BBC Discovery


An in-depth look at the most significant ideas, discoveries and trends in science, from the smallest microbe to the furthest corner of space. Podcast weekly on Mondays.
Weekly English United Kingdom Science
52 Episodes
1 – 20

The Life Scientific: Michael Woolridge

Humans have a long-held fascination with the idea of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a dystopian threat: from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, through to the Terminator movies. But somehow, we still often think of this technology as 'futuristic': whereas in fact, it's already woven into the fabric of our daily lives, from…
19 Feb 27 min

The Life Scientific: Mercedes Maroto-Valer

How do you solve a problem like CO2? As the curtain closes on the world’s most important climate summit, we talk to a scientist who was at COP 28 and is working to solve our carbon dioxide problem. Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer thinks saving the planet is still Mission Possible -…
12 Feb 27 min

The Life Scientific: Sir Harry Bhadeshia

The Life Scientific zooms in to explore the intricate atomic make-up of metal alloys, with complex crystalline arrangements that can literally make or break structures integral to our everyday lives. Professor Sir Harry Bhadeshia is Professor of Metallurgy at Queen Mary University of London and Emeritus Tata Steel Professor of…
5 Feb 28 min

The Life Scientific: Cathie Sudlow

“Big data” and “data science” are terms we hear more and more these days. The idea that we can use these vast amounts of information to understand and analyse phenomena, and find solutions to problems, is gaining prominence, both in business and academia. Cathie Sudlow, Professor of Neurology and Clinical…
29 Jan 27 min

The Life Scientific: Sir Michael Berry

Professor Jim Al-Khalili meets one of Britain's greatest physicists, Sir Michael Berry. His work uncovers 'the arcane in the mundane', revealing the science that underpins phenomena in the world around us such as rainbows, and through his popular science lectures he joyfully explains the role of quantum mechanics in phones,…
22 Jan 27 min

The Life Scientific: Sarah Harper

People around the world are living longer and, on the whole, having fewer children. What does this mean for future populations? Sarah Harper CBE, Professor in Gerontology at the University of Oxford, tells presenter Jim Al-Khalili how it could affect pensions, why it might mean we work for longer, and…
15 Jan 27 min

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

Our primate cousins fascinate us, with their uncanny similarities to us. And studying other apes and monkeys also helps us figure out the evolutionary puzzle of what makes us uniquely human. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s work brings a female perspective to this puzzle, correcting sexist stereotypes like the aggressive, philandering male…
8 Jan 26 min

Edward Witten

The Life Scientific returns with a special episode from the USA; Princeton, New Jersey, to be precise. Here, the Institute for Advanced Study has hosted some of the greatest scientific minds of our time - Einstein was one of its first Professors, J. Robert Oppenheimer its longest-serving director - and…
1 Jan 27 min

What's stopping us from exercising in older age?

Exercise in older age is high on the agenda, but the idea that with age comes bags of time and a desire to ‘get out there’ isn’t true for a lot of us. How do you juggle exercise around caring for partners, grandchildren or staying in work? What if you…
25 Dec 2023 28 min

When does sitting become bad for health?

How many hours do you spend sitting down per day? Six? Maybe eight? Or 10? Between commuting, working and relaxing, sitting can soon add up to hours and hours. James Gallagher delves into the science to find out exactly how much sitting is too much; when does it become worrying…
18 Dec 2023 28 min

Tooth and Claw: Cheetahs

Adam Hart investigates the fastest land animal in the world – the cheetah! Built for high-speed chases, these spotted cats are slender, with semi-retractable claws for good grip and a flexible spine plus a long tail for balance and manoeuvrability. Cheetahs rely on speed over brute strength when hunting –…
11 Dec 2023 29 min

Tooth and Claw: Piranhas

Adam Hart investigates a frenzied and voracious fish from South America – the piranha! Said to be able to strip their prey to the bone in mere minutes, there are plenty of gruesome tales about the bubbling bloodbaths that occur when shoals of these hardy fish feed in the freshwaters…
4 Dec 2023 28 min

Tooth and Claw: Great White Sharks

Adam Hart investigates the most famous and feared predator in all the ocean – the great white shark! With rows of large, serrated teeth, it’s often thought of as a ferocious man-eater and was the villain of the film Jaws – which frightened a generation of beachgoers. This star of…
27 Nov 2023 27 min

Tooth and Claw: Wolverines

Adam Hart investigates the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family – the wolverine. They’re far more than just a superhero played by Hugh Jackman! With a reputation for gluttony and ferocity, these solitary killers use snowstorms to hunt much larger prey. Found in the snowy tundra and boreal forests…
20 Nov 2023 27 min

The Life Scientific: Alex Antonelli

With the world's biodiversity being lost at an alarming rate, Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has made it his life's mission to protect it. He is a bio-geographer revealing how changes to the Earth's landscape, such as the formation of mountain ranges and rainforests,…
13 Nov 2023 27 min

The Life Scientific: Paul Murdin

Astronomer Paul Murdin believes a good imagination is vital for scientists, since they're so often dealing with subjects outside the visible realm. Indeed, over a long and successful career his imagination has taken him on a journey through space, discovering various new and unusual celestial occurrences - notably the first…
6 Nov 2023 27 min

The Life Scientific: Bahija Jallal

Some of the most complex medicines available today are made from living cells or organisms - these treatments are called bio-pharmaceuticals and in this episode of The Life Scientific Dr Bahija Jallal, CEO of Immunocore, shares her story of leaving her home in Casablanca, Morocco to become a world leader…
30 Oct 2023 27 min

Chris Barratt

Reproductive science has come a long way in recent years, but there's still plenty we don't understand - particularly around male fertility. The reliability and availability of data in this field has become more of a concern in light of a study published this year, suggesting that sperm counts worldwide…
23 Oct 2023 28 min

Gideon Henderson

We’re used to hearing the stories of scientists who study the world as it is now but what about the study of the past - what can this tell us about our future? Gideon Henderson’s research focuses on trying to understand climate change by looking at what was happening on…
16 Oct 2023 28 min
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