Science in Action on KTTZ-HD2

Science in Action is a magazine program pulling together the science issues of the week and delivering breaking science news.


  • Wednesday, April 19, 2017 7:00pm
    The naked mole-rat never ceases to amaze. A new study shows that when it gets stuffy in their underground burrows, this mouse-sized wrinkly mammal is able to metabolise fructose - just as plants do - and by this bypass the need for oxygen for up to 18 minutes. In a new study scientists have created an artificial retina. The retina is a light-sensitive layer of the eye which is essential for sight. The artificial retinas are able to mimic the abilities of living tissue, reacting to light and electrical signals. In the future, scientists hope that these retinas could save the sight of many. Virtual reality (VR) is not only a fun gimmick for gamers, but could be used to train dentists in dental surgery. Our reporter Marnie Chesterton visits the VR World Congress in Bristol in the United Kingdom and tries out the technology and discovers first-hand the all too real experience of dental surgery. Lastly, with 800 million people living near a volcano, spotting eruptions in advance can be crucial. We talk to the scientists working on the technology that allows us to spot them from space with satellites. And, reporter Anand Jagatia heads to Iceland which homes the volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which caused disruption to the air space back in 2010. Picture: Naked mole-rats in the laboratory of Thomas Park at the University of Illinois at Chicago. [Credit: Thomas Park / UIC] Presenter: Adam Hart Producer: Louisa Field
  • Wednesday, April 12, 2017 7:00pm
    Hydrogen is a favourite food for some microorganisms, so finding it on one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, increases the potential for to it to have life. During its deepest-ever dive through the jets of water vapour and other materials bursting from cracks in the ice-covered surface of Enceladus, the Cassini spacecraft has detected enough hydrogen to sustain microbes much as it does in dark undersea environments on Earth. And, while fish swim they shed DNA from their skin and faeces into the water. For the first time, scientists have been able to use this DNA to record fish moving through the rivers of New York. By doing this the scientists avoid the disturbance, and expense, of collecting fish from trawlers. Such ‘wildlife forensics’ is likely to spread to more and more corners of diversity surveying. Lastly, we tackle one of the greatest disputes between science and religion – the theory of evolution. We explore how religious groups reconcile evolution with their beliefs and learn how the Muslim world is embracing – and rejecting – evolution depending on who holds political power. Presenter: Adam Hart Producer: Louisa Field Image: The view looking toward the anti-Saturn hemisphere of Enceladus, 27 Nov 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
  • Wednesday, April 5, 2017 7:00pm
    Britain was in the grip of an ice age 450,000 years ago. It has long been thought that Britain’s separation from Europe resulted from spill over from a lake formed in front of the ice sheet but until now it has not been proved. New research shows that this is correct - 450,000 years ago Britain geologically separated from Europe in two stages – a spill-over from a giant lake, followed by catastrophic flooding. Tallying up the Number of Tree Species Until recently, no one knew how many tree species there are in the world. But this week the Botanic Gardens Conservation International, have published a comprehensive global list of all our tree species. Out of the 60,065 different species world-wide, an astonishing 58% exist in just one country. Why Aeroplanes Survive a Bolt of Lightning? An aeroplane struck by lightning, might sound like the stuff of horror films. But thanks to the Faraday cage effect, planes are completely safe from damage when flying through a electrical storm. Caroline Steel wanted to test this for herself when she visited Manchester University’s High Voltage Lab. She even got to press the big red button! Viruses that Protect Koalas Koala populations in the north of Australia have been hit hard by a number of bacterial and viral diseases. But the koalas in the south, even though they’re exposed, they aren’t developing the symptoms. It turns out that a retrovirus which has embedded itself in the koala’s genome and then mutated, is granting them some immunity. (Photo: Artist’s illustration of ancient ice age land bridge connecting Britain with France. Credit: Imperial College London/Chase Stone) Presenter: Adam Hart Producer: Fiona Roberts
  • Wednesday, March 29, 2017 7:00pm
    If you were to stand on the surface of Mars you would see a cold dry dessert with a thin atmosphere and not enough oxygen to breathe. But the atmosphere on Mars hasn’t always been this way. The MAVEN (The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission to monitor Mars’ atmosphere has finally concluded that the Martian atmosphere has indeed been depleted from its carbon dioxide rich, thick blanket to a thin, weak covering because of the action of solar wind. Groundwater and Crops A huge global study of how much groundwater is depleted by crop plants has revealed that we have lost almost a quarter of the un-replenished stored water reserved in the past 10 years. USA, Pakistan and Mexico have come out as the worst offenders. We ask how can we reduce this loss in the future and who should be paying for it – the producing countries or the consuming countries? Extreme Weather and Climate Change Link Eminent US climate change scientist Michael Mann, at Pennsylvania State University, has shown scientifically that the warming climate is disturbing the jet stream high in the atmosphere, affecting how it wobbles and locking it in place. This causes certain extreme weather events, such as the 2011 Texas drought, and torrential rainfall to be more severe and longer lasting. IPS Cells in Clinical Use for the First Time When they were discovered back in 2006, Induced Pluripotent Stem cells, or IPS cells were hailed as the ethically-sound future of regenerative medicine. These are cells from adult skin or blood, they are not embryonic cells. They are treated such that they turn back their developmental clock, and can then become many different cell types in the body. But the past ten years has shown little evidence of these cells being used in the clinical setting. However, back in the Kyoto lab where the initial discovery was made, lines of stem cells from ‘super-donors’ are being produced that are currently being used to treat patients with macular degeneration, which affects the eyes. It seems, stem cell compatibility works in a similar way to blood types, making some people more suitable as donors to match a large proportion of the population. Image: Water on Mars © Kees Veenenbox/Science Photo Library Presenter: Adam Hart Producer: Fiona Roberts