Discovery

de BBC

Explorations in the world of science.

Episodios

Earthshot 2 – Tackling our energy crisis

por BBC

Just how do we balance the growing demand for electricity worldwide with the need to reduce fossil fuel emissions to address climate change? In our second programme on the Earthshot prize Chhavi Sachdev looks at some of the solutions. From projects looking at providing green hydrogen to industry worldwide and remote communities, to village scale solar electricity networks in Bangladesh and a portable pay as you go powerpack in Nigeria. Also how to provide a livelihood for people who live in areas where conservation concerns mean they are no longer able to follow their traditional hunting practices . And we feature solutions for dealing with our wastes in their many forms from cleaning up polluted water to recycling human and agricultural organic waste – including an innovative city based system for collecting and redistributing food that would otherwise be destroyed. The Earthshot Prize is an initiative from the Royal Foundation designed to highlight and reward inspiring solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. There are 5 categories with a million pound prize available in each. Protect and restore nature. Clean our air. Revive our oceans. Build a waste-free world. Fix our climate. Image: Earth at night, Credit: Roydee/Getty Images

Earthshot

por BBC

While international meetings to discuss climate change and polices that affect the world can seem rather distant to us as individuals, on a local level there are many exciting and creative initiatives all over the world where people are developing practical solutions to the environmental problems they see. The Earthshot prize highlights many of these projects, ideas and initiatives which have the potential to make a difference locally and globally. In this three part series Chhavi Sachdev looks at the practical work of the prize nominees, and profiles their solutions on a range of subjects; protecting nature, cleaning the air, ocean revival, climate change and waste. Picture: Earth floating in space, Credit: Chris Clor/Getty Images

The Evidence: To boost or not to boost?

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The divide between the Covid vaccine haves and have-nots has been described as “criminal”, with only 20% of people in low and middle income countries having had one dose, compared with 80% in higher income countries. Countries with high vaccination rates have been called on to give up their place in the vaccine queue. The dual-track global vaccination programme has led to real anger, made worse by announcements of booster programmes in richer countries (despite the World Health Organisation calling for such plans to be put on hold). Claudia Hammond and her panel of global experts discuss the scale of vaccine inequity and consider whether evidence of waning vaccine immunity justifies the rollout of booster jabs, or if the soundest scientific case dictates everybody in the world should be vaccinated first. Claudia’s guests include Dr Yodi Alakija, co-chair of the African Union’s Delivery Alliance for Covid-19 in Abuja, Nigeria, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organisation’s Technical Lead for Covid in Geneva, Switzerland and two world leading immunologists, Dr Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College, London, UK and Dr Akiko Iwasaki, Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale University in the US. Produced by: Fiona Hill, Paula McGrath and Maria Simons Studio Engineers: Jackie Marjoram

China's great science leap

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President Xi Jinping is investing seriously into his strategic vision of turning China into a nation of scientific pace-setters. China’s past contributions to modern-science have been proportionally lacklustre, but with a reinvigorated focus over the past two decades, China is fast turning from imitator to innovator. What might this increasing scientific prowess mean for the future of China’s development as well for the international scientific community? Whereas once many Chinese scientists chose to go abroad to further their careers, presenter Dr Kevin Fong hears how the government has sought to lure its brightest researchers back and what that means for both scientific collaborations and the culture of science in China and the UK. As scientific research relies on transparent information sharing, what are the challenges of collaborating with an authoritarian regime? In this second episode Kevin explores China’s booming space programme and quantum advancements; from a newly built space station to the launch of the world's first quantum satellite. Kevin speaks to Professor Jian-Wei Pan, a scientist whose illustrious career is a list of quantum firsts and hears how China is fast making inroads into quantum computing and communications. We imagine what a quantum future - with China at the forefront - might look like and whether this potentially game-changing technology will be developed in a collaborative or competitive spirit. Image: Wenchang Space Launch Centre in China's Hainan province, Credit: Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

China's Great Science Leap

por BBC

President Xi Jinping is investing seriously into his strategic vision of turning China into a nation of scientific pace-setters. China’s past contributions to modern science have been proportionally lacklustre, but with a reinvigorated focus over the past two decades, China is fast turning from imitator to innovator. What might this increasing scientific prowess mean for the future of China’s development as well for the international scientific community? Whereas once many Chinese scientists chose to go abroad to further their careers, presenter Dr Kevin Fong hears how the government has sought to lure its brightest researchers back. He asks what that means for both scientific collaborations and the culture of science in China and the UK. As scientific research relies on transparent information sharing, what are the challenges of collaborating with an authoritarian regime? In this first episode, Kevin Fong hears how Chinese science has advanced over recent decades following a low point during the Chinese Cultural revolution. He speaks to a Chinese bio-chemist about his career in the USA and finds out why he decided to move back to China to start a biotech business. At Loughborough University, Kevin meets a team of researchers working on Artificial Intelligence tools with Chinese counterparts, to help monitor and predict air pollution. But are Western countries equal partners and beneficiaries of these academic partnerships? As China is set to become the UK’s most significant research partner, at a time of rising geopolitical tensions, we examine how the UK might navigate these choppy waters and what the risks and benefits of scientific collaboration might be. Picture: Chinese scientist at work, Credit: Guang Niu/Getty Images

Covid origins: The science

por BBC

Presenter: Roland Pease Picture: Wuhan Residents Told Not To Leave As Coronavirus Pneumonia Spreads, Credit: Stringer/Getty Images

Future vaccines

por BBC

The COVID19 pandemic has revolutionised the way vaccines are made, and underlined the inequalities in access to vaccines. But will it leave a legacy? Roland Pease explores the potential for mRNA and other revolutionary vaccines to make future health protection faster, safer and more flexible, whether 'universal' vaccines will give broader protection, and how access to vaccines can be made more equitable. Picture: Coronavirus vaccines on the production line, Credit: MikeMareen/Getty Images

Tamsin Edwards on the uncertainty in climate science

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Certainty is comforting. Certainty is quick. But science is uncertain. And this is particularly true for people who are trying to understand climate change. Climate scientist, Tamsin Edwards tackles this uncertainty head on. She quantifies the uncertainty inherent in all climate change predictions to try and understand which of many possible storylines about the future of our planet are most likely to come true. How likely is it that the ice cliffs in Antarctica will collapse into the sea causing a terrifying amount of sea level rise? Even the best supercomputers in the world aren’t fast enough to do all the calculations we need to understand what might be going on, so Tamsin uses statistical tools to fill in the gaps. She joined the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 and is currently working on the 6th Assessment Report which will inform the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26. She tells Jim Al-Khalili about her life and work and why she wishes more people would have the humility (and confidence) to consider the possibility that they might be wrong.

The Evidence: How will the pandemic end?

por BBC

When all restrictions are lifted in a highly vaccinated country, how manageable is the coronavirus? Both Israel and UK’s experiments to do just that, have raised new worries about raising the risk of new vaccine resistant variants. Claudia Hammond and her panel of global experts consider our ability to predict how and when variants of concern are most likely to arise and how long our repertoire of vaccines can remain effective in riding out increasingly infectious waves of the virus. Also in the programme - does anyone need a third “booster” dose or is it more important to make sure the whole world gets their first two doses instead? And as more people in the world get vaccinated every day, can we get to a situation where the virus is kept in check, without the huge surges in cases that overwhelm hospitals? Listeners put their questions about coronavirus and the pandemic directly to Claudia and her panel of specialists which includes Professor Salim Abdool Karim - a clinical infectious disease epidemiologist and a Member of the African Task Force on Coronavirus; Dr Natalia Freund a leading immunologist at Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University; Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the Bristol Children's Vaccine Centre, University of Bristol, and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that advises UK health departments on immunisation, and Dr Muge Cevik, who’s a medical doctor and clinical lecturer in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St Andrew’s in Scotland. Producer: Adrian Washbourne Editor: Deborah Cohen Technical supervision: Steve Greenwood

The Life Scientific: Professor Martin Sweeting

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When Martin Sweeting was a student, he thought it would be fun to try to build a satellite using electronic components found in some of the earliest personal computers. An amateur radio ham and space enthusiast, he wanted to create a communications satellite that could be used to talk to people on the other side of the world. It was a team effort, he insists, with friends and family pitching in and a lot of the work being done on his kitchen table. Somehow he managed to persuade NASA to let his microsatellite hitch a ride into space and, after the first message was received, spent more than a decade trying to get a good picture of planet earth. The technology that Martin pioneered underpins modern life with thousands of reprogrammable microsatellites now in orbit around the earth and thousands more due to launch in the next few years to bring internet connections to remote parts of the world. The university spin-off company, Surrey Satellite Technologies Limited (SSTL) that Martin set up in the 1980s with an initial investment of £100 sold for £50 million, a quarter of a century later. If his company had been bought by venture capitalists, he says he would probably have ended up making TVs. Instead he developed the satellite technology on which so much of modern life depends. Produce: Anna Buckley Photo Credit: SSTL

The Life Scientific: Dr Nira Chamberlain

por BBC

When does a crowd of people become unsafe? How well will the football team Aston Villa do next season? When is it cost-effective to replace a kitchen? The answers may seem arbitrary but, to Nira Chamberlain, they lie in mathematics. You can use maths to model virtually anything. Dr Nira Chamberlain is President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, and Principal Mathematical Modeller for the multinational engineering company SNC-Lavalin Atkins. He specialises in complex engineering and industrial problems, creating mathematical models to describe a particular feature or process, and then running simulations to better understand it, and predict its behaviour. Nira is one of just a handful of esteemed mathematicians, and the first black mathematician. to be featured in ‘Who’s Who’, Britain’s book of prominent people. Since 2018, he’s made the Black Power List, which celebrates the UK’s top 100 most influential people of African or African-Caribbean heritage, ranking higher than Stormzy and Lewis Hamilton when he was first listed. Proof, he says, that maths really is for everyone.

Lost for words

por BBC

Struggling to find words might be one of the first things we notice when someone develops dementia, while more advanced speech loss can make it really challenging to communicate with loved ones. And understanding what’s behind these changes may help us overcome communication barriers when caring for someone living with the condition. When Ebrahim developed Alzheimer’s Disease, for example, he’d been living in the UK for many years. Gradually his fluent English faded and he reverted to his mother tongue, Farsi - which made things tricky for his English-speaking family who were caring for him. Two decades on, his son, the journalist and author David Shariatmadari, seeks answers to his father’s experience of language loss. What can neuroscience reveal about dementia, ageing, and language changes? Why are some aspects of language more vulnerable than others - and, importantly, what are the best approaches to communicating with someone living with dementia? David reflects on archive recordings of his dad, and speaks to a family in a similar situation to theirs, to compare the ways they tried to keep communication alive. And he discovers there are actually clear benefits to bilingualism when it comes to dementia: juggling two or more languages can delay the onset of symptoms by around four years. So while losing one of his languages posed practical difficulties for Ebrahim, it’s possible that by speaking two languages in the first place, he was able to spend more valuable lucid years with his family. Presented by David Shariatmadari and produced by Cathy Edwards

Introducing: Season 2 of 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter

por BBC

How animals make us smarter – we thought you might like to hear our brand new episode. It’s about a robotic arm inspired by an elephant’s trunk. For more, search for 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter wherever you get your podcasts. #30Animals

A sense of music

por BBC

Music can make us feel happy and sad. It can compel us to move in time with it, or sing along to a melody. It taps into some integral sense of musicality that binds us together. But music is regimented, organised. That same 'sense' that lets us lean into Beethoven makes a bad note or a missed beat instantly recognisable. But does that same thing happen in the minds of animals? Can a monkey feel moved by Mozart? Will a bird bop to a beat? Do animals share our 'Sense of Music'? Charles Darwin himself thought that the basic building blocks of an appreciation for music were shared across the animal kingdom. But over decades of scientific investigation, evidence for this has been vanishingly rare. Fresh from his revelation that animals' experience of time can be vastly different to our own, in the award-winning programme 'A Sense of Time', presenter Geoff Marsh delves once more into the minds of different species. This time he explores three key aspects of musicality: rhythm, melody and emotional sensitivity. Geoff finds rhythm is lacking in our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. But it's abundantly clear in a dancing Cockatoo, and internet sensation, named Snowball. He speaks with scientists who have revealed that birds enjoy their own music, but may be listening for something completely different to melody. And Geoff listens to music composed for tamarin monkeys, that apparently they find remarkably relaxing, but which sets us on edge. In 'A Sense of Music', discover what happens when music meets the animal mind. Produced by Rory Galloway Presented by Geoff Marsh

Whatever happened to…those Covid-19 stories

por BBC

Whatever happened to those sniffer dogs who were seeking out any passengers infected with Covid-19 at Helsinki airport? And did plans to sample sewage to spot outbreaks early prove successful? This week on The Evidence, we have listeners’ questions about some of the clever ideas which were in the news early on in the pandemic but we haven’t heard about for a while. Trials of treatments like the cheap steroid dexamethasone proved successful – but what about the anti-parasite medication, ivermectin, which has sparked fierce debate on social media? Because of its role in our body’s immune system, researchers wondered if Vitamin D might be useful in preventing Covid infections or treating people in hospital. We hear about some of the flaws in those studies – and the role which genetics plays in how much Vitamin D there is in our bodies. Nasal sprays have been used for colds and flu to help shorten how long you are ill for and reduce the symptoms – can we achieve the same result for Covid infections by using a spray which contains seaweed? Vaccination is key to ending the pandemic – but have all of the vaccines bought by countries like the United States been used? And what will happen to any which are left over, can they be given to countries which desperately need them? Once enough people are vaccinated or have immunity from being infected we should reach the magical “herd immunity” level where there aren’t enough people vulnerable to infection for Covid-19 to spread. We hear how new variants of the virus could mean that number will grow – making it more difficult to bring the pandemic to an end. Claudia Hammond’s panel of experts will guide you through some of the ideas which have been tested like nasal sprays and nicotine patches – to separate the duds from the winners – as well as highlight others which could still prove to be promising. Claudia’s expert panel includes global health epidemiologist from the University of Boston, Professor Matthew Fox; from The Netherlands Professor Marion Koopmans who’s Head of the Erasmus MC Department of Viroscience in Rotterdam, who was a member of the WHO’s mission to Wuhan in China earlier this year to investigate the origins of Covid-19; Vice Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine Dr Danny Bryden, who’s a Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals; medical journalist Clare Wilson from New Scientist Magazine. Produced by: Paula McGrath, Samara Linton and Maria Simons Studio Engineers: Jo Longton

Dare to repair: Fixing the future

por BBC

Mark Miodownik, explores the environmental consequences of the throwaway society we have become and reveals that recycling electronic waste comes second to repairing broken electronics. He asks what we can learn from repair cultures around the world , he looks at manufacturers who are designing in repair-ability, and discovers the resources available to encourage and train the next generation of repairers. Producer: Fiona Roberts (Photo: Teen boy solders wires to build robot, Credit: SDI Productions/Getty Images)

Dare to repair: The fight for the right to repair

por BBC

Many electronics manufacturers are making it harder for us, to fix our broken kit. There are claims that programmed obsolescence is alive and well, with mobile phone batteries designed to wear out after just 400 charges. They claim it's for safety or security reasons, but it pushes constant replacement and upgrades. But people are starting to fight back. Mark Miodownik talks to the fixers and repairers who are heading up the Right to Repair movement which is forcing governments to act, and making sustainability and value for money part of the consumer equation. Producer: Fiona Roberts (Photo: A pile of discarded computer circuit board. Credit: Tara Moore/Getty Images)

Dare to Repair: How we broke the future

por BBC

Materials engineer Professor Mark Miodownik looks back to the start of the electronics revolution to find out why our electronic gadgets and household goods are less durable and harder to repair now. As he attempts to fix his digital clock radio, he reveals that the drive for cheaper stuff and advances in design and manufacturing have left us with a culture of throwaway technology and mountains of electronic waste. Image: Apron housewife at kitchen dish washer, Credit: George Marks/Getty Images Producer: Fiona Roberts

Tooth and claw: Tigers

por BBC

“As it charges towards you, you can actually feel the drumbeat of its feet falling to the ground”. Nothing quite says fear more than standing before a charging tiger. Yet so often it’s also the poster-predator for conservation. The tiger truly is the ‘prince of the jungle’.. The good news (to some) is that after a century of decline, wild tiger populations have increased recently. But with this comes the increase in human fatalities – there are almost daily attacks on the rural poor across India. A world without wild tigers is not a world we want, but how do we balance the needs of people and the needs of tigers? Adam finds out more about tigers and the people that live around them by speaking with Indian tiger expert Rajeev Matthews and conservation biologist Samantha Helle, who is based in the US and works with communities and tigers in Nepal. Producer: Rami Tzabar and Beth Eastwood Presenter: Professor Adam Hart (Photo: A crouching tiger, Credit: Yudik Pradnyana/Getty Images)

Tooth and claw: Bears

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Teddy bears might be popular with children but real bears are anything but cuddly. Brown, Black and Grizzly bears are the most well-known and have a well-deserved fearsome reputation. But for most part, bear attacks are not nearly as common as you might think. They are solitary, curious and you are unlikely to see one unless you are really lucky – or unlucky depending on your point of view. So what should you do if you find yourself facing one in a forest? To learn more about these fascinating creatures, which can spend the winter months in a deep state of biological hibernation, professor Adam Hart speaks to Dr Clayton Lamb from the University of British Columbia in Canada and Dr Giulia Bombieri from the Science Museum in Trento, Italy, about their work and experiences of these amazing beasts, whose numbers are increasing in some parts of the world, leading to an increase of defensive attacks on people. Producedr: Rami Tzabar and Beth Eastwood Presenter: Professor Adam Hart. Picture: Brown bear, Credit: Szabo Ervin-Edward/EyeEm/Getty Images

The Evidence: How Covid damages the human body

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A year and a half in, and in many ways Covid-19 is still an enigma. All over the world, doctors and scientists are still struggling to understand exactly how this new virus undermines our defences and then damages, even destroys, our bodies, in so many different ways. And why are some people completely unaffected? In this edition of The Evidence, Claudia Hammond and her panel of experts chart the remarkable journey to understand this chameleon-like virus, including the long tail of the pandemic, Long Covid. Millions the world over are suffering under the dark shadow of post-Covid, with a multitude of symptoms months after the infection. Some of them, listeners to the programme, share their experiences. And, the background story of the world famous RECOVERY trial, set up at record speed in the UK (but now international) to test which treatments could save the lives of the sickest Covid patients. So far 10 treatments for Covid have been randomised and tested on thousands of patients and the results have shown that six, including the widely used and promoted hydroxychloroquine, make no difference to chances of surviving a hospital stay. While evidence that the cheap, widely-available steroid, dexamethasone, does work, and has so far saved more than a million lives world-wide. Joint chief investigator of RECOVERY, Sir Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, admits to Claudia that he’s been asked to include bee pollen and snake venom in the trial, but so far he’s resisted. Claudia’s expert panel also includes Professor K. Srinath Reddy, cardiologist and epidemiologist and President of the Public Health Institute of India; Dr Sherry Chou, intensivist and neurologist from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who heads the Global Consortium Study on Neurological Dysfunction in Covid-19 (GCS-NeuroCOVID) and Dr Melissa Heightman, respiratory consultant and Clinical Lead for post-COVID services at University College London Hospitals. Produced by: Fiona Hill, Hannah Fisher and Maria Simons Studio Engineers: Donald MacDonald and Matilda Macari

Tooth and Claw: Lions

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From Aslan to Simba, from the Wizard of Oz to heraldry, children in the West probably recognise this king of beasts before they can name the animals in their own back yards. But what about people who have lions roaming in their back yards literally? To find out more about the archetypal ‘man-eater; and how our increasingly complex relationship with them is playing out in Africa, Professor Adam Hart talks to two female researchers who have spent much of their lives working and living in lion country, helping to manage the wildlife conflicts that are becoming a threat to both humans and beasts. Dr Moreangels Mbizah is the Founding Director of Wildlife Conservation Action in Zimbabwe, and Dr Amy Dickman heads up the Ruaha Carnivore Project in Tanzania. Producer: Rami Tzabar and Beth Eastwood Presenter: Professor Adam Hart. (Photo: Lion, Credit: Nicholas Hodges/Getty Images)

Tooth and Claw: Crocodiles

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We have a morbid fascination with predators. And we've had it since the very first people carved figures or painted on cave walls thousands of years ago. Predators are still revered as gods in many cultures. Our cultural fascination is equalled only by our biological fear, hardwired into our primate brains, because if you are not a predator, you ARE the prey. In this series, Professor Adam Hart and explores our complex, challenging and ambiguous relationship with Earth’s greatest predators by talking to the women and men who know them best, researchers who have spent their lives tracking them, protecting them and, sometimes, narrowly escaping them. Today it’s the crocodile, part of the group known as crocodilians which also includes alligators and gharials, which first appeared 95 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. Much like Tigers, they don’t stalk their prey but lie in wait – often just below the surface of the water, ready to leap out and snap those ferocious jaws on just about anything – including other predators. But as we’ll discover, there is a very different side to these much maligned creatures, who can be nurturing and cooperative. Adam speaks to Dr Marisa Tellez, Co-Founder of the Crocodile Research Coalition in Belize, Central America and Dr Alan Britton is a Zoologist and crocodile specialist in Darwin, Australia, who has a 5-metre croc named Smaug living in his back garden pond. Produced by Rami Tzabar and Beth Eastwood Picture: Caiman Crocodile's eye, close up, Credit: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

Peter Goadsby on migraine

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neurological condition is far more common than you might think, affecting more people than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined. While medications, to help relieve the symptoms of migraine, have been around for some time, they haven’t worked for everyone. And what happens in the brain during a migraine attack was, until recently, poorly understood. Peter Goadsby is Professor of Neurology at King's College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and is a true pioneer in the field of migraine. Over the course of his career, he has unravelled what happens in the brain during a migraine attack and his insights are already benefiting patients - in the form of new medications that can not only treat a migraine, but also prevent it from occurring. Peter shares this year’s Brain Prize, the world's largest prize for brain research, with three other internationally renowned scientists in the field. Producer: Beth Eastwood Picture: Woman with head in hands, Credit: Ivan Nanita/EyeEm/Getty Images

Patient zero: First outbreak

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“Aboriginal people had a name for it... they called it ‘Devil Devil’...” In 1789, a disease tore through Aboriginal communities around Sydney Cove, or Warrane, leaving dead bodies floating in the harbour, and scattered along the shorelines. The evidence points to this being smallpox, but there’s still debate over how it got to Australia. Was it an accidental import with the arrival of European ships? Did it come from trading with other peoples in the region? Or was it deliberately introduced as a form of germ warfare? In this episode, Olivia Willis and Nakari Thorpe ask Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about this catastrophic moment in their history, and hear how their ancestors survived a cocktail of diseases they’d never before encountered. Producers: Jane Lee, Cheyne Anderson Senior Producer: Carl Smith Executive Producer: Joel Werner Sound Design: Tim Jenkins Patient Zero is a production of ABC Science, Radio National, and the BBC World Service

The Evidence: Sharing Vaccines – what’s gone wrong?

por BBC

The lofty ambition of the global community was that across the globe, those with the highest risk of losing their lives to this virus should be vaccinated first. With 99% of deaths coming in the over fifties, the plan was that everybody in this age group should be inoculated. But that’s not what has happened. Vaccine supply is in crisis and in Africa, a continent of over 1.2 billion people, only around 20 million Africans have been vaccinated, with only 35 million vaccines landing so far on the continent. It’s been called “vaccine apartheid” and “a moral outrage” but as South Asia, South America find themselves again, in the eye of the virus storm, largely unvaccinated Africa fears the next wave is heading for them. Can vaccine nationalism be overcome and scare supply be fairly distributed? It’s a question that very much concerns Claudia Hammond’s expert panel: Gagandeep Kang, Professor of Microbiology at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, Dr Yodi Alakija, co-chair of the African Union’s Vaccine Delivery Alliance for Covid-19, Professor Andy Pollard from the Oxford Vaccine Group who led the clinical trials for the Oxford/Astra Zeneca (or Covishield) Vaccine and Professor Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Centre for Vaccine Development in the USA. Produced by: Fiona Hill, Hannah Fisher and Maria Simons Studio Engineers: Jackie Marjoram and Tim Heffer

Patient zero: Back from the brink

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A six-year old boy in Papua New Guinea woke up one day in 2018 and was suddenly unable to stand up. Less than a year later, children in three other Asia Pacific nations were experiencing the same alarming symptoms. A disease that had been thought to have been eradicated from this region 18 years before was back -- and it appeared to be spreading. Olivia Willis tells the story of how doctors discovered that these children who developed paralysis had in fact contracted polio. Producers: Jane Lee, Cheyne Anderson Senior Producer: Carl Smith Executive Producer: Joel Werner Sound Design: Tim Jenkins An ABC Science Unit. ABC Radio National and BBC World Service co-production. Picture: Child receiving a polio vaccination from health worker at a mobile clinic on a street in Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands, Credit: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Patient zero Ticking time bomb

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In 2012 doctors in Tennessee started seeing patients with unusual symptoms. It became a race against time to find a diagnosis. A series of investigations revealed that the patients were infected with a fungus that was causing a form of meningitis. But where did they pick up the fungus? Olivia Willis speaks to the public health specialists who worked out what linked the people who succumbed to the infection: it turned out to be a contaminated spinal drug. In the end they discovered that more than 700 people across 20 US states had received the drug and more than 50 died. An ABC Science Unit. ABC Radio National and BBC World Service co-production. Producers: Jane Lee, Cheyne Anderson Senior Producer: Carl Smith Executive Producer: Joel Werner Sound Design: Tim Jenkins Photo: Patient sitting on hospital bed waiting, Credit: Portra Images/Getty

Patient zero: Spillover in suburbia

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A horse mysteriously falls ill in her paddock, and before long dozens of other horses from her stables are sick. As the horses start to die vicious, painful deaths, their trainer falls into a coma and is placed into intensive care. The race is on to figure out what's making both species sick, and where it came from. What they find will resonate throughout the following decades and might help us uncover the origins of COVID-19. Olivia Willis tells the story of how it was discovered that a virus carried by a fruit bat was responsible for the horrific deaths. The virus is now named Hendra, for the Brisbane suburb where the outbreak occurred in the 1990s. An ABC Science Unit. ABC Radio National and BBC World Service co-production. Producers: Jane Lee, Cheyne Anderson Senior Producer: Carl Smith Executive Producer: Joel Werner Sound Design: Tim Jenkins Picture: Wild horses, Credit: Phil Copp/Getty Images

The noises that make us cringe

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Why do some people find noises like a fork scraping a plate so terrible? asks Findlay in Aberdeenshire. Rutherford and Fry endure some horrible noises to find out the answer. Warning - This episode contains some horrible sounds Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford, has run experiments to find out the worst, most cringe-making sound. He divided horrible sounds into three categories: scraping sounds, like nails down a blackboard; disgusting sounds like a snotty sniffy nose; and sounds that make us cringe because of what we associate them with, like the dentist’s drill. All horrible sounds have some sort of association whether it’s a primal scream or fear of catching a disease, and they’re dealt with in the ancient part of the brain – the amygdala. Professor Tim Griffiths is a Cognitive Neurologist at Newcastle University’s Auditory Cognition Group. He has been studying people with misophonia, a condition where ordinary, everyday sounds, such as someone eating or breathing causes a severe anxiety and anger response. Misophonia may affect around 15% of the population and Tim thinks that different parts of the brain – the insula and the motor cortex - are involved in this fight or flight response to seemingly innocuous sounds. Cat Thomas’s job is to make horrible sounds. She is a foley artist at Boompost. If you watch Call the Midwife or Peaky Blinders, all the incidental sounds are created by Cat and her team. She also created some of the sounds for the horror film Camilla, which involved evisceration and disembowelling with the aid of some squishy oranges and bananas. Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry try their own horror sounds when they chop off a finger with the aid of some large pasta shells, an orange and a knife. Presenters: Hannah Fry & Adam Rutherford Producer: Fiona Roberts

The Hamster Power Hypothesis

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"How many hamsters on wheels would it take to power London?" asks Judah from Virginia in the USA. Rutherford & Fry return with engineering, ethics and economics to answer this electric query. Smart grid engineer Lynne McDonald helps keep the lights on for 8.3 million homes and businesses across London at UK Power Networks. She explains how the kilowatt hours we see on our electricity bills relate to the thousands of gigawatt hours required when thinking about powering the whole of London. In theory, a hamster in a wheel might be able to produce about half a watt of power – enough to run a small LED light bulb. Whilst the doctors argue the case on the resultant practicalities and ethics of even considering such a scenario – as, for example, the required cubic kilometre stack of hamster habitats would cover Canary Wharf – Royal Veterinary College researcher Zoe Davies points out some biological and anatomical home truths. As an expert in biomechanics currently investigating athletic performance in racehorses, she walks Adam through the impossibilities of using pretty much any animal, bird or insect as a source of power. There may be one exception though: humans. Veteran lecturer of undergraduate chemistry for biologists and cycling enthusiast, Andrea Sella discusses whether human power might realistically work. We consider what this or other more realistic sources of renewable energy could mean for the future of our national grid.

The Martian Mission

por BBC

What would it take for humans to live permanently on Mars? asks Martin in Weston-super-Mare, UK. The doctors dig into requirements and possibilities of a long-term Martian outpost. We know that many missions to Mars have failed, for a range of reasons – malfunctions, crashes and even a mix-up between imperial and metric units. Getting to Mars – let alone decelerating from 30,000 miles per hour to a safe landing speed in about seven minutes – is not straightforward. Aerospace engineer Anita Sengupta helped land NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. She knows first-hand the challenges of putting a robot on the red planet. But getting robots to Mars is an easier proposition than doing the same for humans. Even if we work out how to survive the radiation exposure on the eight-month journey and the pulverising descent, Mars’ surface isn’t easily habitable. Principal investigator for NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) Bruce Jakosky describes the conditions on Mars: Freezing, with an atmosphere containing mostly carbon dioxide and very little water, and subject to annual global dust storms. However, this isn’t deterring space agencies and private companies from researching the challenge. The European Space Agency and Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems focussed on finding out the physiological and psychological tolls by selecting six candidates to spend 520 days in a simulated spacecraft and landing module. Diego Urbina explains the personal challenge of taking part in the Mars500 experiment. Some private company owners have gone even further. As well as making technology based on the current physical conditions, could those constraints themselves be altered? Could Mars be terraformed, or warmed, for easier human survival? Bruce Jakosky shares just what that would take – and compares these requirements with what’s actually available.

The equal rights stuff

por BBC

In 1976, Nasa launched a campaign to help recruit the next generation of Astronauts. It was fronted by African-American actress Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, as part of an effort to ensure the astronaut corps represented the diversity of the United States. When they were revealed to the press, the 35 members of the new astronaut group included six women, three African American men and one Asian American man. All were appointed on merit. The selection of the first women caused quite a stir. As the ‘first mom in space’, Anna Fisher was asked by the press whether she was worried about her child (none of the fathers were asked). There were also jibes about separate restrooms and whether the women would ‘weep’ if something went wrong. Meanwhile, Nasa’s engineers suggested developing a zero-g makeup kit and the first US woman in space, Sally Ride, was issued with a long string of tampons (joined together like sausages) for a six-day mission. To mark the 40th anniversary of the first Shuttle launch in April 1981, astronaut Nicole Stott speaks to some of these pioneers and hears how Nasa has since aimed to become a beacon for diversity. Contributors also include astronaut Charles Bolden, the first African American to head the space agency and – as Nasa prepares to land the first woman on the Moon – its new head of human spaceflight, Kathy Lueders. (Image: Sally Ride. Credit: Nasa) Producer: Richard Hollingham

Lithium: Chile’s white gold

por BBC

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2019 was awarded to John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino "for the development of lithium-ion batteries." These rechargeable batteries are in our phones, and in our laptops. And they will be the batteries powering electric vehicles which we are being urged to use in place of ones fuelled by gasoline and diesel. Jane Chambers finds out how the element lithium has become so important in the world today. She lives in Chile, where lithium is called the country’s white gold, as it is the source of much of the world’s supply. Jane travels to the Atacama Desert and visits the SQM mine where lithium is evaporated out of huge brine lakes. She talks to Professor Clare Grey of Cambridge University about her research into improving the efficiency of lithium ion batteries. And Dr Paul Anderson of Birmingham University explains what needs to be done for more lithium to be recycled. Editor: Deborah Cohen Picture: Lithium plant in Atacama Desert, Chile, Credit: SQM

Patient zero: Coronavirus and contact tracing

por BBC

Today’s episode is about the history we’re still living. From Melbourne to Munich, Lombardy to Wuhan and all the way back again, this episode is about what happened when we faced those first coronavirus cases. Where things went well, where they didn’t, and where contact tracing was effective — and whether there’s anything we could have done to stop it. Presented by Olivia Willis of ABC Australia. (Picture: Coronavirus particles spreading in a crowd of people, Credit: Peter Howell/Getty Images)