BBC Inside Science

de BBC

A weekly programme that illuminates the mysteries and challenges the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

Episodios

When Pandemics Collide

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As virologists around the world race to investigate the latest SARS CoV2 variant of concern, the UN’s World AIDS Day this week reminds us of the other global pandemic raging for some 40 years. Much of the work achieved over the last two years on SARS CoV2 has been achieved because of the investment made into, and the understanding gained from, HIV research over the last two decades. But to what further extent do they overlap in the population? There is a theory that the omicron variant, displaying so very many mutations compared to previous variants, might well have been incubated in a person suffering from a compromised immune system, possibly due to HIV, in whom the covid virus was able to linger longer than in fitter individuals. Prof. Penny Moore, of South Africa’s National Centre for Infectious Disease and Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, is one of many virologists who transferred from HIV to coronavirus research, and hers, like hundreds of labs around the world, is racing to clone the parts of the omicron virus to enable research into its transmissibility and severity as soon as possible. She describes to Vic what we yet know and what we don’t about it, and also how it is high time to bring the same sense of urgency back to HIV research. Nottingham University’s Prof. Jonathan Ball is another virologist who suddenly transferred experience over to coronaviruses early on. He outlines something of what is really happening when viruses mutate, and how the arms race between host and invader can play out. Our regular Inside Science listener will be interested to know that this week Merlin Sheldrake was awarded the Royal Society’s Science Book Prize, sponsored by Insight Investment, and the hefty cheque that accompanies it, for his book Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures. Merlin is one of several high profile advisors to something called the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks - SPUN. They have received funding recently to begin an international mission to map the world’s subterranean fungal mycelial networks, including the infamous Wood Wide Web. SPUN Co-Founder Prof. Toby Kiers of VU University in Amsterdam tells Vic about the need to preserve, map and cherish this unseen yet essential part of the global ecosystem. And could rising sea levels paradoxically be used to help fight climate change? Researchers up in St Andrews took Vic for a squelch about the salt marshes reclaimed recently by the sea in an estuary near Grangemouth, where flora and fauna are thriving just a few years since the seas were allowed back in. Finally, you may have thought that wasps eat meat whereas bees eat honey and nectar. But this week we learned that some bees eat meat, preserving it in honeycombs to feed young and augment their own nutrition. Intrepid field entomologist Laura Figueroa of Cornell University describes to Vic her work in the jungle with Vulture Bees, social bees that over evolutionary time seem to have rescinded their vegetarian instincts and now are happy to enjoy a bit of “chicken on the side”. Laura found that they can digest their flesh because of big adjustments to their gut microbes, including acid-loving bacteria also found in other carnivorous animals. Presented by Victoria Gill Produced by Alex Mansfield Assistant Producer, Emily Bird Made in Association with The Open University

Malaria: what's in it for the mosquito?

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Malaria, a disease that infects hundreds of millions of people and kills hundreds of thousands each year. It is caused after a plasmodium parasite is passed from a blood-feeding mosquito into a human host. Subject to much research over hundreds of years, of both host and parasite, one of the evolutionary mysteries has been why the plasmodium so prospers in the mosquito populations in infected areas. Why haven’t mosquitoes’ immune systems learned to fight back for example? In short, what’s in it for the mozzies? Ann Carr, working with Laurence Zwiebel at Vanderbuilt University, reports in the journal Nature Scientific Reports how they managed to discover a mutual symbiotic relationship between the plasmodium and the mosquito. Using advanced sequencing technology they discovered that the infected insects can live longer, and have enhanced sensing (olfaction) and egg positioning than their uninfected brethren. This, in turn, could help them finds meals better, bestowing higher numbers of infection opportunities for the parasite, and benefitting both. NASA this week successfully launched its DART mission, which will next year attempt to nudge an asteroid in its orbit by smashing a mass into it. Could this method allow future humans, endangered by an impending collision push an asteroid out of the way to save the planet? It is billed as human’s first ever “earth-defence mission”, but as relieved-sounding mission leads Nancy Chabot and Andy Rivkin of Johns Hopkins University told the BBC, it is perhaps finally time to stop talking about these sorts of things and have a go. Less relieved perhaps are astronomers around the world, as the James Webb Space Telescope team announce a further small delay to its launch to sometime after December 22nd. The BBC’s John Amos a few weeks ago stood in the presence of the telescope before it was coupled to the launch vehicle, and spoke with ESA’s Peter Jensen about its cost and complexity. BBC Inside Science is planning a special episode devoted to the instrument to accompany the launch of this successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Watch, as they say, this space... And finally an insight perhaps into the origin of words and language. Apart from onomatopoeia, where a word can sound like the noise of a noise-making thing, can a word sound like other properties, such as for example its shape? In the late 1920s psychologists found that different people would match certain made-up words with the same abstract shapes. This “Bouba/ Kiki” effect has been studied since, where the word “Bouba” is associated with rounded blobby shapes, and “Kiki” with spikier, angular forms. But there wasn’t so much evidence whether or not the effect worked across different languages or different written alphabets, until now. Aleksandra Ćwiek of Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft in Berlin tells Gaia of her international study (published in Royal Society Phil. Trans. B) looking at the effect in 25 different languages and cultures. The effect is robust across the different writing systems and locations, so the link is not simply about the shape of a letter b or letter k when written in a latinate alphabet, but could allude to something much deeper. Presented by Gaia Vince Produced by Alex Mansfield Assistant Producer, Emily Bird Made in Association with The Open University.

Yet More Space Junk; COP-up or COP-out; The End of Bias.

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Earlier in the week the current ISS crew had to prepare to evacuate after Russia tested an anti-satellite weapon, spreading thousands of high velocity shards of ex-satellite into a reasonably low-earth orbit and potentially endangering many other earth observation and communication satellites of all nations. How can we clear this and all the other debris? BBC Space Correspondent Jonathan Amos tells Gaia Vince about the Russian test and of efforts to de-orbit some other deceased orbital vehicles. Simon Evans, deputy editor of the website Carbon Brief, was one of many attending the COP26 summit which ended at the weekend. How do all the declarations, promises and the "Glasgow Pact" itself add up in the great carbon ledger we all need to worry about? And the last of BBC Inside Science's Royal Society book prize nominees, Jessica Nordell talks to Gaia about writing her book "The End of Bias: A Beginning: The Science and Practice of Overcoming Unconscious Bias". Her investigation into the science of all of our preconceptions and unacknowledged prejudices surprized even herself. Presented by Gaia Vince Produced by Alex Mansfield Studio production by Anna Buckley and Bob Nettles Made in Association with The Open University

Propane: Keeping Your Cool as the World Warms Around You

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How propane might prevent air conditioning and refrigeration becoming an even bigger burden as our planet warms. Also, covid antiviral pills, and how we forgot to breathe properly. The Montreal Protocol is famous for reducing CFC emissions to help protect the Ozone Layer. We only started using things like CFCs as refrigerants in our fridges and air-conditioning because they weren't as flammable as many alternatives. They were mainly replaced by HFCs, though these are also on the way out. The reason? Their huge greenhouse warming potential (or GWP). Propane has long been thought to be an alternative because of its comparatively tiny GPW, but the safety standards haven't been in place in much of the world for many of the types of application that would make the big difference. Sophie Geoghegan, Climate Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency, and Asbjørn Vonsild who has been working on some of the new standards, due to become normal in Europe next year tell Gaia what greenhouse savings there are to be made, both in terms of efficiency and the contents of the systems themselves. If public opinion and consumer choice can drive the transition as our cities heat up. This week two new Anti-viral pills that are designed to fight SARS CoV2 infections have made headlines in the UK. Professor Penny Ward is Chair of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine’s Policy Expert Group, and explains how they work, how they were developed, and when they will be properly available. And in the penultimate of our 2021 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize shortlisted authors, science journalist James Nestor describes his book, Breath: The new science of a lost art. The book documents James’s journey around the world investigating traditional eastern practices, the latest pulmonology research, and learning from the palaeontology of ancient skulls, and he attempts to cure himself with better breathing habits. Presented by Gaia Vince Produced by Alex Mansfield Made in association with The Open University

How Whales Farmed For Food, COP progress, and The Last Stargazers

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Gaia Vince hears how blue whales' huge appetites and energetic eating behaviours helped generate more food for themselves. Also, an update from COP26, and Emily Levesque on The Last Stargazers. New research published this week in the journal Nature reveals new insights into blue whales eating habits. Matthew Savoca and colleagues suggest these biggest of marine animals actually eat up to three times the mass of krill previously estimated. And they do this by finding the blooms of krill and using a spectacular lunging approach to open their massive mouths and filter the gulp of seawater for tonnes of food. But how come, since the near destruction of their population by commercial whaling in the twentieth century, are current krill populations lower than when the voracious whales themselves were far more numerous? Shouldn't there be more krill now than then? The answer, as Victor Smetacek, of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, describes to Gaia is that whales themselves help to keep iron in the upper waters of the southern oceans, re-fertilizing it for the lower ecosystem member like phytoplankton, and their powerful diving lunges and defecation effectively plough the waters, akin to herds of bison treading manure into prehistoric grass plains. Former GSO David King, of the Centre For Climate Repair at Cambridge University, is beginning experiments next year that seek to mimic this whale-defecation effect to bring about eventual repopulation of whales and fish to allow the oceans to restart this historical cycle. From Glasgow, above the hubbub of delegates and dignitaries CarbonBrief's deputy editor Simon Evans talks to Gaia about his perceptions of progress so far at the COP26 climate summit. Amongst the flurry of declarations so far this week, what are the details and how do they add up towards our eventual recovery back down to the 1.5C rise everybody is talking about? And in the latest of Inside Science's interviews with shortlisted finalists of this year's Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, Prof Emily Levesque, an astronomer at Washington State University tells Marnie Chesterton of her adventures and astronomical anecdotes at some of the world's most famous observatories. Researching her book, "The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers", she interviewed hundreds of practicing and practical astronomers, many of whose jobs, she suggests, will soon be transformed as the act of observation becomes more remote, automated, and data-heavy. Presented by Gaia Vince Produced by Alex Mansfield Made in Association with The Open University

Atmospheric Pollutants and Where to Find Them

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This week London's Ultra Low Emission Zone was extended to 18 times its previous size. In an effort to cut levels of various nitrogen oxides and other gases dangerous to humans from urban air, cities encouraging lower emission vehicles is a trend soon stretching across the UK and other European countries. But some are sceptical as to their efficacy. Dr Gary Fuller of Imperial College London is author of The Invisible Killer, and has been studying the air in London and elsewhere since these zones began. As COP26 begins in Glasgow, a wealth of climate science is being published and publicised. Victoria Gill describes a couple of stories this week that point out quite how complex the science is, let alone the diplomacy and economics. Whilst the world's forests taken as a whole undoubtedly still capture more CO2 than they release, research this week shows that ten of Unesco's World Heritage Forests - making up for an area twice the size of Germany - have in the last ten years actually moved from being a carbon sink to a carbon source. There are several reasons, land use pressure being one of them, but also extreme climate events like wildfires (and even a hurricane in one instance) have tipped the balance, and show what how sharp the knife edge is for natural resilience. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that scientists have found an unexpected outflow of methane into the atmosphere from a site very close to the COP26 conference centre in Glasgow, highlighting just how great a challenge net zero will be. Alongside some of humans' most earth-changing achievements, the domestication of the horse stands as something outstanding in human history. Without it, war, traded and culture would be unrecognizable. But quite when and where the modern horse originated has been something of a mystery. In Nature this week, researchers have published an extensive study into ancient DNA that seems to pinpoint finally a moment and a place where this happened, 4,200 years ago. Geoff Marsh takes Marnie for a canter through the mystery. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Alex Mansfield Made in association with The Open University

The Possible Impact of false-negative PCR Tests

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As many as 43,000 PCR tests for people living in and around the South West of England could have been wrongly returned as negative recently, thanks to a seemingly unknown error, or errors, at a laboratory near Wolverhampton. For an extraordinarily long time the mistakes went undetected, and every day many hundreds of people who really had Covid, were told they hadn't. To discuss the numbers and difficulty in calculating the full tragic consequences of the events, Marnie Chesterton speaks to Dr Deepti Gordasani of Queen Mary, University of London, and Dr Kit Yates, of Bath University. How many people may have died as a result of this? BBC Inside Science's back-of-the-envelope suggests 500-1000 preventable deaths, and counting.. As accusations of fossil fuel lobbying begin to encircle the pre-negotiations of the COP26 negotiations, we heard last week of the sad death of Dutch climate scientist Geert Jan van Oldenborgh. Listeners to BBC Science programmes will recognise his work from earlier this year, as flash floods and heatwaves ravished Europe and North America, when he and his colleagues at the World Weather Attribution Initiative were able to say unambiguously that these events could only have happened because of anthropogenic climate change. Roland Pease looks at Geert Jan's work and legacy. And the latest of the Royal Society Book Prize finalists to speak to BBC Inside Science is Stuart Ritchie, a psychologist at Kings College London. His book explores the murkier corners of science as a process. Certainly the so-called replication crisis has dogged psychological sciences for several years, but in "Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth" Stuart outlines quite how deep some of the flaws in the modern experimental reporting and publishing model go, and in almost all fields. However, as he explains to Marnie, there may be ways of rescuing the great achievement of the scientific method by tweaking some of our peer-review norms. Presented by Marnie Chesterton Produced by Alex Mansfield Made in association with The Open University

Early Alzheimer's Alert

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Marnie Chesterton hears of a simple test for the earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease. She finds out about UK scientists using robots to map radiation at Chernobyl, and talks to Merlin Sheldrake about fungi. Roland Pease travels to Bath University to meet scientists who may have developed a way to diagnose Alzheimer's in the earliest stages of the disease. Dr George Stothart, has led the team in the development of this simple 2 minute test. Prof Thomas Scott of Bristol University and team develop robotic techniques to scan areas of high radiation that would otherwise be unsafe for humans to enter. Their rolling, quadruped or even flying robots have recently been deployed in and around the reactor building at the Chernobyl disaster site. Authorities there have recently been licensed to begin disassembling remains inside the vast concrete shield, but as they do so, areas of intense radiation are likely to shift from day to day. Being able to map these changes in 3D at the end of each working shift should enable workers to avoid the areas of biggest danger. Dr Merlin Sheldrake is one of the nominees for this years Royal Society Insight Investment Book Prize. "Entangled Life - How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, & Shape Our Futures" is a rich tale of interconnectedness and subtle intrusion and extrusion between different living things, and particularly fungi's huge influence on human existence, from beer, bread and psychedelia to the whole history of life on earth. Presented by Marnie Chesterton Produced by Alex Mansfield Made in Association with The Open University

Surprising choice for Nobel prizes in a pandemic?

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This week saw the announcement of the Nobel prizes for physiology or medicine, chemistry and physics. None of them reward research connected with Covid. Roland Pease, science journalist and Nobel watcher, and Gaia Vince discuss the decisions, which some have said are controversial in this pandemic year. The BepiColombo space craft, a joint European and Japanese mission, has just completed its first fly-by of Mercury, after a three year journey. Professor Dave Rothery, a planetary geologist at the Open University, who’s been involved since the early days of the mission in the 1990s, talks about what Mercury's cameras have seen and what the mission aims to find out when it finally gets into orbit around the planet in 2026. Plants remove carbon from the air during photosynthesis, and forests will be a key part of meeting our climate goals. But there’s a lot of uncertainty about how forests will react as temperatures and CO2 rise. Now researchers at University of Birmingham have bathed ancient oak trees in the sort of carbon dioxide concentrations we expect in 2050, and measured the impact. Anna Gardner led the research from a forest in Staffordshire. The shortlist for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize for 2021 was announced last week. Inside Science will be featuring the six authors. The first is The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness by Suzanne O’Sullivan. She's a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, who’s been described as “a detective of the mind”. Suzanne O’Sullivan specialises in epilepsy but this leads her to see a number of patients with symptoms such as unexplained paralysis or blindness. For The Sleeping Beauties, she travelled around the world investigating what is often referred to as psychosomatic illness. Sometimes whole groups of people have been affected in mysterious ways. Claudia Hammond spoke to her about the strange case of refugee children in Sweden who fell asleep for years at a time.

Covid vaccine boosters; why we don't have a tail; cassowary domestication; Royal Society Science book prize shortlist

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Booster vaccines are now being offered to people in England most at risk of Covid, who had their second jab at least 6 months ago. Most people are getting an mRNA vaccine as a booster, mainly the Pfizer one. Dr Andrew Ustianowski, national clinical lead for the UK COVID Vaccine Research Programme, and infectious diseases consultant in Manchester, explains why people are not being offered new vaccines, specifically tweaked to prevent the current highly transmissible delta variant. And he talks about a trial with a new vaccine that works against more than just the spike protein. Why don’t we have a tail? We share that absence with our primate cousins, the great apes. What made the difference genetically speaking has eluded scientists, until now. Professor Jef Boeke of NYU Langone Health tells Gaia Vince why it was a change in just one gene that caused us to lose our tail. New research just published in PNAS pushes back the origins of farming by thousands of years. Professor Kristina Douglass of Penn State University and team studied 18 000 year old eggshells of cassowaries, found in human shelters in New Guinea. She explains how the finds suggest that these Pleistocene people had domesticated these large flight less birds. And six authors this week learned that their books have made the shortlist of the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize for 2021. Chair of the judges, Luke O’Neill, Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, tells Gaia how the panel made their choices from the 350 books entered.

La Palma volcano; wind energy in the UK; origins of SARS-Cov2; Formula 1 safety

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Thousands of people have been forced to flee the path of the lava that has been spewing from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma since Sunday 18th September. Dr Rebecca Williams of Hull University is an expert on the geology of the Canary Islands and tells Gaia Vince that eruptions are regular events on the islands. There's been much discussion about where we are going to get our energy from in the UK. Gas prices are soaring, a fire has knocked out a key power cable, and the weather has affected the amount of power that can be generated from our wind turbines. And to meet our climate targets we're going to become ever more dependent on renewable, and variable, sources. Tom Butcher from the Met Office talks about wind forecasting. He says that the winds have been between 10% and 20% lower in intensity this summer. Professor Deborah Greaves, of Plymouth University and Head of the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy Hub, explains how the UK is planning to increase the number of wind turbines, moving into deeper waters. A team from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, investigating bats in caves in Northern Laos, has found bats that are infected with a coronavirus that’s genetically almost identical to the one now causing Covid in humans. Lead researcher Dr Marc Eloit discusses what they have discovered and how coronaviruses could move from bats to humans. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen had what looked like a very serious crash at their recent Formula 1 race in Italy. Max Verstappen’s car landed on top of Lewis Hamilton’s, but amazingly Hamilton got out unscathed. The safety features on these cars which can travel at more than 200 mph, are very sophisticated. Nick Wirth, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering who has many years experience of engineering in the F1 world, describes the Halo which saved Lewis Hamilton's life.

Perseverance drills on Mars; space tourism; Australian fire debris and algal blooms; DNA vaccines against Covid

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NASA's Perseverance rover has been trundling around the Jezero crater since it landed successfully in February 2021. A few weeks ago it made its first attempt at collecting a sample of rock. Unfortunately the rock turned out to be so crumbly it disintegrated away. But Perseverance lives up to its name and has been drilling elsewhere and has now collected two samples. The rover has stored them in special canisters for later collection. Katie Stack-Morgan, Deputy Project Scientist of the Mars 2020 mission at NASA, tells Gaia Vince what they've found out so far. The Inspiration 4 mission has just blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center with 4 civilian astronauts on board. Unlike previous billionaire space flights, which have shot up far enough to officially cross into space before immediately returning, these four are going further out than the International Space Station, where they will orbit the earth for three days. BBC Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos talks about the recent boom in space tourism, and about the Chinese rover on Mars. The terrible Australian wildfires of the summer of 2019/20 had a devastating impact, burning across more than 18 million hectares and causing loss of life and livelihoods.. Now, it turns out the impacts stretched far beyond Australia. Climate scientists have been looking at satellite images of the vast Southern Ocean, which plays a major role in controlling the global climate, and found massive algal blooms, fertilised by debris blown thousands of kilometres from the fires. Gaia discusses the observations with Nicolas Cassar of Duke University, one of the authors on a recent Nature paper, and what they tell us about geoengineering to cool down the earth. This month India licensed the world’s first DNA vaccine against Covid. Jonathan Ball, Professor of Virology at the University of Nottingham, is involved with a DNA vaccine that is just starting in clinical trials. He explains the pros and cons of this kind of vaccine. It could be of benefit to those who are needle phobic.

Climate change and oil and gas exploration; cutting methane emissions; African wild dog populations; freezing eggs and sperm

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We’re just weeks away from the big international climate talks in Glasgow, where governments will be trying to figure out a workable plan for how to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. Gaia Vince explores a couple of strategies to tackle climate change. By far the biggest source of the rise comes from the release of greenhouse gases when we burn fossil fuels, like coal, oil and gas. So it’s no surprise that we need to cut back on this habit - but much of the discussions are over how much of our reserves countries can continue to burn. Earlier this year, a landmark report from the International Energy Agency said there must be an immediate end to new fossil fuel exploration, and that current production must drop by 75% by 2050 if we are to stay within emissions targets. Daniel Welsby from UCL talks to Gaia about his just published massive analysis of fuel reserves and extraction. His study doesn’t go as far as the IEA’s, but still says that 60% of the remaining oil and gas, and 90% of coal reserves must stay underground if we are to keep below that 1.5C temperature rise. Natural gas, or methane, has a much stronger effect on temperature than carbon dioxide, but because it doesn’t last very long in the atmosphere before converting into carbon dioxide, it’s been a bit overlooked by governments. Two recent reports, from the IPCC and the UN, have pointed out that cutting methane emissions would be a quick win in reducing global heating. Most of our methane emissions are because of leaks from the oil and gas industry, or from landfill sites and agriculture. Gaia discusses tackling methane with Drew Shindell, of Duke University in North Carolina, the author of the Global Methane Assessment from the UN Environment Programme. Climate change is already having an impact on life everywhere. We’ve all seen the powerful pictures of polar bears on melting ice, but global warming is also causing problems for species in the tropics. Dani Rabaiotti of the Zoological Society of London explains how climate change is having an impact on African wild dogs, a species which is already endangered. This week the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority A recommended that the time limit for using frozen eggs, sperm and embryos, should be extended from 10 years to 55 years. Shahnaz Akbar, a fertility expert at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, explains what has changed in the science of preserving eggs from when the law was originally passed.

Rugby and the brain

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Victoria Gill talks to Professor Damian Bailey who's leading research at the University of South Wales into the potential risks to brain health in contact sports players, from impacts to the head and body sustained during play. His latest study found that over the course of a 31 game season, the brains of members of a professional rugby union team underwent measurable changes, particularly the forward players who sustained most tackles, knocks and falls. The findings may help to identify why professional players of some contact sports are at an increased risk of dementia later in life. Also in the programme: How food waste may help with the development of a more sustainable generation of batteries, with Imperial College chemist Magda Titirici. Professor Titirici was awarded this year's Kavli Medal by the Royal Society for her research on new sustainable energy materials. The bones of people who died in 79 AD during the eruption of Vesuvius have revealed in extraordinary detail what the citizens of Herculaneum ate, and how the diets of men differed from those of women in the town. With bioarchaeologist Oliver Craig of the University of York. How the babbling of baby bats is comparable to babbling in human babies. Both are about learning the skills of communication, according to zoologist Ahana Fernandez of the Museum of Natural History in Berlin.

Window to solve pandemic origins closing

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Virologist Marion Koopmans is one of the independent researchers appointed by the World Health Organisation to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The team visited China in January this year as a first step to answer how, when and where SARS-Cov-2 first infected humans. Professor Koopmans tells Victoria Gill that time is beginning to run out to launch the next phase of studies, to trace the first people in China to be exposed and identify the animals from which the virus jumped the species barrier. Also in the programme: Is the practise of feeding the birds in our gardens creating losers as well as winners, and causing the numbers of some woodland birds to decline? Conservation biologist Alexander Lees visits Victoria in her garden to discuss the question, and reveal the truly dark side of the Great Tit. A new study of the impact of street lighting on nocturnal insects shows that the local impacts on moths can be dramatic. According to entomologist Douglas Boyes, street lights deter female moths from laying their eggs and make them more vulnerable to predation by bats. He's found that artificially illuminated areas are home to half the number of moth caterpillars compared to dark areas.

Mammoth Journey

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A 17,000 year old tusk contains a remarkable story of the lifetime travels of a woolly mammoth which roamed the grasslands of Ice Age Alaska. The animal travelled 70,000 kilometres over the course of three decades before his premature death north of the Arctic Circle. The University of Alaska's Matthew Wooller tells Victoria Gill how his team pieced together the mammoth's life from isotopic clues captured in the tusk. Also in the programme: The search for storage capacity underground for all the hydrogen we'll need for a net zero carbon economy, with geoscientists Katriona Edlmann and Eike Thaysen of the University of Edinburgh. How the 1987 Montreal Protocol (which phased out CFCs) saved us from an even worse climate crisis than the one we're facing, with climate scientist Paul Young of the University of Lancester. Probiotics may protect corals from death by bleaching, with marine biologist Raquel Peixoto of King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia.

IPCC report - extreme weather events

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Victoria Gill talks to climate scientist Friedericke Otto about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's new landmark report. The report this week states that the evidence for humanity's role in changing global change is now unequivocal. Dr Otto was a lead author on the chapter on extreme weather events and explains how human influence can be attributed to the increasing incidence and intensity of heat waves and heavy rainfall events. Also in the programme: Immunological evidence to support a covid vaccine booster programme in the UK, with virologist Jonathan Ball of the University of Nottingham. Faecal transplants that rejuvenated the memory and the brains of elderly mice, with neuroscientist John Cryan of University College Cork. A website for the public to report their sightings and upload their videos of ball lightning, with electrical engineer Karl Stephan of Texas State University, San Marcos.

Bees and multiple pesticide exposure

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Victoria Gill looks at the latest stories from the world of science. In this week's episode: the threat to bees from multiple pesticide exposure, how bee colonies can evolve defences against the varroa parasite, more problems for the Starliner space capsule, and what may be the oldest fossil animals yet found.

Covid 19 – reaching the unvaccinated

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In the UK we have seen a recent fall in Covid 19 cases. Good news, but we don’t know yet if this will be sustained. The virus is now thought to be spreading predominantly amongst the under 30s, most of whom remain unvaccinated. Young adults are the demographic most likely to be vaccine hesitant or vaccine averse. Kavita Vedhara from Nottingham University discusses the delicate balancing act of managing personal choice and collective responsibility needed to persuade people to get vaccinated to help stop the spread of the virus. Forget lab rats, how about lab cats? Leslie Lyons from the University of Missouri says we’ve long neglected the genetic similarities between cats and humans. And that understanding how the diseases we share in common affect our feline friends will help with treatments for ourselves. If you take lots of medicines wouldn’t it be great to have them all in one pill? That’s the aim of Ricky Wildman’s project at Nottingham University – a personalised pill that can be 3D printed to order, And we look at the life of Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg, famed for his beautifully simple explanations of complex science and also his love of a good argument.

A life-changing database

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Proteomes, the sequences of protein within the DNA of every living thing, are notoriously difficult to model. The usual chemical methods can take months, but a new computational model using the ability of artificial intelligence to learn the complex sequences is able to predict structures within a matter of hours. Thousands of protein structure predictions are now available on a public database for anyone to access. Understanding such proteins is seen as key to treating nearly all disease. It also hold the potential for improvements in fields as diverse as increasing crop resilience to climate change and biodegrading plastic on an industrial scale. Marnie Chesterton speaks with Demis Hassabis from Deepmind which developed the protein structure prediction system, and Janet Thornton from the European Bioinformatics Institute which holds the database. Genetic engineering, the promise and perils, is the subject of a new series with Matthew Cobb on Radio 4, called Genetic Dreams, Genetic Nightmares. He tells us about the dilemmas now faced by researchers who on the one hand have the potential to send terminator genes into malaria spreading mosquitoes – but who are also aware of the huge unknowns surrounding the release of such technology. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. Hayley Fowler has been researching the links between weather systems, climate change and the heat and floods we are currently experiencing. And could we reduce the incidence of SARS-Cov2 with a different vaccination strategy? Julia Gog has modelled different scenarios, as the number of infections continues to rise. A strategy to target those who are mixing the most, whether socially or through their employment, may be more effective than one targeting the most vulnerable.

Covid19 - should we test everybody ?

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Epidemiologist Julian Peto is advocating mass testing as the key part of a plan to stop the virus spreading. Studies where everyone has been tested have picked up asymptomatic cases. With the addition of isolation and contact tracing this method of testing has been able to massively reduce the spread of the virus. The hope is such a coordinated scheme implemented nationally could help bring the numbers down. There’s a question over which type of test is best to use for mass testing. At the moment many of us do lateral flow tests at home. Although they give instant results their accuracy has been shown to be strongly linked to how well the tests are conducted - hence the need to back up any positive findings with the more accurate PCR test. PCR takes longer and needs sophisticated lab equipment. However a compromise could be to use RT Lamp tests, they are accurate, give results in around 20 minutes, do require a very basic lab, but without the expensive equipment of PCR. A number of RT lamp tests have now been developed for SARS-Cov2. Kevin Fong has been to see the developers of one of them, the OxLAMP test. And with the lifting of restrictions how are you going to judge your own personal risk from Covid? It’s a question that interests philosopher of science Eleanor Knox. She says government mandates on mask wearing and social distancing have allowed us to avoid tricky questions around our own potential risk from the virus and risks our own behaviour might pose to loved ones. Now there’s a lot more to think about in terms of balancing our desires to return to some semblance of normality while levels of Covid infection continue to rise. One area that’s come into sharp focus over lockdown is exercise. Some people have been unable to exercise due to Covid restrictions while others have discovered a whole new interest in moving more. A new book ‘Move’ by Caroline Williams explores the links between brain function, evolution and movement. She says staying active is a fundamental part of what makes us human.

Covid and our ancient ancestors

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A global project looking at the genomes of over 2 million people has found a number of distinct genetic markers which seem to either make Covid infection more likely or the symptoms more severe. Some of these markers are known to be associated with susceptibility to cancer and lung disease. However the researchers say on their own these genetic factors are not determinants of how sick people will become. Underlying health, age and sex and a range of environmental and social factors are likely more important says Andrea Ganna from Finland’s Institute of Molecular Medicine who crunched the numbers. The Royal Society Summer Exhibition has just opened. And this year its an opportunity for more people to get involved than ever before – the event is taking place online. There are a number of workshops and interactive games. We speak to a couple of the participants. Caroline Orr from Teesside University talks about research using supercomputers to make microbes produce a range of biofuels that could replace petrol and diesel, and Tony Peyton from Manchester University tells us how the electromagnetic properties of materials are bring harnessed to improve mine clearance in former war zones. And we go to another exhibition, the Royal College of Art graduate show, and ask the age old question - is it art ? Students Kukbong Kim and Bahareh Saboktakin show us their work with recycled concrete and 3d printing - which looks more like science to us.

Gene editing gets real

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For the first time the gene editing technique CRISPR has been used by injecting the CRISPR instructions into the bloodstream rather than directly into the affected organ. In a trial, six adult patients showed improvements after the treatment was used to prevent the expression of deformed proteins associated with a genetic disease. The hope is this method could treat a range of other genetic diseases, says Megan Molteni from Stat News. In the near future domestic gas boilers may be replaced by heat pumps. However, a district heating system in London is already installing the pumps in a scheme which should see 50% reductions in their carbon emissions. We visited the Citigen site to see how the plan would work, and discussed the potential for domestic heat pump roll out with Simon Evans from Carbon Brief. And why watermelons, wildflowers and pollinating insects can benefit from less attention. Evidence from Florida on how reducing methods associated with intensive farming chime with initiatives here in Britain to replace grass verges with banks of wildflowers. Researcher John Ternest picks up the story.

UK science policy shake-up; Ivermectin & Covid; black fungus in Indian Covid patients; many hominins in Siberian cave

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The Prime Minister has announced his desire for the UK to become a 'science superpower'. A new office within the cabinet to look at science will work alongside existing science strategy and funding structures. So far it's unclear where the responsibilities between the various science policy bodies lie. James Wilsdon, Professor of Research Policy at the University of Sheffield, helps Gaia Vince pick her way through the spaghetti of overlapping organisations and Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI Chief Executive, gives her her take of the impact of the reorganisation. A major new trial has been announced into the effectiveness of the drug Ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19. There's controversy surrounding the drug, which was designed to kill parasitic worms. It showed some promise against the virus in very limited lab studies. For many reluctant to vaccinate these studies seemed to suggest an alternative way to treat the virus. However, regulatory bodies disagree. It's hoped the new study and a range of other wide scale trials will give a more rounded view on the potential if any for Ivermectin as a Covid 19 treatment. Jack Goodman from the BBC News Misinformation Unit has been looking at the controversy surrounding Ivermectin. Scientists researching it have been subject to abuse and in some countries it has been rolled out as a treatment despite the lack of evidence on its effectiveness. There have been reports of a number of cases of Black Fungus in patients with Covid-19 in India. What exactly is this unusual but life threatening fungal growth? Dr Nitin Gupta, Assistant Professor in Infectious Diseases at Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, South West India, explains why this previously rare infection is now on the rise.. Gaia Vince talks to Elena Zavala of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany about how she and her team have managed to extract DNA from samples of earth from the Denisovan cave in Siberia. Some years ago fragments of bone recovered from the cave revealed a new hominin species, called the Denisovans. Now DNA analysis of the layers of earth built up over hundreds of thousands of years are painting a picture of the vast variety of early people who used the cave, which included Neanderthals and early humans as well as Denisovans.

Cov-Boost trial; SARS-Cov 2 infection in action; sapling guards; why tadpoles are dying

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Scientists are now looking at the question of third doses of vaccines against SARS-Cov2, and this week the Cov-Boost trial was launched. It’s being run from University of Southampton and is going to be using seven different vaccines, some at half doses, in people over the age of 30 who were early recipients of their two doses. The Chief Investigator, immunologist Professor Saul Faust explains the aims of the trial. Once we've breathed the coronavirus into our lungs, how does it spread through our bodies, despite our immune defences? Remarkably, scientists have managed to film the virus in the act of infecting lung cells and spreading between them. They then added some antibodies and watched what happened. Alex Sigal of the Africa Health Research Institute tells Gaia Vince what they saw. The UK government has pledged to plant some 2 billion trees to help get us to net zero – and that’s an awful lot of plastic casing to be littering the countryside with. A team at the Institute of Making at UCL decided to look at the overall environmental impact of these tree protectors. This is quite a complicated calculation as it involves looking at the entire life cycle of the trees and the plastic, including the carbon and water and energy used. Gaia finds out from Charnette Chau, the life cycle assessment expert on the team, and Professor Mark Miodownik what they found. Across the US, people have been reporting ponds full of dead tadpoles: mass mortality events. It seems that a parasitic infection previously associated with disease in marine oyster populations, may be to blame: severe Perkinsea Infection. The big fear is that it will spread further, to places like Panama in Central America, which has seen such a drastic decline in frog populations that researchers have begun captive breeding some species as “assurance populations” to protect them from extinctions. Tom Richards, Professor of Evolutionary Genomics at the University of Oxford, reports on what he discovered when he went to Panama to see if the infection had reached its precious hoppers.

Covid vaccines in children; preventing dengue; algal blooms; supersonic flight

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Should we be vaccinating children in the UK against SARS-Cov 2? Children are rarely seriously ill if they catch Covid but infections mean missed school, and they can pass it onto older vulnerable people. The US, Canada, Israel and Dubai are some places that are already vaccinating the under 18s and Pfizer has recently published data from a trial of its mRNA vaccine in just over 2000 12-15 year olds, showing no safety concerns. Gaia Vince discusses the issue with Professor Beate Kampmann, consultant paediatrician and Director of the Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dengue fever is a widespread tropical disease caused by a virus spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Until now, there’s also been no way of preventing dengue aside from trying to get rid of mosquitoes, which is pretty tricky. Gaia hears from the World Mosquito Programme’s Dr Katie Anders about some positive news from a large trial in Yogyakarta in Indonesia, where mosquitoes infected with a harmless bacteria called Wollbachia, were deliberately released. The researchers found a 77% drop in cases of dengue in the areas where the infected mosquitoes were released. Hospitalisations were 84% lower. This week the first attempt to map algal blooms globally has been released, and it also charts how blooms have changed over the last thirty years. And the news isn’t good. Henrik Enevoldsen of the UN who’s based at the University of Copenhagen, has spent thirty years studying these phenomena and he explains how the growth in aquaculture has had an impact on the rise of algal blooms in some parts of the world. Nearly twenty years after Concorde last flew, a company called Boom is promising to bring back supersonic passenger flights in the next few years. They say it’ll all be environmentally sustainable. The company has sold some new jets to the US airline United. Gaia talks to Dr Guy Gratton, an engineer and pilot at Cranfield University, about how green supersonic flight can be.

Lab origin theory of SARS-Cov2; gene for obesity; dark matter map; rock art in Scotland

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Sars Cov2, as the Covid19 coronavirus is called, probably began as the vast majority of new diseases do, when an animal virus infected a person – perhaps in a market or farm. There’s a large animal market in the city of Wuhan that sold wild as well as farmed animals, and studies have shown that different species of animals can infect each other with coronaviruses on their journey to market. But there’s also a possibility that the virus originated in one of two government laboratories in Wuhan. After all, we know that other viruses have escaped from labs, including the original Sars virus, which escaped multiple times from different Asian labs. Jonathan Ball, Professor of Virology at the University of Nottingham, discusses with Gaia Vince why the lab leak theory is again in the news. We know that obesity runs in families but because parents and children live in the same environment and eat the same food it is difficult to tease out how much of this relationship is inherited genetically. Researchers at Cambridge University have been working with the Children of the 90s cohort of people based in Bristol, and they’ve have found that a mutation in a single gene drives obesity in some families. The gene in question is called MC4R. Professor Stephen O’Rahilly, who is one of the researchers, explains that the mutation is remarkably common and has a significant impact on individuals, from an early age. Last week, researchers released the biggest and most detailed map of how matter and dark matter have spread across the universe since the Big Bang. The problem, is that the dark matter is more smoothly distributed than expected according to Einstein’s theory. Some are now saying physics is broken. Was Einstein wrong? Astrophysicist Catherine Heymans, who is a Dark Universe expert, and has just been appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland, the first woman to hold the role, talks about the implications of the new map of dark matter and her plans to encourage the public to appreciate the night sky. For the first time figurative rock art over 4000 years old has been discovered in Scotland. Up till now all that’s been found have been marks such as cups and rings. The new images are detailed portraits of deer, with antlers, on a capstone of a burial mound, or cairn, in Kilmartin Glen on the west coast. It’s a well-studied archaeological site but the rock art hadn’t been spotted before. Gaia asked Tertia Barnett, Principal Investigator for Scotland’s Rock Art Project at Historic Environment Scotland, about who may have produced this art.

Human use of plants beyond the limits of history.

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Human impact on planet earth’s plant life might be detectable several thousand years back in fossil pollen cores taken from mud columns around the world. As Suzette Flantua and Ondrej Mottl describe in a paper published in the journal Science, a rapid acceleration in the changes in pollen species goes back further than we might have expected. This matters particularly when it comes to decisions around re-wilding and re-planting areas today in the name of conservation. As they hope to build on in future work, learning more about the state of ecosystems further back into the past might prevent us making the mistake of simply recreating different types of post-agricultural situations which might not solve the problem we are trying to fix. One of the biggest impacts on the earth’s flora today is of course influenced by our meat consumption. The BBC’s Melanie Abbott has been to see a new exhibition opening at Oxford University’s Musuem of Natural History. Produced in association with the University’s Livestock, Environment and People research programme, this exhibition “Meat the Future”, seeks to raise awareness of the issues for health and the environment around eating – or not eating meat - and is open until January 2022. At the same time, a travelling interactive experience called Meat Your Persona will be moving around the UK, starting in Cardiff. And there's an online interactive questionnaire you can try from home. See the links at the bottom of the BBC Inside Science programme page. Researchers in the US are working on devices that might be able to connect with people’s brains to allow them to manipulate robotic or digital devices to regain abilities lost to disease or injury. As Dr Frank Willett and Prof Krishna Shenoy - both at Stanford University’s neural prosthetics translational laboratory - describe in the journal Nature, they have managed to create a device that allows one patient to create text using just thought. Rather than trying to guide a cursor over a keyboard, their technique works by learning which letter the patient is thinking of drawing by hand, despite being unable to wield a pen. And Jacob Dunn, associate professor at Anglia Ruskin University describes his team’s work which finds that tamarin monkeys will use the “accent” of another species when they enter its territory to help them better understand one another and potentially avoid conflict. His paper, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, describes findings in the Amazon rainforest near Manaus where a species that ordinarily use quite distinct long distance calls subtly change their call to sound more like a neighbouring species’ equivalent call when they are sharing the same area of forest. Not so much an aggressive intrusion as a polite lingua franca, it may be that the shared understanding reduces unnecessary and costly territorial fights between the two species. Presented by Victoria Gill Produced by Alex Mansfield

Blood Clot Cure, Synthetic Fuels and Coal Mine Heat Pumps

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Vic Gill talks to scientists who have cured a vaccine-induced blood clot patient, and meets a former top F1 chief engineer who wants to transform the fuel industry. Scientists in Vienna have been continuing to look at the rare blood clots associated with the AZ Covid-19 vaccination. Paul Knoebl describes to Vic his paper describing the diagnosis and successful treatment of a patient who developed a fever whilst skiing six days after taking it. Whilst the side effect is still condsidered incredibly rare, Paul tells Vic that a relatively simple cure - after early diagnosis - should remove any lingering hesitancy of taking a vaccine. The Science Museum reopened this week with a new exhibition looking at the science of Carbon Capture. Inside Science took former Formula One technical champ Paddy Lowe to have a look round. He is interested in Carbon Capture because he has started a new company - Zero Petroleum - that aims to do nothing less than kick start a synthetic (hydrocarbon) fuel revolution. Using carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere, he and colleague Prof Nilay Shah believe they can use renewable electricity and other feedstocks to tranform captured carbon into fuels, and create a whole new petrochemical supply that could close the loop on the industrial revolution - especially for those energy uses where batteries could not currently work, such as jet engines and heavy remote machinery. Meanwhile, up in the north east of England, Charlotte Adams of the UK's Coal Authority describes progress on measures to convert disued Coal mines to geothermal heatpumps, providing reliable steady heating for new-build homes across many parts of the UK, and taking strain off the elictircal grid. Presenter Victoria Gill Producer Alex Mansfield

Microplastics in UK river beds

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Untreated wastewater "routinely released into UK rivers" is creating microplastic hotspots on riverbeds. That is the conclusion of a study in Greater Manchester, which revealed high concentrations of plastic immediately downstream of treatment works. The team behind the research concluded: untreated wastewater was the key source of river microplastic. Jamie Woodward takes Vic Gill wading in the River Tame in Greater Manchester to show some of the sites they studied, while co-author Rachel Hurley talks from Norway on the wider global questions of where microplastics get into our environment and what harm they do. The origin and location of the radioactive pollution that so devastated the lives and livelihoods of those affected by the Chernobyl disaster 35 years ago is not a mystery. But recently it has become apparent that in one small inaccessible room within the massive sarcophagus at the ill-fated power station, the nuclear fission still happening is getting slightly faster. As Neil Hyatt describes to Vic, the reason may be because the new concrete shell, unlike its predecessor, is doing a better job at keeping the rain out, and nothing to worry about for the time being. Meanwhile, Jim Smith and colleagues have been trying to demonstrate that agricultural products could help the besieged economy of surrounding areas. Using apples grown in regions where investment is illegal, they have developed a spirit drink - called Atomik - with which they hope to demonstrate a viable market outside of the Ukraine, perhaps providing jobs and export business, and maybe even useful profit with which to help the area. And finally, Dr Kim Dienes describes from Swansea the health and psychological benefits of something so many hundreds of millions of people in the world have been missing this year: a nice hug. Presenter: Vic Gill Producer: Alex Mansfield Assistant Producer: Samara Linton.

Early burials, diversity in Tudor England, a malaria vaccine, and rogue brain waves

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Despite being home to our early ancestors, attempts to find evidence of early burials in Africa have proved unsuccessful. That is until now. Professor María Martinón-Torres explains how findings from a 78,000-year-old Kenyan grave shed light on how our ancestors related to the dead. In keeping with the theme of clues from the past, Cardiff University academics have been studying the remains of crew who drowned on King Henry VIII’s favourite ship, the Mary Rose. As it turns out, Tudor England was more ethnically diverse than we previously thought. Victoria Gill speaks with University of Oxford researcher Dr Mehreen Datoo about a promising new malaria vaccine which was shown to be 77% effective in early trials. And Dr Nir Grossman, explains how his team at Imperial College London has been synchronising electrical pulses with rogue brain waves to treat tremors.

Dragonfly on Titan, Retreating Glaciers, Surge Testing, Acoustic lighthouses

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Now that NASA engineers have successfully flown a helicopter remotely on Mars planetary scientists are exploring how to use the technology elsewhere. Marnie Chesterton talks to Elizabeth "Zibi" Turtle, from Johns Hopkins University who is working on a mission to fly a drone, called Dragonfly, above Titan, one of Saturn's moons. A new report that has measured the state of over 200 000 of the world's glaciers has just been published. Bob McNabb of the University of Ulster explains why it's not good news as glaciers are melting at a faster pace than before. He says it could have a particular impact on people who live in low lying areas. At the start of April cases of the South African variant of SARS-Cov 2 were found in a number of London boroughs. In order to stop the further spread of these variants, a programme of surge testing was announced. It’s just come to an end and Marnie finds out from Public Health England’s regional director for London, Professor Kevin Fenton, how it worked. Birds aren’t very good at adapting to human additions to the landscape, particularly tall buildings. Could extra sonic elements - so-called acoustic lighthouses - help? From William and Mary University in Virginia, Timothy Boycott and John Swaddle joined Marnie to explain how these can make a difference.

Coronavirus variants and vaccines, climate change resistant coffee, dare to repair and how to get rid of moths

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This week has seen a huge surge in Covid- 19 in India leading to concern of a "double mutant" variant, but what do we know about this B.1.617 as it is otherwise known. It was first described in October and is now in other countries including the UK. Virologist Dr Muge Cevik looks at the emerging evidence around vaccines and new variants. Climate change threatens coffee crops so it's exciting to know that researchers have found an ancient coffee variety that is drought resistant and can tolerate higher temperatures than the highly prized Arabica coffee used to make your latte - but it wasn't easy to find. In Sierra Leone Daniel Sarmu spent 4 years searching for it and Dr Aaron Davis from Kew helped to track it down using historic samples from the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Clothes moths do enormous damage to our jumpers and carpets, Marnie finds out how best to protect your clothes. And we hear from Mark Miodownik about the right to repair.

Blood clots, grieving and the emotion of screams

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The story of what we understand about the rare cases of blood clots associated with certain Covid-19 vaccines is constantly evolving. In today’s programme Professor Beverley Hunt looks at the emerging evidence. How have the restrictions due to Covid 19 affected how we grieve? Professor Claire White, an expert in grief and mourning, is investigating what it means to the grief process when the traditional ways of acknowledging death are changed. Sascha Fruholz has the unenviable task of listening to people scream all day, but he has made some surprising discoveries about which types of scream people are best able to identify.

Disobedient particles, noisy gorillas, sharks and fictional languages

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In 2016, an accelerator physics centre called Fermilab acquired a massive circular 50 foot magnet from a lab in New York. Too big for the roads, the magnet had to take a 2000km detour via New Orleans to get to its new home. This was the start of the “muon g-2” experiment. Last week, Fermilab announced some of their results, and they don’t quite add up. UK experiment lead Professor Mark Lancaster from Manchester University tells us what they have discovered about the tiny particle that is disobeying the laws that govern how our entire universe fits together. Mountain gorillas are among the most impressive and powerful primates alive today. Living in the dense forests of eastern and central Africa, they are able to communicate with other gorillas a mile away by cupping their hands and beating their chests. Primatologist Edward Wright and colleagues have been studying male silverback gorillas and explains how gorillas use chest beating to attract potential mates and suss out competitors. And Professor Corey Bradshaw from Adelaide, South Australia sheds light on a more fearsome animal: sharks. His research has investigated the likelihood of shark attacks around the Australian coast into the future, up to 2066, and asked what would happen to those figures if everyone wore an electrical emitter that interferes with the sharks electrical senses. He finds that shark attacks are remarkably low already, but these emitters could reduce bites by up to 3000 over the next 50 years. Super fans around the world have learned to speak fluent Klingon, a fictional language originating from Star Trek. In a quest to understand the science behind these languages often dismissed as gobbledygook, Gaia Vince has been speaking to some of the linguists responsible for creating these languages. It’s time for her to relax the tongue, loosen those jaw muscles and wrap her head around the scientific building blocks embedded in language and what languages like Klingon tell us about prehistoric forms of communication. Presented by Marnie Chesterton Produced by Rory Galloway