The podcast is presented by Gareth Mitchell, a lecturer on Imperial's MSc Science Communication course. He’s also a longstanding BBC presenter and reporter. Gareth is joined each month by our roving reporters in the Communications Division.

If you have feedback that you'd like to share or ideas for future editions, we'd love to hear from you; please contact Gareth Mitchell.

You can also find the podcasts on most major platforms, including YouTube, Apple PodcastsStitcher and Spotify.

Check out other podcasts produced across the College in our podcast directory.


2018 podcasts

Shopping habits, chocolate fountain maths and genomic medicine

In this edition: How we shop now and in the future, the fluid dynamics of chocolate and how sequencing thousands of genomes is improving medicine.

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News: Volcanic mush and the sound of Mars – We find out what really underlies volcanoes, and hear the first ever sounds recorded on Mars.

Shopping habits – Is the high street dying? Will we all shop with voice technologies and get recommendations in-store using facial recognition? And what does this mean for our privacy? We explore the future of shopping.

The maths of chocolate fountains – At the recent Xmaths Imperial Lates event, one of the most popular displays was a metre-tall chocolate fountain, which mathematicians used to share the importance of fluid dynamics.

Genomic medicine in action – We hear about the Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre’s contribution to the 100,000 genomes project, and how it is already providing benefits to patients with rare blood disorders

(19 December)

Podcast: 1918 special to mark the First World War armistice centenary

In this edition: We commemorate armistice with a look at Imperial’s war involvement, legacy battlefield injuries, and the Spanish flu epidemic.

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An Act of Remembrance – Imperial marked the occasion with readings by College Chaplain Andrew Wilson and College Archivist Anne Barrett, and a performance by the College choir of a song of farewell.

Imperial during the First World War – We learn more from Archivist Anne Barrett about members of the College community who went to war, including our Rector, and some of the many research activities that went on to support the war effort.

Battlefield injuries: past and present – Military historian Dr Emily Mayhew tells some incredible tales of how First World War medical innovations influence today’s practices, and veteran amputee and Imperial PhD student Dave Henson describes advances in prosthetics.

The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic – As well as lives lost in war, the world was gripped by a deadly flu in 1918. Why was it so bad? With no vaccines or antibiotics, how did doctors try to tackle it? And could it happen again? Action Medical Research Chair in Virology Professor Wendy Barclay answers all.

(21 November)

Sustainable plastic, academic mental health and science communication

In this edition: Two ways to make plastic more sustainable, Mental Health First Aiders, and the past and future of science communication.

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News: Eradicating malarial mosquitos and human brain cell transplants– We delve into a powerful new tool in the fight against malaria and a better way to watch human brain cells in action.

Sustainable plastic designs – 45,0000 Eiffel Towers’ worth of plastic was produced last year, and 90% of it was not recycled. We explore two ways plastic can be better: by being made from biodegradable materials, and by being sorted more easily for recycling.

Mental health in academia – Academics at every level, from students to professors, can face mental health issues such as impostor syndrome and problems with work-life balance. We talk to two of Imperial’s Mental Health First Aiders to find out how they can help.

Science communication: the next 25 years – Against a backdrop of fake news and dodgy experts, the Science Communication Masters programme at Imperial celebrated its 25th year with an event looking at the future.

(24 October)

Purging polio, medic mental health and surgical simulations

In this edition: Final efforts to eradicate polio, helping medical students beat depression and practicing surgery on sophisticated fake patients.

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News: Bees and pesticides, and no safe level of alcohol – We discuss research into bees potentially becoming addicted to pesticides, and new numbers about drinking around that world that indicate the best bet is to drink none.

Purging polio – Despite a drastic decline in cases, polio is hanging on. We find out why it’s so hard to eradicate the disease, and what’s being done to pass these final hurdles.

Medic mental health – Nearly one-in-three medical students experience depression at some point during their studies, so a team of third-year undergrads at Imperial designed a performance to let students know how to get help.

Surgical simulations – We visit the surgical innovation suite as surgeons perform a unique operation – a real medical case but on a virtual patient, allowing trainees and established doctors alike to practice their technique.

(19 September)

Cancer-causing virus, feeding the world and updating The Planets

In this edition: The latest research into a cancer-causing virus, a sustainable agriculture hero turns 80, and The Planets get a scientific update.

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News: Potent psychedelics and Imperial Lates – We hear how a shamanistic drug creates episodes similar to near-death experiences, and look forward to the new Imperial Lates season, celebrating everything from green innovations to science fashion.

The virus that causes cancer – The HTLV-1 virus is a cousin of HIV, causing an incurable form of leukaemia in some patients and paralysis in others. We find out what researchers have learned about the virus, and how it might be stopped.

Professor Sir Gordon Conway at 80 – Since his first posting in Borneo in the 1960s, international development expert Gordon Conway has been obsessed with feeding the world. As he turns 80, with no plans to retire, he tells us about listening to local farmers and helping them grow the best crops.

The Planets suite gets a scientific update – Gustav Holst’s The Planets rocked the classical world 100 years ago, but now we know more than ever about the true character of the planets. With help from Imperial scientists, composers are creating new arrangements to reflect the real worlds.

(19 September 2018)

Summer science, sparrow songs and the sounds of space

In this edition: science on show at the Royal Society, centuries-long traditions in birdsong, and DJing with the sounds of space.

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News: Transport choices and bacterial warfare – We explore why taking public transport helps us reach fitness goals, and how bacteria can ‘divide and conquer’ their enemies.

Summer science – We catch up with researchers in animal-inspired inventions, supercomputing solutions and advanced pond-dipping as they met the public at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Sparrow songs – By spending long days in the marshes of northeastern USA and using sophisticated maths models, researchers have discovered that sparrow populations can sing the same songs for hundreds of years.

The sounds of space – Schoolchildren got the chance to listen to some of the sounds of space and physics in a recent workshop – and to DJ with the results.

(18 July 2018)

Retiring legends in music and glass, and misdiagnosing diabetes

In this edition: Looking back on the careers of Imperial’s music director and scientific glassblower, and learning how diabetes can be misdiagnosed.

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News: A new type of photosynthesis and recovering from an asteroid strike – We discuss a study that will rewrite the textbook on photosynthesis and help the hunt for alien life, and a startling result that shows life recovered quickly after the asteroid strike that killed the dinosaurs.

39 years of musical direction – Richard Dickins has been the soul of music at Imperial for nearly 40 years. We hear about his career highlights, including winning a symphony orchestra competition without an academic music department and opening the Blyth Centre.

50 years of glassblowing – Steve Ramsey’s retirement day will mark 50 years since he got his first glassblowing job. We hear how he built a career out of a love of working with his hands, ending up making bespoke scientific instruments at Imperial and becoming a registered scientist.

Misdiagnosing diabetes – A remarkable study has revealed that a rare type of diabetes is routinely missed in the UK, particularly in ethnic minorities. The finding means some patients can stop taking insulin, replacing injections with a tablet.

(20 June 2018)

Feast on the Festival and find out why Eurovision makes countries happy

In this edition: Sampling the delights of the 2018 Imperial Festival and discovering the happiness-boosting powers of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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News: Curing the common cold and life on Mars – We explore a potential new drug that blocks common cold viruses, and discover what Dorset and Mars have in common.

Taste of the Festival – Let our reporters take you on a journey through this year’s science extravaganza, including self-flying drones, schools investigating air pollution and a fairground of science.

Eurovision euphoria – Just getting to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest is linked to increased life satisfaction for a country, whether they win or get nil points. We talk to the researchers behind the study to find out why this might be, and what the implications are for public health.

(23 May 2018)

The science of drumming, Imperial inventions and a lost asteroid crater

In this edition: Keeping beat with the science of drumming, exploring Imperial inventions through the ages, and playing ‘hot or cold’ with asteroids.

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News: Weird reptiles and ImpFest preview – We explore some of the weirdest endangered reptiles in the world (including one that breathes through its genitals), and look forward to the 2018 Imperial Festival.

Invention dimension – From Alexander Fleming’s microscope to cheap and comfortable bionic arms, Imperial inventions through the ages were on display at the latest Imperial Fringe event.

The science of drumming – Can you keep the beat? Our reporter tests out her skills with a program designed to test the science of drumming, which will be on show at the upcoming Imperial Festival.

Hunting an asteroid crater – How do you lose a 20km-wide, 800,000-year-old asteroid crater? And how do you find it? Dr Matt Genge goes on the hunt.

(18 April 2018)

The 106-year-old doctor, parent scientists and hearing aid games

In this edition: An immunologist who worked with Alexander Fleming reaches 106, mums put their breast milk to the test and hearing aids get gamified.

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News: The lorry park of England and puberty BMI link – Will Kent, the garden of England, become a lorry park if Brexit lengthens border checks? We find out, as well as a link between early puberty and higher BMI for girls.

The Parenting Science Gang – More than 100 mothers donated their breast milk in a study collaborating from the Department of Surgery and Cancer. The Parenting Science Gang come up with their own research projects – including this one on the content of milk given to children up to and beyond two years old.

The 106-year-old doctor – Bill Frankland celebrated his 106th birthday on 19 March, but still sees patients. He is an expert in allergies, who introduced the world to the pollen count and worked with Alexander Fleming, Roger Bannister and Ernst Chain.

Tune in to hearing aids – 3D Tune-In is an EU project to help those with hearing issues understand the latest tech for their hearing aids, and helping those without problems understand those who do, through immersive games and virtual reality.

(21 March 2018)

The health effects of being poor and cheap solar power

In this edition: How being poor affects health in cities across the world, and how collaborating with Cameroon could help advance cheap solar power.

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News: Ozone woes and junior doctor strikes – We discuss how the ozone layer may still be in trouble, and find out the impact of the 2016 junior doctors strikes on patients.

The health effects of being poor – Having a low socioeconomic status can cut up to seven years off your life and make your ‘biological age’ older than your real age. We find out what can be done to reduce the gap between health outcomes for the rich and poor.

Health inequality in global cities – The health gap between rich and poor is widening in cities, despite potential access to more and better services. For this potential to be reached, however, researchers say factors like affordable housing and quality food need to be addressed in cities across the world – from London to Accra.

Keeping the lights on in Cameroon – Countries near the equator have a lot of sunshine to take advantage of, but low-cost solar panels are a must. We catch up with a researcher collaborating with academics in Cameroon on cheap solar panels, and find out what he thought of the country on his first visit.

(21 February 2018)

Making maths connections, spotting fakes and working with your hands

In this edition: We say bonjour to a new Imperial-France maths centre, use machines to spot fake reviews, and swap skills with curators and artists.

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News: GP opening hours and testing Ebola resistance – A study reveals that GP opening hours are not necessarily correlated with visits to A&E, and Imperial researchers trial a cheap device for detecting immunity to Ebola.

Making maths connections – At the opening of a new joint research unitbetween Imperial and France's National Center for Scientific Research, we speak to French Fields medallist and politician Cédric Villani.

Keeping the internet honest – How can we be sure online reviews are genuine? A machine trained to argue can help us root out the fakes, but also help medics find the best treatments. Professor Francesca Toni explains how.

Working with your hands – What can artists, conservators and researchers learn from each other’s physical skills? Professor Roger Kneebone explored the topic with a range of people not often in a room together, but with surprisingly similar skills – from taxidermists to solar physicists. You can also listen to the full interview.

(24 January 2018)