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BBC World Service - Science in Action

Science in Action

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

Science in Action

  • The birth of a new volcano
    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 experiencing frequent earthquakes. The causes of Indonesia's Palu Bay tsunami last year are being examined thanks to social media. Videos taken as the tsunami hit have been analysed to determine wave heights and speeds and suggest possible causes. Scientists at a massive underground physics research facility in Italy are to stand trial over safety risks. The facility uses poisonous chemicals. There are concerns these could leak into drinking water supplies in the event of an earthquake. India has a new government, but problems with pollution remain, we examine the reasons why electricity distribution is so inefficient. Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle (Image caption: Multibeam sonar waves, reflecting off the sea floor near the French island of Mayotte, reveal the outline of an 800-meter-tall volcano (red) and a rising gas-rich plume. Credit: MAYOBS team (CNRS / IPGP -Université de Paris / Ifremer / BRGM)

  • The World Wood Web
    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 they are found. They have key roles in our planets natural carbon cycle and are useful indicators of the impact of climate change and policies to deal with it. Synthetic Biology, new techniques opening the way for designer organisms for use in fields from energy to drug production. Two squashed discs with signs of cooked organic matter – the latest findings on Ultima Thule, one of the most distant objects in our universe ever surveyed. Surfing with a technology packed fin, how citizen science is helping to fill in the gaps in costal ocean surveys. (Photo:Roland Pease and Tom Crowther hiding in exotic woodlands of London’s Wimbledon Common. Credit: Julian Siddle) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • Biodiversity in crisis
    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. Africa is well known for its conservation work with large animals – but what about peat bogs? Recently discovered in the Congo region is a bog containing 3 times the amount of carbon emitted by the entire world in a year. And from Australia how some farmers are turning to ‘weeds’ to help conserve their land. In areas hit by drought deliberately planting and encouraging wild plants has been shown to retain moisture in the land. (Picture: Gorilla in the jungle in Congo. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • What is behind the Indian Ocean Cyclones?
    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 at the current state of weather patterns in the region and the influence of climate change. And from Tibet a jawbone from an ancient giant provides new insight into the development of humanity. Astronomers join forces to search for evidence of a black hole swallowing a neutron star, and why atmospheric pollution might have reduced the severity of past droughts. (Image: A man ferries a residents through a flooded road in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth in Pemba. Credit: Reuters) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle