Thursday, August 25, 2016 4:32pm
Life on other planets is often considered to be the stuff of science fiction. But we are one step closer in the hunt for extra-terrestrial life as an Earth-sized planet has been found to be orbiting our nearest star, Proxima Centauri.
Weather Bombs Help Us Look at Earth’s Interior
Large storms called weather bombs send pressure waves through the Earth’s core. A new part of this wave has been detected, enabling us to find out more about the mysterious structure of the Earth’s interior.
Trump’s Wall and Wildlife
US presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall across the entire US-Mexican border would mean bad news for the fragile ecosystem of this important wildlife area. The border area is home to a diverse population of mammals, birds and plants—including a number of iconic and rare species. Freedom of movement across the border is crucial for habitat connectivity and genetic diversity. A number of species, including Desert bighorn sheep, black bears and the iconic roadrunner, would be at risk from the proposed construction.
Hidden in a Name
The names we give things in the natural world often contain clues about what they look like, how they behave or where they come from. But with thousands of human languages approaching extinction, important plant knowledge may die with them.
(Photo: © ESO/M. Kornmesser, A view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System, is seen in an undated artist's impression)
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Fiona Roberts
Thursday, August 18, 2016 4:32pm
A tin roof and a paved road can be a sign of an area coming out of poverty in parts of Africa. Identifying poor regions in Africa using satellite data could save massive survey efforts and help identify regions where help is needed most.
Wristbands That Monitor Pesticide Exposure
By providing silicon wristbands to famers in West Africa, scientists at the University of Oregon State have been able to monitor their exposure to toxic pesticide. In the future these bands could also be used to detect exposure to other organic chemicals.
Birds Sing of Climate Change
Zebra finch parents may be helping their young to prepare for climate change by calling to them before they have hatched. These finches are born lighter and produce more offspring than usual, helping these finches to adapt to climate change.
A small star which ran out of fuel began to steal matter from a nearby star, ultimately leading to a classical nova explosion. Scientists at the University of Warsaw studied the lead up to and duration of this explosion, something that has not been done before.
Ottawa’s Outdoor Lab
Ottawa is the only capital city in the world with a farm right in the middle of it. The Central Experimental Farm is a 4 kilometre square sized facility with fields full of crops like corn and wheat currently in bloom. This farm is in fact a big, living, outdoor laboratory. Its 75 scientists carry out research aimed at helping farmers increase their yields. But they are also keen to discover more about the impacts of climate change.
(Photo: © Ethiopian landscape by Paul F. Donald)
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Fiona Roberts
Thursday, August 11, 2016 4:32pm
A small sample of paraplegic patients, who have spent from 3 to13 years paralyzed from spinal cord injuries, have regained partial sensation and muscle control in their lower limbs after training with brain-controlled robotics. The patients used brain-machine interfaces, including a virtual reality system that used their own brain activity to simulate full control of their legs. The return of even a tiny bit of feeling to their limbs below the spinal cord lesion is surprising and promising.
The Ravens at the Tower of London are helping research into bird intelligence. Ravens are Corvids, known to have big, neuron packed, brains, especially for their body size. Dr. Nathan Emery at Queen Mary University London, is an expert in avian intelligence. He explains that because these birds are very sociable and eat a whole range of different foods and have to figure out how to find it, they have become very good at problem solving.
In 2002 Betty, a New Caledonian Crow, astonished the world when she bent a piece of wire to make a hook to get food out of a narrow tube. Demonstrating advanced problem-solving in birds at its best. But do captive birds behave the same way in the wild? New research on wild New Caledonian crows have been observed bending twigs to make tools to grub out food.
Dark matter is the stuff that glues the Universe together. It stops the Universe from rapidly expanding and tearing galaxies and the Earth apart. But scientists still don’t know what dark matter is made of. There are two main contenders for particles of dark matter: WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) and sterile neutrinos. The trendy particle at the moment is the sterile neutrino, and scientists all over the world are racing each other to be the first to find it. After CERN reported that they haven’t found any evidence for this sterile neutrino, Ice Cube in the North Pole has released their exciting results: they found…nothing! So is the hunt for the sterile neutrino over or is this just the beginning?
(Photo: Patient using the exoskeleton © AASDAP/Lente Viva Filmes)
Presenter: Marnie Chesteron
Producer: Fiona Roberts
Thursday, August 4, 2016 4:32pm
By manipulating young plants, scientists have finally worked out the mechanism by which sunflowers move their stems and leaves to face the sun. Starting in the east in the morning, tracking the sun through the sky, the plants make sure they get the most sunlight all day. And it’s all thanks to their internal clocks, their circadian rhythm.
China’s Great Flood
Geologists have provided geological evidence for China’s “Great Flood,” a disastrous event on the Yellow River from which the Xia dynasty is thought to have been born. Marnie speaks with David Montgomery, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle and an expert on separating the fact from fiction with flood legends and myths.
How Whales Hear
Whales use more than just their ears to hear. Since their early ancestors first walked back into the water, the evolution of whale hearing and sound production has been fascinating, Dr Ben Garrod regales Marnie with facts about whale communication and evolution, including why toothed-whales have asymmetric jaws and can stun their prey with ultrasonic sound.
Understanding the physiology and evolution of the early creatures that crawled, out of the primordial swamp, and onto land has been made easier with the help of robotic mudskippers. By replicating the locomotion in these fish, that use their fins to crawl, researchers provide insight into the first land-creatures on Earth.
Image credit: Ben Blackman/UC Berkeley
Thursday, July 28, 2016 5:00pm
Last week Kuwait experienced a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius and the East Coast of the US had a heatwave. Roland Pease talks about the reasons for this extreme weather with Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
The first transatlantic telegraph cable to successfully link Ireland and Newfoundland is 150 years old this week. Rob Thompson visits John Liffen at the Science Museum in London to see some off cuts of the original cable. Professor Mark Miodownik explains how those pioneering engineers overcame problems and got the cables to work and Prof Polina Bayvel talks about how they transformed the Victorians’ lives.
Jonathan Amos and Jonathan Webb of the BBC News Science team discuss with Roland Pease the legacy of the first round the world solar powered flight, Solar Impulse, and the discovery that the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is hot.
Dolly the cloned sheep had a number of health problems. Professor Kevin Sinclair of Nottingham University and colleagues has now cloned sisters of Dolly to see if they have the same issues.
Engineers at the Italian Institute of Physics are trying to get robots to learn in the way that children do. Rather than programming them, they give them the basic ability to toy with objects – and this way have got one to discover Archimedes principle – the idea that a heavy object dropped into a bucket will displace water and raise the surface. Vishuu Mohan is one of the masters, and iCub, his pupil, is built like a 30-month old.
(Photo: The sun sets behind people taking a dip in the sea, Kuwait City. Credit: Yasser al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images)