Bbc Inside Science

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Sinopsis

Dr Adam Rutherford and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

Episodios

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

    30/09/2021 Duración: 33min

    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 U

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

    23/09/2021 Duración: 31min

    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 de

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

    16/09/2021 Duración: 31min

    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, an

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

    09/09/2021 Duración: 29min

    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 reserve

  • Rugby and the brain

    02/09/2021 Duración: 29min

    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 He

  • Window to solve pandemic origins closing

    26/08/2021 Duración: 28min

    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

  • Mammoth Journey

    19/08/2021 Duración: 30min

    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 Thayson 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 Lancaster. 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

    12/08/2021 Duración: 30min

    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

    05/08/2021 Duración: 31min

    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

    29/07/2021 Duración: 30min

    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

  • A life-changing database

    22/07/2021 Duración: 32min

    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 u

  • Covid19 - should we test everybody ?

    15/07/2021 Duración: 28min

    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 b

  • Covid and our ancient ancestors

    08/07/2021 Duración: 28min

    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

  • Gene editing gets real

    01/07/2021 Duración: 31min

    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 Brita

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

    24/06/2021 Duración: 34min

    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 othe

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

    17/06/2021 Duración: 30min

    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 loo

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

    10/06/2021 Duración: 31min

    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 ca

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

    03/06/2021 Duración: 31min

    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 Cambrid

  • Human use of plants beyond the limits of history.

    27/05/2021 Duración: 35min

    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,

  • Blood Clot Cure, Synthetic Fuels and Coal Mine Heat Pumps

    20/05/2021 Duración: 42min

    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

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