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.


2019 archive

Baby brains, new Mars quests and preventing pandemics

In this edition: We discover treatments for baby brain injuries, see what’s new on Mars for 2020 and find out how to prevent pandemics.

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News: Doctor burnout and Sun discoveries – We discuss a study showing a surprising number of doctors suffer from emotional exhaustion, and discover new insights into the Sun from a spacecraft that has flown closer to our star than ever before.

Reducing baby brain injuries – We explore projects testing treatments for brain injuries in babies in the developing world, including a new study looking at 70,000 new mothers in India.

What’s new on Mars? – We find out about two new missions to Mars launching in 2020, as well as catch up on what missions already on the Red Planet are up to.

Preventing pandemics – Does the rising problem of antimicrobial resistance mean we’re heading for an unstoppable pandemic? We find out some ways we can all prevent the spread of disease.

(18 December)

Vaping concerns, medical detection dogs, and a visit to CERN

In this edition: We explore the possible harms of vaping, meet dogs trained to detect disease, and travel through the physics of CERN.

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News: Sepsis alert and dreaming while awake – We find out about a new system to automatically alert doctors to patients displaying signs of sepsis, and discover how the psychedelic drug in ayahuasca affects the brain.

Is vaping dangerous? – We examine the evidence around recent deaths from e-cigarettes, exploring how non-sanctioned uses and flavourings may be harmful, while also recognising how vaping helps cigarette smokers avoid potentially worse effects.

The dogs that sniff out disease – We meet medical detection dogs that are being trained (by their human researchers) to recognise early lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients before they become chronic and cause damage.

A voyage through CERN – We visit the home of the Large Hardon Collider, investigating the forefront of particle physics and meeting Imperial researchers trying to answer big questions about the universe.

(27 November)

Painkiller prescriptions, climate wellbeing crisis and race science

In this edition: Investigating UK painkiller prescriptions, how the climate crisis affects mental health and the return of race science.

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News: Air quality in parks and the power of krill – We discover that more than a quarter of London’s open spaces exceed limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution, and that small crustaceans play an outsized role in the global climate.

Does the UK have a painkiller crisis? – Major opioid prescriptions are declining in the UK, but are the drugs they’re replaced with less harmful? We discuss how replacements may be being abused and how the long-term risks are less than certain.

How the climate crisis affects mental wellbeing – The physical effects of climate change, including natural disasters and displacement, can cause mental distress, but so too can the fear of ecological doom and a lack of control. We discuss the phenomenon, and how positive action can help people cope.

For resources to help you with mental health issues at the College and beyond, visit the Health and wellbeing webpages.

The return of race science – Science journalist Angela Saini recently gave a lecture on campus for Black History Month about her new book Superior: The Return of Race Science. We talk to her about what race is, how these categories came about and how they are misused. You can also listen to an extended interview with Angela.

(23 October)

Underground, overground, into the clouds

In this edition: We revisit summer expeditions into the caves of Slovenia, along the Silk Road and at Everest base camp.

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News: Surrey quakes and Antarctic archives – We review research that concludes oil drilling was not responsible for earthquakes in Surrey, and hear how restored data from the 1970s is providing a new look at Antarctic ice melt.

Adventures with the caving club – Journey deep into a Slovenian mountain with the Imperial College Caving Club, squeezing through narrow passages and discovering new caverns.

Cycling the Silk Road – A team of medical students regale us with tales of their adventures cycling through Asia – from chin stitches to mafia weddings.

Experiments 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.

(18 September)

An unsung hero, digital mental health, and acting on patient feedback

In this edition: We explore Sir Ernst Chain’s role in penicillin, apps tackling mental health, and an algorithm making sense of patient feedback.

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News: Obesity injections and bat faces – We discuss a new treatment for obesity that provides an alternative to surgery, and meet some handsome bats with an interesting evolutionary story.

The story of Sir Ernst Chain – The founder of Imperial’s biochemistry division, Sir Ernst Chain, was a German-Jewish refugee who played an important role in bringing penicillin to the masses. We speak to his son Benny Chain, who grew up at Imperial and now carries on his father’s work, at the interface of biology and computer science.

Digital options for mental health help – What stops people accessing traditional mental health services and how can digital services step in? We discover how innovations such as the Shout app are helping fill the gap, with positive responses especially from young people.

Streamlining patient feedback – Hospitals receive thousands of comments on their care, but it can be difficult to process them all. We speak to Imperial researchers who have created an award-winning algorithm that analyses comments and is already improving patient experience.

(21 August)

Moon Landing special

In this edition: We commemorate 50 years since the Moon landing by looking ahead to the future of space travel, medicine and exploration.

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News: Moon landing facts – We celebrate the Apollo 11 mission with some little-known facts about the moon landing, and look at the next mission heading to our nearest neighbour.

Future of space travel with Britain’s first astronaut – We chat to Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut (and outreach ambassador at Imperial) about the future of spaceflight – will it be human or robotic? Will private companies take the lead? And should we go back to the Moon or focus on Mars?

Space medicine – Astronauts face unique challenges staying healthy in space, and these will only increase on a mission to Mars. We talk to an intensive care medic and a researcher, who has worked with both NASA and the European Space Agency, to find out more about the challenges of space medicine.

Human-robotic interactions in space – Working in space is difficult, from spacewalks to guiding robotics. We meet a researcher coming up with new ways to make these tasks easier, using sensors incorporated into new helmets and gloves.

(24 July)

The Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019

In this edition: We get ready for the Festival by taking a talk quiz, building a mini Theremin, and hearing some scientific spoken word poetry.

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News: Pre-Incan waterways and analysing incinerators  – We hear how 1400-year-old methods of water management could boost supplies during Peru's dry season, and how exposure to municipal waste incinerators has no link infant death or reduced foetal growth.

Talking about talks – The Great Exhibition Road Festival will host 30+ free public talks across the weekend. We hear about the range of panel discussions from top players in their fields, including predictions for the fashion of tomorrow. 

The sound of circuits – Visitors at the Festival will get the chance to build their own mini-theremin – an electronic touchless musical instrument invented in 1920. Ahead of the drop-in workshops, we get our hands on one of the electronic instruments and learn what makes it sing.

Spoken-word scientist – As well as doing science, Festival-goers will get to meet researchers and hear about their everyday lives. We get a preview from a sustainability researcher who is also an award-winning poet, and find out how her two passions collide.

(27 June)

Climate champion, alcohol marketing and stroke rehabilitation

In this edition: Climate champion Jo Haigh retires, and we find out how often kids see alcohol marketing and how a game is helping stroke recovery.

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News: Dyson School opening and eating insects – We celebrate the Dyson School of Design Engineering building officially opening and discuss why eating insects is a good idea.

Climate champion retires – Professor Jo Haigh, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and Environment retired this month after 35 years at Imperial. We talk to her about her early love of weather, the future of climate science and how she deals with deniers.

Alcohol marketing and children – How often do children see ads and packaging for alcohol? Business School researcher Dr Tim Chambers has been finding out, and calling for alcohol health labelling to be taken more seriously.

Games for physical rehab – Affordable, accessible, fun and, importantly, effective – GripAble is a device that helps stroke patients recover their hands and arms with games that connect through normal tablet computers. We meet the maker of the innovation.

(22 May)

Why students cheat, 3D printing and rainforest radio

In this edition: We find out why students cheat, how 3D printing has evolved and tune into the sounds of the rainforest.

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News: Festival preview – The Imperial Festival has joined up with 19 of its neighbours this year to bring you the largest selection of science, art, technology and entertainment South Kensington has to offer. Join us for the Great Exhibition Road Festival on 28-30 June.

Why do some students cheat? – There’s a lot of pressure to succeed in university, and students worldwide are turning to services they can pay to do their assignment for them. Researcher Dr Thomas Lancaster has been investigating why – and uncovering some aggressive tactics from essay mill services.

The evolution of 3D printing – From rapid prototyping tool to manufacturing resource, 3D printing has evolved to the stage where we can now create aircraft parts, satellite components, medical implants and even copies of people’s faces. There is a lot of promise, but also potentially trouble, as the case of people printing their own guns shows.

Tune into the rainforest – A new website created by our researchers streams sounds live from the Bornean rainforest. As well as being therapeutic, the project has some serious science behind it, as it tracks soundscapes across different landscapes from old-growth forest to totally cleared areas.

(17 April)

Entrepreneurship special

In this edition: We mark Imperial Enterprise Month with women entrepreneurs and leaders, plus advice for making businesses playful.

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News: Alternatives to statins and dinosaur demise – We discover a new class of drugs that could lower cholesterol in people unable to take statins, and find out that the dinosaurs were thriving before the deadly asteroid strike.

Better bone casts – We speak to Suchaya Mahuttanatan, the winner of this year’s WE Innovate programme for women entrepreneurs, who was inspired by her Dad breaking his arm when she was young. She created a new type of cast that is breathable, washable and easy to apply – making breaking bones less of a burden.

The Playful Entrepreneur – Play is an essential way we learn about the world around us, but how can it be harnessed for entrepreneurship? In a new book, Imperial VP Innovation David Gann explores how noble behaviours – ambition, fortitude, craft and grace – can help businesses thrive through playfulness.

(20 March)

Fake news, safe flights, and waiting for Marsquakes

In this edition: How researchers are tracing fake news, what happens when flights stray into the wrong airspace and listening to the interior of Mars.

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News: Broken hearts and sleepless flies – How pumping patches of heart muscle cells will soon be repairing broken hearts and why lack of sleep may not be vital, at least in flies.

Fighting fake news – Why do some people trust fake news more than real news, and what can be done to tackle the problem? We meet researchers investigating how the way information spreads can tell us more than its content, and whether regulation or education is the right path to eliminating its influence.

Have a safe flight – As our airspaces get more crowded with commercial flights, private jets and even drones, what can be done to prevent airspace infringements? Ahead of her appearance at our Wonder Women Lates event (7 March) we talk latest technologies and emerging problems with Dr Elena Psyllou from the Centre for Transport Studies.

InSight into Mars – From the excitement of a successful touchdown to the anticipation of detecting the first Marsquake, we catch up with a researcher at the forefront of the new Mars InSight mission and find out what it could tell us about how the planet and the Solar System itself formed.

(20 February)

Smart tattoos, the future of the NHS and next-generation vaccines

In this edition: We meet researchers creating colour-changing tattoos, at the forefront of vaccines, and responding to the new NHS long term plan.

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News: Sperm-miscarriages link and wound-healing materials – We uncover a surprising new link between sperm health and recurrent miscarriages, and discover a new bioinspired material that interacts with surrounding tissues to promote healing.

Smart tattoos – We meet a researcher developing a smart tattoo ink capable of monitoring health by changing colour, which could tell an athlete when they are dehydrated or a diabetic when their blood sugar rises. Kieran Brophy interviews Dr Ali Yetisen from the  Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering.

The future of the NHS – The government recently released a new NHS Long Term Plan. But is it achievable and does it go far enough? We get the expert opinion of Imperial medical researchers.

Next-generation vaccines – How can we prepare for the next outbreak or epidemic? We catch up with three Imperial researchers are taking their game-changing ideas to the World Economic Forum – including templates for creating new vaccines rapidly and locally, giving vaccines a longer shelf-life, and preventing future bird flu from jumping to humans.

(23 January)