Leading Edge

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20030130

Geoff Watts investigates the crisis affecting the nation's favourite fish. Cod stocks have dwindled to dangerously low levels, but is the problem simply due to over-fishing?

20030220

The science magazine looks at biometrics, the science of identifying ourselves by the uniqueness of different parts of our bodies, from the retina to the shape of the hand.

20030313

Geoff Watts investigates attempts to deliver a pathogen-free blood supply. Blood transfusions save millions of lives and are a routine part of medical practice. Every year the National Blood Transfusion Service collects, tests, processes, stores and issues 2.5 million blood donations. The Service tests for infections such as hepatitis B and C, HIV and syphilis, but there is always the chance the blood may be contaminated by other disease agents. There were cases of people becoming HIV positive following transfusions before there were tests for the virus, and there is a fear that the same could happen again if another disease-causing agent appeared out of the blue.

20030522

Geoff Watts investigates the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20030529

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

20030605

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

20030626

Geoff Watts investigates the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20030703

Geoff Watts investigates the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20030904

A new series of the topical science programme returns. As well as the week's top science stories, Geoff Watts investigates a new class of biologically inspired robots, mimicking the anatomy of tenacious insects. By capturing the essence of insect movement, researchers believe these autonomous robots will prove vital for previously unattainable space exploration,environmental sensing and military activity.

20030911

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

20030918

As well as the week's top science stories, Geoff Watts examines how new remote sensors positioned in Californian redwood trees are providing a huge range of unique insights into the ecology of forests and groves, which could offer new guidelines for efficient reafforestation throughout the world.

20030925

Geoff Watts examines a new method of drug delivery using a tiny skin patch of micro-needles.

The syringe can be stored for long periods and is painlessly self-administered.

20040513

A new series of the topical science programme returns with Geoff Watts. Noisy neighbours may blight your life but even inside your own body, there's no peace and quiet. For the first time, scientists have recorded the sounds made by living cells and these squeals could tell your doctor when illness is about to strike.

A new series of the topical science programme returns with Geoff Watts.

Noisy neighbours may blight your life but even inside your own body, there's no peace and quiet. For the first time, scientists have recorded the sounds made by living cells and these squeals could tell your doctor when illness is about to strike.

20040527

The latest news from the world of science and technology. Has noisy traffic given you sleepless nights? This week, Geoff Watts visits inner city Montreal, where residents are taking part in an experiment to help them get a good night's kip. A team of scientists have suspended giant speakers over the nearby motorway. Every evening, residents are transported to the seaside, as the sounds of crashing waves mask the blare of nightly road works.

20040603

The latest news from the world of science and technology.

Has noisy traffic given you sleepless nights? This week, Geoff Watts visits inner city Montreal, where residents are taking part in an experiment to help them get a good night's kip.

A team of scientists have suspended giant speakers over the nearby motorway. Every evening, residents are transported to the seaside, as the sounds of crashing waves mask the blare of nightly road works.

20040610

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

20040617

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

20040624

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

20050203

As well as the week's top science stories, Geoff Watts explores the hidden complexities of the human nose and finds out what this new understanding could mean for nose surgery and drug delivery in the future.

And we hear about the biggest solar storm ever recorded.

A year ago the storm struck a region of space thought to be a safe zone for Earth-orbiting spacecraft.

Events like this could endanger astronauts and satellites in orbit, and disrupt communications on earth.

So how can we protect ourselves from any future storms?

20050210

Aeroplanes that can heal themselves while in flight may one day take to our skies.

Researchers at the University of Bristol are now harnessing materials made from hollow fibres that can 'bleed' resin when damaged to seal newly formed cracks.

The breakthrough could spell good news for the aeronautical industry who've been looking for ways to prevent cracks, caused by hail storms and other events, from worsening during flight.

20050217

Geoff Watts explores the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

This edition investigates some of the many ways in which humans like to forage.

20050224

Tap on the coffee table to switch on the tv, knock on the wall to turn on the light, or make phone calls from the shower: all this could soon be possible thanks to a new method of remote control.

"Time reversal acoustics" uses sound to distinguish between taps in different places and so banish the need for handsets, keyboards and wires.

This and more news and views from the world of science and technology with Geoff Watts

20050303

Scientists at Oxford University are to torment volunteers by applying painful chilli gel to their skin.

By asking these people to use their religious faith to cope with the pain, while monitoring their brain activity, researchers hope to learn how religious belief manifests itself in our brains.

Geoff Watts investigates this and other cutting edge stories from the world of science and technology.

20050317

Aeroplanes that can heal themselves while in flight may one day take to our skies.

Researchers at the University of Bristol are now harnessing materials made from hollow fibres that can bleed resin when damaged to seal newly formed cracks.

The breakthrough could spell good news for the aeronautical industry which has been looking for ways to prevent cracks, caused by hail storms and other events, from worsening during flight.

Geoff Watts reports.

20050324

When trying to describe things, a picture can speak louder than a thousand words.

But is the same true for solving mathematical problems? The overlapping circles of the humble Venn diagram remain a powerful tool at the cutting edge of maths today.

Geoff Watts explores the possibilities for this approach with the help of two mathematicians.

This and other cutting edge stories from the world of science and technology.

20050331

Researchers at Bristol University are developing a new test to detect breast cancer at an early stage.

20050908

Geoff Watts brings you the latest news from the world of science and technology.

As well as the week's top science stories, the programme takes to the skies with a plane load of atmospheric scientists to unlock the secrets of cirrus clouds.

These thin and wispy clouds cover much of the earth's surface, yet scientists still have much to learn about what they're made of and how they function.

The state of the art Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) aircraft is effectively a climate research lab in the sky, and while on board scientists can analyse the water droplets, ice crystals and gas samples they collect as the plane zooms through the cloud.

20050915

Why are some adults able to appreciate the subtleties of Bulgarian folk rhythms whilst to others it all sounds the same?

Researchers at the University of Toronto have shown that you need to be exposed to the music before you are one year old.

For those of us fed on a less varied musical diet in our early months, it is much harder to learn to love foreign rhythm and song.This and other science news with Geoff Watts

20050922

If painful sounds seem resonate from the piano whenever your child goes near it, should you encourage him to practice in the hope that he'll one day make an accomplished player? New research from Sweden suggests that your efforts may not be in vain.

By studying the brains of concert pianists, and how much time they spent practicing as they grew up, Neuroscientist and concert pianist Fredrik Ullen found that practice, particularly in the early years, really does make perfect.

This and other stories from the world of science and technology, with Geoff Watts

20050929

A look at the race to build the biggest telescope on Earth.

As 18 tonnes of glass slowly cools in a lab beneath a football stadium in Arizona, scientists are watching and waiting, hoping that it will form part of a giant perfect parabolic mirror.

Plus, other news from the world of science and technology with Geoff Watts

20051006

In the future, your car will feel and smell very different, as scientists are turning to the other senses apart from vision to warn drivers of impending danger.

20051013

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

20051020
20051027

Can listening to music as a baby or even in the womb help children to develop language skills? New research is showing the extent to which music affects our lives from the very start.

Geoff Watts explores this and other science issues.

20051103
20051110
20060202

As well as the week's top science stories, we find out how seals swimming in the Southern Ocean can help us predict climate change around the world. For three years, scientists from the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrews in Scotland have been attaching satellite tagging devices to elephant seals in the Southern Ocean.

These mammals dive as deep as 2km and can travel as far as 6000km in a few months. This means that they can be useful in transmitting crucial information about salinity, temperature and depth of the seas in which they travel for scientists to use to predict climate change.

20060209

Geoff Watts searches for the answer to how the brain deals with different levels of sound. How can we pick out the noise of our own mobile phone even when it's competing with others in a busy room?

20060216

Geoff Watts witnesses the birth of a new concept in the art of tissue engineering that cuts the growing time down to minutes rather than days. The implications of this breakthrough mean that in the not too distant future, tissues can be engineered at our hospital bedsides when needed, rather than having to wait on them from a laboratory.

20060223

Geoff Watts reports from the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St Louis. Every year, scientists from around the world converge in the USA to discuss the latest discoveries and Leading Edge will be there to bring you the news from the world of science and technology.

20060302

The lethal Box jellyfish with its 60 tentacles and five billion stinging cells has captivated Cairns ecologist Jamie Seymour. Armed with a thick Lycra suit, he's studying their movements off Australia's Gold Coast, by electronic tagging, in the hope of being able to predict their seasonal movements, discover their breeding grounds and understand their venom.

Geoff Watts meets the man behind this strange ecological mission.

20060309

Geoff Watts goes to Bath to find out how the human brain can be tricked into becoming a natural pain killer. Apparently, if a person has persistent pain in one hand, looking in the mirror at the other hand can reduce the pain. This treatment is being trialled for people with phantom limb and other pain problems.

20060316

Geoff Watts examines work from US scientists that may give new meaning to the term 'white lie'. Using MRI scanning, they have discovered that the brains of liars have more white matter than grey matter, compared to those of truth-tellers. We find out why this research suggests that some brains are designed to deceive.

20060323

Geoff Watts is joined by science writer Gabrielle Walker to find out the latest news from Lake Vostok in the Antarctic. The lake is buried nearly 4 km under the ice and is one of the deepest known sources of fresh water in the world. Scientists have been studying the area for over 30 years and after a break of eight years, have drilled another 27 metres into the frozen lake in the hope of finding evidence of life below the ice sheet.

20060330

Researchers at Nottingham University have been working on a way to reduce the volume of usage on air traffic control systems. They've been testing the idea of sending text messages across the air to inform pilots of information and instructions. There's been good feedback and bad - Geoff Watts finds out more.

20060406

What smells attract mosquitoes? We hear about new research that is designing highly effective baits and traps to lure dengue and malarial mosquitoes to their death. It may be low tech, but the success rate could effectively reduce the reliance of broad scale spraying of insecticides in hot climates.

20060413

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

Nearing the 100th anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit San Francisco on 18th April 1906, Leading Edge discusses the new scientific models that can give us the answers to what really happened and help us predict if anything on this scale will happen again.

20060525

Leading Edge returns for a new series, with the latest from the world of science.

Geoff Watts kick starts the summer season with a visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to take a look at science behind some of the exhibits on display this year.

20060601
20060608

As well as the week's top science stories, Geoff Watts gets behind of the wheel of a Clever Car designed to cope with the pressures of urban roads.

He visits the University of Bath and talks to the designers of this unusual vehicle, which is only one metre wide and three metres long. Is this car the solution to many cities transport problems, and will it ever catch on with the public?

20060615

As well as the week's top science stories, Geoff Watts gets behind of the wheel of a Clever Car designed to cope with the pressures of urban roads.

He visits the University of Bath and talks to the designers of this unusual vehicle, which is only one metre wide and three metres long. Is this car the solution to many city transport problems, and will it ever catch on with the public?

20060622

As well as the weeks top science stories, Geoff Watts visits scientists at the University of Bath who are using nature as their inspiration for some weird and wacky inventions.He meets Stanley the knife fish, who has helped researchers design a clever way of propelling a submarine and takes a look at a self replicating robot.

20060629

Geoff Watts visits the University of Sheffield to find out why, when we hear voices in our head, they usually turn out to be male.

20060706

The latest news from the world of science and technology with Geoff Watts.

20060706
20060720
20060727
20060928

Geoff Watts looks into the latest news in the world of science, including a report from the Atacama Desert on the construction of the ALMA telescope and a forest of antennas.

20061005
20061012

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

20061019
20061026

Geoff Watts reports from the X Prize Cup in which privately-owned rockets compete against one another in the desert of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

20061102

Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20061109
20061116

From listening in on volcanoes, predicting the strength of hurricanes and detecting nuclear explosions, a global network of infrasound detectors is allowing researchers to tune in to our atmosphere. Molly Bentley reports on the symphony of sounds below the limits of human hearing.

20070222

Geoff Watts reports from the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

20070301

Geoff Watts visits the UK's first low temperature experimental facility in Bristol. New insights into the gases produced by microbes beneath glaciers, and their release during the melting of the great ice sheets, aim to show how climate change has been regulated in the past and could help accurately model changes into the future.

20070308

In addition to the top science stories of the week, Geoff Watts hears how the Japanese space agency is giving the International Space Station renewed impetus. It's down to the completion of the station's latest and largest research wing to be constructed in space.

20070315

Geoff Watts investigates a new microscopic imaging technique which enables researchers to see real-time activity of our immune cells in action.

20070322

The philosophy of morals: Do we make moral judgements based on societal rules or based on our emotions? Geoff finds out from Marc Hauser, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.

Docile dinosaurs: A new 95 million-year-old dinosaur species discovery was reported this week. Professor David Varricchio explains how the find puts paid to some stereotypes.

Classroom cacophony: Acoustic engineer Trevor Cox of Sheffield University wants a rethink of classroom soundscapes.

Desert pools: The diverse array of microbes in Mexican desert pools may help biologists to find out how life on early Earth got started. Molly Bentley reports from the Great Chihuahuan Desert.

Mechanochemistry: Geoff talks to Professor Jeffrey Moore from the University of Illinois about a novel branch of chemistry which uses mechanical force to change the properties of a substance.

20070329
20070405
20070412
20070419
20070607

Geoff Watts accompanies a group of Danish scientists to Greenland. Using satellite tagging technology, they are hoping to solve a long-standing puzzle about the migratory habits of the walrus.

20070614

Geoff Watts reports on the latest news from the world of science. While Jonathan Stewart visits the Great Barrier Reef, and hears from scientists how this incredible living structure is providing key evidence in the debate about climate change.

20070621
20070628
20070705
20070712
20070719

Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20070726
20071115

Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20071122

Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20071129
20071206
20071213

Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20080228

Geoff Watts analyses the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20080306

Geoff Watts analyses the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20080313
20080320
20080327
20080410
20080612

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

Including a report on how the wine industry is coping with climate change, from different varieties of grapes to new bottles.

20080619
20080724

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20080731

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20081009

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

20081016

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20081023

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20081030

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20081106

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20081113

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20081120
20081127

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20081211

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20090122
20090129
20090205

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20090212

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20090219

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science.

20090226
20090528

Geoff Watts asks why people need to fly into space and finds out the use of scientific experiments in weightlessness.

He joins scientists from the European Space Agency for the 50th in a series of what they call 'parabolic flight campaigns'. It used to be known as the vomit comet, though now it is an Airbus A300. It flies out over the Atlantic and then free-falls for up to 30 seconds, a cycle that is repeated 30 times each flight.

The result is weightlessness, a brief taste of conditions in orbit. What can researchers hope to achieve in such brief bursts of zero-gravity?

20090604

Geoff Watts examines attitudes to Darwin and his theory of evolution, both during his own time and now. Even today, 150 years after it was first published, Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection arouses passions. Indeed, for some it seems just as controversial now as it was in Victorian times.

Including reports from a Darwin exhibition in Turkey and a creationist museum in the USA. We hear reactions to Darwin in his own time and how nervous he was about offending the Church and even his own wife.

Plus news of an initiative this year to 'rescue Darwin' and his theory from the cross-fire between atheists and creationists.

Geoff Watts examines attitudes to Darwin, both during his own time and now.

20090618

Geoff Watts looks into the science of seasonality in plants, animals and ourselves. Winter blues and summer celebrations - from hibernation to sex - the seasons affect the living world, including humans.

On the other side of the world, in Antarctica, it is midwinter and those creatures that can't migrate are employing intriguing chemical tricks to slow their body processes, virtually stopping respiration and even heartbeat as they enter hibernation. But how are these extreme processes studied? What's it like to do research in freezing water under two metres of ice? And are there seasonal processes that affect our own moods, health and lives?

Geoff Watts looks into the science of seasonality in plants, animals and humans.

20091008

Geoff Watts investigates life in extreme polar environments and the perils facing scientists who study it.

In polar regions, life hangs by a thread. It's hard enough for the scientists studying it, braving the cold and ice, not to mention bears and giant mosquitoes in Arctic regions. For the organisms that live there all the year round without heating or protective clothing, extreme strategies are essential.

Dr Pete Convey, of the British Antarctic Survey, introduces Geoff to tardigrades, tiny creatures resembling six-legged teddy bears the size of a full stop. They can dry to a husk or freeze in liquid nitrogen. But a drop of liquid water and they pop back to life and walk away.

Geoff also hears from Antarctica, where the biggest land creatures could hide behind the letters of this text; from Austria, where beetles follow in the path of a retreating glacier; and from Alaska, where the permafrost is thawing and tundra-surfing could become a new sport.

Geoff Watts meets the scientists who study polar life in freezing conditions.

20091015

Geoff Watts meets Richard Holmes, winner of the 2009 Science Book Prize, and hears how history and biography can reveal the workings of science.

Also, does technology evolve? According to W Brian Arthur, a professor at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and author of The Nature of Technology, machines develop in some ways akin to biological organisms.

Instead of natural selection, humans and markets force the changes. Instead of genes, sub-systems and new materials come together from diverse sources. And sometimes there are innovations rather than incremental developments - jet engines did not result from gradual changes to propeller engines. But overall, the argument is that technologies do indeed evolve.

Geoff Watts asks how much history can tell us about the workings of science.

20091105

The oldest rocks on Earth are aliens! They are the left-over building rubble from the formation of the solar system and can be dated to an incredible 4,567 million years old. A surprising number fall to Earth each year as meteorites.

November 5th is probably the worst night of the year for spotting incandescent rocks streaking through the sky, but tracking down a fresh meteorite, before it gets contaminated by terrestrial chemicals, is the ultimate prize for the hunters. A rare few carry complex carbon compounds - perhaps remnants of the material out of which the first life on Earth formed.

Geoff Watts hears from meteorite hunters who scour the deserts of Arizona and Australia and the ice of Canada and Antarctica to seek out extra-terrestrial rocks and meets those who analyse them, using traces of rare elements to track their history and reveal their origins.

Geoff Watts meets meteorite hunters tracking down the birth of planets.

20091112

Geoff Watts follows an archaeological theme, beginning at a critical stage of human evolution about 1.9 million years ago. Our ancestors then were unlike any other ape. Not only were they walking upright, but their mouths and teeth were smaller and their digestive tracts shorter - just like modern humans. Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham thinks that was possible because of cooking. Cooked food is easier to chew and digest, freeing up time for other activities, and requiring patience, ingenuity and division of labour around the cooking fire.

Another revolution occurred a mere 10,000 years ago, when settled agriculture made the first cities possible. Archaeologists are now exploring the oldest 'Atlantis', a Mycenaean city submerged beneath the Mediterranean. The underwater search continues almost to modern times with the quest to trace the lost ships of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated 1845 expedition to the frozen waters of the North West Passage.

20091119

2009 has been the International Year of Astronomy. It comes, says astronomer-historian Dr Paul Murdin, at the climax of the best century astronomers are ever likely to have; a period of exploration in which we have had our first look through many new windows on the Universe and our first close-up encounters with other planets. There is plenty left to do, he tells Geoff Watts, but never again can we have that exciting first view.

Our telescopes can see back to the dawn of the Universe, but in terms of space exploration, we've hardly stepped out of the door. In a year's time, the US Space Shuttle is due to be retired from service, leaving NASA without its own rocket that can launch humans and supply the International Space Station. Geoff hears how the space agency is turning to the private sector to design and build its launch vehicles and what that implies for a return to the Moon and exploration beyond, to Mars.

Plus news from the past and present of forensic science, in fiction and reality. Sherlock Holmes was arguably the first fictional character to make use of forensic science, but what techniques were available to him and how accurately did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle portray them? Today, TV series such as Silent Witness and Waking the Dead are built on forensic science. How do they compare to the realities of moden techniques?

Geoff Watts looks back on great astronomical discoveries and future space exploration.

20091126

Geoff Watts examines the impact of Darwin's On The Origin of Species on science, society and religion, then and now, on the 150th anniversary of its publication.

He visits an international conference in Egypt that brings together scientists and religious thinkers from east and west to discuss how ideas about evolution have informed biological science, but also have been hijacked to support prejudice. He also looks into some of the big questions being asked of evolution today.

The impact of Darwin's On The Origin of Species on science, society and religion.

*20081204
*20080214

Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

*20080221

Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

He also reports from the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, the year's most important conference discussing the latest research from a vast range of scientific, medical and technological fields.

*20080403
*20080626

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

*20080703

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

*20080710

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

*20080717
*20081002

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

*20081218
*20090305
*20090521

Geoff Watts with the latest stories from the world of science. He is joined by the government's Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor John Beddington, whose background is in population biology, specialising in fish populations and the effects of fisheries on them.

That knowledge has helped Professor Beddington in understanding the economics and sustainable management of renewable resources more generally, equipping him to advise on many of the big scientific issues of our time, from fisheries and food to energy and climate change.

Professor Beddington is concerned that rising demand for food, water and energy will coincide with depleted resources and global change to produce the conditions for what he calls a 'perfect storm' - a global crisis that could strike by the year 2030. We need to use science and technology to put measures in place now, he says, if we are going to avoid global shortages of food, water and energy in 20 years time. If we do nothing, shortages and price rises will coincide with droughts, storms and rising sea level, leading to famines, migration and instability.

*20090611

Geoff Watts asks if science can be creative - is it open to new ideas, or does the peer review process only fund and publish work that supports the status quo and the vested interests of the reviewers?

Geoff meets Don Braben, a visiting lecturer at UCL and former science impresario, who thinks that a percentage of the nation's science budget should go to supporting 'blue skies' research that is not focused on any recognised goal. He sees scientific freedom as a basic human need.

Geoff also meets writer and inventor Anne Miller, who has published a book on 'how to get your ideas adopted (and change the world)'. It is something she is clearly quite good at herself, with 23 patents to her name and a claim to be Britain's most prolific female inventor.

Geoff Watts asks if science can be creative.

*20090625

Geoff Watts meets Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society, who shares his perspective on how he has adapted to the role and the influence it can have on the international stage.

Lord Rees discusses the role that science academies have in setting international standards for things like carbon emissions, nuclear test bans, the protection of wilderness areas such as Antarctica and the freedom of scientists to travel and communicate across political boundaries.

The Royal Society, which celebrates its 350th birthday in 2010, is the nation's science academy, rewarding those it sees as the greatest living scientists with fellowships as well as giving out research grants, holding meetings and publishing journals. Increasingly, it is issuing statements of opinion, often of its President, on science-based political issues such as climate change, GM food or sustainable energy.

Geoff Watts meets Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society.

*20090702

Science communication has come a long way from the days in which white-coated professors worked in their ivory towers, speaking only to students in a language that even they could barely understand. Today, we have not only 'Public Understanding of Science' initiatives, but 'Public Engagement with Science'. But how effective are such initiatives? Are scientists and journalists doing enough and to what extent are they controlled by publishers, editors and the peer review process?

Geoff Watts attends the 6th World Conference of Science Journalists, in London, to find out. He challenges his colleagues to see if they are providing the science coverage the public wants and needs, to make informed choices in a technological world.

*20090709

Geoff Watts reports on the latest news in the world of science.

*20090903

Geoff Watts meets Lord May, President of the British Science Association, who has held many of the most senior scientific offices in the land, having been government chief science advisor and President of the Royal Society. Never afraid of speaking his mind - perhaps a product of his Australian upbringing - Bob May famously accused President George W Bush of being a modern-day Nero over climate change.

His address at this year's Science Festival in Guildford will focus on his own subject of population biology and the apparent problem of natural selection; why do we do things for the common good when 'survival of the fittest' is a key principle of evolutionary theory?

Also, insect art comes to London's South Bank in a 'Pestival' of the amazing, inventive and sometimes artistic world of six-legged creatures.

Geoff Watts meets Lord May, President of the British Science Association.

*20090910

Geoff Watts reports from the British Science Association's Festival in Guildford.

At the 2008 Festival, Prof Michael Reiss suggested that science teachers should be prepared to discuss creationist beliefs in the classroom if asked about them by pupils. The resulting controversy led to his departure from the post of Education Director at the Royal Society. He is now Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education and returns to the Festival to argue the case for discussing controversial issues in science classes.

Geoff follows up several aspects of communication: how animals and people communicate emotions and recognise faces, the prehistoric basis of language and artistic communication among our ancestors, and the role of brain function in stimulating creative expression.

*20090917

Geoff Watts talks to anthropologist Prof Tim Ingold, who has lived with reindeer herders in Lapland, and is now working with artists and designers to discover how to live truly sustainable lives.

According to Ingold, design can change our relationship with our environment. Central to understanding that relationship, he says, is anthropology.

He lived for several years with reindeer herders in Lapland, studying their relationship with animals and nature. Fascinated by how people make their place in their environment, he then worked with artists, architects and even hillwalkers to study how they learned through their daily activities, improvising along the way. This led to his rather curious latest passion, lines - the lines we draw, the paths we walk, the threads we weave, and even the storylines we tell.

He talks about what enthuses him about anthropology, the study of the culture and practices of people at all times and in all places. Is it a true science, or an arts and humanities discipline? What about the 'sideways glance' he says that every anthropologist needs, 'questioning the taken-for-granted, making the familiar strange and the strange familiar'?

Ingold has just launched a new project in Glasgow called Designing Environments for Life. This brings together anthropologists, architects, artists and designers to bridge the gap between our familiar everyday environments and the abstract 'environment' of government-speak and global warming messages. If they can convince us that they are one and the same, we might manage a more sustainable life.

Geoff Watts reveals how anthropology can change the relationship with our environment.

*20090924

Violinist and music psychologist Paul Robertson tells Geoff Watts about his lifelong journey to find out why humans have always been a musical species, a quest that has introduced him to neuroscientists and therapists as well as musicians, and taken him from concert hall to brain scanner.

Musicality, he believes, is more than a form of 'brain candy', an accidental side effect of our biological evolution. Perhaps it is central to highly-prized human capacities such as verbal and emotional communication, abstract and symbolic representation, memory and even identity.

Geoff hears, from discussion and performance, how music transforms the life of gifted autistic musicians, how it can play a key role in child development, and how musical appreciation maps our minds.

*20091001

If two unknown young scientists came to the funding agencies today and said they wanted to try building wire models of molecules, would they get support? Unlikely perhaps, but in 1952, the young Crick and Watson were supported for just that and, as everyone knows, they went on to discover the secret of life: the structure of DNA.

Today, the chief executive of Britain's Medical Research Council is Sir Leszek Botysiewicz, and he tells Geoff Watts about his prorities for funding basic research.

They discuss if there is a place among all the urgent needs of clinical medicine for fundamental research that may not bear practical fruit for decades. Sir Leszek also describes his own research into viral immunity, which is already bringing very practical health gains in the form of one of the world's first anti-cancer vaccines.

Geoff Watts investigates the methods and motivations behind basic medical research.

*20091022

Geoff Watts meets robotics expert Professor Noel Sharkey and explores the relationship between humans and robots - past, present and future. They look at how 'human' robots can seem and at the essential differences between 'them' and 'us'.

One day in the early 1940s, a boy playing in the basement of his house discovered a robot; it became his secret playmate. A few years later the robot disappeared, and they didn't meet again for 50 years. The robot, called Elektro, was built by Westinghouse corporation in 1937. Over two metres tall, it was remarkably advanced for the time. Although he was actually intended as a PR stunt, he was designed by some of the finest engineers of the time and represented the forefront of technology. Elektro rapidly became a superstar, and received a rapturous welcome at the New York World's Fair in 1939. For a couple of years he lived the high life - then everything changed.

When war came he was packed away and ended up in a basement where the boy found him. After the war, he (the robot that is) fell in with the wrong people and ended up playing a randy robot called Thinko in a 1960 porn movie. After that he disappeared, only to be rediscovered recently by his playmate, now in his 70s.

Now, robots are taking on new tasks beyond assembly lines and science fiction films. Can robot nannies look after our child care and befriend the elderly? Should they be left in charge of our weapons systems?

Geoff Watts explores the relationship between humans and robots.

*20091029

The human race's brief relationship with element 92, uranium, has been a tempestuous one, from Nazi research and Hiroshima to Iran and North Korea. Geoff Watts opens secret archives and hears the science behind the fragile peace that has held since 1946.

With a few notable exceptions, including North Korea, India and Pakistan, most of the major nations have signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Most of those, with exceptions such as the USA, China and Iran, have ratified the treaty, agreeing not to let off a nuclear explosion anywhere on or within the Earth. But how can scientists tell if the treaty has been broken?

Geoff Watts investigates the shady world of nuclear weapons testing and asks how UN inspectors can tell if there has been an illegal underground test. He hears about major exercises in Kazakhstan and Slovakia to see just what the inspectors are able to find out.

Geoff Watts finds out how scientists investigate nuclear test ban treaty violations.

Anthrax20031002

Geoff Watts examines a new approach to treating against anthrax. Researchers at Stanford, USA, are working on 3D images of the anthrax bacterium to decipher its active toxic part.

China In Space - Can We Save Kyoto? - Intelligent Cars20071025

Europa20031023

, one of the moons of Jupiter, is similar to Earth as it has a surface made of ice and has volcanoes. Some scientists think it could contain life. Geoff Watts meets researchers who are trying to understand the ice on Europa in the lab with the help of a tray of candle wax.

From The Poles To Space20040701

This week, Geoff Watts takes listeners on a voyage of discovery, spanning the poles and up into space.

Imagine if your health and safety training included how to fend off polar bears.

On Leading Edge this week, Geoff Watts meets the intrepid palaeontologist, Hans Larsson, who's currently dodging polar bears whilst digging for dinosaur fossils in the Arctic.

At the other end of the globe, the Antarctic is celebrating a centenary of science.

In 1904, the SY Discovery returned to our shores, bringing back the first scientific and geological information about the mysterious South Pole.

But what has polar science taught us about the earth's environment?

Plus, Geoff Watts makes his own voyage of discovery to the International Space Station.

No spacesuit is required though - this trip takes place entirely inside a virtual reality room.

Inside, scientists are conducting experiments to investigate how our brain judges which way is 'up'.

Not only will this help disorientated astronauts find their feet in space, but it the results could also make elderly people sturdier on theirs, preventing them from falling over and breaking bones.

How To Cut Cancer - Tracking Wild Fires - Race And Genetics - Ants And Adhesive20071101

Klystrons20031106

sound like something from the pages of an action hero comic strip, but in fact they are high tech machines which generate the microwaves used to accelerate electrons. In the decades after the war they were used to build particle accelerators which smashed matter into minute pieces. Now klystrons are also used for medical accelerators employed in cancer therapy. Geoff Watts meets the researchers behind the latest generation of klystrons and discovers how they are used in hospitals today.

Making Physics Sexy: Einstein Ballet20050310

On March 14th, there'll be birthday parties across the country for Albert Einstein, attended by academics, primary school children, anyone who's interested.

The parties, which includes one at Ipswich Town football club, are intended to generate interest and excitement about physics.

But how do you get people interested in arguably the most dry and difficult of all the sciences? How do you make physics sexy?

Has putting an Anthony Gormley sculpture in the Science Museum made a difference? Why aren't science shows more popular? Could a ballet inspired by Einstein attract more people to the subject?

This week, Leading Edge gets a sneak preview of Ballet Rambert's forthcoming product ion, Constant speed, inspired by Einstein's key ideas (to be premiered in May).

And asks how does it contribute to the public understanding of the theory of relativity?

Physicist Brian Cox and science communicator of the Year, Wendy Sadler discuss this and other projects designed interest people in physics - particularly school children about to choose their A level subjects.

This and more news and views form the world of science and technology with Geoff Watts

Martin Perl20031030

As well as exploring the week's top science stories, Geoff Watts meets Nobel Prize winning physicist Martin Perl. Perl is on the search for new particles carrying fractions of the standard unit of charge by examining dust from meteorites. If his unique tabletop experiment proves successful, it could rewrite the rulebooks of physics.

Mathieu's Equations20040708

When the 19th century French mathematician Emile Mathieu discovered five 'simple groups' of equations, he couldn't have realized how their resonance would stretch across the centuries.

Today these equations have found a very modern application - improving the safety of bungee jumps.

Obesity Gene - Ear Protectors - Volcano Rising - A Cracking Idea?20071108

Olympic Technology20040715

Drag-resistant swimwear, ultrasound muscle treatments, computer modelling: the Olympics have always been a global showcase for the latest technologies.

Next month, new sportswear, equipment and training techniques will enter the arena in Athens. But on this week's Leading Edge, Geoff Watts looks back at what technologies were wowing the crowds in Ancient Greece.

Sports Psychology20030227

Claudia Hammond investigates sports psychology. Is winning merely a triumph of mind over matter? And why do so many sporting injuries seem to occur just before a big event?

The Search For Dark Matter20000413

The stories behind the best in cutting-edge science. `The Search for Dark Matter'. Geoff Watts visits the scientists who are closest to discovering dark matter - the missing mass of the universe.

The Search For Dark Matter20020328

Geoff Watts with the week's cutting-edge science stories. He finds out about bubble fusion, which could prove to be the solution to the world's energy problem.

The Search For Dark Matter20020516

With Geoff Watts. American scientists recently claimed to have found evidence that life existed on the planet three and a half billion years ago. Are they right?

The Touchy Feely Computer20031016

Geoff Watts manipulates virtual objects in cyberspace at Stanford, USA. The concept is being used as a simulator for surgeons learning to perform operations.

Tracing Your Sausage From The Fridge To The Field20040520

Looking at the latest breakthroughs in science and technology. DNA has been used to trace ancestors, criminals - and now sausages. Each banger on your plate could come from up to ten animals. Geoff Watts finds out how a new technique could trace your sausage back from the fridge to the field and help improve food safety.

Looking at the latest breakthroughs in science and technology.

DNA has been used to trace ancestors, criminals - and now sausages. Each banger on your plate could come from up to ten animals.

Geoff Watts finds out how a new technique could trace your sausage back from the fridge to the field and help improve food safety.

Where Do You Go To Search For Life In The Universe?20031009

Metal content in stars could help predict whether a star is likely to harbour planets nearby - providing a new tool for pinpointing candidate stars in the search for planets. The discovery also helps to explain how and why planets form in the first place. Geoff Watts finds out about these latest planet hunting tactics and the other top science stories of the week.

202D0120021017

Geoff Watts with the week's cutting-edge science stories.

Expensive goods in shops are now routinely security tagged.

This is uneconomical for cheaper items, however - or is it?

202D0220021024

Iceland is about to take a giant green step.

Within a few decades, the utilisation of hydrogen will render the burning of fossil fuels a thing of the past.

Richard Black reports.

202D0320021031

Sea spray causes damage to stone over long periods, especially in the Mediterranean, home to many historic sites.

However, scientists are developing ways to conserve coastal stone.

202D04How Is Memory Created?20021107

Scientists in New York are studying birdsong to research the workings of the brain, and coming up with some surprising conclusions.

Rami Tzabar reports.

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202D0620021121

Researchers claim to have broken down the components which give any bottle of wine its unique flavour and bouquet.

Could this spell the end for traditional tasting?

202D0720021128

Geoff Watts examines current research into reprogramming bacteria cells to create tiny biological robots capable of performing scientific miracles.

202D0820021205

Geoff Watts meets a zoologist who studies the social and behavioural patterns of wild animals by fitting them with hi-tech radio collars.

202D0920021212

With Geoff Watts

204A0120040108

A new series of the topical science programme returns.

As well as the week's top science stories, Geoff Watts investigates how the bombadier beetle, with its powerful water jet defence mechanism to ward off predators, is being used by the aircraft industry to improve aircraft engine design.

204A0220040115

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

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204A0420040129

Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

204A0520040205

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

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Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

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Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

204A08Coral, Blood Tests, Rapping About Science, Futurology20040226

From outer space to the inner workings of the atom, Geoff Watts presents a series uncovering the latest in scientific endeavour.

204C0120040902

In the first programme of the new series, Geoff Watts reports on the latest stories from the world of science and technology.

204C02Speech Recognition Technology20040909

When we talk we may sound very different from one another, but a common language underlies the workings of the human vocal tract.

Taking this principle, and applying modern physics, scientists have for the first time reproduced human speech sounds which could revolutionise speech recognition technology.

Plus more news from the world of science and technology with Geoff Watts

204C03Asperger's Syndrome20040916

is diagnosed when children are seven years old.

Now careful analysis of a collection of home videos has shown that babies who later developed Asperger's don't keep their head straight when their bodies are tilted.

This simple home test could be used to screen for the condition when babies are just 6 months old.

204C04Plant Passports20040923

Geoff Watts presents news and views from the world of science and technology.

This edition asks whether plants need passports to prevent the spread of disease.

204C05The Miami Blue Butterfly20040930

Geoff Watts visits the University of Florida, where scientists have been channelling their efforts towards bringing the threatened Miami blue butterfly back to life.

204C06What Happens When North Becomes South?20041007

Every so often geologically speaking, the polarity of the earth's magnetic field reverses.

The timing of these reversals is unpredictable but recent dramatic dips in the earth's magnetism could signal the beginning of another switch - an even not seen on this planet for nearly a million years.

This and more news and views from the scientific world with Geoff Watts

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News and views from the scientific world with Geoff Watts.

Scientists at Florida University have shrunk the art of eavesdropping down to a miniature size.

204C08Junk Food Junkies20041021

Geoff Watts explores mounting evidence form the States that chronic overeating is a form of substance abuse, similar to drug addiction or alcholism.

This and other news and views from the world of science and technology.

204C0920041028

The British rail network is made up of twenty one thousand miles of track.

Any cracks and flaws appearing on the lines are picked up by probes attached to a handful of trains specially built for the job.

But the probes can only work at speeds of around twenty miles an hour, so when and where these special trains are deployed has to be limited to prevent disruptions to the network.

Now researchers have overcome this drawback of the system, with a novel device that can detect cracks in the line at high speeds.

Attached to normal passenger trains, they could survey the national network, providing more thorough around-the-clock information on the state of our railways.

This and other cutting edge stories from the world of science and technology, with Geoff Watts

204C10Cloning Kittens20041104

In the summer a company in California announced that it had successfully cloned two kittens, from a one year old Bengal cat.

The technique used, chromatin transfer, is said by the company to be more efficient than the nuclear transfer method that created Dolly The Sheep.

The cloned cats are now about to go to their new homes.

Is the technique safe and how popular might it become? Presented by Geoff Watts

205B0120050519

Geoff Watts travels to Ethiopia to bring us the first of several special reports on science from the African Continent.

He visits the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa to hear from the Ethiopian scientists who have made some of the most significant finds in the quest to understand our human origins.

205B0220050526

As well as catching up with the week's top science stories, Geoff Watts travels to South Africa to see the final stages of construction of the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.

SALT, the South African Large Telescope, is a flagship project intended to demonstrate that the frontiers of science are not entirely reserved for the developed world.

When up and running, this incredible structure will allow scientists to view distant stars and galaxies a billion times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye, and will answer important questions about the nature of the Universe.

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Geoff Watts reports on the latest discoveries in the world of science and technology.

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Geoff Watts reports on the latest discoveries in the world of science and technology.

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Geoff Watts reports on the latest discoveries from the world of science and technology.

205B0820050707

Geoff Watts reports on all the week's top science stories, including how painful blood tests could be a thing of the past.

Researchers in the USA have been using saliva instead of blood to detect certain medical conditions, including cancer, with surprising accuracy.

Future checkups at the Doctor's surgery could involve simply spitting in a cup, rather than the sore prick of a needle.

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206C0120060914

Geoff Watts turns his attention to the scientific benefits of slime mould.

He finds out about the genes we share with social amoebas and why this common ground is allowing scientists to develop slime mould as a new tool for understanding a range of medical problems.

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