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Science & Medicine

Why Bird Eggs are not all ‘Egg-shaped’
Science in Action BBC
access_time2 days ago
Bird’s eggs are not all shaped like a chicken’s egg, there is a huge diversity in the shape of bird’s eggs. From the almost spherical eggs of owls, to the conical guillemot egg and the zeppelin-shaped Mallee fowl eggs. It seems that the flying ability of a bird species is a major evolutionary driving force to what shape eggs they lay. Making Heart Valves Replacement heart valves are not a new thing. There are plastic ones and you can use animal heart valves. The main problem is these are all one fixed size. What if a growing child needs a new heart valve? This is where the new technique of engineering these vital valves comes in. Researchers at Harvard University have come up with a way to create heart valves that grow with the body. And one of the bits of kit they use is a bit like a souped-up candyfloss machine! Measuring Underground Water Reserves in Bengal Water stored under the ground in the Bengal Basin in North India is a vital source of fresh water for over 100 million people. The usual way to measure how much water is in these deep ancient porous sedimentary reservoirs is to measure the water level in a borehole. But new work has shown that when it rains (as in the monsoon), the increased weight of surface water from rainfall, lakes, rivers and flooding press down on the surface of the earth, increasing the pressure of water underground and thus giving a false reading of how much groundwater is there. New Mining Technologies in Chile Mining for copper, gold and other metals is big business in Chile. But prospecting for good sites in rugged and remote locations can be dangerous. Two new prospecting techniques, one using drones and the other measuring micro earthquakes are helping to find the best sites to mine safely and remotely. Picture: Shaping of eggs, credit: Science/PA Wire Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts
#ICYMI: Baseball: Physics at the Plate (Part 1) (Repeat)
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time2 days ago
During off-season, Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly went to SXSW for a few “exhibition games” with the folks at TuneIn. First up, the science of pitching, hitting, and catching with Toronto Blue Jays catcher JP Arencibia, astrophysicist Charles Liu and Holden Kushner, host of MLB on TuneIn. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe on: iTunes Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science TuneIn: http://tunein.com/radio/Playing-with-Science-p952100/ SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Taking On Tobacco - Lung Cancer in Uruguay
Discovery BBC
access_time3 days ago
For more than 65 years we have known that smoking kills. So how can it be that a Mexican wave of tobacco use, disease and death is heading at breakneck speed towards the world’s poorest people? Millions will die of lung cancer and it is hard to grasp that this is a largely preventable disease. Uruguay in South America could hold the key to breaking this wave. Under a President who is a cancer specialist they introduced some of the most radical tobacco control policies in the world and attracted the wrath of corporate tobacco giant, Philip Morris, in the process. Anu Anand reports on Uruguay’s crusade to save its citizens. Image: Roberto, life long smoker who has lung cancer Credit: Anu Anand
Taking On Tobacco - Lung Cancer in Uruguay
Discovery BBC
access_time5 days ago
Uruguay takes on Big Tobacco in crusade to save its citizens
Transient Global Amnesia
The Science Hour BBC
access_time7 days ago
We all forget things – but one listener on holiday in Croatia tells Claudia how he literally could not remember what he was doing on the beach after a swim. Luckily his memory came back. As Professor Adam Zeman from the University of Exeter explains, he suffered an episode of transient global amnesia, which can be caused by stress or cold water. Data from the Earth’s climate has inspired a work of art. Climate Symphony, created by Disobedient Films, is a live music performance that turns hard data on climate change into a symphony to tell the story of what climate change means through sound. The artist-filmmaker Leah Borromeo explains how. President Trump's promise to build a "great wall" along the US-Mexico border remains one of the central and most controversial promises of his presidency. But scientists from the University of Arizona are starting to unravel the effect that such a wall could have on a desert ecosystem it will cut through. The team is studying wildlife in the Sonoran Desert, which stretches across the border from Arizona into Mexico and is already divided by a barrier at the border. BBC science reporter Victoria Gill joined the team in a search for some of the desert's most endangered animals. Liver cancer is a big killer in Mongolia as often tumours are only found once they are very advanced. Anu Anand visits Mongolia to learn about palliative care for patients with liver cancer. New technology from Stanford University allows wireless chargers to ‘beam’ energy directly into electrical devices while they move around. Will the technology finally rid us of tangled cables? Modeling the brain with maths. New research using multidimensional models is helping researchers understand the levels of complexity in brain function. (Photo caption: Concerned senior man © Getty Images) The Science Hour was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from Victoria Gill, BBC Science Reporter Producer: Caroline Steel
The Science of Climate and Weather, with Kathy Sullivan
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time7 days ago
Neil Tyson explores the challenge of predicting weather and understanding climate, with ex-NOAA admin. Kathy Sullivan, co-host Scott Adsit, climate scientist Radley Horton, meteorologist Nick Gregory, paleoclimatologist Linda Sohl, astrobiologist David Grinspoon, Bill Nye. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Dying in Comfort in Mongolia
Discovery BBC
access_time8 days ago
The Mongolian matriarch who is helping people with terminal liver cancer die in comfort
Wireless Charging
Science in Action BBC
access_time9 days ago
New technology from Stanford University could allow wireless chargers to ‘beam’ energy directly into the electrical devices at a distance. Roland looks into the future of wireless technology, and whether it will rid us of the plague of cables. Women Misjudged By Science Science has too often helped to enhance false stereotypes of women as the ‘inferior’ sex according to author Angela Saini. She tells Roland how scientific investigations into sex can be too easily influenced by the internalised biases of the experimenter. Bloody Computers Computers, like the brains of animals, need energy to operate, but they’re pretty difficult to keep cool. Blood provides both energy and cooling for brains, but computers use wires and fans. Roland Pease meets an IBM researcher seeking to solve the problem with “electronic blood”. Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Louisa Field
#ICYMI: Hockey: Physics on Ice (Part 1)
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time9 days ago
Get your skates, grab your stick, and join Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly as they find out why hockey has more science in it than any sport on Earth! With physics professor Alain Haché, Bauer Hockey’s Craig Desjardin, and LA Kings color commentator Daryl Evans. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe on: iTunes Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science TuneIn: http://tunein.com/radio/Playing-with-Science-p952100/ SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Truth about Cancer: Dying in Comfort in Mongolia
Discovery BBC
access_time12 days ago
Anu Anand travels the globe to investigate how different countries are tackling cancer.
Oldest Homo sapiens Found
The Science Hour BBC
access_time14 days ago
The oldest fossils of Homo sapiens have been unearthed in Morocco. They are over 100,000 years older than the next oldest H.sapiens fossils, and show subtle differences in brain size and appearance from modern man. We were thought to have originated in an East African “garden of Eden” but this find shakes up what we thought we knew about human evolution and migration. When someone dies unexpectedly and doctors can’t be certain of the cause, a pathologist can conduct a post mortem which can be very distressing for relatives. One alternative – using a CT scanner to x-ray the body – has now been shown to be as effective as a traditional autopsy in establishing the cause of death. New Zealand is reputed to have more working dogs per capita than anywhere else in the world – an estimated 200,000. Simon Morton visits a high country sheep station and reports on a ground-breaking study using canine fitbits to monitor the dogs’ lives. What impact could the US’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement have on the global climate? Climate experts dissect President Trump’s speech on the topic, and discuss what this will mean for world politics. Spring in the Middle East always heralds the days of dust – roughly 50 days of storms known in Arabic as the khamaseen. Meteorologists say they are becoming more intense and more frequent, leading to fears of increased health problems for anyone exposed to the dust. Dale Gavlak reports from Wadi Rum, in the Jordanian desert. We have news of a one in a million stellar observation: light bending around a distant star. This is the first time the phenomenon has been observed outside our solar system, and is further proof of Einstein's theory of General Relativity. The Science Hour was presented by Roland Pease with comments from Nature podcast editor, Kerri Smith Producer: Caroline Steel Picture: The oldest Homo sapiens skull showing subtle differences in brain size and the prominence of the brow ridge compared with modern man, Credit: Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig
Cosmic Queries: A Taste of Space, with Matt O’Dowd
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time15 days ago
Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Eugene Mirman answer fan submitted Cosmic Queries with Matt O’Dowd, astrophysicist and host of PBS Space Time, about vacuum decay, mapping the galaxy, diamond planets, a simulation universe and much, much, more! NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
#ICYMI - Game Changer – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Skyhook
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time15 days ago
Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice explore the physics of the legendary Skyhook with the help of Neil deGrasse Tyson and three superstars from the LA Lakers’ “Showtime” dynasty: Jamaal Wilkes, Michael Cooper, and the NBA’s all-time point scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: http://www.tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Oldest Homo Sapiens Found
Science in Action BBC
access_time16 days ago
The oldest fossils of Homo sapiens have been unearthed in Morocco. They are over 100,000 years older than the next oldest H.sapiens fossils, and show subtle differences in brain size and appearance from modern man. We were thought to have originated in an East African “garden of Eden” but this find, thousands of miles away, shakes up what we thought we knew about human evolution and migration. Is Cooperation a Selfish Act? Is cooperation driven by a selfless concern for others, or by a strategic – if selfish – desire to increase personal returns in the future? Roland speaks with Oxford researcher Maxwell Burton-Chellew about his team’s evidence that there needs to be a tangible future benefit for some humans to cooperate with each other. The Paris Agreement: What now? What impact could the US’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement have on the global climate? Climate experts dissect President Trump’s speech on the topic, and discuss what this will mean for world politics. Picture: The oldest Homo sapiens skull showing subtle differences in brain size and the prominence of the brow ridge compared with modern man, Credit: Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Louisa Field
Can Robots be Truly Intelligent?
Discovery BBC
access_time19 days ago
From Skynet and the Terminator franchise, through Wargames and Ava in Ex Machina, artificial intelligences pervade our cinematic experiences. But AIs are already in the real world, answering our questions on our phones and making diagnoses about our health. Adam Rutherford asks if we are ready for AI, when fiction becomes reality, and we create thinking machines.
Ultra-Tough Antibiotic to Fight Superbugs
The Science Hour BBC
access_time21 days ago
After years of work a team at Scripps Research Institute in the US has re-engineered the antibiotic, vancomycin – which is used to treat conditions such as serious diarrhoea – so that bacteria cannot develop resistance to it. Claudia Hammond talked Dr Tim Jinks, Head of the Drug Resistant Infections Programme at the Wellcome Trust. Gareth Mitchell talks to Alexandra Grigore, the CEO of Simprints which has developed an inexpensive biometric scanner, mobile app, and cloud platform that could become the first identity provider for over a billion people who do not have formal IDs. The technology uses people’s fingerprints to accurately link them to records. Ancient Egyptian mummies give up their genetic secrets. Mitochondrial DNA from mummified remains show how much ancient Egyptians interbred with populations from Asia, Africa and Europe. The first detection of gravitational waves, announced February 2016, was a milestone in physics and astronomy; it was quickly followed by another find. Now teams working on the LIGO detector have just announced their third new detection. All three signals are thought to be caused by two black holes merging. This time the spin might give clues as to where the original stars formed. Mercury pollution in Colombia’s environment is the third highest in the world due to its gold mining industry. BBC Reporter Natalio Cosoy travelled to Segovia in Colombia - the area in the country with the highest mercury contamination - to find out how using mercury for processing gold is impacting on the health of miners and the surrounding community. But scientists at the University of Leicester have used rock samples from a gold mine in Scotland to prove they can do the job a different way, using a mixture of vitamin B4 and urea and avoiding toxic mercury. Image caption: Computer artwork of Enterococcus faecalis bacteria (previously known as Streptococcus faecalis) © SPL The Science Hour was presented by Gareth Mitchell with comments from BBC News reporter, Smitha Mundasad Producer: Caroline Steel
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, with Jill Tarter
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time21 days ago
Is anybody out there? Neil deGrasse Tyson and former SETI Institute director Jill Tarter search for ET, with the help of comic co-host Michael Ian Black, SETI’s Seth Shostak, neuroscientist Lori Marino, Mona Chalabi, and Bill Nye. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Enzymes
In Our Time: Science BBC
access_time23 days ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss enzymes, the proteins that control the speed of chemical reactions in living organisms. Without enzymes, these reactions would take place too slowly to keep organisms alive: with their actions as catalysts, changes which might otherwise take millions of years can happen hundreds of times a second. Some enzymes break down large molecules into smaller ones, like the ones in human intestines, while others use small molecules to build up larger, complex ones, such as those that make DNA. Enzymes also help keep cell growth under control, by regulating the time for cells to live and their time to die, and provide a way for cells to communicate with each other. With Nigel Richards Professor of Biological Chemistry at Cardiff University Sarah Barry Lecturer in Chemical Biology at King's College London And Jim Naismith Director of the Research Complex at Harwell Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of St Andrews Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford Producer: Simon Tillotson.
More Gravitational Waves Detected
Science in Action BBC
access_time23 days ago
The first detection of gravitational waves, announced February 2016, was a milestone in physics and astronomy, it was quickly followed by another find. Now teams working on the LIGO detector have just announced their third new detection. Gravitational waves are 'ripples' in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe. All three signals are thought to be caused by two black holes merging. This time the spin might give clues as to where the original stars formed. Safer Gold Extraction Many gold mines separate the precious metal dust from the rock using toxic substances like cyanide and mercury, but scientists at the University of Leicester have used rock samples from a gold mine in Scotland to prove they can do the job a different way, using a mixture of vitamin B4 and urea. Genetics of Ancient Egyptian Mummies Ancient Egyptian mummies give up their genetic secrets. Mitochondrial DNA from mummified remains show how much ancient Egyptians interbred with populations from Asia, Africa and Europe. Picture: Nasa’s depiction of gravitational waves emerging from a black hole. Credit: Nasa Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts
StarTalk SoundBite: Citizens, Congress and Climate Change Data
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time23 days ago
Why has our government taken little action for climate change prevention? Listen as former science advisor to President Obama John Holdren and Senator Cory Booker tell Neil deGrasse Tyson why climate change and other important issues have been put on the sideline. If you like this StarTalk SoundBite, be sure to check out the full StarTalk Radio episode, "StarTalk Live! Let’s Make America Smart Again (Part 1)" at https://soundcloud.com/startalk/startalk-live-lets-make-america-smart-again-part-1
#ICYMI: Cosmic Queries: The Physics of Soccer
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time23 days ago
In this week’s off-season episode of Playing with Science, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice answer fan-submitted questions about soccer, with a little help on the science of “the beautiful game” from returning fan-favorite physicist John Eric Goff. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: http://www.tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
StarTalk SoundBite: The Age of Misinformation
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time23 days ago
Why is there so much misinformation on the Internet? Tune in as David Helfand tells Neil deGrasse Tyson and Chuck Nice about the “absent curation” of daily data and how the creation of search engines was helpful but also created more problems. If you like this StarTalk Soundbite, be sure to check out the full StarTalk Radio episode "Science Literacy in the Misinformation Age – #LMASA" at https://soundcloud.com/startalk/science-literacy-in-the-misinformation-age-lmasa
Robots - More Human than Human?
Discovery BBC
access_time26 days ago
Robots are becoming present in our lives, as companions, carers and as workers. Adam Rutherford explores our relationship with these machines. Have we made them to be merely more dextrous versions of us? Why do we want to make replicas of ourselves? Should we be worried that they could replace us at work? Is it a good idea that robots are becoming carers for the elderly? Adam Rutherford meets some of the latest robots and their researchers and explores how the current reality has been influenced by fictional robots from films. He discusses the need for robots to be human like with Dr Ben Russell, curator of the current exhibition of robots at the Science Museum in London. In the Bristol Robotics Laboratory Adam meets Pepper, a robot that is being programmed to look after the elderly by Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly. He also interacts with Kaspar, a robot that Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn at the University of Hertfordshire has developed to help children with autism learn how to communicate better. Cultural commentator Matthew Sweet considers the role of robots in films from Robbie in Forbidden Planet to the replicants in Blade Runner. Dr Kate Devlin of Goldsmiths, University of London, talks about sex robots, in the past and now. And Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, looks ahead to a future when robots may be taking jobs from us. Image; BBC ©
Vaginal Microbiome
The Science Hour BBC
access_time28 days ago
An Australian study has shed light on the collection of microbes that help to keep a woman’s vagina healthy. Unprotected sex not only spreads sexually transmitted diseases but also penile bacteria, which changes the vaginal microbiome and increases the risk of bacterial vaginosis. Why flamingos can stand on one leg has always been a bit of a mystery but by studying dead ones, scientists have finally cracked it. Meanwhile, US Navy-trained dolphins are being used to find the incredibly rare vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of Mexico. There are only 30 left and conservationists hope to catch them and give them a new, protected home. "Bring out the lasers!" Marks and Spencer and other European supermarkets are trying to reduce the waste and environmental burden of having to label every piece of produce by marking them with a very clever laser label. Plus, our studio guest Marnie Chesterton finds out why salt tastes salty. The superior performance of Sherpa guides on Mount Everest is legendary and new findings reveal how their bodies do it. Beyond Everest, the Juno space probe has reached Jupiter and has photographed giant, Earth-size hurricanes. (Image caption: Bacterial infection. Rod-shaped Lactobacillus bacteria © iStock / Getty Images Plus) The Science Hour was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from Marnie Chesterton who presents BBC World Service’s CrowdScience Producer: Graihagh Jackson
Cosmic Queries: Potpourri Vol. 2
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time28 days ago
Neil Tyson and first-time co-host Eddie Brill answer a potpourri of fan-submitted Cosmic Queries. Topics include alien communication, gravity assist, electromagnetism; "Blade Runner," "Interstellar" & "Arrival;" independent thinking, junk science, and more! NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Giant hurricanes at Jupiter’s poles
Science in Action BBC
access_time30 days ago
The first analysis of the observations of Jupiter from NASA’s Juno mission, this includes cyclones clustered at the poles and a massive mega-magnetosphere. How Sherpas Cope with Low Oxygen Experiments from the ‘Xtreme Everest 2’ mission uncovers the physiological mechanisms that have evolved in Sherpas to help them adapt to high altitude living. The manner in which they cope with the low oxygen environment of the Himalayas, may help treat hypoxic (low blood oxygen) patients in intensive care. Saving the Vaquita Conservationists using US Navy-trained bottlenose dolphins to find the incredibly rare and endangered Vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of California. With fewer than 30 individuals left in the wild, the conservationist's last resort is to try and catch these beautiful, tiny cetaceans and house them in a protected zone. Fruit Labels "Bring out the lasers!" Marks and Spencer and other European supermarkets are trying to reduce the waste and environmental burden of having to label every piece of produce by marking them with a very clever laser label. Picture credit: NASA Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts
#ICYMI - Baseball - Home Run Physics
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time30 days ago
Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice learn why it’s so hard to hit one out of the park, Guests: Geoff Blum, the Chicago White Sox legend and announcer for the Houston Astros, and Alan M. Nathan, Professor Emeritus of Physics. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: http://www.tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
History of the Rise of the Robots
Discovery BBC
access_time1 month ago
The idea of robots goes back to the Ancient Greeks. In myths Hephaestus, the god of fire, created robots to assist in his workshop. In the medieval period the wealthy showed off their automata. In France in the 15th century a Duke of Burgundy had his chateau filled with automata that played practical tricks on his guests, such as spraying water at them. By the 18th century craftsmen were making life like performing robots. In 1738 in Paris people queued to see the amazing flute playing automaton, designed and built by Jacques Vaucanson. With the industrial revolution the idea of automata became intertwined with that of human workers. The word robot first appears in a 1921 play, Rossum's Universal Robots, by Czech author Carel Chapek. Drawing on examples from fact and fiction, Adam Rutherford explores the role of robots in past societies and discovers they were nearly always made in our image, and inspired both fear and wonder in their audiences. He talks to Dr Elly Truitt of Bryn Mawr College in the US about ancient and medieval robots, to Simon Shaffer, Professor of History of Science at Cambridge University and to Dr Andrew Nahum of the Science Museum about !8th century automata, and to Dr Ben Russell of the Science Museum about robots and workers in the 20th century. And Matthew Sweet provides the cultural context. Picture credit: BBC
Recycling Radio Telescopes
The Science Hour BBC
access_time1 month ago
Africa has a new telescope. Built in Ghana, it has been constructed from decommissioned dishes and they hope to build more, improving the telescopes’ ability to depict things like pulsars. In London, Adam Rutherford sees 100-year old tumour samples. Great Ormond Street Hospital is now using them to improve the treatment of rare cancers in children. Meanwhile, on a gondola in Venice, Gareth Mitchell celebrates the Biennale Art Festival where technology is playing an increasing role in art. Quantum scientists from Google, IBM and Microsoft are all working on new systems that will outpace any conventional one. Roland knocks at the door of one of these supercomputers to see it in action. The relative inaction of plants may make it a tedious kingdom to study. Not so, says plant biologist Ottoline Leyser. Plants are intelligent and possess a unique ability to adapt in ways we can only dream of. One such dream might be to have the sniffing powers of a hound but a new review argues that our sense of smell could be just as good when it comes to certain scents. Finally, how one conservationist took a leopard to the dentist. We hear about Amy Dickman’s extraordinary efforts to save big cats. (Photo credit: Ghana radio dish © SKA SA) The Science Hour was presented by Roland Pease with comments from David Robson of BBC Future Producer: Graihagh Jackson
Science Literacy in the Misinformation Age - #LMASA
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time1 month ago
Continuing with our Let’s Make America Smart Again series, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice welcome astronomer and author David Helfand to discuss science literacy in the misinformation age and what you can do to find the facts. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
African Astronomers Recycle Old Telecoms Dishes
Science in Action BBC
access_time1 month ago
Africa has a new telescope. The second radio telescope on the African continent has been built in Ghana. Using old, decommissioned telecommunications dishes, they hope to erect more of these telescopes, which can form an array, getting a better reading of things like distant pulsars in the southern skies. Severe Rainfall and Climate Change Severe rainfall and climate change – it’s almost become a mantra of climate change – “More severe weather, such as rainfall, in more unpredictable patterns”. Researchers have been looking at ways to predict severe precipitation events around the world. It was already understood that a warmer atmosphere holds more water, but new work is showing that it’s the increased turbulence in the atmosphere creates conditions for more extreme rain storms. Waterlogged Land And the worst effect of severe rainfall is when it falls on already saturated ground. This is when flooding can occur. The latest land surveying satellites can measure the waterlogged-ness of the ground and help pinpoint regions of likely flooding. Why Humans Don’t Have a Penis Bone, But Chimps Do? The evolution of the penis bone or baculum is an interesting story. Only mammals have one and not all of them at that. The size of the penis bone varies greatly between species and it’s bigger in some animals than others, but why? Apparently it has got something to do with monogamy. Picture: Men working on Ghana radio telescope. Photo courtesy SKA SA Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts
Louis Pasteur
In Our Time: Science BBC
access_time1 month ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and work of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) and his extraordinary contribution to medicine and science. It is said few people have saved more lives than Pasteur. A chemist, he showed that otherwise identical molecules could exist as 'left' and 'right-handed' versions and that molecules produced by living things were always left-handed. He proposed a germ theory to replace the idea of spontaneous generation. He discovered that microorganisms cause fermentation and disease. He began the process named after him, pasteurisation, heating liquids to 50-60 C to kill microbes. He saved the beer and wine industries in France when they were struggling with microbial contamination. He saved the French silk industry when he found a way of protecting healthy silkworm eggs from disease. He developed vaccines against anthrax and rabies and helped establish immunology. Many of his ideas were developed further after his lifetime, but one of his legacies was a charitable body, the Pasteur Institute, to continue research into infectious disease. With Andrew Mendelsohn Reader in the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London Anne Hardy Honorary Professor at the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Michael Worboys Emeritus Professor in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester Producer: Simon Tillotson.
#ICYMI: Football: Crushing the Combine
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time1 month ago
Get the inside scoop on the NFL Scouting Combine! Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice learn what it takes to turn a hard-up college student into a multi-millionaire in 6 weeks. Guests: Trainer Pete Bommarito and NFL Media Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: http://www.tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Quantum Supremacy
Discovery BBC
access_time1 month ago
IBM is giving users worldwide the chance to use a quantum computer; Google is promising "quantum supremacy" by the end of the year; Microsoft's Station Q is working on the hardware and operating system for a machine that will outpace any conventional computer. Roland Pease meets some of the experts, and explores the technology behind the next information revolution. Picture: Bright future for Quantum Computing, credit: Jonathan Home @ETH
Do New Violins Sound Better Than Old Famed Instruments?
The Science Hour BBC
access_time1 month ago
Classical fans will know of the legendary violins made by the Italians in the 17th and 18th century. But new research has found that concertgoers rated the music of new fiddles better than the old ones. We make the test of our own and put your ears through their paces. Uber faces allegations that their software is deliberately evading US transport officials. Google's autonomous cars spinoff Waymo has also filed a lawsuit against them over trade secrets. Driverless cars are one thing but how would you feel if an autonomous robot were to give you an injection in your eyeball? We will be hearing about a Swiss trialling this technology. Meanwhile in Germany, researchers are copying snakeskin's waterproofing capabilities. We will be wading through the muddy swamps of Singapore to see how mangroves are acting as carbons sinks. Just as turning down the thermostat is considered better for the environment, research suggests it could be good for your waistline too. The diameter of a tree's trunk is providing satellite scientists with important information about trees. Surprisingly, there was 40% more dry forest cover than we thought. Finally, we will be asking why commercial flights do not have ejector seats like fighter jets. (Photo caption: People play violins and cellos at the Palais Royal in Paris during the annual music event © Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images) The Science Hour was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from Victoria Gill, BBC Science Reporter Producer: Graihagh Jackson
The Power of Science Fiction, with William Shatner
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time1 month ago
Energize! Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with William Shatner to reflect on Star Trek and the enduring power of science fiction. Featuring comic co-host Chuck Nice, astrophysicist Charles Liu, NASA engineer David Batchelor, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
A strangely-formed Exoplanet
Science in Action BBC
access_time1 month ago
A good way of finding out about how our solar system formed is to look at other star systems and their planets. From the exoplanets so far examined in detail, a general correlation has emerged between the amount of elements heavier than helium and hydrogen, in the atmosphere, and the mass of the planet. It’s complicated, but this gives us clues to the size and composition of the planet as well as how and when it formed. But new observations of planet HAT-P-26b, 437 light years away, do not fit this trend. So what’s going on? More Trees Researchers have looked at tree cover in dryland regions and found that previous estimates were out by 40-47%. Using Google Earth’s very high resolution satellite images and local students and scientists to analyse the images, the team discovered there is as much forest cover in drylands (such as parts of Latin America, Africa, Australia and Southern Europe) as there are in tropical habitats. This increases the area of tree cover over the whole planet by 9%. The findings are important when putting in numbers into the big calculations about carbon cycles and climate change. Mangroves Dan Friess of the National University of Singapore studies mangrove forests around the coasts of tropical Pacific and Indian ocean countries. This kind of forest has turned out to store much more carbon than even rainforests, as measured by the hectare. Snake-skin Inspiration Given that the natural world has had millions of years to evolve the solutions to many problems, its little surprise that materials scientists often look to nature for solutions to our human problems. Inspiration from snakes shedding old skins has been applied to super-waterproof nanomaterials. This will hopefully improve on the lotus leaf effect, which involves special waxes and a textured surface, that means water beads up and runs off them, taking the dirt with it. When a coating based on the lotus gets damaged, the whole lot is compromised. But a group in Germany have looked at making materials that shed a layer when it gets damaged in a way similar to snakes shedding their skins. Picture: A planet transits its star, credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/GettyImages Presenter: Bobbie Lakhera Producer: Fiona Roberts
#ICYMI - The Art of the Hail Mary
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time1 month ago
The Hail Mary pass is one of the most exciting plays you’ll ever see in any sport. This week, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice look at one of the greatest, the “Miracle at Michigan,” with the man who threw it, Kordell Stewart, and physicist John Eric Goff. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: http://www.tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Re-engineering Life
Discovery BBC
access_time2 months ago
Synthetic biology, coming to a street near you. Engineers and biologists who hack the information circuits of living cells are already getting products to the market. Roland Pease meets the experts who are transforming living systems to transform our lives. Picture: MIT spinout Synlogic is re-programming bacteria found in the gut as "living therapeutics" to treat major diseases and rare genetic disorders, courtesy of Synlogic
Birdwatching from Space
The Science Hour BBC
access_time2 months ago
For the first time, conservationists can monitor Northern Royal albatrosses from space. Normally, twitchers would don a raincoat and venture into their breeding grounds on the remote Chatham Islands in New Zealand but using satellites, scientists can now count them from the comforts of their office. We have shocking research where volunteers were invited to electrocute each other to help us understand more about altruism. We also hear from a researcher who inflicted wounds on willing volunteers in the hope of finding out how we can speed up recovery times. Gareth meets the singer who is using augmented reality and redefining the meaning of ‘streaming’ as she launches her new album from one of the quietest places on Earth. Scientists have been scratching around in the mud to find DNA of early humans. We’re given access to the testing facility for the next Mars rover, which will be doing some similar digging on the Red Planet in search of life. Finally, we head to Germany to hear about a scheme that pairs local parents with refugee mums-to-be to help them navigate childbirth away from home. The Science Hour was presented by Gareth Mitchell with comments from Jonathan Amos, BBC Science Correspondent. Producer: Graihagh Jackson Picture: Northern Royal albatross and chick, Credit: © Paul Scofield
The Rise of Self-Driving Cars
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time2 months ago
Neil deGrasse Tyson investigates the fast-rising world of self-driving cars with former VP of R&D at GM and Mobility Consultant for Google, Inc. Larry Burns, Wired magazine transportation editor Alex Davies, and comic co-host Chuck Nice. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Counting Birds from Space
Science in Action BBC
access_time2 months ago
For the first time conservationists can monitor and count birds from space. Using the next-generation Earth observation satellites, scientists count Northern Royal Albatrosses on their breeding grounds on the remote Chatham Islands, off New Zealand. Many of these large, majestic seabirds are threatened, not least by long-line fishing. But they are rarely on land, and often nest in difficult to get to places. But because they’re big and white, high-resolution satellite images can spot them. Insect Flight With wings that flap up to 600 times per second, watching the precise movements of mosquitos in flight is impossible for the human eye. Somehow, these and other tiny insects are able to fly through the heavy turbulence of wind and rain. Research out this month has uncovered unexpected aerodynamic techniques that keep the miniscule creatures airborne, the understanding of which can aid the development of smaller and better drone technology. But how do you film a 4mm mosquito’s individual wing beats in slow motion? Cassini Reveals Saturn’s Secrets 20 years ago the Cassini-Huygens mission set off to Saturn, the gas giant with its iconic rings. Since its arrival in 2004, Saturn, its moons and its rings have been revealing their secrets to NASA-ESA’s ‘Discovery Machine’ which bristles with instruments and scientific equipment. Among the main discoveries are ice-plumes erupting from the moon Enceladus, and the identification of rain, rivers, lakes and oceans on the Earth-like Titan. From its launch to its bitter-sweet grand finale, the Cassini-Huygens mission will have racked up a remarkable list of achievements. Image: Bobbie Lakhera © BBC Presenter: Bobbie Lakhera Producer: Fiona Roberts
#ICYMI - Slam Dunk Science (Part 2)
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time2 months ago
Our Playing with Science TuneIn party at the SXSW festival concludes with hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly exploring what makes an NBA superstar, with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, NBA All-Star Caron Butler, and actor Michael Rapaport, the co-host of the Two-Man-Weave podcast on TuneIn. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: http://tunein.com/radio/Playing-with-Science-p952100/ iTunes Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Hunting for Life on Mars
Discovery BBC
access_time2 months ago
As a small rocky planet, Mars is similar in many respects to the Earth and for that reason, many have thought it may harbour some kind of life. A hundred years ago, there was serious talk about the possibility of advanced civilisations there. Even in early 1970s, scientists mused that plant-like aliens might grow in the Martian soil. The best hope now is for something microbial. But the discovery that even simple life survives there or did some time in its history would be a profound one. We would know that life is not something special to Earth. NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered that 3.7 billion years ago, there were conditions hospitable to life on Mars – a sustained period of time with lakes and rivers of water. The earlier rover Spirit found deposits of silica from ancient hot springs which some planetary scientists argue bear the hallmarks of being shaped by microbes - possibly. The next five years may dramatically advance the hunt for life on Mars. In 2020 the European and Russian space agencies will send their ExoMars rover. That will drill two metres into the Red Planet’s surface and sample material shielded from the sterilising radiation. It will analyse for life both extant and extinct. In the future, robotic or possibly human missions may even explore Martian cave systems in Mars' vast volcanoes. Monica talks to Nasa's Penny Boston whose adventures in some of the world's most dangerous caves have convinced her that underground is the best place to look. Monica Grady is Professor of Planetary and Space Science at the Open University. Credit: Curiosity in Gale Crater, credit NASA-JPL Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
Homo naledi
The Science Hour BBC
access_time2 months ago
A species of hominin has been causing excitement this week. Homo naledi was thought to be up to three million years old but new evidence suggests it’s much younger at 200,000 to 300,000 years old, which means it could have been walking the Earth at the same time as us. The other news that has sparked controversy is the data that advocates America was populated 100,000 years earlier than previously thought. To unpick the evolution of the Universe, a giant detector is being built called Lux-Zeppelin. Scientists hope it will reveal what dark matter is – the stuff that makes up the vast majority of the cosmos but we’ve been unable to detect. Graihagh Jackson sneaks a peek at the ‘eyes’ of this experiment before they’re installed in South Dakota. In Pakistan, doctors are trailing a life-saving drug which could slash maternal deaths. A very hungry caterpillar has been shown to eat plastic and could be used to hoover up the ubiquitous pollutant. Sand is being used as a molecular straitjacket in vaccines to protect the ingredients from breaking down when left unrefrigerated. Plus, the new space-based monitoring system, which could help scientists predict volcanic eruptions. The Science Hour was presented by Roland Pease with comments from Adam Hart, BBC World Service Science in Action. Producer: Graihagh Jackson (Picture caption: The skeleton of Homo Naledi © Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty Images)
StarTalk Live! Let’s Make America Smart Again (Part 2)
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time2 months ago
Our mission to Make America Smart Again continues with the conclusion of our show from the Count Basie Theatre. Ft. Neil Tyson, Eugene Mirman, Sen. Cory Booker, science policy advisors John Holdren and Jo Handelsman, Ophira Eisenberg, Baratunde Thurston. #LMASA NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
#ICYMI - Slam Dunk Science (Part 1)
StarTalk Radio StarTalk Radio
access_time2 months ago
Playing with Science hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly are talking roundball from the TuneIn stage at SXSW with former NBA All-Star Caron Butler, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and actor Michael Rapaport, the co-host of Two-Man-Weave on TuneIn. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: http://tunein.com/radio/Playing-with-Science-p952100/ iTunes Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
The Earliest North Americans
Science in Action BBC
access_time2 months ago
Evidence of human inhabitation of North America is quite sparse and quite contentious. So far the oldest indigenous Americans are thought to have migrated to the continent via the Beringia land bridge between Siberia and Alaska 40,000 – 17,000 years ago. But new analysis of Mastodon bones, tusks and teeth, as well as large stones, found in California, could be revealing hominin activity 130,000 years ago. The discovery of what looks like man-made breaks in the bones, and stones being brought in to be used as hammers and anvils, tied in with new dating techniques is intriguing paleoanthropologists around the world. Plastic-Eating Caterpillars Polythene from plastic bags and bottles is polluting every corner of the Earth, from the deepest deep sea trenches to the tops of mountains. This non-biodegradable substance is a growing environmental problem. So when scientists discovered a moth caterpillar can ‘eat’ plastic, they wanted to find out more. The wax moth larvae like to live in bee hives, where they’re known to eat beeswax. Beeswax has a chemical structure similar to polythene. So when a researcher noticed that the plastic bags she’d stored her beeswax in overwinter, had been chewed by wax moth caterpillars, she and a team of scientists investigated. It’s still not known whether it's the bacteria in the guts of the larvae, or enzymes produced by the larva itself, that breakdown plastic. But whatever it is, it could be a useful tool in dealing with the growing problem of plastic pollution. Homo naledi The recent discovery and naming of a new human species, Homo naledi, found in deep caves in South Africa was very exciting. At the time, it was thought that this strange creature was 1-2 million years old. Homo naledi walked upright, was about 5ft tall, with some features – notably the hands and feet – more like human species, and some, the head and upper body more like earlier ape-like people. But news has broken this week that naledi is much, much younger, a contemporary of our own recent ancestors, living only 200-300,000 years ago. Picture: A view of two mastodon femur balls, one faced up and once faced down. Neural spine of a vertebra exposed (lower right) and a broken rib (lower left). Credit: San Diego Natural History Museum Presenter: Adam Hart Producer: Fiona Roberts
Lifechangers: Charles Bolden
Discovery BBC
access_time2 months ago
In Lifechangers, Kevin Fong talks to people about their lives in science. Major General Charles Bolden – a former NASA administrator – talks to Kevin Fong about his extraordinary life, from childhood in racially segregated South Carolina to the first African American to command a space shuttle. He had originally hoped to join the Navy, but was unable to as an African American. Although Charles refused to take no for an answer and after much petitioning he was accepted. From there he reached for the stars. Image: Charlie Bolden, © Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Naked Mole-Rat
The Science Hour BBC
access_time2 months ago
Evolution has produced some weird and wonderful things - few more so than the naked mole-rat. They are formidable creatures, especially when it comes to holding their breath. Research reveals that they can survive for 18 minutes without oxygen thanks to a very unusual metabolic workaround. Cassini scientists have been working hard on extending the Saturn-bound mission and have done so by nine years. However, this week, it is the beginning of the end as the probe begins its final orbit of the gas giant. Back on Earth, the population has grown to almost 7.5 billion and it is going to keep on increasing. But just how far can it go before we run out of food? Another problem facing our planet is antibiotic resistance. However, Liz Sockett has found a predatory bacterium that could help – it eats salmonella for breakfast and looks like a jelly bean. We hear from one of the great voices in science, Neil deGrasse Tyson about how he became obsessed with the night sky. Plus, obsessive runners will be pleased to know that donning the trainers may extend their life. Finally, we hear from the digital activist who won the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award. (Photo caption: Naked mole-rats © Thomas Park/UIC/PA Wire) The Science Hour was presented by Roland Pease with comments from David Robson of BBC Future Producer: Graihagh Jackson