of particles in a special song about the Higgs Boson. Episodes featured: Series 10: Before the Big Bang Series 23: The Fundamentals of Reality Series 14: The Recipe to Build a Universe Series 22: Black Holes The Infinite Monkey Cage 100 Series 8: Glastonbury Special New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:19:21

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... Strawberries

10/4/2023
Robin Ince and Brian Cox are still struggling to decide when a strawberry dies as they trawl through the archive to ponder where we should draw the line between life and death. Katy Brand kicks the debate off with her thoughts on whether strawberries have souls, which leads her to wonder whether it might be possible for people to be resurrected. While it’s theoretically possible to bring someone back to life, it’s not looking likely any time soon. Instead, Rufus Hound talks us through how he’d commit the perfect murder, right down to the use of a woodchipper to destroy any DNA evidence. Little does he realise that this fingerprint of life gets everywhere, including down comedian Susan Calman’s pants. Episodes featured: Series 7: Improbable Science Series 8: What is Death? Series 12: Forensic Science Series 26: How To Commit The Perfect Murder New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:23:14

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide to... The Movies

9/27/2023
How important is it for movie producers to get the science right? Brian Cox and Robin Ince discover why some surprising movies have scientific advisers and ask if there is any science in The Simpsons. They question the existence of fictional wormholes, while comedian Ross Noble can’t believe there may actually be a space-time portal shaped like a pair of trousers. Some writers are even accurate by accident, as comic book author Alan Moore discovers when he tells Brian about one of his outlandish planetary plotlines… only to hear it obeys all the laws of physics. And Sir Patrick Stewart wows the panel with a little piece of plastic, but everyone agrees this Star Trek communicator is the stuff of legend. Episodes featured: Series 12: The Infinite Monkey Cage USA Tour: Los Angeles Series 12: Christmas Special Series 22: Black Holes Series 2: Science Fiction Science Fact Series 7: Space Exploration New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:22:23

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide To... Space Travel

9/20/2023
Astronauts and explorers including Brian Blessed, Sir Patrick Stewart, Nicole Stott and Charlie Duke reveal the wonders, and challenges, of traveling into space. Brian Cox and Robin Ince have delved into the Monkey Cage back catalogue to hear from astronauts and some very well known would-be space explorers about their passion for space travel. Brian Blessed has been dreaming of visiting Mars since the age of six, but will he ever reach the red planet? Sir Patrick Stewart has warp sped across the galaxy as Captain Picard, but has it ignited a real yearning to explore the final frontier? NASA’s Nicole Stott explains her feeling of awe when she first saw the earth as a little blue dot and Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke talks about breaking a high jump record during the ‘moon Olympics’ and why mission control were less than amused. Episodes featured: Series 8: Space Tourism Series 7: Space Exploration Series 24: Astronauts Series 16: Astronaut special Series 22: An Astronaut’s Guide to Isolation New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:20:40

The Infinite Monkey’s Guide To... The Apocalypse

9/13/2023
Brian Cox and Robin Ince take a deep dive into the Monkey Cage archive to find out how scared scientists and comedians are about the universe ending. Steve Martin says he’s happy to burn to a crisp when the sun explodes, but learns he might be more likely to die when galaxies tear each other apart during the ‘big rip’. And if the heat death of the universe really is inevitable, how come some people seem so jolly about it? Having studied this for years, astrophysicist Katie Mack wants to be there when everything ends, prompting Eric Idle to again speculate on the meaning of life. New episodes will be released on Wednesdays, but if you’re in the UK, listen to new episodes, a week early, first on BBC Sounds: bbc.in/3K3JzyF Producer: Marijke Peters Executive Producer: Alexandra Feachem

Duration:00:18:48