The Economist


Named after Charles Babbage, a 19th-century polymath and grandfather of computing, Babbage is a weekly podcast on science and technology. Host Kenneth Cukier talks to our correspondents about the innovations, discoveries and gadgetry making the news. Published every Tuesday on Economist Radio.

Popular episodes

Babbage: Cloud of suspicion

Jul 20 • 29:07

High stakes and big money lead some athletes to cheat at the Olympic games. Tim Cross, The Economist’s Technology editor, investigates the prevalence of doping in sport and asks if testing can ever keep a lid on the use of performance enhancing drugs. He finds out the impact of the pandemic on testing at the Tokyo games, talks to Olympians about the pressures involved and ...

Babbage: Best behaviour

Jul 13 • 26:57

Countries with high covid-19 vaccination rates, including England, are lifting social restrictions. Behavioural scientist Katy Milkman and health-policy editor Natasha Loder assess the impact of these changes. Will mask-wearing and social distancing stick? And, how people may one day drill for copper as they now drill for oil. Kenneth Cukier hosts...

Babbage: Urban jungles

Jul 6 • 31:42

As urbanisation progresses and lethal heatwaves become more common, could miniature forests help air-condition cities? Plus, how virtual clinical trials could save money, time and lives. And, counting the hidden costs of artificial intelligence with Kate Crawford, cofounder of the AI Now Institute at NYU and author of “Atlas of AI”. Kenneth Cukier hosts...

Babbage: Power play

Jun 29 • 29:13

An unlimited supply of clean, carbon-free energy—nuclear fusion is a technology that could change the world. Can engineers make fusion work on a commercial scale? Also, mathematician Jordan Ellenberg on how geometry shapes the world. And, why one of the most common sporting injuries is more of a risk to women than men—and how to prevent it. Kenneth Cukier hosts ...

Babbage: The other environmental emergency

Jun 22 • 28:21

The loss of biodiversity poses as great a risk to humanity as climate change. Catherine Brahic, The Economist’s environment editor, investigates whether technology can help to monitor, model and protect Earth’s ecosystems. Also, do conservation scientists need to employ a new approach to work better with technologists?...

Babbage: A flicker of light for Alzheimer’s

Jun 8 • 24:01

After almost two decades, the FDA has granted conditional approval to a drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’ disease, called aducanumab. But the new drug, and its approval, is surrounded by controversy. Will the gamble pay off? Also, a clever upgrade to fog-collecting technology which could provide a water source in remote locations. And, potentially life-saving oxygen ene...

Babbage: Clearing the air

Jun 1 • 29:36

Airborne transmission is one of the main ways that SARS-CoV-2 spreads. So why has it taken so long to be officially recognised? Host Kenneth Cukier and science correspondent Alok Jha investigate the flaws in public-health guidelines and how to assess the risk of aerosol contagion. It is time for a revolution in ventilation....

Babbage: It’s in the genes

May 25 • 23:20

How can RNA, which is crucial for the development of vaccines, be used for controlling agricultural pests? Also, we ask Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, a pioneer in next-generation DNA sequencing, what this technology heralds for the future of healthcare. And can dogs be used to screen for covid-19 at airports or mass gatherings? Kenneth Cukier hosts ...

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