The moment mathematician Marcus du Sautoy shook the hand of Professor Owen Holland’s humanoid, limb-functioning Eccerobot for BBC Two’s ‘Horizon’ (3 April), we got a real glimpse of what life – or artificial life – could be like in the future.
It’s the kind of thing the media loves. The press office phones began ringing and our inboxes became crammed with requests from journalists wanting to talk to Owen and meet Eccerobot (both, unfortunately, out of the country at the time).
Something similar happened when BBC Online (19 April) picked up a story about Dr Nick Collins ‘supercollider’ computer programme. Nick has devised a programme with three computerised judges, complete with musical knowledge and individual quirks, that could effectively replace the likes of Simon Cowell. The story was soon snapped up by the Mail on Sunday (22 April) and now BBC’s ‘The One Show’ are chasing Nick for a feature.
Meanwhile, with an eye on the cosmos, Professor Andrew Liddle compiled a caption slide show for BBC Online (23 April) of the oldest and largest structures in the early universe to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the discovery of microwave radiation.
Back to earth, Professor Mariana Mazzucato was asked by BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ (24 April) about what the UK should be investing in to get itself out of recession, while on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, almost back to back (19 April), were Dr Claire Langhamer talking about the origins of the Mass Observation archive, then Dr Jim Watson discussing the future viability of carbon capture and storage.
On the telly, Dr John Haigh told viewers of BBC One’s ‘Watchdog’ (12 April) why an “upgrade” to a Boots Advantage card wasn’t an upgrade at all, and the panel of BBC Two’s ‘Have I Got News For You’ were amused by a University of Sussex study that shows how gravity impairs the accuracy of bees’ waggledancing.