The return of The Infinite Monkey Cage

by Matthew Cobb

Given that Jerry’s in the UK at the moment, it’s appropriate that we should celebrate the return of one of the UK’s best science products, Radio 4′s The Infinite Monkey Cage. This is a 30 minute science comedy programme presented by comedian Robin Ince and my University of Manchester colleague Professor Brian Cox, a particle physicist (but don’t hold that against him).

The first episode, which appeared earlier today, looks at space exploration and has as its guests Sir Patrick Stewart (aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but with his genuine Yorkshire accent), former quantum physicist (and now actor) Ben Miller, and Professor of Planetary Sciences at the Open University, Monica Grady.

Image for Space: The Final Frontier

You can ALL listen to this, wherever you are in the world, on the BBC’s iPlayer here. (I don’t know why the BBC allows anyone anywhere to listen to the radio, but doesn’t let people watch TV on YouTube (see the WEIT discussion here). Stewart is asked what his favourite alien was – answers include a grain of rice and an oil slick…

Next week (I think) is about weird science, and includes Marc Abrams of Ignobel Prizes fame, comedian Katy Brand, and one of Brian Cox’s colleagues from the University of Manchester whose name escapes me…

14 Comments

  1. rodgerma
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this. I added the rss feed to my Juice, so now I’m all set for previous and future episodes :-)

  2. Marella
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    One of my favourite programs. I’m guessing they let the radio go out free but not the TV, because they don’t sell the radio programs overseas.

  3. Posted November 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    So, Matthew, does this mean you’ll soon be a caged monkey with a typewriter? If so, congratulations!

    b&

  4. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    According to Monica Grady, meteors burn up in the atmosphere (aka shooting stars), and meteorites successfully make it through and land upon Earth. But then she later says that the meteorite she was holding had a surface that had been burned and blackened — by air friction, obviously.

    So, if we now consider a place like the moon, or other planets with weaker atmospheres, we would presumably be able to find many meteorites that would not ever attain the status of “meteorite” on Earth.

    I must admit I’m a bit hornswoggled by this rather dubious distinction.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      That’s the definition of a meteorite as I understand it. Wikipedia confirms it (‘survives impact with the earth’s surface’ – obviously it has to reach the surface intact first).

      Certainly a small meteorite could be expected to be scorched by the time it hits the ground.

    • Thanny
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 5:29 am | Permalink

      It’s really not a dubious distinction at all. A meteoroid is a small bit of something floating around in space. A meteor is the vapor trail left by a meteoroid that hits an atmosphere and burns up completely. A meteorite is what hits the ground after you subtract the meteor from the meteoroid.

      • abrotherhoodofman
        Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        A meteorite is what hits the ground after you subtract the meteor from the meteoroid.

        Save me, Professor Pinker!!!
        ;)

  5. Brian Breczinski
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    “I don’t know why the BBC allows anyone anywhere to listen to the radio, but doesn’t let people watch TV on YouTube”

    Because they can make money off the TV (e.g. BBC America) but probably not off the radio.

  6. HaggisForBrains
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    Brilliant programme! I had the pleasure of seeing Robin Ince do stand-up in Dundee last year. Two hours of hilarious, nerdy humour: jokes about Schrödinger’s cat, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

    Colin.

  7. gravelinspector
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    The programme can be downloaded as a MP3 here too.

  8. aljones909
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Mildly interesting fact. Robin Ince (co-host)is the main man behind “Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People”. A pre-christmas comedy and music stage show.

  9. Posted November 21, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Interesting, (No I haven’t actually seen the article) I didn’t know “critical populationists” got militant


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