Hosted by Prof Brian Cox and Robin Ince, this six-episode season of the popular science/comedy BBC Radio 4 series The Infinite Monkey Cage covers fascinating new ground, including how to survive a shark attack by tickling it and redefining grass as a “narcissistic quantum computer.” Lucy Cooke recounts her near death via frog experience, and we learn that multiple panelists in episode two (Fierce Creatures) have been bitten by the Bullet Ant, one of the top four post painful animal bites in the world.
Professor Brian Cox is a particle physicist and science popularizer. He works at CERN and teaches at University of Manchester. He co-hosts The Infinite Monkey Cage and a series of TV documentaries. @profBrianCox
Discussions on previous topics like pseudoscience, astronomy, and psychology are furthered. Children under the age of five do not naturally have arachnophobia. Unrelatedly, in an experiment, while only 50% of three-year-olds lie, every single five-year-old lies. Also, I’ll never look at mushrooms the same, now knowing that fungi are closer related to animals than to plants.
Robin Ince is a standup comedian. He co-hosts The Infinite Monkey Cage, Book Shambles, and Vitriola Music podcasts. He founded the science app Cosmic Genome. He authored Robin Ince’s Bad Book Club and edited the Dead Funny books. @robinince
When drawing a Q on your forehead, if you put the tail to your right eye, you are an honest person, if to the left, you are good at lying.
Best panelists of the season:
- Returning guest Richard Wiseman, who got a laugh after introducing himself (honestly) as a magician. I’m always thrilled to hear Wiseman speak, ever since the first episode I listened to where he explained sleep paralysis hallucinations.
- Jim Al-Khalili, who I’d recently read about in Discover magazine. It was very difficult to wrap my head around his connections between quantum physics and biology, but it sounds like some of the science community is finally taking quantum biology seriously.
- Jo Brand, another returning favorite. While it would have been better to have an episode about neurology or psychology with her background in a mental health profession, listening to her speak on the subject of our solar system is just as wonderful.
- Lee Mack, someone I never thought in a million years would guest on Monkey Cage, but a nice surprise and something he pulled off, even if he doesn’t have science in his background. His son’s updated version of “What’s brown and sticky” went down a storm in this household, at least with the under-sixes crowd.
- Ben Goldacre. I approve of his vapid and horrified reaction to the holistic, pseudoscience health industry.
- Simon Singh, Ed Byrne, and Lucy Cooke were also favorites.