Science Night returns to Radio 5 live

There are so many exciting developments in science at the moment, it’s great that we can give 5 live listeners access to some of the scientists leading on these ground-breaking projects."Dr Chris Smith
Date: 13.08.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.06
Category: Radio 5 Live
Following the huge success of BBC Radio 5 live’s inaugural Science Night last December, the station is delighted to announce that Cambridge University’s Dr Chris Smith and his fellow ‘Naked Scientists’ will return to present Science Night 2 on Sunday 19 August from 7.00pm.

Crammed full of all the latest news and developments from the world of science, the three-hour programme will be broken down into a Brain Hour, a Space Hour and a Tech Hour and will feature some of the world’s leading scientists.

Brain Hour

Dr Chris speaks to Professor Ruth Ross who has been pioneering research into the effects of cannabis on the brain including why some of the newer versions of the drug, the so-called ‘super-skunk’, cause psychosis. Plus, UCL brain expert, Professor Eleanor Maguire explains her discovery into how London taxi drivers adapt their brains to pass the Knowledge; and Oxford University’s ‘Clock-Doc’, Russell Foster, will be talking about how the body clock ticks, why night-workers are at increased risk of developing diseases like cancer and diabetes, and why we get jet-lag.

Space Hour

In the second hour, one of the team behind the Curiosity Mission to Mars will talk about how the ground-breaking project is progressing two weeks on from the landing, and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory scientist Chris Davis will give an insight into his research into the Sun and how its behaviour affects the Earth. ‘Stargazing Live’ Oxford cosmologist Andrew Pontzen will also be along to explain the latest news emerging about the Big Bang theory and what we’re learning about the structure of the universe, and Cambridge University space scientist Dominic Ford will discuss his work on the SKA, the most powerful telescope ever conceived that will enable astronomers to see back almost to the beginning of the Universe.

Tech Hour

For the final hour of the programme, Dr Chris is joined by Michael Macy, a sociologist from Cornell University, who has analysed the words in millions of Twitter messages worldwide to assess people’s moods and how they alter across the day and year. One of the team will tap into their musical capabilities with the help of a computer programme created by a Cambridge University computer scientist that allows anyone to make music without having to play an instrument, Birmingham biotechnologist Lynne Macaskie will explain how she’s developing modified micro-organisms that can clean-up radiation around Fukushima, and New York researcher Sheila Nirenberg describes her discovery of the neurological code used by the retina to decode what we see; her results look set to revolutionise retinal implants that can restore sight in some forms of blindness.

In addition to the three themed hours, Dr Chris and the Naked Scientists will be conducting experiments live on-air. Listeners will be treated to finding out: whether it’s possible to power an mp3 player with a pineapple; if there’s a way to get a cork out of a wine bottle without a corkscrew; and why the tone changes when frothing the milk for your coffee.

Commenting on the programme, Dr Chris said: “The first Science Night was a big success, we were inundated with calls, texts and emails from listeners who wanted to get involve with the discussion. There are so many exciting developments in science at the moment, it’s great that we can give 5 live listeners access to some of the scientists leading on these ground-breaking projects.”

On commissioning Science Night 2, 5 live Deputy Controller and Commissioning Editor, Jonathan Wall, said: “I was delighted with the feedback from our first ever Science Night, the content that Chris and the team covers is fascinating. The live experiments really stand out for me, and I’m excited to hear what they’ve come up with this time.”

In the build-up to Science Night 2, 5 live listeners can send in their science questions to, and Dr Chris and the Naked Scientists will try an answer as many as possible during the programme.

Science Night 2 will broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live on Sunday 19 August from 7.00pm.

You can listen to BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra via DAB radio, online at, Digital Freeview, Sky, Freesat, Virgin Media and 909 & 693 AM.