The Infinite Monkey Cage

A Science and Technology podcast featuring and
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Best Episodes of The Infinite Monkey Cage

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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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
Quantum Worlds Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Katy Brand, and physicists Sean Carroll and Jim Al-Khalili as they enter the strange and bizarre world of quantum mechanics. Schroedinger's famous thought experiment stuck a cat in a box and asked if it is dead or alive. Quantum physics says the cat is both dead and alive, until we open the box. This mind-bending idea may seem the realm of philosophy, but is actually the science that underpins most of modern life as we know it. Once the panel have dealt with the controversial issues surrounding cats in boxes, they explore whether quantum physics is really an accurate description of reality, and if it is, are there, as the theory suggests, infinite copies of you, me and everything in our universe all existing in every possible combination of ways of existing? If that is the strange but true reality of existence, will we ever be able to prove it?
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 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.
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.
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.
Brian Cox and Robin Ince transport their infinite cage to the more finite proportions of London's Science Museum to discuss wonder in science, and why children seem to have it, but too many of us lose it as adults. Joining them on stage are comedian Josie Long, US astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Science Museum Ian Blatchford and author and historian Richard Holmes. There's also a special performance by comedian and rap artist Doc Brown, in tribute to his childhood hero.
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.
Science Rocks! This week, Brian Cox and Robin Ince are travelling back in time, to discuss when and how geology became a science, what the dinosaurs ever did for us and why cryptids, creatures of popular mythology, hold such fascination for those on the fringes of science. Joining the panel are paleobiologist Dave Martill, geologist and BBC broadcaster Hermione Cockburn, the comedian Ross Noble and legendary actor, writer and performer, Eric Idle. Producer: Rami Tzabar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brian Cox and Robin Ince take to the stage at this year's Cheltenham Science Festival to discuss science mavericks. They are joined by comedian Marcus Brigstocke, medic and broadcaster Dr Kevin Fong, evolutionary biologist Aoife McLysaght and Nobel Laureate Professor Barry Marshall. Marshall, an Australian physician, famously experimented on himself to prove his theory that a bacterium was responsible for most peptic ulcers. He drank the bacterium he suspected was the cause, and as a result reversed decades of medical doctrine. He and the rest of the panel discuss the role of mavericks in science, how new theories get accepted and whether you have to go to such extreme lengths to truly push the frontiers of our scientific understanding. Presenters: Robin Ince and Brian Cox Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
"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.
Will science ever understand the human mind? Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian and former psychiatric nurse, Jo Brand, and neuroscientists Sophie Scott and Brian Butterworth. With ever more sensitive brain scanning techniques and advances in brain science, how close are we to understanding the inner workings of the human mind - or is this a quest that still remains in the hands of the philosophers? Producer: Alexandra Feachem Presenters: Robin Ince and Brian Cox.
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.
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.
Robin Ince and Brian Cox are joined on stage by V for Vendetta author and legendary comic book writer Alan Moore, cosmologist Ed Copeland, and science broadcaster Dallas Campbell to ask whether Cosmology is really a science? Do scientific theories need to be testable to make them, well - scientific? And if so, where does that leave some of the more mind-bending theories that Cosmology has postulated over the last few years? From String Theory to the idea of multiple universes, the maths might work, but if there is no way of observing whether it is correct, is it science or science fiction? Does Cosmology have more in common with the fantastical stories dreamt up by fiction writers such as Alan Moore, and will science ever progress enough to really get to the bottom of some of the more weird and wonderful theories about the way our universe works? This programme was recorded as part of the Cheltenham Science Festival. Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
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.
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Podcast Details

Started
Nov 30th, 2009
Latest Episode
Mar 9th, 2020
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
134
Avg. Episode Length
38 minutes
Explicit
No

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