Even though it’s already part way through the 5th series of The Infinite Monkey Cage that we have discovered it, it’s still worth a massive shout out. It manages to take science and comedy and fuse them together like some kind of chimeric event (its the splicing of two organisms, by-the-way, to create a new one of epic proportions like the creation of the modern day cell. The concept derives its name from mythological chimera like griffons or Pegasus).
The 3rd episode in the fifth series was aired on Monday 6th December 2011 and as ever it’s brilliantly hosted by Dr Brian Cox (Wonders of the Universe) and stand up comedian Robin Ince, although just to confirm there is little evidence to suggest that one becomes a part of the other in this comedy/science symbiosis.
For any science buffs out there, you’ve probably already guessed that the episode was titled, The Origins of Life. Joined by comedian Tim Minchin (Larrikins), science broadcaster and biologist Adam Rutherford and biochemist Professor Nick Lane, Cox and Ince give a whistle stop tour of the science behind the spark that lit the touch paper for the creation of life on Earth.
Though the shows are only 30 minutes long and interspersed with much merriment, there’s also the odd one or two science nuggets that help you to understand things a little better, so even if you are a science buff you might still pick up on some new knowledge, like the existence of protein gradients in deep water thermal vents or the sweet reality of chemiosmosis. Either way, it’s definitely one of the most entertaining shows about science at the moment.
Episode 4 aired on Monday evening (12th Dec 2011) at 16:30, entitled The Science of Sound. Setting up shop in the BBC’s Philharmonic HQ, Cox and Ince were joined by the University of Salford’s acoustic expert Professor Trevor Cox, neuroscientist Professor Chris Plack and comedian and former acoustics student Tom Wrigglesworth to discuss the finer details of sound.
There were be 2 more episodes of the 5th series after that and the back catalogue can be listened to at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w, including: What’s the North Ever Done for Us? and A Balanced Programme on Balance. Series 4 is also available on iPlayer too.
The Infinite Monkey Cage entered its 8th series as of the 23rd June 2013 and with 6 episode per series they’ve now totted up a whopping 42 episodes to catch up on. Enjoy!