Science

CrowdScience

BBC World Service

+2 FANS

We take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.

Best
Newest
Looking for recently uploaded episodes
Where was the last place humans made home?

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

Could a ‘zombie’ virus kill us all?

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

Is Recycling All Our Waste at Home Possible?

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

Why Do We Bury Our Dead?

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

Why Can’t I Remember My Accident?

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

Can Volcanoes Power the World?

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

How Bird-Like Were Dinosaurs?

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

What is the Future of Space Travel?

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

How Much Energy Can I Burn by Thinking?

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

Is There a Logic to Romantic Love?

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

Why do Women Live Longer than Men?

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

Is Soil The Secret to Slowing Climate Change?

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

Do You Smell What I Smell?

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

Which Language is Most Efficient?

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

Can We Make an Artificial Womb?

28:21 | Nov 9th, 2018

From IVF to premature babies we’re exploring what science we’d 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

How Do We Deal with Nuclear Waste?

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

Could Bionic Eyes Help Me See Again?

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

What are the Limits of Human Endurance?

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

What Makes Us Superstitious?

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

Can We Prevent Hurricanes?

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

Does Asking Questions Improve Your Memory?

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

What’s The Point of Laughter?

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

Is Vaping Bad for your Health?

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

Why Do Drivers Zone Out?

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

Why Do Some Animals Change Sex?

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

Is There Life on Mars?

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

Could Humans Live in Underwater Cities?

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

Can We Trap Light in a Box?

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

How Do You Stop a Hedgehog Invasion?

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

Bonus Podcast: My Indian Life Preview

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

Why Does History Repeat Itself?

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

How Do Magnets Work?

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

Why do Humans have Different Coloured Skin?

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

Where Do All Our Vegetables Come From?

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

Do Plants Talk about Sex?

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

Will We Run Out of Groundwater?

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

What Shapes Our Musical Taste?

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

Is Hypnosis a Real Thing?

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

How Green Are Electric Vehicles?

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

Is Fasting Healthy?

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

How is Your Brain Better Than a Computer?

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

Why Do Humans Dance?

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

Why Don’t We All Like The Same Food?

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

Can Sucking CO2 Out of the Air Solve Climate Change?

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

Are Screens Bad For My Child’s Eyes?

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

Why Do Insects Fly Towards Lights?

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

Can We Find a Cure for Dementia?

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

Is The Future of Food a Pill?

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

Does Anything Stand Still?

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

Why Do We Follow the Crowd?

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

Is Nuclear Fusion Coming Anytime Soon?

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

Could Bees Take Over From Sniffer Dogs?

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

Do Animals Have Accents?

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

How Does the Moon Affect Life on Earth?

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

Why Does Dark Matter, Matter?

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

Must Life be Carbon-Based?

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

How Far Can I See?

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

Are Crunchy Caterpillars the Food of the Future?

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

When Does Speech Become Music?

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

Why Does My Dog Love Me?

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

Could our faces replace passports as ID?

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

Rudolph castrated: what you didn’t hear this year

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

What is dust?

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

From Oldest to Strongest Living Thing

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

Can We Revive Extinct Species Like the Dodo?

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

Does Technology Change How we Fall in Love?

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

Why are There Morning People and Night People?

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

How Can I Remember 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

How Did Life Get onto Land?

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

How Can We Fight Unwanted Noise?

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

Is There Proof of Life After Death?

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

Can We Worm Our Way Into Better Health?

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

Is Carbon Dioxide Higher Than Ever?

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

Can We Make Artificial Organs?

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

Should We Kill One Species to Save Another?

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

Could All Cars Be Electric?

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

How Could Humanity Become Extinct?

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

Spider Silk and Super Fly Senses

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

Trees v Air Pollution - the Rematch

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

Sydney Science Festival, Australia

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

Lightning Strikes Again

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

Can Animals Commit Murder?

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

What Do Our Accents Say About Us?

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

Could a Computer Judge My Crime?

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

Why is it so Hard to Quit Smoking?

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

Does Time really Exist?

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

Do We Think in Words?

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

Can Plants Talk?

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

Can Your Lifestyle Be Passed on to Future Generations?

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

Why Does It Always Rain on Me?

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

What’s the Oldest Living Thing?

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

Why do Human Faces Look so Different?

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

Why is Childbirth Painful?

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

Where’s my Ejector Seat?

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

Why Do We Have Males and Females?

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

Are Fingerprints the Best Form of ID?

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

How Many People Can Earth Support?

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

Space Mining

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

Should we eat Insects?

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

Why Do We Have So Many Accents?

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

Does Weather Affect our Health?

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

Science at the Movies

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

Is Being Fat a Choice?

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

Can Trees Help us Fight Air Pollution?

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

Could a Robot be your Doctor?

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

Why are Cats Loners?

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

Is There Life After Death?

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

Should we Use Ships to Transport Fresh Water?

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

What is the Real Time?

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

Why are Dogs so Different?

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

Is there micro-life on Mars?

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

Can we be too clean?

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

Could Humanity be Wiped out Like the Dinosaurs?

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

Wave Power

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

Does it Pay to be Nice?

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

The Fourth Dimension

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

How Bad is Flying for the Planet?

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

The Origin of Viruses

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

Home Power Storage

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

The Edge of Space

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

Electricity from Lightning

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