BBC Discovery


An in-depth look at the most significant ideas, discoveries and trends in science, from the smallest microbe to the furthest corner of space. Podcast weekly on Mondays.
English United Kingdom Science
212 Episodes
1 – 20

The Case of The Blind Man's Eye

Close your eyes and think of a giraffe. Can you see it? I mean, *really* see it - in rich, vivid detail? If not - you aren’t alone! We’ve had scores of messages from listeners who report having a ‘blind mind’s eye’. They don’t see mental images at all and…
27 Mar 28 min

Our Microbes and Our Health

We are a teeming mass of interconnected microbes and the impact of this microscopic universe on our health, our minds, even our moods, is profound. Made in collaboration with Wellcome Collection, Claudia Hammond and an expert panel explore one of the fastest moving areas of science and what it means…
25 Mar 49 min

Judith Bunbury: Unearthing the secrets of Ancient Egypt

Think Sahara Desert, think intense heat and drought. We see the Sahara as an unrelenting, frazzling, white place. But geo-archaeologist Dr Judith Bunbury says in the not so distant past, the region looked more like a safari park. In the more recent New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, from around 3500…
20 Mar 28 min

The Life Scientific: Rebecca Kilner

A fur-stripped mouse carcase might not sound like the cosiest of homes – but that is where the burying beetle makes its nest, and where Rebecca Kilner has focused much of her research. A professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Cambridge, Rebecca’s work – initially with cuckoos, then…
6 Mar 29 min

The Life Scientific: Tim Lamont

Tim Lamont is a young scientist making waves. Arriving on the Great Barrier Reef after a mass bleaching event, Tim saw his research plans disappear and was personally devastated by the destruction. But from that event he discovered a novel way to restore coral reefs. Playing the sounds of a…
27 Feb 29 min

Bad Blood: Newgenics

Are we entering a ‘newgenic’ age - where cutting-edge technologies and the power of personal choice could achieve the kind of genetic perfection that 20th century eugenicists were after? In 2018, a Chinese scientist illegally attempted to precision edit the genome of two embryos. It didn’t work as intended. Twin…
20 Feb 29 min

Bad Blood: The curse of Mendel

A key goal of eugenics in the 20th century was to eliminate genetic defects from a population. Many countries pursued this with state-led programmes of involuntary sterilisation, even murder. We unpick some of the science behind this dark history, and consider the choices and challenges opened up by the science…
13 Feb 28 min

Bad Blood: Rassenhygiene

In the name of eugenics, the Nazi state sterilised hundreds of thousands against their will, murdered disabled children and embarked on a programme of genocide. We like to believe that Nazi atrocities were a unique aberration, a grotesque historical outlier. But it turns out that leading American eugenicists and lawmakers…
6 Feb 27 min

Bad Blood: Birth controlled

Who should be prevented from having children? And who gets to decide? Across 20th century America, there was a battle to control birth - a battle which rages on to this day. In 1907, the state of Indiana passed the first sterilisation law in the world. Government-run institutions were granted…
30 Jan 28 min

Bad Blood: You Will Not Replace Us

"You will not replace us" was the battle cry of white supremacists at a rally in Charlottesville in 2017. They were expressing an old fear - the idea that immigrants and people of colour will out-breed and replace the dominant white 'race'. Exactly the same idea suffused American culture in…
23 Jan 28 min

Bad Blood: You've Got Good Genes

We follow the story of eugenics from its origins in the middle-class salons of Victorian Britain, through the Fitter Family competitions and sterilisation laws of Gilded Age USA, to the full genocidal horrors of Nazi Germany. Eugenics is born in Victorian Britain, christened by the eccentric gentleman-scientist Sir Francis Galton…
16 Jan 28 min

Tooth and Claw: Cougar

Hiding in the shadows across the American continents lives a big cat with many names. From puma to mountain lion to panther to cougar, this animal is carnivorous, cunning and uses stealth to silently ambush its prey. Its elusiveness and brutal attacking style has earnt it the reputation of a…
9 Jan 27 min

Tooth and Claw: Wasps

Why do wasps exist? While many see them as unfriendly bees who sting out of spite, their aggression could be interpreted as a fierce form of family protection. They are hugely understudied and even more underappreciated, with hundreds of thousands of different species carrying out jobs in our ecosystems. Some…
2 Jan 27 min

Tooth and Claw: African Wild Dog

As a great African predator and a hot-spot on safari, it is hard to believe that only last century, the African wild dog was considered vermin. It's beautiful coat of painted strokes makes it undeniably distinctive. Yet out in the field, this animal is hard to find. Yes, it camouflages…
26 Dec 2022 28 min

Preparing for the next pandemic

Infectious diseases which cause epidemics and pandemics are on the rise. Claudia Hammond is joined by an eminent panel of disease detectives, who spell out why the risks are increasing and most importantly, what we can do to predict, prepare and protect ourselves against potentially devastating new outbreaks. Will the…
24 Dec 2022 51 min

Tooth and Claw: Komodo dragon

With nicknames like ‘prehistoric monster’ and ‘living dinosaur’, the Komodo dragon has been well and truly judged by its cover. Its gigantic size, razor sharp teeth and deadly attacking power has earned it a vicious reputation. But beneath the scales of this solitary beast are fascinating tales of rapid healing,…
19 Dec 2022 28 min

Wild Inside: The Alpaca

Alpacas may have been domesticated for thousands of years but their native lands are the steep hostile mountains of South America where they continue to thrive far from the modern luxuries of animal husbandry. Prof Ben Garrod and Dr Jess French delve deep inside this hardy herbivore to unravel the…
12 Dec 2022 28 min

Wild inside: The Harbour Porpoise

Prof Ben Garrod and Dr Jess French get under the skin of the harbour porpoise to unravel this enigmatic and shy aquatic mammal’s extraordinary survival skills - from it’s ability to dive for long periods to accurately echolocating its fast moving prey. They join Rob Deaville, project leader for the…
5 Dec 2022 28 min

Wild inside: Great Grey Owl

One of the world’s large owls by length, the Great Grey Owl is an enigmatic predator of coniferous forests close to the Arctic tundra. It's most often seen hunting around dawn and dusk, when it perches silently at the edges of clearings. But as Prof Ben Garrod and Dr Jess…
28 Nov 2022 27 min

Wild Inside: The Cheetah

Zoologist Ben Garrod and veterinary surgeon Jess French armed with their dissection tools, return with a new series taking on natural history from the inside out as they delve deep into some amazing internal anatomy to unravel the secrets to survival of some of nature’s iconic animals. It’s a rare…
21 Nov 2022 29 min
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