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#028 Do we know the right dose of medicine for children?

Paediatric medicine faces a troubling challenge. For good ethical reasons, scientists have long been reluctant to experiment on children. As a result, many of the oldest and most common medications used in pediatric medicine have not been tested on the youngest patients. This means there is very little good quality research on efficacy or proper dosage. This concerns Dr Dan Hawcutt. He’s a Senior Lecturer Paediatric Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool who wants to further...


#027 Extreme weather: an intimate history

The study of extreme weather usually involves lots of numbers, graphs, and statistical comparisons. What's missing is the human element; the way people responded to unusual weather events. During the ice cold winter of 1838, did people stay huddled indoors or learn to skate? How about the flooding of the river Trent in the early 19th century? Were they scared? Georgina Enfield is a professor of environmental history at the University of Liverpool. Her team has assembled a fascinating...


#026 How much is your favourite Premier League player really worth?

All of a sudden mathematics wizards and statisticians are moving into the front offices of major sports teams. Ian McHale, Professor of Sports Analytics at the University of Liverpool, discusses the remarkable rise of analytics in professional sport. We see it in cycling, baseball, basketball… but what about football? McHale says the Premier League is behind other sports in adopting analytics to drive performance. This means some star players might be over-valued (and overpaid) while the...


#025 No Junk Food Ads Before 9pm

In forty years, the number of obese children has increased tenfold, and this increase is not just in the UK or the US, but around the world. It’s a global public health crisis. In the UK, one in ten children is now obese. Experts are calling on the government to reduce children’s exposure to junk food advertisements. University of Liverpool senior lecturer in psychology, Dr. Emma Boyland, describes the surprisingly powerful effect these ads have on children’s appetites and food choices....


#024 The future of farming

The massive system that drives modern agriculture is changing, especially for the vast majority of us who live in cities. Farm Urban is part of this shift, prompting us to think about how and, more importantly, where our food is produced. The Liverpool business is the brainchild of two University of Liverpool postdoctoral researchers Paul Myers and Jens Thomas. Together they've built a company that grows fresh food in brick basements and urban rooftops. Not short of ambition, their mission...


023 What's the point of Dry January

Dry January is the annual effort to give up alcohol for the first 31 days of the year. There are Dry January campaigns around the world but it is particularly popular in the UK. According to the group Alcohol Concern, 5 million Britons took part in Dry January last year. The goal is to reset your relationship with alcohol. Matt Field will be taking part in Dry January this year as he has in past years. He is a professor of psychology at the University of Liverpool and an expert on...


#022 History of Christmas Traditions

University of Liverpool professor of English, Sarah Peverley is back on the podcast; this time to compare what we know about Christmas Traditions in the Middle Ages with our modern festivities. It’s a fun and fascinating way to explore the history of the holiday season. There are some surprises, like the early origins of Father Christmas or Santa Claus. (Hint: he came from somewhere far, far south of the North Pole.) But what’s not surprising is the degree to which our approach to...


#021 Is Narcissism on the rise?

It’s easy to see signs that it might be. Research into pop music and contemporary literature offers indirect evidence that narcissism is on the rise in Western culture. More direct evidence comes from the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI): a database of thousands of US college students’ personality test results, collected over several decades. Results from these tests show narcissism has risen. Yet, new research has emerged that challenges this view. University of Liverpool lecturer...


#20 A History of Slimming

The weight loss market in the US is estimated to be worth 66 billion dollars. Europe isn’t too far behind that at 44 billion. It is big business and while its expansion has kept pace with our growing waist lines, its origins can be traced oddly enough to a time when food was scarce. Myriam Wilks-Heeg is a Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool. She’s researching the history of slimming in the UK and how it became an obsession for women. Did you know that the...


Bonus Episode: Colm Tóibín reading from his latest work

Earlier this year Colm Tóibín spoke before an audience at the Victoria Gallery Museum in Liverpool. The author and University of Liverpool Chancellor read excerpts from his latest novel House of Names. The work is a retelling of one part of the classic Greek trilogy The Oresteia and depicts Clytemnestra’s revenge for the murder of her daughter. This special bonus episode features Tóibín’s fascinating and funny insights into the challenges he faced adapting a story that is 2,500 years...


#019 Halloween as therapy

At this time of year we flock to horror films and prepare ghoulish costumes - but why do we do this? For children the answer is easy: sweet treats. For adults, the attraction to frightening things is a bit more complicated. One in six people in Great Britain experience anxiety or depression each week. Though many struggle with inner demons, they are also attracted to the macabre and the terrifying. It seems like a paradox but Dr Peter Kinderman says taking part in Halloween traditions can...


#018 Are Sugary Drinks The New Tobacco?

Simon Capewell says sugary drinks are killing us. The University of Liverpool Public Health researcher and advocate says sugar, especially the sugar in sugary drinks, is the single biggest cause of obesity. He is fighting for sugary drinks to be treated the same as tobacco which means, higher taxes and stricter limits on advertising but the industry is fighting back with huge advertising campaigns and suspect research. Professor Simon Capewell:...


#017 Colm Toibin: Universities in the era of Brexit and Trump

University of Liverpool Chancellor, Colm Tóibín explores the role of education and universities in the current political climate. The Irish short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet is author of nine novels - three of which have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 2009 Brooklyn won the Costa Novel of the Year and was later adapted into an Academy Award nominated and BAFTA winning film. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages and he...


#016: Tofu solar panels vs Big Business

Two years ago, physicist Jon Major published research on a new method for producing solar panels in the prestigious journal Nature. His technique has a tenuous connection to tofu but that was enough to push it onto the front pages of news sites around the world. The experience taught him a lot about the value of good communication of scientific ideas. Dr Major’s experience since the research was published has taught him even more about the structure of the modern solar industry. It may not...


#015: What if medicine becomes a lot more personal?

It might seem a bit farfetched but someday soon we might all carry in our wallets a little card, something like a credit card except this card will carry our entire genetic code. It’s something you would hand over to your doctor or that doctors would look for if you ended up in hospital. Another possibility is that your doctor might have your genetic profile on file, right there beside your address, your age and your weight. According to Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed medicine is set to get a...


Episode 14: Who stopped the Ebola outbreak?

Dr Calum Semple shares his experience working in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis. It’s a harrowing story that offers some surprising lessons. The large scale Western medical intervention, the type Dr Semple was involved in, might not have been the crucial factor in conquering the outbreak – and certainly not as key as we may have thought. Rather, when reflecting on his research and his experiences, Calum suggests that public health messages concerning the burial of infected persons...


Episode 13: Why do we love mermaids?

Mermaids have fascinated and attracted us for generations. What is it about these mythical creatures that has so captivated humans for thousands of years and across cultures? Sarah Peverley is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool and a Leverhulme Research Fellow working on a project entitled: 'Mermaids of the British Isles, c. 450-1500'. Sarah walks us through our long, complex and profound relationship with these beguiling messengers from the deep. Read more...


Episode 12 - Help! Is my dog obese?

Prof Alex German calls obesity the single greatest threat to your dog's health, and yet most pet owners don't even realise their pet is overweight. It's not just the average pet owner who faces this challenge. Prof German’s analysis of dogs at Crufts, the biggest dog show in the UK, found that about a quarter of all show dogs were overweight. The rise in dog obesity parallels the rise in obesity in humans and obese dogs face many of the same health risks as obese humans including arthritis...


Episode 11: Interrogations- Why respect gets results

The string of terror attacks in the UK has increased pressure on police to identify and disrupt terrorist plots early. This requires fast and effective interrogations of family, friends and supporters of attackers. You might imagine this means tough questioning that is extremely stressful to the detainee. But according to Laurence Alison, a softer approach tends to achieve hard results. Professor Alison is Director of the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology at the University...


Episode 10: The Business Of Football

Kieran Maguire talks to us about the serious business of the beautiful game's Premier League. He is a Senior Teacher in Accountancy at the University of Liverpool, and a football finance expert. He is also a lifelong fan of newly promoted Brighton FC. Kieran discusses the city of Liverpool's plan to underwrite Everton Football Club’s new stadium, the importance of Champions League places, and different approaches to financing and running Premier League football clubs. The discussion has a...


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