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The Naked Scientist

Chris Smith

Often the introduction of a book is barely worth reading. This is not one of those books. Author gives a cheerful description of how the Naked Scientist science radio show evolved. Started with a one hour show on Sunday evenings - a light-hearted look at what was happening in science technology and medicine. Expanded into podcasts and attracted some well known guests such as Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones. "The audience loved it, and not just the people listening locally: the website had really taken off. At this stage it was receiving a quarter of a million hits a month - admittedly, many of them on account of the word 'naked', but at least we couldn't be accused of preaching to the converted..."

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Then Essex BBC picked up the show, and they were sponsored to go to Sydney to do shows for ABC network, where he would get "some good-natured, typically Australian constructive criticism, which usually went something like "That sounds like it was recorded in a toilet. Are you honestly going to broadcast that shit?" Then Apple opened up ITunes for podcasts, so wrote an app which suddenly increased audience from few thousand downloads per month to ten thousand a day.

Soon they were getting a million hits a day, and were serving up ten terabytes of programs every month and the servers of their ISP were melting..They got kicked off the ISP, but persuaded a company to host them as sponsorship

Sport - why do goalies miss shots that 'Bend it like Beckham'? Ran an expt with video of a ball with exaggerated spin and found that nobody cd predict where it was going. A spinning ball generates an effect called the Magnus force, which causes it to follow a curving path, especially as it slows down. But because this doesn't happen in nature, we have never evolved a visual mechanism to process it as we have for anticipating effects of gravity.

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Beards are bad for yr health. Researchers at U of Bristol found that men who shave at least once a day are more likely to be married, have better jobs and are less likely to smoke. Bearded men in addition have a 70% higher chance of suffering a stroke.

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A component of olive oil (oleocanthal) blocks the action of enzyme (cycloxygenase)which causes inflammation in exactly the same way as does ibuprofen.

The science of quicksand: need 4 things - sand, water, clay and salt. Together they make a mineral house of cards, with large water-filled gaps between sand particles, which are loosely held in place by the gluey clay. Undisturbed it's stable, but can change from jelly to runny liquid very easily. The effect is the same as stirring a pot of yoghurt. But it's actually very difficult to drown in it - you shouldn't sink below your waist. But don't try to drag someone out - the force required cd pull them apart. To get out you need to make small movements, gradually working yr way to safety.

Scientists have identified the part of the brain which causes people to hoard valueless things, and strongly resist any suggestion to get rid of it. The victims have damage to a small area called the mesial prefrontal cortex.

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