Michael Wooldridge on AI and sentient robots
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
2M ago
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 facial recognition software to translator apps. And if we get too caught up in the entertaining sci-fi narrative around AI and the potential threat from machines, there's a more pressing danger that we overlook real and present concerns - from deep fakes to electoral disinformati ..read more
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Mercedes Maroto-Valer on making carbon dioxide useful
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
2M ago
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 - but key to success is turning the climate-busting gas, CO2, into something useful. And as Director of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions at Heriot-Watt University and the UK’s Decarbonisation Champion, she has lots of innovative ideas on how to do this. She also has a great climate-themed suggestion for what y ..read more
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Sir Harry Bhadeshia on the choreography of metals
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
3M ago
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 Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge. He’s been described as a ‘steel innovator’ – developing multiple new alloys with a host of real-world applications, from rail tracks to military armour. Harry’s prolific work in the field has earned him widespread recognition an ..read more
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Cathie Sudlow on data in healthcare
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
3M ago
“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 Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, has been at the forefront of enabling health-related research using ever-increasing datasets. She tells presenter Jim Al-Khalili why this type of research matters, how the COVID-19 pandemic changed attitudes towards data in healthcare, and why the ..read more
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Sir Michael Berry on phenomena in physics' borderlands
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
3M ago
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, computers and the technology that shapes the modern world. He is famed for the 'Berry phase' which is a key concept in quantum mechanics and one Sir Michael likes to explain through an analogy of holding a cat upside and dropping it, or parallel parking a car. Presenter: Ji ..read more
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Professor Sarah Harper on how population change is remodelling societies.
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
3M ago
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 discusses the ways modern life is changing global attitudes to when we have children, and whether we have them at all. Fertility and ageing have been Sarah's life's work and she tells her story of giving up a career in the media to carry out in-depth research, and going on to study population cha ..read more
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Sarah Blaffer Hrdy on human evolution and parenthood
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
4M ago
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 and the coy, passive female. Sarah is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, and studies female primate behaviour to create a richer picture of our evolutionary history, as well as what it means to be a woman or a parent today. Her ove ..read more
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Edward Witten on 'the theory of everything'
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
4M ago
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 today's guest counts among them. Edward Witten is Professor Emeritus at the Institute and the physicist behind M-Theory, a leading contender for what is commonly referred to as ‘the theory of everything’, uniting quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of gravity. He talks to Jim Al-Khalili abou ..read more
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Introducing… Uncharted with Hannah Fry
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
5M ago
Behind every line on a graph, there lies an extraordinary human story. Mathematician Hannah Fry is here to tell us ten of them ..read more
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Alex Antonelli on learning from nature's biodiversity to adapt to climate change
The Life Scientific
by BBC Radio 4
5M ago
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, leads to the evolution of new species and causes plants, fungi and animals to move around the world. His work is a masterclass in joined-up thinking, bringing together different fields of research by starting conversations between scientists who would rarely talk to one another. Togethe ..read more
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