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Science

Science in Action

Updated 4 days ago

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

Read more

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

iTunes Ratings

202 Ratings
Average Ratings
151
29
8
10
4

Great podcast! Love every episode of it.

By Davo91 - Feb 06 2015
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Great podcast! Love every episode of it.

Great for science-phobes like me!

By Uptown Lakes - Apr 17 2011
Read more
Thank you for making science so accessible. Love it!

iTunes Ratings

202 Ratings
Average Ratings
151
29
8
10
4

Great podcast! Love every episode of it.

By Davo91 - Feb 06 2015
Read more
Great podcast! Love every episode of it.

Great for science-phobes like me!

By Uptown Lakes - Apr 17 2011
Read more
Thank you for making science so accessible. Love it!

Listen to:

Cover image of Science in Action

Science in Action

Updated 4 days ago

Read more

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

Rank #1: Is quantum supremacy ‘garbage’?

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A quantum computer has performed a calculation considered impossible for conventional computers, but how meaningful is the result? As our guest reveals, this quantum state can be hugely significant and garbage – at the same time.

Also we look at a new method of gene editing, which avoids cutting up DNA, get to grips with where the worlds worms live and watch elements being created in distant solar collisions.
(Photo: A quantum circuit from Google's Sycamore computer. Credit: Google)
Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian Siddle

Oct 24 2019

37mins

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Rank #2: Wildfires and winds in California

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The Santa Ana in the south, and the Diablo in the north, are winds that are fuelling the terrible fires raging in California this week. They’re also blamed for bringing down power lines that sometimes start the fires. Roland Pease talks to Janice Coen of the National Center for Atmospheric Research NCAR who has been developing a highly detailed model to forecast how wind, mountains, and flames interact during a wildfire.

The glaring gaps in human genetics are in Africa – much overlooked because the companies and universities sequencing DNA are mostly based in Europe, the US and other advanced economies. A ten-year attempt to fill in some of those gaps came to fruition this week, with the release of a study covering thousands of individuals from rural Uganda. Deepti Gurdasani, of Queen Mary University London, explains the data reveal both new medical stories, and the scale of past migration within Africa.

There are also gaps in the climate record from Africa. Knowing past climates could help massively in understanding the prospects for climate change in coming years on the continent. Journalist Linda Nordling has just published an article in Nature that shows that the records exist – old weather data collected since the 19th Century. It’s just they’re scattered, unexamined, in vaults and collections across Africa.

Adam McKay of Nasa and Alan Fitzsimmons of Queens University Belfast talk to Roland Pease about the latest observations of the interstellar interloper Comet Borisov.

(Photo: A firefighter sets a back fire along a hillside during operations to battle the Kincade fire in Healdsburg, California. Credit: Philip Pacheco/AFP/Getty Images)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Deborah Cohen

Oct 31 2019

28mins

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Rank #3: 'Free' water and electricity for the world?

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Researchers in Saudi Arabia have developed a prototype solar panel which generates electricity and purifies water at the same time. The device uses waste heat from the electricity generating process to distil water. An individual panel for home use could produce around 4 litres and hour. The researchers suggest use of such panels would help alleviate water shortages.

A long running study of gorilla behaviour in the DRC has found they exhibit social traits previously thought to only be present in humans. This suggests such traits could have developed in the prehistory of both species.

More than 500 fish species can change sex. Analysis of the underlying mechanism shows how sex determination is heavily influenced by environmental and in the case of one species social factors.
(Picture: Future PV farm: not just generating electricity, but also producing fresh water. Credit: Wenbin Wang)
Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian Siddle

Jul 11 2019

29mins

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Rank #4: US foetal tissue research ban

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The US has withdrawn funding for scientific research involving foetal tissue.
Scientists point to the lack of feasible alternatives to using foetal tissue – which comes from embryos donated to scientific research via abortion clinics.
They say the move to halt this kind of research will have a negative impact on the ability of US medical institutions to develop new treatments for a range of diseases from diabetes to cancer.

More controversy from the ‘Crispr babies ‘ scandal – with a new analysis showing the modified gene may have a wide impact on the health of the children it was claimed to have been implanted into.

A reassessment on North Korea’s Nuclear tests using cold war methodology suggest the last explosion was more powerful than previously thought.

And we investigate a small British Earthquake south of London.
(Picture: Donald Trump, Credit:SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian Siddle

Jun 06 2019

34mins

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Rank #5: From batteries to distant worlds

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Nobel prizes this week went to a range of discoveries that you might be familiar with, in fact you might be using one of them right now – the lithium ion battery. The scientists credited with its Invention got the chemistry prize. And the tantalising prospect of life on other planets plays into the physics prize win.

And we also see what salamanders have to offer in the treatment of arthritis
(Picture: Illustration of the Earth-like exoplanet Kepler-452b and its parent star Kepler-452. Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech/Science Photo Library)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian Siddle

Oct 10 2019

29mins

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Rank #6: Malaria's origins and a potential new treatment

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A variety of malarial parasites have existed amongst the great apes for millennia. How did one of them jump species and why did humans became its preferred host? And from Antarctica we hear about a potential new treatment for malaria found in a deep sea sponge.

Also, why improved monitoring is changing our perceptions of earthquakes and the story of an endangered Polynesian snail.

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian Siddle

(Photo: Gorilla. Credit: Hermes Images/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Oct 17 2019

29mins

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Rank #7: Analysing the European heatwave

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The recent European heatwave broke records, but how severe was it really and what were the underlying causes? Having run the numbers, climate scientists say global warming played a large part, and makes heatwaves in general more likely.

And we look at what seems an incredibly simple idea to counter the effects of global warming – plant more trees, but where and how many?

(Photo: People cool themselves down in the fountain of the Trocadero esplanade in Paris. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian Siddle

Jul 04 2019

28mins

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Rank #8: Cracking the case of the Krakatoa volcano collapse

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Scientists this week are on expedition around the volcano Anak Krakatoa, which erupted and collapsed in 2018 leading to the loss of some 400 lives on the island of Java. The scientists, including David Tappin and Michael Cassidy, are hoping that their survey of the seafloor and tsunami debris will allow them to piece together the sequence of events, and maybe find signs to look out for in the future.

Wyoming Dinosaur trove
The BBC got a secret visit to a newly discovered fossil site somewhere in the US which scientists reckon could keep them busy for many years. Jon Amos got to have a tour and even found out a tasty technique to tell a fossil from a rock.

Bioflourescent Aliens
Researchers at Cornell University’s Carla Sagan Institute report their work thinking about detecting alien life on distant planets orbiting other stars. Around 75% of stars are of a type that emits far more dangerous UV than our own sun. What, they argue, would a type of life that could survive that look like to us? Well, just maybe it would act like some of our own terrestrial corals, who can protect their symbiotic algae from UV, and in doing so, emit visible light. Could such an emission be detectable, in sync with dangerous emergent UV flares around distant suns? The next generation of large telescopes maybe could…

Exopants
Jinsoo Kim and David Perry of Harvard University tell reporter Giulia Barbareschi about their new design for a soft exosuit that helps users to walk and, crucially also to run. They suggest the metabolic savings the suit could offer have numerous future applications for work and play.

(Photo: Volcano Anak Krakatoa. Credit: Drone Pilot, Muhammad Edo Marshal, ITB university in Bandung, Indonesia)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Alex Mansfield
Reporter: Giulia Barbareschi

Aug 15 2019

33mins

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Rank #9: The snowball effect of Arctic fires

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Wildfires are an annual phenomenon across the arctic region, but this year they are far more intense than usual, we look at the drivers for these extreme fires and the consequences, in particular long term environmental change across the region.

We visit Naples which is built on a super volcano. A new analysis is designed to help predict when it might erupt.
We hear from young scientists around the world on their hopes for the future and hear about the discovery of a new potentially earth like planet.
Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian Siddle
(Photo: Arctic wildfires: Credit: Getty Images)

Aug 01 2019

26mins

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Rank #10: The human danger – for sharks

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A global project tracking sharks through the deep oceans has found they are increasingly facing danger from fishing fleets. Sharks used to be caught accidentally, but now there is a well-established trade in shark meat and fins, which the researchers say is reducing their numbers.

We look at how tourists might be a useful source for conservation data, And we meet one of the planets smallest predators, is it a plant is it an animal? Well actually it’s a bit of both.
(Photo: Tiger shark. Credit: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian siddle

Jul 25 2019

30mins

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