The Curious Cases Of Rutherford And Fry

Ep 1/5

Monday 28 May

12.05pm-12.15pm

BBC RADIO 4

Curious Cases returns for its tenth series, culminating in the 50th case for Drs Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry to solve.

Their first case is a question with many dimensions: "What is the fifth dimension?" asks 12 year-old Lena Komaier-Peeters from East Sussex. "I know that the first is length, second is width, third is depth and fourth is time, but no one seems to know what the fifth dimension is. I would be grateful if you found the answer."

The idea of extra dimensions, outside the ones we experience, has fascinated writers for decades from H.G. Wells to Oscar Wilde. The allure of a hidden space beyond our own became popular in the Victorian era, where extra dimensions were used to explain the existence of ghosts, and the conjuring power of magicians. This new fashionable concept inspired the Cubist movement, with Pablo Picasso depicting this extra dimension of space in his artwork. But for decades, the idea of extra dimensions fell out of favour with scientists.

But the idea that there could be hidden dimensions beyond our own is having a renaissance inside science. Proving the existence of extra dimensions is one of the most exciting, and controversial, areas in modern physics.

To hunt for the fifth dimension Hannah and Adam head to CERN, the scientific cathedral for new physics and quantum weirdness. They meet Sam Harper, who has spent 14 years hunting for an elusive particle called the 'graviton', which could provide a portal to extra dimensions.

Could his experiment at CERN finally discover the fifth dimension? And what would it look like?

  • Producer: Michelle Martin
  • Presenters: Hannah Fry, Adam Rutherford

SW