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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


A selection of podcasts featuring members of the Department.


Nick Hopwood, 'History is Always Happening Now', Made the Same Way

17 February 2023

Nick Hopwood appears on a podcast with trip-hop poet Princess Ari. He discusses his speciality in the medical history, and how our understanding of history changes as much as our understanding of science. Hopwood and Princess Ari use this to explore how medical history relates to colonialism, the patriarchy, and modern mental health issues.

Listen to Made the Same Way


Nick Hopwood, '100 Years of "Daedalus" – The Birth of Assisted Reproductive Technology', PET Podcast

1 February 2023

Nick Hopwood appears on a panel for the Progress Educational Trust. The debate focuses on the past and future of in vitro fertilisation, a century after J.B.S Haldane's 'Daedalus' lecture at Cambridge popularised the concept.

Listen to PET Podcast


Anna Alexandrova, 'What Can Science Tell Us About Happiness?', On Humans

10 December 2022

Anna Alexandrova discusses the concept of happiness with philosophy graduate Ilari Mäkelä. The discussion includes whether we can scientifically measure happiness, what metrics we should use, and why some countries are happier than others.

Listen to On Humans


Nick Hopwood, 'Human Embryo Research from Carnegie Department to HDBI', Human Developmental Biology Initiative Ethics Seminar

23 September 2022

Nick Hopwood joins an ethics seminar with Professor Kate Storey. He breaks down the rise of human embryology in the first half of the 20th century, its subsequent decline, and how advances in technology revived it in the last three decades.

Watch HDBI Ethics Seminar


Nick Hopwood, 'Fertility Frontiers: What is a "Permitted Embryo" in Law?', Progress Educational Trust

25 May 2022

Nick Hopwood appears on a panel discussing UK laws for the use of embryos in assisted conception. He explains the history of these laws, the changing legal definition of embryos, and their effect on research.

Watch Progress Educational Trust


Nick Hopwood, 'Cambridge at the Forefront of Human Embryo Research', Cambridge Festival

8 April 2022

Nick Hopwood chairs a panel of scholars from Cambridge and other institutions at the 2022 Cambridge Festival. The discussion focuses on new research into human embryos, and how this research could change embryology laws.

Watch Cambridge Festival


Joshua Nall, 'The Blazing World with Michael Bravo', On the Road with Penguin Classics

9 February 2022

Joshua Nall, Director of the Whipple Museum, is an interviewee in an exploration of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. The episode concerns The Blazing World, a groundbreaking work of fantasy, philosophy, and feminism. Nall discusses its use of then-new science, such as the invention of the telescope, using objects from the Whipple Museum.

Listen to On the Road with Penguin Classics


Mary Brazelton, 'RoundTable: Technology and Innovation', Health Futures Forum

25 August 2021

Mary Brazelton joins a table of experts to discuss the future of technology in healthcare with the World Health Organization. Discussions from Brazelton and others include advances in genomics, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

Listen to Health Futures Forum


Jacob Stegenga, 'Medical Nihilism', Medicating Normal

2 July 2021

As part of a series of interviews by the makers of the documentary Medicating Normal, Jacob Stegenga discusses what inspired him to research profit-driven medicine. Topics include the small size of trials, medicine's obsession with 'magic bullets', and how money manipulates medical research.

Watch Medicating Normal


Nick Hopwood, 'New Research on Human Embryos: 14 Days of Human Life', Deutschlandfunk

13 June 2021

Nich Hopwood is one of several scholars, including others from Cambridge, contributing to this podcast episode on breakthroughs in embryology. The focus is on the 14-day limit for embryo research in UK law, and how advances in embryo cultivation are now challenging those laws.

Listen to Deutschlandfunk


Nick Hopwood, 'How Organoids Help Us Understand Ourselves and Treat Diseases', Cambridge Festival

29 March 2021

Nick Hopwood and colleagues are interviewed about organoids – three dimensional reproductions of organs, which maintain their original organs' conditions. He explains how human embryology and its cultivation of stem cells gave rise to organoids.

Watch Cambridge Festival


Joshua Nall, 'What Did the Future Look Like in the Past?', Mind Over Chatter

26 March 2021

Joshua Nall appears in Cambridge University's own podcast, Mind Over Chatter, as part of a panel on how people in the past viewed the future. Nall discusses how technology in the 19th century changed people's perception of modernity and utopias.

Listen to Mind over Chatter


Joshua Nall, 'From Life on Mars to Dangerous Space Junk', Free Thinking

9 March 2021

Joshua Nall joins a group discussion about the history of our fascination with the universe. Using a 19th-century Mars globe in the Whipple Museum, he discusses how society became fascinated with other planets and the idea of life on Mars. He also discusses how ideas from the 19th century affect astronomy today.

Listen to Free Thinking


Nick Hopwood, 'Visions of Reproductive Health', The Fertility Podcast

8 February 2021

Nick Hopwood joins a table of scholars and artists, breaking down how various media have depicted reproduction over the centuries. He outlines changes in medical science since the 18th century, but particularly since the 1960s. Focus is given to the impacts of embryo imaging, in-vitro fertilisation, and racial embryology.

Listen to The Fertility Podcast


Jacob Stegenga, 'Philosophy of Medicine, Evidence, Disease, and Medical Nihilism', The Dissenter

8 January 2021

Jacob Stegenga appears on Ricardo Lopes' podcast to explore how philosophy of medicine has evolved as a subject since it began in the 1970s. He also considers its current implications for randomised control trials and the distribution of medical resources.

Watch The Dissenter


Mary Brazelton, 'Alexandre Yersin and the Race to Fight the Plague', The Forum

7 January 2021

Mary Brazelton appears on the BBC World Service programme The Forum, as part of a panel on the bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. The discussion focuses on Yersin's discovery of the bubonic plague bacillus, how it was discovered, and what happened to him after.

Listen to The Forum


Mary Brazelton, 'Epidemic Control', China Throughlines

1 September 2020

Mary Brazelton joins Micah Muscolino on the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy's podcast. They discuss China's handling of COVID-19, and China's history of mass mobilisation in health and medical campaigns since 1949.

Watch China Throughlines


Mary Brazelton, 'Mass Vaccination: Citizens' Bodies and State Power in Modern China', New Books Network

31 August 2020

Mary Brazelton talks to Victoria Lupascu about her study on vaccination in the People's Republic of China. They cover the PRC's mass immunisation project, and its simultaneous role in curing diseases and controlling the population.

Listen to New Books Network (August 2020)

30 April 2021

Mary Brazelton returns to the New Books Network to delve further into the history of China's medical programmes. This time she looks into China before the Communist government. Subjects include the role of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, and the advantages of Yunnan Province during WWII.

Listen to New Books Network (April 2021)


Mary Brazelton, 'Perspectives on Science, Technology and Medicine: Mary Augusta Brazelton on COVID-19', Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic

10 June 2020

As part of a series in which scholars in the humanities and social sciences explore how the COVID-19 pandemic relates to their work, Mary Brazelton focuses on China's immunisation history. She examines the healthcare programmes under multiple Chinese governments in the 20th century, showing how their approaches influenced China's response to COVID.

Listen to Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic


Jacob Stegenga, 'Medical Nihilism: A Conversation with Jacob Stegenga', Athenaeum Review

30 April 2020

Jacob Stegenga discusses his argument that medicine is too readily prescribed. Topics include different types of bias, the difference between simple and complex causes of disease, and how this research ties into other fields of study such as sexual desire.

Listen to Athenaeum Review


Joshua Nall, 'Time: It's All Relative', The Naked Scientists

25 February 2020

Joshua Nall is an interviewee in an episode about the study of time. He goes back to the 18th century, revealing how the dawn of maritime trading created John Harrison's maritime clock.

Listen to The Naked Scientists


Nick Hopwood, 'When Was Reproduction Invented?', Cambridge Festival of Ideas

17 October 2019

Nick Hopwood and other specialists in the field of reproduction discuss how the topic has been approached across history, from the Ancient Greeks to today. He argues that the political and cultural shifts in the nineteenth century make it the point when the modern field of reproduction was invented.

Watch Cambridge Festival of Ideas


Joshua Nall, 'Scientific Instruments', Artist: Unknown

5 July 2019

What can we learn from an object whose maker is unknown to us? This was the subject of a Kettle's Yard exhibition, which displayed a variety of objects with no known maker. Joshua Nall presents a globe and astrolabe initially thought to be 16th-century in origin, but actually made in the 1920s. This provides a springboard to discuss how fakes arise, and how they are uncovered.

Listen to Artist: Unknown


Jacob Stegenga, 'Why Big Pharma Is Biased', Institute of Art and Ideas

16 April 2019

In this debate excerpt, Jacob Stegenga argues for the notion that pharmaceutical companies excerpt too much control over medical practice. To make his case, he focuses on the 'three Rs' – regulations, research, and really bad companies – and their current influence in medicine.

Watch Institute of Art and Ideas


Jacob Stegenga, 'Medical Nihilism', EconTalk

1 April 2019

Jacob Stegenga, author of Medical Nihilism, discusses his book's findings with the Liberty Fund. Topics include the FDA prioritising approval over safety, and the resulting influx of medication whose benefits are limited. Through this, Stegenga discusses how the FDA can be reformed.

Listen to EconTalk


Nick Hopwood, 'Why Reproduction Matters', ReproSoc 'Remaking Reproduction' Conference

18 January 2019

Nick Hopwood is interviewed by the University's Reproduction Society about the implications of reproductive science, and why it's worth studying.

Watch ReproSoc 'Remaking Reproduction' Conference


Nick Hopwood, 'Paul Ehrlich's "Magic Bullet" and the Cure for Syphilis', Science Stories

1 June 2016

Nick Hopwood is an interviewee in this episode of the BBC Radio 4 podcast. The episode focuses on Paul Ehrlich, creator of Salvarsan, the first targeted treatment for a disease. Hopwood focuses on Ehrlich's process of developing medicine, and the backlash against Salvarsan.

Listen to Science Stories


Joshua Nall, 'Eureka Streaker: Experiments that Changed the World', The Naked Scientists

3 March 2015

Joshua Nall appears on an episode about experiments that changed science. The subject is his personal favourite experiment – the discovery of the Sun's composition. Using a spectroscope, he demonstrates how observing different-coloured light allowed scientists to determine the gases that made up the Sun.

Listen to The Naked Scientists


Joshua Nall, 'Dr Auzoux's Papier-Mâché Models', Silent Partners: Artist and Mannequin from Function to Fetish

16 December 2014

The Fitzwilliam Museum's Silent Partners exhibition explored how mannequins have been interpreted by different artists working in different mediums. The accompanying podcast brought on Joshua Nall to discuss the 19th-century anatomist Dr Louis Auzoux and his papier-mâché anatomical models. He discusses how these models changed medical science, by making it accessible to greater numbers of people.

Watch Silent Partners


Hasok Chang, 'Epistemic Iteration', The HPS Podcast

13 December 2013

Hasok Chang appears on the University of Melbourne's podcast to discuss the scientific method. He challenges the common assumption that scientific inquiries start at a place of knowledge about their hypothesis. Instead, he proposes that many great scientific discoveries come from a lack of knowledge, and a desire to investigate and test unlikely hypotheses.

Listen to The HPS Podcast


Nick Hopwood, 'Proteus', Darwin Correspondence

29 October 2012

Nick Hopwood introduces this episode of the podcast about Darwin's research and legacy. This episode focuses on the documentary Proteus, about the work of German evolutionist Ernst Haeckel.

Listen to Darwin Correspondence


Joshua Nall, 'Mars Globes and the History of Astronomy', The Naked Scientists

19 December 2010

Discussions about science rarely focus on public engagement – but it is just as important as research. Joshua Nall uses 19th-century globes of Mars to demonstrate this, explaining how globes such as these ignited public curiosity for the red planet.

Listen to The Naked Scientists