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Science

The Science Hour

BBC World Service

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Science news and highlights of the week
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1:08:25 | Aug 24th

As fires across the amazon basin continue to burn, we speak to the researchers watching from space and from the ground. Also, new pictures back from the surface of asteroid Ryugu thanks to Germany’s MASCOT lander, part of the Japanese Hyabusa2 missio...Show More

1:13:55 | Aug 18th

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 thei...Show More

1:03:06 | Aug 11th

The US has withdrawn from a historic nuclear disarmament treaty. However the verification of such treaties has been under scrutiny for some time as they don’t actually reveal the size of nuclear stockpiles. New methods of verification and encryptio...Show More

57:44 | Aug 4th

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...Show More

1:04:20 | Jul 28th

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...Show More

1:12:38 | Jul 21st

Its 50 years since the moon landing and 25 years since Shoemaker - Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter. The Apollo missions returned to earth with cargos of moon rocks and the comet crash showed us what happens when celestial bodies collide. We look at th...Show More

57:58 | Jul 14th

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 c...Show More

1:01:43 | Jul 7th

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 ...Show More

1:03:06 | Jun 30th

As Europe experiences another record breaking heatwave, we look at the science of attribution. Usually it’s a long time after extreme weather events that scientists gather enough data to make a judgement on the influence of anthropogenic forces, such...Show More

58:55 | Jun 23rd

Iran’s nuclear programme is at the centre of a political row, with the country suggesting it could increase uranium production to above the levels permitted under an international agreement. We look beyond the rhetoric, discuss Iran’s covert history ...Show More

56:11 | Jun 16th

South Asia has experienced a heatwave where the monsoon has been delayed and temperatures have reached over 50 degrees. Despite this the extreme heat has led to far fewer fatalities than previous heatwaves; we look at why that is. Research into the...Show More

1:08:02 | Jun 9th

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 ...Show More

55:04 | Jun 2nd

One hundred years ago, a solar eclipse proved Einstein’s theory of general relativity was onto something. Known as the Eddington expedition, in 1919 two teams of astronomers set forth to witness a total solar eclipse from either side of the Atlantic....Show More

1:03:08 | May 26th

A new undersea volcano has appeared off the coast of East Africa. The sea floor between Madagascar and Mozambique has become increasingly seismically active in the last year. As well as the appearance of this active volcano, local islands are now exp...Show More

1:00:18 | May 19th

The World Wood web is a global map of two different types of underground fungi, microscopic organisms living in and around tree roots. The presence of these fungi is a key indicator of the health and variety of above ground life in the forests where ...Show More

57:00 | May 12th

This week’s UN biodiversity assessment paints a grim picture for species loss worldwide. However scientists are looking at ways to ensure conservation can be done in a way that works with economic development. We focus on examples from Africa. Afri...Show More

59:57 | May 5th

First there was cyclone Idai, then cyclone Kenneth and now cyclone Fani. As we go to air Fani is still developing, but the earlier two were unprecedented, occurring in a manner rarely if ever seen before. What is behind these extreme events? We look...Show More

59:49 | Apr 28th

Neuroscientists have recorded the brain activity of patients while talking and used this to develop computer programmes that can simulate speech. The neural activity they monitored is associated with the muscle movements needed to talk and form word...Show More

1:06:32 | Apr 21st

On Science in Action this week we look at the ethical concerns behind the so-called “Zombie Pigs”. Using a machine called BrainEx a team from Yale University part-revived pig brains hours after they had been removed from the body. The researchers are...Show More

57:43 | Apr 14th

The first EVER picture of a Black Hole has been captured by a network of telescopes, known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). The picture shows a bright ring of fire surrounding a circular dark hole. The Black Hole has been described as a “monster...Show More

56:24 | Apr 7th

A remarkable new fossil find shows a record of events in the minutes and the hours that followed the impact of a 10km wide asteroid. The fossils show how plants and animals were thrown up into the atmosphere before crashing down again. Early whales ...Show More
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1:02:20 | Mar 31st

New data revealed from the Cassini mission to Saturn suggests the planets’ tiny moons are made of the same material as its enigmatic rings. Material from the rings is building up around the circumference of the moons - in effect making them grow. L...Show More
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1:00:36 | Mar 24th

Its been called the worst natural disaster on record by the UN. However Cyclone Idai was predicted, we look at the factors which contributed to the intensity of this extreme weather event. Fossils from China – a river bed has revealed a number of an...Show More
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1:01:55 | Mar 17th

Since last May the Comoros islands in the Indian Ocean have been experiencing earthquake tremors and the island of Mayotte has sunk by more than 10cm. French geologists have set up monitoring equipment on land and the seabed to try to assess the ext...Show More
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1:01:47 | Mar 10th

The world’s largest study of chimpanzee behaviour has come to the rather negative conclusion that interactions with humans decrease the range of chimpanzee behaviours and may interfere with the way in which chimp parents pass skills to their offsprin...Show More
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58:45 | Mar 3rd

By the year 2000, methane levels in the atmosphere were thought to have stabilised. But just a few years later in 2007 these levels suddenly started to rise. Research suggests that the spread of intense farming in Africa may be involved, in particula...Show More
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55:52 | Feb 24th

This week’s programme comes from the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference, in Washington DC. With over 9,000 attendees it’s the largest gathering of scientists in the world. We look at the issue of race and racism in...Show More
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50:35 | Feb 17th

Los Angeles is famously earthquake prone, but it is also known for its technological advancement, being close to the heart of the computer industry. Seismologists have developed a new system which uses redundant capacity on fibre optic networks acros...Show More
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1:00:03 | Feb 10th

Last September’s earthquake in Indonesia hit the Sulawesi city Palu and caused a tsunami – yet conventional analysis suggests it simply wasn’t powerful enough to cause the damage it did. A new analysis shows that the quake was fast, about 4 times the...Show More
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57:32 | Feb 3rd

A ‘tailings dam’ collapse in Brazil has killed many people, burying them alive. We ask why and how such dangerous structures are built and discuss the humanitarian and environmental risk they pose. Denisovans, a Siberian cave is revealing more abou...Show More
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56:18 | Jan 27th

Through a country wide programme involving education, drug treatment and the mass distribution of bednets and insecticides, Zambia has reduced malaria infections by 96 percent. However getting down to zero is proving elusive. We look at how mosquitos...Show More
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1:00:00 | Jan 15th

As federal employees many US scientists have been affected by the US government shutdown. They are not being paid, can’t talk about their work or go to scientific conferences. We look at how this US political stand-off is affecting scientific researc...Show More
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55:48 | Jan 6th

It’s been years in the planning and involved a tiny window of opportunity. NASA’s New Horizons mission launched in 2006 has reached its far flung destination, a couple of outer space snowballs known as Ultima Thule. The mission aims to shed light on ...Show More
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54:47 | Dec 29th, 2018

The Parker Solar Probe has flown nearer to the sun than any other mission. The probe is now sending back data on the behaviour of electromagnetic waves emitted from the coronal mass. Fluctuations in these waves can lead to solar flares ,which in turn...Show More
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54:17 | Dec 16th, 2018

Investigations beneath our deep oceans have revealed an immense variety of incredibly hardy microbial life. Investigators even found life after drilling 2.5 km into the rock beneath the oceans. They found microbes that can resist immense pressure and...Show More
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53:28 | Dec 9th, 2018

The latest climate talks have heard that emissions this year and last have increased - they fell in the 3 years previously. Development of electric vehicles and energy generation with renewable technologies have helped reduce emissions, but it’s not...Show More
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53:34 | Dec 2nd, 2018

A researcher in China claims to have modified the genes of two baby girls. His announcement at a genetics conference in Hong Kong caused outrage. Experts in the field were quick to point out the dangers of the technique he had used and questioned the...Show More
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53:08 | Nov 25th, 2018

The 1960s concept of ‘Ionic Wind’ has been successfully put to the test in a new kind of electric airplane. The plane has no motors and uses the exchange of ions in the air to propel itself. Larger versions could carry goods and passengers and would ...Show More
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53:22 | Nov 18th, 2018

In the US mid-term elections, the Democrats gained a majority in the lower house, this means they take control of key committees – including the House Science Committee. Over recent years this once bipartisan committee has been used by Republicans to...Show More
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49:21 | Nov 11th, 2018

The junk and geology of the Anthropocene, how mankind’s influence of the planet is now producing more erosion than natural forces, and how the materials we’ve used for mining and building in the past provides a snapshot of our geological influence of...Show More
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49:45 | Nov 4th, 2018

An impact with galaxy Enceladus, around 10 billion years ago filled, our home galaxy, the Milky Way’s inner surrounding halo with stars and made the galactic disk much thicker, and starrier than it ought to be. Carbon tetrachloride is one of several...Show More
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54:08 | Oct 27th, 2018

The space probe BepiColombo has begun its seven year voyage to the planet Mercury. Suzie Imber of the University of Leicester and David Rothery of the Open University tells Adam Rutherford why the journey will take so long and why Mercury is such an ...Show More
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49:20 | Oct 20th, 2018

A few days ago saw the death of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the most prominent campaigners affected by the CervicalCheck cancer smear test scandal in Ireland. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016 after receiving two incorrect smear test resu...Show More
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49:22 | Oct 13th, 2018

With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announcing that we need to keep global warming under 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, we explore the impact of food production on the environment. A new study calculates the current and predicted ...Show More
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49:20 | Sep 22nd, 2018

Some older people who have had a heart attack or stroke take a daily low-dose aspirin to reduce their risk of having another one. But a new study this week shows that the drug increases the risk of internal bleeding. Claudia Hammond speaks to Peter ...Show More
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49:57 | Sep 15th, 2018

Europe has a health check this week – and the citizens of its 53 countries are living longer. But unhealthy lifestyles fuelled by smoking, drinking and too little exercise are causing a rise in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. The World...Show More
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49:26 | Sep 8th, 2018

A fire has destroyed the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Most of the natural history and anthropological artefacts have been wrecked. What is the impact on on-going scientific research and what is the loss to science in the future? Rol...Show More
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49:23 | Sep 1st, 2018

Why is the monsoon experienced in Kerala in South West India so wet? The monsoon is a combined meteorological event, where several factors - altered low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal, altered winds and a warmer ocean - interacted to deliver d...Show More
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49:17 | Aug 25th, 2018

Cases of measles in Europe have hit a record high, according to the World Health Organization. More than 41,000 people have been infected in the first six months of 2018, leading to 37 deaths. Last year there were 23,927 cases and the year before 5...Show More
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49:48 | Aug 18th, 2018

Researchers have found a way to produce a naturally occurring mineral - magnesite, in a lab, that can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, offering a potential strategy for tackling climate change. They have accelerated a process that normally takes thous...Show More
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50:10 | Aug 11th, 2018

Just weeks after the outbreak of Ebola was declared over in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a new outbreak has emerged in the east of the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) has responded rapidly to the emergency – having learn...Show More
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49:26 | Aug 4th, 2018

How the residents of Mukuru in Nairobi are trying to tackle the growing health problems caused by particulate air pollution. Most Login Attempts are Criminal 90% of retail attempts are hackers and not genuine customers - that's according to a new...Show More
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49:17 | Jul 28th, 2018

Scientists say they have discovered evidence of a 12 mile long body of water on Mars. Estimated to be at least a metre deep, the “lake” was found beneath the red planet’s southern polar ice cap by the agency’s radar probe, known as Marsis. Roland Pea...Show More
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49:44 | Jul 21st, 2018

Heatwaves and Droughts The Northern Hemisphere has been sweltering in some of the hottest temperatures recorded this summer. Records have been broken in Taiwan, California, Canada, Algeria and Oman. Yet 2018 is a La Niña year. This is the is the pos...Show More
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49:20 | Jul 14th, 2018

Early Humans Archaeologists in China have ‘peeled back’ 17 layers of sediment and fossil soils formed during a period spanning almost a million years. They’ve revealed stone tool fragments and animal bones at the site in Shangchen in the southern C...Show More
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49:58 | Jul 7th, 2018

Rhinos The northern white rhinoceros is the world’s most endangered mammal. The death earlier this year of the last male of this rhino subspecies leaves just two females as its only living members. Research out this week has adopted new techniques i...Show More
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49:18 | Jun 30th, 2018

The Japanese Space Agency’s mission to land on an asteroid, collect samples and return them to Earth has made its first approach. Currently looking for a landing site, the spacecracft is 20 km away from the rotating pile of space rocks. It is hoped t...Show More
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49:33 | Jun 23rd, 2018

Hazard Mapping the Guatemalan Volcano Volcanologist Eliza Calder explains why the eruption of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala on 3rd June was so devastating. It left at least 110 people dead and over 200 people missing. It’s thought that the local popu...Show More
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49:17 | Jun 16th, 2018

Antarctic ice melt The rate of sea level rise from melting ice sheets and ice shelves in Antarctica has trebled in the past 5 years due to global warming. Satellite data is showing that ice loss from Antarctica has increased global sea levels by 7....Show More
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49:20 | Jun 9th, 2018

This week an auction of a 70% complete dinosaur skeleton took place in Paris. The Therapod species, dating from the late Jurassic period about 155m years ago is scientifically very interesting. It’s an unknown predator which, argues the Society of Ve...Show More
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49:19 | Jun 2nd, 2018

When the New Horizons space probe flew past Pluto three years ago, it revealed an expectedly exotic little world. The latest revelation from the data is that dunes creep across its surface. But as John Spencer of the South West Research Institute exp...Show More
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49:55 | May 26th, 2018

Increased CO2 and Rice Nutrition New research suggests that rice will be depleted in important B vitamins and minerals by rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Adam Rutherford to talks to Kristie Ebi of the University of Washington, one of the scien...Show More
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49:49 | May 19th, 2018

Threat to conservation A third of protected nature reserves around the world are under threat from intense human activities like road building, grazing of animals and urbanization, according to a new study. Professor James Watson from the World Con...Show More
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52:44 | Dec 2nd, 2017

The World Malaria Report 2017 draws on data from 91 countries and areas with ongoing malaria transmission. This year's report shows that after an unprecedented period of success in global malaria control, progress has stalled. In 2016, there were a...Show More
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49:48 | Nov 25th, 2017

Why is the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua’ such a strange shape? At 10 times longer than it is wide, the space rock is one of the most elongated cosmic objects known to science. It is also the first asteroid visitor form outside our Solar System, ...Show More
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50:06 | Nov 18th, 2017

In a week the border of Iran and Iraq saw a devastating earthquake, we are looking at predicting quakes and new research which says natural variations in the length of the day may influence the likelihood of strong earthquakes happening. Seismologis...Show More
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49:25 | Nov 11th, 2017

Stem cell therapies are finally maturing. This week, an Italian and German team have used stem cells to grow back huge amounts of skin in a patient with a genetic disease. The patient, a 7 year old boy, was treated with his own genetically modified ...Show More
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49:23 | Aug 12th, 2017

Europe’s been hit with temperatures exceeding 40°C and it’s proving lethal. Up to 74% of the world’s population will have to endure life-threatening heat like this for 20 days a year, thanks to climate change. Reported incidents of medical fraud a...Show More
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50:39 | Aug 5th, 2017

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the heart condition that can lead to seemingly fit and healthy people collapsing with heart failure. Scientists using the precise gene-editing technique, CRISPR CAS 9, have identified one of the genes responsible for t...Show More
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49:01 | Jul 29th, 2017

Adam Rutherford speaks to Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy at the University of Bath, Carole Mundell, who explains how she and other astronomers captured the most complete picture yet of the most powerful type of explosion in the universe - Gamma...Show More
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51:26 | Jul 22nd, 2017

The plastic industry has produced enough garbage in its 67-year existence to bury Manhattan under two miles of the non-biodegradable trash, according to a study published in Science Advances. Unlike other materials, plastic is unable to break down. ...Show More
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50:29 | Jul 15th, 2017

One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded has just broken away from Antarctica. The 6,000 sq km block was spotted by a US satellite as it cleaved off the Larsen C Ice Shelf on Wednesday. Roland Pease talks to British Antarctic Survey glaciologist J...Show More
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49:20 | Jul 8th, 2017

Scientists have been meeting at London’s Royal Society since 1660 and this week, the Summer Science Exhibition celebrates the latest in cutting-edge science. Claudia Hammond gets to grips with a soft robotic heart which beats in time to your own pul...Show More