Curious Cases Of Rutherford And Fry, The [Discovery]

Episodes

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Does Infinity Exist?2019061020190611 (WS)
20190616 (WS)

“Is anything in the Universe truly infinite, or is infinity something that only exists in mathematics?” This question came from father and son duo from Edinburgh in Scotland, Tom and Sorely Watson.

First, we investigate the concept of infinity in mathematics with a story of mathematics, music and murder from Steven Strogatz from the Cornell University.

Did you know that there are some infinities that are bigger than others? We discuss the mind-bending nature of infinity with mathematician Eugenia Cheng, author of Beyond Infinity.

Next we turn to physics to see if we can find something in the Universe that is truly infinite.

Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll from Caltech University discusses the infinitely small inside subatomic particles. Plus cosmologist Andrew Pontzen from University College London travels into the heart of a black hole to see if we can find a something that is infinitely dense.

But if we’re looking for something that is infinite, how about the Universe itself? We find out how physicists measure the shape of the Universe, with the help of an orange and a game of Asteroids. However, if the Universe is not infinite, and it has an edge, what is on the other side?

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

(Photo: The Infinity symbol in an exploding cloud of data. Credit: Wigglestick/Getty Images)

5/6 Rutherford and Fry embark on a never-ending quest for infinite knowledge

Explorations in the world of science.

01How Do Instruments Make Music?2019051320190514 (WS)
20190519 (WS)

"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.

In this new series of The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry, 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, a glass bell and a spruce tuning fork.

Presenters: Adam Rutherford, Hannah Fry
Producer: Michelle Martin

Main image: 1-25 Wind instruments, 26-34 percussion instruments, Egypt, engraving by Duhamel from Description of Egypt, or the collection of observations and researches which were made in Egypt during the expedition of the French Army), Etat moderne, Planches, Volume II, Plate PlCC, Imprimerie Imperiale, 1817, Paris. Credit: De Agostini Editorial / Getty Images

1/6 Why do different musical instruments sound unique?

Explorations in the world of science.

1/5 Why do different musical instruments sound unique?

02Why People Have Different Pain Thresholds2019052020190521 (WS)

"How fast can a human run and would we be faster as quadrapeds?" This question flew in via Twitter from Greg Jenner.

Is there a limit to human sprinting performance? In this episode we investigate the biomechanics of running, statistical trends in human performance and which kind of monkey runs the fastest.

But first, an experiment. Due to some spurious and possibly fictional injuries, neither Hannah nor Adam are fit enough to take part in a sprint trial at the University of Bath. So long-suffering Producer Michelle steps up to the challenge and into the starting blocks. Not known for her love of athletics, or exercise of any sort, how will she fair in the ultimate speed test?

Biomechanist Peter Weyand from Texas discusses the role of different muscle types in speed versus endurance. Sports scientist Polly McGuigan reveals why Usain Lightning Bolt is still the fastest man in the world. And Prof of Sports Engineering Steve Haake reveals how fast a man can run like a monkey.

"Why do people experience pain differently when they go through the same event?" asks Claire Jenkins from Cwmbran in Wales.

Professor of Pain Research, Irene Tracey, welcomes Adam in to the room she calls her 'Torture Chamber'. Burning, electrocuting, lasering and piercing are all on the menu, but which will hurt the most?

Hannah speaks to Steve Pete from Washington who has a rare genetic condition which means he does not feel pain. For chronic sufferers, this sounds like heaven, but a life without pain has brought untold suffering to him and his family, including the tragic story of his brother, Chris.

We look at how the body creates pain, why some people feel it more than others, and how this knowledge could help scientists treat pain more effectively in the future.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

(Photo: A runner beats the pain to make it over the finishing line in the Hong Kong Marathon 12 February 2006. Credit: Martin Chan/South China Morning Post/Getty Images)

2/6 The biomechanics of running and why some people feel pain more than others

Explorations in the world of science.

03Will We Ever Find Alien Life?2019052720190528 (WS)
20190602 (WS)

In this instalment of The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, Hannah and Adam boldly go in search of scientists who are hunting for ET, spurred on by questions sent in by listeners across the globe, from Australia to Columbia.

They start by asking how we define life and why we are obsessed with finding it on Mars. Should we be looking further out in the Solar System, and could we find space squid on the icy moon Europa?

When it comes to intelligent life we may have to scout even further into the Universe. But what are the chances of finding complex life in the cosmos? And where might it live?

Featuring astronomer Seth Shostak from the SETI Institute in California, planetary scientist Monica Grady from the Open University, exoplanet hunter Sara Rugheimer from the University of St Andrews and zoologist Matthew Cobb from Manchester University.

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

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

Main Image: This image obtained from NASA on November 25, 2013 shows several images that were taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the spiral NGC 4921 from the Coma Cluster of Galaxies. Copyright: NASA / Hubble / ESA / Handout

3/6 Where are we looking for alien life and what are the chances of finding it?

Explorations in the world of science.

3/6 In this instalment of The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, Hannah and Adam boldly go in search of scientists who are hunting for ET, spurred on by questions sent in by listeners across the globe, from Australia to Columbia.

04Why Do We Get D\u00e9j\u00e0 Vu?2019060320190604 (WS)
20190609 (WS)

Part 1: Déjà vu

"Do we know what causes déjà vu?" asks Floyd Kitchen from Queenstown in New Zealand.

Drs Rutherford and Fry investigate this familiar feeling by speaking to world-leading reseacher Chris Moulin from the University of Grenoble in France and memory expert Catherine Loveday from Westminster University. Plus, they find out why early investigations classed déjà vu as a type of paranormal phenomenon.

For most of us, it's a fleetingly strange experience, but for some people it can become a serious problem. Lisa from Hulme in Manchester started experiencing déjà vu when she was 22 with episodes that could last all day. The origin of her déjà vu has been the key to helping psychologists investigate its cause.

Part 2: Randomness

"Is anything truly random, or is everything predetermined?" asks Darren Spalding from Market Harborough.

Hannah and Adam go in search of random events, from dice throws to lava lamps. Can we predict the outcome of any event?

"How do computers manage to pick random numbers?" asks Jim Rennie from Mackinaw in Illinois. Random numbers are vital for things like cyber security and banking. But true randomness is surprisingly hard to produce, as the team discover.

Joining them for this case we have a random selection of experts: mathematician Colva Roney-Dougal, technology journalist Bill Thompson, Science Museum Curator Tilly Blyth and quantum physicist Jim AlKhalili.

Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford
Producer: Michelle Martin

Main Image: A fan of the New York Yankees holds up a sign which reads "It's Deja Vu" at the Yankee Stadium, New York City 29 Oct 2009. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

4/6 Plus is anything really random?

Explorations in the world of science.

4/6 Part 1: Déjà vu

Main Image: A fan of the New York Yankees holds up a sign which reads "It's Deja Vu" at the Yankee Stadium, New York City 29 Oct 2009. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

06Why Do Birds Sing?2019061720190618 (WS)
20190623 (WS)

"What happens to the human voice as we age? If I hear a voice on the radio, I can guess roughly how old they are. But singer's voices seem to stay relatively unchanged as they age. Why is this?" All these questions were sent in by Jonathan Crain from Long Island in New York.

Doctors Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry discover how the human voice is produced and listen to how our voice sounds when it emerges from our vocal cords. Acoustic engineer Trevor Cox, author of Now You're Talking, explains why German and French babies have a different accent. And neuroscientist Sophie Scott describes what happens when boys' voices break, and why a similar thing can happen to women during the menopause.

Finally, our voices often change dramatically in later life, as demonstrated by comedy impressionist Duncan Wisbey. Expect cameos from David Attenborough, Dumbledore and Paul McCartney.

Bird Song

"Winter is finally over and the birds are all singing their hearts out at dawn. What is all the noise about? And why are some songs so elaborate?" asks Tony Fulford from Cambridgeshire in the UK.

We find out how birds produce multiple notes at once, which one has the widest repertoire of songs, and why males like to show off quite so much. Plus, we talk to researcher Lauryn Benedict about the project which aims to solve the mystery of why female birds sing.

Featuring interviews with RSPB president and nature presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff, and world-renowned birdsong expert and sound recordist, Don Kroodsma from the University of Massachusetts. TV archive courtesy of The One Show, BBC TV.

Please send your cases for consideration for the next series to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk.

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

(Photo: Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). Credit: Getty Images)

6/6 And why does the human voice change as we age?

Explorations in the world of science.

Part 1: The human voice

"What happens to the human voice as we age? If I hear a voice on the radio, I can guess roughly how old they are. But singer's voices seem to stay relatively unchanged as they age. Why is this?" All these questions were sent to curiouscases@bbc.co.uk by Jonathan Crain from Long Island in New York.

The Doctors discover how the human voice is produced and listen to how our voice sounds when it emerges from our vocal cords. Acoustic engineer Trevor Cox, author of 'Now You're Talking', explains why German and French babies have a different accent. And neuroscientist Sophie Scott describes what happens when boys' voices break, and why a similar thing can happen to women during the menopause.

Finally, our voices often change dramatically in later life, as demonstrated by comedy impressionist Duncan Wisbey. Expect cameos from David Attenborough, Dumbledore and Paul McCartney.

Part 2: Bird song

"Winter is finally over and the birds are all singing their hearts out at dawn. What's all the noise about? And why are some songs so elaborate?" asks Tony Fulford from Cambridgeshire in the UK.

We find out how birds produce multiple notes at once, which one has the widest repertoire of songs, and why males like to show off quite so much. Plus, we talk to researcher Lauryn Benedict about the project which aims to solve the mystery of why female birds sing - www.femalebirdsong.org.

Featuring interviews with RSPB President and nature presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff, and world-renowned birdsong expert and sound recordist, Don Kroodsma from the University of Massachusetts. TV archive courtesy of The One Show, BBC TV.

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

Picture: Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). Credit: Getty Creative Stock