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  • Solvent being poured from a beaker
    Podcast

    Ionic liquids

    2020-11-20T15:14:00Z

    Liquid salts, ionic melts, fused salts, or ionic glasses – call them what you like, these much-hyped solvents show great promise

  • A surgeon dabs antiseptic onto a patient's skin before surgery
    Podcast

    Chlorhexidine

    2020-11-13T18:12:00Z

    An antimicrobial compound that kills bacteria and viruses quickly – found in some of the most colourful antiseptic solutions 

  • A basket of fresh asparagus
    Podcast

    Asparagusic Acid

    2020-11-06T10:15:00Z

    Does asparagus give you foul-smelling urine? Helen Arney investigates asparagusic acid, and the lavatorial genetic lottery that controls whether or not you can smell its distinctive aroma

  • An image of the cover of Written in Bone
    Podcast

    Book club – Written in Bone

    2020-11-04T10:00:00Z

    From the horrific to the absurd, forensic anthropologist Sue Black’s new book is a true pageturner

  • Black and red processed liquorice
    Podcast

    Glycyrrhizic acid

    2020-10-30T15:59:00Z

    A sweet treat with a deadly trick for Halloween – glycyrrhizic acid is found in black liquorice and sweeter than sucrose, but can cause heart problems and even prove fatal if consumed in excess

  • Several surgeons performing an operation
    Podcast

    Propofol

    2020-10-23T16:06:00Z

    Also known as ‘milk of amnesia’, propofol helps to prevent perception of pain in surgery – just don’t forget its dangerous side

  • Hepatitis C 3d rendering
    Podcast

    Sofosbuvir

    2020-10-16T15:10:00Z

    The hepatitis C drug that made waves when first launched – quicker to work and with fewer side effects than existing drugs, but it came with a hefty price tag

  • An image showing the book cover of The End of Everything
    Podcast

    Book club – The End of Everything

    2020-10-15T13:30:00Z

    It’s the end times for our universe with five scenarios that of how it might meet its ultimate demise

  • Pulmonary Tuberculosis chest X-ray
    Podcast

    Bedaquiline

    2020-10-09T16:50:00Z

    The first TB drug approved in 40 years gave hope to sufferers of drug resistant tuberculosis and ushered in a new class of antibiotics

  • A bleached coral reef
    Podcast

    Oxybenzone

    2020-10-02T18:00:00Z

    This summer’s extreme weather prompts Katrina Krämer to investigate the history of sunblock and the ingredient blamed by some for bleaching coral reefs

  • An image showing the book cover of United we are unstoppable
    Podcast

    Book club – United We Are Unstoppable

    2020-09-08T13:30:00Z

    60 young climate activitsts from 41 countries tell their stories of fighting for a sustainable future

  • An image showing the book cover of half lives
    Podcast

    Book club – Half Lives by Lucy Jane Santos

    2020-08-11T07:30:00Z

    From radioactive spa treatments to liquid sunshine, this book traces a forgotten part of chemistry history

  • Gypsum crystals of the Naica cave
    Podcast

    Gypsum

    2020-08-07T14:33:00Z

    From Lavoisier’s experiments with plaster of paris to the the ‘Sistine Chapel of crystals’ in Mexico, Mike Freemantle explores the history of gypsum 

  • A crowd of people walking in night shopping street at Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan
    Podcast

    Favipiravir

    2020-07-31T22:10:00Z

    Originally developed to treat flu and marketed in Japan as Avigan, promising Covid-19 trial results have seen countries stockpiling this medication by the millions

  • Pannage pigs in the New Forest
    Podcast

    Tannic acid

    2020-07-24T19:55:00Z

    Tannic acid in green acorns can kill wild animals and livestock, but you can prevent poisoning with pannage pigs

  • A piglet beside a feeding trough
    Podcast

    Ractopamine

    2020-07-17T19:26:00Z

    Common in the US but banned in the EU, this animal feed additive makes for muscular pigs and beefy international trade disputes.  

  • Hexasilabenzene chemical structure over an alien landscape
    Podcast

    Hexasilabenzene

    2020-07-10T17:10:00Z

    Brian Clegg discovers what a six-membered silicon ring can tell us about alien life

  • An image showing the book covers of the books discussed in the podcast
    Podcast

    Book club – Three books on pandemics

    2020-07-08T08:30:00Z

    We’re tackling the coronavirus information overload by discussing and comparing three books that offer different views on pandemics past and present

  • A binturong looking at the camera
    Podcast

    2AP (2-acetyl-1-pyrroline)

    2020-07-03T08:30:00Z

    Frances Addison on the aromatic compound found in both buttered popcorn and the bearcat’s scent glands, and responsible for the distinctive smell of both

  • Dexamethasone tablets
    Podcast

    Dexamethasone

    2020-06-26T19:02:00Z

    News that this cheap, ubiquitous steroid drug may reduce deaths in Covid-19 cases has been greeted with cautious optimism