As scientists keep finding ever more fascinating facts about the invisible housemates that share our homes, we dust off our episode on what might be lurking in quiet household corners or under our beds.
Marnie Chesterton reminds us how dust can contain all sorts of secrets about our habits and everyday lives, and Anand Jagatia bravely ventures into parts of our homes that are usually overlooked. He heads out on a microbial safari with expert tour guide Dr Jamie Lorimer from the University of Oxford to find out what kind of creatures are living in our kitchens, bathrooms and gardens - from bacteria normally found in undersea vents popping up in a kettle, to microbes quietly producing tiny nuggets of gold. For so long this hidden world has been one that we’ve routinely exterminated - but should we be exploring it too?
Presenters: Marnie Chesterton and Anand Jagatia. Produced by Jen Whyntie for BBC World Service.
(Photo: A woman using a damp sponge to clean dust collected on a window sill. Credit: Getty Images)
Bonus: 13 Minutes to the Moon
Introducing the new podcast about how humans reached the moon. Theme music by Hans Zimmer.
Search for 13 Minutes to the Moon or go to www.bbcworldservice.com/13Minutes
Could dark matter harbour dark life?
Where the conditions are right, life can arise. But what might the ‘right’ conditions be? Could the dark sector of our Universe be inhabited? That’s what Gautam from Delhi, India has been wondering. He points out that dark matter and dark energy make up around 95% of the Universe and the remaining segment is normal matter - the stuff we’re all made up of. Given that there’s so much of this dark material, could dark life have evolved? Marnie Chesterton investigates with Dr Matt Middleton, Dr Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil and Dr Renato Costa.
Together, they unpick what dark matter and dark energy are and test out some listener theories as to what these mysterious mediums might be. For instance, Yoseph from Ogden, USA questions whether black holes could account for the missing matter and it turns out, he might just be on to something…
Presented by Marnie Chesterton. Produced by Graihagh Jackson for BBC World Service.
(Photo: Arrangement of Nebula, Stars and a colourful galaxy. Credit: Getty Images)
How does a single cell become me?
Our bodies are made of cells, tens of trillions of cells. They all have particular roles and functions in the body, from digesting food, to producing hair, to hunting down pathogens. But all of this incredible complexity started as just a single cell.
Gila, from Israel, asked CrowdScience to find out how the development of incredible structures, and systems in the body are coordinated by the cells. Are cells communicating? How do cells know what they should be doing?
To find out, Geoff Marsh meets a Cambridge researcher uncovering the first cell division in our lives, and peers into a fertile chicken egg to see the developing embryo as it grows a limb. CrowdScience finds out why scientists like Dr Megan Davey use chickens to understand the development of human fingers and investigates how individual cells with the same DNA manage to choreograph a dance of cell replication, movement and communication to create our bodies in all of their complexity.
Presenter: Geoff Marsh
Producer: Rory Galloway
(Photo: Cells grouped together. Credit: Getty Images)
Did cooking make us human?
Many of us enjoy cooking – but when did we switch from eating our food raw, to heating it? Listener Logan enjoys his beef burgers rare, but wants to know why he still feels compelled to grill them? Presenter Anand Jagatia travels to a remote South African cave where our ancestors first used fire at least a million years ago, which one man says could help prove when our species started cooking.
And he talks to a scientist who shows how the composition of food changes when it’s cooked, to allow us more access to give us more access to calories - and hears how a completely raw food diet could have disastrous consequences for health.
Producer: Marijke Peters
Presenter Anand Jagatia
(Image: A large pan held over an open fire. Credit: Getty Images)