300 episodios

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

BBC Inside Science BBC

    • Ciencia

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

    Coronavirus questions; HMS Challenger and ocean acidification; Sean Carroll's quantum world

    Coronavirus questions; HMS Challenger and ocean acidification; Sean Carroll's quantum world

    Adam Rutherford is joined by Professor of Virology at Nottingham University, Jonathan Ball, to help answer some of your questions on the latest coronavirus outbreak. Will it become endemic, and once infected and recovered how long are we resistant to the virus? And can face masks and alcohol hand gels help prevent infection?

    In the 1870's the scientific research ship, HMS Challenger, sailed all the world's oceans measuring sea temperatures, ocean depths and sampling the geology of the seabed. But it's the seawater samples, containing microscopic zooplankton, preserved for 130 years which intrigued climate scientist Dr. Lyndsey Fox. She has been measuring the thickness of the shells of Foraminifera - tiny single-celled organisms - as a way of measuring how much the ocean has acidified over time. The shells are made of calcium carbonate, that is much harder to accrete when the pH drops.

    Theoretical physicist Sean M. Carroll is very good at explaining the unexplainable. He chats to Adam about his latest book - Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime.

    Producer: Fiona Roberts

    • 42 min
    Ordnance Survey - Britain's 220-year-old tech company; Launching synthetic voices and personality test

    Ordnance Survey - Britain's 220-year-old tech company; Launching synthetic voices and personality test

    For the past 220 years, Ordnance Survey have been mapping Great Britain with extraordinary accuracy. But as Gareth discovers when he visits their HQ in Southampton, GB's master map is not a static printed document. It's a 2 petabyte database which is updated up to 20,000 times a day. This adds up to 360 million updates a year. Since the development of the theodolite and the first detailed map in 1801 of the county of Kent, Ordnance Survey have used cutting edge technology, not only to map our lands, but to manipulate, understand and ask questions of the geography of our natural landscapes and built environment.

    Voices on the train, public address announcements at the station, automated telephone banking, Alexa and Siri. We are surrounded by electronic voices. But very little research has been done of how we respond to synthetic speech. To investigate the impact of artificially generated voices in our lives, BBC R&D together with our favourite acoustic engineer, Professor Trevor Cox of the University of Salford, has just launched a study. The Synthetic Voices and Personality Test, is an online test we want you to take part in. Please go to https://voicestudy.api.bbc.co.uk and have a listen

    Presenter Gareth Mitchell
    Producer - Fiona Roberts

    • 40 min
    Solar Orbiter launch; Mutational signatures in cancer; paleo-oncology

    Solar Orbiter launch; Mutational signatures in cancer; paleo-oncology

    The latest space mission to the Sun is due to launch on Sunday. SolO, the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter, will loop around our star in an elliptical orbit, sling-shotting around Venus. Professor Richard Harrison at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory has been on the mission from its conception, he details the instruments and what they're hoping to discover about the Sun and its impact on space weather back here on Earth.

    If chemicals in cigarette smoke or exposure to UV light played a role in causing a cancerous tumour, we can now see this evidence in the DNA. These and other causes of cancer are being catalogued by a huge international study revealing the genetic fingerprints of DNA-damaging processes that drive cancer development. Professor Mike Stratton, is director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute and author of one of many papers released in Nature and associated journals this week that detail the results of the Pan-Cancer of Whole Genomes Consortium.

    Cancer is not a modern disease. Evidence in bones and remains reveal our ancient ancestors also suffered. Dr. Kate Hunt is a paleo-pathologist studying paleo-oncology, a very specific, very recent branch of archaeology, looking through ancient burial sites, artefacts and literature for signs of cancer.

    Presenter - Marnie Chesterton
    Producer - Fiona Roberts

    • 28 min
    Coronavirus update, Typhoid Mary and 200th anniversary of the first sighting of Antarctica

    Coronavirus update, Typhoid Mary and 200th anniversary of the first sighting of Antarctica

    With the recent coronavirus outbreak spreading around the world, and concerns about people being infectious before they exhibit any symptoms. Professor of Virology at Nottingham University Jonathan Ball explains infection rates, quarantines and why he's worried about it spreading to the developing world.

    'Alice in Typhoidland' is a new exhibition in Oxford recording how that city dealt with typhoid. It’s called that after one of its 19th century residents, Alice Liddell (the girl after whom Alice in Wonderland was named). Her father Henry Liddell was the Dean of Christchurch College and together with his friend Henry Ackland was instrumental in closing off Oxford's open sewers and thereby combating some of the causes of the disease. The exhibition also explores the fate of Typhoid Mary – one of the most famous asymptomatic disease carriers in history.

    Exactly 200 years ago, 30th January 1820, at 3:30 local time, the continent of Antarctica was spotted for the first time by a British expedition captained by Edward Bransfield, on the Merchant Ship The Williams. But they weren’t the very first: 3 days earlier - on 27 January - a Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev spotted what is now known as the Fimbul Ice Shelf. The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust is spearheading celebrations. Camilla Nichol is its CEO and she describes the history of the icy continent and how it's become the protected scientific reserve it is now.

    Producer - Fiona Roberts

    • 36 min
    Coronavirus outbreak in China; Genetic diseases in Amish communities and getting an Egyptian mummy to speak

    Coronavirus outbreak in China; Genetic diseases in Amish communities and getting an Egyptian mummy to speak

    With news reports moving as quickly as the virus may be spreading, the latest coronavirus outbreak which is thought to have started in Wuhan in central China is fast becoming a global health concern. Adam Rutherford speaks to BBC Inside Science's resident virologist Professor Jonathan Ball from Nottingham University, who says one of the most urgent things to do is to find out where the virus came from, and what animal it jumped to humans from.

    The Anabaptist Amish communities are some of the fastest growing populations on the planet. They came to the US from the Swiss-German border in the 18th and 19th centuries and have maintained their plain, simple community-minded way of life. Partly because they all descended from the same geographical area and partly because they tend to marry within their own communities, they can suffer from a particular spectrum of genetic disorders. Professor Andrew Crosby and Dr. Emma Baple from Exeter University have been studying these diseases, including a number new to medicine, and in return they are helping the Amish to understand and treat some of these debilitating diseases.

    He may currently sound more like a sheep baa-ing, but in a proof of concept experiment, Professor David Howard, an electrical engineer at Royal Holloway University of London, has been able to scan, 3D print and electronically reanimate the vocal tract of Nesyamum, a 3000 year old Egyptian mummy. The eventual hope is to recreate his tongue and try to get him to sing.

    Producer - Fiona Roberts

    • 31 min
    Reproducibility crisis in science; Aeolus wind-measuring satellite; electric cars

    Reproducibility crisis in science; Aeolus wind-measuring satellite; electric cars

    Science is built upon the idea that results can be verified by others. Scientists do their experiments and write up their methods and results and submit them to a journal that sends them to other scientists, who check them and if they pass muster, the study gets published for further scrutiny. One of the keystones of this process is that results can be reproduced. If your results can’t be replicated, something is amiss. Over the last few years, particularly in the field of psychology, many high profile findings have not been reproduced. Now, the same problems that have plagued psychology are spilling over into other areas. This week, a study showed that ocean acidification does not significantly alter fish behaviour, as had been reported several times before. Adam Rutherford discusses the crisis with Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at Manchester University.

    ESA’s Aeolus mission was launched in August 2018. It’s one of the European Space Agency’s Earth Explorer satellites. The Aeolus satellite uses lasers to monitor the wind by firing an ultraviolet laser beam into the atmosphere and catching the light’s reflection as it scatters off molecules and particles carried along in the air. It was planned to be very much a proof of principle mission, testing the science, with longer-term plans for a whole constellation of wind monitoring satellites. But Aeolus has performed so well in the tests that, unusually for meteorological science, the results are now considered robust enough to be inputted into the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts models.

    The UK is aiming to phase out conventional combustion engines in favour of more energy-efficient, less polluting electric vehicles by 2040. In response to a listener’s question on the cleanliness of these machines, BBC Inside Science reporter, Tristan Varela, conducts an investigation in the streets, garages, and laboratories of London. He finds that electric cars are relatively clean in the UK, where energy generation from renewable sources has recently overtaken fossil fuels. However, sales of new electric cars are still heavily outweighed by large, fossil fuel hungry, SUVs. But some people are instead converting existing cars to make their vehicles more environmentally-friendly.

    Producer - Fiona Roberts

    • 30 min

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