The podcast is presented by Gareth Mitchell, a lecturer on Imperial's MSc Science Communication course and the presenter of Click Radio on the BBC World Service, with contributions from our roaming reporters in the Research Communications group.

If you have feedback that you’d like to share or ideas for future editions, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Hayley Dunning or +44 (0)20 7594 2412, or tweet us @ImperialSpark.

You can also find the podcasts on YouTube, iTunes or Stitcher.

2017 podcasts

Everest, drugs, and science on show

In this edition: A medical researcher who scaled new heights, investigating the possible positives of psychedelics, and a summer science exhibition.

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News: The power of coffee and investigating egg shape – A huge study reveals coffee really is good for you, and we find out why some eggs are pointier than others.

Research adventures on Everest – Would you spend three months at Everest base camp in the name of science? We talk to Dr Liesl Wandrag, who did just that to find out the impact of low oxygen on critically ill patients back at sea level.

The potential upsides of psychedelic drugs – Could the active ingredient in magic mushrooms help treat depression, or could LSD help us understand consciousness? Dr Robin Carhart-Harris tries to find out in a series of intriguing and tricky trials.

Summer science – We catch up with Imperial researchers who left the lab for a week of science and fun at the Royal Society Summer Science exhibition. Molecular cages, supernovas and intelligent surgical tools were on show.

(19 July 2017)

Life as a postdoc, reading brain age and sounding out scientists

In this edition: Finding out what every postdoc needs to know, how old your brain is, and how an Imperial researcher made an award-winning podcast.

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News: The impact of universal healthcare and playing with proteins – We discuss a study looking into how universal healthcare has reduced inequality in Brazil, and try out a mobile game designed around the problem of proteins.

What every postdoc needs to know – We chat to the authors of a new book exploring the challenges and opportunities of postdoc life, and get their top tips for thriving in the position.

How old is your brain? – Is your brain older than you are? Research from the Department of Medicine suggests some people’s health can be linked to an older-looking brain as they age, and say MRI scans could help to spot who might be at increased risk of poor health and dying earlier.

Sounding out scientists – Imperial postdoc Stuart Higgins recently won the ‘interview podcast’ category at the inaugural British Podcast Awards. We find out what makes his podcast about the scientists themselves, not their science, so intriguing.

(21 June 2017)

All the fun of the Festival

In this edition: We bring you the sounds of the Imperial Festival 2017, chatting to everyone from scientific firestarters to Charles Darwin himself.

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News: A father’s influence and frisky fruit flies – We discuss new Imperial research that shows fathers who interact with their newborns have a positive impact on the child’s development, and a study that found out why female fruit flies get so aggressive after sex.

Revisit the Imperial Festival 2017 – Our team of reporters met researchers, performers, guests and even Charles Darwin this year, and explored everything from cake design to water filtration and from singing for wellbeing to a modern way to pickle food.

Bonus material – Take a journey through the process of creative thought as our Reporter is taken on a tour of Continuum, a machine that turns ideas into innovations.

(17 May 2017)

Festival preview, Paralympic gadgets and house price woes

In this edition: We look ahead to the Imperial Festival, chat to a Paralympian getting a helping hand, and ask if the housing bubble will burst.

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News: Brexit 1.0 and outreach shorts – Imperial geologists uncover evidence of Britain’s original separation from Europe 450,000 years ago. We also get the inside story from a researcher presenting his research at Parliament, and catch up with the science comedians of the LoL-LaB.

Festival preview – The Imperial Festival is back for its sixth year in May, and it’s going to be bigger than ever. As well as the new Food Zone, people can get hands on with flying robots and immersive art in this weekend of science-based fun for all ages.

Will house prices continue to rise? – House prices around the UK – and especially in the capital – are still rising to levels hard to attain for many first-time buyers. Will the situation improve, or will owning a home soon be the equivalent of owning a luxury jet?

Paralympic gadgets – Gold-medal-winning Paralympic cyclist Jon-Allan Butterworth stops by Imperial to collect a new kind of handlebar designed by Bioengineering students to help him shave vital seconds off his starts.

(19 April 2017)

Science steps outside the lab with comedy, magic and outreach

In this edition: Researchers try their hand at stand-up comedy, learn tricks for surgery from magicians and puppeteers, and showcase all things money.

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News: Brain stimulation and malaria drugs – We discuss research showing brain stimulation can improve short-term memory, and how taking a closer look at an old malaria drug could improve it.

The art of performing surgery – What can surgeons learn from magicians? The art of performance. Professor Roger Kneebone talks about what surgeons can learn from professions ranging from lacemakers to puppeteers.

Comedy with the Lol-LaB – Can science be funny? A group of Imperial researchers are conducting an experiment to find out – by trying to turn themselves into stand-up comedians. We follow their exploits.

Money matters – The future of financial technology, playing the markets and tracing your transactions were subjects on show at the latest Imperial Fringe event.

(15 March 2017)

Titanic evidence, Antarctic thriller and robots teaching emotions

In this edition: New evidence of what really sank the Titanic, a book based on a real Antarctic expedition and robot helpers for children with autism.

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News: Explosive history and better prosthetics – We look back at some of the highlights of 172 years of the Department of Chemistry and look forward to better prosthetic limbs that respond to nerve impulses.

What really sank the Titanic?: An Imperial expert in fire finds evidence for a surprising theory about the Titanic – that it was already on fire when it left port, and this contributed to its rapid sinking.

Antarctic thriller: When thriller author L.A. Larkin heard about Professor Martin Siegert’s expedition to drill into a subglacial lake in Antarctica, she thought it was the perfect setting for a murder. She joins Professor Siegert to talk about the resulting novel – Devour – and what makes Antarctica such a good backdrop.

Robots teaching emotions: Children with autism find reading facial expressions hard, and that’s where Zeno comes in – a new robot designed to teach basic expressions and interact with children on their level.

(15 February 2017)

Trumping climate change, enabling healthcare and weighty issues

In this edition: What President Trump could mean for climate change, how medical students are helping in rural Nepal, and discussing diet drinks.

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News: Malaria infections and money matters – We discuss new research revealing that the more parasites a mosquito carries, the more likely it is to pass on malaria. We also look forward to the next Fringe event, which will focus on all things financial.

Trumping climate change: Ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States, Grantham Institute Co-Director Professor Joanna Haigh talks about his track record, cabinet picks, and what the world can do if the US pulls out of climate agreements.

Enabling healthcare: Two students on the Imperial College Enables program – which involves undergraduate medical students delivering healthcare and education in remote locations – talk about their experiences in Nepal.

Diet drinks and weight: In surprising research, scientists say we don’t have good evidence that artificially sweetened drinks help us lose weight. We talk to the researchers about why that might be and how we can find out for sure.

(18 January 2017)