The Genius Of Accidents

Episodes

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01CRISPR2018072720190514 (R4)

Having a fast and easy way to cut out and replace genes could revolutionise areas of biology as diverse as medicine and agriculture. And the discovery of the gene editing tool using CRISPR-cas9 makes that revolution a present reality. But the teams that revealed this gene editing tool piece by piece were not looking for anything to do with genetic engineering: instead they were curious to know more about how bacterial immunity works. Presenter Adam Hart speaks with Professor Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and Dr Rodolphe Barrangou of North Carolina State University to reveal the story of how scientific curiosity can accidentally change the world.

Producer: Rory Galloway.

A story of the discovery of genetic scissors that accidentally enabled fast gene editing.

Adam Hart reveals how some of science's greatest discoveries were created by mistake.

01The Coelacanth2018072520190507 (R4)

The coelacanth is a fish that, until 1938, was only known from the fossil record until a young South African curator named Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer found one - only just deceased - on the deck of a fishing boat. Presenter Adam Hart speaks with ichthyologists and curators who knew Marjorie, putting together the story of how a curious mind, determination and a bit of luck saved this 'living fossil' for science.

Producer: Rory Galloway.

The story of a fish that was discovered 66 million years after its 'extinction'.

Adam Hart reveals how some of science's greatest discoveries were created by mistake.

0101Viagra2018072320190423 (R4)

Viagra was supposed to be a treatment for the heart condition angina, but during clinical trials an unexpected side effect was noticed by the young male participants. Telling the story of this unexpected discovery, presenter Adam Hart speaks with the Pfizer scientists Sir Simon Campbell and Dr Peter Ellis who were part of the team that noticed the unusual side effects, and brought Viagra forward as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Sex journalist Alix Fox discusses the importance of this little blue pill to patients. This is the story of the accident that changed sex.

Producer: Rory Galloway.

Adam Hart investigates the accidental discovery of a little blue pill that changed sex.

Adam Hart reveals how some of science's greatest discoveries were created by mistake.

0102The Big Bang2018072420190430 (R4)

Evidence for the Big Bang at the start of the universe was discovered by accident, using technology developed to record radio waves from space, that were themselves found by accident. Adam Hart explores serendipity in radio astronomy with Professor Nial Tanvir of Leicester University, and Professor Sarah Bridle of Manchester University, in a story involving not a small amount of pigeon poo, and a persistent odd noise detected from space.

Producer: Rory Galloway.

Adam Hart investigates the accidental discovery of the evidence for the Big Bang.

Adam Hart reveals how some of science's greatest discoveries were created by mistake.

0103The Coelacanth2018072520190507 (R4)

The coelacanth is a fish that, until 1938, was only known from the fossil record until a young South African curator named Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer found one - only just deceased - on the deck of a fishing boat. Presenter Adam Hart speaks with ichthyologists and curators who knew Marjorie, putting together the story of how a curious mind, determination and a bit of luck saved this 'living fossil' for science.

Producer: Rory Galloway.

The story of a fish that was discovered 66 million years after its 'extinction'.

Adam Hart reveals how some of science's greatest discoveries were created by mistake.