#BrainFood brings you the best shows on TV and radio, science apps and books to activate your mind, and fun events to visit. This week: The Sky at Night turns 60, the science of perception, and your own personal singing coach.
BBC Four, Sun 23 April, 10-11pm
When Patrick Moore introduced the first episode of The Sky at Night in April 1957, no one had set foot on the Moon, the Big Bang was just a controversial theory, and it was still thought that little green men could be living on Mars. With contributions from Jim Al-Khalili, Dallas Campbell and Monica Grady, this hour-long special looks at how our knowledge of the Universe has shifted over the last 60 years, and how The Sky at Night has played a crucial role in bringing the cosmos into our homes.
Francis Crick Institute, London, until 28 Oct 2017 (Wed – Sat only), free
This is the first major exhibition at the Francis Crick Institute – a hub for biomedical research that opened last year. Open for Discovery presents an honest portrait of scientific discovery, with all its setbacks, happy accidents and gritty determination. There are drawings, letters, animations, microscopy images and medical equipment from over a century’s worth of discoveries, covering research areas including flu, cancer and tuberculosis.
Beau Lotto, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20
Reality is not what it seems. In fact, we make it up as we go along. In his enlightening book, neuroscientist Beau Lotto explains how our brains create a unique view of the world, using case studies, illustrations and optical illusions to show how this new understanding of perception could help us to improve our lives.
BBC Radio 4, Tue 25 Apr, 11-11:30am
In this new series, scientists tell the stories of the elements that make up our world. First up: mercury, the most beautiful and shimmering of the elements. Chemist Andrea Sella sheds light on this strange liquid metal, revealing how it’s been used in everything from weather forecasting to atomic physics. But it also has a darker side, playing a role in creating pollution which now threatens fish, wildlife and ourselves.
Whether you’re singing in front of a crowd, or just in front of your rubber duck, this free app promises to help you improve your ear. It’s personalised according to your vocal range, with three daily singing lessons aimed at improving skills such as your breathing, pitch and vocal consistency. There’s instant feedback via real-time pitch detection, and you can also listen back to your performance, should you have the stomach.