It was 1952, and polio had reached outbreak levels in America. There was no known cause, no cure, and no help in sight for parents desperate to protect their children. Our nation's hope was placed in a 33-year-old scientist, working from a basement lab in Pittsburgh. His name was Jonas Salk, and in just a few years, he would bring infantile paralysis to its knees and change the course of medical history. Travel back to a world gripped in fear and see how Dr. Salk, with his dedicated staff, a young charity, and a faithful nation, came together to conquer polio.
From the first row of planted crops, the practice of agriculture rendered man's hunter-gatherer lifestyles obsolete in favor of settled life and stable food supplies. This led to a skyrocketing population and enabled humans to develop skills outside of gathering the food needed to survive.
Michael Mosley and James Wong explore the effect that our food has on our most important and, in terms of energy consumption, our greediest organ. It influences our diet by generating cravings for foods such as fat - the most energy-rich food of them all. James heads off to Peru to reveal the surprising link that fat-rich, indulgent chocolate has with breast milk. Sometimes these cravings almost become an addiction - like coffee for example. So we visit a remarkable lab where a team is studying the effect of caffeine on bees and how that may help explain the hold that caffeinated drinks have over us. Together, Michael and James take on some of the hottest chillies on the planet to show what the burn does to our brains. Using the latest imaging techniques and incredibly detailed specialist photography, this is a whole new way of thinking about our relationship with food and the powerful effect it has on our minds.
A fresh perspective on autism research with the developing "Bacterial Theory" of autism. The fastest-growing developmental disorder in the industrialized world, autism has increased an astounding 600 per cent over the last 20 years. Science cannot say why. Some say it's triggered by environmental factors and point to another intriguing statistic: 70 per cent of kids with autism also have severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Could autism actually begin in the gut? The Autism Enigma looks at the progress of an international group of scientists who are studying the gut's amazingly diverse and powerful microbial ecosystem for clues to the baffling disorder.
The human body is constantly regenerating itself, but as we get older, the ability for self-repair diminishes. The human foetus, however, has far greater powers of regeneration. The programme explores how modern medicine is looking at ways to tap into the superhuman power of the embryo.