The Naked Scientists
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|The Naked Scientists|
The Naked Scientists Radio Show & Podcast
|Format||Science talk radio / podcast|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Broadcast time||Sundays, 6-7 p.m. UK time|
|Broadcast area||BBC Radio in the East of England|
|Frequency||BBC 5 Live - 693 and 909 MW
Online - BBC Radio Player
The Naked Scientists is a one-hour audience-interactive science radio talk show broadcast live by the BBC in the East of England, nationally by BBC Radio 5 Live and internationally on ABC Radio National, Australia; it is also distributed globally as a podcast.
The programme was created and is edited by Cambridge University consultant virologist Dr Chris Smith. The present Naked Scientists line up also includes science broadcaster and harpist Kat Arney and producers Howard Benson, Graihagh Jackson, Ginny Smith and Georgia Mills.
In 2009 the group appointed the first official Naked Scientists PhD student, Diana O'Carroll, to examine the educational impacts of science broadcasting and new media. O'Carroll also set up a Naked Scientists spin-off podcast, Naked Archaeology, which launched in 2008. A second spin-off, Naked Astronomy, featuring Cambridge University-based space scientists and astronomers, has been podcast since December 2009 and is currently produced by Graihagh Jackson. Naked Astronomy also hosting the Space Boffins podcast, produced by journalists Richard Hollingham and Sue Nelson. A combined video and audio programme, Naked Engineering, produced by Ansell and Senthilingam and supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, launched in September 2010. For Christmas 2010 the group also showcased a new video podcast strand, the Naked Science Scrapbook. In 2012, a Naked Neuroscience strand was unveiled, and in 2013 the Material Chef video series, showcasing materials science, was launched.
Naked Scientists show content
Each episode of the main Naked Scientists programme is one hour long and includes a digest of topical science news stories, audience questions answered live on the air and interviews with guest scientists. These individuals join the hosts in the studio to talk about their work and to take questions live from listeners. Previous featured guests include the discoverer of the DNA fingerprint, Alec Jeffreys, the Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, and the co-discoverer of DNA structure, James D. Watson.
The show also features on-location reports and interviews, and an ad-hoc interactive segment called Kitchen Science where listeners are encouraged to attempt a science experiment at home during the show. Kitchen Science experiments have included building a desktop trebuchet, a chocolate teapot and a Liver powered Bottle Rocket. The Kitchen Science segment also hosts experiments that listeners may not be able to do at home, such as generating X-rays from Sticky Tape  with Dr Carlos Camara of UCLA and testing how much fat would stop a bullet with researchers at Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory.
Awards and prizes
The Naked Scientists have won eight national and international awards for science communication since 2006. The show won the Biosciences Federation Prize for Science Communication, 2006, the Joshua Phillips Award for Innovation in Science Engagement in 2007, the Society for General Microbiology's Peter Wildy Prize 2008, the Royal Society Kohn Award for 2008, the Best Radio Show Award at the Population Institute's 29th Global Media Awards, 2008, the European Podcast Award for UK Non-Profit podcast, the inaugural Royal College of Pathologists Furness Prize for science communication 2010 and the Society of Biology Science Communication Prize 2012.
The Naked Scientists was also in the five finalists in the 2006 World Podcast Awards and received two nominations, for "best produced" and "best science and technology podcast" in the 2007 awards. It was also a top five finalist in the 2008 and 2009 awards.
Bandwidth consumed by the programme's podcast exceeds 28TB (terabytes) of downloads per month and more than 40 million copies have been downloaded since 2007.
The Naked Scientists appeared on TV Channel Five's panel game The What in the World? Quiz and have contributed to the 2007 Channel 4 programme "The Farm Revealed". In September 2008, with the Open University, the Naked Scientists launched a new UK national radio edition of their programme, The Naked Scientists - Up All Night (subsequently renamed "Breaking Science") which was broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live for 12 months before finishing in 2009.
In November 2008, with the Royal Society of Chemistry, a series entitled The Naked Scientists In Africa began on Channel Africa, the international broadcasting service of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. The Naked Scientists in Africa was produced by Naked Scientist team-member Meera Senthilingam, incorporating international science news and a focus on science stories originating in, or pertinent to, African countries. This project ran until 2010.
In August 2012, BBC East announced an impending change to the Sunday schedule, which would see the show discontinued. In response to public reaction, the head of BBC East, Mick Rawsthorne, was interviewed on national radio about the decision to end the programme. Rawsthorne explained that the Naked Scientists did not fit the station's core purpose of providing "local radio". However, Rawsthorne did acknowledge the quality of the Naked Scientists programming and recognised that, with Cambridge University at the heart of Cambridgeshire, special consideration should be made for science in Cambridgeshire. Consequently, the BBC reconsidered their decision to terminate the programme and developed a proposal for it to continue as well as a way for enhanced scientific coverage and content to be integrated within the other mainstream mid-week outputs of BBC Cambridgeshire, significantly increasing the reach of the programme and the representation of science within the outputs of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
From January 2013, a new initiative involving the Naked Scientists began on BBC Radio Norfolk. A dedicated hour of science Q and A was included within the station's Drivetime output (hosted by Matthew Gudgin) on alternate Wednesday evenings from 1800-1900. Listeners call, text, tweet or email with questions on any scientific subject and the team answer them.
ABC Radio National, Australia
From January 2013, the Naked Scientists programme also began to air across Australia on ABC Radio National, initially on a Sunday morning. From January 2014 the first airing of the programme was moved to a Friday evening 10pm slot, repeated on Sundays. This show is also released as the Naked Scientists Podcast.
BBC Radio 5 live Science
Launched in May 2014, 5 live Science is a new weekly one-hour programme from the Naked Scientists aired by BBC 5 live. Under the banner 5 live Science it's a newly formatted version of the show produced by the Naked Scientists team and fronted by Dr Chris Smith and Kat Arney; it airs nationally every Saturday morning, repeated on Sunday evenings. The programme is also released as a podcast under the same name.
The Naked Scientists regularly host paid internships including positions supported by the MRC (Medical Research Council) and the Genetics Society. In September 2014, working with Cambridge University, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Naked Scientists also added a new internship programme for PhD students based on the structure of the group's existing MRC prize summer internship that had existed since 2008. Applicants are "bought out" from their PhD research projects for two months to join the Naked Scientists team where they learn to participate in the programme-making process, including presenting, writing and publishing skills.
Funders and supporters
The Naked Scientists have received funding and awards from the Wellcome Trust, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Cambridge University including the Isaac Newton Trust, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Rolls-Royce.
- "Forensics, DNA Fingerprinting and Human Origins". The Naked Scientists. 2005-12-04. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "The Trebuchet". The Naked Scientists. 2008-11-16. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "How useless is a Chocolate Teapot?". The Naked Scientists. 2008-08-31. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "Fizzes from peroxide". The Naked Scientists. 2008-09-21. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "Glowing tape". The Naked Scientists. 2008-11-30. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "How fat would you have to be to stop a bullet?". The Naked Scientists. 2007-06-17. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Biosciences Federation Science Communication Award 2006
- "And the winner is...". Manchester Science Festival. Archived from the original on 2009-02-18.
- "Royal Society Kohn Award". Royal Society.
- "29th Annual Global Media Award Winners Announced". The Population Institute. Archived from the original on 2009-02-24.
- "European Podcast Award 08/09 Winners announced". European Podcast Award. 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Curry, Stephen (2012-11-20). "Radio Ga Ga: BBC axes popular science radio show". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "BBC Radio 4 - Feedback, 09/11/2012". BBC Radio 4. 2012-11-11. Retrieved 2013-07-08.