The Curious Cases Of Rutherford And Fry

Episodes

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0101The Scarlet Mark20160215

Drs Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry are on hand to solve everyday mysteries sent in by listeners. For the last few weeks they've been collecting cases to investigate using the power of science - from why people shout on their mobile phones to what causes traffic jams.

In the first episode, called 'The Scarlet Mark', they get to the root of the following conundrum, posed by Sheena Cruickshank in Manchester:

'My eldest son is ginger but I am blonde and my husband brunette so we are constantly asked where the red came from. Further, people do say the ""ginger gene"" is dying out, but how good is that maths or is it just anecdotal?'

Our science sleuths set out to discover what makes gingers ginger with a tale of fancy mice, Tudor queens and ginger beards.

Featuring historian and author Kate Williams and Jonathan Rees from the University of Edinburgh, one of the team who discovered the ginger gene.

If you have any scientific cases for the team to investigate please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0102The Phantom Jam20160216

Drs Rutherford and Fry set out to discover what makes traffic jam. Adam ventures on to the M25 in search of a tailback, and Hannah looks at projects around the world that have attempted to solve the scourge of the traffic jam.

Featuring Neal Harwood from the Transport Research Laboratory and BBC technology reporter, Jane Wakefield. And Masdar City man.

If you have any scientific cases for the team to investigate please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0103The Aural Voyeur20160217

Drs Rutherford and Fry tackle a vexing case sent in by Daniel Sarano from New Jersey, who asks why people shout on their mobile phones in public.

Our science sleuths find the answer by delving into the inner workings of telephony with a tale of engineering rivalry, Victorian etiquette and early otolaryngology.

Featuring acoustic technologist Nick Zakarov and historian Greg Jenner, author of 'A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Daily Life.'

If you have any scientific cases for the team to investigate please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0104The Squeamish Swoon20160218

Science sleuths Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford investigate the following question sent in by Philip Le Riche:

'Why do some people faint at the sight of blood, or a hypodermic needle, or even if they bash their funny bone? Does it serve any useful evolutionary purpose, or is just some kind of cerebral error condition?'

Adam is strapped onto a hospital tilt table in an attempt to make him blackout and Hannah receives an aromatic surprise.

Featuring consultant cardiologists Dr Nicholas Gall and Dr Adam Fitzpatrick and cardiac physiologist Shelley Dougherty.

If you have any scientific cases for the team to investigate please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

Adam is strapped onto a hospital tilt table in an attempt to make him blackout, and Hannah discovers why giraffes don't faint.

0105 LASTThe Stellar Dustbin20160219

An unusual case today for science sleuths Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford sent by Elisabeth Hill:

'Can we shoot garbage into the sun?'

The duo embark on an astronomical thought experiment to see how much it would cost to throw Hannah's daily rubbish into our stellar dustbin. From space elevators to solar sails, they explore the various options that could be used to send litter to the Sun.

Featuring space scientist Lucie Green and astrophysicist Andrew Pontzen.

If you have any everyday mysteries for the team to investigate using the power of science, please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0201The Tea Leaf Mystery2016053020190101 (R4)

Today the team examine the chemistry of tea, in answer to the following question sent in by Fred Rickaby from North Carolina:

""When we are preparing a cup of tea and the cup contains nothing but hot, brewed tea we need to add milk and sugar. My wife always adds the sugar first, stirs the cup to make sure it is dissolved and then add the milk. So, is that an optimum strategy for adding milk and sugar to a cup of tea?""

Adam consults Prof Andrea Sella from University College London about the perfect formula for a cup of tea. Inside his tea factory in Kent, Master Blender Alex Probyn teaches Hannah an unusual method for tasting tea.

Most importantly, the duo discovers whether you should add milk first or last. But can tea professionals really tell the difference?

If you have any questions for Drs Rutherford and Fry to investigate send them to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

Today the team examine the chemistry of tea, in answer to the following question sent in by Fred Rickaby from North Carolina:

"When we are preparing a cup of tea and the cup contains nothing but hot, brewed tea we need to add milk and sugar. My wife always adds the sugar first, stirs the cup to make sure it is dissolved and then add the milk. So, is that an optimum strategy for adding milk and sugar to a cup of tea?”

Adam consults Prof Andrea Sella from University College London about the perfect formula for a cup of tea. Inside his tea factory in Kent, Master Blender Alex Probyn teaches Hannah an unusual method for tasting tea.

Most importantly, the duo discovers whether you should add milk first or last. But can tea professionals really tell the difference?

If you have any questions for Drs Rutherford & Fry to investigate send them to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

What's the optimum scientific method for making the perfect cup of tea?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

0202The Psychic Tear20160531

Listener Edith Calman challenges our scientific sleuths to investigate the following conundrum:

'What is it about extreme pain, emotional shock or the sight of a three year old stumbling their way through an off-key rendition of 'Away in a Manger' that makes the brain send messages to the lacrimal glands to chuck out water?""

Hannah discovers how the eye produces tears, with the help of Dr Nick Knight.

Broadcaster Claudia Hammond, author of 'Emotional Rollercoaster', explains why Darwin experimented on his children until they cried.

Adam watches a tearjerker to take part in a psychological study, but ends up getting quite angry instead.

If you have any everyday mysteries you'd like the team to solve email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0203A Study In Spheres20160601

Today the team study the heavens, thanks to listener Brian Passineau who wonders 'why everything in space tends to be circular or spherical?'

Hannah gazes at Jupiter at The Royal Observatory, Greenwich with Public Astronomer, Dr Marek Kukula.

Science writer, Philip Ball, explains how the astronomical obsession with celestial spheres came to an untidy end.

And physicist Dr Helen Czerski helps Adam on his quest to find the perfect natural sphere.

If you have a scientific mystery for the team to investigate, please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0204The Hairy Hominid20160602

Our science detectives answer the following perplexing problem, sent in by Hannah Monteith from Edinburgh in Scotland:

""How does leg hair know it has been cut? It doesn't seem to grow continuously but if you shave it, it somehow knows to grow back.""

Hannah consults dermatologist Dr Susan Holmes, from the Hair Clinic at Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, to discover why the hairs on your legs don't grow as long as the hairs on your head.

Adam attempts to have a serious discussion about the evolutionary purpose of pubic hair with anatomist and broadcaster Prof Alice Roberts.

If you have a scientific mystery for the team to investigate, please email: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0205 LASTThe Counting Horse20160603

""Can horses count?"" asks retired primary school teacher, Lesley Marr.

Our scientific sleuths consider the case of Clever Hans, with a spectacular re-enactment of a 20th century spectacle. Plus, we hear from Dr Claudia Uller who has been conducting modern studies on equine counting.

Mathematician Prof Marcus Du Sautoy explains the basic concept of counting to Adam, and Hannah looks across the animal kingdom to find the cleverest mathematical creature.

If you have any questions you'd like the duo to investigate, please email curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0301The Sinister Hand Part 120161003

Neal Shepperson asks, ""What determines left or right handedness and why are us lefties in the minority?""

When we started investigating this question it became clear that there were just too many scientific mysteries to squeeze into one episode. So there are two whole episodes devoted to this very Curious Case.

One in ten people are left-handed, but where does this ratio come from and when did it appear in our evolutionary past?

Hannah talks to primatologist Prof Linda Marchant from Miami University about Neanderthal teeth and termite fishing.

Adam consults handedness expert Prof Chris McManus from University College London. He's been trying to track down the genes responsible for whether we're right or left handed.

If you have any Curious Cases for the team to investigate please email curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenter: Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0302The Sinister Hand Part 220161004

How being left-handed affects your brain and behaviour.

In the previous episode the team started investigating the following enquiry, sent in to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk:

""What determines left or right handedness and why are us lefties in the minority?""

They considered cockatoos, chimpanzees and Hannah's dog, Molly, to discover that humans are unique, with just one in ten of us being left-handed.

Today, they look inside the left-handed brain. Some researchers point to a link between left-handedness and impairments like autism or dyslexia. Others claim that lefties are more creative and artistic.

So what's the truth? The team consults Professors Sophie Scott, Chris McManus and Dorothy Bishop to find out.

Presenter: Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0303The Space Pirate20161005

Listener Paul Don asks: ""I'm wondering what's the feasibility of terraforming another planet i.e. Mars and if it's possible to do the same thing with something like the moon? Or, why isn't there already a moon-base? Surely that's easier.""

Adam and Hannah consider moving to another planet, and discover what challenges they would need to overcome to live in space.

They consult engineer Prof Danielle George from the University of Manchester and Dr Louisa Preston, UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow in Astrobiology.

Adam also hears about attempts to recreate a Martian base on a volcano in Hawaii. He calls HI-SEAS crew member Tristan Bassingthwaighte, who has just emerged from a year of isolation.

If you have any Curious Cases for the team to solve please email curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Features archive from 'Outlook' on BBC World Service, broadcast in August 2016.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0304The Portly Problem20161006

""Why do we have middle aged spread?"" asks Bart Janssen from New Zealand.

From obese mice to big bottoms, the duo discovers what science can tell us about fat.

Why do we put on weight in middle age? And are some types of fat better than others?

Hannah meets Prof Steve Bloom at Imperial College, London to discuss apples and pears.

Adam talks to Dr Aaron Cypess from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, who has created a 'fatlas' - an atlas that maps fat inside the body.

Please email your Curious Cases for the team to investigate to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry and Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0305 LASTThe Strongest Substance20161007

""What is the strongest substance in the universe? Some people say it is spiderweb, because it is stronger than steel. Is it iron? Is it flint? Is it diamond because diamond can be only be cut by diamond?"" asks Françoise Michel.

Adam and Hannah put a variety of materials, from biscuits to spider web, under the hammer to test their strength.

In their quest to find the strongest substance they quiz materials scientist Mark Miodownik, engineer Danielle George and spidergoat creator, Dr Randy Lewis from Utah.

Features archive from 'Horizon: Playing God', first broadcast in January 2012.

Please send your Curious Cases for the team to investigate to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0401The Melodic Mystery20161205

'Why is my mother tone deaf?' asks listener Simon, 'and can I do anything to ensure my son can at least carry a tune?'

Hannah Fry has a singing lesson with teacher Michael Bonshor to see if he can improve her vocal tone, although things don't quite go to plan.*

We meet Martin who dislikes music intensely because he has the clinical form of tone deafness, known as amusia. Just as people with dyslexia see words differently to other people, if you have amusia you don't hear melodies in the same way.

Adam talks to music psychologist Dr Vicky Williamson from Sheffield University who studies Martin, and others like him, to try and discover why their brains operate differently.

Please send your Curious Cases for consideration to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin

*earmuffs may be required.

0402The Hunt For Nothing, Part 120161206

""Is there any such thing as nothing?"" This question from Bill Keck sparked so much head scratching that we have devoted two episodes to this curious quandary.

In the first programme, the team considers the philosophy and physics of nothing. As Prof Frank Close, author of ""Nothing: A Very Short Introduction"" explains, nothing has intrigued great thinkers for thousands of years, from the Ancient Greeks to today's particle physicists.

Otto Von Geuricke, the Mayor of Magdeburg in Germany, invented the artificial vacuum pump in the 17th century and presented spectacular displays to demonstrate the awesome power of nothing.

Cosmologist Andrew Pontzen helps Hannah search for nothing in the depths of space and inside the atom. However, as they find out, recent discoveries in physics involving quantum fluctuations and the Higgs field have proved that nothing is impossible.

If you have any Curious Cases for the team to solve please email curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0403The Hunt For Nothing, Part 220161207

In the last episode the team started investigating the following inquiry, sent in to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk:

'Is there any such thing as nothing?'

They discovered why quantum fluctuations and the Higgs field mean that nothing is impossible. But how about in mathematics?

The story of zero is fraught with inspiration, competition and controversy. Banned in Florence and hated by the Church, zero had a rocky road to acceptance after its genesis in India.

Hannah talks to author Alex Bellos and hears about his journey to India to see the birth of zero, featuring archive from 'Nirvana by Numbers' on BBC Radio 4.

Plus, Adam is sent on a mission to understand calculus and enlists the help of Jeff Heys from Montana State University.

If you have any Curious Cases for the team to solve please email curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0404The Bad Moon Rising20161208

'A teacher I work with swears that around the time of the full moon kids are rowdier in the classroom, and more marital disharmony in the community,"" says Jeff Boone from El Paso in Texas. 'Is there any biological reason why the moon's phases could affect human moods and behaviour?'

Our scientific sleuths sift through the evidence to find out if the moon really does inspire lunacy. They consider Othello's testimony, a study on dog bites and homicides in Florida before coming to a conclusion based on current scientific evidence.

Featuring neuroscientist Eric Chudler from the University of Washington and health broadcaster and author Claudia Hammond.

If you have any Curious Cases for the team to solve please email curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0405 LASTThe Lost Producer20161209

Why do some people have a terrible sense of direction? The team receive a mysterious message from an anonymous listener who constantly gets lost. Can they help her find the answer?

This listener may, or may not, be the team's producer, Michelle. She would like to state that it's not her fault that she has been dealt a bad genetic hand which has led to faulty place cells developing in her brain. And head direction cells that appear to be pointing the wrong way. More understanding should surely be afforded to those who are navigationally challenged.

Hugo Spiers from University College London, has devised a free game called 'Sea Hero Quest' which anyone can use to test their navigational skills. Plus Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster suggests strategies to help those who tend to get lost.

If you have any Curious Cases for us to solve please email curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0501The Broken Stool20170313

""Science tells us that our body houses microbial organisms. Then how much our weight is really our weight? If I am overweight, is it because of my own body cells or excess microflora?"" asks Ajay Mathur from Mumbai in India.

Adam bravely sends off a sample to the 'Map My Gut' project at St Thomas' Hospital to have his microbes mapped. Prof Tim Spector reveals the shocking results - a diet of fried breakfasts and fizzy drinks has left his guts in disarray. But help is at hand to makeover his bacterial lodgers.

Science writer Ed Yong, author of 'I Contain Multitudes', reveals how much our microbes weigh. We're just beginning to discover the vast array of vital functions they perform, from controlling our weight, immune system and perhaps even influencing our mood and behaviour.

Send your Curious Cases for consideration to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0502The World That Turns20170314

""Why does the Earth spin?"" asks Joe Wills from Accra in Ghana.

Hannah quizzes cosmologist Andrew Pontzen about the birth of the Solar System and why everything in space seems to spin. Is there anything in the Universe that doesn't revolve?

BBC weatherman John Hammond explain to Adam how the rotation of the Earth creates our weather systems and the strange things that would happen if we spun the opposite way.

Send your Curious Cases for consideration to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0503A Code In Blood20170315

""Why do we have different blood types?"" asks Doug from Norfolk.

The average adult human has around 30 trillion red blood cells, they make up a quarter of the total number of cells in the body.

We have dozens of different blood groups, but normally we're tested for just two - ABO and Rhesus factor. Adam and Hannah delve into the gory world of blood and the early history of blood transfusions, to discover why we have blood groups and what makes them so important.

Featuring interviews with Dr Jo Mountford, from the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and immunologist Dr Sheena Cruikshank from the University of Manchester.

Send your Curious Cases for consideration to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0504The Astronomical Balloon20170316

""How far up can a helium balloon go? Could it go out to space?"" asks Juliet Gok, aged 9.

This calls for some fieldwork! Adam travels to the Meteorology Department at the University of Reading where Dr Keri Nicholl helps him launch a party balloon and track its ascent. But this experiment doesn't quite go to plan.

Meanwhile, Hannah consults Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula, from the Royal Observatory Greenwich, to discover where space begins.

And she decides to take matters into her own hands, with the help of a helium canister and some trusty equations, to help answer Juliet's question.

Send your Curious Cases for consideration to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0505 LASTThe Forgetful Child20170317

""Why don't we remember the first few years of our lives?"" asks David Foulger from Cheltenham.

The team investigate the phenomenon of 'infant amnesia' and how memories are made with Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster.

A whopping 40% of people say they can remember back to before they were two years old, and 18% can recall being babies.

But can we really trust these early memories? Martin Conway from City University discusses his latest findings, taken from data gathered during 'The Memory Experience' on BBC Radio 4.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0601The Cat Who Came Back20170612

How do cats find their way back to their old home when they move house?

"How on earth do cats find their way back to their previous home when they move house?" asks Vicky Cole from Nairobi in Kenya.

Our enduring love for our feline friends began when Egyptian pharaohs began to welcome domesticated moggies into their homes. Pictured reclining in baskets at the feet of royalty, pet cats soon became fashionable throughout society in Egypt.

Today they are the most popular pet in the world, and home is definitely where their hearts lie.

"Whereas dogs are bonded to people, cats are bonded to place," explains zoologist Dr John Bradshaw. "It's very typical for them to try and find their way back to their old house when you move."

But how do they do it? And if their navigational skills are so good, why do they get lost?

Plus, Prof Matthew Cobb reveals the super-senses that cats possess, which humans don't, and how to spot when your cat is deploying them.

You can send your Curious Cases for the team to investigate to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0602The Burning Question20170613

What is fire? Is it a solid, liquid or a gas? Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry investigate.

"What is fire? Is it a solid, liquid or a gas? Why is it hot and why can you see it in the dark?" asks Hannah Norton, aged 10.

Dr Fry embarks on a quest to "set fire to loads of stuff" in the Burn Hall at The Buildings Research Establishment in Watford.

Whilst Dr Rutherford gets to grips with Michael Faraday's pioneering Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 'The Chemical History of a Candle'. Plus, he chats to forensic chemist Niamh Nic Daeid from Dundee University about our lasting fascination with fire.

You can send your Curious Cases for the team to investigate to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

"What is fire? Is it a solid, liquid or a gas? Why is it hot and why can you see it in the dark?" asks Hannah Norton, aged 10.

Dr Fry visits the Burn Hall at The Buildings Research Establishment in Watford where they test the effects of fire on building materials.

Whilst Dr Rutherford gets to grips with Michael Faraday's pioneering Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 'The Chemical History of a Candle'. Plus, he chats to forensic chemist Niamh Nic Daeid from Dundee University about our lasting fascination with fire.

You can send your Curious Cases for the team to investigate to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0603The Dark Star20170614

The science sleuths investigate the question 'What's inside a black hole?'.

"What's inside a black hole and could we fly a spaceship inside?" asks Jorge Luis Alvarez from Mexico City.

Some interstellar fieldwork is on the agenda in today's Curious Cases. Astrophysicist Sheila Rowan explains how we know invisible black holes actually exist. And cosmologist Andrew Pontzen is on hand to help cook one up.

But which of our intrepid doctors will volunteer to fly into the heart of a black hole?

You can send your Curious Cases for the team to investigate to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0604Itchy And Scratchy20170615

Why do we itch and should we scratch?

"What is an itch and how does scratching stop it? Why does scratching some itches feel so good?!" asks Xander Tarver from Wisborough Green in West Sussex.

Our doctors set off to probe the mysteries of itch, and discover that this overlooked area of medicine is revealing surprising results about the human brain. From why itching is contagious to why scratching is pleasurable, we get under the skin of this medical mystery.

The programme features interviews with neuroscientist Prof Francis McGlone from Liverpool John Moores University, and dermatologist Dr Brian Kim from the Center for the Study of Itch at Washington University. Yes, that is a real place.

You can send your everyday mysteries for the team to investigate to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0605 LASTThe Sonic Weapon20170616

Can sound kill? Inspired by a Kate Bush track, we ask whether sonic weapons could work.

"It started while listening to the excellent Experiment IV by Kate Bush. The premise of the song is of a band who secretly work for the military to create a 'sound that could kill someone'. Is it scientifically possible to do this?" asks Paul Goodfield.

Hannah consults acoustic engineer Trevor Cox to ask if sonic weapons could kill. And Adam delves into subsonic frequencies with parapsychologist Chris French to investigate their spooky effects.

You can send your everyday mysteries for the team to investigate to: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0701The Curious Cake-off20170925

How to make the perfect sponge using the power of science.

Can chemistry help us bake the perfect cake?

Listener Helena McGinty aged 69 from Malaga in Spain asks, "'I have always used my mother's sponge cake recipe. But is there a noticeable difference in the outcome if you vary some of the ingredients, or the method?"

In this episode Hannah and Adam go head to head in a competition to create the perfect cake using the power of science.

They are aided by materials scientist Mark Miodownik, from University College London, with tips on how to combine the ideal ingredients and trusted techniques to construct a structurally sound sponge.

Jay Rayner, food critic and presenter of Radio 4's The Kitchen Cabinet, is on hand to judge the results. But who will emerge victorious in this messy baking battle?

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0702The Polar Opposite20170926

What would happen if the Earth's magnetic poles flipped?

No one knows why the Earth's magnetic North and South poles swap. But polar reversals have happened hundreds of times over the history of the Earth.

So, asks John Turk, when is the next pole swap due and what will happen to us?

Hannah turns to astronomer Lucie Green from Mullard Space Science Laboratory to discover how the earth's magnetic field protects us from the ravages of space. And Adam consults geophysicist Phil Livermore from the University of Leeds to find out if, and when, we're facing a global apocalypse.

Plus astronaut Terry Virts, author of The View from Above, describes his experiences of a strange magnetic glitch in the earth's magnetic field, known as The Bermuda Triangle of Space, which could help us prepare for the next event.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0703The Sticky Song20170927

Why do tunes get stuck in our heads? And what makes some songs stickier than others?

Why do songs get stuck in our heads? And what makes some tunes stickier than others?

Drs Rutherford and Fry investigate 'earworms', those musical refrains that infect our brains for days. Every morning 6Music DJ Shaun Keaveney asks his listeners for their earworms, and Hannah finds out which tunes keep coming back.

Adam asks Dr Lauren Stewart, from Goldsmiths University, to reveal the musical features that make some songs catchier than others.

And they find out why, in times of crisis, an earworm may just save your life.

Producer: Michelle Martin.

0704The Shocking Surprise20170928

Why do we get static shocks? Our science sleuths try to crack another case.

Why do we get static shocks?

Jose Chavez Mendez from Guatemala asks, "Some years ago, in the dry season, I used to be very susceptible to static electricity. I want to know - why do static shocks happen?"

The team uncover some slightly unethical science experiments on static electricity from the 1700s. Hannah Fry uses a Leyden Jar to demonstrate how static electricity works with help from her glamorous assistant, Adam Rutherford. Spoiler Alert: it doesn't end well for Adam.

They discover what makes some people more susceptible to static shocks, and how bees and spiders have harnessed the awesome power of electricity.

Featuring electromagnetism scientist Rhys Phillips and physicist Helen Czerski, author of 'Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life'.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0705Adventures In Dreamland20170929

Why do we dream? Drs Rutherford and Fry investigate.

"Why do we dream and why do we repeat dreams?" asks Mila O'Dea, aged 9, from Panama.

Hannah and Adam delve into the science of sleep. From a pioneering experiment on rapid eye movement sleep, to a brand new 'dream signature' found in the brain, they discover how scientists are investigating our hidden dreamworld.

Featuring sociologist Bill Domhoff from the University of California Santa Cruz, sleep psychologist Mark Blagrove from the University of Swansea, and neurologist Francesca Siclari from the University of Lausanne.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin.

0705 LASTAdventures In Dreamland20170929
1201The Stressful Scone20181128

"How do accents start and where did they come from?” asks Sachin Bahal from Toronto in Canada.

Hannah is schooled in speaking Geordie by top accent coach Marina Tyndall. And Adam talks to author and acoustics expert Trevor Cox about how accents evolved and why they persist.

We meet Debie who has Foreign Accent Syndrome - an extremely rare condition in which your accent can change overnight. After a severe bout of flu, which got progressively worse, Debie's Brummie accent suddenly transformed into something distinctively more European.

If you have any more Curious Cases for the team to solve, please send them in for consideration: curiouscases@bbc.co.uk

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

Why do we have regional accents?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

1202Two Infinities And Beyond Part 120181205

“Is anything in the Universe truly infinite, or is infinity something that only exists in mathematics?”

This momentous question came from father and son duo from Edinburgh Sorley aged 10 and Tom, aged adult. It's a subject so big, that we've devoted two episodes to our never-ending quest to investigate infinity.

The first installment is a story of mathematics, music and murder. We'll find out why the ancient Pythagoreans decided that infinity was evil, and why some infinities are bigger than others.

Featuring the marvellous mathematical minds of Steven Strogatz from the Cornell University and Eugenia Cheng, author of 'Beyond Infinity'.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Presenter: Michelle Martin

Does infinity exist? And why are some infinities bigger than others?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

1203Two Infinities And Beyond Part 220181212

This is the second part of our eternal quest to investigate infinity, inspired by this question from father and son duo Sorley and Tom Watson from Edinburgh:

“Is anything in the Universe truly infinite, or is infinity something that only exists in mathematics?”

Hannah and Adam try and find something that is truly infinite, from the infinitely small particles that live in the subatomic world to the infinitely dense heart of a black hole.

But how about the Universe itself? We find out how physicists go about measuring the shape of the Universe, with the help of an orange and a game of Asteroids.

Plus, we consider the possibility that the Universe might be finite and have an edge. If so, what's on the other side?

Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll from Caltech and cosmologist Andrew Pontzen from University College London help us navigate our biggest question yet.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Is anything in the universe infinite?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

1204The Good Bad Food20181219

“Why does bad food taste so good?” asks Alan Fouracre from Tauranga, New Zealand. "And by ‘bad’ food, I mean the things we are told to hold back on like sausage, chips and chocolate."

From sugar to salt and fat, we investigate why our body derives pleasure from the very foods we're often told to avoid.

Adam discovers why retronasal smelling makes bacon taste delicious on a trip to the BBC canteen with materials scientist, Mark Miodownik.

Hannah consults food scientist Linda Bartoshuk on her fizzy pop habit. Plus The Angry Chef, Anthony Warner, discusses the dangers of labeling certain foods as 'bad'.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Why does bad food taste so good?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

1205The Horrible Hangover20181226

"My name is Ava and I've never had a hangover," writes Ava Karuso. "I'm a 25 year-old Australian and I enjoy going out for drinks. However, the next day when everyone else sleeps in and licks their wounds, I get up early and get right back to my normal routine.”

Drs Rutherford and Fry investigate the ancient origins of alcohol, from Sumerians drinking beer through straws, to Aristotle's teachings ‘On Intoxication’.

But what can modern science tell us about how alcohol affects our brains? What causes the morning-after hangover and do some drinks make you feel worse than others? Are there any hangover cures that have been scientifically validated?

Featuring health psychologist and hangover researcher Sally Adams, chemist Andrea Sella and science writer Adam Rogers, author of 'Proof: The Science of Booze'.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries

Why do we get hangovers and are some drinks worse than others?

13An Instrumental Case20190417

“We play many musical instruments in our family. Lots of them produce the same pitch of notes, but the instruments all sound different. Why is this?” asks Natasha Cook aged 11, and her Dad Jeremy from Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

For this instrumental case Hannah and Adam are joined by the Curious Cases band - Matt Chandler and Wayne Urquhart - to play with today's question.

Bringing the science we have acoustic engineer and saxophone player Trevor Cox. Plus materials expert Zoe Laughlin demonstrates a selection of her unusual musical creations, including a lead bugle.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

Why do instruments sound different?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

13Jurassic Squawk20190508

What sound did dinosaurs make?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

13The Lunar Land Pt 120190424

A double episode to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, and the first humans to walk on the Moon.

Harley Day emailed curiouscases@bbc.co.uk to ask “Why do we only have one Moon and what would life on Earth be like if we had more? I'll be over the moon if you can help me solve this mystery.”

In this first episode, Hannah and Adam look at how the Moon was formed and why we only have one. Featuring Maggie Aderin-Pocock space scientist and author of 'The Book of the Moon' and cosmic mineralogist Sara Russell from the Natural History Museum.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

Where did the Moon come from?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

13The Lunar Land Pt220190501

In the second installment of our double episode on the Moon we ask what life would be like if we had more than one Moon.

From the tides to the seasons, the Moon shapes our world in ways that often go unnoticed. And, as we'll find out, it played a vital role in the creation of life itself. This week we celebrate the many ways the Moon and the Earth are linked.

If one Moon is so great, why not have two? We discover why multiple moons could spell disaster for our planet, from giant volcanoes to cataclysmic collisions.

Featuring astronomer Brendan Owens from the Royal Observatory Greenwich and physicist Neil Comins, author of 'What if the Earth had two Moons?'.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

What would life be like if we had two moons?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

13The Periodic Problem20190410

"Will the periodic table ever be complete?" asks Philip Craven on Twitter.

In 2016 four new chemical elements were given the official stamp of approval - nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson. And 2019 was named by the UN as the International Year of the Periodic Table.

In this episode, Hannah and Adam dive into the test tubes of history to hear why the first element was discovered in boiled urine, why chips don't explode and how a cancelled trip to a cheese factory resulted in the creation of the periodic table.

We'll hear from Dawn Shaughnessy from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, part of the team that discovered the latest 'superheavy' elements. Science writer Philip Ball shows Adam around Humphry Davy's lab equipment at the Royal Institution of Great Britain and Jim Al-Khalili explains why scientists are eager to reach the Island of Stability.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

How do you discover a new chemical element?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

1301The Mesmerist20190403

“Is hypnosis real, and if so how does it work? Does it have any practical uses and which of Hannah and Adam is most susceptible?”

This question came from two Curios, Peter Jordan aged 24 from Manchester and Arran Kinnear aged 13 from Bristol.

Arch sceptics Hannah and Adam visit stage hypnotist Ben Dali to find out if they are susceptible to the power of suggestion. One of them will be successfully hypnotised, but who will it be?

Along the way we hear about the history of hypnosis from Wendy Moore author of 'The Mesmerist'. Plus psychologist Devin Terhune explains what we know about the science of hypnosis today.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Is hypnotism real? Drs Rutherford and Fry find out by visiting a hypnotist.

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

1302The Periodic Problem20190410

"Will the periodic table ever be complete?" asks Philip Craven on Twitter.

In 2016 four new chemical elements were given the official stamp of approval - nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson. And 2019 was named by the UN as the International Year of the Periodic Table.

In this episode, Hannah and Adam dive into the test tubes of history to hear why the first element was discovered in boiled urine, why chips don't explode and how a cancelled trip to a cheese factory resulted in the creation of the periodic table.

We'll hear from Dawn Shaughnessy from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, part of the team that discovered the latest 'superheavy' elements. Science writer Philip Ball shows Adam around Humphry Davy's lab equipment at the Royal Institution of Great Britain and Jim Al-Khalili explains why scientists are eager to reach the Island of Stability.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

How do you discover a new chemical element?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

1303An Instrumental Case20190417

“We play many musical instruments in our family. Lots of them produce the same pitch of notes, but the instruments all sound different. Why is this?” asks Natasha Cook, aged 11 and her Dad Jeremy from Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

A musical case today, when Hannah and Adam are joined by the Curious Cases band - Matt Chandler and Wayne Urquart - to play with this question.

Bringing the science we have acoustic engineer and saxophone player Trevor Cox. And materials expert Zoe Laughlin introduces some of her unusual musical creations, including a lead bugle and spruce tuning fork.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

Why do instruments sound different?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.

“We play many musical instruments in our family. Lots of them produce the same pitch of notes, but the instruments all sound different. Why is this?” asks Natasha Cook, aged 11 and her Dad Jeremy from Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

For this instrumental case Hannah and Adam are joined by the Curious Cases band - Matt Chandler and Wayne Urquhart - to play with today's question.

Bringing the science we have acoustic engineer and saxophone player Trevor Cox. Plus materials expert Zoe Laughlin demonstrates a selection of her unusual musical creations, including a lead bugle and spruce tuning fork.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

1304The Lunar Land Pt 120190424

A double episode to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, and the first humans to walk on the Moon.

Harley Day emailed curiouscases@bbc.co.uk to ask “Why do we only have one Moon and what would life on Earth be like if we had more? I'll be over the moon if you can help me solve this mystery.”

In this first episode, Hannah and Adam Featurinlook at how the Moon was formed and why we only have one. g Maggie Aderin-Pocock space scientist and author of 'The Book of the Moon' and cosmic mineralogist Sara Russell from the Natural History Museum.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

Where did the moon come from?

Science sleuths Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry investigate everyday mysteries.