Inside Science

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

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Episodes

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01Bovine Tb - Coral Sunscreen - Space Junk20130704

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

02Bioscience To Bioweapons - Synthetic Diamonds - Stem Cell Transplants20130711

Could the same knowledge used to save lives create viruses to use as weapons of terror?

03Animal Research - Astronaut Selection - Show Us Your Instrument20130718

Publication of the annual government statistics on scientific research on animals.

042d Supermaterials - Inside An Mri - Antarctic Architecture20130725

Dr Adam Rutherford explores supermaterials, brain scanning and Antarctic architecture.

05Crash Risk - Mary Rose Bacteria - History Of Science - Greenwich Telescope20130801

With seven disasters last month, Adam Rutherford asks if trains crash more often in summer

06Cultured Leather - Goal Line Technology - Bacteria Outrage - Marine Buoy20130808

New goal line technology kicks in this month - Adam Rutherford looks at how Hawk-Eye works

Cultured meat was on the menu earlier this week, but Mark Post's public tasting of his lab-grown burger marks the culmination of decades of research on producing artificial meat. Adam Rutherford talks to one of the other major players in the world of manmade animal products, Gabor Forgacs. However, his company, Modern Meadow, is concentrating on launching a different product first - cultured leather.

The football season is about to start, and for the first time electronic Goal Line Technology will be introduced. This year will see the Hawk-Eye system deployed at all Premier League grounds in an attempt to help referees make more informed decisions. But how will it work, and how accurate can it be? Inside Science speaks with the inventor, Paul Hawkins, and the engineers who are testing it to international standards.

A bacteria or a bacterium? We sparked a controversy on last week's programme by using bacteria to describe a singular microbe. Adam talks to evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel about how words evolve and whether scientists can halt their adaptation.

This week on 'Show Us Your Instrument', oceanographer Helen Czerski introduces her giant marine buoy. She'll be sailing into the eye of a storm just off the south coast of Greenland later this year, where the buoy will measure bubbles to help refine climate models.

07Universal Flu Vaccine - Science Games - All Trials - Penguin Camera20130815

Search for a universal flu vaccine, and the scientists using online games for research.

08Artificial Reefs - Scanning Beehives - Ape Feet - Nmr20130822

The science of artificial reefs, and why our feet are more ape-like than we thought.

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Alice Roberts goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world.

Prof Alice Roberts and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

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Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

11Stem Cell News; Science Practicals; Phantom Head; Sewage Power20130912

Is this week's new stem cell research a breakthrough for regenerative medicine?

As Spanish researchers unveil new stem cell research, Dr Adam Rutherford talks to Professor of Regenerative Medicine Fiona Watt. They look back at the history of stem cell research and what the future holds for regenerative medicine.

Last week's discussion on science practicals generated huge amounts of feedback. Some listeners consider school practicals the secret to their success, others remember nothing more than breaking test tubes and blowing things up. Professor Robin Millar researches the best ways to teach science practicals; we ask him to respond to some of the points you raised.

We unveil the mystery of the phantom head. Not an 18-rated horror film, but a dentists' training tool. This week's Show Us Your Instrument comes from Newcastle University's School of Dental Sciences.

And, where there's muck, there's brass. In Newcastle, they're looking to sewage as a renewable alternative energy supply. It's flushed down the drains, but Northumbrian Water have taken a 'waste not want not' approach to our biological effluent. They are going to great efforts to recover energy from sewage and pump it back into the National Grid.

12Chemical Weapons; Crowd-sourcing Weather; Fingerprint Id; Dino Drill20130919

Adam Rutherford asks how difficult it is to destroy chemical weapons.

As Syria agrees to destroying its chemical weapon stocks, Adam Rutherford looks at how you solve a problem like Sarin. Dr Joanna Kidd from King's College London gives us a potted history of chemical weaponry.

Environmental toxicologist, Prof Alastair Hay, from Leeds University has worked on chemical warfare issues for four decades. In the 1990s, he identified mustard gas and sarin residues from soil samples in Iraq, confirming their use by Saddam Hussein. He talks to Adam about the challenges of destroying chemical weapons in Syria.

Reporter Roland Pease looks at a new phone app, OpenSignal, which uses your smartphone's sensors to help improve weather models.

Today, London Underground workers are starting to boycott a new clock-in system, which uses their fingerprint for identification. Meanwhile, Apple fans are camping outside stores waiting to buy the new iPhone, which features a fingerprint scanner.

Adam talks to Dr Farzin Deravi from the University of Kent about how fingerprint identification works and whether it can be fooled with a gummy bear. Plus he asks technology journalist Kate Bevan if we should worry about the security issues surrounding biometric passwords.

Finally this week, Dr Pedro Viegas shows us his instrument - a dino drill. It's being used to uncover the Bristol dinosaur, a 210 million year old Thecodontosaurus.

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14Menopause; Ipcc; Fracking Feedback; Particle Accelerator; Zombie Chemicals20131003

Adam Rutherford explores the science behind the menopause and the uncertainty of science.

Dr Adam Rutherford and guests explore the scientific mysteries of the menopause after scientists in the US and Japan successfully induced pregnancy in post-menopausal women.

Also in the programme, we hear from decision scientist Baruch Fischhoff on the difficulties of trying to communicate uncertainty in science in the wake of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Following on from last week's Fracking report, one listener, Professor Kevin Anderson of the University of Manchester, raises his concerns about the consequences of exploiting shale gas for UK carbon emissions.

This week's show us your instrument comes from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, where Dan Faircloth tends to the ISIS particle accelerator.

15Us Shutdown; Nobels; New Climate Science; Airport Heart Attack Headlines20131010

Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

With the US government on lockdown, Dr Adam Rutherford considers the risks for science.

The US has shut down government science with potentially devastating results for American and international science projects. Many individual scientists are banned from talking but Matt Hourihan from the American Association for the Advancement of Science tells Dr Adam Rutherford about the serious consequences of the political squabble.

Roland Pease gives the low down on this week's Nobel Prizes including the much anticipated Physics gong for Peter Higgs' for his eponymous boson.

Marnie Chesterton reports on the new iCollections at the Natural History Museum where butterflies collected 150 years ago are shedding new light on the changing British climate.

And after studies this week linked cardiovascular disease to aircraft noise, Kevin McConway, Professor of Applied Statistics at the Open University quantifies the risks of complex science being distorted by simple headlines.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

16Genetics And Education; Golden Rice Inventor; Chimp Chatter And Lightning Lab20131017

Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

Robert Plomin on why Michael Gove's advisor is right to highlight genetics in education.

The link between genetics and a child's academic performance hit the headlines this week when Education Secretary, Michael Gove's outgoing special advisor, Dominic Cummings, called for education policy to incorporate the science behind genes and cognitive development. Mr Cummings cited the Professor of Behavioural Genetics, Robert Plomin, as a major source, and Professor Plomin tells Dr Adam Rutherford what he thinks about the way his research has been interpreted. Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Genetics from University College London says why he believes genetics and education is such a controversial subject.

Fifty years ago, researchers tried, and failed, to teach chimpanzees English. They concluded that chimp noises were merely basic expressions of fear or pleasure. Dr Katie Slocombe from York University has shown that chimp language is far more tactical, machiavellian even, than that.

The inventor of Golden Rice, the genetically modified crop, tells Adam Rutherford that he agrees with Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, that those who attack GM crops are "wicked". Professor Ingo Potrykus from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich developed Golden Rice enriched with Vitamin A in 1999 but the crop hasn't been grown and planted widely, as he hoped, because of opposition to GM foods. Nearly 80 years old, Professor Potrykus says he remains hopeful that in his lifetime, Golden Rice will be grown and eaten throughout the world.

Rhys Phillips makes lightning at a Cardiff laboratory for this week's Show Us Your Instrument. It's used to test aeroplane parts. Less metal in an aircraft makes it lighter but too little and the lightning may damage the plane. The safest way to test is to make your own lightning, at ground level.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

17Nuclear Waste; Exoplanets; Bbc Time And Pips, Synthetic Biology Olympics20131024

Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

Adam Rutherford asks how radioactive waste from Hinkley C nuclear plant will be dealt with

Britain's legacy of nuclear waste dates back 60 plus years and a long term solution to deal with it hasn't yet been found. After this week's announcement that the UK will have a new nuclear power station, Hinkley C in Somerset, Dr Adam Rutherford asks Professor Sue Ion, former Director of Technology at British Nuclear Fuels and Chair of the European Commission's Science and Technology Committee, Euratom, how much extra waste this new plant will add to the radioactive stockpile.

Eighteen years ago the first planet outside of our solar system was discovered, "51 Pegasi b". This week the tally of exoplanets passed one thousand, and as astronomer Dr Stuart Clark tells Adam, an earth twin isn't part of the planetary list....yet.

Show Us Your Instrument: Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula introduces the original Six Pip Masterclock at the Greenwich Observatory. This clock was used in the 1920s to send the time signals down a telephone line to the BBC, for transmission to the whole country over the radio. That's not the case now, and Adam goes down into the basement of Broadcasting House in London in search of the atomic clock that's now used to generate the Greenwich Time Signal and the famous BBC pips.

iGEM is a global biology competition that allows students to build their own organisms. The UK has two teams going to the grand final next week. Adam goes to meet the team from Imperial College London, who have made a bacterium which produces plastic.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

18Moon Dust; Electro-ceuticals; Soil And Climate Change; Dogs' Tails20131031

Dr Lucie Green goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world.

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

Dust in space - Dr Lucie Green on the LADEE Moon Mission and the perils of moon dirt.

A NASA spacecraft the size of a sofa is currently orbiting the Moon, gathering information about the toxic perils of moon dust. Dirt from the moon is sharp, spiky and sticky and it caused enormous problems for early astronauts as Professor Sara Russell from the Natural History Museum tells Dr Lucie Green. Joining Lucie from NASA HQ in Washington DC, Sarah Noble, programme scientist on the LADEE Mission, tells her that understanding the make-up and movement of lunar dust is vital to ensure humans can work on the Moon in the future.

Electroceuticals is the new research area for medicine, tapping into the electricity transmitted through the vast network of nerves that run throughout our bodies. Kerri Smith reports on how the body's natural wiring could become a valuable tool for treating organs affected by disease. Glaxo Smith Kline has just invested £30 million into electroceuticals and researchers in labs around the world are working on devices that could "plug" into troubled organs and correct the electrical signals that have gone awry.

The impact of man-made climate change tends to focus on the things we can see, like shrinking glaciers or the weather. But a study published in Nature this week by a team in Spain, focuses on the impact underground, on the make up of the soil in a sizeable part of the earth's land, the drylands. The impact of increasing aridity is dramatic, affecting the delicate balance between nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus, with serious implications for soil fertility. David Wardle, Professor of Soil and Plant Ecology at the Swedish Institute of Agriculture, tells Lucie Green that this important new study spells out the risks when delicate chemical balances are upset.

Oceanographer, Helen Czerski, revealed her instrument, a giant buoy, on Inside Science's Show Us Your Instrument slot in the summer. This week, Helen is launching the buoy into the stormy seas South of Greenland, and Inside Science listeners are being called on to come up with a name ! Bob anyone ? Or Lucie's suggestion, Buoyonce ?

Dogs wag their tails more to the right when they're happy and relaxed; more to the left when they're anxious. Georgio Vallortigara, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Trento in Italy has now shown that asymmetrical tail wagging actually means something to other dogs.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

19Personal Genome - Solar Cells And Music - Asteroids - Alfred Russel Wallace20131107

Dr Lucie Green goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world.

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

Dr Lucie Green on putting your sequenced DNA, your personal genome, on the internet.

A hundred thousand Britons are being asked to donate their sequenced DNA, their personal genome, to a vast database on the internet, so scientists can use the information for medical and genetic research.

The Personal Genome Project-UK was launched today and participants are being warned, as part of the screening process, that their anonymity won't be guaranteed. Stephan Beck, Professor of Medical Genomics at University College London's Cancer Institute and the Director of PGP-UK, tells Dr Lucie Green that anonymised genetic databases aren't impregnable, and that it is already possible for an individual's identity to be established using jigsaw identification. This new "open access" approach, he says, will rely on altruistic early-adopters who are comfortable with having their genetic data, their medical history and their personal details freely available as a tool for research. Jane Kaye, Director of the Centre for Law, Health and Emerging Technologies at the University of Oxford, describes the rigorous selection procedure for would-be volunteers.

Scientists at Queen Mary University London and Imperial have created Good Vibrations by playing pop songs to solar panels. Exposing zinc oxide PV cells to noise alongside light generated up to 50% more current

than just light alone. Pop and rock music had the most effect, while classical was the least effective genre.

Thanks to the Russians' enthusiasm for dash-cams in their cars, the twenty metre asteroid that came crashing into the atmosphere above the town of Chelyabinsk, East of the Urals in February this year, was the most filmed and photographed event of its kind. Mobile phones and cameras captured the meteor, moving at 19 kilometres a second (that's 60 times the speed of sound) and the enormous damage caused by the airblast. The plethora of footage allowed researchers to shed light on our understanding of asteroid impacts and in a new study, published in Nature, Professor Peter Brown from the University of Western Ontario in Canada questions whether using nuclear explosions is an appropriate way to model these airbursts and whether telescopes could underestimate the frequency of these events.

Seventh November this year is the hundredth anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace. As the Natural History Museum in London unveils the first statue of him, we ask why, as co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Wallace doesn't share Charles Darwin's spotlight. Dr George Beccaloni, from the NHM, explains to Lucie why Wallace deserves both glory and commemoration.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

20Dna Could Id Typhoon Victims - Volcanic Ash Avoidance - Hope For Red Squirrels - Robogut20131114

How DNA matching techniques can help identify those who perished in Typhoon Haiyan.

Global experts in DNA identification are flying to the Philippines to assess whether they can help families to determine, beyond doubt, which of the hundreds of victims of Typhoon Haiyan are their relatives. The International Commission on Missing Persons in Sarajevo used DNA matching to identify the thousands killed in the former Yugoslavia and has since helped in conflict zones around the world. Now, working with Interpol, scientists from the ICMP are called on to assist in victim identification after natural disasters as well, and head of forensic services, Dr Thomas Parsons, tells Adam Rutherford that a team will be sent to the Philippines on Monday.

The enormous ash cloud following the 2010 eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokell, grounded aircraft across Europe for more than a week and caused unprecedented disruption. Dr Fred Prata has invented a weather radar for ash, and off the Bay of Biscay, his AVOID infra red camera system, the Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector, has just been tested after a ton of Icelandic volcanic ash was dropped by aeroplane into the sky. From France, Dr Prata describes the experiment and Dr Sue Loughlin, Head of Volcanology at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, tells Adam how Iceland has become the scientific "supersite" for seismic research.

Show Us Your Instrument: Dr Glenn Gibson at the University of Reading with his Robo gut, a full-working model of the human large intestine.

Liverpool University's Dr Julian Chantrey, and his PhD student have spent the past 4 years monitoring red squirrels in the Sefton area. Out of the 93 they trapped and blood tested, 5 had antibodies for the normally-deadly squirrel pox, suggesting they had contracted the pox and survived. It's early days but this could mean that reds are developing a level of resistance to the squirrel pox, like rabbits have to myxomatosis. We could be seeing evolution by natural selection in action.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

21Bird Atlas; Flywheels; Energy Capture; Science Lessons For Mps20131121

The citizen science army who've logged 19 million birds for the new UK Ireland Bird Atlas.

Every twenty years there's a detailed survey of the birds of the UK and Ireland and today, the 2007-2011 Bird Atlas is published. Adam Rutherford hears from Dawn Balmer from the British Trust for Ornithology about the citizen scientists, the forty thousand volunteers who collected data on a staggering 19 million birds - 502 different species - and meets their record breaking volunteer, Chris Reynolds. A 73 year old retired maths teacher, Chris took part in the previous three atlases and walked thousands of miles in all seasons across his patch in the Outer Hebrides. Dawn describes the avifaunal picture revealed in this latest Atlas.

In 2009, Williams developed a flywheel - which temporarily stores energy - for their formula 1 car. After the Research and Development was done, the F1 governing body changed the rules, and there was no longer space for a flywheel on their car. No matter, these things have other uses. Mark Smout from Smout Allen has proposed a design for the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, which uses banks of these flywheels to regulate the energy from the nearby wind farm. It also uses spare electricity to grow a sea defence for the island. Marnie Chesterton reports on this flywheel technology and Tim Fox, energy expert at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers describes to Adam other potential solutions for storing energy on the National Grid.

Professor Bill Sutherland from the University of Cambridge is a co-author on a new "cheat sheet", published in this week's Nature, to help politicians and policy makers sort the good scientific research from the bad. He talks to Adam about why it's more important and faster, to teach a scientific approach than simply to teach facts.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

Adam Rutherford explores the research that is transforming our world.

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

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Adam Rutherford explores the research that is transforming our world.

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

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Adam Rutherford explores the research that is transforming our world.

26Bacteriophages; Breath-detecting Disease; Our Bees Electric And Dna Barcoding20131226

Bacteriophages as a tool to fight infections; bees and their electric sensing for nectar

Professor Alice Roberts talks bacteriophages: viruses that infect the bacteria that infect us. With the rise of antibiotic resistance they are a potential weapon against infection.

We hear from Paul Hebert, the biologist behind the International Barcode of Life project – a global effort to classify the entire world’s species according to their DNA.

Bristol researchers have discovered that it is more than scent and colour that draws a bee to a flower – there is also an electric field.

Claire Turner from the Open University shows us the instrument she uses to detect disease. It can sense when a heart transplant patient is rejecting their new organ, purely through monitoring their breath.

27Ancient Human Occupation Of Britain20140102

Who lived in Britain thousands of years ago, and how do we know?

The ancient inhabitants of Britain; when did they get here? Who were they? And how do we know? Alice Roberts meets some of the AHOB team, who have been literally digging for answers.

The Natural History Museum's Chris Stringer, is the Director of AHOB, the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain, a project which, over the past 12 years, has brought together a large team of palaeontologists, archaeologists, geologists and geographers, to pool their expertise in order to unpick British History.

Nick Ashton from the British Museum has been in charge of the north Norfolk site of Happisburgh, where the crumbling coast line has revealed the oldest examples of human life in Britain, 400,000 years earlier than previous findings of human habitation, in Boxgrove in Sussex.

The ancient landscape had its share of exotic animals. Hippos have been dug up from Trafalgar Square, mammoths have been excavated from Fleet Street. Professor Danielle Schreve is an expert in ancient mammal fossils, and tells us what these bones reveal about the ancient climate. Less glamorous than the big fossils, the humble vole is so useful and accurate as a dating tool that it has been nicknamed "the Vole Clock."

Carbon dating has improved vastly in the past few years. Rob Dinnis, from Edinburgh University, explains why the AHOB team has been returning to old collections and redating them.

28Antarctica Weather And Climate Change; Gm Fish Oils; Melanin Fossils; Time Travel20140109

Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

29Personal Genetics Kits; Persister Cells; Earthquake Mapping; Scorpions20140116

Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

30Higgs Boson; Neutrinos; Antarctic Echo Locator; Rainforest Fungi; Alabama Rot20140123

Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

31Neanderthals - Plague - Wind Tunnel - Music Timing - Stem Cells20140130

Adam Rutherford asks: What did the Neanderthals ever do for us?

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Dr Lucie Green goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world.

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

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Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

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Adam Rutherford goes inside science to explore the research that is transforming our world

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

Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide not just to the research that makes the headlines, but to how science itself is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

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Tracey Logan investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Tracey Logan investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Tracey Logan investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Science magazine programme.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

46Antarctic Melt; Brain Enhancing Devices, Atomic Clocks And Anti-bat Moth Sounds20140515

Adam Rutherford discusses the irreversible melting of the Antarctic Western Ice shelf.

Melting Antarctic Ice Shelf

Nothing can stop the collapse of the Antarctic Western Ice shelf. That’s according to NASA this week. Key glaciers in Antarctica are irreversibly retreating, and according to the scientists studying this region they’ve reached a state of irreversible retreat - the point of no return.

Brain enhancing devices

If given the option, would you think faster or increase your attention span? Neuroscientists now say that non-invasive brain stimulation using electrical currents could do just that. The technology is still fairly new but is now being sold by commercial companies often marketed to gamers suggesting that it could increase your attention and make you think faster. But do they actually work? Inside Science sent Melissa Hogenboom to Oxford try one out and to discuss the science behind the hype.

Black holes

How big can black holes get? A listener asks and Professor Andy Fabien, Director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University answers.

Optical and atomic clocks

At this week’s ‘Quantum Timing, Navigation and Sensing’ Showcase at the National Physical Laboratories, researchers are working on clocks that allow us to see through walls; super-accurate atomic the size of matchboxes; and GPS trackers that can elude an enemy jamming the signal. We sent Inside Science reporter Tracey Logan to work on her time management.

Bat jamming moth noises and other insects that go bump, chirrup, squeak in the night

Inside Science’s resident entomologist, Dr. Tim Cockerill has been exploring a whole soundscape that’s hidden from our limited hearing range. Including, eavesdropping on a secret sonic arms race between echo-locating bats and bat-jamming acoustics created by the genitals of a hawkmoth.

Producer: Fiona Roberts

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

53Informed Consent, El Nino, Gravitational Waves, Cloud Cover20140703

Can we be used in experiments without our consent? Adam Rutherford investigates.

Informed consent

Facebook has been under fire for running a controversial 'emotion manipulation' study on 689,003 Facebook users. The experiment, to find out whether emotions were contagious on the social network, involved minor changes to users' news feeds. It's contentious because the users were not informed that they were taking part in an experiment. Facebook says, check the terms and conditions, but Dr Chris Chambers at Cardiff University says that the ethical standards for science are higher, and should involve informed consent. Dan O'Connor, Head of Medical Humanities at the Wellcome Trust, gives a short history of consent in experimentation.

El Nino

According to the Met Office, the world is almost certain to be struck by the "El Nino" phenomenon this year, with the potential to induce "major climactic impacts" around the world. Roland Pease investigates this flip in the climate state of the Pacific basin, and asks the experts studying this phenomenon, whether it'll be a major event and how it might affect the climate.

Gravitational Waves

The announcement, earlier this year, that the BICEP 2 telescope at the South Pole had detected evidence that gravitational waves exist may have been premature. Gravitational waves are theoretical phenomena, based on observation of polarisation of ancient cosmic light. Finding them, adds to the evidence that the Universe is expanding. The data has now been made public, but the confidence in the numbers is being questioned.

Cloud cover

A listener asks about cloud cover and night time temperatures, and how air temperature and moisture content interact. Our expert Peter Sloss from the Met Office answers.

Producer: Fiona Roberts.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford investigates the news in science and science in the news.