Photosynthesis

In Our Time | 15 May 2014 | 0h 46m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss photosynthesis, the process by which green plants and many other organisms use sunlight to synthesise organic molecules. Photosynthesis arose very early in evolutionary history and has been a crucial driver of life on Earth. In addition to providing most of the food consumed by organisms on the planet, it is also responsible for maintaining atmospheric oxygen levels, and is thus almost certainly the most important chemical process ever discovered.

Robert Aronowitz on Risky Medicine

EconTalk | 9 November 2015 | 1h 10m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Should women get routine mammograms? Should men get regular PSA exams? Interview with Robert Aronowitz, author of Risky Medicine, about the increasing focus on risk reduction rather than health itself as a goal. Discusses the social and political forces that push us toward more preventive testing even when those tests have not been shown to be effective. A provocative look at the opportunity cost of risk-reduction.

Everything You Know About Sleep is Wrong with Dr Matthew Walker

The Science of Success | 4 January 2018 | 1h 06m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Interview with Matthew Walker about the ideas in Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. Examines the findings from hundreds of studies across millions of people and pulls out the major findings about how vitally important sleep is, the global sleep loss epidemic, the stunning data about sleep and productivity, the simplest and most effective evidence-based strategies for getting better sleep.

Afterword
I learned of this book from one of my wisest friends (Alan). I know it rocked his world. Now, more than a year later, Alexey Guzey has published what can only be described as a demolition of Walker’s work. It seems many of the assertions Walker makes are contrary to the weight of scientific evidence. I’d urge that you at least read Guzey’s piece before taking any of Walker’s thinking to heart. The More or Less episode Dozy Science summarises the controversy, speaking to both Walker and Guzey. See also the Smart People Podcast episode Alexey Guzey – Is Matthew Walker Lying to Us About Sleep?

Echolocation

In Our Time | 21 June 2018 | 0h 51m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how some bats, dolphins and other animals emit sounds at high frequencies to explore their environments, rather than sight. Bats that echolocate have a range of frequencies for different purposes and techniques for preventing themselves from becoming deafened by their own sounds. Some prey have evolved ways of detecting when bats are emitting high frequencies in their direction, and some fish have adapted to detect the sounds dolphins use to find them.

Matt Ridley on Climate Change

EconTalk | 29 June 2015 | 1h 08m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Interview on climate change with science writer and author Matt Ridley, who describes himself as a “lukewarmer.” While Ridley agrees that humans have made the climate warmer, he argues that the impact is small or positive over some temperature ranges and regions. He rejects the catastrophic scenarios that some say are sufficiently likely to justify dramatic policy responses, and he reflects on the challenges of staking out an unpopular position on a contentious policy issue.