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BBC Radio 4 - Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

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

BBC Inside Science

  • The Large Hadron Collider Upgrade, Voltaglue, Cambridge Zoology Museum, Francis Willughby
    It's been 8 years since the Large Hadron Collider went online and started smashing protons together at just below the speed of light. CERN announced this week that they're ready for a massive upgrade, and on Friday last week, there was a ceremony to break ground on what is being called the High luminosity LHC. Particle physicist Jon Butterworth from UCL discusses the next generation of particle accelerators that are undergoing early trials and what the newly announced upgrade means for particle physics. Medical surgeons routinely stitch or pin organs and blood vessels with needle and thread and secure medical devices like pacemakers with hooks. But what if you could just use glue? Material scientist Terry Steele from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has devised Voltaglue, a flexible adhesive that works in wet environments by putting an electric current across an inert substance. He explains how this new kind of chemistry could revolutionise many medical procedures. This weekend Sir David Attenborough will reopen The Museum of Zoology at Cambridge University. It's undergone a five-year redevelopment, showcasing thousands of incredible specimens from across the animal kingdom, and exploring stories of conservation, extinction, survival, evolution and discovery. Adam Rutherford visits the new displays under the watchful eye of conservator Natalie Jones and zoologist and museum manager Jack Ashby. And Professor Tim Birkhead of the University of Sheffield discusses The Wonderful Mr Willughby - his fascinating new account of 17th century ornithologist Francis Willughby who together with the celebrated naturalist John Ray pioneered the way we think about birds in science. Producer Adrian Washbourne.

  • Antarctic melt speeds up, Antarctica's future, Cryo-acoustics, Narwhals
    Adam Rutherford goes totally polar this week with news of accelerating ice melt in Antarctica, two visions of the continent's future, and the sounds of collapsing icebergs and the songs of narwhals. Two hundred billion tonnes of Antarctic ice are now being lost to the ocean every year, pushing up global sea level by 0.6 millimetres a year. This is a three fold increase since 2012. This finding comes from IMBIE, the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise. Leeds glaciologist Andy Shepherd and Durham earth scientist Pippa Whitehouse tell Adam how the project made this startling finding and what it may mean for global sea level rise in the future. Glaciologist Martin Siegert of Imperial College London has co-authored an unusual Antarctic paper in the journal Nature this week, with other leading south polar researchers. It is a history of the frozen continent, looking back from the year 2070 and charts two different courses that we could be on today. Satellites above the Antarctic and Arctic can only tell us so much about the melting and collapse of the ice sheets. Oskar Glowacki of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is exploring what extra insights might come from recording the underwater sounds that ice sheets make when they collapse and melt in Arctic seas. The narwhal, sometimes known as the unicorn of the sea, is one of the world's most elusive and poorly studied cetaceans, primarily because it spends much of its life underwater and under ice in the Arctic. Marine biologist Susanna Blackwell led a team which used sound recorders and satellite tags attached to several narwhals in Eastern Greenland, to follow their lives continuously for an unprecedented length of time. Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.

  • Dinosaur auction, Who owns the genes of the ocean life, Cancer immunotherapy
    A spectacular predatory dinosaur fossil was auctioned this week in Paris. It was bought by a private collector at the cost of about 2 million Euros. Academic palaeontologists are not happy about the sale. Anjali Goswami of the Natural History Museum and Steve Brussatte of Edinburgh University air their views to Adam Rutherford on the legal and illegal markets for premium vertebrate fossils. Who owns the genetic biodiversity of the oceans? One single multinational corporation - the chemicals giant BASF - has registered almost half of all known patents on genetic sequences from marine organisms. This is the headline finding of a survey of marine genetic resource ownership by David Blasiak of the Global Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. Immunotherapies for cancer have been in the news in the last week. Adam talks to cancer researchers Sophie Papa of Kings College, London and Samra Turaljik of the Royal Marsden Hospital about the principles behind immunotherapy and the different approaches in the clinic and under clinical trials. Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

  • Hay Festival
    Adam Rutherford and his guests at the Hay Festival, neurologist Dr Suzanne O'Sullivan, acoustic engineer Professor Trevor Cox and science writer Dr Philip Ball discuss what scientists learn when things go wrong. Suzanne O'Sullivan, author of Brainstorm, talks about how she helps her patients with strange and unusual forms of epilepsy; Trevor Cox, whose new book is called Now You're Talking, describes cases where our voices change, such as stammering and foreign language syndrome; and Philip Ball, who is part of Created out of Mind, a Wellcome funded project about dementia and the arts, explores what happens when our brains age.

  • CO2 and rice, Underground farming, Ancient interstellar asteroid, Microplastics air pollution
    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 scientists behind the finding, and consults Marco Springmann of the Future of Food project at the University of Oxford. Is the future of farming subterranean? Marnie Chesterton visits a farm called Growing Underground for some answers. Specialising in salad and herbs, it is located beneath Clapham Common in South London in an old Second World War air-raid shelter. Has an interstellar asteroid been lurking in our solar system for more than four billions years? It's a possibility according to the astronomers who've watched and plotted its strange orbit. It travels around the Sun in the opposite direction to most of the planets, asteroids and comets. Asteroid specialist Alan Fitzsimmons of Queens University Belfast talks to Adam about this astronomical oddity and assesses the evidence for it being a traveller from the stars, captured by our solar system during its early childhood. Stephanie Wright of Kings College London explains about what we do and don't know about the abundance and health risks of microplastic particles in the air we breathe. Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.