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.


  • Thursday, October 20, 2016 4:32pm
    At the time of transmission, the European Space Agency still have no contact with the Schiaparelli Mars lander Banning HFCs In 1985 scientists reported that there was a depletion in the amount of ozone in the stratosphere, creating a giant hole above the Antarctic. Ozone is a form of oxygen which absorbs most of the UV radiation from the sun, helping to protect the earth. The cause of the hole was the release of chemicals used in refrigeration and in expanding foams - halons, freons and chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. As a result, the Montreal Protocol, which ordered that CFCs were systematically phased out, was signed, and now the hole is shrinking. CFCs were replaced with HFCs – hydro fluorocarbons, which have little effect on ozone. But they are potent greenhouse gases. The latest update to the Montreal protocol has just been made in Rwanda, and now HFCs are on the banned list too, but what's the alternative? New Cell Atlas It may be a surprise to discover that we don’t know how many cell-types we have in our bodies. The Human Cell Atlas project is a huge international consortium which aims to identify and map every single bodily cell. What's more, the medical benefits could be huge. Picture: Artwork: The retrorockets should have fired for about 30 seconds, credit: ESA Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts
  • Thursday, October 13, 2016 4:32pm
    The oldest fossilized remains of a syrinx, a bird’s equivalent of a voice box, has been described. The remains of the extinct bird specimen (Vegavis iaai), which lived about 66-68 million years ago, were found on Antarctica - confirming that the syrinx had evolved at the time of the dinosaurs. Drilling the ‘Dinosaur Crater’ Scientists have obtained remarkable new insights into the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. They have been examining rock drilled from the Chicxulub Crater that the 15km-wide asteroid, dug out of what is now the Gulf of Mexico some 66 million years ago. Stratolites Many of us would love to go into space but, almost 60 years after the dawn of the space age, very few can afford it. But there might soon be a cheaper option. BBC Future Space Correspondent, Richard Hollingham, reports from Tucson, Arizona, where a balloon company is planning to fly tourists high into the stratosphere and also take on services provided by satellites - such as communications and weather forecasting - with 'stratolites'. Wooden Skyscrapers New ways to engineer and build with wood, a huge demand for housing and concerns about the high carbon cost of steel and concrete mean architects and engineers are looking to sustainable wood to build our high rise buildings. Picture: The fossil syrinx is from an extinct species related to ducks from the late Cretaceous of Antarctica, Credit J. Clarke/UT Austin Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts
  • Thursday, October 6, 2016 5:00pm
    This week the Nobel Prizes were announced. The Chemistry prize was for mini machines, the Medicine award went to a scientist who discovered autophagy, or the process of clearing up cellular rubbish, and researchers who predicted strange materials were the Physics’ recipients. Roland Pease explains the relevance of these to Marnie Chesterton. Humans have the ability to put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes and know what they are thinking. Now experiments done by Dr Christopher Krupenye and Dr Fumihiro Kano, in which they tracked the eye movements of apes as they watched videos, have shown that apes too have this theory of mind. Jonathan Amos and Roland Pease discuss new research into how eels migrate to the Sargasso Sea and why there appears to be a limit to longevity in humans at around 120 years. When a fire starts underground, the consequences can be deadly, particularly as the fire’s behaviour is an unknown quantity. Kieran Brophy reports from the BP Institute at the University of Cambridge in the UK, where Professor Andy Woods is modelling how fire develops in tunnels. Image caption: Innovations have included this nano car, produced by Bernard Feringa's team. Credit: University of Groningen Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Deborah Cohen
  • Thursday, September 29, 2016 4:32pm
    The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission is about to end (Friday 30th September). The audacious mission to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and study its nucleus and environment, and land a probe on its surface has been hailed a huge scientific and technical success, despite the lander Philae losing contact shortly after landing on the surface The orbiter Rosetta will be control-crashed, at very slow speeds, onto the comet, where the final scientific measurements and observations will hopefully be made. The mission may be over, but the wealth of scientific data is still to be analysed and will provide insight into these early remnants of our solar system for decades to come. Water Spurting on Europa Jupiter’s moon Europa has been observed spurting plumes of water into space. Ultraviolet spectrometers, on the Hubble Space Telescope, have recorded intermittent clouds of hydrogen and oxygen, in ratios that suggest its water. It’s already known that Europa has a large ocean under its icy crust. But these water spouts could provide a way of sampling the water for organic matter and possible life without having to land and drill through the moon’s surface. Irish Giants Northern Irish folklore is littered with tales of giants. Genetic work has established a link between people of Northern Irish origins with the genetic disorder, pituitary gigantism and some of these giants of old. Michael Brendan Holland, is one such modern day giant and genetic detective work has linked him to 18th century giant, Charles Byrne. New work suggests that the genetic variant which gives rise to big people is relatively common in Northern Ireland and not at all common in Eire and England…so the legends of Irish giants perhaps rooted in truth. Picture: Rosetta and comet 67P © ESA Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts
  • 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)