Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 14th Jul 2012

Better to blow up an Earth-bound Asteroid?

Comet Hartley 2 (c) NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

Should we blow up objects on a collision course with Earth? Or will they do less damage left intact? More importantly, is there a gene for hating marmite? And what makes copper such a good conductor? How would a caveman cope in modern society? What's the secret to how balls spin in sport, and why does wrapping vaccines and antibiotics in silk make them last longer. Plus, why physics says Batman's cape won't work...

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:29 - Can beer prevent dehydration?

    Question: I know that alcohol is a diuretic, but if one was in a situation for example stranded at sea, where there was nothing else to drink except say beer would it be worth drinking the beer or would that just hasten dehydration. In addition to this, sailors of old are know...

  • 03:41 - Should we blow up an Earth-bound object?

    Hello Naked Scientists, If a comet were heading toward the Earth, it is often stated that the worst thing that could happen would be to break it up into pieces because then you would compound the problem. Why? If I want an ice cube to melt faster in a glass of water, I...

  • 07:36 - Has the human brain developed at the same rate as the human body?

    Dear Dr Chris Has the human brain developed at the same rate as the human body? If you took a human brain of 10,000 years ago and implanted a representative cross-section of today's accumulated knowldege would be able to function as if it were a contemporaneous brain? Rega...

  • 10:00 - What are Prions?

    Are prions living things (like virus or bacteria), or rather a chemical? What are their effects on humans?

  • 11:58 - Magnetic Field Receptor Cells Identified in the Nose of a Trout

    Researchers this week have found the very cells that make up the internal compass of migratory animals. These cells are able to detect the position of the animal in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field, and they do this because the cells themselves contain a magnetic component...

  • 14:28 - Is the Higgs Field constant?

    Dear Naked Scientist, I only last week stumbled upon your brilliant program. While I usually have basic answers to most questions, every episode so far has expanded my knowledge bit interesting details. With the Higgs-Boson however it's different. Is the Higgs-Field a unif...

  • 16:16 - Did temperature altering sex ratios make the dinosaurs die out?

    Chris, If crocodiles only produce males or females according to the Earth's temperature, i.e. if high then it is only males (or the other way round?); and if low then only females (or the other way round?). Then maybe that is what happened to the dinosaurs, as the Earth warmed...

  • 18:29 - The Spin of a Bouncing Ball

    Bouncy balls may seem fairly normal, but they can do some very surprising things whey they start to spin.

  • 19:18 - The lies have it: no evidence for lie-eye-movement link

    The claim that people tend to look in one direction - up and to the left - when they are being honest, and a different direction - up and to the right - when they are lying, turns out not to be true.

  • 23:45 - The galaxies that have no stars

    Astronomers using the Very Large Telescope in Chile believe they have made the first ever observations of galaxies that have no stars in them.

  • 26:48 - Chemical Cocoon: Preserving Drugs in Silk

    Antibiotics and vaccines save lives, but to do so, they usually need to be kept cold and this could be a bitter pill to swallow for 3rd world countries that can't afford the necessary refrigeration, despite having the most to gain from these treatments. But now, that might be a...

  • 33:56 - Could red shift just be the colour of the star?

    In regards to the red shift and blue shift of stars to measure their movement away or towards us: If the only information we have to recognise distant stars is the light emitted by them, how do we know that the red shift or blue shift isn't just the colour of the star and not due...

  • 35:23 - Is there a gene for liking marmite?

    Hi Chris, I was just idly thinking out loud at work the other day, when I asked... "...whether there's a gene which codes whether an individual loves or hates Marmite..." "...and if so, if it might also be a marker for something else useful in medicine." Do you know the ...

  • 36:24 - How can photons impart momentum to objects?

    How can massless photons impart momentum to objects like asteroids?

  • 55:29 - Can you get sick from your own intestinal bacteria?

    Much food related illnesses come from contamination by intestinal bacteria due to poor hygien in meal preparation. The question is: Will the culprit self, i.e the person whose bacteria got into the food, be sick as well? In other words, can you get sick from your own intestinal b...



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