The Sound of Science

Fridays 9am – Sheffield Live! – 93.2FM

Show 81 first broadcast on 18th December 2009


This weeks show begins with another science cooking tip about denaturing the protein in your eggs. Next its the rise of the robot warriors and finally The genetic basis of intelligence.

The rise of the robot warrior?

This week’s featured interview is with Professor Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield – yes its me myself. This is an interview conducted by a young German journalist, whose name I have lost, following a talk that I gave to the Deursche Welle Global Media Forum on “Conflict prevention”. Deutsche is the german equivalent of the BBC World Service and they know how to throw a party. There were over 1200 of us there and they managed a massive party every evening. On one night we were all put on a massive boat ride down the rhine with great rock bands playing.

Back to the point: in this interview, I talk about some of the threats and dangers arising from the rapid rise of the application of robots by the military. It was recorded in June and listening to it now, it already seems a bit out of date because there have been so many new developments over the past six months. This is intended as a reminder that this is going on behind the scenes and hopefull it serves as a warning that might help to inhibit the growth just a little.

Genes the regulate intelligence

The regular monthly Cafe Scientifique slot is presented by Erick Taylor. It feature interviews and discussion with  Dr Tony Payton from the University of Manchester BIG APOLOGIES HERE FOR CALLING HIM TONY RYAN ON THE PROGRAMME – (that was the information given to me by Cafe Scientifique).

Dr Payton  talked about  identifying the risk factors for individual differences in age-related cognitive ability and decline and how that is amongst the greatest challenges facing the healthcare of older people. Cognitive impairment caused by “normal ageing” is a major contributor towards overall intellectual deficit in the elderly and a process that exhibits substantial variation within the population. Both cognitive ability and its decline with age are influenced by both our genes and the environment with interaction between the two.

Over the past fourteen years genetic research has aimed to identify the genetic variation responsible for high cognitive functioning and successful cognitive ageing. During this period a bewildering array of contrasting reports have appeared in the literature that have implicated over 50 genes with effect sizes ranging from 0.1 to 21 per cent. This talk will discuss the progress that’s been made in the field and the benefits and pitfalls of discovering genes that regulate intelligence.

Holiday arrangements for the Sound of Science

May I wish all of our podcast listeners and merry holiday season and a very happy new year. I hope that you will stick with us through next year.

The podcast will be off air for the next two weeks to return on 8th January, 2010. The programme will still go out live on Sheffield Live 93.2FM. This is because I am broadcasting some science fiction  plays based on the writings of my favourite sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. The station is licensed to air recorded material and pays a royalty fee but I am not licensed to podcast the material.

BUT: I will be putting a link here to the radio station site each week so that you can pick it up directly from them so you wont lose out.


December 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment