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The Infinite Monkey Cage
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The Infinite Monkey Cage

Author: BBC Radio 4

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Witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists' eyes. With Brian Cox and Robin Ince.
146 Episodes
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A History of Rock

A History of Rock

2021-02-1542:5712

A History of Rock Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by rock enthusiasts Ross Noble, paleontologist Susie Maidment and geologist Chris Jackson to look at the history of rock. Unfortunately for Ross, this turns out to mean actual rolling stones, rather than THE Rolling Stones. We hear what secrets the study of rock reveals about the very birth of our planet, to the incredible creatures that walked the Earth many millions of years ago, preserved in our ancient stones. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
The Fundamentals of Reality Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by Nobel prize winning physicist Frank Wilczek, cosmologist Janna Levin, and comedians Eric Idle and Sara Pascoe to look at what physics has revealed about the reality of our universe. From Einstein's equations more than 100 years ago through to the amazing discoveries we've made in the last few years about black holes and gravitational waves, the universe we think we see is not necessarily the true fundamental reality that physics has uncovered. What is real and what is not? All will be revealed. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
The Science of Cooking

The Science of Cooking

2021-02-0144:2710

The Science of Cooking Brian Cox and Robin Ince get their chef's hats on as they look at the science of cooking. They are joined by comedian Katy Brand, author and food critic Grace Dent, material scientist Mark Miodownik and science writer Harold McGee, whose seminal book on the science of the kitchen launched the craze for molecular gastronomy. They look at some of the lores of the kitchen are backed up by the science, and ask whether a truly delicious dinner is really a science or an art. Is cooking just chemistry? Producer: Alexandra Feachem.
Neanderthals

Neanderthals

2021-01-2539:2719

The Neanderthals Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by hominids Alan Davies, Neanderthal expert and author Rebecca Wragg Sykes, and paleontologist and woolly mammoth expert Tori Herridge and learn just how misunderstood our ancestors have been. The image of the lumbering, ape like, simple, grunting Neanderthal has been turned on its head with the discovery that we are far more related to Neanderthals then we ever thought possible. Nearly all Europeans will have around 2% Neanderthal DNA, and the revelation of widespread interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans has turned the idea of our exceptionalism on its head. It seems that what defines us may have defined the Neanderthals as well, and we are not so different after all. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Under our Night Sky

Under our Night Sky

2021-01-1857:4127

Under The Night Sky Brian Cox and Robin Ince discover the importance of the night sky to human history and how our relationship with the stars has changed over the centuries. They are joined by star-gazer Jon Culshaw, astronaut Tim Peake, astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith and astronomy writer Stuart Clark as they chart the changing nature of our relationship with the sky above us. They discuss ancient cave paintings depicting Orion's belt, the astronomical revolution that came with our understanding of how planets orbit the Sun, and how astronauts like Tim who have "touched the sky" have seen the stars in a totally unique way. Has our ever expanding knowledge about the stars twinkling above us removed some of the magic, or have modern missions and the incredible images of space we now see brought us closer, quite literally, to the sky above us? Producer: Alexandra Feachem
In Praise of Flies

In Praise of Flies

2021-01-1139:1220

In Praise of Flies Brian Cox and Robin Ince kick off a new series of Infinite Monkey Cage with a look at probably the least revered or liked group of insects, the flies. They are joined by fly sceptic David Baddiel , fly enthusiast and champion Dr Erica McAlister and maggot expert Matthew Cobb to discover why a life without flies would be no life at all. Can Erica and Matthew persuade David to put his fly gun down and learn to love those pesky pests, or is their reputation for being disgusting and annoying justified? What would a planet without flies look like? Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Does Time Exist?

Does Time Exist?

2020-08-2644:2365

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by actor and writer Mark Gatiss, theoretical physicists Carlo Rovelli and Fay Dowker to ask timely questions about time. Is time real, does it exist in the fundamental laws of physics, and if it doesn't, why do we experience the sensation of time passing? They look at the idea of the block universe, where our future is as real as our past, which worryingly leads to Robin's favourite question about free will...is that an illusion too? A timely look at the question of time and hopefully just in time... Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by Dr Jane Goodall DBE, comedian Bill Bailey and primatologist Dr Cat Hobaiter to find out what we've learnt in the 60 years since Jane first discovered the chimpanzees of Gombe. From tool use, to language and even to culture, her revolutionary work has transformed our understanding of our great ape cousins, and ourselves. The panel chat about how far our understanding has come in that time, and talk about their own unique close-up experiences of chimpanzees, macaques and baboons, and Bill gets a masterclass in how to speak Chimp from a true expert! Producer: Alexandra Feachem
The Sun

The Sun

2020-06-2241:1140

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by a dazzling panel of sun worshippers from actor, comedian and musician Tim Minchin to solar scientist Professor Lucie Green and biologist Professor Steve Jones. They look at how the evolution of life was only possible because of our position relative to the sun and its possibly unique behaviour, and how rare that situation might be across the rest of the universe. They also look at how the sun makes you feel and its vital importance to all creatures, especially snails. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by a stellar panel of space travellers as they get tips on surviving isolation from a group with a truly unique insight. They are joined by astronauts Helen Sharman, Chris Hadfield, Nicole Stott and Apollo 9's Rusty Schweickart to talk Space X, the future of space travel and how a trip to Mars will be the ultimate test of our ability to survive isolation.
Space Archaeology

Space Archaeology

2020-06-0856:1438

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian and writer Sara Pascoe, biological anthropologist Alice Roberts and space archaeologist Sarah Parcak. They look at how archaeology today looks far more Star Wars than Indiana Jones, as an archaeologist's list of kit can now include satellites and lasers. They discover how searching for clues from space has led to the discovery of several ancient lost Egyptian cities and how the study of ancient DNA and artefacts reveals our similarities, not differences, with our ancient forebears. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Black Holes

Black Holes

2020-06-0135:2132

Brian Cox and Robin Ince look at the weird and wacky world of black holes as they ask a question that has been troubling scientists for years: What happens if you push Matt Lucas into a black hole? They are joined by the very game Matt Lucas, alongside cosmologist Sean Carroll and astrophysicist Janna Levin to discover just how strange things might get for our intrepid volunteer, as he ventures into the interior of a black hole. From holograms to spagettification. it turns out science fact is far more bizarre than anything that science fiction could possibly imagine. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
The End of the Universe

The End of the Universe

2020-05-2540:4543

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are back for new series, for now at least, as they take an upbeat look at all the different ways our Universe might end. They are joined by legendary comedians Steve Martin and Eric Idle, alongside astrophysicist Katie Mack and cosmologist Brian Greene, to find out which end the panel might prefer. Will we go with the Big Rip or possibly the Big Crunch, or even death by giant bubble that expands so rapidly it wipes out our universe almost instantly? On that cheery note the panel vote for their favourite apocalyptic ending and wonder what they might be doing and what they hope to have achieved when the final moment comes. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
UFO special

UFO special

2020-02-1243:0552

UFO SPECIAL Brian Cox and Robin Ince host a close encounter of the 1st kind with comedian Lucy Beaumont, astronomer Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Director of Jodrell Bank Professor Tim O’Brien, and science presenter Dallas Campbell to ask if UFOs and aliens have visited Earth? They explore why Lucy's home city of Hull appears to have had more than its fair share of alien visitations, as well as learning about the genuine scientific effort to look for intelligent life elsewhere in our universe. This episode is also available to watch, so you can see our truly out of this world panel in full technicolour glory. Just look for The Infinite Monkey Cage UFO TV Special on BBC iplayer. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Brian Cox and Robin Ince send comedian Lucy Beaumont to investigate UFO sightings in the extra-terrestrial hotspot of... Hull! Lucy is joined by her mum GIll Adams who claims to have experienced a number of close encounters of the third kind and they return to Longhill Estate where a UFO was reported in the 1960s. Local historian Mike Covell takes Lucy through the documented accounts of prolific UFO sightings in and around the East Yorkshire area.
Quantum Worlds

Quantum Worlds

2020-02-1043:4463

Quantum Worlds Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Katy Brand, and physicists Sean Carroll and Jim Al-Khalili as they enter the strange and bizarre world of quantum mechanics. Schroedinger's famous thought experiment stuck a cat in a box and asked if it is dead or alive. Quantum physics says the cat is both dead and alive, until we open the box. This mind-bending idea may seem the realm of philosophy, but is actually the science that underpins most of modern life as we know it. Once the panel have dealt with the controversial issues surrounding cats in boxes, they explore whether quantum physics is really an accurate description of reality, and if it is, are there, as the theory suggests, infinite copies of you, me and everything in our universe all existing in every possible combination of ways of existing? If that is the strange but true reality of existence, will we ever be able to prove it?
Fire

Fire

2020-02-0337:5944

Fire! Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Ed Byrne, forensic chemist Niamh Nic Daeid and biologist Adam Rutherford, as they explore the science of fire and how it has impacted the evolution of life on earth. They also look at whether controlling fire is a uniquely human trait and how other species have evolved to use fire to their advantage. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs

2020-01-2745:5637

The Magic of Coral Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Marcus Brigstocke and marine biologists Professor Callum Roberts and Dr Heather Koldewey as they look at the amazing creatures that create and colonise coral reefs. Just two microscopic organisms are responsible for the creation of these incredible structures, structures so huge that they can be seen from outer-space. Brian, Robin and the panel talk about the vital yet delicate relationship between the coral polyp and and its tiny plant lodger, how they evolved to be so co-dependent, and how this unique partnership has lead to some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They also look at the very real threat to our planet's reefs as our oceans warm, and what, if anything can be done. Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theories

2020-01-2033:2558

Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by comedian Shazia Mirza, science writer and cancer researcher Dr David Robert Grimes and psychologist Prof Karen Douglas to look at the weird world of conspiracy theories. From Flat Earth believers to people who refuse to accept that humans have ever been to the moon, why is fiction often so much easier to believe than fact - and does it matter? They discuss the psychology and profile of people who are more likely to believe in conspiracies and the devastating effect some, like the anti-vaccine movement, have had on public health. They ask whether being irrational is our default setting and how to convince the most hard-core believers with the power of evidence and critical thinking. Although they would say that wouldnt' they? Producer: Alexandra Feachem
Science of Laughter

Science of Laughter

2020-01-1343:5961

The Science of Laughter Brian Cox and Robin Ince return for a new series of science/comedy chat. They are joined on stage, appropriately enough, by comedian Frank Skinner, as they look at the science of what makes us laugh, why we laugh at all, and whether humour and laughter are uniquely human traits. Joining the panel are experts in what makes us chuckle, Prof Sophie Scott and Professor Richard Wiseman. They look at why laughter is not only an ancient human trait that goes a long way to making us the social animal we are today, but that rats and apes also enjoy a good chuckle. They discover whether science can come up with the perfect joke and why a joke with the punchline "quack" is funnier than one with the punchline "moo". Producer: Alexandra Feachem
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Comments (197)

ID19054738

Laugh tracks complete ruin this, I know we’re in a pandemic but just do without it.

Feb 22nd
Reply

John-paul Noakes

What's with the canned laughter,?? Completely distracting and ruins the episode. If you haven't got an audience, let the listeners do the laughing. Why????

Feb 17th
Reply (2)

Diana Hunt

Lots to learn, listening, with a laugh. I hope you continue.

Feb 17th
Reply

Andy Boomer

please lose the laugh track

Feb 17th
Reply (1)

Beatrix Ducz

this lady probably don't have any teeth left. Chewing rocks all day. 😄

Feb 16th
Reply

Jamie Nettley

Enjoyed but the canned laughter is weird guys.

Jan 26th
Reply (4)

Beatrix Ducz

Possibly Dr Rutherford in TIMK next show?

Jan 19th
Reply

calmfocustruth

if you dare to ridicule Tim for his TDS, your comments will be erased. Blatant idealogical censorship is alive and well on the left.

Nov 29th
Reply

John O'donnell

8488

Nov 18th
Reply

pennywise

No more episodes?

Nov 8th
Reply

NP

interesting episode

Sep 12th
Reply

Mutley

too one sided to be interesting, would've been better to have someone on the panel who didn't think just because they were a scientist everything they believe shouldn't be questioned

Sep 11th
Reply (2)

Mutley

sounds like a misinformation episode using jokes to disqualify. can't believe none of them have heard of the TicTac UFO or other visual evidence readily available or heard about Lazar, plenty of stuff out there, this episode could've been made 30 years ago

Sep 10th
Reply (1)

Kathleen Marshall

Jane is an absolute treasure to people like me. If my health had not nose dived I'd be studying Zoonotic diseases especially viruses. I think the politicians need to listen to scientists.

Aug 23rd
Reply

pennywise

no more?

Aug 17th
Reply

asfand yar

Conan is too damn funny!

Jul 26th
Reply

pennywise

conan just had a moment of awareness, thats it. to feel the present moment as a consciouness, not something that just daydream.

Jul 20th
Reply

Nasticus Natemazeae

surprised the dream studyer had not heard of resuming dreams where someone left off... I have heard of this and it seems it also happened to me more when I was younger ;) amazing how much humans speak about with confidence and authority and how little our species can truly explain yet.

Jul 10th
Reply

Armand LeComte

I dont listen to the podcast for some moron to promote his hate speech toward the president of the United States

Jul 8th
Reply (6)

Ann Walsh

Loved this podcast.

Jun 30th
Reply
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