The pigeon, the antenna and me

3 minutes

How pigeon droppings nearly derailed a massive discovery in cosmology

Great cosmology research requires accounting for an enormous number of variables, everything from nuclear detonations to bird droppings. In this animation from Nature, the American radio astronomer Robert Wilson discusses how a pair of pigeons living in a large antenna frustrated attempts to measure the minimum brightness of the sky. Even once the pigeons were removed, the measurements still weren’t right. The issue, it turned out, was cosmic microwave background radiation left behind by the Big Bang – a discovery that would eventually earn Wilson part of the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics.

Video by Dog & Rabbit

Video/Life Stages

Harlem’s over-55s synchronised swimming team thinks ageing is better in the pool

4 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Philosophy of Religion

How wonder – the linchpin of inspiration and inquiry – makes humans unique

4 minutes

Video/Demography & Migration

The island where 50 million crabs roam free and refugees are trapped in limbo

21 minutes

Essay/Quantum Theory

Quantum common sense

Despite its confounding reputation, quantum mechanics both guides and helps explain human intuition

Philip Ball

Video/Cosmology

The Sun – our steady, reliable companion – tells a very different story up close

4 minutes

Idea/Physics

The idea of creating a new universe in the lab is no joke

Zeeya Merali

Video/Physics

The mathematics of music means piano strings can never be in perfect harmony

4 minutes

Essay/Computing & Artificial Intelligence

fAIth

The most avid believers in artificial intelligence are aggressively secular – yet their language is eerily religious. Why?

Beth Singler

Idea/Biology

Bad mothers and why they make a difference to cheetah survival

Anne Hilborn