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Bad Blood: You Will Not Replace Us

"You will not replace us" was the battle cry of white supremacists at a rally in Charlottesville in 2017. They were expressing an old fear - the idea that immigrants and people of colour will out-breed and replace the dominant white 'race'. Exactly the same idea suffused American culture in the first decades of the 1900s, as millions of immigrants arrived at Ellis island from southern and eastern Europe.

The 'old-stock' Americans - the white elite who ruled industry and government - latched on to replacement theory and the eugenic idea of 'race suicide'. It's all there in The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald's novel set in 1922 - which takes us into the world of the super-rich - their parties and their politics.

Amidst this febrile period of cultural and economic transformation, the Eugenics Record Office is established. Led by Charles Davenport and Harry Laughlin, it becomes a headquarters for the scientific and political advancement of eugenics.

By 1924, the eugenically informed anti-immigrant movement has triumphed - America shut its doors with the Johnson-Reed Act, and the flow of immigrants is almost completely stoppped.

Contributors: Dr Thomas Leonard, Professor Sarah Churchwell, Professor Joe Cain

Featuring the voices of David Hounslow, Joanna Monro and Hughie O'Donnell

Music and Sound Design by Jon Nicholls
Presented by Adam Rutherford
Produced by IIan Goodman

Clips: BBC News, coverage of Charlottesville protests, 2017 / CNN, coverage of buffalo shooter, 2022 / MSNBC, coverage of buffalo shooter, 2022 / Edison, Orange, N.J, 1916, Don't bite the hand that's feeding you, Jimmie Morgan, Walter Van Brunt, Thomas Hoier / BBC Radio 4 Great Gatsby: Author, F Scott Fitzgerald Director: Gaynor Macfarlane, Dramatised by Robert Forrest.

Bad Blood: You've Got Good Genes

We follow the story of eugenics from its origins in the middle-class salons of Victorian Britain, through the Fitter Family competitions and sterilisation laws of Gilded Age USA, to the full genocidal horrors of Nazi Germany.

Eugenics is born in Victorian Britain, christened by the eccentric gentleman-scientist Sir Francis Galton. It’s a movement to breed better humans, fusing new biological ideas with the politics of empire, and the inflexible snobbery of the middle-classes.

The movement swiftly gains momentum - taken up by scientists, social reformers, and even novelists as a moral and political quest to address urgent social problems. By encouraging the right people to have babies, eugenicists believed we could breed ourselves to a brighter future; a future free from disease, disability, crime, even poverty. What, its proponents wondered, could be more noble?

The story culminates in the First International Eugenics Congress of 1912, where a delegation of eminent public figures from around the world gather in South Kensington to advocate and develop the science – and ideology – of better breeding. Among them Winston Churchill, Arthur Balfour, the Dean of St Pauls, Charles Darwin's son, American professors and the ambassadors from Norway, Greece, and France: a global crusade in motion.

But amidst the sweeping utopian rhetoric, the darker implications of eugenic ideas emerge: what of those deemed 'unfit'? What should happen to them?

Contributors: Professor Joe Cain, Daniel Maier, Professor Philippa Levine, Professor Angelique Richardson

Featuring the voices of David Hounslow, Joanna Monro and Hughie O'Donnell

Tooth and Claw: Cougar

Hiding in the shadows across the American continents lives a big cat with many names. From puma to mountain lion to panther to cougar, this animal is carnivorous, cunning and uses stealth to silently ambush its prey. Its elusiveness and brutal attacking style has earnt it the reputation of a cold-hearted killer. But behind this façade, hidden camera footage has revealed the cougar is all about caring for their family. And its silent whispering amongst the trees could actually be saving human lives. Adam Hart and guests uncover the mysteries of the ‘ghost of the forest’ and break its merciless stereotype.

Dr Laura Prugh, associate Professor of Quantitative Wildlife Sciences at the University of Washington, and Dr Mark Elbroch, ecologist and director of the Panthera programme in Washington USA.

Tooth and Claw: Wasps

Why do wasps exist? While many see them as unfriendly bees who sting out of spite, their aggression could be interpreted as a fierce form of family protection. They are hugely understudied and even more underappreciated, with hundreds of thousands of different species carrying out jobs in our ecosystems. Some live together in nests whereas others hunt solo, paralysing prey with antibiotic-laden venom. In abundance, they can destroy environments - outcompeting most creatures and taking resource for themselves - but could we harness their predatory powers to take on pest control? Adam Hart and guests are a-buzz about this much-maligned insect and explore why we should be giving them more credit.

Professor Seirian Sumner, behavioural ecologist at University College London, and Dr Jenny Jandt, ecologist at University of Otago, New Zealand.

Tooth and Claw: African Wild Dog

As a great African predator and a hot-spot on safari, it is hard to believe that only last century, the African wild dog was considered vermin. It's beautiful coat of painted strokes makes it undeniably distinctive. Yet out in the field, this animal is hard to find. Yes, it camouflages easily against the landscape, but years of persecution, bounties and unintentional trappings means it's now one of the most endangered mammals on the planet. Revelations about its reliance on the pack for protection, predation and parenting means every dog matters in its bid for survival. So how can we further stop numbers dwindling? Adam Hart and guests investigate the tools and tales of the magnificent painted wolf.

Dr Dani Rabaiotti, zoologist at the Zoological Society of London, and David Kuvawoga and Jealous Mpofu, conservationists at Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe.

Preparing for the next pandemic

Infectious diseases which cause epidemics and pandemics are on the rise.

Claudia Hammond is joined by an eminent panel of disease detectives, who spell out why the risks are increasing and most importantly, what we can do to predict, prepare and protect ourselves against potentially devastating new outbreaks.

Will the next infectious disease to wreak havoc across the globe again jump from animals, a zoonotic jump across species?

Think SARS, HIV, MERS, Zika, Nipah Virus, Lassa Fever, Ebola, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, Mpox and of course the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

The panel is unanimous in their plea for recognition that human health is inextricably linked to both animal health and the health of the environment. Without an understanding that we are part of an ecosystem and that climate change and the loss of biodiversity have a direct impact on epidemic and pandemic risk, we’ll struggle to keep ourselves safe they say.

Claudia is joined by vet-turned-virologist Marion Koopmans, Professor of Viroscience at Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands and head of the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Centre; by Tulio de Oliveira, Professor of Bioinformatics, director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) in South Africa and Malik Peiris, Professor of Virology at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health.

Produced by: Fiona Hill and Elisabeth Tuohy
Studio Engineer: Duncan Hannant

Image: Chickens in Thailand
Credit: Wut'hi Chay Si Tang Kha/EyeEm/Getty Images

Tooth and Claw: Komodo dragon

With nicknames like ‘prehistoric monster’ and ‘living dinosaur’, the Komodo dragon has been well and truly judged by its cover. Its gigantic size, razor sharp teeth and deadly attacking power has earned it a vicious reputation. But beneath the scales of this solitary beast are fascinating tales of rapid healing, decoy nests, and virgin births. And as climate change threatens its native Indonesia, can this hostile reptile adapt to living in closer quarters? Adam Hart and guests dig into how a lonely life may be putting the Komodo dragon at risk...

Deni Purwandana, program co-ordinator for the Komodo Survival Program in Komodo National Park, and Dr Chris Michaels, team leader of Reptiles and Amphibians at London Zoo.

Wild Inside: The Alpaca

Alpacas may have been domesticated for thousands of years but their native lands are the steep hostile mountains of South America where they continue to thrive far from the modern luxuries of animal husbandry. Prof Ben Garrod and Dr Jess French delve deep inside this hardy herbivore to unravel the anatomy and physiology that’s secured the success of this extraordinary member of the camelid family of camels, llamas and vicugna.

Wild inside: The Harbour Porpoise

Prof Ben Garrod and Dr Jess French get under the skin of the harbour porpoise to unravel this enigmatic and shy aquatic mammal’s extraordinary survival skills - from it’s ability to dive for long periods to accurately echolocating its fast moving prey. They join Rob Deaville, project leader for the Cetacean’s Stranding Investigations Programme at ZSL (Zoological Society of London) to open up and examine what makes this animal unique in terms of its anatomy, behaviour and evolutionary history.

Wild inside: Great Grey Owl

One of the world’s large owls by length, the Great Grey Owl is an enigmatic predator of coniferous forests close to the Arctic tundra. It's most often seen hunting around dawn and dusk, when it perches silently at the edges of clearings. But as Prof Ben Garrod and Dr Jess French delve deep inside to understand its true secret to survival, they find the deep feathery coat belies a deceptively small head and body that‘s evolved unbelievably powerful abilities to silently detect and ambush unsuspecting prey.

Wild Inside: The Cheetah

Zoologist Ben Garrod and veterinary surgeon Jess French armed with their dissection tools, return with a new series taking on natural history from the inside out as they delve deep into some amazing internal anatomy to unravel the secrets to survival of some of nature’s iconic animals.

It’s a rare opportunity to examine some amazing and very different wild animals – on land, in the air and deep in the oceans - unravelling their intricate internal complexity. Whilst we can gain a lot by observing their behaviour from the outside, to truly understand these animals, we need to look at what’s on the inside, too. What makes the ultimate predator? What are the keys to successful survival in an ever-changing environment?

Evolutionary biologist Professor Ben Garrod from the University of East Anglia, together with friend and expert veterinary surgeon Dr Jess French open up and investigate what makes each of these animals unique, in terms of their extraordinary anatomy, behaviour and their evolutionary history. Along the way they reveal some unique adaptations which give each species a leg (or claw) up in surviving in the big wild world.

The series begins with one of the rarities of the cat family – the cheetah, which at just under 2 metres long, is the world’s fastest land animal capable of reaching speeds of up to 70mph in 3 seconds. As Ben and Jess reveal, the body’s rear muscles, large heart and nostrils enable it to achieve record breaking accelerations. But over long distances, it risks total exhaustion and predation from larger carnivores and the risk of losing its valuable prey. We hear during the course of this intricate dissection, how it treads a fine line between speed and stamina in the quest for survival.

The Puzzle of the Plasma Doughnut

What do you get if you smash two hydrogen nuclei together? Helium and lots of energy. That’s no joke – it's nuclear fusion!

Nuclear fusion is the power source of the sun and the stars. Physicists and engineers here on earth are trying to build reactors than can harness fusion power to provide limitless clean energy. But it’s tricky...

Rutherford and Fry are joined by Dr Melanie Windridge, plasma physicist and CEO of Fusion Energy Insights, who explains why the fourth state of matter – plasma – helps get fusion going, and why a Russian doughnut was a key breakthrough on the path to fusion power.

Dr Sharon Ann Holgate, author of Nuclear Fusion: The Race to Build a Mini Sun on Earth, helps our sleuths distinguish the more familiar nuclear fission (famous for powerful bombs) from the cleaner and much less radioactive nuclear fusion.

And plasma physicist (another one!) Dr Arthur Turrell describes the astonishing amount of investment and innovation going on to try and get fusion power working at a commercial scale.

Contributors: Dr Melanie Windridge, Dr Sharon Ann Holgate, Dr Arthur Turrell

203 episodes

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