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Science

CrowdScience

BBC World Service

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We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.
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31:39 | Aug 30th

Satellites have transformed our lives, giving us digital communications, navigation and observations of Earth, and even an artificial place to live above the atmosphere: The International Space Station. CrowdScience listener Dana wants to know: would...Show More

37:55 | Aug 23rd

Many of us struggle to motivate ourselves to carry out certain tasks, from hanging out the washing to writing a job application. How can we best motivate ourselves? And how can we avoid procrastination? Listener Moses in Uganda wants to find out. Pre...Show More

40:12 | Aug 16th

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 Handmai...Show More

36:04 | Aug 5th

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 fo...Show More

30:05 | Aug 2nd

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...Show More

33:19 | Jul 26th

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’ evol...Show More

42:37 | Jul 19th

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: W...Show More

28:31 | Jul 12th

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, aro...Show More

33:08 | Jul 5th

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 physi...Show More

34:39 | Jun 28th

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. ...Show More

30:48 | Jun 21st

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 consciousl...Show More

26:28 | Jun 14th

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 treatmen...Show More

32:41 | Jun 7th

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 ...Show More

33:50 | May 31st

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 b...Show More

32:19 | May 24th

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 con...Show More

05:20 | May 20th

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

31:24 | May 17th

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...Show More

27:54 | May 10th

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...Show More

29:56 | May 3rd

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 Af...Show More

30:31 | Apr 26th

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 Geor...Show More

35:25 | Apr 19th

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. ...Show More

30:04 | Apr 12th

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 what...Show More

29:24 | Apr 5th

There are very good reasons to sleep: to regulate the body’s metabolism, blood pressure and other aspects of health. But do we actually need to dream? Is there an evolutionary reason for it? Marnie Chesterton takes her dream diary to a dream lab to ...Show More

32:16 | Mar 29th

Swapping dairy milk for a plant-based milk is a growing trend that promises environmental benefits. But what is the best milk considering both our health and the planet’s? Scottish listener Nancy asks CrowdScience to unpick the pros and cons of plant...Show More

31:09 | Mar 22nd

Cute isn't exactly a scientific term but we all know what we mean by it, don't we? Endearing, adorable, lovable and sweet. So what makes us fawn over a puppy, but run away from rats? Why do we spend millions on trying to keep Giant Pandas alive but s...Show More

32:57 | Mar 15th

Crowdscience heads to Africa's biggest science festival for a panel debate in front of a live audience that takes us into space then back down to earth to solve listeners' questions. Marnie Chesterton and Anand Jagatia are joined by aspiring extra-te...Show More

31:57 | Mar 8th

A racing heart, blushing, feeling sick - most people experience symptoms of shyness in certain situations. But some of us are much shyer than others, and if it gets on top of you, shyness can really limit what you get out of life. That’s why this we...Show More

32:46 | Mar 1st

This week we turn our gaze skywards to tackle three questions about what’s going on above us. Three year old Zac from the UK wants to know what clouds feel like – if they’re supposedly like steam, then how are they cold? Presenter Graihagh Jackson ...Show More

28:27 | Feb 22nd

The size of brains in the animal kingdom is wildly different, from melon-sized in blue whales to pea-sized in shrews. But does a bigger brain mean a more powerful one? CrowdScience listener Bob wondered just this as he watched various sized dogs ru...Show More

29:47 | Feb 15th

Our species started in Africa, but what was the last habitable landmass we reached? CrowdScience presenters Marnie Chesterton and Geoff Marsh team up to investigate how and when our species journeyed around the world and settled its most far flung la...Show More

31:51 | Feb 8th

It’s the sort of plot you would expect from a classic sci-fi movie; what if there are viruses trapped deep in Antarctic ice that could wreak havoc on humans? Crowdscience presenter Alex Lathbridge puts on warm gloves and meets the scientists ventur...Show More

30:38 | Feb 1st

Waste, trash, garbage – whatever you call it, unwanted materials have become a major presence in many of our lives and our environment. Every year it is estimated that humans around the world produce 2 billion metric tonnes of waste. Listener Clare f...Show More

29:15 | Jan 25th

The ritual of burying the dead stretches back to the obscure beginnings of human history - and perhaps beyond, with archaeologists uncovering evidence of burials that pre-date our own species. But why do we bury our dead? How important is it, and how...Show More

33:39 | Jan 18th

When CrowdScience listener, Grady, crashed violently on his motorbike in the desert, he thought he was going to die. Years later he still can’t remember the dramatic seconds just before the impact. Where did the memory disappear to? Did the hard hit ...Show More

33:12 | Jan 11th

Magma is the hot, molten rock found beneath the Earth’s crust. It’s so plentiful that it got Greek listener Dimitrios wondering whether we could harness this heat. Could we drill directly into the magma and use it to power our homes, he asks presente...Show More

26:55 | Jan 4th

Birds are dinosaurs, but did their extinct relatives move, look, or even sing like their avian relatives? From revealing the hidden information within fossilised dinosaur footprints, to reading the messages left by muscle attachments on fossil bones ...Show More

28:09 | Dec 28th, 2018

CrowdScience goes interstellar this week to answer listeners’ questions about the future of space travel. Marnie Chesterton heads to Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, where she hears about the engineering challenges of creating a spacecraft t...Show More
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

32:52 | Dec 21st, 2018

Wouldn’t it be great if you could lose weight and stay fit just by exercising your brain? Trouble is everything takes so much effort - from burning off excess weight to powering our cars. But why? Presenter Marnie Chesterton rummages through the C...Show More

33:52 | Dec 14th, 2018

Loving someone who doesn’t love you in return makes us feel wretched – can science explain why we must suffer? Parental love makes perfect evolutionary sense but romance just seems to have it in for us time after time. CrowdScience listener Leja want...Show More

29:38 | Dec 7th, 2018

From Russia to Rwanda, women live longer than men and have done so for over 100 years. But why? Is it encoded in our genes or is it something to do with the way we live? This is something CrowdScience listener Michelle from England has been wondering...Show More

29:01 | Nov 30th, 2018

Removing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere - and stopping it getting up there in the first place - is becoming increasingly urgent if we want to prevent catastrophic climate change. There are some seriously high tech machines being developed to try ...Show More

31:01 | Nov 23rd, 2018

We may take our ability to smell for granted but it’s a far more complex sense than many people realise. Listener Annabel wants Crowdscience to investigate why perfume makes her queasy, so Anand Jagatia sets out to discover why we can’t all agree whe...Show More

34:09 | Nov 16th, 2018

Communicating quickly, accurately and, ideally, in a way that's well-received is no easy feat, wherever you live in the world. For this week's listener, who lives and works in several different countries as a member of the armed forces, good communic...Show More

28:21 | Nov 9th, 2018

From IVF to premature babies we explore what science we would need to make a baby outside the body in a pursuit to answer a question from Nigerian listener, Aminu asking: Can we make an artificial womb? To find out, presenter Nastaran Tavakoli-Far ...Show More

35:10 | Nov 2nd, 2018

How should we tackle the biggest clean-up job in history? Listener Michelle from Ireland sends CrowdScience to investigate what to do with years’ worth of spent nuclear fuel. Most of the highly toxic waste is a by-product from nuclear power productio...Show More

28:44 | Oct 26th, 2018

Mohammed is from India and he’s blind. He emailed CrowdScience because he wanted to know more about new technologies that could help him see again. Specifically, he was interested in artificial vision - what is it and what does it look like? Bobbie ...Show More

32:24 | Oct 19th, 2018

When it comes to speed, humans have got nothing on cheetahs - or greyhounds, kangaroos or zebras for that matter. It’s over long distances we really come into our own: when running for hours or even days, our body structure and excellent sweating ski...Show More

38:17 | Oct 12th, 2018

Would you willingly break a mirror, walk under a ladder or cut up an image of someone you love - or might you be worried about tempting fate – even if you don’t believe in supernatural forces? Anand Jagatia enters the world of magical thinking on ...Show More

35:49 | Oct 9th, 2018

As the US reaches the end of another hurricane season listener Kelly wants to know if it’s possible to prevent these devastating storms? She lives in Florida, the hurricane capital of the world, and has survived 100mph winds whipping through her home...Show More

29:27 | Sep 28th, 2018

As the show that takes your questions and turns them into audio adventures reaches its 100th episode, Marnie Chesterton revisits a few of our most liked, talked-about, and inbox-filling programmes to find out how science is getting on with the answer...Show More

28:15 | Sep 21st, 2018

This violent and repetitive involuntary constriction of the chest muscles is highly infectious, and can result in convulsions, profuse tears and a reddening of the face. People are known to clutch their chests or roll around on the floor during the m...Show More

27:17 | Sep 14th, 2018

E-cigarettes and vaping may only have been around for a decade or so but it's estimated more than 35 million people globally have taken it up. Marnie Chesterton heads to a vape show to discover why these gadgets are proving so popular, and hears from...Show More

26:44 | Sep 7th, 2018

Have you ever been out driving and noticed your mind… wandering? CrowdScience listener Sian Gardiner has. When travelling to visit her parents she has to cross a very large, very obvious bridge. But there are times when she finds herself on the other...Show More

27:36 | Aug 31st, 2018

In humans if you have two X chromosomes you are female and if you have an X and a Y then you are male. It is textbook science. But CrowdScience listener Du in Singapore has done some extra homework and found a piece of intriguing fish research which ...Show More

27:40 | Aug 24th, 2018

It’s the central question for the current generation of Mars missions. Since the first close-up pictures of the red planet back in 1965, decades of space missions have revealed our neighbouring planet to be cold, rocky and sterile. But there are hint...Show More

32:37 | Aug 18th, 2018

The idea of creating underwater habitats has captured the imagination of writers, thinkers and scientists for decades. However, despite numerous grand visions these dreams of aquatic metropolises have not yet come to fruition. Crowdscience listener a...Show More

29:39 | Aug 10th, 2018

What is light and can we trap it in a box? On this edition of CrowdScience, Marnie Chesterton brings you a kaleidoscope of colourful questions from listeners around the world, from Kampala to Chicago. Shireen asks why people have a favourite colour a...Show More

31:52 | Aug 3rd, 2018

Hedgehogs are the UK’s favourite British mammal. They have cute furry faces, a snuffly nose and the ability to gobble up garden slugs. What’s not to like? Answer: quite a lot if you live in the Outer Hebrides. Hedgehogs were introduced to South Uist ...Show More
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

03:35 | Aug 3rd, 2018

Introducing Kalki Presents: My Indian Life - our new podcast with Bollywood actor, Kalki Koechlin. This preview tells you all about it. It’s raw, it’s painful, it’s joyful. It’s real life in India in the 21st century. Episode 1 will be available from...Show More

31:22 | Jul 27th, 2018

Teenagers are known for ignoring their parents’ advice, but is this reputation for rebellion well-founded? If so, is rejecting the advice of previous generations and treading our own path an important part of what it means to be human? Are we success...Show More

34:56 | Jul 20th, 2018

This deceptively simple question from listeners Andy, Mike and James is actually one of the hardest questions CrowdScience has ever tackled. Why? Because even scientists struggle to explain the true nature of the magnetic force and to do so in a way ...Show More

29:08 | Jul 13th, 2018

Anand Jagatia heads to the rainbow nation of South Africa, to answer listener Lucy’s deceptively simple question. He follows the path of early human migration to understand the relationship between light skin and latitude, and find out how the world ...Show More

31:22 | Jul 6th, 2018

Listener Pogo wants to know why there aren’t any cabbages – or any of the other vegetables – in his local forest. Where did they all come from? And could they someday disappear? Presenter Gareth Barlow goes hunting for wild snacks in a city park and ...Show More

26:28 | Jun 28th, 2018

Sex – for most organisms - is about meeting the right partner. But what if you and your mate are stuck far apart with no ability to travel? This dilemma could put a bit of a downer on your sex life, but is faced by plants everywhere. Presenter Anand ...Show More

29:36 | Jun 22nd, 2018

Some of the biggest reserves of freshwater are right under our feet and they're really important for farming as well as providing us with water to drink. However, in some areas of the world, groundwater is being slurped up quicker than it can be repl...Show More

32:12 | Jun 15th, 2018

What sounds heavenly to one person might sound like boring noise to another - but why are our musical preferences so different? Is it all down to what we hear growing up, or are other factors at play? CrowdScience listener and music lover Jocelyn...Show More

29:49 | Jun 8th, 2018

Hypnosis has a long and controversial history, with its roots in animal magnetism or mesmerism, the theory developed by 18th Century German doctor Franz Mesmer. He believed he had discovered an invisible natural force possessed by all living things, ...Show More

28:40 | Jun 1st, 2018

Electric cars are labelled as ‘zero emissions’ vehicles – but what does that really mean? Jack Stewart puts your questions about EVs to the experts. According to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, just how green your EV is compared to...Show More

31:23 | May 25th, 2018

For some it's a way to get closer to God, for others a tried and tested way to lose weight - but listener Amine wants to know if fasting has any other, unexpected health benefits? So presenter Marnie Chesterton cuts down on cookies and investigates t...Show More

32:04 | May 18th, 2018

Why is it that computers are so much faster than brains at some tasks? Or could human brains one day be used to better effect? Listener Praveen from India was wondering how it can be that supercomputers are so very powerful compared to the human ...Show More

33:50 | May 11th, 2018

Kenyan listener Docktor can’t help himself. When music is playing he must move to the beat and he wants to know why. What role does dance play in human evolution? And what does dance mean to us? To help answer the many twists and turns in Docktor’s q...Show More

30:51 | May 4th, 2018

Humans have the potential to eat pretty much anything – but the reality is we don’t. Wherever we live in the world, we eat just a small fraction of the foodstuffs available and show strong preferences for certain foods over others. Those preferences ...Show More

30:10 | Apr 27th, 2018

Carbon dioxide levels are far higher than at any other point in human history, thanks to our reliance on burning fossil fuels. But having pumped huge amounts of CO2 into the air, are there ways to get it back out again? If so, where would we put it a...Show More

28:36 | Apr 20th, 2018

Short-sightedness is reaching epidemic proportions around the world. The way things are progressing, one-third of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people - could need glasses by the end of the decade. And scientists are beginning to understand wh...Show More

28:09 | Apr 13th, 2018

Will gravity on earth ever change? Why do insects fly towards the light? Is the plasma in a TV the same as plasma in a fusion reactor? Why are mosquito bites so itchy? What does the Higgs boson do for the Universe? In a Q+A special, Marnie Chesterton...Show More

29:22 | Apr 6th, 2018

Dementia affects nearly 50 million people worldwide – but doctors are still struggling to find a cure. CrowdScience investigates why this particular group of brain diseases are so hard to treat, from the difficulties around diagnosis to why the drugs...Show More

35:15 | Mar 30th, 2018

Since the end of the 19th century, scientists have been predicting we would be eating a meal in a pill, but is it a serious answer to the world’s food problems? That’s what Australian listener Bridget is wondering and whether it’s possible to produce...Show More

29:34 | Mar 24th, 2018

Listener Nikolai sends CrowdScience hunting through space and time with his deceptively simple question. Can we find perfect stillness? You are probably reading this sentence whilst standing or sitting still. So is it a daft question? We discover tha...Show More

33:46 | Mar 16th, 2018

Are you the master of your own decisions? Independent-minded? A free spirit? Like it or not, the answer is probably no - as we are profoundly influenced by the people around us. But why do humans follow the crowd? CrowdScience listener Cath Danes wan...Show More

37:21 | Mar 9th, 2018

Unlike nuclear fission power stations, which leave harmful radioactive waste to be stored or disposed of for thousands of years, a nuclear fusion power plant would create precious little burden on future generations. The fuel source would be seawater...Show More

28:35 | Mar 2nd, 2018

Humans have used dogs' excellent sniffing talents ever since our ancestors figured out that canine companions could help them track down their next meal. But what about other animals? Can they take us beyond the limits of our own senses? That's wh...Show More

34:57 | Feb 23rd, 2018

A cacophony of singing and screaming creatures’ accents are explored to answer: Can animals of the same species from different places communicate with each other? Presenter Geoff Marsh tries to identify how different these calls really sound for Crow...Show More

33:15 | Feb 16th, 2018

From worms who time their mating ritual with an inner lunar calendar, to how full moons could cause cows to give birth early. Listener Andreas sends CrowdScience on a mission to separate fact from fiction. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: M...Show More

31:18 | Feb 9th, 2018

Scientists have been searching for dark matter for 80 years, so CrowdScience wondered whether they could find it faster. Armed with a boiler suit, hard hat and ear defenders, Marnie Chesterton travels over a kilometre underground into a hot and sweat...Show More

30:36 | Feb 2nd, 2018

Carbon is special, but is it necessarily the unique building block of life in the universe? Science fiction has long speculated on non-carbon biochemistries existing in the universe – notably in the work of authors such as Isaac Asimov as well as in ...Show More

26:28 | Jan 26th, 2018

How far can you see? A few kilometres down the road? Or do you struggle to see past the end of your own nose? Well one listener thinks he might be able to see 15 quintillion miles away... but can he really? Marnie Chesterton and Bobbie Lakhera are on...Show More

28:36 | Jan 19th, 2018

Meet the entrepreneurs turning bugs into food and get top tips on how to cook them. In this week’s episode we return to the topic of edible insects and the story of Kahitouo Hein’s caterpillar factory in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Kahitouo is trying ...Show More

30:11 | Jan 12th, 2018

Most of us instinctively know when someone’s singing and when they’re talking. But since music and speech are both just sounds, how do our brains tell them apart? This week’s question comes from Eugene, a music teacher in Northern Ireland, who often ...Show More

29:07 | Jan 5th, 2018

Dogs have been living and working with humans for thousands of years. But they’re much more than just pets. As any dog owner will tell you, the bond we have with our canine friends is often so strong that they feel more like family. So how is it ...Show More

30:51 | Dec 29th, 2017

Crowdscience revisits the evidence on the best forms of biometric identification. Earlier in the year we explored digital fingerprints, gait (walking style) recognition and iris scanners. Today presenter Anand Jagatia looks at systems which use your ...Show More

30:55 | Dec 22nd, 2017

Reindeer castration, plants get chatty and more quirky science revealed in this Christmas special of CrowdScience where we will also be hearing from the people that make this series possible. That’s you – our listeners. CrowdScience has been on a...Show More

29:30 | Dec 19th, 2017

It lurks behind sofas and collects in corners, apparently appearing from nowhere. But what is household dust? And should we bother sweeping it away? That’s what Australian listener Moshe wants to know and what Marnie Chesterton is off to find out for...Show More

27:58 | Dec 8th, 2017

Trees are old – they transcend human generations – but are they the oldest living things on Earth? This story began in June 2017 when we explored a question sent in from CrowdScience listener William. Many of you got in touch after the programme wit...Show More

32:55 | Dec 1st, 2017

Dodos are dead, but are they gone forever? Reviving extinct species is a trope of science fiction, but real-life scientists are working on every stage of the problem today. Meeting scientists focused on uncovering ancient animal genomes, or revi...Show More

29:52 | Nov 27th, 2017

How does technology affect how we fall in love? Crowdscience travels to India to answer listener Erin’s questions about the impact of the internet on our search for soulmates. We meet the traditional matchmaker who says her service provides security ...Show More

27:52 | Nov 17th, 2017

Some of us want to be up with the larks, while others are more like night owls. But is our preference down to our genes, or more to do with habits and surroundings? We set out to find the answers, inspired by a question from Kira, a night owl CrowdSc...Show More

33:10 | Nov 10th, 2017

Sometimes our memory fails us and we wish facts would just stick better. Listener Mothibi is a student and has spent three years trying to remember as much as possible for his exams. He wants to know how he can train his brain to better to remember t...Show More

29:18 | Nov 3rd, 2017

People often talk about being descended from apes. But go back a bit further and we have a more unlikely ancestor – fish. Improbable as it may sound, the creature that gave rise to every bird, reptile and mammal on Earth today lived a fully aquatic l...Show More

37:07 | Oct 31st, 2017

Unpleasant man-made noise is something that disturbs many of us and even damages our health. But as millions more people move into crowded cities around the world, it's a cacophony that we almost unavoidably create ourselves. CrowdScience listener Di...Show More

27:37 | Oct 20th, 2017

Is there any scientific proof of an afterlife? Six months ago, CrowdScience tackled a question from a listener who wanted to know whether there was life after death. But following more listener emails, presenter Marnie Chesterton returns to the subje...Show More

27:27 | Oct 13th, 2017

We test the science behind parasitic therapy to answer listener Michael’s question about whether intestinal worms can help us stay healthy, and visit a deworming programme in a rural Ugandan village. Do you have a question we can turn into a progr...Show More

26:59 | Oct 6th, 2017

Carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere today are higher than at any point in human existence. But going back further into Earth’s history, when do we find concentrations as high as they are now - and what was the planet like back then? CrowdScien...Show More

27:24 | Sep 29th, 2017

Human Organs are in short supply. But what if you could grow new ones in the lab? And if you donate your body parts to help others, where might they end up? That's what Sarah Gray wanted to know after making the difficult decision to donate the b...Show More

31:59 | Sep 22nd, 2017

Is it fair to kill invasive species which humans have introduced? When people move around the world, many of their favourite – and not so favourite - animals tag along for the ride. From cane toads through to rats, cats and crayfish, so-called ‘invas...Show More

29:26 | Sep 15th, 2017

Just one per cent of vehicles are powered by electricity, but CrowdScience listener Randall from Lac du Bonnet in Canada wants to know how quickly that might change, and whether one day all cars could be electric. Marnie Chesterton begins her journey...Show More

29:02 | Sep 8th, 2017

Nuclear weapons and mega asteroids: what would the aftermath look like? CrowdScience explores past extinction events and future dystopias. In a past episode, CrowdScience headed to Denmark to find out whether humans could go the way of the dinosa...Show More

27:11 | Sep 1st, 2017

CrowdScience is uncovering the super-powers of spiders, flies and the most irritating mosquitos. Anand Jagatia meets spider specialist Jamie Mitchells at London Zoo to find out how spiders create such vast webs and speaks to researchers in Sweden...Show More

27:54 | Aug 25th, 2017

CrowdScience dives back into a debate about trees and their ability to tackle air pollution. Growing trees take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, but their leaves also attract tiny particles, which can get into our lungs and brains. So how good are ...Show More

31:30 | Aug 18th, 2017

CrowdScience heads to the Sydney Science Festival in Australia where, from a special event at The Powerhouse Museum, we reveal answers to questions listeners have been sending in such as: What living thing has the most toxic venom? What is déjà vu? A...Show More

35:15 | Aug 11th, 2017

Is it possible to get power from lightning? This was the first CrowdScience question posed by listener John Emochu in Kampala, Uganda, in November 2016. We revisit John’s story as presenter Marnie Chesterton goes hunting for answers at a lightning la...Show More

28:37 | Aug 4th, 2017

** Contains some upsetting scenes ** As a species, we humans can be uniquely horrible to our own kind. But are we the only animal to commit murder? Listener Michelle’s question sends CrowdScience trekking – and getting lost - in the Budongo rainfo...Show More

27:09 | Jul 28th, 2017

How do we end up speaking the way we do? What's happening in our brains and mouths to make us sound so different from each other - even when we’re speaking the same language? This week on CrowdScience we return to our listener Amanda’s question of wh...Show More

27:05 | Jul 21st, 2017

People said they’d never catch on. Mobile phones, the internet and even robot assembly lines all once seemed like niche technologies. But today they are at the heart of the modern world. But just how far can technology go? Could machines start to ...Show More

28:49 | Jul 14th, 2017

A billion people across the world smoke cigarettes, and many would agree it’s the hardest habit to quit. One such smoker, listener Sharif, emailed CrowdScience from Uzbekistan to ask if we could find out why giving up is so difficult. Marnie Chestert...Show More

30:57 | Jul 7th, 2017

Earlier this year Crowdscience explored the question of time. Back then we were on a mission to uncover what the real time is and how we're able to measure time to ever greater degrees of accuracy. But as ever, the programme uncovered more questions ...Show More

28:11 | Jun 30th, 2017

We're always up for a challenge on CrowdScience but this week’s question, which comes from an artist, tests our limits as we investigate the nature of thought itself – something that has puzzled scientists and philosophers since ancient times. Un...Show More

28:07 | Jun 23rd, 2017

David in Bogota might have raised a few eyebrows in the CrowdScience office with his questions – can plants talk? And can they hear us talking to them? But actually scientists now know that plants do have the ability to communicate with the world aro...Show More

29:39 | Jun 16th, 2017

Back when Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution by natural selection, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck suggested something different - that the changes you are exposed to during your lifetime can be passed on to future generations. B...Show More

27:30 | Jun 9th, 2017

Listener Ros Allen wondered why it always seems to rain on her village but not the one a mile away. It’s all down to microclimates. CrowdScience explores the impact of microclimates on our lives, discovers how more rain can help an English tea planta...Show More

27:07 | Jun 2nd, 2017

Trees transcend human generations – but are they the oldest living things on Earth? CrowdScience listener William from London, UK, got in touch to ask what the oldest tree or other organism on our planet is. Presenter Marnie Chesterton heads out to m...Show More

30:12 | May 26th, 2017

You don’t have to be a “super-recogniser” to know that human facial features are extremely varied. Just look around you. Yet look at a most other animals and you’d find it hard to tell individuals apart. So why are human faces so diverse? We’ll al...Show More

26:47 | May 19th, 2017

Childbirth is different for everyone. Depending on who you ask, it’s one of life’s greatest and worst experiences - and can be anything from traumatic and excruciating to life-affirming and spiritual. But what pretty much every mother will agree on i...Show More

27:24 | May 12th, 2017

Even if you spent your entire life on a plane, the chances are you’d never crash – commercial air travel is remarkably safe. But after hearing about a recent air tragedy, two brothers in Kampala wondered if commercial airplanes could ever have ejecto...Show More

27:03 | May 5th, 2017

Sex is responsible for the large variety of life on earth. Without the two sexes there is no sexual reproduction which means no shuffling of the genetic make-up – and no survival in a changing environment. But why do we have two sexes in the first pl...Show More

26:44 | Apr 28th, 2017

Biometrics are being used everywhere to recognise us. On this edition of CrowdScience we try out the tech that tells us apart. We find out just how unique our irises are and meet a man who can pick people out from a crowd of thousands just by analysi...Show More

26:47 | Apr 21st, 2017

Our planet is getting rather cosy. In just over 200 years, the global population has grown from 1 billion to almost 7.5 billion – and the best estimates suggest it’s going to keep on increasing. But just how far can it go? When will we reach ‘peak hu...Show More

26:58 | Apr 14th, 2017

Mining asteroids, moons or even other planets has remained firmly within the realm of science fiction. But as certain elements become increasingly scarce on Earth, private companies and even nation states are looking to make extra-terrestrial mining ...Show More

26:45 | Apr 7th, 2017

For most people the idea of chewing on a caterpillar or tucking into a tarantula is pretty unpalatable. Yet according to the United Nations, some two billion people around the world consume insects regularly. This prompted World Service listener Sama...Show More

26:56 | Mar 31st, 2017

Why do we have so many accents - even when we’re speaking the same language? What's happening in our brains and mouths to make us sound so different from each other? This week’s question from listener Amanda takes CrowdScience to Glasgow in Scotland:...Show More

26:53 | Mar 25th, 2017

Do your joints ache when it's raining? Are you blighted with headaches when the wind picks up? If the answer’s yes then you're definitely not alone. People have been linking their heath to the weather since the time of the Ancient Greeks - but is the...Show More

26:55 | Mar 18th, 2017

Can we really live on Mars? Or exist in a virtual world? And why does movie science sometimes have us shouting at the screen? Our panel of scientists and sci-fi experts reveal all in this special edition of CrowdScience recorded live at the South by ...Show More

27:00 | Mar 14th, 2017

The human race is getting fatter. But is it our fault? There are a whole host of factors influencing our weight - how many of them can we control? CrowdScience discovers how factors like our environment and our genes can tip the scales in the wron...Show More

27:28 | Mar 4th, 2017

Trees take in carbon dioxide but they also convert some of the toxic gases in our air. How much help can trees give us in fighting air pollution and could where we plant them make an even bigger difference? Crowdscience reports from the side of some ...Show More

29:40 | Feb 25th, 2017

Our listener Joseph’s question might sound more sci-fi than science show. But as Marnie Chesterton discovers, robots have already entered the realm of medicine and are likely to become more important in the future. A visit to the operating theatre at...Show More

26:28 | Feb 18th, 2017

A few weeks ago, CrowdScience asked if it pays to be nice. We found that the answer is yes – if you’re a human. But if being social is so great, why aren’t all animals doing it? That’s what our US listener Tony wants to know. After listening to ...Show More

27:05 | Feb 11th, 2017

Death is one of life’s few certainties – or is it? To answer listener Pratibha’s question from New Delhi, India, presenter Marnie Chesterton asks medical and scientific experts if there is any evidence that humans could somehow come back into existen...Show More

27:13 | Feb 4th, 2017

Earth’s surface may be 70 percent water but many places are struggling to access it. We look at a range of water supply options including delivering it by tanker. In Malta we meet a man trying to solve its water problems, with a clever contraption to...Show More

28:41 | Jan 29th, 2017

It sounds like a simple question – what is the time? But look closer and you realise time is a slippery concept that scientists still do not fully understand. Even though we now have atomic clocks that can keep time to one second in 15 billion years,...Show More

27:11 | Jan 21st, 2017

From Chihuahuas to Great Danes, Mexican Hairless to Afghan Hounds, dogs are the most diverse mammal on the planet. There are currently over 500 recognised breeds worldwide with almost every conceivable combination of size, shape, coat, colour and beh...Show More

27:10 | Jan 14th, 2017

Modern Martian hunting involves looking for the tiniest evidence of life. But when presenter Marnie Chesterton found out that a scientist she was meant to be chatting to about cleanliness had previously worked for NASA, the topic of space bugs turned...Show More

27:39 | Jan 7th, 2017

To be healthy you need to be clean – or so we’ve thought throughout human history. The dazzling array of antibacterial products that exploded onto the scene in the 20th century took things to the next level, with their promises of eliminating 99.9...Show More

26:51 | Dec 31st, 2016

Is there a killer asteroid with Earth’s name on it? The dinosaurs ruled for many millions of years before coming to their violent end. Will humanity prevail or are we doomed to succumb like the dinosaurs? It’s a question that will keep you up at nigh...Show More

27:22 | Dec 24th, 2016

Why can't we use energy from the waves of the sea to create all the electricity that we need? Listener Michael in Kingston, Jamaica wants to know. Living on a Caribbean island means he’s never far from the might of the ocean – so could it power his h...Show More

26:54 | Dec 17th, 2016

Most of us want to be nice. But is it all it's cracked up to be? It's a question that's been nagging at listener Tony in Illinois, USA, for over 25 years. While studying at university, the lecturer asked him whether competing or co-operating was the ...Show More

31:12 | Dec 10th, 2016

How would a fourth dimensional being appear to humans? "It would look just weird" is one way to answer the question 'How would a fourth dimensional being appear to humans?' But it's more complicated than that - theoretical cosmologist Andrew Pontz...Show More

28:33 | Dec 5th, 2016

What effect does air travel have on the climate? That is the question listener Neil sent CrowdScience from New Zealand. If you have ever looked up at the sky and seen the wispy white streaks that airplanes leave behind, then you are looking at one o...Show More

27:24 | Nov 28th, 2016

Where did the first viruses come from? They have the potential to wipe out life on Earth. But could life on Earth itself have evolved from the first viruses? Like the chicken and the egg, there are fierce arguments about which came first and rival sc...Show More

27:07 | Nov 19th, 2016

How much electric energy storage would it take to run the average home for 24 hours? Also: When will it be economical to locally store several days of electric energy for our home? Listener Gus in Texas, USA, wants to know – especially because he’s o...Show More

30:15 | Nov 12th, 2016

What do scientists think is outside our universe? Asks Rebecca Standridge from San Francisco in the US. It’s a question which goes right to the limits of human understanding. We look for the answer using balloons, bubbles and the world’s oldes...Show More

28:12 | Nov 7th, 2016

Is it possible to get power from lightning? This was the first CrowdScience question posed by listener John Emochu in Kampala, Uganda. Presenter Marnie Chesterton goes hunting for the answer at a lightning lab in Cardiff, Wales. What is a lightnin...Show More