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Brainwaves Podcast

English, Technology, 1 season, 87 episodes, 1 day, 16 hours, 51 minutes
Pennie Latin explores the science behind our everyday experiences and speaks to key scientists working in Scotland.
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Beautiful bogs and precious peatlands

With the battle against climate change never far from many of our minds this week, 6 years on from when Brainwaves first visited, Pennie Latin returns to the Flow Country in Caithness and Sutherland to remind us how that much-maligned, but globally rare, feature of the Scottish landscape: the peat bog might be crucial as a carbon sink. Because it is now deemed so precious a group called ‘ The Peatlands Partnership’ has been formed with the aim of applying to get the Flow Country designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If it successful then the area will rank alongside the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef as one of the most important natural sites in the world but, could this precious landscape itself be in danger of the effects of climate change? We'll be discovering how new research hopes to find out.
3/18/202027 minutes, 59 seconds
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How ready are you for the VR revolution?

How comfortable are you with virtual reality? We're not just talking about gaming but across your life and your family's life? With virtual reality being developed in just about every area of our lives Pennie Latin weighs up the value of VR. There's no doubt VR is a powerful tool and results from research into the potential for using VR to treat mental health issues like schizophrenia and anxiety are looking very promising but how worried should we be about that power? Does the fact that VR can be so immersive and engaging mean it also needs to come with a warning? Pennie will be visiting Oxford University to try out some of the latest immersive therapies for herself plus she'll join a primary school in the Highlands to see VR being piloted in an educational setting. So on balance will we love or loathe the prospect of a VR saturated world...listen to find out!
3/11/202028 minutes, 5 seconds
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Dinosaur Hunting with Steve Brusatte

Who doesn't love dinosaurs? Dr Steve Brusatte certainly does and his knowledge, story telling and passion for the subject are utterly infectious. In this Brainwaves Pennie Latin joins Steve in his Edinburgh laboratory to discuss the 5 fossils which best capture his love of the subject together with a flavour of a story which lasted over 180 million years then ended so dramatically with a mass extinction. Among his chosen 5 fossils Steve discusses the Sauropod trackways he discovered on the Isle of Skye, Scotland's Jurassic Park, in 2015 and the extraordinary fossil of a Zhenyuanlong which he first saw in China and is a brilliant example of a feathered dinosaur.
3/4/202028 minutes, 16 seconds
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In Search of the Competitive Edge

Top para-cyclist Karen Darke MBE won silver in London and gold in Rio now she's trying to make it to a third consecutive Paralympic games in Tokyo but its a tough challenge. So Karen's enlisted the help of Williams Advanced Engineering to see if they can bring a Formula 1 approach to maximising her performance this summer. In this Brainwaves Pennie Latin joins Karen behind the scenes to see just what science and technology can offer our elite athletes.
2/26/202028 minutes
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Professor Lesley Yellowlees MBE - her life in 5 objects

Professor Lesley Yellowlees CBE has an extraordinary passion for life and for her work as an inorganic chemist. A leading figure in the fields of spectroelectrochemistry and solar energy research Lesley's also a pioneer - she was the first female head of Chemistry and then of Science and Engineering in Edinburgh. She was also the first female president of the Royal Society of Chemistry and is a passionate champion for diversity in science. In this fun, fast talking and hugely engaging conversation Lesley chooses 5 objects which capture her fiery character; love of family, food and travel, and the work that drives her so much.
2/19/202027 minutes, 49 seconds
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Poo, jobbies, stinks and why they matter!

How often do you do a number '2'? Seriously! And do you know how often your friends and family members have a poo? No? So how do you know if you're normal and what does a well functioning gut system mean when it comes to our toilet habits and our health? Pennie Latin goes on a frank and fearless journey to find out more about the human gut system. Along the way she talks to Kevin Whelan, Professor of dietetics at King's College London, about what normal is when it comes to going to the loo. Dr Alan Walker, principal investigator at the Rowatt Institute in Aberdeen, shows Pennie how they're using an artificial gut to research how microbes in our gut interact with the food we eat and she takes a tour of EnteroBiotix where faeces from healthy donors are processed to make a radical treatment for c difficile infection. Pennie also manages to persuade a family to keep a 'jobbie journal' for a week so they keep account of the regularity and consistency of their toilet habits. Bold, brave and utterly fascinating, join us for an irresistible slice of everyday science which impacts each and every one of us!
1/29/202028 minutes, 2 seconds
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Deep ocean exploration with Bathynaut Dr Jon Copley

Pennie Latin joins marine ecologist and deep ocean explorer Dr Jon Copley for a fascinating insight into his extraordinary world. Jon is a 'bathynaut' (someone who has gone deeper than 200 meters under the ocean) who specialises in researching hydrothermal vents deep under the ocean. His watery office is a small acrylic bubble capable of diving to incredible depths which allows him to explore, observe and research the amazing array of life which inhabits the half of our world which is covered by water more than 2 miles deep. In a single drop of sea water there are a million bacteria, and a bath tub of water, says Jon, will give you as many life forms as there are stars in our galaxy! Unfortunately as well as finding new species Jon is also witness to man's impact on the deep ocean environment and finds evidence of human rubbish even thousands of meters under the sea. So join Jon and Pennie as they dive deep into the subject of oceanography, you'll hear some remarkable stories and discover species which will take your breath away but there's a few thought provoking lessons along the way too.
1/22/202028 minutes, 1 second
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A shocking story of postnatal PTSD

Gill Skene didn't know what was wrong with her after the traumatic birth of her daughter, she just knew she wasn't depressed and she wasn't behaving normally. Flashbacks and paranoia culminated in a moment when Gill realised she was capable of attacking her husband after he came between her and her baby, she sought help and was diagnosed to postnatal PTSD. In this moving and thought provoking Brainwaves, Pennie Latin hears from Gill and her husband, Mark, then sets out to investigate what we know about a mental health condition which is estimated to affect 30,000 women in the UK each year. Along the way Pennie discovers its not just birth mothers who are vulnerable to stress following a difficult birth, clinical staff are also presenting with PTSD. Pennie asks how much we know about the condition and what can be done to identify and support sufferers.
1/15/202028 minutes
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Saving the planet one pill at a time

We live in this amazing country so why would we want to just pour a cocktail of random pharmaceuticals into the environment? As Pennie Latin discovers, to her astonishment, in Scotland we’re doing that each and every day just by taking a pee. It’s not just peeing the medicines out either, we’re even adding to the problem when we think we’re being conscientious by flushing unwanted pills down the loo. When you take into account the 1.4 million prescriptions dispensed in Scotland every year, that's a lot of potential for pharmaceutical pollution. In this Brainwaves Pennie hears about a pioneering and unique collaboration involving NHS Highland, researchers from the University of the Highland and Islands and Glasgow Caledonian University, together with Scottish Water and SEPA who have come together to share wisdom, research, data and ideas for how to stop this environmental problem before it gets any worse. Its an extraordinary story and one where we all have a part to play. Music by Blue Dot Sessions
1/8/202028 minutes, 42 seconds
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Edinburgh brain study comes of age

September 7th 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of a unique and remarkable study into how our brains age. But it's a story which has roots back in 1921. Almost all the Scottish children born in that year were given a test in 1932, when they were 11, into their thinking abilities. It happened again in 1947 with a second group of 11-year-old Scottish children born in 1936. The results of those two sets of tests were tucked away until, in 1999, Professor Ian Deary and his colleagues from the University of Edinburgh unearthed the orginal data and had the idea of inviting many of those original participants back to be tested again in a unique study. Over 500 volunteers from those born in 1921 and over 1000 from those born in 1936 came forward and ever since their thinking skills have been closely studied and scrutinised, tested and their brains scanned to see whether they might reveal some of the secrets to ageing well. What impact does your thinking ability at the age of 11 have on your thinking ability as you reach old age? Are there particular activities, hobbies, careers or behaviours which contribute to healthy cognitive ageing? Why do people who drink more alcohol seem to perform better on cognitive thinking skills tasks? Before you raise a glass in delight, the answer is not as straightforward as you might think! The richness of the data collected by the Lothian Birth Cohort Studies over the past 20 years is unprecedented and has contributed to over 500 papers. The participants themselves have become global superstars in the fields of neuroscience and cognitive ageing. In this special Brainwaves, Pennie Latin joins the 20th anniversary celebrations in Edinburgh, hears from Professor Ian Deary and his team and meets some of the participants themselves, including 98-year-old Margaret MacKie who still does the Scotsman cryptic crossword everyday and says her ambition is to complete it six days in a row! It's a remarkable success story of a unique collaboration between a generation of Scots and a pioneering team of researchers that will leave a legacy we all might learn from.
9/11/201928 minutes, 35 seconds
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Becoming part man and part machine may seem like something from a science fiction film, but cyborgs are moving among us in Scotland today. People who have had body parts replaced or enhanced are living in every community. In this programme we'll be exploring the benefits of becoming bionic, and asking how much has to be replaced before we stop being human. A researcher shares the stories she's gathered from people living with cardiac implants. A pioneer of Scottish engineering talks about the challenges involved in creating the bionic hand, then we visit a research facility in Livingston to see what the future holds for limb replacement. A teenage bionic man shows us how the technology works day to day, and we speak to the biohacker who is upgrading her body through operations carried out at her kitchen table. The world's first cyborg, Professor Kevin Warwick, explains the pros and cons of getting chipped. Then we step into a virtual world where smells and sounds can be seen with our eyes.
3/27/201927 minutes, 56 seconds
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Food for Thought

Pennie Latin sits down at the kitchen table to discuss the future of food. We'll hear about innovations that are taking place across Scotland to alter the meals we put in our mouths. You might be partial to a bit of carrot cake, but how about a slice of bread that could count as one of your five-a day? Are you happy for scientists to breed berries which can reduce your risk of certain diseases? We know that Omega 3 is good for us, so is it OK for the fish we eat to have been reared on a special diet in order to boost the levels on our plate? How do you feel about "Health by Stealth" - are you happy for employers, schools, or governments to determine what we can eat, if it would lead to a healthier population? Pennie and a panel of guests chew over these issues.
3/20/201927 minutes, 56 seconds
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A forensic approach to street drugs

Scotland has a serious drug problem with its drug death rate, per head of population, roughly 2.5 times that of the UK as a whole. Based on the latest figures from the Scottish Government drugs deaths more than doubled in the 10 years up to 2017. In this Brainwaves Pennie Latin joins Dr Craig McKenzie, co-director of the recently formed Forensic Drug Research Group in Dundee, to find out how he's taking a fresh approach to understanding our relationship with illicit drugs. Craig explains how he's working in close collaboration with drug recovery groups and organisations like the Scottish Prison Service to better understand patterns of drug use in Scotland, particularly when it comes to polysubstance drug use where users are mixing prescription medicines with street drugs, stimulants and narcotics. He also gathers information from online sources which help him predict which new drugs might appear in Scotland in the near future, what kind of strength they'll be and what harm they might do to users. The programme also hears from Professor Kevin Read, Head of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics at the world-leading Drugs Discover Unit, to hear how he's collaborating with Craig so they can better understand how new drugs and combinations of drugs are metabolised by the human body. As we'll hear, Kevin's role usually involved the discovery of new medicines and pharmaceuticals, so the partnership with Craig has opened his eyes to a whole new appreciation of the complexity of the illicit drugs market and the challenges it presents for Scotland.
3/13/201927 minutes, 59 seconds
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How high is your pain threshold? Pennie Latin considers her own tolerance and meets those who have developed ways to increase theirs. Doctors discuss what happens within our bodies, and try to determine if it is a physical or emotional response that is triggered. Why do we cope better with pain in certain situations, and why does this threshold vary so much from person to person? We’ll hear how tactics like hypnotherapy and swearing can help. Then we consider if pain is a necessary thing for our survival. Why are scientists building pain receptors into synthetic skin? And if we had no sensation of pain would our lives be easier or more difficult?
3/6/201927 minutes, 56 seconds
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Forensic fire investigation with Professor Niamh Nic Daeid

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, one of the world's leading forensic scientists, takes Pennie Latin behind the scenes at Dundee's Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science. From looking into the past with the arrival of a heart which could have significant royal history which Niamh's team are challenged to uncover, to stepping into the future and a virtual reality crime scene which could change the face of how forensic experts access and gather information across the globe. As well as explaining why forensic science is in such dire need of change Niamh reveals how her own passion for fire scene investigation began at a surprisingly early age and why fire scene investigation remains a dinner table conversation whenever her family come together.
2/27/201928 minutes
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Understanding conflict

How many times have you got into a silly argument about the washing up or homework or money worries? We all experience all kinds of niggles during the course of life – at work, home, with extended family or friends – but none of us like arguing and constant conflict can have a big impact on our health and happiness. So what’s the answer? Well it’s all about learning to listen better, empathise, take a long hard look at your own behaviour, all the kinds of things which feel pretty much impossible in the thick of the fight! So in this Brainwaves Pennie Latin talks to a range of experts about what we can do to better understand why we get into the conflict we do and how we might practise the art of pausing and stopping the arguments in our lives so we can end up a bit happier and healthier.
2/20/201927 minutes, 57 seconds
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Understanding climate change, with Professor Gabi Hegerl

Our climate is changing. The effect of carbon dioxide on our climate change was first considered in the 19th Century, but it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that we started to take its effect seriously. The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change was established to try and work out the effect of the burning fossil fuels on our climate. Cited as one of the world’s most influential scientific minds, Professor Gabi Hegerl’s career has been defined by our climate. She had a significant role on the Intergovernmental Panel and today still researches how our climate, of the last 1,000 years, has changed and how man has influenced it. But more importantly for Gabi is the answer to the question of what we can do to try and return our climate to its natural equilibrium and what the co-benefits of changing our behaviour might be to our health.
2/13/201927 minutes, 59 seconds
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Love, Life and Algorithms

Quietly and without debate our lives have been taken over by a weapon of mathematical domination. The algorithm. Algorithms are one of the most powerful forces of our time. Replacing humans in decision making that affects almost every aspect of our lives these mathematical codes manipulate what we see, do, eat, how we live and who we love. But how many of us understand even what an algorithm is let alone the impact they have on our lives? This Brainwaves is all about unpacking the mystery of the algorithm and trying to make a little bit of sense of their role in our lives.
2/6/201928 minutes
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Professor James Boardman

Professor James Boardman, neonatologist and Scientific Director of the Jennifer Brown Laboratory in Edinburgh, talks about his research into the effects of a baby being born too small or too soon on how the brain develops outside the womb. Its a fascinating, engaging and emotionally challenging role which sees him tread a path between time working as an NHS consultant with premature babies in Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary neonatal care unit and conducting research with these tiny babies using state of the art technology and brain imaging techniques to try to understand the causes and consequences of pre-term birth.
1/30/201928 minutes
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A Monster of a Loch

Loch Ness is a monster of a loch - so vast it holds more water than all the lakes and rivers of England and Wales combined - which is why, when it comes to studying it, it presents something of a challenge to scientists and researchers. This Brainwaves is not going to provide any answers to that question…but we are going in search of unknown species and the intriguing science that Loch Ness can provide us with. The whole monster obsession with this Loch has been obscuring our view of this remarkable stretch of water which, thanks to how it was formed, has given us a giant natural outdoor laboratory. Pennie Latin heads out onto and into the water to discover the scientific riches that lie under the surface of myth and legend!
1/23/201928 minutes, 2 seconds
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Tales from the dark side with Professor Catherine Heymans

Astrophysicist Professor Catherine Heymans is on a quest to understand the dark side of our Universe. Observations suggest that 95% of the Universe is made up of something invisible, something we can't see or touch called dark matter and dark energy. We only know it exists because of its impact on the things we can see and touch but beyond that we really know very little about it. So how can you study something you can't see, feel or observe through a telescope? In this fascinating conversation Catherine shares her deep rooted passion for tackling huge questions, the origins of her love of exploration and why she believes there is indeed alternative life out there but she doesn't think we'll ever get to meet it.
1/16/201928 minutes, 1 second
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Beyond the Bomb

It's 80 years since the Manhattan Project saw the first nuclear bomb developed and latterly unleashed on the world. In the aftermath enthusiasm for nuclear power and innovation went into overdrive but at what cost? In this Brainwaves Pennie Latin visits Douneray Power Station in Caithness where the long process of decommissioning is still in progress, to explore what the nuclear fuelled invention of the post war era now means for scientists working in Scotland. Why is the job of cleaning up after the nuclear era so complicated in the UK and what, if anything, have we learned from those scientific innovators of the past.
1/9/201927 minutes, 59 seconds
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Ring tones, notifications, sirens, traffic, electronic gadgets, the noise is endless! So, in a bid to escape and find a bit of respite from our increasingly noisy world, Pennie Latin goes in search of a slice of silence. Its a journey that takes her from a world war II fuel tank hidden in the heart of the Highlands which houses the longest echo on record to an anechoic chamber where silence is absolute. In between she considers the value of silence and whether you can ever truly switch off the world, physically or mentally. Is silence a commodity worth pursuing or, at the end of the day, does the cost of finding silence outweigh the benefits? So, will Pennie find silence and what will it yield if she does?
1/2/201930 minutes, 48 seconds
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The Problem with Plastic

From the chemical structure of different plastics to what exactly should we be putting in our recycling bins, Brainwaves explores what it is about plastics that has made them environmental enemy number one.
9/26/201828 minutes, 11 seconds
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Nuclear waste and the F word with Professor Polly Arnold

Pennie Latin meets the founder of Sci Sisters and the Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Polly Arnold Polly's work focus's around two fundamental forms of waste. She spends her time as chemist lurking around the bottom end of the Periodic Table with elements like uranium and plutonium. This waste she is interested in is nuclear waste and primarily how will it behave as it decays in the future. The other waste she focuses her attention to is what she sees as the waste of talented women who, for a variety of reasons, leave their careers in STEM. To address this she started SciSisters, a network for women in STEM to provide a platform for promoting their areas of expertise and at the same time providing support for women working in a field with a strong gender imbalance.
9/19/201828 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Tracey Wilkinson

How many of us spend our days surrounded by dead bodies? For Professor Tracey Wilkinson, the Principal Anatomist at the University of Dundee, it is part of her everyday. Tracey is current Cox Chair of Anatomy at the University which is celebrating the 130th Anniversary of the position in 2018. The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification was the first in the UK to introduce the Thiel soft fix approach to embalming, leading to research which has resulted in new and improved surgical procedures and the design and development of new medical technologies and surgical devices. Starting in the dissecting room, in this Brainwaves, Pennie Latin follows Tracey for a day to find out more about her role as Principle Anatomist, the research she heads ups and how her passion for anatomy is being passed on to medical students, surgeons and researchers around the world.
9/5/201828 minutes, 11 seconds
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An Adventure in Skin

Body organs aren't all internal like the brain or the heart. There's one we wear on the outside. Skin is our largest organ, it covers over 2m2. This fleshy covering does a lot more than make us look presentable. In fact, without it, we'd literally evaporate. Skin acts as a waterproof, insulating shield, guarding the body against extremes of temperature, damaging sunlight, and harmful chemicals. It also exudes antibacterial substances that prevent infection and manufactures vitamin D for converting calcium into healthy bones. Our skin is a huge sensor packed with nerves for keeping the brain in touch with the outside world. At the same time, skin allows us free movement, proving itself an amazingly versatile organ. From the anatomy class to the skin labs of the future, this Brainwaves looks at this extraordinary organ that we all share and the science behind some cutting edge innovation happening to replace, repair and improve damaged skin.
8/29/201828 minutes, 12 seconds
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How to Stay Sharp

It's all very well being told that the best way to stave off ageing is to do, think, eat or behave in a certain way when you're young, but when you are young, you don't ever believe you're going to get old, so by the time you are getting old it's too late. You've frittered away you're entire youth partying, denying your body sleep and exercise and eating junk food so by the time you're 40, you look 50 and feel 60, aaaaaagh! But is it really too late? Is there something we could, should, might do in middle age to hold back the tidal wave of old age? Welcome to The Intervention Factory - an on-going Scottish research project, designed by Associate Professor from Heriot Watt, Dr Alan Gow, aimed at understanding which ordinary, everyday actions and behaviours could be the key to helping us stay sharper for longer. In this Brainwaves, Pennie Latin listens in to Alan's Edinburgh Fringe Show at the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas based on our cognitive decline and then explores the a piece of research called the What Keeps You Sharp survey which explores how accurate our own ideas are about what does and doesn't keep us younger for longer.
8/22/201828 minutes, 11 seconds
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Dr Thomas Bak

Should we offer language classes on the NHS? Could bilingualism be more beneficial than medication when it comes to a strong, healthy brain and is monolingualism making us ill? In this Brainwaves, Pennie Latin meets the man behind those bold ideas. Dr Thomas Bak is Reader in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh and clinical research fellow at the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic. A plurilingualist and Gaelic learner, originally from Poland, now based in Scotland his work focuses on the interaction between bilingualism and cognitive functions across our lifetime, in particular the effects of language learning in delaying diseases such as dementia.
8/15/201828 minutes, 12 seconds
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ME - The Invisible Disease

Brainwaves on ME. A story of confusion, misunderstanding, misdirection, misdiagnosis and misery.
1/24/201828 minutes, 11 seconds
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Prof Sethu Vijayakumar

What role will robots play in our lives in the future? We already interact with robots on a daily basis but with the development of intelligent, free-thinking robots our relationship with them will change. Sethu Vijayakumar, Professor of Robotics at the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh and judge on BBC2's Robot Wars, has spent his career in robotics pioneering the use of large scale machine learning techniques for use in healthcare, in our homes and in ground breaking unmanned missions to Mars, the precursor to a potential human Martian colony. We shouldn't be afraid of robots, he says. Instead we need to become comfortable that robots will be more efficient than us and make less mistakes than us. Our future is shared and fully autonomous robots. Humans just need to become content with relinquishing some control of our world. In this Brainwaves, Pennie Latin meets Sethu Vijayakumar in his lab in Edinburgh, along with some of his robots - from a relatively simple prosthetic forearm to one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world, Valkyrie.
1/17/201828 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Scottish Wildcat

Facing imminent extinction the Scottish Wildcat used to to be found widely across the country. Today the most optimistic population count suggests there are around 315 individual wildcats left and they are only in the north of Scotland. Experts have suggested we may have only 5 years to save the species. In response Scottish Wildcat Action is the first national conservation plan with a vision to restore viable population of Scottish wildcats into the Highlands. Their plan is a multifaceted approach. It involves tagging, tracking and mapping wildcats in their natural habitat. Domestic cat owners have a role to play too. The biggest threat to the wildcat is hybridisation with domestic and feral cats. Which begs the question should we be neutering domestic cats that are near wildcat habitats? And if all this fails should we follow what worked for the Iberian Lynx and develop a captive bred population with the intention of releasing them into the wild later on? But is it too late and at what cost? Should we really be ploughing all these resources and expertise into saving them? In this Brainwaves Pennie Latin meets some of the researchers, conservationists and scientists who are trying save the iconic Scottish Wildcat.
1/10/201828 minutes, 11 seconds
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Child Tissue Donation

Would you, could you or should you donate your body to science? That might be a hard enough question to answer but what about donating your children's tissue to research after their death. This is exactly the situation Sarah Gray and her husband found themselves in when one of their twins, Thomas, died. Thomas, was born with anencephaly and died 6 days after birth. Sarah and her husband donated Thomas's tissues for scientific research. With time Sarah's desire to know what Thomas's tissue has been used for got the better of her. She went on an extraordinary journey to understand the full extent of Thomas's legacy, visiting the institutions which had received parts of his liver and eyes and tracing the scientific impact of his donation. Joanne Mullarky is a research nurse at the University of Bradford's Human Tissue Bank. When she heard Sarah's story she changed the way she worked and now today thinks that a stronger relationship between academic institutions and donor parents is vital to increasing the amount of tissue donated. Tissue that is currently rarely donated. A Brainwaves special recorded in front a live audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Honest, thought provoking and profoundly moving, Sarah's story of Thomas's donation will question the way we think about life after death and the extraordinary gift of giving a dead body to science.
1/3/201828 minutes, 11 seconds
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Snow and Ice

An intricate yet delicate six sided crystal floats down to earth. It becomes powerful enough to carve our landscape. It is cold enough to kill us and if it becomes unstable it can move at hundreds of miles per hour. All this, yet that crystal is composed of one of life's absolute essentials, water. This Brainwaves is all about the surprising, quirky and fascinating science behind something we all experience in a Scottish winter - Snow and Ice. From the startling beauty of ice crystal formation to the science of drilling down to find the oldest ice on the planet. Pennie Latin climbs mountains, goes back in time and asks what makes the perfect snowball in this intriguing episode of Brainwaves that will make you look out the window wishing for the next snowfall.
12/27/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Adolescent Brain

Until recently, it was thought that our brains were fully developed by early childhood. Driven by the assumption that brain growth was pretty much complete by the time a child began school, scientists believed for years that the adolescent brain was essentially an adult one, only with fewer miles on it. But over the last two decades the scientific community has learned that the teenage years encompass vitally important stages of brain development and research has shown that the adolescent brain is still changing into early adulthood. This has impacts on learning and multitasking, stress and memory, sleep, addiction, and decision-making. For parents, these consequences often manifest themselves in a variety of behaviours. In this episode of Brainwaves on The Adolescent Brain, Pennie Latin examines the relatively young field of teenage neurology. Examining what science has discovered about brain functioning, wiring and capacity to try and explain how these eye-opening findings not only dispel commonly held myths, but also yield practical suggestions that will help adults and teenagers negotiate the often frustrating and misunderstood adolescent years.
12/20/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Lorna Dawson

A farmer's daughter from Angus, soil has been in Professor Lorna Dawson's family for generations. She just didn't expect her relationship with soil to lead her into a scientific career of solving crime. Now Principal Soil Scientist at the James Hutton Institute she has for over 25 years' researched soil and plant interactions. It was when she was an Edinburgh geology student that her mind was drawn towards forensics. One evening 2 teenage girls went missing from near her student halls, they turned up dead the next day. Little did Lorna know that one day she would become pivotal in the forensic case of The World's End murders. Her role as Head of the Soil Forensic Science Group has led her to work on over 70 criminal cases across the globe. It's the detailed analysis of the microbial DNA held within the soil that has led to her pioneering work becoming so effective at finding bodies, caches of drugs and overturning alibi's in courtrooms. There is however one case that she has been working on for several years which remains incomplete. In this episode of Brainwaves Pennie Latin joins Lorna Dawson on site as she starts a new search for the remains of the missing Scottish schoolgirl Moira Anderson.
4/5/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Vincent Janik

Underneath the waves of Scotland's seas there is a hive of communication going on. Clicks, shrieks, calls and whistles that can be heard for over 15kms. They are highly developed forms of communication, some evidence even shows local dialects among our two main native populations of Bottlenose dolphin in Scotland. What started as a career trying to work out the similarities between how animals and humans perceive the world around them led Professor Vincent Janik, Director of Scottish Oceans institute at St. Andrews University, to focussing his work on the nuances of how dolphins address each other, how they communicate. In this episode of Brainwaves Pennie Latin explores what makes dolphin communication some of the most advanced of the animal kingdom and what we can learn about the development of language and brain function in humans by comparing ourselves to the dolphins.
3/28/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Fracking doesn't just open up rocks, it divides all kinds of communities across Scotland. In January 2015 the Scottish Government announced a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing taking place in Scotland, putting in place ban on fracking shale rock for oil and gas, while they further consider the implications of fracking. Lots of us have heard the back and forth about whether we should or should not entertain fracking as an answer to our energy requirements in Scotland but how much of that is based strictly upon science? In this Brainwaves Pennie Latin explores the science of hydraulic fracturing as a method of extracting oil and gas from the carboniferous shale reserves of Scotland's Midland Valley and picks apart how a detailed understanding and analysis of Scotland's specific geology and landscape helps us to understand both what potential reserves of oil and gas there might be under our feet but also what are the possible implications of mining those reserves through fracking.
3/21/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Moon

We've been fascinated by it for thousands of years. It was the target of a 20th century technological arms race that would put the first humans in space and on extra-terrestrial soil, sparking exponential advances in spaceflight. Man got there, then left, and hasn't been back for 45 years. But now private investors, Kickstarter funds and international space agencies are clamouring to return. For something we see in the sky most nights it still holds an air of mystique. The Moon. As the European Space Agency prepares to land on the lunar surface again this episode of Brainwaves looks at the fascinating relationship between earth and its moon, hearing from those who have orbited the moon and those who are planning to return to it to form a human colony.
3/14/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Richard Morris

When Richard Morris was a physics student he volunteered to be a subject in a psychology experiment. It triggered a fascination with the brain that led to him become one of the world's leading neuroscientists. His lifetime work has focused on memory and why, in his own words, it's such an interesting thing. Consider what life would be like if we didn't have memory. Who would we be, how would we know our place in the world? In 2016 for his work looking at how we form memory and specifically the intricate cellular functions created during the memory making process, Professor Richard Morris was awarded The Brain Prize. It was walking past fish tanks in the back of a marine biology laboratory that originally gave him the idea for an experiment that would change the way we understand how memory is formed. An idea he himself describes as being ludicrously simple. The Water Maze became and still is a standard experiment used in labs around the world to analyse memory. This early work focused on how we form memory, today his fascination lies in what happens when our memory starts to fail. In this episode of Brainwaves, Pennie Latin explores our memory with Professor Richard Morris and why he thinks it's one of the grand challenges of neuroscience.
3/7/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Soundscape Ecology

The sound of the world around us provides us with key indicators to the health of our planet. How those sounds change over time and in space can show how the well-being of earth is changing, both naturally and through man's impact. Soundscape ecology is the study of nature's sounds - from the lapping of the ocean's waves and the rustle of leaves, to the rutting roars of red deer and the whistling of whales and dolphins. But the sound of our world is changing, advances in recording technology mean that we can now very easily listen to that change. But one of the key things for science though is being able to analyse that soundscape and relate it how the natural world is changing. In this episode of Brainwaves, Pennie Latin talks to those who have spent years recording the evolving soundscape of our planet, explores how the sound is being analysed and discovers how sound is being used to measure re-wilding in parts of the Highlands.
2/28/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Northern Lights

Everyone will remember the first time they saw the Northern Lights dance across the night sky. For some it will have been a deeply moving moment, for others, time to capture a photograph. For cultures and communities going back 100's of years the aurora borealis have meant many different things, from the spirits of the dead being whisked away to the omens of the Gods. Whatever your belief, it is impossible to not look at this mythical dance of colours in the night sky as anything other than beautiful. Plasma scientist, Dr Melanie Windridge has devoted herself to understanding the science of the aurora borealis and recording the human connection with them. In this episode of Brainwaves, Melanie explains why there are different colours, how the dancing waves of the lights are a kind of earthly Thai Chi and while the aurora might be beautiful it is actually vital to protect us from violent space weather as we become a more and more tech dependant world.
2/21/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Antimicrobial Resistance

If we do nothing, up to 10 million people a year across the globe will die due to drug resistant bacterial infections by 2050. Antimicrobial Resistance isn't just a massive international problem, it is a problem that faces every single one of us here in Scotland. Bacteria found in Scotland's population are already resistant to the antibiotics of last resort and according to Health Protection Scotland we are facing a substantial Public Health Risk. So what's the answer? That's something that researchers across Scotland are busy trying to crack both through innovation in diagnostics and treatment. On the treatment side, new technology already in use in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is cutting bacterial infection identification times from over 24 hours to nearer 24 minutes. Other researchers are suggesting the future lies in the past with a return to 'phage' therapy - a viable treatment for infection for over 100 years but the discovery of Penicillin and onset of antibiotic treatments pushed it to one side. Another angle of attack is through the pioneering research of the Cronin Group in Glasgow which is taking the fight back to the bacteria with a remarkable new concept - 3D printing bacteria identification kits. In this episode of Brainwaves, Pennie Latin meets some of the Scottish scientists fighting the global war against antimicrobial resistance to find out how we need to change our relationship with antibiotics and our attitude to the role of medicine in healthcare.
2/7/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Urban Mining

Time for your phone upgrade? What did you do with the old one? Stick it in a drawer, hand it back to your phone company or just throw it away. Have you ever considered that your smartphone might be a treasure trove of precious metals, a rich vein of gold, silver and platinum? Welcome to the world of the Urban Miners. And it's not just smartphones; almost anything with a circuit board contains precious metal of some sort. If you add up all the electronic and electrical waste across Scotland you have a small mountain of pre-loved devices and appliances. But stored within that mountain are rich seams of precious metals just waiting to be mined and potentially turned back into something else. In this episode of Brainwaves Pennie Latin discovers how gold is being retrieved from smartphones, platinum from road sweepings in richer and more environmentally friendly ways than the original mining process. This re-using of materials leads to the onset of the circular economy and potential for huge innovation, design and invention, which is being driven here in Scotland by the Institute of Remanufacture and Zero Waste Scotland who say that in a world of limited resources, re-using, re-furbishing and remanufacturing may be the only realistic way forward.
1/31/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Iain Stewart

Iain Stewart is Professor of Geoscience Communication at Plymouth University. What that really means is that he is a geologist that spends much of his time writing and talking about our planet - how it works, its volatile history and what all that means for those living on it. His work has involved not only looking back millions of years into our past, but trying to work out what we can learn about our future from the inter-relationships between people, places and the environment in our geological history. Recorded on one of Edinburgh's seven dormant volcanoes, in this episode of Brainwaves Iain Stewart explains how a better understanding of geoscience is far more than just the geology under our feet and how geologists around the world seem to be one lifelong fieldtrip where ever they go.
1/24/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Anatomy of a Stroke

Waking in his hotel room Eric Sinclair was paralysed down his left side, his mouth dry and his tongue heavy. He called for help, but all he could do was make a small squeaking sound. He knew very little about stroke until that day, but he was one of the 15,000 people a year who suffer a stroke. Stroke is the third commonest cause of death in Scotland and the most common cause of severe physical disability among adults. Of 100 people going into hospital alive, over a quarter won't survive the first year. Of those who do, many will be permanently disabled. Stroke doesn't just affect the elderly, it is unpredictable and can affect all ages. So what is it like to actually experience a stroke? What is happening inside the brain and body of a stroke patient as this attack on the brain unfolds and where has science got to in terms of explaining stroke, its prevention and the long path to recovery?
1/17/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Selfie

The selfie - just an exercise in self-obsessed narcissism or potential store for scientific research? A picture can tell far more than 1,000 words. A selfie can define you, it can locate you, it can help analyse air quality, they can track cultures and fashions and during the Rio Olympic Games a simple photograph between to Korean athletes crossed a political divide. The selfie is the artistic expression du jour and, love them or hate them, they're not going anywhere fast. But the selfie isn't a new thing, portraiture has been seen in art for centuries. So what is our fascination with the representation of our self and why do we want to share it with the world? In this episode of Brainwaves, Pennie Latin explores the science of the selfie, what they can tell us about ourselves and discovers how your selfies are helping scientists learn more about the world around us.
1/10/201728 minutes, 11 seconds
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Memories are made of this

What are strong memories made of? Why do we remember what we remember and which memories last, quite literally, a lifetime while others just fade away? In this Brainwaves special Pennie Latin investigates how our brain makes and retrieves memories; explores how memory changes over time and why we seem to remember certain stages of our lives and particular events more sharply than others and considers the memories which remain most precious as we age. Part of the BBC Scotland Memories and Conversations - New Approaches to Dementia season.
6/15/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Rank and Hierarchy

They say that power is seductive and that giving it up can be incredibly hard to do. But that is what David Erdal did when he turned his family run business into an employee owned company. He says the consequences for him were embarrassing, emotional, hugely psychologically complex but overall satisfying. He went from being the boss to being just the same as everyone else in the company. In this episode of Brainwaves, Pennie Latin looks at the role of rank and hierarchy in our society. She asks how much does it actually matter to us and what can we learn about ourselves by looking at rank and hierarchy in some of our nearest evolutionary neighbours, chimpanzees.
4/12/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Geoff Palmer

Born in Jamaica in 1940 Geoff Palmer arrived in the UK aged 14 years and 11 months with little formal education. Declared educationally sub-normal it was his ability on the cricket field that got him into a grammar school and started his scientific education that would eventually bring him to Heriot-Watt University and become the UK's first professor of Brewing and Distilling and Scotland's first black professor. His research into the grains and cereals, in particular the malting process changed the brewing industry and saved it millions of pounds. In the lecture theatre he took great delight in telling his students that they should be tasting beer as well as learning about how to make it. Now retired, it is with a sense of great pride that he can look at craft beers from across the world and taste the hard work of his former students.
4/5/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Hydrogen power

Surf n' Turf is a new pilot project on the Orkney island of Eday that aims to harness excess renewably generated electricity; store it as hydrogen and then make it available again as electricity to charge the inter-island ferries berthed overnight, in the soon to be developed hydrogen port at Kirkwall. The idea of using hydrogen as a source of power isn't new. Commercial scale electrolysis has been around for a couple of hundred years. Today there are already hydrogen cars and buses on our roads, prototype ships at sea and plans on paper for introducing it into aircraft, all powered by the most abundant element in the universe. However it is widely known that one of the biggest problems with renewable power is the intermittency of it, yet our demand for energy is constant. In this episode of Brainwaves, Pennie Latin explores whether hydrogen might overcome that intermittent problem and be the power source we all turn to in future.
3/29/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Andrew Morris

With access to our personal healthcare data, Professor Andrew Morris's research into diabetes informatics has already led to a reduction of diabetes related amputations by 50%. He aspires to see a year in his lifetime when there are no diabetes related amputations in Scotland. Our personal data is hugely valuable. Not just to us but to scientists, researchers and healthcare providers around the world. With access to vast amounts of information about us and our health, scientists like Andrew are able to examine population wide healthcare issues. By turning that vast amount of information into knowledge says Andrew you can improve healthcare provision across the entire country and make it more efficient at the same time. But with access to that information comes responsibility and a need for trust. In this episode of Brainwaves Pennie Latin meets Professor Andrew Morris, Director of The Farr Institute, Scotland to look at how data science and informatics are improving the health of Scotland.
3/15/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Queensferry Crossing

How many times have you turned on Radio Scotland only to hear that the Kessock, Skye and Dornoch bridges are closed to high sided vehicles and that there are speed restrictions on the Forth Road Bridge? The Scottish weather has a dramatic impact on Scotland's bridges, but if the scientists and engineers have got their sums right, that is about to change. The Queensferry Crossing will be the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world, it will be the highest bridge in the UK and with height comes wind. But the "weatherproofing" design of this bridge means that there shouldn't be any closures and restrictions due to weather. Due to open in 2016 during Scotland's year of Innovation, architecture and design, The Queensferry Crossing is combination of all three of these elements. In this episode of Brainwaves Pennie Latin meets the bridge designers and engineers to discover the science that is going into Scotland's latest feat of engineering.
3/8/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Dame Anne Glover

In 2009 to a wave of great acclaim in the scientific community a new role was created in Europe - the post of Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission, reporting directly to the President of the EC. The role was given to a prominent Scottish biochemist - the then Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government, Professor (now Dame) Anne Glover. However, it was a post that only lasted for 3 years. A long time ambassador of women in science, Professor Dame Anne Glover talks to Pennie Latin about her passion for communicating science to the mass audience, be they politicians, policy makers or prospective students. A keen sailor, who's ideal first date would be at one of Scotland's 5 interactive science centres she is now the Vice Principal of External Affairs at Aberdeen University, charged with communicating the University's work across the globe.
3/1/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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It used to be that fingerprints were the key to identification, then it was your DNA. Today voice recognition, iris scanning and vein mapping are just some of the biometric parameters used for identification. Your biometric information is the most personal data that you will ever possess. It defines you, it protects you and it can be the key to discovering your future. But we are slowly and sometimes unwittingly releasing this most of personal information. Biometrics are widely used to unlock smartphones, they are linked to your passport, they buy your children's school meals, banks want to use them to authorise transactions and facial recognition software is scanning the CCTV network. Biometrics are already part of our lives. But how easy are they forge? And more importantly how careful should we be about protecting this information? Can it ever be safe that you use your heartbeat as your signature? This episode of Brainwaves explores the very personal world of our biometric data.
2/23/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Lee Cronin

There can be an assumption that our top scientists sailed through school. They were the star students who found it all so very easy. But when Lee Cronin was put in the special needs class he became determined to prove everyone wrong. Now Dr Lee Cronin, Regius Chair of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow he heads up The Cronin Group, a multinational collective of over 50 research scientists revered around the globe. His work is underpinned by the ambition to discover the beginnings of life. Talking to Pennie Latin in his research lab Lee explains how he is trying to recreate the origins of life, how he handles the inevitable criticism of his work and the joy of building a 3D printer with his children.
2/16/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Psychology of Cheating

Children do it, athletes do it, lovers do it, we probably all do it in one way or another at some point in our lives...cheating. Cheating is a very common human trait. It starts to be seen from about 3 years old, there is something in our minds that helps us weigh up the potential gain against the potential costs and then we make a conscious decision to cheat or not. But why do we do it? Why do we try to get ahead unfairly when we know we could be caught and that would have consequences? In this episode of Brainwaves, Pennie Latin delves into the minds of those who've cheated and those who are out to try to understand what drives us to deceive, dupe and defraud.
2/9/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Donating Your Body to Science

What do you want to happen to your body when you die? Cremation? Woodland Burial? Maybe you'll have your ashes scattered at sea...perhaps you'd like to donate your body to science? Edinburgh outlaws, Burke and Hare made a living simply because cadavers were essential to anatomical education. Today cadavers are still essential to learning and research, the difference is today donating your body to science is a very different affair. In this edition of Brainwaves Pennie Latin looks into the who, what for and why of modern body donation. With extraordinary access to the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee, Pennie meets the medical students in the dissecting room who learn from the cadavers, the anatomists who use them for research and hears about the pioneering Thiel method of preservation that enables the cadavers to be used for a far wider range of research than traditional preservation techniques. Asking herself if she would donate her own body, Pennie sets out to discover what would happen to it. Her journey begins in the Val McDermid mortuary.
2/2/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Peter Higgs

When scientists at CERN confirmed the existence of the Higgs Boson in 2012, it made Edinburgh based theoretical physicist, Professor Peter Higgs, a household name across the globe. It was in 1964 that he first proposed a theory about the existence of a particle that explains why other particles have a mass. He says, despite the time gap, he was never in any doubt of its existence. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013 and more recently the Copley Medal by The Royal Society, placing him alongside some of the world's greatest scientific minds; Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Benjamin Franklin. In this episode of Brainwaves, Professor Peter Higgs talks to Pennie Latin about his life in physics, the discomfort of fame and his love of seafood.
1/26/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Flu Virus

From 1918-1919 it was the cause of more deaths globally than the first world war. It's estimated that 50 million people died. It struck again in 1957 taking over 60,000 more lives. And again in 1968 and again in 2009...and it's still out there, waiting, mutating, hunting for its next victim...that could be you. It's the flu. In this episode of Brainwaves Pennie Latin looks down the microscope at the flu virus to discover why it is such a worldwide problem and seemingly so difficult to combat, never mind eradicate once and for all. You can be involved in helping to combat flu because citizen science and social media are now being used to track the incidence of flu symptoms around the country, enabling scientists to discover more about the transmission of the virus. And Pennie will seek to find the definitive answer to the highly controversial question; 'Does man flu actually exist?'.
1/19/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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1/2 Million people in Scotland are discriminated against every single day. You cannot tell how by their gender, their skin colour or their religion. But watch them write their name or use a pair of scissors and you will see that they are left handed. Pennie Latin explores what makes us right or left handed and how our handedness affects who we are as individuals. In the past those who were not right handed were feared or shunned and many people today will still remember being forcibly retrained to use their right hand. So to find out how handedness controls how we do almost everything, BBC Radio Scotland along with Abertay University set up a "handedness lab" to test how competent we are at some very simple tasks with our non-dominant hand. Simple tasks are one thing. But what if, for example, you are a left handed pianist who would much prefer to play the more dexterous parts of the music with your dominant hand? Pennie, a right handed piano player, meets Christopher Seed, a left handed piano player to play the worlds very first left handed piano. Whichever side you fall, left or right handed, this episode of Brainwaves will affect every single one of us.
1/12/201628 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 14

Is there such a thing as a male or female brain? That question has fascinated us for centuries. Pennie Latin's at the Edinburgh International Science Festival for Brainwaves to discover if our gender differences are hardwired, imposed culturally or perhaps not even there at all. Joining Pennie to debate the topic are Professors Simon Baron Cohen, Polly Arnold, Richard Ribchester and Dr Gillian Brown.
4/13/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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For the love of bog

Brainwaves takes a look at that much-maligned, but globally rare, feature of the Scottish landscape: the peat bog. Pennie Latin explores two vast areas of bog in northern Scotland and finds out why they are key in the battle against climate change.
3/23/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Future of Blood

Within the next 15 years, we may not need to rely on the good will of blood donors. In pioneering work being carried out in Scotland into the manufacture of blood on demand, lives could be transformed. Pennie Latin meets Dr Jo Mountford of Glasgow University who is researching the manufacture of blood from embroynic stem cells, Professor Marc Turner of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and Trina who suffers from a rare blood disorder called thalassemia and relies on regular blood transfusions.
3/16/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Caroline Watt

In Brainwaves this week Pennie meets Dr Caroline Watt, a founder member of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh.
3/11/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 9

Stop for a minute and listen. Really listen. What does your typical day sound like? Pick out every sound and consciously decide if you like it or not. How does the sound around us affect us? What impact can sound have on our brain and body? In this week's Brainwaves, Pennie Latin explores the world of noise.
3/2/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 8

Professor Stuart Cunningham is the principal investigator in Physical Oceanography at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban. In 2014 he was named as oceanographer of the year for his "outstanding" contribution to the field. He talks to presenter Pennie Latin about sea gliders, sailing around the west coast of Scotland, ocean currents and climate change.
2/23/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 7

Does the life of a forensic pathologist bear any resemblence to their TV or fictional counterpart? Professor James Grieve has spent his whole working life as a forensic pathologist investigating murders, suicides and accidents in the north east of Scotland. He's been involved in many high profile cases alongside breakthroughs in genetic medicine at Aberdeen University. In Brainwaves, Pennie Latin meets Emeritus Professor in Forensic Medicine James Grieve to get an insight into the real world of forensic pathology whilst debunking a few myths along the way.
2/16/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Monkey Business

It's tempting to draw lots of parallels between us and our closest relatives in the primate world but the bottom line is that whilst we humans have evolved over the centuries, monkeys and chimpanzees haven't. In Brainwaves, Pennie Latin visits The Living Links Centre for the study of primates at Edinburgh Zoo to find out why our cultures and traditions are just so different. Professor Andy Whiten, Lewis Dean and Lara Wood of St Andrews university demonstrate to Pennie what the capuchin and squirrel monkeys at the Living Links field station are capable of.
2/9/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 5

Professor June Andrews is the head of Stirling University's Dementia Services Development Centre. She talks to presenter Pennie Latin about her career in nursing, what has kept her so deeply interested in geriatric care and why we should all be more open to talk about death and dying. Plus, how good lighting is just as effective as medication when it comes to treating dementia and why June herself doesn't fear the condition.
2/2/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 4

The protein P53 could hold the key to tackling cancer. Much of what we know about it comes from the work of Professor Karen Vousden, Director of Cancer Research UK at the Beatson Institute in Glasgow. In Brainwaves, Pennie Latin discovers how Karen's career path led her into the world of cancer research.
1/26/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 2

Astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was appointed as president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in October 2014 - the first female president of the 350-year-old organisation. In her first public engagement in the role, she speaks to presenter Pennie Latin in front of an audience at Irvine Royal Academy. The pair explore the deepest reaches of the universe in a conversation about pulsars, black holes, gender and Nobel Prizes.
1/19/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 3

This week Brainwaves looks into cyber security and privacy and finds out about a new breed of spy that has emerged in today's connected world. Presenter Pennie Latin talks to one woman who was targeted by a hacker who broke into various online accounts, gaining access to her friends and family. We'll also hear from the new centre for cyber security at the University of Edinburgh where researchers are trying to find better ways to protect our data. Are we likely to be using passwords in the future, or will there be far more sophisticated ways of keeping our digital life safe? And just how careful is Pennie with her own data? An ethical hacker delves into her digital footprint.
1/19/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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2015 was the International Year of Light and in Brainwaves, Pennie Latin explored the impact light has on all our lives with the help of landscape photographer, Colin Prior, expert in sleep and circadian rhythms, Professor Steve Lockley, a nightshift worker and someone who is rapidly losing light from their life.
1/5/201528 minutes, 11 seconds
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Edinburgh Science Festival

Mark Stephen presents a special edition of Brainwaves from the Edinburgh Science Festival with guests Professor Charles Spence of Oxford University, Amanda McDonald Crawley from New York and Andrew Barnett of the microbrewery, Barney's Beer. The theme will be sensory dining, exploring the science behind eating.
4/14/201428 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 12

In the year that Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games, another chance to hear our Brainwaves episode on competitiveness... Where does competitiveness come from? Are we born or bred competitive? And, does it actually make us any more likely to succeed in whatever field we choose to do battle?
3/24/201428 minutes, 12 seconds
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Obesity Figures in Scotland

As obesity figures in Scotland rise, Pennie Latin explores the science of hunger and diet. She talks to Dr Alex Johnstone and Dr Dan Crabtree from the Rowett Institute about their research, psychologist Professor Patrick O'Donnell and weight-loss surgeon Professor Duff Bruce as well as hearing the personal stories of the challenges of losing weight.
3/17/201428 minutes, 11 seconds
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Professor Sheila Rowan

This week, Pennie speaks to Professor Sheila Rowan, Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research at Glasgow University. Sheila is an astrophysicist whose work is concerned with creating the technology to detect gravitational waves in the universe. This is truly groundbreaking research, and if everything goes according to plan, the first wave detectors will be operational towards the end of the decade. Detecting gravitational waves should offer answers to some of the fundamental questions at the core of all of us - where did we come from and how did it all begin?
3/10/201428 minutes, 12 seconds
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Metal Mickey, R2D2, K9, proper walking, talking, interacting, arguing robots - the stuff of great science fiction. Up until now that's exactly where those kinds of robots have remained, between the covers of a book or credits of a film. However, in this Brainwaves we're looking at how tantalisingly close we are to making science fiction, science fact as we look at the developments in the world of robotics here in Scotland.
3/3/201428 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 8

As home energy bills soar our thoughts turn to ways of saving money. In this edition of Brainwaves, Pennie Latin finds out about the latest scientific developments in energy saving technology which might help us avoid fuel poverty and have more energy efficient homes.
2/24/201428 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 7

Pennie Latin is in conversation with Professor Helen Sang from the Roslin Institute. She hears about Helen's work with genetically modified chickens which could lead to the eradication of bird flu, the provision of food for the world's growing population and the production of drugs to treat diseases like cancer.
2/17/201428 minutes, 12 seconds
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The Science of Love and Attraction

For literally millennia we have written about it, sung about it, cried over it, fought duels and built monuments to it.....LOVE. You'd have thought by now we'd have figured it all out - how to spot, attract and land our perfect partner. However, just because we find someone visually appealing it doesn't necessarily mean we're going to 'click'. With Valentine's Day just around the corner this week Brainwaves puts love in the laboratory.
2/10/201428 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 5

This week, Pennie speaks to child psychiatrist, Dr Helen Minnis. Helen is a Senior Lecturer in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. Her research focusses on Reactive Attachment Disorder in children. She first observed this behaviour whilst working as a doctor in an orphanage in Guatemala. The children there showed no inhibitions when meeting new people, flocking to the feet of strangers. But when she returned to Scotland, she began to discover that children in Glasgow were also suffering from the condition, which is really the result of emotional neglect. Since then, her work has centred on diagnosing RAD in Scotland - it's thought that around 4 percent of children have it, roughly the same percentage as autism - and establishing a way of treating the condition. Helen also talks about how her work has influenced - or otherwise - her approach to bringing up her own children. But also the challenges - and advantages - of being a working mother in the scientific community.
2/3/201428 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 4

Screen Brain - These days most of us are surrounded by screens, be it computers at work and in the home, smartphones, tablets and televisions. But what are the effects of this high screen usage on our brains? We hear from Baroness Susan Greenfield, who claims that such behaviour will have a massive impact on our minds and the ways in which we interact with each other. Plus we gauge the current research taking place in Scotland in this area, which is in its infancy.
1/27/201428 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 3

Pennie Latin talks to Professor Muffy Calder OBE, Computer Scientist and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government. She finds out how Muffy used her computational modelling techniques in the battle against cancer, hears about her work with the Scottish government and her lifelong interest in science, music and the outdoors.
1/20/201428 minutes, 12 seconds
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The Truth Behind Bipolar Disorder

The term 'bipolar' has become common, not least because of celebrities like Stephen Fry and Catherine Zeta Jones being open about the fact that they have been diagnosed with it. But a decade ago, most people had never even heard of it. So what does bipolar actually mean? As part of BBC Radio Scotland's Mental Health season, Pennie Latin investigates the truth behind bipolar, how it manifests itself for people who have it and how scientists are working to try and understand the brains of people with the condition.
1/13/201428 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Addictive Brain

Why is it that some people find it easier to live a moderate life whilst others find it difficult to say no to another drink or piece of chocolate? Is there any truth behind the notion of 'an addictive personality'? Pennie Latin investigates the science behind addiction.
1/6/201428 minutes, 11 seconds