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The Infinite Monkey Cage

A Science podcast featuring Brian Cox and Robin Ince
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Best Episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage

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The Secret Life of Birds
The Secret Life of Birds Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by guests including Katy Brand, Steve Backshall and Professor Tim Birkhead to uncover the secret life of birds. They'll be looking at some of the extraordinary and cunning behaviour exhibited by many species of birds, both male and female, in an effort to attract a mate. They also get a special visit from Brann the Raven, who takes to the stage to demonstrate just how intelligent some species of birds can be. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Science of Dreaming
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Bridget Christie, neuroscientist Professor Penny Lewis and psychologist Richard Wiseman to explore the science of dreaming. Our dreams have fascinated humans for millennia and then Freud came along and told us they really did mean something, and mostly they were about sex and anger. Was he right? Why do we dream and can we find meaning in the content of our dreams? Can our dreams help us solve problems, give us new ideas, help us write a symphony, even if they can't predict the future? The panel also discuss what is going on in the brain whilst we sleep, and how memories are formed and consolidated while we snooze. It turns out the phrase "better to sleep on it" has a strong scientific argument. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Antibiotics
Antibiotics Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Chris Addison, Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, and Professor Martha Clokie to look at the history and future for antibiotics. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Teenage Brain
The Teenage Brain Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by impressionist Rory Bremner, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Professor of Zoology at Manchester University Matthew Cobb to look at the working of the teenage brain, and why teenagers are so, well, teenagery. Stomping off to your bedroom, being embarrassed by your parents, wanting to fit in with your peers and a love of risky behaviour are all well known traits associated with our teenage years, exasperating parents through the ages. But new research into dynamic changes going on in the brain during these key years has revealed that it's not just hormones that are responsible for these behaviours. Could a better understanding of what is going on during these formative years not only help teenagers themselves, but inform our education system and even help prevent many of the mental health problems that often begin during adolescence?
Will insects inherit the earth?
Will Insects Inherit the Earth? Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Dave Gorman, zoologist Tim Cockerill and forensic entomologist Amoret Whitaker. They'll be discovering the joy of creepy crawlies, why the flea is the ultimate master of Darwinian evolution, and whether those pesky cockroaches will really have the last laugh if we are unlucky enough to be wiped out by a nuclear explosion. They'll be discovering how and why insects have been by far the most successful group of organisms during the history of life on planet earth, and why we simply couldn't do without them.
Astronaut Special
Astronaut Special Brian Cox and Robin Ince transport the cage to Trondheim Norway, host of this year's Starmus Festival, for an extraordinary gathering of astronauts. They are joined on stage by NASA astronauts Sandra Magnus and Terry Virts, ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier, and Apollo 16's Charlie Duke, one of the last people to have walked on the moon. They talk about their personal journeys to fulfill their long-held dreams, and literally reach for the stars. They hear from Charlie Duke about the extraordinary Apollo missions he was part of, including his role as Capsule Communicator for the very first moon landing, before taking his own first steps on the lunar surface as part of Apollo 16. They explore the different experience of astronauts from Charlie's era, and those who now become residents of space, spending months and months aboard the International Space Station, and the challenges each mission brings. And Claude Nicollier describes his epic spacewalk to repair the Hubble Telescope. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Astronaut Special (Repeat)
In this episode from 2017, Brian Cox and Robin Ince transport the cage to the Starmus Festival in Trondheim, Norway, for an extraordinary gathering of astronauts. They are joined on stage by NASA astronauts Sandra Magnus and Terry Virts, ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier, and Apollo 16's Charlie Duke, one of the last people to have walked on the moon. They talk about their personal journeys to fulfill their long-held dreams, and literally reach for the stars. They hear from Charlie Duke about the extraordinary Apollo missions he was part of, including his role as Capsule Communicator for the very first moon landing, before taking his own first steps on the lunar surface as part of Apollo 16. They explore the different experience of astronauts from Charlie's era, and those who now become residents of space, spending months and months aboard the International Space Station, and the challenges each mission brings. And Claude Nicollier describes his epic spacewalk to repair the Hubble Telescope. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
The Mind v the Brain
The Mind V The Brain. It's one of the hardest problems in neuroscience. How do the chemical processes and electric signals produced by our brains result in the complex and varied experiences and sense of self that we might describe as our mind? Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Katy Brand, and neuroscientists Professor Uta Frith and Professor Sophie Scott to ask whether the mind is simply a product of the biology of our brain, or is there more to it than that? Can you have a brain without a mind, and is the mind simply an unexpected consequence, an emergent property, of our highly evolved and sophisticated brain. They'll also be tackling the question of free will, and whether we really have any, and if you could in theory simulate a fully working brain, with all its signals and complexity, would a mind naturally emerge? Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Christmas Special: The Science of Magic
The Infinite Monkey Cage Christmas Special: The Science of Magic The Infinite Monkeys bring their own brand of yule friendly science and comedy to the BBC Radio 4 Christmas schedule, and this year add an extra sprinkling of festive magic. Brian Cox and Robin Ince will be joined on stage by some very special guests to look at the science behind some of our best loved magic tricks and illusions. Actor, writer and illusionist Andy Nyman,actor and comedian Diane Morgan, Professor of Psychology and magician Richard Wiseman, and theologian and broadcaster Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou will all be demonstrating how basic human psychology and evolution allow us to see and believe the seemingly impossible. They'll be exploring how some basic psychology can lead to some truly impressive deceptions, and ask how easy it is to trick the human mind, even a mind like Brian's. Prepare to be amazed. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Invasion
Invasion! Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Phill Jupitus, bat expert and ecologist Professor Kate Jones and forensic botanist Dr Mark Spencer to look at the problems caused by alien invasions, although not of the little green men kind. They look at why such innocent and innocuous sounding plants such as floating pennywort strike terror and fear in the heart of environmentalists up and down the country, and how clever microbes and diseases are able to jump from animals such as bats to humans causing devastating consequences. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Solar System
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Jo Brand, planetary scientist Professor Monica Grady and NASA scientist Dr Carolyn Porco as they discuss some of the most exciting and technically ambitious explorations of our solar system. They'll be looking at the Rosetta mission that has, for the first time, landed a probe on a comet, and the Cassini-Huygens mission which is bringing us extraordinary information about Saturn and its moons, and what these explorations of the far reaches of our solar system might tell us about our own planet.
What Makes Science a Science?
What Makes a Science a Science? Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by "Bad Science" author Ben Goldacre, neuroscientist Sophie Scott and broadcaster Evan Davis to ask what makes a science, a science. They'll be asking whether the scientific method can be applied to topics such as history and politics, and whether subjects like economics and social sciences qualify as science at all.
Is There Room for Mysticism in a Rational World?
Glastonbury Special Radio 4's award winning science/comedy show hits Glastonbury to prove that science really is the new rock n roll. Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by musicians Billy Bragg and Graham Coxon, comedian Shappi Khorsandi, and scientist Professor Tony Ryan to bring their own brand of rationality and reason to Glastonbury's most hardened new-age followers. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
What's the North Ever Done for Us?
The Infinite Monkeys, Robin Ince and Brian Cox, return for a new series of irreverent science chatter with a host of special guests. In the first of the new series, they're on Brian Cox's home territory for a recording at the University of Manchester. They're joined by impressionist Jon Culshaw, physicist Jeff Forshaw and biologist Matthew Cobb to look at just a few of the amazing scientific achievements that Manchester has given the world, from Rutherford splitting the atom through to last year's Nobel Prize for Physics. And if you listen closely, a few other well known voices may also appear to have snuck onto the panel...who knew that even Alan Carr has an opinion on the Higgs Boson. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
What Is Death?
"What Is Death?" In the first of a new series of the award winning science/comedy series, Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Katy Brand, biochemist Nick Lane and forensic anthropologist Sue Black to discuss why death is such an inevitable feature of a living planet. As well as revisiting such weighty scientific issues, such as when can a strawberry, be truly declared to be dead, they'll also explore the scientific process of death, its evolutionary purpose and whether it is scientifically possibly to avoid it all together.
Oceans: The Last Great Unexplored Frontier?
Brian Cox and Robin Ince return for a new series of the award-winning science/comedy show, as they take a witty, irreverent and unashamedly rational look at the world according to science. In today's programme they'll be looking down rather than up as they consider the great mysteries that still remain uncovered in the watery depths of our oceans and asking whether they are truly the last unexplored frontiers for science. It has often be said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about much of what lies beneath the ocean waves, so how come we know so little about the vast majority of our own planet? They'll be joined on stage by comedian Dave Gorman, British Antarctic Survey scientist Lloyd Peck and Bramley Murton from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. Presenters: Robin Ince and Brian Cox Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
How to Beat the House and Win at Games
How to beat the house and win at games. Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by mathematicians Hannah Fry and Alex Bellos, psychologist Richard Wiseman and games enthusiast Helen Zaltzman, to get their top tips for winning games and solving puzzles. Do mathematicians make better Poker players, or is psychology the key to the ultimate poker face? Will a knowledge of probability give you the ultimate winning strategy for your next game of Monopoly? (the answer is yes!). How old are the oldest puzzles and why do they involve wolves and cabbages? And how have puzzles involving wolves, cabbages and bridges resulted in the development of whole new branches of mathematics. PRODUCER: Alexandra Feachem.
Immune System
The Immune System Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Shappi Khorsandi, Prof Dan Davis and Prof Steve Jones to look at our amazingly complex and clever immune system. They look at how the human body fights disease, and why it has been so little understood until now. Fear not though, a new revolution in understanding is underway, with some extraordinary insights into the cunning of our little white cells. The panel look at how this new understanding is already leading to some real breakthroughs in treatment for diseases such as cancer, and Shappi reveals the crucial role she played in one such discovery. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Big Data
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by Danny Wallace, mathematician Hannah Fry and science writer Timandra Harkness. They'll be going big on Big Data, and asking just how big is it? They'll be looking at where Big Data comes from, should we be worried about it, and what mysteries are hidden within the seemingly endless amounts of information that is collected about us as we go about our daily lives.
Oxygen: A Matter of Life and Death
Oxygen: a matter of life and death. Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by chemist Andrea Sella, science broadcaster and writer Gabrielle Walker and comedian Sara Pascoe to look at the life and death properties of oxygen. It's the molecule we simply can't live without, but as fate would have it, oxygen is also the molecule that eventually leads to our death. Hailed as an elixir of life, and foundation of the atmosphere, oxygen is the revolutionary element that quickens life and hastens death through its ferocious reactivity. It's the molecule our cells need, but is actually highly toxic to them, and is in the end what causes us to age. Brian and Robin get to grips with the chemistry of this contradictory molecule, and Andrea Sella tries not to cause too big an explosion by demonstrating oxygen's reactive nature using a digestive biscuit. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Science's Epic Fails
Science's Epic Fails Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by actor and comedian Rufus Hound, Professor Alice Roberts and Dr Adam Rutherford to discuss some of the great scientific failures, and mistakes made by some very well known scientists. They look at how some of the greatest scientific thinkers of all time, from Darwin to Einstein, got key elements of their own theories wrong, or in the case of others, followed a path of understanding that would later be completely disproved. They discuss why failure in science is no bad thing, and ask whether getting it wrong, is a fundamental part of the scientific method, and should in fact be applied to many other areas of life. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
GCHQ
The Code Breakers Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Katy Brand, as they transport the cage of infinite proportions to the home of modern day cryptography and codebreaking., GCHQ. They'll be discovering how far we've come from the days of the humble code book and the birth of machines like Enigma. and how the new digital era has turned us all into modern day code breakers and cryptographers, without us even realising it. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Science of Sleep
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by Professor Russell Foster, Professor Richard Wiseman and comedian Katy Brand as they attempt to get to grips with the science behind Robin's insomnia. They'll be asking why we sleep, is 8 hours really enough, and why has every creature on the planet evolved with some period of inactivity? They'll also be investigating the purpose of dreams and whether analysing them has any useful purpose? Was Freud right with his symbolic interpretation of dreams, or if we dream about aggressive courgettes, does this reveal our inner most anxieties about.... aggressive courgettes? Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Maths of Love and Sex
Robin Ince and Brian Cox get romantic (although unfortunately not with each other) as they discuss the mathematics of love and the statistics of sex. They are joined on stage by comedian and former maths student Paul Foot, mathematician Hannah Fry and statistician Professor Sir David Speigelhalter, as they discover whether a knowledge of numbers can help you in the affairs of the heart? Can a maths algorithm help you find your perfect mate at a party and what do the statistics tell us about what happens after the party, if you do! They find out whether mathematicians are more successful at dating than comedians, and whether a rational, scientific approach to love and life long happiness is really the answer.
The Infinite Monkey Cage USA Tour: Los Angeles
Science Goes to Hollywood: Science Fact V Science Fiction Brian Cox and Robin Ince continue their tour of the USA, as they take to the stage in LA. They are joined by cosmologist and science advisor on movies such as Thor and Tron Legacy, Sean Carroll, comedian Joe Rogan, The Simpsons' writer and Executive Producer of Futurama, David X Cohen, and Eric Idle. They ask why so many movies now seem to employ a science advisor, whether scientific accuracy is really important when you are watching a film about a mythical norse god and whether science fact can actually be far more interesting than science fiction.
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Podcast Details
Started
Nov 30th, 2009
Latest Episode
Oct 14th, 2019
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
123
Avg. Episode Length
38 minutes
Explicit
No

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