Things to do this week: the science, history and music of the heart on BBC Radio 4

Looking for the best things to do this week? Don’t waste away being bored on the sofa… here’s our pick of ways to exercise your grey matter and nourish your neurons.

1st December 2017
Heart Week © Westend61 / Getty

#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 – Heart Week on BBC Radio 4, learn Chinese with Microsoft, and Akram Khan's robot-inspired dance.


Can We Live With Robots? © Rory Mulvey / Channel 4
© Rory Mulvey / Channel 4

Can We Live With Robots?

Channel 4, Sat 2 December, 7:00-8:00pm

Choreographer Akram Khan meets the roboticists who are designing the next generation of humanoids. Travelling from the UK to Japan and the USA, the aim of his trip is to create a new robot-themed dance piece, in which he reflects on the fears and scepticism surrounding artificial intelligence.


After Hours: FEAST © Eden Studio Photo / Getty
© Eden Studio Photo / Getty

After Hours: FEAST

We The Curious, Bristol, Thu 7 December, 6:30-10pm, from £7.95

This adults-only night at Bristol’s We The Curious is the ideal time to explore the harbourside science centre, formerly known as At-Bristol. Wander around two floors of exhibits with a drink in hand, learn about the science of food through discussions with researchers and tasty experiments, and then work off some calories in the awe-inspiring ‘danceroom Spectroscopy’ exhibit.


A New Map Of Wonders © Granta
© Granta

A New Map Of Wonders

Caspar Henderson, Granta, £20

Feeling jaded by the long winter nights and pre-Christmas stress? Caspar Henderson’s new book is a heartwarming ode to the wonders of life. Rather than unweaving the rainbow, science in Henderson’s hands gives us a newfound appreciation of the everyday, from the laugh of a baby to the light of the Sun.


Heart Week © Westend61 / Getty
© Westend61 / Getty

Heart Week

BBC Radio 4, Mon 4 – Fri 8 December, various times

BBC Radio 4 explores the science, history and music of the heart with a special week of programming to mark 50 years since the first heart transplant in 1967. Highlights include This Old Heart of Mine, in which Rev Giles Fraser, who recently experienced a heart attack, discusses the workings and symbolism of this most vital of organs, and The Skipped Beat - Michael Blastland’s tribute to the constant rhythm that underpins every human life.


Microsoft Learn Chinese © Microsoft
© Microsoft

Microsoft Learn Chinese

iOS, Microsoft, free

Learning a foreign language is difficult, but what if AI could help? That’s the thought behind Microsoft’s new app, which aims to act as a virtual teaching assistant for those learning Chinese. It uses machine learning technology to recognise speech, analyse the speaker’s pronunciation and then provide feedback scores and tips on which words still need improvement.

For more fabulous apps, check out our list of the top 10 science apps for Android and iOS.


Follow Science Focus on TwitterFacebook and Google+