In 2013, the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs for their work on what is now commonly known as the Higgs field and the Higgs boson. The existence of this fundamental particle, responsible for the creation of mass, was confirmed by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in 2012.
Are humans the only species to cry for emotional reasons? How are tears linked to human evolution and the development of language, self-consciousness, and religion? Which parts of the brain light up when we cry? How is crying related to empathy and tragedy? Why can some music bring people to tears? Below, you can listen to Michael Trimble talk about the topics raised in his book Why Humans Like to Cry: Tragedy, Evolution, and the Brain.
Could it be that we are on track to bequeath to our children and their children not only a far hotter world, but also a more geologically fractious one? Already there are signs that the effects of climbing global temperatures are causing the sleeping giant to stir once again.
There is an urgent argument for the need to rethink animal welfare, untinged by anthropomorphism and claims of animal consciousness, which lack firm empirical evidence and are often freighted with controversy and high emotions. With growing concern over such issues as climate change and food shortages, how we treat those animals on which we depend for survival needs to be put squarely on the public agenda. Marian Stamp Dawkins seeks to do this by offering a more complete understanding of how animals help us.
What is cheating? What drug compounds for performance enhancement are legal and why? Why do the sports drug classification systems change all the time? If all the chemical were legal, what effect would this have on sport? Biochemist and author Chris Cooper explores the biological, moral, political, and ethical issues involved in controlling drug use in sports.
Climate change is a major topic of concern today, scientifically, socially, and politically. But the Earth’s climate has continuously altered over its 4.5 billion-year history. Geologists are becoming ever more ingenious at interrogating this baffling, puzzling, infuriating, tantalizing, and seemingly contradictory evidence. The story of the Earth’s climate is now being reconstructed in ever-greater detail — maybe even providing us with clues to the future of contemporary climate change. Below, you can listen to Dr Jan Zalasiewicz and Dr Mark Williams talk about the topics raised in their book The Goldilocks Planet: The four billion year story of Earths Climate.
Neutrinos: what are they and why does nature need them? In a recent lecture Professor Frank Close gave an overview of the discovery of neutrinos, discussing how we are becoming increasingly aware of their significance and speculating over ways in which we may utilise them.
Below, you can listen to Professor Peter Atkins of Lincoln College, Oxford, talk about On Being: A Scientist’s Exploration of the Great Questions of Existence. This podcast is recorded by the Oxfordshire Branch of the British Science Association, whose regular SciBars podcasts can be found here.