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Science
Extra Senses
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Monday 5th November - Friday 9th November 2007, 3.45pm - 4.00pm

Aristotle defined our five senses over two and a half thousand years ago. But in fact we have many more. In this five part series, Graham Easton delves into the Extra Senses that we take for granted. He finds out how they work and meets some remarkable people who experience these senses in a unique way.

The Torture King lying on bed of nails with 4 people standing on him (copyright Jon Alloway)
The Torture King (Picture: copyright Jon Alloway)

Programme 1 - Pain

Graham steps into the Pain Research laboratory at the Institute of Psychiatry in London to discover why some things hurt more than others.

Plus he talks to The Torture King, who performs some pretty shocking stunts. How does he control his pain?

Related Links

Zamora - The Torture King
University of Oxford - Irene Tracey
Reading University - Lucy Bending
BBC Radio 4 - Check Up: Chronic Pain


Listen again Listen again to programme 1
Ballet dancer Jenna Lee in rehearsal, backstage at the London Coliseum
Ballet dancer Jenna Lee in rehearsal

Programme 2 - Balance

Graham attempts to master balance by taking a lesson with The English National Ballet, and has a dizzy moment in the balance lab at Charing Cross Hospital, London.

But what happens if your balance systems goes permanently astray? Steve Geary has a rare condition which affects his sense of balance, and means that he can hear his eyes squeak.

Related Links

English National Ballet
London Balance Laboratory - Dizziness
Canada - Sensorimotor Neuroscience Laboratory
BBC Health - Vertigo

Listen again Listen again to programme 2
traditional alarm clock

Programme 3 - Time

Why does time fly when you're having fun and drag when you're bored? This week, Graham looks at our sense of time and finds out that it's not as stable as we might think.

He discovers how our internal clock works and talks to Paul White, whose body clock runs on a 30-hour day. Graham also undergoes hypnosis to try and slow down his sense of time.

Related links

Greenwich Observatory - Timekeeping 
Surrey University - Prof Josephine Arendt
Prof Anthony Gayling
Open University - Dr Peter Naish
Radio 4 - Material World - The body clock
BBC Four - Time series

Listen again Listen again to programme 3
man sweating, lifting weights in a gym

Programme 4 - Temperature

Getting hot at the gym might feel uncomfortable, but our bodies are working hard to keep our core temperature stable. A few degrees above or below our normal 37C and we would die.

This week, Graham talks to polar explorer Dr Mike Stroud about the perils of frostbite, and to hyperhydrosis patient Justine, who suffers from excess sweating.

Related Links

Hyperhydrosis UK Support Group
International Hyperhydrosis Society
BBC Health – Frostbite
BBC Health – Hypothermia
BBC Weather – Features
BBC Radio 4 – Case Notes: Body Temperature


Listen again Listen again to programme 4
Close up of fat stomach

Programme 5 -Digestion

The final programme of the series delves into our inner sense of digestion. From eating to excreting, how do our bodies detect when we are full, or need emptying?

Graham finds out why we all have different appetite levels, and which foods make us feel more full. Then he visits Dr Slack at his bladder clinic, to discover what’s happening when you’ve got to go.

Related Links

BBC Science – Human Body: The Stomach
BBC Health – Nutrition
BBC Science – Obesity
BBC Science – Human Body: The Bladder
UK Paruresis Trust – Shy Bladder
BBC Health – Incontinence
BBC Parenting – Potty training


Listen again Listen again to programme 5
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