Science In Action [world Service]

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20101022

20171102

The BBC brings you all the week's science news.

A hidden void has been uncovered under the Great Pyramid in Giza. Using a new technique using muons which are a by-product of cosmic rays from the Universe. Explorers have visualized what they think could be a large void at least 30 metres long above the Great Gallery in the 4500 year old Pharaoh Khufu’s Pyramid.

Atlas of the Underworld
When the Earth’s crust slides under the surface at subduction zones, you might expect that the rock melts and gets amalgamated into the Earth’s Mantle. They do – eventually - but over millions and millions of years. This means that ocean-bed rock and continental rock, from as far back as 300 million years ago, exist as lost continents and islands in the inner Earth. New work using earthquake waves has located almost 100 such structures.

Pharaoh’s Serpent
Some of you may remember an indoor firework trick called the ‘Pharaoh’s Serpent’. You lit an ‘egg’ with a match, stood back and watched while a snake-like substance instantly grew out of the egg, meanwhile the room was engulfed in clouds of sulphurous smoke. It’s a party trick displaying the wonder of chemistry’, that’s been around since Victorian times and videos of the remarkable reaction are having a resurgence on the internet….but what’s it all about and why are chemists now, so interested in the party trick? Chemists re-examining the chemistry of the Serpent think it may have some more practical applications in superconductors.

Picture: Pyramids of Giza, Credit: stevenallan/Getty Images

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts

20180315
01/10/2010

08/03/201820180309 ()

The BBC brings you all the week's science news.

08/10/2010

15/03/201820180316 ()

The BBC brings you all the week's science news.

15/10/2010

15/10/201020101016

15/10/201020101017

17/09/2010

22/10/2010

22/10/201020101023

24/09/2010

Catastrophic Decline In Flying Insects20171026

Research in Germany suggests flying insects have declined by 75% over the past 30 years

A few decades ago, when you drove down a country road anywhere in Europe, your car windscreen would get splattered with the squashed bodies of flying insects. It's known as the 'windscreen phenomenon'. But now, there seem to be far fewer flying insects than there used to be. Scientists have long suspected that insects are in dramatic decline, but new evidence confirms this. Research at more than 60 protected areas in Germany suggests flying insects have declined by more than 75% over the past 30 years.

Splitting the Cost of Biodiversity
Globally, $14.4 billion was spent between 1996 and 2008 to help stop the decline in the World's plants and animals. There were some overall successes, with an average reduction in biodiversity loss of 29% per country over this time. However, not all countries are doing well - with the USA (mainly Hawaii), Indonesia, Malaysia, China and India some of the poor achievers. New research has looked at the numbers for each country and at how pressures from human development goals can conflict with saving biodiversity, and has calculated what each country needs to spend to reach biodiversity targets.

Hollywood Science
In the quest for a good storyline and lots of action, Hollywood doesn't always get its science right. The science of geophysics can get mangled in the plot. In the 1997 blockbuster 'Volcano', Tommy Lee Jones fights to save residents from volcanic lava flowing through the streets of LA, however the city is located neither near a hot spot nor a subduction zone which would be needed for a volcano to emerge. But rather than worrying about this and getting angry and shouting at the screen, top geophysicist Seth Stein, at Northwestern University, says that pointing out scientific errors can be a great place to engage students in the subject and help inject the healthy scepticism needed to be a good scientist.

Durian Fruit
It smells awful, and is banned in many public places, but to many Southeast Asians its creamy flesh is delicious. Why is there such a dichotomy between the smell and taste of the 'King of Fruit'? New genetic analysis may hold the answers and may even help technologists to engineer the smell out of the durian.

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts

Photo: Hoverfly Credit: Dr. Paul F. Donald

Cold Winter, Warm Climate

A new study links a warming Arctic with sudden cold winters, like the one we’re experiencing right now. It’s all down to weakening of the polar vortex which a team in Potsdam in Germany have linked to climate change causing the Arctic sea ice to melt at much greater rates.

The Largest Family Tree Ever
Scientists have harnessed genealogy datasets to create a massive family tree with over 13 million members. The new dataset offers fresh insights into the last 500 years of marriage and migration in Europe and North America, and the role of genes in longevity.

Skull Bashing
Can we make any inferences about whether the world is more or less violent than in the past from scanning ancient remains?

Wearable Technology Devices
The latest on wearable technology. Roland tries the next generation of wearable technology – smart plasters that measure your heartbeat and sweat chemistry; flexible, wearable LED health displays and ultrathin, flexible electrodes.

Picture: Car stuck in snow, Credit: JaysonPhotography/Getty Images

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts

Cold Winter, Warm Climate20180301

A new study links a warming Arctic with sudden cold winters, like the one we’re experiencing right now. It’s all down to weakening of the polar vortex which a team in Potsdam in Germany have linked to climate change causing the Arctic sea ice to melt at much greater rates.

The Largest Family Tree Ever
Scientists have harnessed genealogy datasets to create a massive family tree with over 13 million members. The new dataset offers fresh insights into the last 500 years of marriage and migration in Europe and North America, and the role of genes in longevity.

Skull Bashing
Can we make any inferences about whether the world is more or less violent than in the past from scanning ancient remains?

Wearable Technology Devices
The latest on wearable technology. Roland tries the next generation of wearable technology – smart plasters that measure your heartbeat and sweat chemistry; flexible, wearable LED health displays and ultrathin, flexible electrodes.

Picture: Car stuck in snow, Credit: JaysonPhotography/Getty Images

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts

Reversing Systemic Bias Against Women Scientists in the Media

Is there a systemic bias against women scientists in the media? When writing up scientific breakthroughs in The Atlantic Magazine, science journalist, Ed Yong noticed he was systematically quoting more male scientists than female in his stories. So he set out to investigate why, and redress the balance. Similarly, a study into the gender of authors in the big IPCC climate science reports also showed a much lower percentage of female authors. Is there an unconscious, systemic bias, and will increasing the percentage of women referenced change anything?

Colour-changing animals and climate change.
There are 21 species of mammals and birds that change from brown to white in the autumn, ready to be camouflaged against the coming snow. These include the iconic Arctic hare, ptarmigans and Arctic foxes. However, not all individuals moult into a white winter coat – there’s no evolutionary advantage, if they overwinter in areas with little or no snowfall. But with climate change reducing the areas covered in snow in the northern hemisphere, how quickly are these animals adapting to their changing environment? And how much more important are the areas where both brown and white forms coexist?

Science Funding in the US
Roland is in Austin, Texas this week at the AAAS science conference, where he’s finding out about how US scientists are coping with President Trump cutting science funding. Are they looking to philanthropy to stop up the finding gaps?

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Fiona Roberts

Photo: Female scientists researching in laboratory. Credit: Getty Images

Reversing Systemic Bias Against Women Scientists In The Media20180215

Is there a systemic bias against women scientists in the media? When writing up scientific breakthroughs in The Atlantic Magazine, science journalist, Ed Yong noticed he was systematically quoting more male scientists than female in his stories. So he set out to investigate why, and redress the balance. Similarly, a study into the gender of authors in the big IPCC climate science reports also showed a much lower percentage of female authors. Is there an unconscious, systemic bias, and will increasing the percentage of women referenced change anything?

Colour-changing animals and climate change.
There are 21 species of mammals and birds that change from brown to white in the autumn, ready to be camouflaged against the coming snow. These include the iconic Arctic hare, ptarmigans and Arctic foxes. However, not all individuals moult into a white winter coat – there’s no evolutionary advantage, if they overwinter in areas with little or no snowfall. But with climate change reducing the areas covered in snow in the northern hemisphere, how quickly are these animals adapting to their changing environment? And how much more important are the areas where both brown and white forms coexist?

Science Funding in the US
Roland is in Austin, Texas this week at the AAAS science conference, where he’s finding out about how US scientists are coping with President Trump cutting science funding. Are they looking to philanthropy to stop up the finding gaps?

Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Fiona Roberts

Photo: Female scientists researching in laboratory. Credit: Getty Images

Russia’s New Nuclear Age

President Vladimir Putin has just announced a whole new suite of strategic nuclear systems being developed in Russia. One of these is a worrying nuclear-powered cruise missile. Worrying - because back in the 1960’s the US tried something similar with their Project’s Pluto and SLAM and it turned out the missiles were too dangerous even to test. We find out how likely experts in the field think these claims are.

International Women’s Day (Thursday 8th March 2018)
Around the world, more and more women are becoming farmers and responsible for small holdings. Climate change is impacting women globally more than men, a good example is women tend to fetch water and water sources are becoming more scarce, so they have to travel further each day. Agriculture is first in the firing line when it comes to the negative impact of climate change. Is anyone doing anything to mitigate this double-whammy impact on women around the world?

Long-term Impact on Fisheries from Climate Change.
Changes in the cycling of nutrients in the world’s oceans are already occurring. Global warming is having an impact on the marine food chain already. Nutrients needed to feed phytoplankton, the first organisms in the food chain, are being locked up at depth. This means less food for the larger organisms, including fish. The decline has been predicted to be low and slow for the next 100 years. But new work has pushed the models further into the future and have shown much greater declines in fish stocks around the whole world by 2300.

Looking for Ice in Diamonds
Diamonds look nice on rings and necklaces, but they can also have uses beyond ornamentation. In a recent study, geologists have found minute traces of a new form of ice in diamonds from deep within the Earth’s mantle. Could this be evidence of an untapped ocean beneath our feet?

Picture: In May 1961 the world’s first nuclear ramjet engine, mounted on a railroad car, roared to life for just a few seconds at the Nevada Test Site’s Pluto Facility at Jackass Flats. Credit: Federal Government of the United States

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts

Russia’s New Nuclear Age20180308

President Vladimir Putin has just announced a whole new suite of strategic nuclear systems being developed in Russia. One of these is a worrying nuclear-powered cruise missile. Worrying - because back in the 1960’s the US tried something similar with their Project’s Pluto and SLAM and it turned out the missiles were too dangerous even to test. We find out how likely experts in the field think these claims are.

International Women’s Day (Thursday 8th March 2018)
Around the world, more and more women are becoming farmers and responsible for small holdings. Climate change is impacting women globally more than men, a good example is women tend to fetch water and water sources are becoming more scarce, so they have to travel further each day. Agriculture is first in the firing line when it comes to the negative impact of climate change. Is anyone doing anything to mitigate this double-whammy impact on women around the world?

Long-term Impact on Fisheries from Climate Change.
Changes in the cycling of nutrients in the world’s oceans are already occurring. Global warming is having an impact on the marine food chain already. Nutrients needed to feed phytoplankton, the first organisms in the food chain, are being locked up at depth. This means less food for the larger organisms, including fish. The decline has been predicted to be low and slow for the next 100 years. But new work has pushed the models further into the future and have shown much greater declines in fish stocks around the whole world by 2300.

Looking for Ice in Diamonds
Diamonds look nice on rings and necklaces, but they can also have uses beyond ornamentation. In a recent study, geologists have found minute traces of a new form of ice in diamonds from deep within the Earth’s mantle. Could this be evidence of an untapped ocean beneath our feet?

Picture: In May 1961 the world’s first nuclear ramjet engine, mounted on a railroad car, roared to life for just a few seconds at the Nevada Test Site’s Pluto Facility at Jackass Flats. Credit: Federal Government of the United States

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts

The BBC brings you all the week's science news.

Will Cape Town Run Out of Water?

9th July - It’s being called Day Zero, the day the taps are turned off in drought stricken Cape Town in South Africa. After 3 years of unexpectedly dry weather leaving no water in the reservoirs that serve the city, we ask what could have been done better to mitigate the water shortage and how to prevent the same thing happening in other cities around the world.

Gut Microbiome
We are discovering more and more about how connected we are to the microbes that live in our gut. Their impact is not just on our digestive health, but in our brains, on our behaviour and on our immune function. So it stands to reason that we need better ways to monitor our gut microbiome. Roland finds out about a toilet that can monitor your health as you go to the loo, a microbiome grown in a lab and a tiny mini gut on a microchip.

Watching a Planet Form
With telescopes getting bigger and better at seeing what’s going on in our Universe, what better way to spend your time than watching the chemistry of a planet forming from the dust swirling around a new star? Ideally you need 100’s of millions of years to see the whole process, but the ALMA telescope allows researchers to watch snapshots of hundreds of planets forming at different stages, allowing a picture of planet formation at the molecular, chemical level.

Picture: Cape Town the first major city in recent history to run out water, Credit: European Photopress Agency

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts and Samanta Oon

Will Cape Town Run Out Of Water?20180222

9th July - It’s being called Day Zero, the day the taps are turned off in drought stricken Cape Town in South Africa. After 3 years of unexpectedly dry weather leaving no water in the reservoirs that serve the city, we ask what could have been done better to mitigate the water shortage and how to prevent the same thing happening in other cities around the world.

Gut Microbiome
We are discovering more and more about how connected we are to the microbes that live in our gut. Their impact is not just on our digestive health, but in our brains, on our behaviour and on our immune function. So it stands to reason that we need better ways to monitor our gut microbiome. Roland finds out about a toilet that can monitor your health as you go to the loo, a microbiome grown in a lab and a tiny mini gut on a microchip.

Watching a Planet Form
With telescopes getting bigger and better at seeing what’s going on in our Universe, what better way to spend your time than watching the chemistry of a planet forming from the dust swirling around a new star? Ideally you need 100’s of millions of years to see the whole process, but the ALMA telescope allows researchers to watch snapshots of hundreds of planets forming at different stages, allowing a picture of planet formation at the molecular, chemical level.

Picture: Cape Town the first major city in recent history to run out water, Credit: European Photopress Agency

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts and Samanta Oon

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