When CrowdScience listener, Grady, crashed violently on his motorbike in the desert, he thought he was going to die. Years later he still can’t remember the dramatic seconds just before the impact. Where did the memory disappear to? Did the hard hit to the head knock his memories out or are they still in his brain somewhere? CrowdScience turns to brain science to find out if those last few seconds are lost for good or if the brain tells a different story.
Under normal circumstances our brains like to hold onto memories that are emotionally important to us. We can remember our wedding day but not yesterday’s breakfast. But scientists have discovered that during near-death experiences, our brains are flooded with chemicals that disrupt our ability to remember. Grady may never recall how he was able to keep his motorbike steady as he drove off the road because – maybe – the memory was never created in the first place.
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producers: Melanie Brown and Louisa Field
Sound design: Eleni Hassabis
(Image: A biker helmet lies on street near to a motorcycle accident. Credit: Getty Images)
Can Volcanoes Power the World?
Magma is the hot, molten rock found beneath the Earth’s crust. It’s so plentiful that it got Greek listener Dimitrios wondering whether we could harness this heat. Could we drill directly into the magma and use it to power our homes, he asks presenter Marnie Chesterton? And from Ghana, Madock also got in touch with CrowdScience to ask why there are lots of volcanoes in some areas of the world, but then none in others?
Marnie dispatches Anand Jagatia to Kenya - a country that is one of the biggest providers of geothermal energy in the world and home to East African Rift system. At 4,000 miles long, a string of volcanoes sits along this fault line. Anand hikes up one of these to find out why volcanism is so active here. Anand then travels to a geothermal power plant to get to grips with how conventional geothermal energy works, before turning to Iceland, where they’ve drilled directly into magma - albeit by accident. What they discovered was supercritical steam. It’s neither a liquid nor a gas but holds up to 10 times more energy than both. And to find it naturally occurring is the ‘holy grail’ of geothermal power. But can our equipment stand such temperatures?
Presenter: Anand Jagatia and Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Graihagh Jackson
(Image: A volcano erupts. Credit Getty Images)
How Bird-Like Were Dinosaurs?
Birds are dinosaurs, but did their extinct relatives move, look, or even sing like their avian relatives? From revealing the hidden information within fossilised dinosaur footprints, to reading the messages left by muscle attachments on fossil bones and seeing how modern palaeo-artists have started to draw fluffy feathered Tyranosaurs, presenter Geoff Marsh starts to reimagine dinosaurs as living animals.
Beginning with CrowdScience listener Malcolm asking about hopping dinosaurs while on a fossil finding mission with world expert Dr Peter Falkingham, Geoff explores the vaults of the Natural History Museum with Dr Susie Maidment and meets palaeoartist Dr Mark Witton’s pet dinosaurs in his living room studio.
Producer: Rory Galloway
(Image: A Velociraptor dinosaur. Credit to Mark Witton)
What is the Future of Space Travel?
CrowdScience goes interstellar this week to answer listeners’ questions about the future of space travel.
Marnie Chesterton heads to Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, where she hears about the engineering challenges of creating a spacecraft that could eventually take us all the way to Mars. Then there are the challenges of engineering the humans for that momentous journey. In space, no-one can hear you scream, which is probably a good thing if you’re going to be trapped in a metal box for two years with the same people, as you cruise through the void on your way to the red planet. So how do astronauts prepare for the physical and psychological impacts of long-term space travel? We also discover how space travel can be made greener and cleaner as the European Space Agency implement the next phase of their plan to tackle the millions of pieces of space debris floating around our planet that potentially, could impact a mission before it even leaves Earth orbit.
(Image: An astronaut in outer space. Credit: Getty Images)
How Much Energy Can I Burn by Thinking?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could lose weight and stay fit just by exercising your brain? Trouble is everything takes so much effort - from burning off excess weight to powering our cars. But why?
Presenter Marnie Chesterton rummages through the CrowdScience inbox to tackle all your energy-expending queries. Is the entire universe spinning? How much energy do we expend when sleeping? Can I think myself thinner? Scientists Helen Czerski, Andrew Pontzen and Andrea Sella join listeners from around the world to discover how effort and energy affect our lives.
(Image: A young boy sits at an office desk searching for successful ideas using a homemade thinking cap with a lit up light bulb. Credit: Getty Images)