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BBC Inside Science

Podcast BBC Inside Science
Podcast BBC Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

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5 de 300
  • La Palma volcano; wind energy in the UK; origins of SARS-Cov2; Formula 1 safety
    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 deeper waters. A team from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, investigating bats in caves in Northern Laos, has found bats that are infected with a coronavirus that’s genetically almost identical to the one now causing Covid in humans. Lead researcher Dr Marc Eloit discusses what they have discovered and how coronaviruses could move from bats to humans. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen had what looked like a very serious crash at their recent Formula 1 race in Italy. Max Verstappen’s car landed on top of Lewis Hamilton’s, but amazingly Hamilton got out unscathed. The safety features on these cars which can travel at more than 200 mph, are very sophisticated. Nick Wirth, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering who has many years experience of engineering in the F1 world, describes the Halo which saved Lewis Hamilton's life.
    9/23/2021
    31:56
  • Perseverance drills on Mars; space tourism; Australian fire debris and algal blooms; DNA vaccines against Covid
    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, and about the Chinese rover on Mars. The terrible Australian wildfires of the summer of 2019/20 had a devastating impact, burning across more than 18 million hectares and causing loss of life and livelihoods.. Now, it turns out the impacts stretched far beyond Australia. Climate scientists have been looking at satellite images of the vast Southern Ocean, which plays a major role in controlling the global climate, and found massive algal blooms, fertilised by debris blown thousands of kilometres from the fires. Gaia discusses the observations with Nicolas Cassar of Duke University, one of the authors on a recent Nature paper, and what they tell us about geoengineering to cool down the earth. This month India licensed the world’s first DNA vaccine against Covid. Jonathan Ball, Professor of Virology at the University of Nottingham, is involved with a DNA vaccine that is just starting in clinical trials. He explains the pros and cons of this kind of vaccine. It could be of benefit to those who are needle phobic.
    9/16/2021
    31:20
  • Climate change and oil and gas exploration; cutting methane emissions; African wild dog populations; freezing eggs and sperm
    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 reserves must stay underground if we are to keep below that 1.5C temperature rise. Natural gas, or methane, has a much stronger effect on temperature than carbon dioxide, but because it doesn’t last very long in the atmosphere before converting into carbon dioxide, it’s been a bit overlooked by governments. Two recent reports, from the IPCC and the UN, have pointed out that cutting methane emissions would be a quick win in reducing global heating. Most of our methane emissions are because of leaks from the oil and gas industry, or from landfill sites and agriculture. Gaia discusses tackling methane with Drew Shindell, of Duke University in North Carolina, the author of the Global Methane Assessment from the UN Environment Programme. Climate change is already having an impact on life everywhere. We’ve all seen the powerful pictures of polar bears on melting ice, but global warming is also causing problems for species in the tropics. Dani Rabaiotti of the Zoological Society of London explains how climate change is having an impact on African wild dogs, a species which is already endangered. This week the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority A recommended that the time limit for using frozen eggs, sperm and embryos, should be extended from 10 years to 55 years. Shahnaz Akbar, a fertility expert at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, explains what has changed in the science of preserving eggs from when the law was originally passed.
    9/9/2021
    29:14
  • Rugby and the brain
    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 Herculaneum ate, and how the diets of men differed from those of women in the town. With bioarchaeologist Oliver Craig of the University of York. How the babbling of baby bats is comparable to babbling in human babies. Both are about learning the skills of communication, according to zoologist Ahana Fernandez of the Museum of Natural History in Berlin.
    9/2/2021
    29:21
  • Window to solve pandemic origins closing
    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 female moths from laying their eggs and make them more vulnerable to predation by bats. He's found that artificially illuminated areas are home to half the number of moth caterpillars compared to dark areas.
    8/26/2021
    28:51

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