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BBC Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

BBC Radio 4

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

658 - A New Volcanic Era?
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  • 658 - A New Volcanic Era?

    As lava consumes homes on the Reykjavik Peninsula in Iceland, evacuated communities have been witnessing eruptions shifting and intensifying. We take a look at the latest science that’s helping teams on the ground accurately predict where the danger is coming from, helping people to stay safe. Our go-to volcanologist, Dr Evgenia Ilyinskaya, and her colleague, Professor Andrew Hooper, from the University of Leeds tell presenter Victoria about these new technological advancements, and ask the crucial question: are we entering a new millennium of volcanic activity in Iceland?

    When looking at clear ocean water, you might assume that, aside from fish and some algae, there isn’t much living in it. But Prof Carlos Duarte knows it is full of life. In fact, his new study shows just how many different microbes – bacteria, viruses & fungi – live in all parts of our ocean. He and his team at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have created the largest ocean genome catalogue to date. Prof Mark Blaxter from the Wellcome Sanger Institute joins us to discuss this new study, the benefits of hypothesis-free science, and why he believes cataloguing the code of life of all the species on earth is an important endeavour.

    And, lastly, an old dinosaur fossil in New Mexico has been re-examined. What was believed to be of the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex may have been a different species all along. But not all palaeontologists agree. How do scientists even tell a dinosaur species from a fossil? Prof Stephen Brusatte tells Vic that it’s all about comparing bones.

    Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Florian Bohr, Louise Orchard, Hannah Robbins Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth

    BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University.

    Thu, 15 Feb 2024
  • 657 - Understanding Flood Forecasting

    When Lois Pryce arrived at her boat in Berkshire, the area was already completely flooded. The only way to get to it was via a small pontoon. She is one of many across the UK that have been affected by the current floods, and is very familiar with the flood warning system accessible to the public. But how exactly does this system work? What information is taken into account? Marnie Chesterton speaks to Dr Linda Speight about flood forecasting, and the delicate balance of when to send out flood alerts and warnings. Plus, a supersized spacecraft is launching this October. Europa Clipper will assess whether the most intriguing of Jupiter’s 95 moons is habitable, meaning, could it support life? The evidence is tantalising. Jenny Kempmeir, Science Systems Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tells us why Europa might be the second body in our solar system on which life could exist.

    And, if you’ve been procrastinating over the housework – or should we say, mousework? - take a leaf out of a little rodent’s book. Apparently, mice do like to keep things clean, but a video that went viral this week seemingly takes this idea to another level entirely! You may well have seen the footage of a Welsh mouse gathering up objects in a shed and placing them neatly inside a box, night after night. It’s certainly very cute - Tidy Mouse carrying out its mousekeeping..but what’s the scientific explanation behind this curious behaviour?

    Finally, how do exercise and video games affect cognitive performance? Professor Adrian Owen is launching a new experiment to find out and he needs your help.

    Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producers: Louise Orchard, Florian Bohr, Hannah Robbins Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth

    BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University.

    Thu, 08 Feb 2024
  • 656 - Space Exploration

    2024 is an exciting year for lunar exploration. For Inside Science this week Marnie Chesterton investigates the planned missions to the Moon over the next twelve months.

    It’s been more than fifty years since the last manned mission to the Moon was completed. But that’s about to change with NASA’s upcoming Artemis II mission. This will not only be the first manned lunar flyby of the Moon since 1972, but also the first mission to have a woman and person of colour on board. Reid Wiseman, Commander of the Artemis II manned mission explains more about the mission and even lets us into a few secrets about what culinary delights await astronauts in space.

    But it’s not just NASA going to the Moon in 2024. China’s Chang’e 6 mission is lifting off in May, aiming to collect samples of rock from the far side of the moon. Quentin Parker, Director of the Laboratory for Space Research at the University of Hong Kong has a unique insight into China’s mission and has been following progress.

    Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producers: Hannah Fisher Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth

    BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University.

    Thu, 01 Feb 2024
  • 655 - 12 days of Christmas - science version

    Marnie Chesterton & Victoria Gill embark on a science-themed version of the classic Christmas song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ in this festive edition of BBC Inside Science.

    Twelve of the biggest moments of the year in science include discussion about a very special treefrog discovered in the Ecuadorian Andes. We also hear about two new promising drugs for Alzheimer’s disease.

    An astronomer and visualisation scientist tells us about three new sonifications of space data.

    There’s more on the discovery of a 476,000 year-old wooden structure found earlier this year in Zambia and how it has changed archaeologists' understanding of ancient human life.

    The year has also seen 5,000 new species discovered in a deep ocean abyssal plain. Saturn has 62 new moons and is now the planet with the most moons in our solar system.

    A report was published deeming 75% of UK rivers as posing a risk to human health. We gathered together experts from Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff University, Bangor University and the Wye and Usk Foundation who discussed why the help from citizen science is essential for their work.

    And a new record has been set which is really worrying scientists - the highest average global ocean surface temperature, which reached 20.98 degrees centigrade.

    Other notable moments from the year include: a Japanese twelve-legged robot, eighteen video-calling parrots, proposals for the 10km long Einstein telescope and the theory behind why one player in every football team views the world slightly differently.

    To help us along the journey the BBC’s Radio Drama Company put all the science together into a brand-new rendition of the well-known 12 days of Christmas song.

    Presenter: Marnie Chesterton & Victoria Gill Producer: Hannah Fisher Assistant Producer: Emily Bird Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth

    BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University.

    Thu, 25 Jan 2024
  • 654 - The Science of the South Pole

    We’re on board the RSS Sir David Attenborough for the vessel’s first big science season in the Antarctic, since it launched in 2020. It’s crewed by scientists involved in Project Biopole, a 5-year mission attempting to better understand carbon cycle at the poles. Nadine Johnston, a microbiologist with the British Antarctic Survey, joins Inside Science to talk about her work on copepods; zooplankton that build up huge fat reserves over the spring and summer months, then hibernate at 3000m during winter, taking carbon with them which is then locked-up in the deep ocean for up to 600yrs! Her research is a world first in the Southern Ocean and could help improve global carbon modelling of the earth system.

    Staying in the South Pole, neuroscientist John-Antoine Libourel, talks about his latest research into the surprising sleeping habits of chinstrap penguins.

    And after weeks of intense earthquake activity, the volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula of south-west Iceland has erupted. Dr Evgenia Ilyinskaya, our go-to volcanologist, provides an update. Plus, a nod to the festive season, as composer and AI artist, LJ Rich, explains why Christmas music makes us feel all fuzzy.

    Presenter: Victoria Gill Producers: Hannah Robins, Harrison Lewis & Louise Orchard Editor: Richard Collings Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth

    BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University.

    Thu, 18 Jan 2024
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