2016 Podcasts

November 2016- Professor Richard Passingham – “What functional brain imaging does and does not show”
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) produces images of the human brain at work. These are both beautiful and alluring. This means that it is easy to over-interpret them; and unfortunately the media frequently succeed in doing so. Professor Richard Passingham (Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford) explains what scans do not show and then illustrates what they can show by asking an everyday question: why it is bad to use a mobile while driving?

September  2016 – Dr Jonathan Jong – “Immortality projects: how death drives everything” 
For many years, psychologists have considered the fear of death as a central motivating factor in human behaviour and achievement. However, only for the past 30 years have psychologists tested these ideas empirically and experimentally. Dr Jonathan Jong (University of Oxford, Coventry University) evaluates the claim that death drives human behaviour, in particular focusing on religion.

September  2016 – ‘Leon Kreitzman – “Rhythms of Life: biological clocks” 
Leon Kreitzman started off as biochemist at Bristol then took a postgraduate degree in International Relations at LSE and ended up as what is somewhat pompously called a futurist. Some twenty years ago he wrote a book The 24 Hour Society which discussed the way our lives were changing as the old temporal cues were dismantled. He sought advice on the biological implications from Russell Foster, then at Imperial, now at Oxford. The pair got on and co-authored two books, Rhythms of Life and Seasons of Life, on circadian and seasonal rhythms. They have just written a third, A Very Short introduction to Circadian Rhythms, which will be published by Oxford University press in March.

July 2016 – ‘Journeys in an Expanding Universe’
This month’s podcast brings you talks from astronomers who gathered in the pub and shared their stories about exploring the mysteries of our Universe.

June 2016 – Dr Darren Jeffers: ‘Where Have All The Bumblebees Gone?’
Dr Darren Jeffers will discuss the causes of the decline in British bumblebees; their key role in pollination; how we might reverse the losses and the likely effects of climate change.He will also share the results of some recent research using museum specimens of extinct species and proffers the question: Can we learn anything from these dusty depositories of ecological data to aid the conservation effort?

May 2016 – Prof Mike Bonsall: ‘Vector Borne Disease Control’
In this talk Prof Michael Bonsall will discuss vector-borne diseases, how we might control them and how maths and modern genetics might help. He will also provide some recent insights from work in the Zoology Department in Oxford on the unfolding Zika epidemic in the Americas.

April 2016 – Dr David Robert Grimes: “Lies, Damned lies and Statistics – how we get science coverage wrong”
David discusses the frequent problems in reporting science from misunderstandings to bad statistics to false balance, and
discusses the factors that influence this and how such problems can be remedied

March 2016 – Prof Susan Jebb: “Nutrition – Fact or Fiction” (details of Susan’s research can be found below)
I am a nutrition scientist and my research interests are focused on how what we eat affects the risk of gaining weight or becoming obese and the interventions that might be effective to help people lose weight or reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases. I have also conducted a series of randomised controlled trials to study the impact of dietary changes on the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
More details: http://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/team/susan-jebb

February 2015 – Prof Alex Halliday: ‘The Origins of the Moon’