Science in Action

Science in Action

United States

Jack Stewart and guests discuss the latest science research and news stories from all over the world.


More Evidence that Lucy Climbed Trees  

Detailed analysis of the fossilised bones of the 3.18 million year old hominin, known as Lucy, show she may have walked upright, but she still spent a lot of time climbing trees. Measuring the strength, and dimensions, of Australopithecus afarensis’ arm and leg bones, using high-powered CT scans, and comparing these to chimpanzees and modern humans, the team at University of Texas in Austin, show Lucy was more Chimpanzee-like in anatomical structure than modern humans. Batteries from Radioactive Waste Given that 1 gram of waste radioactive carbon contains as much energy as one billion AA batteries, why not harness this? This is exactly what scientists at the University of Bristol have been doing. They have been making diamonds out of the waste carbon from Magnox reactors, wrapping them in non-radioactive diamond and harnessing the electron flow to make batteries which could last thousands of years. Bats and Birds For the first time, nest-hole cameras have captured two different types of animals using the same nest hole. Noctule bats and Common starling chicks are bunking up in the same hole. Is this down to a shortage of suitable nesting holes? Or are they happy to share warmth and protection? Mongoose Cooperation Dwarf mongooses are a noisy lot. They communicate with different squeaks within their pack. Some calls are used by pups to beg for food, others let the rest of the group know that sentinels are guarding them, and alarm calls can spell out threats from different predators. Researchers at the University of Bristol have been in Africa teasing mongoose packs with rubber snakes to try and understand why when one mongoose calls ‘snake’ only his closest friends in the group respond. Image: A sculptor's rendering of the hominid Australopithecus afarensis, © Dave Einsel/Getty Images

A Skin Patch to Listen to a Broken Heart  

A soft electronic skin plaster has been developed that can capture the detailed sound of valves opening and closing in the heart. It could help monitor heart murmurs in people with defective hearts. When the patch is placed on the throat however, it can help gamers give clear voice commands in a noisy room. When the PIG Lifted Off The Pine Island Glacier, or PIG, flows into the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica. It a huge mass of ice pushing into the sea, that has been melting at an alarming rate. The PIG was once pinned to the seafloor by an underwater ridge. When it melted off this ‘anchor’, the warmer water was able to get under the ice and increase the melt rate. New work by the British Antarctic Survey has been looking at when this accelerated melting started. Turns out it was as recently as the mid 1940’s. It’s All in the Poop Dung beetles that live on cow pats have been shown to help stop the lifecycle of parasitic worms that infects cows. Experiments using artificially-made cow pats, some with and some without dung beetles has shown that the industrious insects clear up 30% of parasite infections. (Image: A cow-pat)

Exciting Geology of Chicxulub Crater  

The results from drilled geological samples of the Chicxulub crater have just been published. The crater off the coast of Mexico is thought to have been made by a meteor striking the Earth 66 million years ago. The strike and resultant ‘sterilisation effects’ on the planet are thought to play a major role in the demise of the dinosaurs. Core samples from the inner ring of the crater show that the impact was massive. Rocks from over 20 km down were brought up to the surface. Oldest Ice This week marks the start of a three stage mission to drill for the oldest ice cores on Earth. The current oldest ice-cores reveal what the climate was like 800,000 years ago. But scientists from 10 European countries, including the British Antarctic Survey, want to drill further back in time to 900,000 to 1 million year old ice. This is because they think these ice-cores might hold atmospheric clues as to why the periodicity of ice ages switched from 40,000 year cycles to 100,000 year cycles. Insects and LED Light Annoying biting midges are less attracted to LED light than they are to the older "incandescent" lights. Researchers think this could be due to the heat output of older lights being higher than the modern, energy efficient LED lights. Red Light and Bees Red light can help cure bumblebees. Researchers found that shining, very long wavelength, red light on bumblebees, reverses the damage to the cell’s energy mechanism caused by neonicotinoid pesticides. Animal-free Food A group of Chilean scientists are on a mission to change the way that we make food and reduce the impact of animal faming on the environment in the process . The researchers have set up a company that uses artificial intelligence to find a way to replicate animal-based products like milk, yoghurt, cheese and mayonnaise, using plant based ingredients. Picture: Recovered core from the Chicxulub impact crater, credit: @ECORD_IODP Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts

Record-breaking Air Pollution in Delhi  

This week there were reports that the pollution, from car exhaust, crop burning, wood fires and Diwali fireworks, had reached record dangerous levels in Delhi in India. Scientists attempt to discover why particulate pollution is so bad in the city and what can be done about it. Leprosy in Red Squirrels Many of the endangered red squirrels in the UK have been found to be infected with, and suffering from Leprosy. And genetic analysis of the bacterium has shown that the form of leprosy is the human form, which infected people in Europe in medieval times. Professor Anna Meredith at the University of Edinburgh wants to know whether other red squirrels in Eurasia also have the debilitating disease. Seabirds sniff out plastic Plastic pollution in the sea gives off a smell that attracts foraging birds. This discovery could explain why seabirds that use smell to hunt for food, such as petrels and shearwaters, ingest plastic, causing injury or death. Floating plastic provides a substrate for algae to grow. The algae are fed on by plankton, and the process produces a chemical which attracts seabirds, who feed on the fish and other animals feeding on the plankton. Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts Picture: Delhi schools close due to extreme levels of air pollution © Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Italian Earthquakes Are Part of a Sequence  

Geologist Ross Stein talks Roland through the geology behind the latest series of earthquakes in Italy. What connects them? And what danger still lurks? Ebola Virus The recent West African Ebola virus outbreak was the largest ever seen. With over 28,000 human infections, never before had this virus had such an opportunity to adapt to humans from its natural animal host. Several studies had shown that the virus was evolving but none had assessed if this had altered the way the virus behaved. Two international teams of researchers independently studied the effects of mutations that occurred in the Ebola virus surface protein – the protein it uses to gain entry into a cell – to investigate whether any of these changed its ability to infect humans. Countershading Lots of animals are dark on top and pale underneath. This colouration is called ‘countershading’. It’s long been hypothesised that it evolved to help the animal camouflage its shape. Helping it hide from predators, or if they’re a predator, they can hide from the prey they’re creeping up on. But this theory hasn’t really been tested experimentally, until now. With the help of painted cardboard tubes and willing woodland birds, researchers at the University of Bristol have shed light on this phenomenon. Volcanic Ash Cloud Back in 2010 silence descended in the skies over Europe when 107,000 flights were cancelled because Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted. The resultant ash cloud cost the aviation industry 1.35 billion Euros. But now another Icelandic volcano, Katla, which is much bigger than Eyjafjallajökull is showing possible signs of an imminent eruption. IF Katla erupts and produces an ash cloud and IF the weather conditions means it blows over busy European airspace, how well will the airline industry cope? Picture: Destroyed basilica St Benedict (R) and the town hall (L) in the historic center of Norcia, on October 31, 2016, taken a day after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy, credit: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts

Halloween Science  

Strains of bacteria have been found lying dormant in our blood. These have been linked to diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s thought that excess iron in the blood, triggers the bacteria to wake up and produce a protein that alters the clotting ability of the blood, exacerbating or even causing these conditions. Spiders Spiders are remarkable creatures. We’ve all heard about how incredibly strong their silk is. But it’s the water spider’s diving bell that’s currently intriguing scientists. The spiders spin a bubble of silk with a unique protein-gel coating, which has special gas-permeable properties, allowing the air-breathing spider to spend time underwater. Could this be a new kind of silk that could be copied in the lab? Fresh Blood Is fresh transfusion blood better than stored blood? After over 40 studies that have failed to adequately settle the issue, finally a study from McMaster University in Canada looking at the outcomes of over 30 thousand transfusion recipients have found that there is no significant difference to whether patients receive fresh or (up to 42 days) stored blood. Stealing Spider Venom For the first time, a virus has been found to have ‘stolen’ genes form a higher organism. The WO virus is a bacteriophage. It attacks Wolbacchia bacteria that infect Black Widow spiders. In order to break out and spread from both the bacterial and the spider cells, the virus has assimilated the spider’s genes for making venom. Mind-control bugs It’s now becoming well-known that the billions of bacteria, viruses and fungi - our microbiome - in our guts play an important role in our health. But did you know these bodily hitch-hikers also affect our mental health and emotions? Scientists are now trying to harness this interaction to make ‘psychobiotics’ – treatments based on beneficial bacteria that can alter your brain through your gut. Picture: Halloween Pumpkin, Credit: Fiona Roberts Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts

Has the Latest Mars Lander Failed?  

At the time of transmission, the European Space Agency still have no contact with the Schiaparelli Mars lander Banning HFCs In 1985 scientists reported that there was a depletion of the amount of ozone in the stratosphere, and that there was a giant hole of ozone above the Antarctic. Ozone - a form of oxygen absorbs most of the UV radiation from the sun. The cause of the hole was the release of chemicals used in refrigeration, and in expanding foams – halons, freons and Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. As a result, the Montreal Protocol, dictated that CFCs were systematically phased out, and as a result, the hole is recovering. CFCs were replaced with HFCs – hydro fluorocarbons, which have little effect on Ozone. But they are potent greenhouse gases. The latest update to the Montreal protocol has just taken place in Rwanda, and now HFCs are on the banned list too. So what’s the alternative? New Cell Atlas It may be a surprise to discover that we don’t know how many cell-types we have in our bodies. The Human Cell Atlas project is a huge international consortium aims to identify every single one and map them across the body – the medical benefits could be huge. Picture: Artwork: The retrorockets should have fired for about 30 seconds, credit: ESA Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts

The Earliest Birds Probably ‘Quacked’  

The oldest fossilized remains of a syrinx, a bird’s equivalent of a voice box, has been described. The remains of the extinct bird specimen (Vegavis iaai), which lived about 66-68 million years ago, were found on Antarctica - confirming that the syrinx had evolved at the time of the dinosaurs. Drilling the ‘Dinosaur Crater’ Scientists have obtained remarkable new insights into the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. They have been examining rock drilled from the Chicxulub Crater that the 15km-wide asteroid, dug out of what is now the Gulf of Mexico some 66 million years ago. Stratolites Many of us would love to go into space but, almost 60 years after the dawn of the space age, very few can afford it. But there might soon be a cheaper option. BBC Future Space Correspondent, Richard Hollingham, reports from Tucson, Arizona, where a balloon company is planning to fly tourists high into the stratosphere and also take on services provided by satellites - such as communications and weather forecasting - with 'stratolites'. Wooden Skyscrapers New ways to engineer and build with wood, a huge demand for housing and concerns about the high carbon cost of steel and concrete mean architects and engineers are looking to sustainable wood to build our high rise buildings. Picture: The fossil syrinx is from an extinct species related to ducks from the late Cretaceous of Antarctica, Credit J. Clarke/UT Austin Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts

Nobel Prizes for Science 2016  

This week the Nobel Prizes were announced. The Chemistry prize was for mini machines, the Medicine award went to a scientist who discovered autophagy, or the process of clearing up cellular rubbish, and researchers who predicted strange materials were the Physics’ recipients. Roland Pease explains the relevance of these to Marnie Chesterton. Jonathan Amos and Roland Pease discuss new research into how eels migrate to the Sargasso Sea and why there appears to be a limit to longevity in humans at around 120 years. When a fire starts underground, the consequences can be deadly, particularly as the fire’s behaviour is an unknown quantity. Kieran Brophy reports from a lab in Cambridge in the UK, where Professor Andy Woods is modelling how fire develops in tunnels. Image caption: Innovations have included this nano car, produced by Bernard Feringa's team. Credit: University of Groningen Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Deborah Cohen

Rosetta’s Mission Ends  

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission is about to end (Friday 30th September). The audacious mission to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and study its nucleus and environment, and land a probe on its surface has been hailed a huge scientific and technical success, despite the lander Philae losing contact shortly after landing on the surface The orbiter Rosetta will be control-crashed, at very slow speeds, onto the comet, where the final scientific measurements and observations will hopefully be made. The mission may be over, but the wealth of scientific data is still to be analysed and will provide insight into these early remnants of our solar system for decades to come. Water Spurting on Europa Jupiter’s moon Europa has been observed spurting plumes of water into space. Ultraviolet spectrometers, on the Hubble Space Telescope, have recorded intermittent clouds of hydrogen and oxygen, in ratios that suggest its water. It’s already known that Europa has a large ocean under its icy crust. But these water spouts could provide a way of sampling the water for organic matter and possible life without having to land and drill through the moon’s surface. Irish Giants Northern Irish folklore is littered with tales of giants. Genetic work has established a link between people of Northern Irish origins with the genetic disorder, pituitary gigantism and some of these giants of old. Michael Brendan Holland, is one such modern day giant and genetic detective work has linked him to 18th century giant, Charles Byrne. New work suggests that the genetic variant which gives rise to big people is relatively common in Northern Ireland and not at all common in Eire and England…so the legends of Irish giants perhaps rooted in truth. Picture: Rosetta and comet 67P © ESA Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts

The Antikythera Mechanism and the Ship Wreck  

It may sound like the plot of a bad thriller, but it’s a fascinating tale of a 2000 year old shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. Archaeologists have already discovered what they think is the earliest proto- computer – the Antikythera Mechanism – a clockwork device that modelled the motion of the Sun. Other than this, very little is known about the ship and its contents. Now divers have found a leg bone of one of the ship’s passengers. They hope DNA analysis will shed more light on the mystery. Out of Africa and Into Australia The result of in depth analysis of the genomes of the world’s most diverse populations reveals that all modern human ancestry outside of Africa including Australasians is consistent with descending from a single founding population. Kuwait’s Controversial DNA Law Last year, after a terrorist attack, Kuwait passed a law requiring all its citizens, residents and visitors to provide DNA samples, for a National Database. The law is about to be enforced in November, and scientists and human rights advocates argue that there needs to be more clarification and legislation checks and measures to avoid any abuse of an individual’s privacy. Humming Fish At night, underwater, the male Midshipman fish woos his mate by humming. We now know that this unusual behaviour is down to an inner biological clock, regulated by the hormone melatonin. It doesn’t make the humming any more tuneful though! Picture credit © Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts

Making Babies Without Eggs?  

Could it be possible to make babies without an egg? Early experiments from a team at the University of Bath suggest it might be. Scientists have succeeded in creating healthy baby mice by tricking sperm into believing they were fertilising normal eggs. Instead, they used “pseudo-embryos.” These "fake" embryos share much in common with ordinary cells, such as skin cells, in the way they divide and control their DNA. These embryos normally die without the addition of sperm to make up a complete genome. Until now, it was thought that only eggs could unravel sperm’s DNA in order for fertilisation to occur, but these special embryos can do it too. This suggests that other cells are capable of being fertilised. Cybathlon – the Bionic Olympics The first ever Cybathlon takes place in Switzerland on 8 October. This championship for users of assistive technology makes rehabilitation engineering the star. Featuring events such as brain-computer interface races and stair-climbing wheelchairs races, it ultimately could drive innovation in disability technology. Mapping the Milky Way The spaceship Gaia launched in 2013 on a mission to create the most accurate 3D map of the Milky Way ever. This will help answer questions about dark matter, how the Milky Way formed and test general relativity. This week the first data dump was released to the world, containing new information on more than a billion stars. Robot-built DNA This summer a fully automated DNA-making facility began operation in Scotland. Scientists at the Edinburgh Genome Foundry are teaching robots how to do manual laboratory tasks in order to be able to produce DNA much faster than before. Fish Lose their Personality When at Risk When at risk, fish suppress their individual personalities to conform to the group behaviour of others around them. This can make being a bold fish, such as a leader, a very dangerous activity. Photo: Sperm approaching an unfertilized egg prior to conception, credit: Science Photo Library Producer: Fiona Roberts Presenter: Marnie Chesterton

Emotional Breath in the Cinema  

Did you know that our emotions can be detected on our breath? We broadcast whether we feel scared, happy or sad out into the air in the form of chemical signals. A recent study showed that when, audiences jumped out of their seats with the shock of a scary scene, they exhaled high levels of the chemical isoprene. With a list of potential applications from advertising to film rating, could crowd breath analysis become the new way to measure responses in large groups of people? River Conflict With increasing rates of ice melt, water is building up high on the Tibetan Plateau. This means flooding downstream is more likely. Early warning of events, such as dams breaking and glacial lakes over-topping, could help save lives and property downstream. However Nepalese and Indian authorities are claiming that the Chinese are not sharing information about what is happening in Tibet. Untangling Quantum Entanglement It’s difficult to find the perfect metaphor for the strange phenomenon of quantum entanglement. Two particles created from the same source have a sort of hidden connection, so that when something happens to one particle, it happens to the other. But how does it work? Do we actually need to understand quantum entanglement in order to use it in future technologies? Weather Pains Sufferers often complain that chronic pain gets worse in cold, damp conditions. Scientists have been using an app to collect data relating chronic conditions to weather systems. Sonic Kayaking Exciting science news from the British Science Festival – what can we learn from hydrophones on the Welsh coast? (Photo: Laughing Audience © Erich Auerbach/Getty Images) Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts

The Oldest Life on Earth  

Snow on Isua Supercrustal Belt in Greenland has melted to reveal something quite unexpected. Scientists think the uncovered rock could contain signs of very early life, dating back to as far as 3.7 billion years ago. The evidence is thought to represent stromatolite fossils, the longest-lived lifeforms made up of sediment and bacterial growths. The work suggests that life might have formed 200 million years earlier than we previously thought. Lucy Fell from Tree Lucy was a hominin - Australopithecus afarensis - an early human species, who died over 3 million years ago. With 40% of her fossilised bones recovered, scientists have been examining them to learn more about her life and death. A recent, highly detailed, CT scan has revealed some surprising results, Lucy could have died from falling out of a tree. Methane from Cows Cows produce large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane. As part of the EU-funded RuminOmics project led by the University of Aberdeen, scientists have been measuring the methane production and energy efficiency of a group of cows. Could breeding cows that produce less methane be a more environmentally friendly way to farm in the future? Alien Signals There have been a lot of headlines and tweets recently about alien radio signals from a distant star. The signal was so powerful that if it were from aliens, the aliens would have spectacularly harnessed the entire power of the sun. However, it seems more likely that this signal is from here on Earth than from a star 94 million light years away, so let’s not get too excited yet. Gravitational Waves About to be switched back on, LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, led to the momentous detection of gravitational waves. These are mysterious ripples in space generated from the collision of two black holes. The European equivalent - VIRGO is also being upgraded. And there’s still talk of LISA – a gravitational wave detector in space. So what does the future hold in gravitational wave research? Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts (Photo: Stromatolites found in ancient rocks from Greenland. Credit: UOW)

Nearest Star has Earth-Sized Planet  

Life on other planets is often considered to be the stuff of science fiction. But we are one step closer in the hunt for extra-terrestrial life as an Earth-sized planet has been found to be orbiting our nearest star, Proxima Centauri. Hidden in a Name The names we give things in the natural world often contain clues about what they look like, how they behave or where they come from. But with thousands of human languages approaching extinction, important plant knowledge may die with them. Trump’s Wall and Wildlife US presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall across the entire US-Mexican border would mean bad news for the fragile ecosystem of this important wildlife area. The border area is home to a diverse population of mammals, birds and plants—including a number of iconic and rare species. Freedom of movement across the border is crucial for habitat connectivity and genetic diversity. A number of species, including Desert bighorn sheep, black bears and the iconic roadrunner, would be at risk from the proposed construction. (Photo: © ESO/M. Kornmesser, A view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System, is seen in an undated artist's impression) Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts

Tracking Poverty  

A tin roof and a paved road can be a sign of an area coming out of poverty in parts of Africa. Identifying poor regions in Africa using satellite data could save massive survey efforts and help identify regions where help is needed most. Wristbands That Monitor Pesticide Exposure By providing silicon wristbands to famers in West Africa, scientists at the University of Oregon State have been able to monitor their exposure to toxic pesticide. In the future these bands could also be used to detect exposure to other organic chemicals. Birds Sing of Climate Change Zebra finch parents may be helping their young to prepare for climate change by calling to them before they have hatched. These finches are born lighter and produce more offspring than usual, helping these finches to adapt to climate change. Thieving Star A small star which ran out of fuel began to steal matter from a nearby star, ultimately leading to a classical nova explosion. Scientists at the University of Warsaw studied the lead up to and duration of this explosion, something that has not been done before. Ottawa’s Outdoor Lab Ottawa is the only capital city in the world with a farm right in the middle of it. The Central Experimental Farm is a 4 kilometre square sized facility with fields full of crops like corn and wheat currently in bloom. This farm is in fact a big, living, outdoor laboratory. Its 75 scientists carry out research aimed at helping farmers increase their yields. But they are also keen to discover more about the impacts of climate change. (Photo: © Ethiopian landscape by Paul F. Donald) Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Fiona Roberts

Nerve Recovery in Brain Machine Interface Patients  

A small sample of paraplegic patients, who have spent from 3 to13 years paralyzed from spinal cord injuries, have regained partial sensation and muscle control in their lower limbs after training with brain-controlled robotics. The patients used brain-machine interfaces, including a virtual reality system that used their own brain activity to simulate full control of their legs. The return of even a tiny bit of feeling to their limbs below the spinal cord lesion is surprising and promising. Clever Ravens The Ravens at the Tower of London are helping research into bird intelligence. Ravens are Corvids, known to have big, neuron packed, brains, especially for their body size. Dr. Nathan Emery at Queen Mary University London, is an expert in avian intelligence. He explains that because these birds are very sociable and eat a whole range of different foods and have to figure out how to find it, they have become very good at problem solving. Tool-making birds In 2002 Betty, a New Caledonian Crow, astonished the world when she bent a piece of wire to make a hook to get food out of a narrow tube. Demonstrating advanced problem-solving in birds at its best. But do captive birds behave the same way in the wild? New research on wild New Caledonian crows have been observed bending twigs to make tools to grub out food. Dark Matter Dark matter is the stuff that glues the Universe together. It stops the Universe from rapidly expanding and tearing galaxies and the Earth apart. But scientists still don’t know what dark matter is made of. There are two main contenders for particles of dark matter: WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) and sterile neutrinos. The trendy particle at the moment is the sterile neutrino, and scientists all over the world are racing each other to be the first to find it. After CERN reported that they haven’t found any evidence for this sterile neutrino, Ice Cube in the North Pole has released their exciting results: they found…nothing! So is the hunt for the sterile neutrino over or is this just the beginning? (Photo: Patient using the exoskeleton © AASDAP/Lente Viva Filmes) Presenter: Marnie Chesteron Producer: Fiona Roberts

04/08/2016 GMT  

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

Record Temperatures in Kuwait and US  

Last week Kuwait experienced a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius and the East Coast of the US had a heatwave. Roland Pease talks about the reasons for this extreme weather with Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. The first transatlantic telegraph cable to successfully link Ireland and Newfoundland is 150 years old this week. Rob Thompson visits John Liffen at the Science Museum in London to see some off cuts of the original cable. Professor Mark Miodownik explains how those pioneering engineers overcame problems and got the cables to work and Prof Polina Bayvel talks about how they transformed the Victorians’ lives. Jonathan Amos and Jonathan Webb of the BBC News Science team discuss with Roland Pease the legacy of the first round the world solar powered flight, Solar Impulse, and the discovery that the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is hot. Dolly the cloned sheep had a number of health problems. Professor Kevin Sinclair of Nottingham University and colleagues has now cloned sisters of Dolly to see if they have the same issues. Engineers at the Italian Institute of Physics are trying to get robots to learn in the way that children do. Rather than programming them, they give them the basic ability to toy with objects – and this way have got one to discover Archimedes principle – the idea that a heavy object dropped into a bucket will displace water and raise the surface. Vishuu Mohan is one of the masters, and iCub, his pupil, is built like a 30-month old. (Photo: The sun sets behind people taking a dip in the sea, Kuwait City. Credit: Yasser al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images)

Smashing into the Moon  

Space ballistics has shown that the eye of the ‘Man in the Moon’ - the huge crater Mare Imbrium was most likely made by the impact of a huge proto-planet smashing into it. London’s Geological Secrets Dr Ruth Siddall from UCL and London Pavement Geology takes Roland on a whistle stop tour around London. They check out some geological sites, and there’s not a mountain, river bed or quarry in sight. We see granite that’s been impacted by comets, 400 million year old squid fossils on the steps of St Paul’s, a Jurassic beach right here at the BBC and finish with a geological pub stop. Preserving the Local Taste of Cheese The taste, smell and appearance of a cheese come from the native bacteria in the initial raw milk. Due to increasing regulations for milk pasteurization, cheeses are losing their particular flavours and authenticity. In Normandy, in France, cheesemakers started working with researchers to set up a microbial bank in order to save the microorganisms responsible for the cheesy flavours. [Photo: ‘The Man in the Moon’ - open eye is Mare Imbrium crater. Credit: BBC]

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