Flâneur and irrepressible commentator, Rick Edwards, and "Indiana Jones in a lab coat" Dr. Michael Brooks, delve into the science behind popular culture.

Natural Sciences
8: Episode 100: The Invisible Man
Will we ever be able to turn invisible? The idea of magically disappearing has fascinated humanity for centuries. Once dismissed as impossible, a promising new wave of technologies could bring this dream one step closer to reality. Rick and Michael wra...
39 min
7: Dark Waters
Have we all been poisoned? PFAS chemicals are all around us and almost certainly in your blood. But just how worried should we be? Michael sits down with Mark Ruffalo and Rob Bilott to talk about the shocking true story behind Dark Waters.Link to Rob B...
40 min
6: Robocop
Will we inevitably all become Cyborgs? More than ever, we’re hearing from Silicon Valley types that humans are going to need to merge with machines. But just what would our augmented future look like? Rick and Michael plug in to the techno-dystopian cl...
40 min
5: Silence of The Lambs
Why aren’t there more cannibals? Through the unforgettable horror of Silence Of The Lambs, Rick and Michael discover that eating your own has all sorts of surprising evolutionary benefits. So why have humans (for the most part) given it up? Time to set...
35 min
4: Star Wars
Is the Force a real thing? Michael takes Rick on a mind bending tour through a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars! Crucial questions will be answered: did Luke Skywalker get his powers from a parasite? Can we use quantum entanglement to summon a lightsa...
38 min
3: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Looking to escape to another reality? Why not try a virtual one? In this episode Rick and Michael get sucked into the world of Jumanji, as they pose the question on everybody's mind's right now, "could we ever live in a game?" Wheth...
37 min
2: Game Of Thrones (Live)
Rick and Michael go full Westeros at a special live show from the Underbelly comedy festival. So, could you really build an Ice Wall that big without using magic? Could a Dragon really fly and breathe fire? And the big one - just how bad is incest real...
45 min
1: Jaws
Is there such a thing as a perfect predator? Rick and Michael kick off Season 5 with the mother of all blockbusters, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece Jaws. From a deep dive into the evolution of predation, to a nasty encounter with Free Willy, the b...
37 min
12: History of the World: Part 1
How much does Geography inform History? Why did humanity first emerge where it did? What influence do ancient rock formations have on U.S politics? In the final episode of the season, Rick and Michael try to answer all this and more, diving into Mel Br...
38 min
11: Deadpool
Will we ever be able to regrow limbs? The more we learn about the incredible regenerative abilities of salamanders and planarian worms, the closer we come to coaxing our bodies into repairing any injury. Through Marvel’s Deadpool, Rick and Michael tack...
37 min
10: Inside Out
Personality testing is a multi-billion dollar industry. But how reliable are assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? Can we really find out which Lord of the Rings character Michael is? Rounding off our animated classics trilogy of animated c...
36 min
9: Antz
Does nature prefer hierarchy? When we look out into nature, we see hierarchical systems everywhere. Is it inevitable that humans follow suit? The lads dive into the 1998 animation Antz to find out why these systems evolved and more importantly, how wro...
34 min
Every year we produce over 2 billion tonnes of waste. That figure is only going up. Never before has the question been more pressing: what should we do with all our stuff? From atop a giant pile of broken printers, Rick and Michael discuss Pixar’s 2008...
37 min
7: Geostorm
What if we could control the weather? Inspired by the futuristic disaster film Geostorm, the boys delve into the contentious field of geoengineering. Can or should we tinker with the Earth’s climate to mitigate the risks of runaway climate change? What...
37 min
6: Icarus
When Bryan Fogel’s 2017 docu-thriller Icarus exposed Russia's Olympic doping programme, it sent shockwaves through the sports community. This week the boys explore the long and bizarre history of doping in sport and the perpetual arms race between...
31 min
5: Dante's Peak
Without volcanoes there would be no life on Earth. But just how afraid of supervolcanoes - like the one in Yellowstone National Park - should we be? Inspired by 90s disaster movie Dante’s Peak, the boys explore just how bad it could get for humanity an...
34 min
4: Westworld
What better way to kick off Christmas than a deep dive into the ethics of sex robots? Exploring the science and pitfalls of dystopian drama Westworld, the boys sit down with renowned computer scientist Kate Devlin to discuss her new book ‘Turned On: Sc...
33 min
3: Blindness
Could we be on the cusp of eradicating vision loss? Through the 2008 epidemic thriller ‘Blindness’, the boys explore the mind-boggling complexity of the eye and the conditions that led to its evolution in the animal kingdom. With tens of millions of pe...
34 min
2: Moonraker
With the declaration of Trump’s ‘Space Force’, the domain of space is ever closer to becoming a new and potentially terrifying theatre of war. Through the Roger Moore classic Moonraker, the boys examine our reliance on vulnerable satellites and the ram...
32 min
1: Fight Club
To kick off Series 4, Michael asked Rick to hit him as hard as he can… with knowledge! Through the Brad Pitt/Ed Norton classic Fight Club, the boys dive headfirst into the uncomfortable world of pain research. From the world’s most painful ailments, to...
33 min
33: Is LIGO right?
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics went to ‘a discovery that shook the world’, gravitational waves. These were detected by the LIGO experiment, a century after Einstein first predicted them. But behind the celebration, another story has been brewing which...
35 min
32: First Man
Just 66 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight, humans somehow managed to put a man on the moon. How did this happen? In this bonus episode, the boys mark the release of the film First Man by delving into the perilous science behind the original...
37 min
31: Pi
Do some numbers have special significance? Inspired by Darren Aronofsky’s film Pi, Rick and Michael explore the greatest numbers known to humankind. From the mercurial zero which medieval Italy declared “illegal”, to the golden ratio that can explain s...
38 min
30: Doctor Strange
Can meditation change your brain? Rick and Michael take a moment to reconnect with their breath and journey into the mystical science behind the film Doctor Strange. Exploring how monks use meditation to stave off hypothermia and send their gamma brain...
34 min
29: Frankenstein
Could we create Frankenstein’s monster? The boys celebrate the 200th year anniversary of Mary Shelley’s genre-defining novel with a deep-dive into the underbelly of science: from grave-robbing and re-animating the dead, to the cutting edge of synthetic...
42 min
28: Rounders
Can science beat the casino? Through the Matt Damon-Ed Norton classic Rounders, the boys explore how mathematicians have tried to conquer the world of gambling. From gaming the national lottery to blackjack and roulette, there’s more to probability the...
38 min
27: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
What if our universe is just a giant computer? In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the Earth is just a computer calculating the meaning of life, and in this episode the boys tackle one of the boldest claims of modern science: that everything we thi...
37 min
26: The Dead Zone
Are we any good at predicting the future? Through David Cronenberg’s film The Dead Zone, the boys explore the fiendishly difficult science of foretelling the course of history. Why do the professional pundits get it wrong so often? Might you have what ...
39 min
25: Nightmare on Elm Street
‘Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep...’ These iconic words from the 80s classic A Nightmare on Elm Street have got the boys thinking: from sleep paralysis to insomnia to narcolepsy, what’s actually happening when sleep goes wrong? Are we all living thr...
40 min
24: Knight Rider
With the utopian vision of a driverless world hitting the headlines, the boys cut through the hype by exploring the science of fully autonomous vehicles through the TV series Knight Rider. Will we really be better off without humans behind the wheel? A...
37 min
23: Get Out
Does hypnosis work? Science(ish) explores the mend-bending neuroscience behind the Oscar-winning film Get Out. If you think your brain perceives reality in an fixed way, it’s time you opened the door to the world of hypnotic suggestion, trance-inducing...
36 min
22: Enigma
Can we create an unbreakable code? Through the film Enigma, Science(ish) delves into the murky history of cryptography and the hunt for the perfect cipher. Our modern world so fundamentally relies on secure digital communication and yet current ‘state-...
37 min
21: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Inspired by the latest blockbuster Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, the boys explore the alarming science of extinction. Humans may have conquered the planet, but have we also triggered the “6th Mass Extinction Event”? With the future of life on Earth in...
41 min
20: Still Alice
Could we ever cure dementia? Science(ish) takes on one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century: unravelling the science of Alzheimer’s disease. From chance discoveries to next generation brain imaging, the search for a cure is now b...
33 min
19: Ice Age
Is there another ice age coming? And if so, when? Delving into the science behind the animated film Ice Age, Rick and Michael explore the most fundamental question that we all ponder while eating our breakfast cereal: could we survive the next ice age?...
26 min
18: Good Will Hunting
It’s the question all Science(ish) listeners have asked themselves: what’s makes me a genius? With the all-time classic Good Will Hunting, Rick and Michael explore the neuroscience of truly exceptional intelligence and creativity. Is genius innate or c...
34 min
17: Chain Reaction
If Keanu Reeves can create a revolutionary new energy source in the film Chain Reaction, then why can’t we do the same in real life? Rick and Michael tackle the challenge of getting nuclear fusion - the ‘Holy Grail of Energy’ - to work on Earth. From s...
32 min
16: Demolition man
Coming straight from the very 90s classic Demolition Man, Rick and Michael tackle the science of freezing yourself in time: from human cryogenics to anti-freeze frogs who scoff in the face of winter, might we all be signing up to be frozen in the futur...
31 min
15: Rick and Morty
Rick and Michael delve into the world of the animated sitcom which (very nearly) bears their name: Rick and Morty. It’s time for quantum theory, parallel realities, and the end of physics as we know it in this extra-special LIVE episode. Haven’t you al...
46 min
14: Seven Pounds
Donating a kidney to a total stranger you’ll never meet sounds crazy - but then why do hundreds of people voluntarily do it every year? This week Rick and Michael tackle the neuroscience of empathy with the film Seven Pounds. Is there really no such th...
33 min
13: Contagion
Science(ish) marks the 100-year anniversary of the devastating Spanish Flu outbreak by exploring the real threat behind the film Contagion: How vulnerable are we to the next deadly pandemic? Are we ready for it? And will you stop touching your face so ...
34 min
12: Altered Carbon
Inspired by Netflix series Altered Carbon, Rick and Michael tackle the science behind Silicon Valley’s ultimate wet dream: uploading our minds to a computer. Isn’t it time you moved beyond your pathetic human biology and treated yourself to an upgrade?...
33 min
11: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Could we reverse ageing and live forever? Science(ish) confronts our own mortality and explores the growing field of research which is bringing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button closer to reality. Might immortality be possible? And what would you be ...
34 min
10: The Machine Stops
Inspired by the 109-year-old novel ‘The Machine Stops’ which remarkably predicted the internet as we know it today, Rick and Michael explore whether someone could ever switch our machine off - and if the internet might someday ‘wake up’?Featuring: Pr...
35 min
9: Dr Strangelove
With the Doomsday Clock now at two minutes to midnight, the boys go nuclear and explore the legendary political satire Dr. Strangelove. Could Trump fire off a nuke like he fires off a tweet? And how close are we to complete annihilation? The questions ...
37 min
8: The Cell
Through the sci-fi horror ‘The Cell’, Rick and Michael delve into the murky ‘grey zone of consciousness’ which separates life from death. Their quest: to discover if we could communicate with someone in a coma.Featuring: Prof Adrian Owen
28 min
7: The Day of the Triffids
A treat for all the vegans out there. Rick and Michael tackle John Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids’, exploring whether plants can think, feel, and learn. And of course, the most fundamental question of all: who’s the real master of the earth - human...
29 min
6: Hackers
With the help of a real-life hacker, Rick and Michael go worldwide(web) by asking 'how vulnerable are we to hackers?'. We're talking Stuxnet, the internet of things, and baby monitors that talk back.Featuring: Jake Davis (formerly; Top...
34 min
5: Limitless
Michael decides it’s time to get cerebral and opts for Neil Burger’s ‘Limitless’. We’re talking brain myths, we’re talking nootropics, and of course, we’re talking/taking modafinil.Featuring: Professor Barbara Sahakian
29 min
4: Flatliners
The boys go deadly serious with 1990 sci-fi classic ‘Flatliners’. Brain death, consciousness, and everything in between.Featuring: Professor Leslie WhetstineProduced By: Max SandersonSound Designer: Ivor Manley
26 min
3: Children of Men
Michael continues the dystopia with Alfonso Cuarón’s fertility thriller ‘Children of Men’ by asking ‘could humans go infertile?’ (Includes hints of a mid-life crisis from a certain Rick Edwards - not to be missed).Featuring: Professor Shanna Swan
29 min
2: Never Let Me Go
After 3 years of asking, Rick finally gets his dream episode with Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ (apparently; also a film). Ghost hearts, chimeras, and sentient pigs - what more could you want?Featuring: Dr Jun Wu
36 min
1: Arrival
The boys start the new series with a bang. And a new format. One question, one scientist, plenty of relatively well-informed chat. To kick off, Rick and Michael go extra-terrestrial with 2016’s linguistic thriller ‘Arrival’. We’re talking a hundred wor...
33 min
Science(ish) Season Three Trailer
Science(ish) is back! As of Thursday 15th February 2018, Rick Edwards and Dr Michael Brooks will be beaming into your ears every week and tackling the biggest scientific questions behind popular fiction. From holding conversations with aliens, to wheth...
4 min
Science(ish) Christmas Special, Series 2 Episode 8
Rick and Michael decide to get nostalgic with a festive wrap of Season 2 by revisiting their favourite questions. We're talking fringe theories, we're talking spider goats, and we're talking simulated universes. Happy Christmas everyone!...
36 min
Gattaca – Live from The Wigtown Book Festival, ...
To celebrate the release of the Science(ish) book, Rick and Michael travel to the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland to record a special live episode on dystopian classic 'Gattaca'. Are we more than our genes? Can they predict our future? And ...
58 min
Armageddon, Series 2 Episode 6
Rick and Michael cast their eyes to space and go asteroid-hunting as per Michael Bay’s 1998 disaster classic ‘Armageddon’. How can we spot ‘em? How can we destroy ‘em? And how can an army of painter-decorators potentially save the day?https://radiowo...
52 min
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Series 2...
Rick and Michael take a trip down memory lane, as told through the romantic science fiction comedy-drama (yes; that’s a thing) ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. What is a memory? How reliable are they? Can we selectively erase them? And, of cour...
51 min
The Fly, Series 2 Episode 4
The Brooks-Edwards hybrid delves into the world of chimeras, as seen in David Cronenberg’s classic ‘The Fly’. We’re talking teleportation. We’re talking spider-goats. We’re talking the “Brundlefly.” Be afraid, be very afraid.
53 min
Perfume, Series 2 Episode 3
Rick and Michael delve into the world of olfaction, as seen through the lens of Patrick Süskind’s psychopathic thriller ‘Perfume’. How do we smell? How can it affect us? And is Lynx Africa the world’s most perfect scent?
52 min
Special(ish) 023 – Big Data Brother
Co-founder of The Open Data Institute, Sir Nigel Shadbolt, elaborates on the themes explored in the latest Scienceish,1984: How easy has surveillance become in an age of Big Data and – counter intuitive as it may seem - is making our data public th...
6 min
1984, Series 2 Episode 2
Rick and Michael delve into the 1949 classic in search of answers. Are humans fatally vulnerable to authority? Does our behaviour change when we think we’re being watched? And are we currently living in 1984? Uplifting stuff.
57 min
The Matrix, Series 2 Episode 1
Taking a trip down a Matrix-inspired rabbit hole, the boys ponder the potential for ‘bullet time’, the science behind becoming an instant Kung Fu expert, and whether our universe is, in fact, a computer simulation. Standard.
65 min
Scienceish Season Two Trailer
Scienceish is BACK! On VALENTINE'S DAY! With that classic love story...THE MATRIX. Listen to the trailer now.
3 min
Special(ish) 022 – The Red Planet
Dr Joe Michalski talks us through the terrain of Mars. Michalski specialises in the mineralogical and geomorphic studies of the Red Planet. Turns out we've got more in common with the martians than we thought.
17 min
Special(ish) 021 – Mauna Loa
Dr Sheyna Gifford has just emerged from Earth's longest NASA-sponsored simulated Mars mission. As chief medic for MARS 500, she lived for a year in a dome on Hawaiian mountain Mauna Loa. Here Gifford muses over the mission.
15 min
017 – The Martian
The boys are back in the studio to tackle Ridley Scott’s blockbuster ‘The Martian’. With a manned mission to Mars on the cards, some of the big cosmic questions need answering: How are we going to get there? Will we survive?
60 min
016 – Her
Live from the British Science Festival, Rick and Michael unpack Spike Jonze’s computer love story “Her”. Featuring the disembodied voices of author and psychotherapist Dr Aaron Balick and web psychologist Nathalie Nahai.
74 min
Special(ish) 019 – Flight to Mars
In anticipation of our forthcoming Science(ish) episode, we sonically explore one man’s survival on the red planet in this musical edition of Special(ish).
12 min
Special(ish) 018 – Harmon-E
In this episode, eHarmony’s data scientist Jon Morra discusses the ways in which machine learning and data science are applied to help connect people for successful long term relationships.
9 min
Special(ish) 017 – The Uncanny
Is flesh and blood still necessary to be considered alive? Writer and psychotherapist Dr Aaron Balick and web psychologist Nathalie Nahai draw on Freud’s definition of 'The Uncanny’ to ponder the future of human level AI.
7 min
015 – Big Data
Science(ish) goes live as part of Science Museum Lates. In this special podcast recording, Rick and Michael delve into the blockbuster data movies Her, Ex Machina and Enemy of the State live on stage with some special guests.
47 min
Special(ish) 016 – Finding Your Voice
In advance of our next Science(ish) on ‘Her’, a film starring Scarlett Johansson’s disembodied voice, we speak to leading speech therapist Christella Antoni. Here Antoni explains the process of male-to-female voice modification.
5 min
Special(ish) 015 – Back to Reality
How realistic is the classroom staple Lord of the Flies? Would children really devolve from civilised schoolboys to murderous prepubescents in a matter of days? We talk to teachers and students past and present for their views.
6 min
014 – Lord Of The Flies
In this episode Rick and Michael dissect the 1954 novel Lord of the Flies by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding.
45 min
Special(ish) 014 – Piggy in the Middle
From test tube babies on Bear Grylls' 'The Island' to a violent end for poor little piggy, Rick and Michael offer an especially scientific (and potentially unethical) preview of our next Science(ish) episode, Lord of the Flies.
9 min
Special(ish) 013 – King of the Swingers
If you thought we were the only species capable of infidelity, think again. In this episode of Special(ish), Rick and Michael explore the cunning world of animal deception with help from primatologist, Dr. Kit Opie.
7 min
013 – The Abyss
Rick & Michael delve into the underwater world of James Cameron’s 'The Abyss'. Ignoring, as Michael puts it “those silly wet aliens” this episode explores the limits of the human body, liquid breathing & what lurks in the deep.https...
44 min
Special(ish) 012 – Stuck in the Mud
In 1990 Professor Cindy Lee Van Dover became the first woman to pilot deep-ocean submersible Alvin. In anticipation of Science(ish) episode 'The Abyss’, Cindy recalls a particularly sticky dive involving Alvin and the seabed.
5 min
Special(ish) 011 – The Deep
In this Specialish, world scuba diving record holder Verna Du Preez describes her experiences of the deep and talks about just how difficult it is to ascend. Dr Oliver Firth offers insight into the extreme physiology of diving.
11 min
012 – Alien
The boys return to the outer expanses of the universe. This time, they’re not after black holes but ET, as depicted in Ridley Scott’s classic ‘Alien’. Are we alone? What will ‘it’ look like? And are ‘they’ already amongst us?
48 min
Special(ish) 010 – The Great Escape
Rick and Michael deliver some strong science chat about Inky the escaping octopus, a slippery little fella who managed to slide out of his tank and make a break for the pacific ocean. But what does this mean for evolution?
5 min
Special(ish) 009 – Here Be Dragons
Throughout the centuries, stories of monsters and mythic creatures have remained a constant narrative presence. But what role have they played? And is the search for ET just the latest chapter in this ever-evolving tale?
5 min
Special(ish) 008 – Dark Night
Chris French, a professor of psychology who specialises in paranormal belief and ostensibly paranormal experiences, takes us through the terrifying ordeal of sleep paralysis and its surprising link to alien abduction.
7 min
Special(ish) 007 – Area 51
At the southern tip of the Nevada Desert lies an area shrouded in mystery. With aliens, spaceships, and mind control, all said to be part of its history – Area 51 is a melting pot of conspiracy.
11 min
011 – Minority Report
Michael and Rick gaze into the criminal crystal ball, as per Spielberg’s 2002 thriller Minority Report. Can we predict a criminal? Should we pre-convict them? And is the Universe pre-determined? Standard.
49 min
Special(ish) 006 – A Criminal Mind
Neuroscientist Jim Fallon spent years searching for patterns in the brain scans that he saw. But it wasn’t until he turned to the scans of his own brain that he stumbled upon his biggest discovery yet.
7 min
Special(ish) 005 – Pale Blue Dot
Milan Kundera once wrote; “While pondering the infinity of the stars, we ignore the infinity of our father.” We asked experts from our Interstellar episode if they agree.
8 min
010 – Interstellar
The boys go intergalactic with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. We’re talking gravity, we’re talking black holes, and we’re talking the theory of how every single thing in our universe came into existence. No biggie.
49 min
Special(ish) 004 – Life on Mars
In anticipation of the next episode of Science(ish), we hear how the search for other habitable planets has well and truly begun.
11 min
Special(ish) 003 – A Head Above
Transhumanist and neurosurgeon Dr Sergio Canavero shares his big plans for 2017, which include a sharp knife, some polyethylene glycol, and a pair of human heads.
12 min
009 – Planet of the Apes
The boys go back to basics with an exploration of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. How did we humans end up on top? Could the apes ever take over? And of course will dolphins ever have hands?
44 min
Special(ish) 002 – Rise of the Machines
Following AlphaGo’s trouncing of the World ‘Go’ champion, we’ve pulled some unheard material from our Ex-Machina episode about the potential impacts of the ever-extending arm of AI, as told by contributor Jeremy Howard.
8 min
Special(ish) 001 – Sticks & Stones
The very first instalment of our Special(ish) sees the boys dwell on some recent field research that blurs the line between animal and human. A sign of things to come in the next episode of Science(ish), Planet of the Apes.
10 min
008 – The Circle
What’s the Internet doing to us? Are we being controlled by our office spaces? How transparent is online transparency? Michael, Rick and web psychologist Nathalie Nahai dissect Dave Eggars’ dystopian masterpiece The Circle.
50 min
007 – Ex Machina
Dr Michael Brooks and Rick Edwards delve into the murky world of Artificial Intelligence as depicted in Alex Garland's masterpiece Ex Machina.
53 min
006 – The Time Machine
Dr Michael ‘Morlock’ Brooks and Rick ‘Eloi’ Edwards transcend time and explore the future of humanity.
47 min
005 – Comics
Tackling all things super - the boys delve into the world of comics, superheroes and villains. Along the way, they take a look at the weird and wonderful history of animals in warfare, the power of poisonous plants, and reveal that we're a lot clo...
46 min
004 – The Day After Tomorrow
Dr Michael Brooks and Rick Edwards take on a world covered in ice – as depicted in The Day After Tomorrow – both literally and metaphorically. Along the way, they talk climate change, climate skeptics and, of course, salmon bacon.https://radiowolfgan...
42 min
003 – Jurassic Park
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a T-Rex? No! It’s a woolly mammoth. And it’s back from the dead. Maybe. Soon. Michael and Rick are on the case.
45 min