The Material World

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Episodes

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20020516

Quentin Cooper looks at the virtual reality world created by computer games and speculates on the shape of things to come in a technology still in its relative infancy.

20020905

With Quentin Cooper at the British Association Festival of Science at the University of Leicester.

Guests discuss whether scientific advance has all been in our best interests.

20021003

Quentin Cooper talks to experts about how bacteria could be used to aid waste disposal.

20021010

Quentin Cooper reports from the Arabian Sea, where scientists hope that an examination of the seabed could improve our understanding of global cycles and climate change.

20021017

Quentin Cooper talks to John Pendry from Imperial College, whose theory that certain materials can refract light negatively could enable a perfect lens to be created.

20021107

Why are some of us early birds and others night owls? Quentin Cooper explores the influence of our genes on our sleep patterns.

20021114

Quentin Cooper reports on new research at King's College, London, where scientists have developed a new device for monitoring the condition of sewers.

20021205

Quentin Cooper investigates the possibility of holidaying in space in the future.

20021212

Quentin Cooper investigates how deserts are created and the implications of the process for present and future societies.

20021219

In the run-up to Christmas, Quentin Cooper investigates the latest - and some of the not so recent - science toys on the market.

20030102

Quentin Cooper presents a special edition of the programme in which listeners decide the topic of scientific enquiry.

20030123
20030130

Quentin Cooper investigates the latest research into Terahertz Radiation, an unexplored region of the electromagnetic spectrum which spans the gap between light and radio waves.

20030220

Simon Singh looks at the problem of space debris.

Pieces of derelict spacecraft, fragments of launch vehicles and even tiny flecks of paint can cause huge damage to orbiting craft.

20030320

To celebrate the first day of Spring on 21st March Quentin Cooper meets the researchers from the UK Phenology Network who survey the seasonal events of the year.

20030403

Quentin Cooper meets some palaeoanthropologists who are hoping to create a shared pool of data, offering a better understanding of man's early ancestors.

20030410

"How can tree rings help us learn more about volcanic eruptions hundreds of years ago? Dendrochronology is the dating of past events (climatic changes) through study of tree ring growth.

It is possible to cross match ring patterns between trees from different locations around the world, meaning that the trees are storing some common environmental signal.

Scientists have now realised that an environmental event, such as a volcanic eruption that puts dust and acid into the upper atmosphere, thereby cooling the earth's surface, is big enough to show up in tree rings globally.

In Material World, Quentin Cooper will be finding out how archaeology and climate comes together by linking tree ring data to catastrophic climate events in the past.

20030424

If seismology is the study of earthquakes on our planet, what is helioseismology? It is the study of 'sunquakes', the sound waves that propagate through the Sun's interior and appear at its visible surface.

In Material World, Quentin Cooper finds out more about sunquake science.

In the same way as terrestrial seismology, astronomers are now able to measure millions of sound waves that propagate throughout the Sun, causing it to vibrate or ring like a bell.

This technique is known as helioseismology.

By observing the properties of the waves that propagate throughout the Sun's interior and appear at its visible surface, scientists can measure the internal structure and sub-surface 'weather' of this otherwise inaccessible physical laboratory.

Worldwide networks of ground-based telescopes (one of which is based at the University of Birmingham) conduct a detailed study of solar internal structure and dynamics by obtaining nearly continuous observations of the Sun's five-minute pulsations.

Other observations are made with the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft.

20030508

Many animal species throughout the world are facing the threat of extinction as new diseases spread through their populations, diseases that have unwittingly been introduced by humans.

Numerous species have already lost the fight for survival.

In Hawaii some bird species are now extinct, and amphibian populations throughout the world are disappearing.

Scientists are now going on the counter attack in an effort to prevent other species succumbing to the same threat.

Quentin Cooper talks to researchers who are looking at disease threats and conservation.

20030612

20 years ago this year Europe, in collaboration with the United States, launched the first infrared observatory into space, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) which detected 500,000 infrared sources.

In 1800, German-born British astronomer William Herschel discovered infrared radiation, but it wasn't until 1856 that infrared astronomy was invented by the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Charles Piazzi Smythe, by detecting infrared radiation coming from the Moon.

The next breakthrough was in 1965, when astronomers Gerry Neugebauer and Robert Leighton made the first infrared survey of the cosmos.

They found ten objects that were only visible at infrared wavelengths, but four years later, the list had grown to thousands.

Infrared astronomy could provide an entirely new insight of a hidden universe, one that is invisible at optical wavelengths.

The desire to see more triggered the 1983 Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) launch, and in August this year NASA will continue the tradition by launching the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF).

SIRTF is a space-borne, cryogenically cooled infrared observatory capable of studying objects ranging from our Solar System to the distant reaches of the Universe.

However, as with IRAS before, the European Space Agency (ESA) is already preparing to build a successor, Herschel.

This new spacecraft will have the most sophisticated infrared telescope ever built, with a mirror 1.5 times larger than NASA-ESA's famous Hubble Space Telescope.

Herschel will reveal the birth of stars and whole galaxies in details that would astonish early space infrared pioneers.

Quentin Cooper speaks to the scientists working on these amazing telescopes.

20030710

10 million years after the dinosaurs were wiped out by a massive meteor impact, the Earth underwent another dramatic change.

It emitted a spectacular burp, releasing millions of tons of methane gas into the atmosphere.

The result was a global warming incident that has yet to be matched.

Quentin Cooper finds out what effects the belch had on our atmosphere and whether the incident could shed light on modern day climate change.

20030821

In October 1987 a storm of remarkable ferocity hit the British Isles.

Weather forecasters knew that the tempest would be fierce but failed to predict by how much.

New research now suggests the damage was caused by a previously unknown weather phenomenon called a sting jet.

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper uncovers the story of the Great Storm and finds out whether this new knowledge will allow us to predict similar events.

20030925

Mating with a hungry female can be deadly for male spiders.

Even with prevention tactics - immobilising the female in silk threads, presenting her with a beautifully wrapped fly, or even biting off one of their own reproductive organs - in certain cannibalistic species, the male is devoured after copulation.

Join Quentin Cooper as he weaves his way through the web of spider's sexual behaviour, and finds one that even dies on the job!.

20031113

Quentin Cooper finds out that by looking at how things break, scientists can develop new durable materials for the future.

20031120

It's all in the vibrations! Scientists are now discovering that sound waves can control the temperature and structure of individual molecules.

This week, Quentin Cooper investigates the surprising science behind sound healing and diagnosis.

From controlling brainwave activity to exploding cancer cells, there is far more to sound than meets the ear.

20031127

Around 12,000 years ago, people began herding animals and growing crops.

Soon, the Neolithic Revolution had spread across the world.

But how? Quentin Cooper investigates.

20031204

Do other animals have the capacity to feel emotions such as love, fear, anger, joy and jealousy? And if so, how do these sensations differ from our own? Quentin Cooper investigates.

20031211

Quentin Cooper joins brain experts and an audience at the Glasgow Science Centre for a series of interactive experiments and a discussion of how we use our minds.

2004010820040115

Listeners have the chance to put their science questions to Material World this week, as Quentin Cooper is joined by a panel of experts.

2004011520040122

The belief that life cannot exist without water has dictated all scientific thinking about the origin of life and the search for life on other planets.

But now a group of scientists are challenging this orthodox view.

They believe that life may have been born into a bath of water and has since been unable to escape.

It only took advantage of the liquid because it was there.

This new understanding could mean that life may flourish in even the most parched locations.

In this week's Material World Quentin Cooper investigates this intriguing possibility and discovers that life's intimate link with the wet stuff may not be as important as we once thought.

20040408

Quentin Cooper plays host to a special question and answer session at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Joined by an audience armed with their burning science questions and an expert panel of scientists he will find the answers to some of the more intriguing, puzzling and sometimes peculiar science questions.

20040415

Quentin cooper talks to scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens' Millennium Seedbank Project to look at the science behind plant and seed conservation.

The project was set up nearly five years ago to protect seeds from all over the world from extinction and has already secured the future of nearly all the UK's native flowering plants.

As well as drying and storing seeds from all over the world scientists are also using techniques of cypress to ensure that even the smallest fragment of a plant can be used to preserve its future.

20040422

Did Anglo-Saxon invaders replace England's native population following bloody battles, massacre and conflict? Not according to new research at the University of Durham.

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Paul Budd whose analysis of teeth from burials in a medieval cemetery in North Yorkshire, is pointing to a far more gentle view of history.

20040520

In the latest Hollywood blockbuster The Day after Tomorrow, rapid climate change has dramatic consequences for the entire planet.

Snow storms pounds New Delhi and tidal waves engulf Manhattan.

But could this really happen? In this week's Material world Quentin Cooper talks to climate experts and asks: how close is Hollywood's vision to reality?

20040603

White specks are appearing in the UK's national collection of priceless masterpieces.

Some art researchers have said they could be deliberate, used by the artist to create a special optical effect or to add a particular texture to a painting.

After years of study researchers at London's National Gallery think they have found out what they are and why they seem to be growing.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Dr Catherine Higgitt, Higher Scientific Officer at the National gallery in London to discuss the complexities of art conservation, how paint is preserved over centuries and to find out whether the nations' old masters could dissolve into spots before our very eyes.

20040610

Quentin Cooper reports from the Cheltenham Festival of Science.

The festival is in its third year, and this year the theme is perception.

How do we understand the world around us? Why are perception scientists often found in the Amazon rainforest? Exactly how are animal minds different from ours? And what really is happening in the brains of adolescents? These are just some of the questions Material World will be exploring.

Quentin Cooper is joined by neuroscientist Sarah Jayne Blakemore to discuss the adolescent brain.

Until recently scientists though the human brain stopped developing after early childhood - new research is showing that our brains develop well into our teens and even early twenties - particularly the area of the brain involved in social interaction and decision making.

Could this research explain why the passage to adulthood is such a turbulent time?

Quentin is also joined by Colin Blakemore and Keith Kendrick, to find out about human and animal perception and whether we can ever really understand animal minds.

20040722

What will the car of the future look like? And how will the way we use our cars change over the next twenty years? Quentin Cooper talks to Professor Chris Wright, head of transport management research at Middlesex University Business School, to discuss how the aesthetics of car design may mean cars of the future blend better with their urban environment and how deprivatising the car means we could all soon be members of a digital car sharing club.

20040805

Once safer to drink than water, beer has been brewed for hundreds of years.

It's also played a crucial role in informing science and inspiring great scientists.

James Watt paved the way for the Industrial revolution with his work on the steam engine and turned his technology to revolutionise the brewing industry.

Even the father of microbiology, Louis Pasteur, used beer to help him come up with his 'Germ theory of Disease'.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Professor Geoff Palmer OBE, from the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, to explore the modern science of brewing and how it has historically paved the way for great scientific discoveries.

20040819

Researchers are discovering new ways to repair skeletal damage and possibly slow down the aging process.

Quentin Cooper investigates.

20040826

Quentin Cooper finds out about the life and science of one of the greatest interpreters of science of the 19th century.

Mary Somerville was an active astronomer, one of the most demanding sciences of the day despite not having any formal university education.

How did she come to flourish?

Early 19th century Britain was dominated by Grand Amateurs who welcomed genius and originality and saw formal education of little consequence.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Dr Allan Chapman, historian of science at Oxford University who explore the life of this extraordinary, yet rarely heard of scientist and to find out why she has been described as being to science what Jane Austen was to literature.

20041007

For 40 years oceanographers in the United States have been exploring the deep oceans in Alvin - the first manned deep sea submersible vehicle.

Alvin allowed scientists to see black smokers spewing water at 380 degrees centigrade and discovered the giant tube worms, clams and mussels that live there.

After a long career Alvin is to retire and be replaced.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Dr.

Bob Detrick from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, home of Alvin and by Dr Bramley Murton from the Southampton Oceanographic Centre about the deep sea discoveries made in Alvin and to look to the future of Deep Submergence Vehicles.

20041014

Tiny magnetic particles that store huge amounts of data are essential to video, audio and computer technologies.

But now magnets on a nano scale could revolutionize medicine and drug delivery.

By attaching drugs to magnetic particles medicines can be guided to exactly where they are needed in the body.

How do you make these perfectly engineered nano scale magnets? Quentin Cooper talks to Professor Andrew Harrison from Edinburgh University who is farming bacteria to make these particles for us.

He also talks to Professor Jon Dobson from Keele University to find out why finding microscopic magnets on meteorites could be signs of life from Mars.

20041021

Radar surveys in the 1970s identified 100s if liquid water lakes beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.

Lake Ellsworth lies nearly 4 kilometers below the polar ice in complete darkness and under huge pressure.

The sub zero waters could contain life forms that have been isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years.

Quentin Cooper talks to Martin Seigert from the University of Bristol find out how to explore Lake Ellsworth, what life they might find and how it might help develop the tools needed to explore extra terrestrial life on Jupiter's icy moon, Europa.

20041111

A hundred years ago this week an invention was patented that signified the birth of modern electronics.

The invention was the thermionic valve or diode.

It was the first electron tube device and was used to detect high frequency radio signals and revolutionised the nature of communications, leading to the development of radio, television, telephones and early computers.

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Joe Cain from University College London about the inventor, John Ambrose Flemming, the controversies and his invention that changed the world of communications.

20041118

Archaeological and geological evidence has shown that ten thousand years ago the Severn estuary was a forested plain.

Quentin Cooper investigates.

20041125

How do our brains see what's going on in the outside world? Quentin Cooper talks to Cambridge University psychologist Greg Davies about how our vision system works.

20041202

The skylark is thought by many to be the emblem of the countryside, with its soaring song-flight and wide distribution.

But its existence is being threatened throughout Europe by more and more intensive farming practices.

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper talks to conservation biologist and skylark expert, Dr.

Paul Donald, about how scientists are designing schemes that hope to make farming and wildlife compatible in the future.

Will leaving bare patches in cereal crops lead to the recovery of one of Britain's best loved species of bird?

20041230

Quentin Cooper travels to the Spitzbergen archipelago to investigate the effects of ocean currents on our climate and what effect changing weather patterns could have on our lives.

20050106

In a special edition of Material World the audience becomes questioner as Quentin Cooper invites a panel of scientists to answer some of your burning science questions.

Why isn't food blue? Where does the Universe start? Why are planets round? These are just some of the things Quentin and guests will be trying to get to the bottom of.

20050113

If you're from Scotland or the Orkneys there could be traces of Viking ancestry in your DNA.

Or, if you're from Central England or East Anglia you might be a distant descendant of the Saxons or Angles.

Invasions which have changed our political and cultural landscape have also left their imprint on the genes of modern Britons.

Understanding this genetic variation could be a powerful new tool to understand the genes behind diseases like diabetes or heart disease.

Quentin Cooper finds out about a new £2.3 million project which will collect DNA from 3500 volunteers from across the UK and finds out how it will shed light on geographical variations in our genetic ancestry and the complexity of genes linked to common human diseases.

20050120

Quentin Cooper is joined by Pulitzer Prize winning scientist Jared Diamond to discuss the complex environmental and ecological reasons why some societies collapse while others flourish.

What happened to the people who made the statues of Easter Island or the architects of the pyramids of the Maya? Will our skyscrapers one day be abandoned and derelict like the temples of Angkor Wat?

Quentin finds out why understanding collapses of the past could help stave off the ecological threats to global society today.

20050203

For decades scientists have argued that the molten lava on an early Earth's surface dissolved gases from the atmosphere.

Currents in these magma oceans would take the dissolved gases deep into the Earth, where the molten rock would then freeze trapping the gases.

Quentin Cooper talks to geochemist, Dr Chris Ballentine from the University of Manchester who is looking at volcanic gases and finding evidence that could mean a radical rethink of how our planet was formed.

What does this tell us about the tectonic activity on a young Earth? And is the outer layer of the Earth we know now made up of debris from extraterrestrial impacts?

20050210

A hundred years ago the Nobel prize was awarded to two British scientists for the discovery of a group of elements which would transform our understanding of the fundamental behaviour of matter.

The inert gases are crucial for modern lighting, MRI scanners and studies of magnetism and superconductivity.

Quentin Cooper talks to Colin Russell from the Open University and by Andrea Sella from University College London to find out how a completely new family of elements were discovered and why the second most abundant element in the universe, helium could run out by the end of the century.

20050217

Inside a lab in Edinburgh University, chemist Dave Allen is attempting to place an almost invisible speck of dust inbetween two diamonds.

After tightening a couple of screws, the sample will be squeezed between the diamond surfaces until its internal bonds break, producing an entirely new form of matter.

Quentin Cooper finds out why these new high-pressure molecules could have wide-ranging applications - from improved engines fuels to more effective medicines.

Their latest project involves squashing proteins to find out why they always fold in particular ways.

When this internal origami goes wrong inside our body, the result can be conditions like CJD - the human form of mad cow disease.

This molecular research could provide a vital step towards finding a future cure.

20050224

75 years ago a far-flung planet shrouded in mystery was discovered by a fortunate accident.

Despite huge advances in astronomy and space travel, many aspects of Pluto still remain a mystery today.

Sue Nelson finds out what Pluto might be, and exactly how it was discovered when she talks to Dr Jacqueline Mitton of the Royal Astronomical Society and astrophysicist Dr.

Alan Fitzsimmons at Queen's University Belfast.

20050303

The brain is the most complex structure in the Universe.

Over the past decade advances in neuroscience, such as molecular genetics and imaging technology, mean that our deepest thoughts and behaviour can be analyzed.

Soon, a host of designer 'psychotropics' could be at our fingertips - drugs that make profound changes to our minds and personalities.

Could we be heading towards a future in which social problems are neglected in favour of fixing our brains?

This week, Sue Nelson talks to one of Britain's leading neuroscientists, Professor Steven Rose, about the ethical dilemmas surrounding the future of the human brain.

20050310

Charles Darwin argued that it helps us discharge surplus tension and mental excitation.

Freud claimed it helps us deal with lustful thoughts.

But what is the real reason we laugh?

Even animals, from rats to orang-utans, have been shown to enjoy a good chuckle.

We humans laugh up to 100 times a day, expelling air at up to 70mph.

Quentin Cooper finds out what happens to our body and mind when we laugh.

He talks to Dr Harry Witchel, physiologist from the University of Bristol, about the science behind the sniggers.

Why can some types of seizure lead to uncontrolled laughter? What advantages can the science of laughter bring to medicine in general?

20050317

A rubber band, like most materials, becomes much thinner when pulled.

But imagine a material that actually becomes fatter and wider when stretched and thinner when it's compressed.

This seemingly nonsensical behaviour belong to a group of materials which are auxetic.

Found in cows' udders, salamander skin and in some mineral ores, this bizarre property is giving scientists an insight into why skin wrinkles and how to improve artificial arteries.

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper meets the man who coined the term and finds out about the strange properties of auxetic materials.

20050324

As we adjust to the clocks going forwards this weekend, we may feel a jolt to our internal biological clock.

Circadian Rhythms allow humans, plants and animals to be in tune with the world around us.

But has the fast pace of human development left us out of synch? How do our bodies and minds cope with living in a 24/7 society, from working night shifts to flying into different time zones?

This week Quentin Cooper talks to experts in circadian rhythms, Professor Russell Foster and Leon Kreitzman, about the biological and social rhythms of our lives.

20050407

Quentin Cooper plays host to a special question and answer session at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

20050414

Since the tin can was invented in 1810, manufacturers have been battling to prolong the shelf life of food.

Our daily trips to the grocers have become weekly trawls to the supermarket, so those extra "best before" days are essential.

Quentin Cooper looks at the biochemical processes that make food go bad.

Why does bread go off quicker in the fridge than on the shelf? What happens to the internal structure of your cornflakes to turn them stale? Andy Taylor, Professor of Flavour Technology from Nottingham University, will be on hand with the answers and to talk about his research into new food preservation techniques.

20050421

In 1998, lightning killed an entire football team in Congo whilst leaving the home side completely unscathed.

Although lightning may seem like a rare event in the UK, every second 100 lightning strikes hit the Earth producing as much energy per year as 75,000 megaton bombs.

This week on Material World, Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Ian Cotton, who creates lightning in his laboratory at the National Grids High Voltage Research Centre at UMIST.

They test protection devices on equipment ranging from airplanes to electricity pylons.

On average, an airplane is hit by lightning once a year and their job is to make sure its conducted safely around the outside of the plane, rather than through the middle.

20050428

Fred Hoyle showed that stars manufacture all chemical elements and therefore we are all stardust.

But Hoyle's stormy relationship with the establishment left him, ultimately, on the margins of science.

As two biographies of Hoyle are published, Quentin Cooper reassesses the achievements of one of Britain's greatest 20th-century cosmologists and science communicators.

He asks whether his uncompromising nature helped stimulate a new and cosmic expansion in British astronomy.

20050512

As the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books is awarded, Quentin Cooper discusses the secrets of science communication with last year's winner, Bill Bryson, and Nature's Henry Gee.

20050519

In 1952, London air pollution killed 4000 people.

Fast-forward to the hot summer of 2003, where a different cocktail of pollutants caused asthma-inducing smog in UK cities.

Quentin Cooper talks to Professor Nigel Bell about the difference between a pea-souper and smog and what causes the new nasties in our atmosphere.

20050526

Beetles become fearless, rats become friendly, male woodlice become female.

Across the animal kingdom, a range of unusual and often downright suicidal behaviour is due to parasitic infections.

Quentin Cooper discovers why parasites need to control their hosts' actions.

Can we humans ever blame our behaviour on these critters? Material World finds out.

20050602

Spacious, precision engineered with air-con as standard.

Could the termite mound be the ultimate des res?

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Rupert Soar, principle investigator on project TERMES, which will take detailed scans of termite mounds.

By building up 3D models of their intricate network of tunnels and capillaries, he's beginning to understand how termites engineer perfect thermostatic control over their homes.

Quentin finds out why termite technology will help build the homes of the future and what lessons architects and engineers can learn from the insect master builder.

20050609

What is going on inside the brain when we see the bloody combat scenes in a film like Gladiator? And why do we react so strongly to events we know to be fiction?

At the Cheltenham Science Festival the acclaimed film producer, Sir David Puttnam, has been discussing the science behind our emotional responses to films with the evolutionary psychologist Dylan Evans.

They share their chilling insights with Quentin Cooper

20050616

Nothing remains the same.

Even science's universal constants seem to be changing and leading, ultimately, to the break up of everything.

That prospect may be many billions of years into the future, but Professor John Barrow has detected the first signs of changes to the Fine Structure Constant - the strength of the force holding atoms together.

Quentin Cooper asks what this means for our understanding of the universe and whether inconsistent constants are causing a confidence crisis in cosmology?

20050623

Cosmos 1, the world's first solar sail, was due to launch on Tuesday 21st June.

With it go the hopes of astronomy enthusiasts around the world, that these unlikely looking craft could revolutionize space travel.

They may look like windmills, but rather than being propelled by the wind, solar sails are pushed by particles of light or photons.

Once the technology is refined, solar sails could be the key to interstellar travel.

Quentin Cooper talks to Andy Lound from the Planetary Society about the future of solar sails.

20050707

To coincide with this week's G8 conference, Material World dedicates this programme to the state of African science.

What role can science play in eradicating poverty? Which areas should African countries focus on? Why don't we see more research from African Universities?

Quentin Cooper talks to Professor Calestous Juma, lead author of the UN report on African Science.

Can Africa innovate itself or should aid from G8 countries focus on funding scientific development?

20050714

Seventy-five per cent of scientists and engineers are men.

Not only are women a minority, they are lower paid and less likely to be promoted to the top jobs than their male counterparts.

A recent survey by the Athena Project found that female scientists felt less valued than male colleagues and were disadvantaged in terms of salary, promotion and career development.

What are the government, educators and employers doing to redress the balance for female scientists?

This week on Material World, Quentin Cooper is joined by Dr Katie Perry from the Daphne Jackson Trust, an organisation which helps female scientists, engineers and IT specialists return to work after career breaks.

20050721

A recent BBC poll voted Bagpuss the nation's favourite BBC children's television programme of all time.

But the nation's favourite pink-striped moggy is 30 and beginning to show his age.

On this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper talks to his creator, Peter Firmin, and textile conservation expert Dinah Eastop, about how science can stop Bagpuss from developing puppet arthritis.

Work at the Textile Conservation Centre has compared Bagpuss, the puppet from the 1970s children's television series Bagpuss, to other contemporary puppets (for example: Larry the Lamb and Tog).

They found that, compared to other puppets, Bagpuss was in good condition.

Material (fabric) science helps conservationists understand how best to care for our modern antiques and how to cope if his condition deteriorates in the future.

20050728

Chloroform was discovered by accident in 1831 when an eccentric amateur pharmacist, Dr Samuel Guthrie, mixed hen house disinfectant with whisky.

It quickly became used as a powerful, but sometimes deadly, anesthetic.

This week Quentin Cooper is joined by Linda Stratmann, author of Chloroform - The Quest for Oblivion.

The debate surrounding the chemical's safety divided the medical community for a hundred years, until in the 1950s tests proved that inhaling chloroform caused cardiac arrest.

Since then, chloroform has found a safe, effective use as a solvent for DNA profiling.

20050804

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks next week.

Sky watchers will be able to see up to 200 meteors an hour.

Meanwhile, a new radar based in Antarctica will be monitoring the 4000 meteors a day we can't see with the naked eye.

Professor Nick Mitchell, from the University of Bath, talks to Quentin Cooper about meteor-monitoring in the mesosphere.

This vast area at the top of our atmosphere is notoriously difficult to study, but incredibly sensitive to temperature change.

This 'miner's canary' could provide answers to many questions on climate change.

20050811

Lunar telescopes and interstellar warfare may sound like they belong in the plot of the latest sci-fi blockbuster, but they're also found inside the pages of a fictional travelogue, written in Ancient Greece in the 2nd century AD.

The author, Lucian of Samosata, wrote about telescopes on the moon that magnified sound, and lunar women who laid eggs.

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Karen Ni-Mheallaigh from Liverpool University about the surprising links between Ancient Greece and modern science fiction.

20050825

While England in 1660s was racked by civil war, plague and fire, a quieter revolution was taking place - the founding of the Royal Society.

A band of 12 natural philosophers started a fellowship which began the field of science, and changed the course of history.

Quentin Cooper talks to John Gribbin, author of The Fellowship: The Story of a Revolution, about the men who shaped the Royal Society - including Robert Hooke, Edmond Halley and Issac Newton - and how the society went on to shape the world of science.

20050901

Lurking at the bottom of every puddle and pond are tiny life forms called diatoms.

Looking more like spaceships than cells, the 20,000 species of diatom are now known to take more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than all the worlds rainforest.

On this week's show, Quentin Cooper talks to Professor David Mann from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh about a life spent hunting these creatures.

He'll explain how their unique glass-like cell walls can provide a window on climate conditions millions of years ago.

20050908

This programme comes from Trinity College Dublin which is hosting the British Association's Festival of Science.

Quentin Cooper is joined by a panel of experts who will be discussing and answering questions about the impact of climate change on our food.

Will increased levels of carbon dioxide result in bigger, faster-growing plants? Will climate change force farmers to grow different crops? What power do consumers have to influence climate change through the choices we make in the supermarket?

20050915

Whether it's a rude awakening by the dawn chorus, or the accompaniment to a gentle stroll through the countryside, nature's music, birdsong, is all around us.

But why do they sing? Is it really a form of music, or is it closer to language?

Quentin Cooper is joined by Professor Peter Slater from the University of St Andrews.

He'll be letting us into the secrets of the avian chorus, from virtuoso performances in Central America, to the pulling tactics of the British sedge warbler.

20050922

Ten percent of the population claim to have had an Out of Body Experience.

Is this just a manifestation of hope for the afterlife or is it something to do with the way we see ourselves?

Quentin Cooper talks to scientists at the University of Manchester who hope that a survey of our perceptions will shed some light on this bizarre phenomenon.

20050929

Images can be crucial in opening our eyes to a new area in science.

"Beauty is truth", said Keats, however, when it comes to the scientific image, it may be more a case of beauty or truth.

Should an image be accurate or is it more important to grab the viewer's attention? The awe-inspiring colour photographs of space, taken by the Hubble Space telescope were black and white until a little computer magic was added.

Quentin Cooper talks to the people behind Britain's Visions of Science Awards about the pros and cons of creating and editing a scientific image.

To the judges of the awards - a mix of scientists, photographers and picture editors - a Vision of Science is an engaging image that gives new insight into the world of science and the workings of nature.

It may show something never seen before, it may explain a scientific phenomenon, it may illustrate scientific data or it may simply be an image that shows the beauty of science.

20051006

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Nigel Marlow about the psychology of shopping.

Is the act of buying more important to us than what we have bought? What triggers the urge to consume?

20051013

In your body lives a terrifying predator.

This microscopic hunter can swim at the human equivalent of 400 miles per hour.

It invades an unfortunate host cell and eats it from the inside out, before multiplying and bursting out.

Luckily, we are safe - Bdellovibrio only attacks other bacteria.

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Liz Sockett, from Nottingham University.

Her team have been studying this curious bacterium to work out how it stalks its prey.

As well as providing a possible treatment for the next generation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, Bdellovibrio may well explain how human cells evolved.

Material World investigates.

20051020

Material World goes domestic this week - examining the blades in our kitchens and bathrooms.

As the search continues for an unbluntable knife, industry looks to new materials such as ceramics and even diamonds.

Quentin Cooper talks to knife expert Roger Hamby about cutting-edge blade research and whether your razor really is the best a man can get.

20051027

In this age of concrete and glass buildings, man's oldest construction material is having something of a revival thanks to modern science.

Quentin Cooper talks to wood scientist Jim Coulson about the merging of timber and technology.

For example, there is controlled 'baking', which modifies the cell constituents of wood, creating a natural 'plastic' that resists decay, so your wooden garden furniture should now last forever.

20051103

Being abducted by Aliens may be perfectly normal - well, sort of.

Enthusiasm for extra-terrestrial life has perplexed and intrigued humans since the civilisations of ancient Egypt and Babylon.

But why are we so fascinated by aliens? What can life on Earth tell us about how life on other planets might evolve? Is there intelligent life out there? If so, will we ever make contact?

Why do many people believe that we have been visited by aliens? Do our ideas about aliens stem from science fiction or the folklore of fairies and monsters? Are they a psychological projection of human hopes and fears, or is our interest in a world outside our own an inbuilt phenomenon?

Quentin Cooper talks to Chris French, Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College, London.

His research suggests alien abduction experiences are similar to other paranormal phenomena such as ghosts and their physical grounding may be in sleep paralysis.

20051110

As Radio 4 begins a short season entitled Radio and the Artist, Material World takes the opportunity to look at creativity, in both art and science.

Neuroscientists and scientific philosophers discuss the nature of creativity, how it can be defined or measured and to what extent scientific and artistic creativity overlap.

20051117

Quentin Cooper speaks to leading researchers about appropriate clothing for wearing up mountains in the 1920s, following the recent discovery of George Mallory's body on Everest.

Many thought Mallory and fellow climber Andrew Irvine were ill equipped.

But new analysis of the clothes suggests they were designed and tailored to be very effective against the cold - perhaps even better than modern synthetic fibres.

20051124

How a swarm of locusts may help prevent car crashes.

Locusts are very good at avoiding collisions - they don't crash into other locusts in a swarm and hop out of the way of predators.

This behaviour is now being put to practical use in car collision early warning systems.

The systems allow a radically different approach to collision mitigation - even one extra second of warning before a crash could enable a car to automatically slow down and so limit damage.

20051208

When you're food shopping, how do you decide what to buy? Is cost your main concern, even if cheaper foodstuffs might be less nutritious and carry a greater risk of contamination? Or are you prepared to pay extra for organically-produced food, in the belief that ethically-farmed produce is likely to be purer and more nutritious?

Quentin Cooper invites an audience at Glasgow Science Centre to discuss their concerns about food safety, with three experts on hand to comment on the issues they raise.

Dr Christine Edwards is Head of Human Nutrition at Yorkhill Hospital.

Professor Willie Donachie is a veterinarian and Deputy Director of the Moredun Research Institute which specialises in the treatment of animal diseases.

Professor Howard Davies runs the Quality, Health and Nutrition Programme at the Scottish Crop Research Institute.

Where do we draw the line between cost and food safety? Do we have enough information about our food, so we can make informed decisions about what we eat?

20051214

Quentin Cooper and a panel of experts at the Centre for Life in Newcastle tackle the issues relating to the implementation of stem cell research and gene therapy.

Issues such as ethics, decision-making, knowledge and risk.

Probably more than any other part of science, genetic manipulation and stem cell research, especially when applied to humans, comes under massive ethical scrutiny.

The potential for human stem cells to specialise and form different types of tissue raises the possibility of major advances in healthcare.

Potential applications include transplant therapies for treating many diseases and conditions, changes in methods of drug testing and improved understanding of normal human development.

Much current research is controversial because it involves deriving stem cells from human embryos.

Quentin is joined by John Burn, Professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University; Colin McGuckin, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at Newcastle University; Dr.

Tom Wakeford, Senior Research Associate PEALS (Policy and Ethics in the Life Sciences) and Linda Conlon, Director of Life Science Centre who will be taking questions from an audience.

20051215

Quentin Cooper and a panel of experts at the Centre for Life in Newcastle tackle the issues relating to the implementation of stem cell research and gene therapy.

Issues such as ethics, decision-making, knowledge and risk.

Probably more than any other part of science, genetic manipulation and stem cell research, especially when applied to humans, comes under massive ethical scrutiny.

The potential for human stem cells to specialise and form different types of tissue raises the possibility of major advances in healthcare.

Potential applications include transplant therapies for treating many diseases and conditions, changes in methods of drug testing and improved understanding of normal human development.

Much current research is controversial because it involves deriving stem cells from human embryos.

Quentin is joined by John Burn, Professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University; Colin McGuckin, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at Newcastle University; Dr.

Tom Wakeford, Senior Research Associate PEALS (Policy and Ethics in the Life Sciences) and Linda Conlon, Director of Life Science Centre who will be taking questions from an audience.

20051222

Quentin Cooper is in Camden discussing the value and politics of water.

He's joined by an expert panel, who will be taking questions from a live audience on a range of watery topics.

20051229

4/6.

Quentin Cooper chairs a series of science debates.

From the National Botanic Garden of Wales, the subject for discussion is medicinal plants.

Wales has a long history of using medicinal plants.

In medieval times, the Physicians of Myddfai became skilled in their use, and in the early 15th century, they wrote down many of their remedies in the Red Book of Hergest.

Quentin Cooper debates these and other issues.

He's joined by Professor Terry Turner, recently retired from the Welsh School of Pharmacy in Cardiff, Professor Robert Nash, a plant chemist, and Dr Bob Wallis from the Welsh Development Agency.

20060105

In the final of six science debates made in conjunction with the Open University Quentin Cooper is joined by space scientists Benny Peiser, Simon Kelley and John Zarneki in Milton Keynes to cover the issue of Near-Earth Objects - the comets and asteroids that come alarmingly close to our planet.

What are the chances of a direct hit? And what are we doing to detect and prevent a collision?

20060119

Snowflakes are an example of a crystal formed by nature.

Less well-known but still as beautiful are zeolites, nature's molecular sieves.

And zeolites aren't just pretty, they're pretty useful too.

They help refine 99 per cent of the world's petrol, and, they make up around a third of the volume in the average packet of washing powder.

New research shows that they could also make broken glasses a rarer spectacle as zeolites can be used to make a new, tougher glass.

Quentin Cooper talks to Dervishe Salih, from the Davy Faraday Research Lab about this curious class of molecular cages and how we can grow and use them.

20060216

Quentin Cooper talks to Andreas Ua'Siaghail and Dominic Savage about the growth of games-based learning, especially Pax Warrior - a computer game that places teenagers in the role of a UN commander in Rwanda.

20060223

This month, as part of the Shrewsbury Darwin Festival, sees the world premiere Darwin's Dream, a 'sci-art' opera based on the life of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.

In Material World, Quentin Cooper talks to Stephen Webster, the zoologist and lecturer in Science Communication at Imperial College, who has written the libretto for the opera.

Darwin's Dream is the latest in a long line of theatrical interpretations of the scientific world.

The opera promises to cover ground from The Big Bang to the present day, and draws on images from both the natural world and Darwin's own world.

20060302

Sir Isaac Newton is perhaps best known for his theory of universal gravitation and discovery of calculus.

But Newton also had a much less publicised obsession - with the dark arts of alchemy.

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Robert Iliffe about the fascinating and mysterious world of alchemy, and about the Newton project - an ambitious plan to compile all of Newton's scientific and not-so-scientific manuscripts.

20060330

Familiar in the workplace and even the home, ink-jet printers can now be snapped up at bargain prices on the high street.

Tiny droplets of ink are ejected in a precise and controlled manner in order to create high quality texts and images.

They can even be used to create patterns on textiles to make them look like wood or stone.

Now ink-jet technology is developing fast and it's not just ink that is being deposited.

Enzymes can be ink-jet printed to make sensors for pregnancy or diabetes tests, and it might even be possible to ink-jet chemicals to make active medication.

Quentin Cooper is joined by scientists to discuss this seemingly familiar technology and the new exciting applications that are being developed.

20060406

Quentin Cooper is joined by Philip Ball to discuss the myth, life and legacy of Philip Theophrastus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, or Paracelsus, the 16th century medic on the border between the medieval and modern.

He was both army surgeon and alchemist, and was rumoured to have made a Faustian bargain with the devil to regain his youth.

It was said that he travelled with a magical white horse and stored the elixir of life in the pommel of his sword.

But who was Paracelsus and what did he really believe and practice? Quentin unravels the story of a man who wrote influential books on medicine, surgery, alchemy and theology, while living a drunken, combative, vagabond life.

20060413

The Edinburgh International Science Festival is the largest of its kind in the UK.

Quentin Cooper reports from the festival and asks, as more science festivals open around the country, what makes a good one? Do science festivals preach to the already converted, or are they doing for science what Hay on Wye does for literature?

20060427

In 1986, a small fishing vessel arrived off the Juan de Fuca ridge in the Northern Pacific to discover a deep sea hydrothermal system unlike anything ever seen before.

The phenomena was a mega plume, an enormous buoyant balloon of hot water floating in the deep sea.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Marine Geologist Dr Bramley Murton, leader of the Carlsberg Ridge Cruise, and Marine Ecologist Dr Jon Copley to discuss the cause of this hydrothermal phenomena, and the influence they may have on our oceans and their flora and fauna.

20060525

Imagine if you could harness the power of the 34,000 commuters who pass through London's Victoria station in peak rush hour.

These people could be generating 102Kwh of power - that's enough energy to provide the power for 25 households for that day.

Wherever there's a vibration, be it from commuters footsteps, a wobbly bridge or walking from your desk to the photocopier, you can use a free energy harvesting device to provide light, charge your mobile phone or even power the national grid.

To discuss how to convert this untapped energy source Quentin Cooper is joined by Claire Price, director of a London architecture practice, which has spent the last six months aiming to bring the technology out of the lab and onto the streets.

20060608

It's a game of two halves - and of surface geometry and dynamic traction.

The outcome of a football match can hinge on the precise design of a boot, or the aerodynamics of the ball.

With the World Cup just 24 hours away, Quentin Cooper kicks off an investigation into the science behind the 'beautiful game'.

20060615

The Formula One cars that roared round Silverstone in the British Grand Prix are triumphs of engineering.

Aerodynamic design, precision electronics, finely tuned engines and high performance tyres allow speeds which can exceed 300km per hour.

For the sport's many fans, a grand prix is a thrilling spectacle.

Critics see it as a waste of resources.

It is certainly a far cry from the very first grand prix 100 years ago.

Quentin Cooper takes a pit stop to investigate the technology of modern motor racing and whether the sport can develop a greener image.

20060622

The decline in strength of the earth's magnetic field was thought to be a fixed trend but researchers at the University of Leeds now believe it may, in fact, be a recent phenomenon.The earth's magnetic field has decayed approximately five per cent each century since the first accurate measurements began in 1840.

If this trend continues then the magnetic field would either reverse or disappear sometime this millennium.

It wouldn't be the first time.

The magnetic field has reversed in the past each time millions of years apart.

To gain a greater understanding of the decline in the strength of the magnetic field, researchers have gone even further back in time, studying a period between 1590 till 1840.It was Albert Einstein who showed, through special relativity, that electric and magnetic fields are, as it were, two sides of the same coin.

And if the earth's magnetic field were reversed, it would have a huge impact on the life of the planet.To understand magnetic fields one needs data from all over the world.Researchers join Quentin Cooper on Material World to discuss how they used old sailing ships logbooks in their analysis of the changing strength of the earths magnetic field.

20060629

Botanists have embarked on an ambitious project to barcode every plant species of the world, through DNA signatures.

Leading researchers join Quentin Cooper to discuss the project's progress.

20060713

The hot topic in science research now is synthetic biology.

Scientists are finding huge potential for new innovation in the field, such as the E.coli camera and the liver on a microchip.

20060803

Quentin Cooper visits the Open University's Science Summer School at Heriot-Watt University, and talks to the students who meet each other for the first time.

20060810

Experimentation is a fundamental part of scientific practice and education.

For the students at the Open University, however, the summer school is their first experience of conducting scientific experiments in a lab.

In this second part of our tour of the OU's summer schools, Quentin Cooper visits the University of Sussex to talk about the importance of practical work in learning science.

Is there a right way of practicing science? Is there a limit to experimentation for the sake of scientific progress?

20060817

Quentin Cooper is joined by a panel of chemistry researchers and Open University summer school students, at the University of York, to discuss why chemistry has lost its appeal.

20060824

This August, mathematicians from all over the world will converge in the city of Madrid to find out who has won the Fields Medal (The Nobel Prize of mathematics).

This prestigious prize is being presented by the International Mathematicians Union to four mathematicians, under the age of forty, who have made outstanding contributions to their field.

Previous prize winning topics include Kac-Moody algebras, Banach space theory, combinatorics, algebraic geometry and topology.

20060831

Quentin Cooper meets the researchers looking to the stratosphere to meet the ever-increasing demand for super fast internet access.

They are testing airships that fly 12 miles above the Earth and beam back wireless broadband 200 times faster than a wired connection.

These High Altitude Platforms could provide us with floating communications hubs in the future as well as offering disaster management or environmental monitoring to developing countries.

Quentin is joined by project scientist David Grace and balloonist and aeronautical engineer Per Lindstrand.

20060907

The British Association's annual Festival of Science is a chance for scientists to share their results and their excitement with the public.

But some subjects have traditionally been off limits.

Telepathy, intuition and life after death, for example.

But not any more.

Before an audience at this year's Festival in Norwich, Quentin Cooper confronts a panel of scientific heretics and sceptics.

20060914

Mobile phone use is banned on planes on safety grounds, but surveillance equipment shows that many frequent fliers ignore the rule.

So are mobile phones a genuine threat to air safety or just to airlines' income from their own in-flight phones?

Quentin Cooper hears how phone signals really can interfere with the navigation equipment and throw a plane hundreds of miles off course, and how new technologies may make them safe.

20060921

We've got used to the idea that the universe began with a Big Bang, but nobody mentioned what caused it.

Quentin Cooper takes a trip into the multi-dimensional world of cosmology.

He meets Neil Turok, the Cambridge cosmologist who suggests that the Big Bang occurred when our three-dimensional universe collided with a partner universe in a higher-dimensional space.

20060928

Quentin Cooper looks at the aims behind a new European Space Agency mission, to nudge astronomical objects into new orbits.

20061005

A small fleet of spacecraft is heading off to probe the most energetic explosions in the solar system.

The Japanese Solar-B craft and Nasa's two Stereo satellites will look at the Sun to study in detail how solar flares and mass-ejections send clouds of hot gas racing towards the Earth with the energy of millions of hydrogen bombs.

Quentin Cooper hears the latest news from our violent star.

20061012

Quentin Cooper meets scientists who, with a little genetic modification, believe they will be able to turn a single large poplar tree into around 100 gallons of carbon-neutral transport fuel.

20061019

Fifty years ago this week the Queen pulled a lever and announced that Britain was on 'the threshold of a new age'.

Half a century later, the world's first commercial nuclear power station, which she opened at Calder Hall in Cumbria, is uneconomic and has fallen silent.

But, with oil prices and global warming on the rise, nuclear power is back on the agenda.

Sue Nelson asks what nuclear power plants will be like in the next half century.

20061026

Quentin Cooper investigates a lightweight robot arm as supple as a snake, yet of such precision that it can perform surgery inside a human intestine.

20061102

In the past, most domestic refrigerators used environmentally damaging chemicals such as CFCs.

Although there are now replacement chemicals, the search is still on for better ways to store food.

Quentin Cooper hears about some of the latest ideas such as an electronic thin film fridge with no moving parts and a fridge that works by being very noisy.

20061109

Touted as the 'holy grail' of biomaterials, spider silk is unrivalled by any known man-made fibre.

Finer than human hair yet tougher than a bullet-proof vest, spider silk has a desirable combination of mechanical properties.

On the verge of harnessing technology for its mass production and with recent advances in our understanding of its structure, Quentin Cooper unravels the key to spider silk.

20061116

Quentin Cooper meets scientists from the Southampton Oceanographic Centre, who are monitoring the sea bed to assess the effects of the offshore oil industry on marine ecosystems.

20061123

Quentin Cooper talks to the scientists who have developed a revolutionary breath analysis machine.

Trace gases, or metabolites, in the breath can reveal if a patient is suffering from certain diseases.

The equipment is 10,000 times more sensitive than a standard breathalyser used for alcohol testing and could mean faster and more accurate diagnoses in the surgery.

20061130

Geologist Chris Tunney explains how written records, tree rings and DNA sequencing can help archaeologists, paleontologists and geologists to date new discoveries.

20061207

Quentin Cooper explores scientific developments in Ireland and asks whether being part of the European Union has helped the technology industry.

20061214

We all enjoy a good read or going to see a play, but do we know what literature actually does to us? Take Shakespeare for example, the very structure of his work gives us a sense of the dramatic.

Quentin Cooper finds out why, and how this happens in the brain.

By scanning your brain while you're scanning verse, scientists think they might know why Shakespeare is still so popular today.

20061221

Twinkle twinkle little star Quentin Cooper wonders where you are.

Festive lights may add to the spirit of the season, but they are a major source of light pollution and contribute to orange smog that hangs over towns and cities.

Sky glow destroys views of the night sky and now the sight of the galaxy overhead is denied to over 90% of the UK population.

Quentin talks to astronomers who are campaigning for darker skies at night.

20061228

Quentin Cooper heads off to the ski slopes of North Yorkshire to find out how science and engineering play an important role in the sport of skiing.

He visits Xscape at Castleford in Leeds, the UK's largest indoor 'real snow' slope.

Quentin talks to the 'snowman', who makes and grooms the snow every night, and to experts in ski technology and ski jump design, as well as having a go himself.

20070104

Quentin Cooper takes a stroll through the streets of Edinburgh searching for clues to the city's rich scientific past.

He explores the achievements of James Hutton, known as the father of modern geology; Alexander Bain, inventor of the electric clock and fax machine; Elsie Inglis, a pioneer of field hospitals in the First World War; and James Maxwell Clerk, theoretical physicist with one of the finest mathematical minds of his time.

20070111

In a special edition, the audience becomes questioner as Quentin Cooper invites a panel of scientists to answer some of your burning science questions.

Why do the Moon and Sun appear exactly the same size from Earth? Why are all snowflakes different? And is the Coreollus effect a myth? Just some of the things Quentin and guests will be trying to get to the bottom of.

20070118

A year ago this week, the press and public were enthralled by a visitor to our shores; it was a northern bottle-nosed whale, stranded in the Thames, where it eventually died.

Quentin Cooper talks to whale experts and finds out why they get stranded.

Is it acoustic interference from boats and ships, pollution or are they just confused?

20070125

Does man's quest to explore space relate to environmental problems closer to home? Quentin Cooper talks to astro-biologist Charles Cockell, who believes that the technologies and skills needed to find other worlds to inhabit will one day help to protect planet Earth from environmental disaster.

20070201

In January 2006, NASA's stardust mission to collect samples of dust from a comet 400 million kilometres away returned to Earth.

Over the last year scientists from all over the world have been analysing the precious cargo of tiny grains, smaller than the width of a human hair.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Monica Grady from the Open University and Phil Bland from Imperial College London to discuss the results and their relevance to our understanding of the formation of the Solar System and the chemicals necessary for the origination of life.

20070208

On the sea bed at Scapa Flow near the Orkney Islands lies the massive hulk of the Royal Oak, a warship sunk in a U-boat attack in 1939 with the loss of 833 lives.

New techniques in 3D underwater imaging have produced the first incredibly detailed images of this offshore war grave.

Sue Nelson talks to Chris Rowland, Researcher in 3D Visualisation from the University of Dundee, and to Martin Dean, Maritime Archaeologist at St Andrews University.

Using the latest sonar technology they have scanned the wreck and built an intricate picture of the wreck and how it's decaying.

The Royal Oak is still leaking fuel oil after 67 years on the seabed.

Sue finds out how these detailed images might help prevent future environmental disasters and why their technique could be used on the wreck of the Titanic.

20070215

Is it possible to re-reate the exact sounds of a building without having to actually be there? Or even a building that no longer exists? Quentin Cooper talks to Damian Murphy from York University who is using the latest acoustic mapping techniques to re-create the exact sound of ancient and new buildings.

He explains why it's possible to hear the voices of a choir in old Coventry Cathedral as well as how opera singers can train for singing in the Sydney Opera House from the comfort of home.

Quentin also talks to psychoacoustics expert Peter Rutherford about how we hear and the interplay between music and the environment.

20070222

Ever heard a joke that you don't understand but you laugh anyway just because everyone else is? Why is laughter so contagious?

Quentin Cooper talks to neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott, from University College London, about her research on the brain cells that determine why when we hear laughter, we feel compelled to join in.

Robin Dunbar, from the University of Liverpool, explains why laughter is essential for social bonding and why if you want to collect money for a charity, do it at a comedy club.

20070301

This year thousands of scientists from around the world will begin the most intensive period of research on the Polar Regions in half a century.

International Polar Year is one of the most ambitious international scientific programmes ever attempted, with 50,000 scientists and 60 nations involved.

Quentin Cooper will be discussing the science and why the project actually lasts two years.

20070315

Quentin Cooper looks into the life and work of the relatively unknown but extraordinarily prolific mathematician Leonhard Euler, who was born 300 years ago this year.

20070322

A number of long-term studies are currently in progress in the UK, aimed at looking at the health of the nation over time.

Quentin Cooper finds out how long these have to run to get meaningful results, how participants are recruited and how rigorous the science is.

20070329

Quentin Cooper talks to John Forth and Salah Zoorob, civil engineers who want to build houses with bricks made from recycled rubbish.

They have invented the Bitublock, made from household and industrial waste.

20070405

Quentin Cooper talks to palaeoanthropologists Clive Gamble and Mike Petraglia about climate change and its contribution to the origin of our species.

Some experts believe that the onset of an ice age two million years ago precipitated a series of climate crises that shaped human evolution.

20070412

Quentin Cooper talks to scientists from the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh about SCUBA-2, a new instrument designed to scan the heavens for evidence of how galaxies, solar systems and planets form.

20070419
20070426

The planet Venus is swaddled in clouds of sulphuric acid and heated to temperatures of nearly 500C.

Quentin Cooper examines the findings of the European space probe Venus Express, which has been orbiting the planet for a year to investigate just what makes it so inhospitable.

20070503

Quentin Cooper is joined by Oliver Morton of the journal Nature to discuss what happened to the great polymaths of yesteryear.

He asks whether there should be more encouragement today for scientists to dabble outside their own fields of expertise.

20070510

Quentin Cooper investigates Cafe Scientifique, an informal discussion forum where the latest ideas in science and technology can be explored outside a traditional academic environment.

The venture is growing rapidly, with new venues emerging all over the world and even being adopted by schools.

Is this a fashionable by-product of a comfortable age or an indicator of the changing relationship between science and society?

20070517
20070524

Quentin Cooper explores the 100-year history of plastics, from Bakelite to plant-based polymers, and asks what the future may bring.

Now ubiquitous in medicine and hygiene, plastics hold the key to lightweight green cars.

20070531

Quentin Cooper visits the Hay Festival.

Professor Steve Jones shows him the countryside where the young Alfred Russel Wallace trained as a surveyor before travelling to the Malay archipelago and developing a theory of evolution ahead of Charles Darwin.

Quentin also meets cosmologists to find out if we merely live in a universe or a multiverse of possible worlds.

20070607

Quentin Cooper talks to the inventors of new materials which can map potential areas of decay in children's teeth.

Used in conjunction with the right chemicals, these bio-materials can prevent caries developing.

20070614

Quentin Cooper takes a walk on the wild side in our cities, exploring the ecology of urban landscapes.

20070621

Sue Nelson talks to Ken Arnold, director of the new Wellcome Collection in London, boasting 1,300 medical exhibits from Aztec sacrificial knives to Dolly the sheep's fleece.

Sue also meets surgeon Francis Wells, who is scheduled to do a live video feed of an open-heart operation later this summer.

20070628

Quentin Cooper explores the links between science and drama.

Which aspects of science make the best plays? From Dr Faustus to Dr Dolittle, Frankenstein to Einstein, is there anything science can bring to drama, and does it have to be accurate?

20070705

A collaboration between Brazilian and Scottish researchers has dispelled a number of myths about the Amazonian piranha.

The fishes' voracious behaviour can be largely explained by their fear of being eaten themselves, rather than their supposed insatiable appetite for meat.

And for most of the year they actually eat vegetables.

20070712

Snail trails could lead scientists to the answer of where our ancestors came from.

Quentin Cooper finds out how the animals our ancestors took with them on their journeys, however unwittingly, are helping researchers trace ancient migrations.

20070719

To most of us the sooty grime on ancient buildings is an unsightly mess, but to some scientists they hold a detailed record of the smoke and pollutants our ancestors put into the air.

Quentin Cooper peers into the smog of London's past.

20070726

Quentin Cooper explores the phenomenon of a bicycle's stability and meets the experts who claim to understand it.

20070802

Next week sees the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Telford, builder of bridges, roads and canals.

Quentin Cooper looks back at his influence over the industrial revolution and at his endiring legacy in civil engineering today.

20070809

Quentin Cooper visits residential schools, each looking at a different area of science.

1/4.

In Bath, he meets students on the Technology in Action course.

One of their tasks is to design a rescue robot that can work in a hazardous environment.

The students have to construct and programme their own robot, so it can function autonomously.

20070816

Quentin Cooper joins a group of Open University geology students on a field trip to Staithes in North Yorkshire.

The students are looking for fossils in the cliffs and studying the landscape for clues about the Earth's evolution.

Quentin also talks to geologists Glynda Easterbrook and Richard Davies.

Modern geology relies on sophisticated imaging equipment to provide accurate data about rock strata, but the students quickly realise that there is no substitute for careful observation.

20070823

Quentin Cooper joins students on an Open University residential course studying the environment in the Yorkshire Dales.

The students are learning how to observe, sample and measure different types of vegetation.

But plants also provide vital clues about air quality and pollution.

Biologist Hilary Denny and earth scientist Mark Brandon help to interpret the evidence.

20070830

Quentin Cooper joins an Open University psychology course in Durham.

The students have to devise a scientific investigation into memory or communication, using either qualitative or quantitative methods.

But conducting such an investigation in a systematic and meaningful manner is not easy.

Psychologists Ilona Roth and Alex Easton discuss the problems.

20070906

Quentin Cooper sifts through our dustbins to see just how much we could recycle if we really wanted to.

20070913

Quentin Cooper visits the annual Science Festival in York.

20070920

Quentin Cooper investigates the arithmetic of road pricing and broadband charges.

20070927

Quentin Cooper is joined by zoologists Adrian Barnett and Bruna Bezerra, who have spent the past year in the Igapo forest, deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle, to study the extraordinarily shy uacari monkeys.

20071004

Quentin Cooper talks to psychologists, electronic engineers, internet experts and neuroscientists who are collaborating in an attempt to understand the exact nature of memory.

20071011

Quentin Cooper talks to Mike Majerus, professor of evolution at Cambridge University, about the Peppered Moth and its significance in the debate about Darwin's evolutionary theory.

20071018

The number of left-handed people has reached record levels.

Quentin Cooper talks to psychologist Professor Chris McManus to find out why.

20071025

Quentin Cooper reports from Manchester's first science festival, and finds out more about the science of addiction.

How much is in our genes?

20071101

Quentin Cooper explores the remarkable relationships between flower producers and insect consumers in the competitive world of pollination.

He talks to plant scientist Heather Whitney and bee behaviour expert Lars Chitka about the intricacies of plant structures to accommodate and attract bees, and the incredible skills of insects who use trial, error and memory to seek out the greatest food rewards.

20071108

Quentin Cooper talks to Andy McIntosh, professor of thermodynamics and combustion at the University of Leeds, about his research into the Bombardier beetle.

This amazing insect, which sprays its predators with a toxic blast of steam, has inspired new technology to develop powerful new fuel injection systems, fire extinguishers, needle-free injections and even new types of nebuliser.

20071115

In November 2006 research from an international team of ocean scientists, published in the journal Science, predicted that by 2050 the world would lose the vast majority of fish species.

One year on, this programme looks at how this argument has been assessed by the scientific community, what can be done to prevent extinctions, and indeed whether intervention is feasible in a world where large parts of the human population rely on marine food for survival.

20071129

Autonomous computer programs which make their own decisions and outperform humans could soon be performing a number of functions from negotiating crucial deals on the Stock Exchange to co-ordinating rapid responses to major disasters.

Quentin Cooper talks to Prof Nick Jennings about how they work and asks whether we should be happy to place our money and safety in the hands of a computer.

20071206

Quentin Cooper talks to Jan Evans-Freeman and Rachel Oliver, who are leading Light Emitting Diode technology towards a brighter future.

New generation LEDs will purify water, produce lights that mimic the colour of sunshine and use quantum mechanics to keep private data immune from hackers.

20071213

Quentin Cooper reports on the restoration of the Cutty Sark six months after fire ripped through the world's last surviving tea clipper.

The heat of the blaze burned the original timbers and buckled the iron frame, but technical manager Ian Bell believes that she can still be saved.

20071220

Quentin Cooper is joined by phoneticians Francis Nolan and Peter French, who discuss how computers can pick out strange vocal traits and the inadequacies of human voice recognition for the purpose of giving evidence in court.

20071227

In a special edition of the programme, Quentin Cooper invites a panel of experts to answer science questions from listeners.

20080103

Our planet provides food, water and energy for its 6.6 billion human inhabitants.

Science helps us maximise the Earth's resources, but these are coming under unprecedented strain.

Quentin Cooper is joined by a panel to discuss the role of science in our world.

20080110

Quentin Cooper is joined by Melissa Terras from University College, London, to find out how a new imaging technique is shedding light on everyday life in Roman Britain.

The Vindolanda texts, unearthed in the 1970s at a fort on Hadrian's Wall, describe everyday life in the Roman army.

But 2,000 years of warping and staining in peat bogs means much of their content has hitherto been rendered illegible.

20080117

Agriculture worldwide is under pressure from plant fungi and viruses which attack crops and reduce yields.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Gary Lyon from the Scottish Crop Research Institute and John Lucas from Rothamsted Research to discuss possible solutions, including plant immunisation.

20080124

Quentin Cooper investigates the complex chemical language used by bacteria to communixcate with each other.

He finds out how scientists are interpreting this and using it to fight the activities of new and even more dangerous superbugs.

20080131

Quentin Cooper investigates the science of systems biology, in which computing and biology meet to create virtual organs for research.

This new science has a generous research budget in Britain, but what are the potential benefits for our understanding of biological systems and genetics?

20080207
20080214

Quentin Cooper learns about a volcano which erupted through the Antarctic sea ice more than 2,000 years ago, sending ash and gas 12km into the air.

Hugh Corr and David Vaughan from the British Antarctic survey explain how they analysed radar data to find evidence of volcanic ash buried under years of snow.

Could the volcano erupt again and how will the research help our understanding of an ice sheet that has a critical role in climate change?

20080221

Quentin Cooper investigates solar power and how it can most effectively be utilised to provide the country's energy needs.

He talks to Darren Bagnall from Southampton University and Ken Durose from the University of Durham about a major new research project aiming to produce a new generation of solar cells that will make solar energy more competitive and more sustainable.

20080228

Quentin Cooper explores incredible advances in microscope technology which have opened up a new frontier in understanding and fighting diseases, including cancer.

He is joined by Andrew Bushby, director of the Nano Vision centre at London's Queen Mary University, and by Lucy Collinson, head of electron microscopy at Cancer Research.

20080306
20080313

Sue Nelson investigates research into a new generation of lighter, cleaner and more powerful batteries, capable of powering anything from hybrid cars to microchips while retaining environmental sustainability.

20080320

Quentin Cooper investigates the latest research by neuroscientists who are attempting to further our understanding of how the brain processes complex sounds such as music and speech.

This could lead to more sophisticated speech recognition systems and hearing aids.

Part of the work includes training ferrets to discriminate between changes in pitch, timbre or location of sound sources, allowing researchers to see how their brains can distinguish these subtle changes in sounds.

20080327

Quentin Cooper visits Edinburgh for its International Science Festival 2008.

He talks to the scientist charged with looking after HECToR, Britain's new national supercomputer.

20080403

Quentin Cooper investigates the standard measure of a kilogram, a specific piece of metal held in a Parisian vault.

Unfortunately this is approaching its 120th birthday and has suffered some erosion during this time.

Quentin finds out about plans to redefine the kilogram in terms of light and why fixing this fundamental value will transform physics.

He is joined by Ian Robinson from the National Physical Laboratory and by historian William Ashworth from Liverpool University.

20080410

Quentin Cooper explains how the charred remains of ancient cereal grains reveal how and when domesticated crops spread through Europe.

Could DNA from these early varieties improve our crops for the future? He is joined by archaeobotanist Glynis Jones, who has used radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis to more accurately trace the development of agriculture, and Wayne Powell, who describes the genetic diversity of modern crops and how ancient DNA might fortify them for an uncertain climatic future.

20080417
20080424

The military are always looking for new ways to keep their ships, vehicles and aircraft undetected.

Quentin Cooper finds out how state-of-the-art physics is helping in this quest for invisibility and how stealth warships could soon be using 'invisibility cloaks' to keep themselves invisible from microwave detectors and radar.

20080501

Quentin Cooper discusses the postwar boom in science and technology with Ben Russell, one of the curators of the Science Museum's new exhibition Dan Dare and the Birth of Hi Tech Britain.

The aftermath of war brought spectacular advances such as radar, penicillin and the jet engine, leaving a vast legacy for science, technology and manufacturing today.

20080508
20080515

Quentin Cooper is joined by archaeologist Charlotte Roberts and geneticist Terry Brown, who have joined forces to try to discover how the TB bacterium has evolved over the centuries.

They discuss the history of TB and their plans to find, extract and piece together ancient DNA.

20080522

Quentin Cooper finds out how a unique collaboration between scientists at Leicester University and Northamptonshire Police has come up with ingenious new techniques in the fight against crime.

20080529

Quentin Cooper talks to scientists at the Hay Literary Festival.

His guests include geneticist Professor Steve Jones of University College, London, and Sir David King, formerly the government's Chief Scientific Adviser.

20080605

Quentin Cooper talks to the inventors of novel materials which, when wrapped around a child's teeth, can map the areas where decay might be setting in.

If treated with the right chemicals, these new bio-materials can be used to prevent caries developing in the first place.

20080612

Quentin Cooper looks at the iodine content of seaweed, its uses for medicinal purposes over the centuries, and its connection to local weather and climate.

20080619

Sixty years ago, Manchester University's Baby became the world's first stored-program electronic digital computer.

Quentin Cooper celebrates its anniversary and explores its legacy.

20080703

Quentin Cooper investigates the huge fireball that exploded in June 1908 in the Tunguska region of Siberia.

The explosion knocked down an estimated 80 million trees.

20080710

Quentin Cooper explores metabolomics and is joined by Julian Griffin from the University of Cambridge to discuss the role that the study of molecules in the body could play by providing an early warning of exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants that can slowly damage health over time.

20080717

Diana Edwards from the University of Bristol joins Quentin Cooper to discuss the latest restoration efforts in Venice's Basilica di San Marco, where repeated flooding is slowly destroying the cathedral's priceless mosaics.

The intricate tiling covers over 8,000 square metres of walls and vaults, but salt water seeping in from the basement is damaging the lime mortar holding it in place.

20080724

Quentin Cooper explores the possibility of past or future life on Mars.

He talks to Dr David Caitling, astrobiologist from the University of Bristol, who is involved in NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander mission, and Dr Matthew Balme from the Open University, who is using images from Mars Express to study the surface features of the red planet.

Does the presence of water on the planet mean that Mars could have supported life in the past and what can this tell us about the future of our own planet?

20080731

Quentin Cooper explores the origins of grey and cloudy skies and asks if pollution is making them worse.

Describing the latest breakthroughs in weather research, Roy Harrison, from the University of Birmingham, discusses the birth of a cloud and how minute particles of pollution can increase cloud cover.

Stephen Dorling, from the University of East Anglia, takes a wider view and discusses how knowledge of air pollution could improve our weather forecasts.

20080814

With the price of oil increasing and reserves of cheaply accessed light oil drying up, Quentin Cooper investigates new methods of extracting heavy oil.

Unlike conventional light oil, heavy oil is very viscous or even solid in its natural state underground, making it very difficult to extract.

But heavy oil reserves that could keep the planet's economy going for a hundred years lie beneath the surface in many countries, especially in Canada.

Quentin talks to Prof Malcolm Greaves of the Improved Oil Recovery Research Group at the University of Bath about his system in which air is injected into the oil deposit down a vertical well and is ignited.

The heat generated in the reservoir reduces the viscosity of the heavy oil, allowing it to drain into a second horizontal well from which it rises to the surface.

Dr Joe Wood of the University of Birmingham joins the discussion to talk about going one step further, looking at improving efficiency by using a catalyst intended to turn heavy oil into light while still underground.

20080821

Quentin Cooper investigates Europe's new satellite GOCE, designed to map the Earth's gravitational field.

This promises new advances in the fields of oceanography, solid Earth physics, geodesy and sea-level research, and is intended to significantly contribute to furthering our understanding of climate change

20080828

Quentin Cooper explores new ideas to reduce traffic chaos and warn motorists of congestion ahead.

He talks to Dr Alan Stevens from the Transport Research Laboratory and Dr David Brown of Portsmouth University.

He also meets Professor Martyn Poliakoff and Dr Debbie Kays, University of Nottingham scientists who have brought the Periodic Table into the 21st century by posting lively video clips about every single chemical element on a new website.

20080904

Quentin Cooper explores the thin and flexible world of plastic electronic engineering.

Plastics are well known for their insulating properties, but in the 1970s researchers discovered a plastic polymer that could conduct electricity.

Plastics are now being used to replace metals and semiconductors in electronic circuits.

Electronic devices made from them are cheap to manufacture and can be very light and flexible, opening up a host of new applications.

20080911

Quentin Cooper reports from the British Association Science Festival in Liverpool.

The programme includes a look at forensic science in fact and fiction and an exploration of the links between music and memory, triggered by a visit to the famous Cavern Club

20080918

Quentin Cooper investigates how volatile metals from volcanoes end up in polar ice cores.

Scientists studying volcanoes have discovered that they are a source of tiny nanoparticles, small enough to be carried around the world.

They could be involved in the formation of clouds and may also seed distant patches of barren ocean with nutrients.

Volcanoes may be large and explosive, but their effects are now seen to be pervasive in the most unlikely areas.

2008092520081204

Quentin and scientists measure the exchange of methane between plans and the atmosphere.

Quentin Cooper joins scientists from the Open University who are measuring the exchange of methane between plants, soil microogranisms and the atmosphere.

Wetlands such as bogs and swamps are home to some special microorganisms which are important producers of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Biogeochemists are trying to better understand the impact of human activities and industrial processes on biological, chemical and geographic systems in the hope that they can find ways to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

Quentin Cooper looks at research using hair to find a person's biological markers.

A single fibre of hair can give a valuable chronological record of activities and lifestyle, whether it is used by a biochemist testing for drug abuse or by an archaeologist looking at specimens hundreds of years old.

Quentin is joined by Dr Andrew Wilson of the University of Bradford and Dr Richard Paul of the University of Glamorgan.

20081002

Quentin Cooper hears about a new study into how different cultures process faces in different ways, and the implications this has for social interaction, identifying criminals and face recognition by computers.

He also looks at how businesses can use design to lower crime.

20081009

Quentin Cooper joins Dr David Robinson of the Open University as he hunts in the dark for the crickets at Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire, and views the collection of crickets at the Natural History Museum.

20081016

Quentin Cooper finds out how prehistoric cattle teeth may provide vital clues to unlocking the enduring mystery of what went on at Stonehenge.

New archaeological evidence suggests that Stonehenge was a place of pilgrimage in prehistoric times.

Cattle teeth found at Durrington Walls, a massive circular earthwork near to Stonehenge, suggest that the animals were herded there from distant parts of Britain.

The results add to increasing evidence that people may have visited Stonehenge periodically.

Quentin asks experts Jane Evans and Prof Michael Parker Pearson what it was that drew people to the site.

20081023

Quentin Cooper examines how the UK's horse chestnut trees are under threat from invasive caterpillars spreading rapidly across Europe.

Experts are concerned about the number of alien pests and diseases that are appearing in the UK, threatening the plants in our gardens, parks and across the countryside, as a result of being inadvertently imported into the UK.

Quentin discusses these problems with Glynn Percival, plant physiologist at Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory, and Joan Webber, principal pathologist at the Forestry Commission, Farnham.

20081030

Quentin Cooper explores how research into the brain's integration of visual and audio cues can provide information about how it tracks moving objects, and how different sensory information gets processed in the brain.

He is joined by Dr Elliot Freeman, lecturer in psychology at Brunel University's School of Social Sciences, and Professor Charles Spence, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University.

20081106

Quentin Cooper explores new research looking into the geological process known as the Deep Carbon Cycle.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the carbon cycle with which we are familiar should perhaps not be treated as a closed system, and that what is going on under our feet could also be having a critical role.

He finds out how the geological sciences could help to identify geodynamic processes and carbon reservoirs, help us to recognise evolutionary processes throughout the Earth's history and perhaps help us to predict what lies ahead.

20081113

Quentin Cooper is joined by neuroscientists Kevin Moffat and Richard Baines to discuss how the tiny Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit fly, is providing scientists with intriguing clues about how the brain works and what happens when it goes wrong.

Scientists have successfully engineered flies that closely model the symptoms of human diseases such as epilepsy and Alzheimers.

They hope that this research will provide a tool that can help to unravel the underlying causes of brain diseases and accelerate the development of new drug treatments.

20081120

Quentin Cooper joins Open University scientists on Mount Etna, who have been monitoring Europe's most active volcano for more than 30 years.

They visit a fissure on the eastern flank which is slowly producing lava along an underground tube and climb to the summit, which rises and falls under the combined effects of gravity and molten magma.

If a giant landslide were ever to reach the sea it could result in a tsunami around the Mediterranean.

The slope now seems to have stabilised, but Etna is not a tame volcano and only through long-term monitoring will scientists fully understand its ways.

20081127

Quentin Cooper joins scientists from the Open University as they drop space instruments onto Chesil Beach in Dorset in search of clues about one of Saturn's moons, Titan.

They have been working on a tiny amount of data obtained by the US/European Cassini mission's Huygens probe, which landed on Titan in January 2005.

To get the most out of this data, they have since performed controlled drops of similar instruments on a wide variety of different surfaces on Earth, the latest of which is this experiment on Chesil Beach.

20081211

Quentin Cooper is joined by infectious diseases expert Michael Begon to discuss the transmission of plague through gerbil populations, particularly those in Kazakhstan, and how work on an early warning system could help prevent future outbreaks in both wildlife and humans.

20081218

Quentin Cooper is joined by John Barrow of Cambridge University and Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, President of the Institute of Physics, to discuss the work of the early-20th century physicist Enrico Fermi.

He finds out how sensible estimations are helping scientists and mathematicians to unravel the magnificent and the mundane, from the amount of matter in the universe to the probability of having the same bank PIN code as your next-door neighbour.

20090101

Quentin Cooper joins scientists, artists and musicians on a research cruise to Greenland.

Quentin Cooper joins scientists, artists and musicians on a research cruise to Disko Bay in Greenland to investigate the cultural response to climate change in the Arctic.

By sailing into the heart of the climate debate, the expedition was intended to draw people's attention to this climatic tipping point.

Quentin witnesses some of the scientific research at the front line of climate change, including a visit to the front of the Jakobshavn Glacier, one of Greenland's largest glaciers, which is moving at a faster rate than ever before and losing 20 million tons of ice every day.

20090108

Quentin Cooper learns about student contributions to front-line space projects.

He meets undergraduates from the University of Leicester who are building their own satellite to study space dust, detecting nano-meteoroids in orbit around the Earth.

At the Open University at Milton Keynes, PhD students are building an experiment that will orbit the Moon as part of the European Student Moon Orbiter (ESMO), which is being designed and built by students from 29 universities in 12 countries.

20090115

Quentin Cooper investigates the nature of superorganisms.

Animals such as ants are relatively simple organisms, but a colony of ants can display complex behaviour and what looks like planning and even creativity far beyond the knowledge and capacity of any individual.

US biologists EO Wilson and Bert Holldobler suggest that this, along with the likes of bees and termites, are all examples of superorganisms.

Quentin investigates the altruistic cooperation, complex communication and division of labour that make up the biological organisation that goes towards the transition from individual to superorganism, and asks if human society could be heading the same way.

20090122

Quentin Cooper hears how neutrons are revealing the secrets of materials, from spider silk to Samurai swords.

He goes to Oxford to find out about the latest applications of the ISIS neutron source, a state-of the-art particle accelerator which is probing materials in greater detail than is possible with any microscope.

The intense beams of neutrons and particles called muons that it sends out are being used by more than 1,500 scientists, ranging from biologists to geologists.

They can reveal the chemicals of life in molecular detail and the structure of materials used in electronics and nanotechnology.

The ISIS is being used to identify the recipe for the silk spun by spiders, the strength and elasticity of which makes it a prime candidate for everything from flexible body armour to biomedical implants

Neutrons are also helping aerospace companies tackle the challenge of cosmic radiation and its damaging effect on microchips in aeroplanes.

Neutrons in the atmosphere can collide with microchips and upset microelectronic devices, a problem that is 300 times greater at high altitude.

The research can identify materials that can store hydrogen safely, efficiently and cost effectively for hydrogen cars of the future.

The technology is also helping scientists to discover the true origins of historical artefacts.

These have included ornate pistols owned by a former US president and Japanese swords that are over a thousand years old.

How neutrons are revealing the secrets of materials, from spider silk to Samurai swords.

20090129

Quentin Cooper explores the latest developments in evolutionary psychology and social Darwinism and asks how it can help policy-makers in both private and public sector.

These disciplines are regularly applied to understanding how animals evolved their physical forms, but it is now also being applied to understanding the development of the human mind and psychology.

In the last 20 years the subject has penetrated virtually every existing branch of psychology, including social, cognitive, developmental and clinical psychology, as well as influencing various other social science disciplines such as anthropology, economics and political science.

Developments in evolutionary psychology and how it can help policy-makers.

20090205

Quentin Cooper hears from two brothers about ambitious balloon flights carrying a special telescope above the Arctic and Antarctic, and attempts to film the flights.

Mark Devlin, an astronomer at the University of Pennsylvania, aims to study new stars in distant galaxies.

He needs to look at them in wavelengths of light that do not penetrate the Earth's atmosphere, so he attempts to fly his fragile telescope beneath a high-altitude balloon which takes it to the top of the atmosphere.

To keep it in the sky requires constant daylight, so he has to take it above the Arctic or Antarctic circle in mid-summer.

Mark's brother, Paul, is an Emmy award-winning film-maker and has been making a documentary that follows Paul's team.

He captures the trials and tribulations, delays and panics, disappointments and triumphs of attempted launches from Sweden and Antarctica.

Quentin Cooper hears about ambitious balloon flights carrying a special telescope.

20090212

Quentin Cooper finds out if humans can sense pheromones, the subliminal chemical language of scents that is a key means of communication between animals.

It is 50 years since the term was first used, and scientists now know how powerful such signals can be, or rather, how sensitive some creatures' noses are to the chemicals.

Even before the word pheromone was invented, Charles Darwin showed how the smelliest crocodiles, ducks, goats and elephants were better at attracting mates.

Pheromones even work under water, between lobsters for example.

Do humans make and use their own pheromones? We use a host of expensive scents and deodorants to conceal, augment or replace our bodily odour, but, suprisingly, no definite human pheromone has been isolated and identified.

But it seems clear they must exist, otherwise, for example, how else would groups of women living in close proximity synchronise their menstruation?

Quentin Cooper finds out if humans can sense pheromones.

20090219

Quentin Cooper investigates the cultural and genetic evolution of language.

Professor Nick Chater of University College, London, believes that the evolution of language is cultural, rather than genetic.

He argues because language is so unstable and quick to change, it is a creation of culture, and is bolted onto humans' biological abilities to adapt and process changing information.

While Professor Mark Pagel of Reading University builds family trees for the words in a language, linking them to their cousins and ancestors.

He has identified some meanings whose words evolve slowly enough to have time depths of at least 20,000 years, making them candidates for deep reconstruction of prehistoric, Neolithic languages.

Professor Pagel has also shown how up to a third of the words in a language can change quite rapidly if a group of people split off and form a culturally or geographically new society.

20090226

Quentin Cooper tells the story of Emil Abderhalden, the biochemist who rose to the heart of the German scientific establishment on the back of a bogus theory of 'protective enzymes' he first conceived 100 years ago.

By the 1930s, his theory was being used in futile blood tests for pregnancy and schizophrenia, and the infamous Dr Josef Mengele employed them in his experiments at Auschwitz.

Despite doubts about his work across the world, Abderhalden was nominated 51 times for the Nobel Prize.

Quentin Cooper tells the story of biochemist Emil Abderhalden.

20090312

Quentin Cooper hears about nature's best kept secret - the factory of life.

It is well known that genes written in DNA are the code of life, carrying information from generation to generation.

But without a code-reading machine, our DNA would be useless.

Quentin learns about the biological machine that does just that in every cell in our bodies, indeed in every cell in every living organism - a machine called the ribosome.

This single, extraordinarily adaptable device manufactures every protein in our body, constantly working to keep our metabolism and life processes going.

When we take antibiotics, it is usually to block the ribosomes in infectious bacteria.

Tiny variations mean that those in our cells can keep going.

Because the ribosome is built out of DNA's simpler cousin RNA, this biological constructor provides the strongest clue that life developed out of a primordial soup of simple reacting RNA molecules.

Quentin Cooper hears about the DNA reading machine, the ribosome.

20090326

Quentin Cooper puts listeners' science questions to a panel of experts: taxonomist Dr Sandy Knapp from the Natural History Museum, Michael Brooks, consultant to New Scientist magazine and author of 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, and Dr Andrea Sella, chemist at University College London and EPSRC senior media fellow.

Among the topics: why we can feel chilly even as spring days grow warmer and why cold weather makes our nose run; why some organisms seem to evolve faster than others and which have changed the least; what caused the Big Bang; how the wind blows sounds and smells and the contribution of fizzy drinks to global warming.

The panel also explore the diet of the hummingbird, the sting of the bee and the age of the human body.

Plus, why you can't tickle yourself and why the Material World studio might not contain the most complex structure in the universe.

Quentin Cooper puts listeners' science questions to a panel of experts.

20090416

Quentin Cooper samples the delights of the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

20090528

The 1930s 'dust bowl' in the American midwest provoked one of the greatest migrations in human history.

Quentin Cooper talks to the scientists who are only now unravelling the causes, and looking for the lessons in a warming climate which raises the prospect of prolonged drought in the USA.

20090604

Quentin Cooper reports from the Cheltenham Science Festival.

From the origins of evolution to the future of computing, by way of happiness and heresy, the Festival is a feast from the frontiers of research.

20090618
20091008

With the announcement of a new batch of Nobel Prizes in Medicine, Chemistry and Physics, Quentin Cooper assesses the new Laureates' impact on science.

Quentin Cooper and guests assess the latest batch of Nobel Science Prizes.

20091015

'The ultimate free lunch' is physicist Alan Guth's description of the universe.

Created out of nothing, the universe is now unimagineably large, contains billions of stars, and provides home to us.

Thirty years after Professor Guth first pondered the initial moments that fashioned a cosmos, he tells Quentin Cooper how his theories are shaping up.

'The ultimate free lunch': Professor Alan Guth's recipe for the universe.

20091105

DNA is celebrated as the molecule that carries our genes from generation to generation.

But a small group of pioneering chemists are using DNA to build the nano-engines of the future.

Quentin Cooper hears about these miniature biological machines.

Quentin Cooper hears about DNA nano-machines.

20091112

Quentin Cooper presents a special edition from Cardiff University.

Including the latest thoughts on the ecological impact of the proposed Severn Barrage.

20091119

It would have 'algae tubes', be made largely of glass and have an 'algae photovoltaic bioreactor' at its heart: the Algae House is the award-winning design of a house of the future.

A team of postgraduate students at Cambridge University have set out one possible future for the concept 'algaetecture'.

They plan to exploit the properties of algae to generate hydrogen to be used in hydrogen fuel cells and to harvest the algae to create biofuels, all in the domestic setting of the home.

Quentin Cooper meets the students who think the future's bright - the future's algae green.

Quentin Cooper investigates the energy-harvesting 'algae house' of the future.

20091126

Quentin Cooper dissects the week's science.

20091203

Quentin Cooper looks at how science is uncovering the secrets of the world's toughest bacterium.

One of those battling it out for such a title is Deinococcus radiodurans.

It was discovered in the 1950s after surviving in cans of food after they had been bombarded with radiation.

Its ability to repair its own DNA means it could be used in the future to reclaim land contaminated by nuclear or chemical events.

Quentin finds out how scientists are uncovering the secrets behind its ability to survive extreme temperatures, severe dehydration and lethal doses of radiation.

Understanding how bacteria like Deinococcus coordinate their arsenal of defence mechanisms could help scientists overcome the defences of dangerous, disease causing bacteria.

Quentin Cooper on how science is uncovering the secrets of the world's toughest bacterium.

20100128

There are hundreds of different diseases we call cancer, and hundreds of different human cell types they affect, so it's perhaps not suprising that many cancer drugs are ineffective in many patients.

Personalised medicine might lead to more effective treatments sooner, saving millions of pounds' worth of wasted drugs along the way.

Quentin Cooper meets scientist and entrepreneur Dr Darrin Disley, who has set up a company to develop test-tube cultures of different human cell types that can then speed up drug testing and tailor treatments for individual patients.

Quentin Cooper reports on progress towards personalised cancer treatment.

20100211

After 60 years, the BBC's Research and Development department is moving out of its grand home in Surrey.

Quentin Cooper visits Kingswood Warren, where FM radio, digital audio broadcasting and HD TV were developed, meets some of the pioneers of broadcast engineering and asks what new technologies are on the horizon today.

Quentin Cooper visits Kingswood Warren, home of the BBC's Research and Development dept.

20100225

We tend to think of the universe as consisting of matter and energy, arrayed in space and time.

But to a quantum physicist like Vlatko Vedral of Oxford University, all the world is information.

There's the information in our books and websites and in the DNA in our cells; but in a sense, the entire universe and its workings are the ebb and flow of information.

Professor Vedral discusses quantum information with Quentin Cooper.

Where did it all come from? Where is it leading? And how can we tap into it with super-fast quantum computers?

Quentin Cooper hears that the universe is made of information.

20100318

With more doubts being raised about climate research, Quentin Cooper asks 'how does science handle the issue of uncertainty'? How do different branches of research quantify what they can't be sure of? And what are the rest of us to make of it?

The Royal Society is hosting a special meeting - Handling Uncertainty - to discuss these issues, which are at the heart of much of the arguments over the validity of climate change research.

Quentin is joined by the meeting's organiser, climate scientist Professor Tim Palmer, to find out how uncertainty will influence our scientific future.

Quentin Cooper looks into how science handles the issue of uncertainty.

2010040120100405

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science.

In a landmark ruling this week, a New York court judge has declared that several patents for a genetic cancer test are not valid.

The finding comes after years of argument over the rights and wrongs of patenting disease genes, with objectors arguing that patents limit free inquiry, supporters insisting that fair rewards promote continued research.

On Material World, Quentin Cooper will be hearing about the significance of the court case, and hearing what the evidence is either way in the debate.

4 billion years ago, the Sun was far dimmer than it is now, but all the geological evidence is that the world was no colder then than now.

Now there seems to be an answer to this faint young Sun paradox" first posed by astronomer Carl Sagan 30 years ago.

Geologist Minik Rosing explains how a lack of continental rock, and eternal clear blue skies stopped the world from freezing over.

Also in the programme, Quentin hears from the first two shortlisted contenders in our So You Want to Be a Scientist talent search.

And he talks to the Manchester biologist who's working on plastic-chomping bacteria, to help deal with our waste problem.

Quentin Cooper hears about genes, science and patents."

2010040820100412

As colour returns to gardens across the country after the long cold winter, Quentin Cooper hears how records from two and a half centuries of nature-watching reveal the gradual advance of spring, and what this says about climate change.

Also in the programme, the UK team who have built a tsunami simulator to see how buildings can best resist the powerful seawaves created by earthquakes.

Nanoelectronics are brought a step closer with a new kind of digital logic.

And we hear from more potential participants in Radio 4's So You Want to be a Scientist" talent search.

Tsunami simulator; spring advances; nanoelectronics."

2010041520100419

Quentin Cooper reports from the Edinburgh International Science Festival on the latest discoveries and their implications.

He hears (quite literally) how engineers can now design the acoustic of a building and re-create a 3-dimensional soundscape within it.

He explores the progress that has been made towards creating artificial life and the ethical questions it raises.

And he goes to an innovative Scottish research company to shake a bionic hand - and the flesh and blood hand of its inventor.

Plus, as the judges approach their final decision next week, we hear more Shortlisted entries for 'So You Want To Be A Scientist'.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

As engineers and researchers gather in Scotland for the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Quentin Cooper reports on the latest discoveries and their implications.

He hears (quite literally) how engineers can now design the acoustic of a building.

He finds out about the legal minefield resulting from the long-term storage of DNA fingerprints.

And he tests the distilled pleasures of a wee dram.

Quentin Cooper reports from the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

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Quentin Cooper announces which four finalists have been chosen to perform their experiments in Radio 4's amateur science search, from this shortlist:

Sam O'Kell, Croupier: I believe the greatest crowd density at a music gig is not at the front but three rows back.

I would test this by wearing a pressure sensing vest beneath normal clothes, and take readings at different locations in the crowd.

Ruth Brooks, Retired special needs tutor: What is the homing distance of the Garden Snail that decimates my plants? How far away do I have to dump them before they find their way back to my garden?

Shane Record, Art gallery owner: Because people are reluctant to enter my art gallery I put a realistically dressed mannequin in, her back to the gallery entrance, to bring people in.

Does it work or am I just an eccentric artist?

Nina Jones, A-level student: What makes up a typical Facebook profile picture? Adults choose pictures showing an event in their lives - their wedding, or a photo with their children - whereas teenagers show themselves with friends at a party.

I will test these predictions and look into why this occurs.

Nick Walthew, Retired farm manager: Who are happier, people travelling north or south on the M1? I would test this by waving at travellers going north and south and counting the number of people who wave back.

Ben Fernando, GCSE student: An investigation to see whether girls prefer pink because they can see further into the far red part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

John Rowlands, Aerial photographer: To investigate the frequency and brightness of noctilucent clouds, which have been linked to climate change.

Annie Trolley, Hospital secretary: Whenever my teenage boys use aerosol deodorants in their bathroom I can smell it from my bedroom.

I hate it! Is this something innate, or do we learn by experience?

Owen Griffiths, Artist: I propose to have a piece of music based on the sounds of bees sung to the hive by a choir, and see if this increases the production of honey.

Angus Johnson, Retired computer programmer: Is there a difference between men and women in their visual ability to find one item amid a clutter of objects?

The four finalists will be chosen by our esteemed judging panel from the world of science:

- Prof Lord Robert May, former Government Science Adviser

- Prof Tanya Byron, Clinical Psychologist/broadcaster

- Mark Henderson, Times Science Editor

- Prof Trevor Cox, Acoustic Engineer/EPSRC Media Fellow.

Quentin Cooper announces the results of a talent search for amateur scientists.

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Quentin Cooper and guests dissect the week's science news.

This week:

With oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico following an explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Professor Chuck Kennicutt of Texas A&M University outlines the threat the oil slick represents, what might be done to mitigate the effects and how the oil will eventually disperse.

Can scientific development and innovation push the economic recovery forward? The authors of a new report Big Potatoes: The London Manifesto for innovation" believe so.

Launched at the Royal Society the report highlights how there is currently very little debate in society about research and development.

It has become socially acceptable not to know about science, argue the authors, and this change in public and political attitude is stifling economic recovery as well as limiting future innovation and therefore the creation of new industries and jobs for the future.

Quentin is joined by one of the reports co-authors Professor James Woudhuysen and the former vice-president of the Royal Society, Sir Martin Taylor.

Another of our 'So You Want To Be A Scientist' finalists, John Rowlands, starts his experiment on 'noctilucent clouds'.

These luminous layers of ice crystals appear high up in the atmosphere between May and August, but no one knows exactly why these mysterious clouds appear.

Quentin takes John to meet his mentor, Prof Nick Mitchell from the Centre for Space, Atmospheric & Oceanic Science, who is going to try and help him find out.

Interior Traces is a series of live radio plays that next week go on tour.

They explore the effects of brain imaging on individual identity and society through the stories of two characters with different brain conditions.

They contrast present understanding with an imagined future in which people can be told in advance that they may develop a tumour or even a violent criminal tendency.

Quentin meets writer and neuroscientist Dr Louise Whiteley and Dr Daniel Glaser of the Wellcome Trust and the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Escaping oil, a manifesto for innovation, glowing clouds and brain traces."

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Quentin Cooper meets the scientists making news.

This week he investigates the science of Plasmonics, the ultimate ability to control light and use it to process information and manipulate materials at the smallest scale imaginable.

Controlling the interaction between light and matter is fundamental to science and to technology - from probing entanglement in quantum physics to harnessing the spectacular information carrying capacity of optical fibres.

Nanoscale fabrication allows the manufacture of new materials with increasing sophistication and freedom of design, but controlling light at the nanoscale remains a challenge.

Traditionally light can only be controlled on length scales down to a little below the wavelength of light, a few hundred nanometres, hence the usual resolution limit of optical microscopes and telescopes.

However, a new paradigm called plasmonics is emerging, to control light below its wavelength limit, down to nanometre length scales.

Also in the programme, the latest news from the finalists of 'So You Want To be a Scientist'.

Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the science of plasmonics.

He hears the science behind clearing up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and how engineers trying to stop the leak are at the cutting edge of technology.

We find out about strange undersea domes that have been spotted off the California coast.

They are extinct asphalt volcanoes made from a mixture of hardened crude oil and marine fossils.

Also on the programme, how one of our So You Want to be a Scientist?" finalists will be contributing to the growing amount of research into crowd dynamics.

Could his idea lead to changes in crowd management at major events?

And Quentin investigates the science of Plasmonics, the ultimate ability to control light and use it to process information and manipulate materials at the smallest scale imaginable.

Stopping the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Plasmonics, the ability to control light."

2010051320100517

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

This week the dangers of deep water exploration.

How do engineers drill wells into the rock below the sea bed? How do they overcome the different currents that drag the mile long steel tube in different directions?

The maths behind electoral reform - is there such a thing as a fair voting system?

The fourth of our finalists from our science talent search So you want to be a scientist?" meets her mentor and decides on how best to track snails from her garden.

And fifty years of the laser - what will be next fifty bring - we find out if nuclear fusion is a reality?

Deep water exploration, the maths of electoral reform, snail trails and lasers turn 50."

2010052020100524

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science.

This week he hears about the novel techniques that are being used to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr.

Richard Pike, from the Royal Society of Chemistry, tells us how these methods should work as many of them have not been tested before.

The International Day for Biological Diversity in the UK is almost upon us; joining Material World this week Dr.

Bob Bloomfield from the Natural History Museum and Dr.

Ben Collen, from the Zoological Society of London, to discuss how humans are impacting on species loss and to explain why biodiversity needs to be taken as seriously as climate change.

Could tree rings from conifer trees that are thousands of years old tell us what the climate used to be like? Professor Chris Turney from Exeter University has been studying these ancient trees which have been preserved in peat bogs in New Zealand.

And what is a quantum kilogram? It does not exist yet! The kilogram is the only standard unit that is still based on an artefact.

Jonathan Williams from the National Physical Laboratory explains how scientists are trying to redefine the kilogram.

He also tells Quentin about the importance of standard measurements in science and engineering, all this on World Metrology Day.

Cleaning up the oil spill, biodiversity, tree rings and quantum kilograms.

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He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week, the planes are flying again, but for how long? Has Iceland and its unpronouncable volcano got more volcanic ash to send our way? Quentin talks to Dr Joseph Ulanowski from the Centre for Atmospheric & Instrumentation Research at the University of Hertfordshire who's co-author of a paper investigating the odd electrical charges found within the plume.

He also talks to Dr Carina Fearnley, from University College London's brand new Institute For Risk and Disaster Reduction, which has launched itself with a report on the implications of the Icelandic eruption.

A new rocket is on the launch pad in Florida.

It's not an expensive NASA one, but a low-cost Falcon 9, developed by PayPal founder and head of Space-X, Elon Musk.

For the first time, says space commentator Stuart Clark, the nation that claims to be the home of free enterprise is bringing the pioneer spirit back to space.

If all goes well, Falcon 9 could soon be delivering cargo and eventually astronauts to the International Space Station - becoming, after the retirement of the Space Shuttle, the USA's only human spaceflight vehicle.

Why and how did the giant sauropod dinosaurs get so big? Not just bigger than elephants, but ten times bigger.

Martin Sander, Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at Bonn University tells Quentin that it may have been because they didn't chew their food, giving them time to swallow more into the great fermentation vats of their stomachs.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper investigates volcanic ash, new rockets and supersize dinosaurs.

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week the spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now into its third month.

So some of the more out there" ideas for tackling the disaster are beginning to seem more appealing.

Ideas like using naturally occurring bacteria to break down the oil without the need for possibly toxic clean-up chemicals.

This approach has already been successfully trialled by a team from the University of Bangor.

Christoph Gertler from the School of Biological Sciences discusses with Quentin if it is still too soon to make an impact on the world's largest oil spill.

The Nobel Prizes have been with us for well over 100 years but they only reflect the major areas of science as they were a century ago, with awards for Physics, Chemistry and Medicine or Physiology.

There's not even a prize for Mathematics.

To reward work in some of the most exciting areas the Kavli Prizes were established two years ago, honouring achievements in Nanotechnology, Astrophysics and Neuroscience - the ultra-small, the ultra-large and the ultra-complex.

The man behind the prizes - the Norwegian-American Fred Kavli announces this year's laureates.

Strangely glowing clouds will soon start appearing at night - noctilucent clouds as they are called.

There have already been some spotted in Russia and Denmark.

Most of his evenings John Rowlands - one of the finalists in our So You Want To Be A Scientist - therefore has been on his lonesome windy, spot in the north of Anglesey...

He discusses his experiment with his science mentor Professor Nick Mitchell of the University of Bath.

From many islands in the Pacific there's nothing to see but sea.

Yet humans slowly spread out over the whole area.

How they did it and where they came from remains a mystery.

A mystery that could finally be solved by pigs.

Researchers have taken the three thousand year old remains of pigs across the Pacific, analysed their bones and DNA and may be able to reconstruct the migration route of the early colonists.

Professor Keith Dobney, Chair of Human Palaeoecology at Aberdeen University.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper on oil-eating bacteria, ancient pigs, noctilucent clouds and Kavli Prizes.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science."

2010061020100614

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

This week, as polar scientists meet in Oslo to present their findings from International Polar Year, we hear from two of them about the potentially fragile ecosystems on land and in the sea.

Geraint Tarling from the British Antarctic Survey describes the differences between the marine food chains in Arctic and Antarctic waters and the importance of krill, perhaps even to offset climate change.

And his colleague Pete Convey outlines the threat posed by introduced alien species on the fragile land communities of Antarctica and its islands.

Britain's horse chetnuts are under threat! The iconic conker trees are suffering from what's called 'bleeding canker' as their leaves turn prematurely brown and die, under attack from the Horse Chestnut leaf miner catterpillar.

Darren Evans of Hull University is looking for volunteers to monitor the spread of the disease.

As the World Cup gets underway in South Africa, England fans are only too well aware that their team has a less-than-perfect record for penalty shoot-outs.

So what advice can Exeter University psychologist Greg Wood give them?

There's a new term for an old science: molecular gastronomy - cooking to most of us! Prior to their double act at the Cheltenhan Science Festival, Quentin hears from chemist and food science writer Harold McGee and culinary wizard Heston Blumenthal about the science behind their success.

Quentin Cooper on Polar Year, conker canker, penalties and molecular gastronomy.

2010061720100621

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science.

Science, Uncertainty, Evidence and Policy", that's the title of an event, this week in Parliament, organised by the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology.

The purpose: to get together experienced politicians that have dealt with science issues, scientists and - new MPs, that are interested in science but don't know too much about it.

Quentin Cooper discusses the issue of science literacy amongst MPs with Phil Willis, now Lord Willis, former MP and chair of the Science and Technology Committee and Stephen Mosley, the new MP for the City of Chester.

Hailed as the "Bionic Bulldog", 8 year old Roly now lives with a prosthetic implant that replaces his cancerous femur.

Veterinary surgeon Dr Noel Fitzpatrick performed the surgery, and managed to reattach the tendons to the metal implant by using a new technique: The tendons are allowed to grow into a mesh-like structure inside the transplant.

Veterinary surgeon Dr Noel Fitzpatrick performed the surgery, and explains how both animals and humans can benefit from it.

Experiments in which animals are used for human purposes are controversial, even more so if the experiments involve genetic engineering, say pigs with glowing noses or ones that develop diseases after their genes have been altered.

Two scientists outline the controversy in a meeting at Edinburgh Zoo and join Quentin for the programme: Peter Sandoe, director of the Danish centre for bioethics and risk assessment, and Bruce Whitelaw, leading scientist at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, where the cloned sheep Dolly was born.

A new type of blast-proof curtain made from what is called an auxetic material that gets thicker, not thinner, when stretched is being developed to provide better protection from the effects of bomb explosions.

The new curtain is designed to remain intact and capture debris such as flying glass when windows are blown in.

Julian Wright of Exeter University tells Quentin that the scientists are also developing similar materials to be used in medicine - for instance bandages that change colour when they have been applied too tightly.

Quentin Cooper with science for MPs, bionic bones, animal ethics and a weird material."

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Could Venus actually be very similar to Earth? That is a hot topic of discussion at the International Venus Conference.

On this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper finds out if the two planets may at one time have been almost identical.

Also in the programme, the weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

The Pine Island Glacier is the biggest in Western Antarctica - but it is not as big as it used to be.

It is melting because of the warming waters surrounding it.

The annual ice loss is estimated tens of billions of tonnes which adds nearly a millimetre to sea levels every year.

New research, published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests that the rate of ice loss is speeding up because it's no longer held back by a rocky ridge.

Dr.

Adrian Jenkins from the British Antarctic Survey is the lead author of this latest study and joins Quentin on the programme.

The simulated mission to Mars is now well underway in Russia.

6 volunteers are making themselves at home on the 520 day experiment which will help scientists prepare for a real mission to the Red Planet in the future: Dr.

Patrik Sundblad the Director of Human Spaceflight at the European Space Research and Technology Centre tells Quentin how things are going so far.

Quentin also catches up with "So you want to be a scientist" finalist Sam O'kell and Professor Geoff Lawday as Sam prepares to test out his specially built pressure suit at the Roskilde Music Festival in Denmark - one of the biggest in Europe.

Could Venus actually be very similar to Earth? Quentin Cooper finds out.

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350 years ago, a group of 'natural philosophers' got together to found a club in London.

With the patronage of Charles II, they called it 'The Royal Society'.

Today it is the nation's elite academy of sciences and, to celebrate the anniversary, it is staging its Summer Exhibition this week on the Southbank of the Thames.

Quentin Cooper visits the exhibition to hear about some of the latest research the Society supports and meet the scientists behind it.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper visits the Royal Society's Summer Exhibition on London's Southbank.

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

The first full-sky image from Europe's Planck telescope revealing the oldest light in the Universe was published this week.

Quentin Cooper speaks to Planck scientist Dr.

Dave Clements to find out what this imag is really showing.

This week we find out about the earliest inhabitants on the British Isles.

Stone tools discovered at a site in Norfolk suggest that early humans arrived in Britain 800000 years ago, pushing back previous estimates by 100000 years.

Their diet must have been rich in meat to survive the harsh winters.

Quentin also finds out about our much older ancestors from Kenya who thanks to a varied diet of crocodiles and catfish were able to grow bigger brains.

One of our finalists of the 'So you want to be a scientist?' talent search has been collecting data to test out his theory.

Sam O'Kell and his mentor Professor Geoff Lawday have been testing a pressure suit at the Roskilde music festival to find out how crowds behave when listening to different bands.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

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Dr.

Richard Pike, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry joins Quentin in the studio with an update of the latest news from the BP oil situation.

The first ever All Party Parliamentary Group on Life Sciences is being set up at Westminster.

The founder of the group, Penny Mordaunt MP Portsmouth North is in the studio to tell us why such a group is important to universities, industry and voters.

Six of Italy's top seismologists could face charges of manslaughter after failing to give a warning before the deadly earthquake that struck the central Italian city of L'Aquila on 6 April 2009.

The indictment has outraged experts around the world, who note that earthquakes cannot be predicted and who say that the Italian government neglected to enforce building codes that could have reduced the toll.

Quentin speaks to Professor Ian Main from Edinburgh University about why it is impossible to predict earthquakes.

And we return to So You Want to be a Scientist finalist John Rowlands and catch up on his noctilucent cloud experiment so far.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper with the latest from the BP oil spill, and the L'Aquila earthquake.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science.

2010072220100726

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week: seeing through clothes without getting personal, earworms you can't get out of your head, identifying an Anzac hero, how we want to be seen in a social network, and closing in on the mysterious Higgs boson.

Quentin Cooper on security cameras, earworms, Anzacs, Facebook and the God particle.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science.

2010072920100802

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week: the science behind crowd management, could cross-bred bees remove deadly parasites in hives and could singing also help stop the bee decline.

And are we born with built in grammar knowledge and if we're not, can we learn it?

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week we're back discussing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and how the leaking well will be permanently sealed.

Quentin finds out how proteins can function without water and the science of snails - do they have a homing instinct?

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper dissects the latest science.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2010081220100816

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week he looks to the night sky to see the Perseid Meteor Shower, he explores a new carbon capture project that is getting started in California this month.

Quentin also delves into the world of Photonic Molecular Materials as he finds out about the process of making solar cells cheaper and out of plastic, and the So You Want To Be A Scientist noctilucent cloud experiment is coming to an end so we hear the latest from our finalist, John Rowlands.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper on meteors, carbon capture, plastic solar cells and noctilucent clouds.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010081920100823

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010082620100830

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week he finds out why it will take so long to reach the trapped miners in Chile.

He catches up on the infestation of the Horse Chestnut Tree by tiny parasitic moths and also why our current thinking on how Black Holes are formed could be all wrong.

And he talks to one of our So you want to be scientist finalists about the results from his experiments.

Will Sam be able to to tell where the safest place to be in a crowd at a rock concert is?

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2010090220100906

Quentin Cooper presents this week's digest of science in and behind the headlines.

In this edition; The Cluster mission is ten years old this week.

Quentin discusses how its findings help us understand the protective properties of the magnetosphere against solar winds.

The problem of cracking concrete and its potential bacterial solution is discussed as Quentin looks at bio-concrete which uses a strain of mineral-eating bacteria to do the job.

As the humble fruit fly stars in its own conference Quentin takes a closer look at how important Drosophilia are in genetic experiments and interviews with all four So You Want To Be A Scientist finalists at the crucial results phase of their experiments.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper talks to scientists publishing their research in peer reviewed journals.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

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Quentin Cooper presents this week's digest of science in and behind the headlines.

In this edition: Business Secretary Vince Cable has unveiled plans for a squeeze on public funding for scientific research.

Quentin discusses what impact this could have on British science.

Quentin talks to archaeologist Dr Timothy Taylor about why, despite our frailty, humans have become the dominant species.

Quentin also asks why the European eel is on the decline.

He talks to Dr Julian Metcalfe from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), about the 'Eeliad' project which will use GPS to track eels as they migrate across the Atlantic Ocean.

And, a week before the So You Want To Be A Scientist final, Nina Jones and her mentor Dr Bernie Hogan analyse the results from their Facebook experiment & discuss their findings.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Discussing Vince Cable's plans to squeeze public funding for scientific research.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010092320100927

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Gene therapy.

20 years after the first trial, Quentin asks whether it will eventually make it into conventional medicine, and why it's taking so long.

Forensic archaeology in the search for the 'disappeared' from Northern Ireland's troubles.

Last weekend, Charlie Armstrong, a victim of the IRA, was at last given a proper burial.

John McIlwaine explains how geophysics helped trace his hidden remains.

And British geology in your pocket.

To mark its 175th anniversary, the British Geological Survey crams its entire geological map of the British Isles into a smartphone app for all to use.

2010093020101004

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010100720101011

With a new batch of Nobel Prizes in Medicine, Chemistry and Physics just announced, Quentin Cooper assesses the new laureates' impact on science.

Producer Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper and guests assess the latest Nobel Science Prizes.

2010101420101018

Brief encounter with a comet chaser.

Next week, Comet Hartley 2 will come within just a few million miles of Earth, possibly becoming visible to the naked eye.

Meanwhile, NASA's Deep Impact space probe is itself closing in on the Comet.

Quentin hears about the science astronomers hope to learn from the encounter.

Producer, Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper has a brief encounter with a comet chaser.

Stem cell trials - Geron's spinal cord therapy starts after years of regulatory wrangles.

Human remains and archaeology - researchers complain of burdensome regulations.

And a brief encounter with a comet chaser

NASA's Deep Impact space probe is closing in on the Comet Hartley 2; Quentin hears about the science astronomers hope to learn from the encounter.

Stem cell trials; human remains and archaeology; and a brief encounter with a comet chaser

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Quentin Cooper meets the scientists making news.

This week he investigates the latest research into stem cells, in Europe and in the USA.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science, including the latest on stem cells.

Science Minister David Willetts tells Quentin Cooper and a panel of experts about the effects of the spending review on the research budget.

Science Minister David Willetts tells Quentin about the government's spending plans.

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Quentin Cooper examines the science behind the news.

Indonesian disasters: Quentin hears from the experts about the causes of this week's Sumatran earthquake and tsunami, and the latest eruption of Mount Merapi on Java, and how science can help.

Also, after the last in the series A History of the World in a Hundred Objects celebrates the latest in electrical gadgetry, Quentin sees the humble glass electrical valve that kick started the whole electronic revolution.

The first electronics.

And pollution from space travel.

As the world's richest line up for the first private flights into space, experts warn that rocket exhausts could exacerbate the problem of global warming.

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper examines the science behind the news.

The International Space Station - is it worth the cost? Giant Dragonflies from the First Forests; The Electrical Generator that Changed the World.

The International Space Station; Giant Dragonflies; Objects that changed the World.

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Bigger bangs at CERN; What made last winter so cold? Invisibility cloaks come closer.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Bigger bangs at CERN; Last winter's deep cold; Invisibility cloaks.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010111820101122

Quentin Cooper presents this week's digest of science in and behind the headlines.

In this edition: the development of disease resistant crops the better to feed our swelling population; trapping anti-hydrogen atoms to unravel one of the great mysteries in physics; and exhuming the body of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe to find out whether he really died of a bladder infection.

The producer is Roland Pease.

Crop breeding improved; catching anti-atoms; Tycho Brahe exhumed.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010112520101129

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010120220101206

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010120920101213

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

In the programme this week he discusses the new government proposals to include fewer science voices on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Getting into space is still proving harder than it looks, Quentin looks back on recent mishaps in man's attempts to conquer space.

Also in the programme, will we soon be sequencing our own genomes in our own homes?

2010121620101220

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2010 - year of disasters.

Floods, wild fires, volcanoes, earthquakes, and a record breaking oil spill.

Material World has time and again been reporting on some of the disasters that have struck over the year.

And earth scientists gather at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco to review their data from each event, Quentin Cooper asks how science helped, and what the lessons are for the future.

Quentin Cooper asks how science helped, and how it improved.

2010122320101227

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

In the programme this week he discusses the new government proposals to include fewer science voices on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Getting into space is still proving harder than it looks, Quentin looks back on recent mishaps in man's attempts to conquer space.

Also in the programme, will we soon be sequencing our own genomes in our own homes?

2010123020110103

Quentin Cooper catches up with the four finalists of the So You Want to Be a Scientist talent search that was featured in Material World across the summer.

Have they continued to do research and think about science? 2010 has also been a year when the Royal Society aimed to engage the public more with science, through the events that were part of its Year of Science.

What impact have these activities had?

Producer: Pamela Rutherford.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2011010620110110

2011 is the International Year of Chemistry: Quentin hears about the largest molecule, how legitimate research on neurochemicals was subverted by designer-drugs makers, the value of rare earth elements, and green chemistry.

The producer is Roland Pease.

2011 International Year of Chemistry: the largest molecule; green chemistry, rare elements

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2011011320110117

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2011012020110124

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2011012720110131

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He finds out about the oldest galaxy ever seen, estimated to have existed 480 million years after the big bang.

Roland Pease travels to Trinity College Dublin to a new exhibition which marries biomedical science with art.

Quentin answers your emails including what bedbugs smell like.

Also, why chemical engineering is an increasingly popular subject to study at University.

Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Roland Pease.

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

As the UNESCO Women in Science Awards are announced, Material World asks why so few top scientists are women.

Quentin wonders why women succeed in medicine, veterinary and life sciences, but far fewer reach the highest level in other areas.

Also in the programme: a meteorite containing ammonia supports the theory that life on Earth came from outer space.

And we answer a listener's question about black squirrels that are spreading across East Anglia.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week and speaks to scientists who are making headlines.

2011031020110314

Adam Rutherford presents the weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

Joining him on the programme this week is Dr Ian Crawford from Birkbeck College, University of London, who will be discussing the future of human space flight and what it holds now that the final shuttle missions are almost completed.

Also on the show; we find out what daffodils are really made of and we visit the science museum where the orginal workshop of engineer James Watt is about to be opened to the public.

Finally, the champion of science that makes us laugh and think Marc Abrahams, the creator of the Ig Nobel awards, is in the studio.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

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

2011031720110321

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

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Adam Rutherford presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

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

2011040720110411

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to Professor Alison Bruce from Brighton University about the latest developments at the Fukushima plant in Japan.

He's joined in the studio by Dr.

Fred Kavalier a GP and former genetics consultant to discuss pre-pregnancy diagnosis and what genetic conditions it could possibly help detect.

Professor Ian Stewart will also be in the programme explaining why maths is fundamental to biology, which is also the subject of his latest book "Mathematics of Life" and Royal Society Head Archivist Keith Moore is bringing in some of the scientific travel manuscripts that have been scanned and put online for all to enjoy.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2011041420110418

On this week's programme, Quentin Cooper speaks to Leila Battison, part of the team who have discovered fossils of some of the first life forms on Earth in Loch Torridon in northwest Scotland.

The research could change the way we think early life evolved.

Also, Dr Drew Endy the director of BIOFAB, the world's first open source synthetic biology factory, explains how he hopes to provide generic genetic parts to bioengineers to speed up developing new organisms.

Quentin goes to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to see one of the oldest chronometers in pieces - it's being studied as part of preparations for the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act in 2014.

Finally Doug Millard, the Space Curator from the Science Museum talks about Yuri Gagarin and the technology used to blast him into space.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2011042120110425

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He discovers the impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill on the Gulf of Mexico's wildlife one year on and the ongoing effect of Chernobyl on human health 25 years after the event.

We also return to the islands of Tristan da Cunha for an update on the penguins, following the oil spill there and discover a strange exchange taking place between Saturn and one of its moons.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2011042820110502

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2011050520110509

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2011051220110516

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2011051920110523

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2011052620110530

Adam Rutherford stands in for Quentin this week and hears the latest news about the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, the Grimsvotn eruption that caused it and its impact for aviation.

He reports from his small garden in East London on how private gardens benefit the urban environment, and he discovers how scientists from Imperial College London are working out the shape of one of the smallest things known - the electron.

The producer is Martin Redfern.

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

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week and speaks to scientists who are making headlines.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

2011060220110606

New E-coli strain found in Germany.

Quentin Cooper talks to Professor George Griffin, Head of the Academic Centre for Infection at St George's, University of London.

Hominid teeth

Early cavemen had foreign brides! An international team of researchers has been studying hominid teeth from two caves in South Africa.

They were looking at the ratios of different types or isotopes of strontium in the teeth which they thought might reflect changing diet due to seasonal migration.

Instead, they found a significant difference between the teeth of males and females.

Most of the males had strontium values similar to those in the nearby rocks, suggesting they had lived in the same area for most of their lives, whereas many of the females seems to have come from different areas.

Professor Julia Lee-Thorp, from the University of Oxford, explains more.

Science and Innovation

Writer Mark Stevenson, has curated a series of talks at the British Library as part of their Out of This World exhibition.

His talk, ‘The Age of Entanglement’ looks at human interaction with science and innovation and whether we are too dependent on technology and how we view progress.

He believes that science and innovation in the UK is being stifled and that there is a fear about progress.

Last week, David Cameron and President Obama announced a key collaboration initiative concentrating on science, innovation and education.

Obama called science education "critical to our future prosperity" and said that the U.S.

and U.K could continue to emphasize "investments in education, science, technology, infrastructure -- things that help our economies grow".

How dependent are we on technology and innovation? Quentin talks to Mark Stevenson and Sir Martin Taylor.

Fly Your Thesis!

Postgraduate students from Leicester have just had the next best thing to a spaceflight.

They are back from a series of flights in France with the European Space Agency aboard a plane sometimes dubbed ‘the vomit comet'.

It was part of an initiative called ‘fly your thesis’ in which PhD student projects get the chance to fly in a series of parabolic flights that simulate the weightlessness of space.

Apart from the fun of experiencing zero gravity, they were also investigating one of the mysteries of the early stages of planetary formation.

David Gray and Dr Charly Feldman from Leicester University, join Quentin to explain more.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2011060920110613

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

2011061620110620

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly round-up of the latest science research.

2011062320110627

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

2011063020110704

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week: how climate models may be underestimating the severity of sudden climate change; how our interest in happy faces is in our genes; how the most distant quasar ever seen throws light on the early universe and how mobile phones are transforming our behaviour and revealing social and cultural differences.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper discusses climate change, quasars, mobile phones and happy faces.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

2011070720110711

This week, Quentin Cooper hears how krill fertilise the Southern Ocean.

He visits the Royal Society's Summer Science exhibition to hear about hearing, see about seeing and smell rotten fish.

And he hears how science meets art in a new exhibition in which the artist is his own canvas.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin hears about krill, sensations at the Royal Society, and the science of body art.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

2011071420110718

This week, Quentin Cooper explores hidden landscapes under the ice of Antarctica and underwater volcanoes off its coast.

He hears of a vast land that emerged from the North Atlantic, only to be lost again beneath the waves.

He asks what the quest for mythical monsters can bring to human psychology and the study of rare species.

And he hears the mathematical secrets of the Tibetan singing bowl.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin explores hidden landscapes, mythical monsters and Tibetan singing bowls.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

2011072120110725

Quentin Cooper hears about the arrival of NASA's Dawn spaceprobe at the asteroid Vesta, the landing of the last Space Shuttle flight, attempts to reduce the number of animals used in scientific research and testing, and, as the two thousandth test match begins, the physics of cricket.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin on Dawn over Vesta, reducing animal experiments and the physics of cricket.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

2011072820110801

This week, Quentin Cooper asks if physicists are seeing the first signs of the elusive Higgs particle and if culling badgers really can control bovine TB. He hears how flawed diamonds give clues to the first continental drift and how the drama at the axon terminal in brain cells has inspired music.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

New clues to Higgs, badgers and bovine TB and diamond clues to the deep Earth.

This week, Quentin Cooper asks if physicists are seeing the first signs of the elusive Higgs particle and if culling badgers really can control bovine TB.

He hears how flawed diamonds give clues to the first continental drift and how the drama at the axon terminal in brain cells has inspired music.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

20110804

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly round-up of the latest science research and how it affects people's lives.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

2011081120110815

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

2011081820110822

This week Quentin Cooper feels his way round a new aid to keyhole surgery, tracks brainy bees from flower to flower and wonders how they do it so efficiently.

He hears how unblocking the nose of a primitive fish enabled vertebrates to develop jaws, how plesiosaurs may have been caring parents, and how we perceive passing time in a blink of an eye.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Brainy bees, feeling surgery, jaws, baby plesiosaurs and time perception.

2011082520110829

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

This week, Quentin Cooper looks at what may be the oldest fossils on Earth; he tracks cholera across continents, plays games with weather forecasts to understand uncertainty and asks how many species there really are on Earth.

The oldest fossils, tracking cholera, playing with uncertainty and counting species.

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This week, Quentin Cooper hears about some of the first skilled toolmakers, a new design of battery that won't set your laptop ablaze, cloning wildcats to keep their pedigree pure, and, as the Hollywood horror Apollo 18 is released, why should we go back to the Moon?

Producer: Martin Redfern.

The first hand axe, better batteries, cloning wildcats, why we should return to the Moon.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

2011090820110912

Quentin Cooper hears about the fossils of a small but surprisingly well-formed possible human ancestor from South Africa; how one writer has come to understand and live with her beautiful genome; and how all the gold we can mine once rained down from above.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper on human ancestry, beautiful genomes and gold from the sky.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

2011091520110919

Quentin Cooper reports from the British Science Festival in Bradford on nuclear power from thorium, plants to clean up explosives residues, lie detection through facial expression, ethical use of human tissue and geoengineering with artificial volcanoes to counter global warming.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper reports from the British Science Association Festival in Bradford.

Quentin Cooper reports on the latest science research and the discoveries that make or underpin the headlines.

This week he's at the British Science Association Festival in Bradford, where scientists showcase their work and look for imaginative ways to share it with the public.

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Ehsan Masood with a weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He hears from the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and discuss how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Ehsan Masood presents this week's digest of science in and behind the headlines.

2011100620111010

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

2011101320111017

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Producer: Fiona Roberts

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Producer: Deborah Cohen

Producer: Julian Siddle.

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Science programme reporting on developments across the disciplines.

Each week, scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.

Fission at Fukushima?

It's been eight months since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's Honshu Island.

Now at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, despite all the efforts to stabilise and disable the power station, there are signs that nuclear fission may still taking place within one of the reactors.

There's also fresh speculation based on atmospheric modelling that the scale and range of radioactive emissions from the plant, at the time of the disaster, were much greater than the Japanese government reported.

Quentin is joined by Robin Grimes, Professor of Materials Physics and Director of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College London, to discuss how significant these findings are.

Airships - The Future of Air Travel?

This week the Airships Association has held a meeting in London to galvanise interest in a new European project to develop commercial airships.

Paul Stewart, Professor of Control Engineering and Pro-Vice Chancellor in research at Lincoln University, outlines to Quentin why he believes the airship may well be one of the main forms of air travel in the future.

Legend of the Sunstone

How did the Vikings make their epic voyages, even supposedly reaching America? According to Norse legends they wielded a "Sunstone", a rock capable of working out where the sun was, even if, as was often the case in the far north, conditions were overcast.

But there may well be some truth behind the myth - at least according to a paper just published by the Royal Society.

Quentin speaks to Vasudevan Lakshminarayanan, Professor of Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, to see if there's any substance to the stories.

Producer: Fiona Roberts.

Quentin Cooper discusses the latest events at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

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Science programme reporting on developments across the disciplines.

Each week, scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.

This week Quentin investigates fracking for oil and gas - could it cause earthquakes or contaminate water supplies? Listening to the ground with an optical fibre to hear what's going on down a borehole.

A visit to the new Hidden Heroes exhibition at the Science Museum and a last chance for amateur scientists to enter 'So You Want To Be A Scientist.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Fracking for gas, listening to quakes, hidden heroes and amateur science.

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Quentin Cooper and guests discuss the science changing our world this week, talking to researchers and opinion-formers about the latest research in the news and in the journals.

Quentin Cooper and guests discuss the science that is changing our world this week.

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This week, risk and uncertainty: how to communicate it to politicians and the public.

Quentin Cooper asks the Government Chief Science Advisor, Sir John Beddington and the Chairman of the Lord's Committee on Science and Technology, Lord Krebs.

Also, revealing the secrets of locust flight: how they may help the design of miniature flying robots.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Top government scientists discuss risk and Quentin investigates insect flight.

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This week, Quentin Cooper hears about the impact of thawing permafrost on climate change; how generations of space worms may lead the way for humans to reach Mars; and how DNA barcoding is identifying species and spotting fraud.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

The risk of thawing permafrost, space worms and DNA barcoding.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Science programme reporting on developments across the disciplines.

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Quentin Cooper asks if it's worth extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and how it might be done with carbon nanotubes.

He hears how industry is planning for a world shortage of rare elements.

A 500 million year old monster eye with 16 000 lenses and the first finalists shortlisted from listeners who want to be a scientist.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Catching carbon from air, scarce elements, fossil eyes and amateur scientist candidates.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the scientific disciplines.

2011121520111219

Quentin Cooper presents the latest on the search for the Higgs particle, hears about a scheme to pair scientists with members of Parliament, announces the next group of shortlisted candidates for So You Want to Be a Scientist and sniffs the smell of the Moon from a lunar exhibition in Liverpool.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

The Higgs particle, pairing scientists with MPs, amateur scientists and moon art.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the scientific disciplines.

2011122220111226

This week, Quentin Cooper hears about a new planet the size of the Earth, simulating the brain with analogue chips, the last four in the long list of potential amateur scientists, how robins choose a sexy mate and how a warming climate is bad for your Christmas tree.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

New planets, brain chips, amateur scientists, Christmas trees and sexy robins.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the scientific disciplines.

2011122920120102

In this special edition, Adam Rutherford finds out which four finalists will be competing for the title of BBC Amateur Scientist of the Year.

Over 1,000 people entered 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?' hoping to put their scientific questions to the test. During the last few weeks on Material World, we've met the 10 amateur scientists on this year's shortlist. But which of them will make the final four to turn their idea into an experiment?

Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir Paul Nurse chairs the judging panel and is joined by astronomer Dr Lucie Green, statistician Dr Yan Wong from Bang Goes the Theory and science journalist Mark Henderson. They'll decide which entries show the most scientific promise and discuss how these budding amateur scientists might go about designing their experiments.

Producer: Michelle Martin.

Revealing the four finalists competing to become the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year.

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The ancient Mayans had two calendars; the solar calendar of the agricultural year and a lunar calendar on which they based their religious festivals. The two don't coincide very often. The longest cycle they considered lasts 5 125 years and completes a cycle on 21st December 2012 at the midwinter solstice. That has given rise to predictions that this is when the world will end - something not stated in the Mayan texts. It was also the basis for the Hollywood epic "2012" with earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and all the special effects of modern film making.

So how might the world actually end? Could geological or cosmic catastrophe take place this year, and if not, how do we know? But this is not just about geology and astronomy. It's also about human psychology. Why do predictions of an apocalypse continue? What drives those who invent them, and their followers who sometimes have such strong beliefs that they commit mass suicide?

And will the world end eventually, and if so, how and when? Quentin Cooper investigates the end of the world with the help of astronomers, psychologists and anthropologists.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin asks if the world will end in 2012 and why people make apocalyptic predictions.

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week, as Education Secretary Michael Gove calls for better computer science in schools, Quentin looks at how cheap or open source software and hardware could help. Seeing the invisible: the most detailed map of dark matter in the universe has been unveiled at this weeks' meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Royal Horticultural Society reveals its list of the worst garden pests of 2011. And Adam Rutherford samples horrible sounds with So You Want To Be A Scientist finalist Izzy Thomlinson.

Producer: Martin Redfern, Victoria Kent.

Teaching computer science, mapping dark matter, emerging pests and nasty noises.

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Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

This week, Quentin Cooper studies the most detailed 3D map yet made of the entire land surface of the Earth. He looks into a dusty cabinet containing some of Darwin's fossil collection and asks if climate change could have been responsible for the fall of the Khmer empire in Cambodia.

Adam Rutherford joins another of our amateur finalist in 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?'. Val Watham from Berkshire wonders if the right stripes really do make you look slimmer and embarks on an experiment to prove it.

The world in 3D, Darwin's lost fossils, fashionable stripes, and the end of Angkor.

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Do the health and bio-security risks of influenza research justify its benefits in preparing for the next pandemic? Could a fresh water bulge in the Arctic Ocean upset the British climate? Does the shape of someone's face affect the tone of their voice? And will the widening of the Panama Canal bring environmental benefits? Quentin Cooper questions the scientists involved.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

The next flu pandemic, an Arctic bulge, faces and voices and the Panama Canal.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

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Quentin Cooper discusses a survey of ethical attitudes to sharing genome information; why having many friends calls for a bigger brain; how the last of our So You Want to Be a Scientist finalists plans to study emotional responses to art; and how volcanic eruptions triggered a little ice age.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Genome ethics, having friends takes brains, emotional art, and triggering an ice age.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

2012020920120213

Quentin Cooper asks if Freud was a scientist, and reviews the week's science.

Over the next two weeks Radio 4 will be broadcasting plays about Freud's famous cases. Deborah Levy has dramatised the stories of Dora and Little Hans.

In Material World Quentin Cooper will be exploring Freud's approach to understanding his patients and asking how scientific it was. And he will be looking at Freud's legacy in the 21st century.

Quentin will also be presenting his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

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Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

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Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

Quentin Cooper reports on the science behind the news and the news in science. Each week, scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

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Quentin Cooper asks if tourists and scientists may be bringing aliens into Antarctica. He checks out a controversial collision 12 900 years ago in which an asteroid impact may have changed the climate. He hears how one of our amateur scientists is investigating why we hate nasty noises and he discovers how star-quakes could help us discover habitable planets.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Aliens in Antarctica, meteor impacts, nasty noises and star-quakes.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

2012031520120319

A new set of Hominin remains from a Cave in China prove difficult to place in the human family tree. The "Red Deer Cave People" share some traits with modern humans, and some with older relatives. Do they represent hybrids from interbreeding 11,500 years ago or could they represent a new species previously unknown to science? Lead author Darren Curnoe from the University of New South Wales and Dr Isabelle de Groot from the Natural History Museum in London discuss the findings.

Co-curator Ghislane Boddington and Prof Noel Sharkey talk to Quentin about a new exhibition opening on Friday at FACT, Liverpool, called "Robots and Avatars". The vision of numerous artists of a near future where we freely interact with colleagues and friends in the form of robots or remote projections as avatars will be on display. What are the implications for how we live and work?

An update from 'So You Want to Be a Scientist' - Material World's search for the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year. One of our four finalists, Dara Djavan Khoshdel aged 25 from Bournemouth, starts his experiment at Modern Art Oxford. He's testing people's emotional reactions to paintings using a skin galvanometer, which measures our micro-sweating. But will the strength of people's reaction match the financial value of each artwork?

Producer: Martin Redfern.

Quentin Cooper with news of a new hominin puzzle from China, and where art meets science.

Quentin Cooper with an update from the 'So You Want to Be a Scientist' talent search.

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This week's programme features another finalist from 'So You Want to Be a Scientist' - Material World's search for the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year. Izzy Thomlinson, aged 18 from Shropshire, tests people's reactions to horrible sounds at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. From scraping fingernails down a blackboard to squeaky polystyrene, what is the most annoying sound in the world and do the sounds that make us wince change with age? Presented by Quentin Cooper.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

The science of auctions, life on the ocean floor, and why the clock change might kill us.

Quentin Cooper with an update from the 'So You Want to Be a Scientist' talent search.

2012032920120402

A leak of gas from a platform 150 miles off the Scottish coast is causing concerns, particularly over risks of explosion. We look at the environmental effects of the gas and ways of clearing it up. As with oil spills bacteria may play a role in its dispersal.

An environmental conference in London this week gave scientists the chance to get together ahead of the next round of international climate change negotiations. We look at the subject of geo –engineering. Once the realm of science fiction, the idea of using chemicals to seed clouds or reflect light back from the sun is now being seen as a serious option for dealing with climate change.

So You Want to be a Scientist. The clothes are ready for our experiment looking at the arguments over vertical versus horizontal stripes, which ones really do have a slimming or fattening effect?

Gas eating bacteria, how to save the world and what stripes might do to your figure.

Science magazine programme.

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In this Week’s programme Gareth Mitchell looks at the future of road transport. According to transport researchers the car as we know it will have to become a thing of the past if traffic is to continue flowing. Drivers will need to be more like passengers and leave much of the decision making about what vehicles do on our roads to computerised transport management systems.

It’s just over a century since scientists first showed that cosmic rays can come from distant stars. Subsequent research into their effects here on earth has led to the worrying conclusion that they could destroy much of our global communications infrastructure. We hear about those early cosmic ray pioneers and the role of hot air Balloons in determining where they come from, with Professor Alan Watson from Leeds University. And speak to Dr Christopher Frost from The Rutherford Appleton laboratory’s Neutron Irradiation facility, who is trying to recreate the effects of those rays to see how they affect modern electronics.

And from our ‘So You Want to be a Scientist’ experiment, we look more widely at what makes us talk the way we do.

Science magazine programme.

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Science magazine programme.

Quentin Cooper examines the practicalities of expanding wind farms in the North Sea. Last week a meeting of European ministers called for greater investment in wind technology, and an industry consortium was launched to look at ways of increasing the amount of offshore power that could be generated from the North Sea. The engineering challenges are huge, we get to grips with the big questions on how to wire up the sea for electricity production and look to the shape of future wind turbines, which would need to increase in six years if the plan is to be realised.

Gamma rays can be bent. A French research institute has found a way of refracting these radioactive beams in much the same way as visible light. The discovery opens up a whole new area of research, and potential Nano scale probing technologies which could seek out many materials from drugs’ to nuclear waste and have the potential to treat cancer much more accurately than any current radiation based methods.

A few weeks ago we discussed the government’s plans to give the security services greater powers to snoop on our online activities. The plan would need the co operation of internet service providers, and mobile phone companies who would have to hand over data showing the activities of their customers. One person who knows all about the methodology is the author who goes by the pseudonym DR K, in the past he has been a computer Hacker, and written a book about his experiences, The Real Hacker’s Handbook.

Also, on today's So You Want To Be A Scientist. Our 18 yr old amateur scientist Izzy Thomlinson launching a national experiment on Horrible Sounds this week.

Together with her mentor, Prof Trevor Cox, they’ve designed an online test to find out why some people are more sensitive to nasty noises than others.

You can take part by listening to a selection of noises, from nails scraping down the blackboard to squeaking polystyrene, and rating them on a scale of ‘not unpleasant’ to ‘extremely unpleasant’.

Take the test now by clicking on the link below!

Gamma rays can be bent. A French research institute has found a way of refracting these radioactive beams in much the same way as visible light. The discovery opens up a whole new area of research, and potential Nano scale probing technologies which could seek out many materials from drugs’ to nuclear waste and have the potential to treat cancer much more accurately than any current radiation based methods.

A few weeks ago we discussed the government’s plans to give the security services greater powers to snoop on our online activities. The plan would need the co operation of internet service providers, and mobile phone companies who would have to hand over data showing the activities of their customers. One person who knows all about the methodology is the author who goes by the pseudonym DR K, in the past he has been a computer Hacker, and written a book about his experiences, The Real Hacker’s Handbook.

Together with her mentor, Prof Trevor Cox, they’ve designed an online test to find out why some people are more sensitive to nasty noises than others.

You can take part by listening to a selection of noises, from nails scraping down the blackboard to squeaking polystyrene, and rating them on a scale of ‘not unpleasant’ to ‘extremely unpleasant’.

2012051020120514

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

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Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

2012052420120528

In this week's programme Angela Saini asks whether the UK government's plans for future energy provisions live up to public expectations. New research shows the public generally favour renewable technologies over fossil fuels, but can the reality of our energy needs be squared with the public's wishes? We discuss this with public perception and energy policy experts Professors Nick Pidgeon from Cardiff University and Jim Watson from Sussex University.

We also look at how street lighting is affecting micro environments. Insects and arachnids seem to grow and multiply under new whiter brighter street lights. We discuss the consequences of this with researcher Thomas Davies from Exeter University.

Silicon chips are a key component of computers, but now a new type of chip with moveable silicon offers the chance of much faster operation and the preservation of huge amounts of data without the need to power the chips. Tony Kenyon form the University College London's Photonic Materials lab heads the team behind the new invention.

We also look at earthquake prediction and ask why it is currently impossible so say exactly when and where earthquakes will occur.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

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It's 80 years since British Physicist James Chadwick discovered the Neutron. Finding this key particle led to the development of many different branches of science from theoretical physics to modern medicine, engineering and electronics. Quentin Cooper discuss the significance of Chadwick's work and his legacy with Professor Peter Rowlands, from Liverpool University - where Chadwick worked on particle accelerators and Professor Andrew Harrison, from the Institut Laue-Langevin, one of the world's leading neutron research facilities.

We hear the first results from one of our 'So You Want to Be a Scientist' teams. What noises do we really find horrible and why?

And we examine the state of the world's helium supply. It's not just used to inflate party balloons, helium has a key role in protecting sensitive microelectronics and enabling the correct functioning of medical scanners and equipment used in the study of neutrons. It occurs in the same deposits as natural gas, but is not managed well by the industries which extract and store it according to Dr Richard Clarke from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

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Legionnaires' bacteriology, why Venus is good for science and the true illusion of stripes

Quentin Cooper looks at the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Scotland. He speaks to leading bacteriologist Professor Hugh Pennington about the causes of the disease, its history and why Legionnaires', one of the world's most dangerous bacterial pathogens, is so hard to detect.

We look at the transit of Venus. Venus passed between the earth and the sun earlier this week - and won't do so again for over 100 years. Observed in past centuries this phenomenon is credited with helping devise methods to navigate the earth's oceans, but it is also helping us now to detect distant planets that we cannot see.

And we catch up with 'So You Want to Be a Scientist' finalist Val Watham. After a lot of hard work analysing the results, Val can finally shed some light on whether horizontal or vertical stripes are more flattering.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

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This month sees the 100th anniversary of the birth of British mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing. Lauded by many as one of the founding fathers of information technology, his visionary ideas and theories are at the heart of our digital age. Yet until relatively recently he was forgotten, his achievements ignored. We discuss his legacy with Dr Tilly Blyth, curator if computing and information at London's science museum and Dr Peter Bentley, reader in computer science at University College London and the author of the recently published 'digitized' in which he compares the work of Alan Turing with other computer age pioneers.

Just ahead of the finals in Cheltenham, we catch up with two of our 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?' finalists. William Rudling can finally shed some light on whether people who look similar also have similar voices. And we hear from Dara Djavan Khoshdel if people's emotional response to an artwork is a good predictor of the monetary value of that artwork.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week and speaks to scientists who are making headlines.

2012062820120702

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week and speaks to scientists who are making headlines.

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This week scientists at CERN in Geneva have discovered a sub-atomic particle they think might be the long-sought Higgs Boson particle. Quentin talks to leading CERN scientists Professor Jim Virdee and his colleague at Imperial College, Professor Gavin Davies, about the implications of this finding.

Also in today's programme, Quentin visits the annual Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society. Dr Phil Manning explains how particle physics does not just allow scientists to find Higgs, but can also tell us about the colour of dinosaurs. His group uses a particle accelerator to 'read' fossils. At another stand, Dr Gianluca Memoli and Ian Butterworth from the National Physical Laboratory tell Quentin why the sound of bubbles can have interesting medical applications. And Dr Stephen Leslie maps the genetic make-up of the different peoples in the UK. Quentin finds out he is actually more of a soft Southerner than the tough Northerner he fancied himself to be.

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week and speaks to scientists who are making headlines.

2012071220120716

With the Olympics only weeks away, airport security has been high on the government's agenda. Recent long queues and the time taken to clear security at Heathrow in particular has been criticised by MPs.

In this week's programme Angela Saini visits the Farnborough International air show to find out how technology might speed up the airport security process. David Smith from FLIR demonstrates a mock-up of a future passenger check-in, where hidden radioactivity detectors can spot suspicious isotopes before those carrying them know they've been scanned. And with the European Union keen to allow bottles of water to be carried again onto planes next year, he demonstrates a scanner which should be able to detect liquid explosives.

Angela also speaks to Oliver Böcking and Mark Stevens, of start-up company DNA-Tracker, about how their technology could track mobile phones to check for suspicious behaviour as passengers move around the terminal.

Angela also discusses with Civil Engineer Peter Budd how good airport design can make visiting airports a positive experience.

And we hear from Designer Bill Walmsley about synthetic sandbag technology, now used to defend many of our airports from car bombs.

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week and speaks to scientists who are making headlines.

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Researchers have found new evidence that suggests Neanderthals may have used medicinal herbs to treat their ailments. In northern Spain they have found evidence they ate certain plants with no nutritional, but some medicinal, benefits.

99.9% of all creatures that ever roamed the Earth are no longer alive today. As a memorial to all species lost since the dodo, the project MEMO (Mass Extinction Monitoring Observatory) will erect a huge bell-tower on the Isle of Portland in Dorset.

Also in Dorset, a science/art collaboration as part of the Cultural Olympiad is unveiled next week on and around the Jurassic Coast. The producer and earth science advisor to "Exlab" discuss what will be seen and also the criticism that there was little or no science included in the festivities.

We also take a look at "crowd funding" as a new means to fund scientific research. Matt Salzberg has set up Petridish.org as a means to connect scientists and potential donors. Science communicator Alice Bell will join Quentin in the studio to discuss implications and potential ethical pitfalls.

Neanderthal medicine, commemorating extinctions, ExLab and the ethics of crowd funding.

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Simulating a whole bacterium, UK tsunamis, melting Greenland ice, and herd behaviour.

Researchers at Stanford University and the J Craig Venter Institute have managed for the first time to make a computer simulation of an entire organism. Quentin is joined by Markus Covert, the team's leader, to learn how the scientists were able to successfully simulate the workings of the simple bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium.

While it is unlikely that the UK will be hit by a tsunami caused by an earthquake, rare but very large underwater landslides could cause a huge amount of destruction in coastal areas. A UK-wide project, led by researchers at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, has recently been awarded a grant of £2.3 million to investigate such tsunami threats to the UK. Quentin speaks with Peter Talling to discuss the severity of the tsunami threat and the importance of this research.

NASA has announced that this month an unusually large percentage of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet has melted. It is far from unusual for Greenland's ice caps to melt slightly in summer, but the geographical extent and speed of the current melt have not been observed since the satellite age, and perhaps have not happened since the late 19th century. Quentin is joined from the University of Sheffield by Edward Hanna to find out whether the reaction to the news this week was proportional.

Finally Quentin is joined in the studio by Dr Andrew King of the Royal Veterinary College to discuss herd behaviour of sheep. By kitting out a herd of sheep and a sheepdog with small GPS backpacks, his group has found evidence that sheep in a herd will display selfish behaviour in order to stay safe, for the first time quantifying a previously qualitative theory.

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A look at phonics and neuroscience, maths and the epic classics, and animal empathy.

While school children are enjoying a well-deserved holiday, Quentin Cooper discusses the use of phonics to teach children to read and looks at the extent to which neuroscience can help inform education policy. He is joined from Cambridge by Usha Goswami and from York by Charles Hulme.

Quentin also finds out how a mathematical approach can help elucidate the historical basis of some of our oldest classical texts. Padraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna, join him from Coventry University.

And Alex Kacelnik joins Quentin from Oxford to discuss the question as to whether or not animals have empathy.

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Quentin Cooper reports on the latest surface rover mission to Mars, NASA's Curiosity.

Quentin Cooper reports on the latest surface rover mission to Mars - NASA's Curiosity, or Mars Science Laboratory - twice as long, twice the science, and five times as heavy as its famous forebears.

Landing on the floor of the Gale Crater, next to a mountain of sedimentary strata, the 10 different instruments carried on board will provide more knowledge of the geological history of Mars - including the possibility of microbial life during an earlier, wetter epoch of Mars' past - than any previous mission.

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How a child with total paralysis could kick a football using a brain-controlled suit.

A suit that is controlled by the brain is close to enabling a quadriplegic child to kick a football. Neuroscientist Professor Miguel Nicolelis has pledged that he's close to perfecting an entire robotic body suit that will be operated by thought alone. Users will be able to imagine an action, and the brain will send signals to the prosthetic device to complete the action. Based at Duke University, Professor Nicolelis tells Quentin Cooper that his recent research has given him new confidence that his World Cup pledge is deliverable. By placing sensors all over the exo-skeleton, the robotic arm or body suit can now send signals back to the brain, giving the user a sense of touch.

Butterflies in Japan, around Fukushima, have been affected by exposure to radioactive material following the nuclear meltdown 18 months ago, a new study in the journal, Scientific Reports, suggests. Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among the Pale Grass Blue butterfly. Biologist Tim Mousseau from the University of South Carolina studies the impacts of radiation on animals and plants in Chernobyl and Fukushima and says the Japanese research has important implications for life in Fukushima.

Parkinson's Disease is a neurological condition with no cure. It's also very difficult to diagnose because there is no objective test. But now, a UK mathematician could be close to providing a fast and cheap way to make early diagnosis, using voice-pattern recognition. Dr Max Little, a research fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, developed an algorithm while studying at Oxford University. Changes to speech is one of the main symptoms of the disease, and by collecting 10,000 voice samples from people around the world, hopes are that the rich voice dataset will be able to identify specific symptoms and provide early diagnosis. Also in the conversation is Dr Keiran Breen, Director of Research and Innovation at Parkinson's UK, who thinks this research will be of benefit.

British scientists are preparing to set off for the Antarctic in an ambitious project to drill down into a sub glacial lake that hasn't seen the light of day for hundreds of thousands of years. Engineers from the British Antarctic Survey are using a giant drill to bore down three kilometres into Lake Ellsworth in an expedition that's been 15 years in the planning. Using high-pressure hot water, Andy Tait, lead drill engineer, describes the challenges and aims of the project.

Producer: Fiona Hill.

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Quentin Cooper investigates Mars, bomb-proof make-up, toilets of the future, and bird song

As public interest in the red planet reaches a peak and NASA's Rover Curiosity begins tentatively to roll across the Martian surface, their next lander - called InSight - is announced to some fanfare. Based on an older, simpler, static probe, InSight will look for "Marsquakes" and teach us about the deep seismic structure of Mars. But as the former head of Science and Robotic Missions at the European Space Agency, now President of the Royal Astronomical Society, Prof David Southwood tells Quentin, there is some disappointment for planetary scientists, and fears that with budgetary cuts jeopardising many planned missions, Curiosity could be the last hurrah for this golden age of Martian exploration.

A global challenge to invent a new toilet that doesn't need water, electricity or a septic system, doesn't pollute and costs less than five cents a day is being worked on by scientists around the world. Professor Sohail Khan from Loughborough University is one of the winners of the "Reinvent the Toilet" competition run by the Gates Foundation. His team's design is based on hydrothermal carbonisation - a sort of pressure cooker which converts waste into something that looks and smells like coffee.

When a bomb explodes in a warzone, it produces a blast wave and then a thermal heat wave that can reach temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists in the USA have developed a camouflage make-up designed to protect exposed skin for 15 seconds - and in some cases up to a minute - from this intense heat. Professor Robert Lochhead and a team at the University of Southern Mississippi were commissioned by the Department of Defence to develop the make-up. It protects soldiers from the searing heat of roadside Improvised Explosive Devices as well as providing traditional camouflage. Field trials are now underway. The team used silicones, which absorb radiation at wavelengths outside the intense heat spectrum, instead of the traditional hydrocarbon ingredients used in cosmetics.

Age-related hearing loss is inevitable and irreversible, but now British birdwatchers are worried it could be affecting their ability to record and survey, accurately, bird species with higher-pitched song. Eminent birder, Richard Porter, put the peregrine among the pigeons when he admitted his inability to hear certain species' birdsong in an article in British Birds magazine. At the RSPB's annual British Bird Fair, he tells Quentin that he's concerned that higher range hearing loss could be distorting the all-important surveys of British birds. Acknowledging the possibility of an "age hearing" effect on the data, Andy Clements, Director of the British Trust for Ornithology, outlines new research, planned for the Autumn, to measure volunteers' hearing abilities and cross reference this with known bird populations.

2012083020120903

Piano tuners' brains, exo-planets and chimp justice. Quentin Cooper presents science news.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines...

The Kepler spacecraft has spotted a binary star system with more than one planet orbiting. Furthermore, one of the planets could have liquid water.

An image of the rocky base of Mount Sharp on Mars shows a feature which, to a terrestrial geologist, looks exactly like evidence for a river delta.

This week a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience looks at the physical structure of piano tuners' brains. An area in the hippocampus shows changes in size that relate to the amount of time piano tuners have been working, not to their age.

And it is suggested by researchers in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that chimpanzees won't punish thieves unless they are themselves the victim. Could it be that "third party punishment" is unique to humans among the higher primates?

2012090620120910

Quentin Cooper features some of the highlights of the British Science Festival in Aberdeen

Quentin Cooper features some of the highlights of the British Science Festival in Aberdeen, including research into foods that could make us feel full for longer that could be useful to help people lose weight. He'll also be finding out why Aberdeen University ecologists have been tracking voles in the north west of Scotland and how the flooded old mines under Glasgow could be a source of heating for homes and offices. And there's a report on the latest news about the human genome which reveals more of what our DNA actually does.

Quentin Cooper features some of the highlights of the British Science Festival in Aberdeen, including the future of oil and gas exploration.

20120913

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. Material World this week is full of record breakers: an experiment involving 61 million people, an update on what is happening with the furthest-flung man-made object from Earth; the Voyager space craft, the largest botanical project ever completed - the Flora of Tropical East Africa and the biggest award for engineering - The Queen Elizabeth Prize.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012092020120924

Quentin Cooper asks how climate computer modelling is being used to determine future UK energy policy. Also on the programme how flies could help feed livestock; could growing protein on larvae be an ingenious solution to food shortages? And how bumblebees find their food in the wild - the first study to look at their behaviour outside the laboratory.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012092720121001

The Gravity Fields festival aims to celebrate the legacy of the town's most famous son, Sir Isaac Newton. For eight days the town will be home to talks, exhibitions, science and arts shows, actors and processions. Quentin talks to some of the scientists taking part. Also on the programme the 50th anniversary of the publication of "Silent Spring" the book that launched the environmental movement, and how the Sumatran earthquake in April may be responsible for quakes all over the planet.

The Gravity Fields festival aims to celebrate the legacy of the town's most famous son, Sir Isaac Newton. For eight days the town will be home to talks, exhibitions, science and arts shows, actors and processions. Quentin talks to some of the scientists taking part.

2012100420121008

This week Material World looks into what happens when published research is wrong, or worse fraudulent? When a published peer reviewed article is subsequently found to have something wrong with it, journals may send out a "retraction notice". But do these notices tell the whole story? Research out this week suggests that up to two thirds of retracted papers are due to scientific misconduct, rather than simple error. Also ecologists ask the public to help them identify 2 million bat calls and test tube spiders; how one of the largest British spiders has been reared in captivity and is now being released into the wild.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012101120121015

This week is Nobel week, when the most recent recipients find out they've won the world's most important awards. We speak with three of this year's winners of the Science awards; Prof. Sir John Gurdon for Physiology or Medicine, Prof. Serge Haroche for Physics, and Prof. Brian Kobilka for Chemistry.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012101820121022

The ten year randomised badger culling trial was set up under the eye of Lord Krebs. On Material World this week he outlines some of the scientific knowledge - and the gaps in that knowledge - that relate to the two licences granted recently to pilot wider badger culls in England. Badgers can carry TB and infect cattle. Bovine TB is a significant and growing problem for British farmers.

As part of the inaugural Biology Week, Prof. Adam Hart outlines the results from this year's "Flying Ant Survey", promoted by the Society of Biology. 6000 sightings were reported by the public. And it seems that this year at least, there was no single genuine "Flying Ant Day...

Two interesting new exoplanets have been announced this week: one discovered by the crowd research site planethunters.org which would seem to have four suns; the other, orbiting one of our nearest stars, alpha centauri B, and likely to be our nearest planetary neighbour outside of our solar system.

And finally, this year marks 50 years of British involvement in space. Royal Mail has released a set of stamps covered with images from ESA space probes of the sights of our solar system. Stuart Clark explains.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012102520121029

Seven members of a panel convened by Italy's Civil Protection Department in the days prior to the L'Aquila earthquake of 2009 have this week been sentenced to six years each in prison. The trial has been watched eagerly around the world by seismologists and earthquake specialists around the world.

The men - fours scientists, two engineers and a government official - were found guilty of manslaughter for downplaying the risks of a big earthquake happening, after months of weaker tremors. But did the scientists get too close to a political role in those confused days? Will the verdict deter other scientists from offering their advice in future?

Prof Tom Jordan, who chaired an International Committee formed at the request of the Italian government to look into risk communication gives his thoughts on the verdict, and Dr Roger Mussen and Prof Robert Holdsworth give a UK view on the consequences for science.

Dr Jacob Dahl is trying to decrypt one of the oldest known written languages, proto-Elamite. He's putting hi-tech images of over 1000 clay tablets online, and hopes that with international cooperation he'll have cracked the code in the next two years.

And Dr Leonel Dupuy describes his breakthrough in the development of a see-through soil which will revolutionise crop studies, enabling extraordinarily highly detailed images of root systems in vivo.

2012110120121105

In a few weeks the Government will unveil its new energy bill. Recently energy sources and prices have occupied a lot of headlines, and a couple of weeks ago much was made over an industrial process to convert air into petrol. What links all these things together is the often under-reported issues surrounding energy storage. John Loughhead and Malcolm Wilkinson discuss the various challenges and possible solutions to storing electrical energy to bridge the gaps between a varying energy demand and an intermittent renewable supply.

Just a little over a decade ago a massive international effort went into the first sequencing of a human genome. This week, scientists writing in the journal Nature present a study that has sequenced the genomes of over a thousand individuals, from many different countries. It hopes to provide a reference map of local variabilities to help researchers understand indicators of disease or medicinal effectiveness in individuals.

Also on the programme; the real threats to British trees. Ash dieback may be in the headlines but between 3 to 4 million larches have been felled since 2009, horse chestnuts are seldom being replanted because of the destruction caused by the leaf miner moth and bleeding canker and will the elm ever recover from Dutch elm disease? Professor Clive Brasier, Andrew Halstead and Dr. Micheal Pocock discuss the 10 current epidemics that are infecting trees in Britain.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012110820121112

Climate change alone could wipe out wild Arabica coffee by the end of this century, according to new research published in the journal PLOS One. Commercially grown Arabica coffee is from limited genetic stock and the loss of the wild crop could have significant implications for the sustainability of high quality coffee. Dr. Aaron Davis, Head of Coffee Research at Kew Gardens, who led the study, discusses the findings with global crop wild relative expert Dr. Nigel Maxted from the University of Birmingham.

A haul of stone blades from a cave in South Africa suggests that early humans were already masters of complex technology more than 70,000 years ago. The journal Nature reports on the new find which suggests that early humans passed on this knowledge down the generations. Dr. Curtis Marean, an archaeologist at Arizona State University in Tempe, who led the team that found the bladelets and Dr. Matthew Pope from the University College London argue that this could be the earliest evidence of truly modern human behaviour.

Finally why are birds migrating to the UK literally falling out of the sky and dying - Graham Madge from the RSPB explains more.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012111520121119

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

A report this week issued by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB suggests that crucial mistakes in our carbon accounting procedures make burning biomass in the form of wood appear a better idea than it really is. In fact, they go so far as to suggest we'd be better off sticking with coal. Yet recently some of the UK's biggest coal-fired plants have announced big increases in their biomass mix. From Princeton University in the US, Tim Searchinger - upon whose work much of the report is based - outlines the thinking. Gaynor Hartnell, CEO of the industry's Renewable Energy Association disputes the report.

Also this week, many results form the different LHC experiments at CERN are being presented at a meeting in Kyoto. Many scientists' hopes over the years have been that the LHC will find unexpected results and discoveries that will herald the "New Physics" - the theories that will take us beyond the standard model. A favourite has been supersymmetry. This week, a new type of decay (a Bs meson decaying into a muon and an anti muon) has been observed at a rate that almost exactly supports the standard model, rather than anything more exotic. And as we go to air, even the recently discovered Higgs boson seems to be nothing more exciting than a bog-Standard Model Higgs. But are reports of supersymmetry's demise highly exaggerated?

In the Netherlands, researchers have been working out whether emotions may be transmitted between humans via "Chemosignals" in people's sweat. You don't smell them, they are neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but left on a sweaty rag and wafted under female's noses they elicited a fear-like (and a disgust-like) response.

And finally Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal of consortium ASTRAEA talks to Quentin about imminent testing of civilian applications for Unmanned Aircraft, AKA drones.

2012112220121126

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012112920121203

Dr Roy Davey analyses the latest Energy Bill statement by the Energy Secretary.

An expedition of scientists, helicopter pilots, chefs and engineers embark on a four month mission to eradicate the brown rat from South Georgia. Professor Tony Martin, the team's leader, will be talking to Quentin about how his team will spread rat bait across 94,000 hectares of land.

Olive oil could be used to preserve ancient stone buildings, like York Minster. Synchrotron X-ray methods are used to understand the protective powers of olive oil for stone. Dr Karen Wilson will be joining Quentin on the line from Cardiff.

Also, Quentin talks to Professor Martyn Poliakoff about the new "Romantic Chemistry" exhibition at the Royal Society. The exhibition looks at the most unusual elements discovered by Fellows of the Society during the Romantic period (1780-1825).

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012120620121210

With the on-going climate talks in Doha not hitting the headlines Quentin Cooper asks whether such large scale and largely incomprehensible meetings are effective at delivering anything worthwhile on climate change. Can science take the initiative from the policymakers and present the subject in a way which interests and inspires the public?

We also interview James Watson the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA on the reissue of his classic work on the subject 'The Double Helix'.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012121320121217

Earlier this week, Steven Hawking was awarded 3 million dollars for his contribution to theoretical physics. 7 scientific leaders at CERN received the same amount between them. We look at the impact of awarding such prizes. While they create headlines for the scientists involved - do they help promote the science and are they fair, given the collaborative nature of contemporary scientific research?

We also look at the mystery of Piltdown man. Once thought of as the missing link between ancient apes and humans this Sussex fossil was exposed as a fake more than 50 years ago. The mixture of human, orang-utan and chimpanzee parts is the subject of a new scientific investigation using modern techniques including DNA analysis. Researchers hope to solve the mystery of who produced the hoax and why.

Also on the programme we speak to mathematicians who may have found a way of making computers process information thousands of times faster than they do now.

And we discuss the 'science of Middle earth' how far the fantasy of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit stories accurately reflect science.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2012122020121224

This week Quentin Cooper looks at new research into the usefulness of I Q tests. The hundred year old measure of intelligence has often been derided for being culturally biased, sexist and unfairly divisive. Now the largest ever study of IQ tests examines asks what such tests really measure and how far they can provide a useful way to compare the abilities of different people.

We also look to Antarctica, a project to drill through the frozen surface of Lake Ellsworth has been suspended due to problems with a hot water powered drill. Scientists hope to resume drilling by Christmas day and obtain samples for their search for life forms that may have existed for millennia below the lakes frozen surface.

We talk to Alexander Kumar a doctor who has spent the past 9 months living in Antarctica as part of an European Space Agency project to look at the physiological and psychological impact of extreme cold and isolation - which ESA hopes will help inform future long distance space missions to other planets.

And we hear from children's presenters Dick and Dom about their new science series 'How Dangerous' which is being broadcast on 4 Extra starting on Christmas Eve.

Recorded in front of an audience Quentin Cooper and guests, Adam Rutherford, Mark Miodownik, Claudia Hammond and Dalls Campbell, discuss the unsung heroes of science.

2013011020130114

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week and speaks to scientists who are making the headlines.

2013011720130121

Why is the smog in Beijing and northern China so bad at the moment and how does it compare to the UK? Dr Gary Fuller, Senior Lecturer in Air Quality Measurement at King's College London and Peter Brimblecombe, Professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of East Anglia discuss the current situation. Are the alternatives to researching on animals currently realistic? A new post is being created at Queen Mary, University of London to try and find other options to animal testing. Dr. Alpesh Patel, from the Dr. Hadwen Trust and Professor Dominic Wells from the Royal Veterinary College are in the studio. Also how scientists have managed to study exploding stars much more closely. Dr Alison Laird, joins Quentin Cooper from the University of York's Department of Physics.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper looks into the science stories of the week and speaks to scientists who are making the headlines.

2013012420130128

The Dreamliner is grounded and engineers are still trying to determine what went wrong. But what challenges do scientists face when designing planes? Professor Peter Bruce from St. Andrews University and Jeffrey Jupp, visiting professor at Bath University discuss. Professor Wendy Barclay from Imperial College London explains the controversies around H5N1 research and why it can now be restarted. Also, did wolves change their diets to become dogs? Dr. Erik Axelsson from Uppsala University in Sweden joins us on the line. And the science behind the decision to take mackerel off the sustainable food list.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Are ever stricter noise and energy consumption restrictions making plane design harder? Controversial bird flu research, dog domestication and why mackerel is off the menu.

2013013120130204
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TB vaccine - Satellites - Lake Ellsworth - Antarctic Station

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Quentin Cooper looks at the coronavirus that has been transmitted from one individual to another in the UK. Professor Maria Zambon, an expert virologist at the Health Protection Agency, and Ian Jones, Professor of Virology at Reading University, discuss these latest infections, what is being done to find out more and why coronaviruses are being so closely studied. Will science be able to trace the sources of horsemeat that have illegally entered the European food chain? Chris Smart from Leatherhead Food Research explains more about DNA identification of potentially contaminated meat. Another use for DNA could be as a data storage device. Dr. Nick Goldman from the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge tells Quentin Cooper how. And Davide Dominoni from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology has found that city dwelling blackbirds are ready to reproduce earlier than their rural counterparts - and it appears to be because of increased light exposure.

Quentin Cooper investigates the science in the news and the news in science.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2013022120130225

Quentin Cooper investigates the science in the news and the news in science.

2013032120130325

Adam Rutherford discusses new science results from the Planck space telescope.

Adam Rutherford discusses new science results from the Planck space telescope; a spectacular new map of the "oldest light" in the sky has just been released by the European Space Agency. Its mottled pattern confirms much of the standard model of cosmology, but some of the new data challenges current thinking and may imply a need for some completely new physical theories. In particular, a large asymmetry in the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation may even be a shadow of something that happened before the Big Bang. Professor George Efstathiou and Dr. Joanna Dunkley, both of the Planck science collaboration, discuss the findings.

Could the elusive giant squid be just one single species? Professor Tom Gilbert from the Museum of Natural History of Denmark in Copenhagen explains how his team have analysed giant squid mitochondrial DNA and found it to be almost the same in samples taken from across the globe. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology.

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Next week, representatives of the 188 nations that have signed the Chemical Weapons Convention meet in the Hague for its third review. Professor Leiv Sydnes, from the University of Bergen in Norway, chaired last year's international assessment of the impact of scientific advances on the Convention. He has expressed his concerns in the journal Nature that chemical and biological weapon advancement has gone beyond current legislation.

From chemical to biological warfare, Quentin Cooper moves to the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Dr. David Keir, Scientist and Programme manager at VERTIC - an NGO which monitors the development, implementation and effectiveness of international agreements - talks about the scientific credibility of plans by North Korea to restart its plutonium reactor. Are the on-going claims of increasing their nuclear capabilities realistic?

President Obama announced a major new scientific project to push forward the field of neuroscience. The BRAIN project is a $100million initiative to unlock the mysteries of our grey matter. Professor John Hardy, from UCL's Institute of Neurology, is one of the leading global Alzheimer's scientists in the UK and explains how significant technological progress has allowed this project to be created.

Foot and Mouth disease spreads quickly through livestock populations costing up to $4billion every year in developing countries, and also regularly infects animals in the developed world. Current vaccines are effective but difficult to make and administer. A completely new type of vaccine, much safer, easier and cheaper to make than the current one, has been developed by UK researchers. Professor Ian Jones, from the University of Reading and Dr. Bryan Charleston, from the Pirbright Institute explain their work.

2013041120130415

The future of open science? Fewer dusty journals, more research in the cloud.

2013042520130429

DEFRA's Chief Scientific Advisor meets with scientists at the Royal Society to discuss future strategies in controlling bovine TB. Ian Boyd has called together sixty leading experts in bovine TB with the aim of developing new strategies in controlling the disease. He speaks to Quentin Cooper from the meeting. Also on the programme Christl Donnelly, Professor of Statistical Epidemiology at Imperial College London, and James Wood Alborada Professor of Equine and Farm Animal Science at Cambridge, both of whom were at the meeting.

The rediscovery of a mystery animal in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery's underground storeroom proves that a non-native 'big cat' prowled the British countryside at the turn of the last century. When the skeleton of the animal was compared to the mounted skin, researchers realised that the description in the records was wrong and that it was in fact a Canadian lynx. The researchers studied the teeth of the lynx and looked at strontium isotopes in the bones to find out where it lived. Dr Ross Barnett, from the University of Durham and the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen, tells us more.

Shark teeth found at the bottom of aquariums are being used by scientists at Birmingham University to find out about biological diversity in ancient seas. Ultimately the work could help predict what will happen to life in the currently warming seas. Sharks lose teeth regularly and researchers think that clues to marine biological diversity over millions of years may be locked up in sharks' teeth. Studying oxygen isotopes, which are incorporated into sharks' teeth as they develop, can reveal the temperature of the seawater the shark lived in at the time. Dr. Ivan Sansom, a Palaeobiologist, is leading the project.

2013050920130513

Currently, scientific research in the UK receives an estimated 4.9 billion euro from the European Research Council's FP7 program, a figure that is likely to climb to as much as 8 billion euro when the current program finishes in 2013. With the possibility of a referendum on EU membership becoming more apparent, what would happen to UK scientific research if the UK were to leave the EU altogether? UKIP MEP Roger Helmer and Professor Ed Hinds of Imperial College London discuss the implications with Gareth Mitchell.

The existence of pear-shaped nuclei has long been predicted, but although some qualitative hints of this nuclear shape have been found, the quantitative information to back this up has been sparse. By using accelerated beams of heavy, radioactive ions, a team lead by researchers at the University of Liverpool recently found a clear pear shape in the nucleus of radium isotopes. As explained by Professor Jonathan Butterworth from University College London's Department of Physics and Astronomy, these findings hold huge promise in furthering our understanding of nuclear structure and also, testing the standard model of particle physics.

By examining White Dwarf stars in the nearby Hyades Cluster, Dr Jay Farihi from the University of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, found that these dead stars were 'polluted' by low levels of carbon and lots of silicon. Dr Farihi hopes to use these findings to gain invaluable insights into the fate of our own solar system when, as predicted, the sun ceases to exist in 5 billion years.

Gareth Mitchell presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2013052320130527

Why is Oklahoma so prone to tornadoes and what can residents do to protect themselves?

The tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday 20th May is nothing new to the area, which is situated at the Southern tip of 'tornado alley' and was crippled by an equally devastating tornado back in 1999. But what is it that makes this stretch of land so susceptible to these phenomena and what can its residents do to protect themselves? Professor John Snow from the University of Oklahoma's College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences sheds some light on what life is like as a resident of 'tornado alley'.

Year on year, another tree disease or pest is identified within British borders with ash dieback the latest in a long list of pathogens attacking our native species. In light of this, The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce have compiled their final report this week. Chris Gilligan, chairman of the expert taskforce and Professor of Mathematical Biology at the University of Cambridge, talks us through the report's recommendations.

In August 2011, outbreaks of Schmallenberg Virus in cattle, goats and sheep emerged in some countries of Western Europe. The most dramatic effects of the virus can be seen in stillborn calves and lambs with severe deformities. Just over a year since the virus was first discovered in the UK, a vaccine has been developed in time for breeding season. Professor Peter Borriello, CEO of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, explains how the vaccine was engineered so quickly.

Professor Hugh Griffiths, the winner of the Institution of Engineering and Technology's (IET) A F Harvey Prize, is receiving his prize tonight - £300, 000 to continue his work on bistatic radar and using FM radio waves and TV signals as radar. He joins Quentin Cooper in the studio.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

2013060620130610

Quentin Cooper is at the Cheltenham Science Festival where crystallography, viruses, FameLab and forensic fiction are all on the agenda.

20130613

Quentin Cooper investigates the news in science and science in the news.

20130620

Quentin Cooper looks back at 100 years work of the MRC. Plus how snails travelled from the Pyrenees to Ireland, and the nature of applause.

*20090305

Quentin Cooper hears about the latest remarkable example of natural selection - a fish eye that focuses light using a dished mirror - and how it illustrates Charles Darwin's 150-year-old theory.

Darwin recognised that the eye, in all its perfection, could represent a real problem for the theory of evolution.

But in fact, with hundreds of different seeing organs specialising in different functions across the animal kingdom, the eye actually reveals the great inventiveness of natural selection.

Quentin Cooper hears about the latest remarkable example of natural selection.

*20090319

Quentin Cooper hears about medical isotopes, one of the staples of modern medicine which allow doctors to track down damaged tissue and diseased organs.

These radioactive tracers are in danger of vanishing from our medical shelves because the ageing nuclear reactors that they are made in keep breaking down.

Quentin talks to a supplier of medical isotopes and a leading user, to hear about our need for these chemicals and what can be done to ensure their availability.

Quentin Cooper hears about problems in the supply of medical isotopes.

*20090402

Pen Haddow speaks to Quentin Cooper from the Arctic ice cap, where Haddow and his team are currently measuring this year's ice melt - up close and personal.

*20090409

Quentin Cooper and guests dissect the week's science and ask, 40 years after the first British Concorde flight, whatever happened to the supersonic dream?

*20090423

Quentin Cooper and guests discuss how machines are learning to recognise and express emotions.

He meets Professor Roddy Cowie and Professor Rosalind Picard, two researchers hoping to develop robots that can read our moods.

In Nebraska, space lawyers gather to thrash out how the world might deal with the threat of Near Earth Objects: asteroids that might one day crash to earth with devastating consequencies.

Even if we have the technology to do something about it, how would the nations of the world best agree to get on with it? Ben Baseley-Walker of the Secure World Foundation, co-sponsor of the conference, hopes that talking about the legal niceties now rather than later could save valuable time should the warning ever come.

Plus, after chancellor Alistair Darling announced a 750 million pound fund to help innovation and emerging technologies, Hagan Bayley, Professor of Chemical Biology at Oxford University, visits the studio on his way to pick up an enterprise award for a cheap DNA sequencing device.

How machines are learning to recognise and express emotions.

*20090430
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Quentin Cooper reports on the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

*20090521

Quentin Cooper finds out about the Nanolab, a miniaturised work bench on a chip devised by European scientists to handle and build things from single molecules.

He hears from its inventors about how it could transform nanotechnology.

Quentin Cooper finds out about the Nanolab.

*20090611

As the UK research councils pour new money into eco-engineering, Quentin Cooper hears about the challenges of low-carbon housing.

All new housing must be zero-carbon by 2016 according to government policy, but is such a commitment even meaningful? The aim seems worthy, but experts say that new homes often use twice the energy expected, partly because the engineering science is too poor.

Quentin Cooper hears about the challenges of low-carbon housing.

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*20090716

Quentin Cooper talks to the scientists chasing the 2009 solar eclipse that will stretch from the edge of India to the heart of the South Pacific, passing over Bhutan, Shanghai and Japan on its way.

There will not be another eclipse like it for 120 years.

For scientists, this is an unparalled chance to peer into the Sun's corona, while the rest is hidden from view.

Quentin Cooper talks to the scientists chasing the 2009 solar eclipse in the South Pacific

*20090723

Among the cargo Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took to the Moon on Apollo 11 in 1969 was an array of mirrors that are still, 40 years on, at the forefront of science.

By bouncing laser beams of light off the mirrors, scientists are now able to measure the Moon's position to an accuracy of one millimetre.

They have already shown that the Moon is receding at a speed of nearly four centimetres every year.

But with these more precise measurements they can even test whether Einstein got his theory of gravity absolutely right.

How mirrors left on the moon by Apollo 11 in 1969 are testing Einstein's theories.

*20090730

The discovery 20 years ago of the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis was a milestone in human genetics.

One of the discoverers, Francis Collins, went on to run the Human Genome Project.

A single gene was tracked down using genetic clues, and the expectation was that a treatment based on replacing the gene would follow soon.

Quentin Cooper hears why the therapy has proved so hard to develop.

Quentin Cooper hears about the genetics of cystic fibrosis.

*20090806
*20090813
*20090820
*20090827

Quentin Cooper hears about the English astronomer who spotted an extraordinary solar eruption that in September 1859 created the most brilliant and extensive auroras ever witnessed on Earth, and which put out of action the newly-built telegraph networks.

The impact of such a storm on today's telecommunications infrastructure could be huge.

The Great Solar Storm of 1859, and the Englishman who discovered it.

*20090903

Quentin Cooper and guests dissect the week's science.

*20090910

Quentin Cooper hears what became of the Large Hadron Collider, one year on from the much-vaunted Big Bang Day.

In September 2008, Radio 4 decamped to the Swiss countryside to broadcast the launch of the most complicated experiment ever attempted, the giant, atom-smashing Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility.

But before the month was out, the experiment was suspended, after a major electrical failure.

Quentin hears about progress towards the re-opening of the LHC and finds out when it is likely to work again.

Quentin Cooper hears what became of the Large Hadron Collider.

*20090917

Quentin Cooper and guests dissect the week's science.

As international negotiations approach for the replacement for the Kyoto climate protocol, it is a sobering thought that the greatest reduction in greenhouse gases comes from a completely different treaty.

The Montreal Protocol, which came into force 20 years ago to protect the ozone layer, also managed to remove huge quantities of heat-trapping CFC gases from the atmosphere.

To mark World Ozone Day, Quentin Cooper examines the lessons from this most successful of environmental treaties.

*20090924
*20091001
*20091029

Quentin Cooper explores the territory where imagination meets reality, and hears from participants in a new collaboration between writers and scientists, assembled by novelist Geoffrey Ryman.

Quentin Cooper explores mundane science fiction, where imagination meets reality.

*20091210

Quentin Cooper looks at global plans to monitor the deep sea.

In the USA, fuelled by more than 100 million dollars from the Federal Recovery Act, the Ocean Observatories Initiative has just begun.

It plans to create an unprecedented network of underwater surveillance equipment in oceans.

Europe and Asia also have plans for networks of ocean observatories.

Quentin finds out how monitoring the oceans' depths, second by second, will help us understand scientific questions as far ranging as the process of ocean circulation and the impact of future climate change.

Quentin Cooper hears about global plans to monitor the deep sea.

*20091217
*20091224
*20091231

'Amateur' is not a term that's always considered as a compliment, but it should be, argue amateur scientists.

The word amateur comes from the French 'amour', meaning someone who loves what they do.

At one stage in the past, nearly all scientists were amateurs.

Quentin Cooper looks into the continuing role of enthusiasts at the front line of research.

He is joined by Dr Adam Rutherford from the journal Nature, Professor Rob Fuller, who co-ordinates the work of 30,000 volunteers for the British Trust for Ornithology, prize-winning young scientist Hannah Stuart, and founder President of the Society for Amateur Scientists in the USA, Dr Shawn Carlson.

He also visits the garden observatory of Tom Boles, who monitors 12,000 galagies for exploding stars from his home in Suffolk.

*20100107

Got an experiment you want to conduct? A pet theory you want to test? Here's your chance.

Quentin Cooper launches 'So You Want to Be A Scientist?' and discusses this unique opportunity for ordinary people to do some extraordinary science.

Quentin Cooper launches 'So You Want to Be A Scientist?'.

*20100114

ALMA - Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array - is under construction on the Chajnantor plain of the Chilean Andes, 5,000 metres above sea level.

It will be made up of 80 high-precision antennas and will transform our understanding of the physics of the cold universe, regions that are optically dark but shine brightly in the millimetre portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Gareth Mitchell finds out how work is going after the recent first successful measurements taken by ALMA.

Gareth Mitchell hears about ALMA, a major new facility for world astronomy in Chile.

*20100121

A thousand years ago, the centre of world science and invention was not in Europe but the Middle East.

Muslim minds produced a flying machine in the 9th century, the first distillation system, surgical instuments familiar in a modern hospital, and the most accurate clock in 1,000 years.

Gareth Mitchell visits the Science Museum in London and picks out a few exhibits from an exhibition of 1,001 inventions.

Gareth Mitchell investigates the latest science news and inventions from 1,000 years ago.

*20100204

Take the carbon dioxide from a power station or factory chimney and use it to grow algae which are then turned into biofuel.

It sounds too good to be true and of course there's a snag; you have to disolve the carbon dioxide in water before the algae can use it and that only happens slowly - unless you inject it as microscopic bubbles, and that takes a lot of energy.

Quentin Cooper hears how researchers in Sheffield have developed a much more energy-efficient way of producing microbubbles and are applying it both to biofuel production and cleaning up pollution.

Quentin Cooper finds out how microscopic bubbles could boost biofuel production.

*20100218

In October 2005, a European scientific satellite lifted off on a Russian rocket to perform crucial measurements on the effects of global warming on polar ice.

Just a few minutes later, CryoSat crashed in the Arctic.

Now, reborn, rebuilt and renewed, CryoSat-2 is on the launch pad.

Its chief scientist, Professor Duncan Wingham of UCL, joins Quentin Cooper to discuss the hazards and frustrations of space missions and why this one is crucial to our understanding of climate change.

The question of whether global climate change is causing the polar ice caps to shrink is one of the most hotly debated environmental issues of our time.

By monitoring precise changes in the thickness of the polar ice sheets and floating sea ice, CryoSat-2 aims to answer this question.

It will use radar to measure the extent and thickness of ice around both poles and to see how it is changing.

Quentin Cooper meets the man behind CryoSat-2, rebuilt to study changing polar ice.

*20100304

In London alone, there are now around 5,000 sets of traffic lights, about a thousand more than in the year 2000.

But do we need them all? Do they really make our roads safer for motorists and pedestrians? In many cases, say campaigners, the answer is no.

They point to trials elsewhere in Europe where removing lights seems to increase drivers' awareness of pedestrians and other road users, at the same time reducing congestion.

Quentin Cooper hears about a new study in London to investigate the impact of removing lights at selected junctions and the consequent financial costs or benefits in terms of accidents, injuries and delays.

The latest science from Quentin Cooper, who asks whether we really need traffic lights.

*20100311

Have you ever been trapped in a maze and wondered how to get out? The problem of solving a maze is something that has intrigued physical chemist Bartosz Grzybowski at Northwestern University in the USA.

Quentin Cooper finds out more about his research into chemotactic droplets: chemicals that can find their way by a process of trial and error.

They are chemicals that could be said to learn.

The idea is to use this self-navigation ability to better target cancer tumours with drugs.

A problem with drug delivery in the human body is that there is a maze of blood vessels to get through.

What if you could design a chemical molecule that could cleverly navigate the human body delivering drugs to its target alone?

Quentin Cooper hears that some chemicals can navigate a maze by trial and error.

*20100325

It has been estimated that shipping kills 60,000 people annually through its polluting exhaust fumes.

As the Marine Environment Protection Committee meets in London to discuss solutions, Quentin Cooper hears what can be done.

Quentin Cooper hears what can be done about shipping, the hidden polluter.

* *20091022

NASA plans to launch its massive Ares 1 rocket, the first test flight of its vehicle planned to replace the Shuttle in the next decade.

Quentin Cooper looks forward to this first step in NASA's Constellation programme for human space exploration.

Quentin Cooper looks forward to the launch of NASA's massive Ares 1 rocket.

300 Dead Birds In The Post Every Day20030529

If you received 300 dead birds in the post every year, you might think someone had something against you, but researchers at the predatory bird monitoring scheme are delighted to receive such packages! Run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme monitors the exposure of birds of prey to certain pesticides and pollutants.

Part of the monitoring involves encouraging members of the public to send in any dead birds of prey, such as herons, kingfishers, barn owls and kestrels directly to them in a padded envelope! Quentin Cooper will be finding out why monitoring schemes are so important to our wildlife and marine life.

6000m Under The Sea20060323

Canadian researchers recently ascertained that at least five species of deep water exotic fish are now on the critically endangered list.

Stocks are decimated and scientists believe many other species are likely to be similarly endangered, driven to near extinction by commercial deep sea fishing.

Deep sea fish are relatively new life forms - they only arrived at the end of the Jurassic period when the sea was fully oxygenated.

Many are distant relatives of the cod.

They live in regions where there is little or no natural illumination, called the aphotic zone, which can be anything from 1000 metres below the surface.

These fish cannot rely on their eyesight for locating prey, mates or avoiding predators.

Some have long feelers or extremely large eyes adapted to the dark, whilst others like the well-known Angler Fish, carry their own bioluminescent torch.

These animals also have a different biochemistry that is stable under the intense pressures of the deep.

Using Deep sea robotic vehicles, marine researchers can now probe the secrets of these remarkable, remote creatures and perhaps learn how best to protect them.

Peering into the murky depths with Presenter Quentin Cooper is Professor Monty Priede, Director of the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab.

Acidic Water20040401

Water covers more than two thirds of the world's surface.

New research suggests that despite their vast size, the world's oceans will become significantly more acidic as carbon dioxide emissions increase over the next hundred years.

How will this affect marine life and the rest of the food chain that depends on it? Evidence already suggests that plankton that help seed cloud formation will be damaged.

Quentin Cooper finds out how the seas may become more acid and what affect it will have on climate and marine life.

Alien Species20030918

Biologists call them 'invasive' or 'alien species' but do the foreign plants and animals that set up home in Britain live up to these emotive descriptions? Mink, American crayfish, ruddy ducks and Japanese knot weed have all the hit the headlines in the last ten years but we hear less about rhododendron or rabbits, both of which were also brought here by man.

Quentin Cooper will be assessing whether we should be fighting back or just regarding these globe-trotting species as a natural side-effect of our interconnected world.

Ancient Horses; Uncertainty; How Cutlery Affects Taste20130627

How 700,000-year-old horse DNA could change the way scientists study evolution.

New DNA sequencing techniques have helped reveal the genetic make-up of a horse dating back more than 700,000 years. Gareth Mitchell speaks to paleoecologist Prof Keith Dobney on the challenges and wider importance of this scientific breakthrough and they ponder which ancient genomes will most likely be laid bare in the future.

Uncertainty is an integral part of scientific research, and drives our quest for discovery. Expressions like "limits of confidence" are often treated by the public as a weakness and an indication that scientists don't really know anything "for sure". Sometimes commentators interpret uncertainty as a license for claiming anything could be true. How does scientific truth sit with uncertainty? Professor Ian Stewart, a mathematician from Warwick University, and Professor Angela McLean, from the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, discuss why uncertainty is part of science and how acknowledging uncertainty is a strength rather than a weakness.

Effort spent carefully flavouring and seasoning your food could all be wasted if you don't pay attention to the cutlery you to eat it with. Prof Charles Spence joins the show from Oxford to explain why and possibly provide advice on which cutlery to use.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

Art Fraud20041104

has been around for as long as art itself and is now reaching epidemic proportions round the world.

Thousands of people fall victim every year, and it has been estimated that up to 15% of the paintings sold throughout the world are fake.

What is the role of science in fighting art fraud? How can we distinguish genuine paintings from fake ones? Professor Robin Clark and Dr Nicholas Eastaugh explain to Quentin how scientific analysis of pigments are being used to understand paintings and detect forgeries.

Artificial Blood20050818

Transfusions could become a thing of the past if biologists can produce fake blood that's as good as our own.

With donor shortages, fear of contamination and religious issues surrounding blood transfusion, artificial blood could provide a solution to these mounting problems.

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Ken Lowe from Nottingham University, whose team is modifying the genes inside haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body.

They are hoping to mass produce artificial molecules which can oxygenate the body's cells just as efficiently as our own blood.

Artificial Gills20060209

Professor Edward Cussler has long held the dream to breathe like a fish.

In 1980, he built an artificial gill that extracted oxygen from water.

But on testing the device, it failed to provide enough oxygen to support him.

Scientists are looking into ways to improve on Cussler's experiment.

Quentin Cooper talks to some of the researchers who believe that, in the future, artificial gills may be used to supply submarines or underwater hotels.

Artificial Skin20040617

Our skin is the largest organ in the body.

But when it's badly burned there isn't always enough healthy skin for surgeons to quickly graft all the damaged areas.

What if there was a limitless supply of a synthetic substitute that could not only replace the skin but also promote rapid wound healing? Professor Tony Ryan from the University of Sheffield is creating an artificial skin from biodegradable polymers and peptides which can be reconstituted with a patient's own skin cells.

Join Quentin Cooper as he finds how this artificial skin could change the field of tissue engineering and why it could also be a new, in vitro, model for toxicity testing.

Atomic Theory20031030

200 years ago this month, John Dalton described for the first time how all matter can be understood in terms of its atoms.

All this at a time when some alchemists still believed it possible to make gold from other elements.

Quentin Cooper hears from Nobel laureate Professor Sir Harry Kroto on how Dalton's atomic theory not only kick-started modern chemistry but led to the frontiers of nanotechnology.

Bees And Pesticides; Heart Gene Therapy; Petal Shapes2013050220130506

EU states have voted in favour of a proposal to restrict the use of certain pesticides that have been linked to causing serious harm in bees. Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are sprayed onto seeds and spread throughout the plant as it grows. There has been a lot of concern about this systematic approach, with some scientists arguing that it is comparable to using antibiotics prophylactically. Professor Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex and Dr. Lynn Dicks from the University of Cambridge discuss the scientific evidence currently available on these pesticides as well as the limited data available on the state of pollinating insects.

Patients in the UK have begun being enrolled into trials to see if an engineered virus can be used to heal their damaged and struggling hearts. The trial will use a virus to introduce genetic material into heart muscle to reverse the organ's decline. Researchers found that levels of the protein SERCA2a were lower in heart-failure patients. So they devised a genetically modified virus, with the instructions for producing more of the protein that can infect the heart. The virus will be released into the damaged heart muscle of patients involved in two separate trials testing both the safety and effectiveness of this potential treatment. Dr Alexander Lyon, a cardiologist at one of the hospitals involved, the Royal Brompton in London, and also a Senior Lecturer in Cardiology at Imperial College London is in the studio.

Why are petals all sorts of different shapes? New research shows that petals get their shape from a hidden molecular map within their buds that tells them how to grow. Dr Susana Sauret-Gueto from the John Innes plant science Centre in Norwich explains more about her research.

Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge20060504

Quentin Cooper is joined by Professor Colin Taylor and Anthony Oliver, Editor of New Civil Engineer, to discuss the brilliance of Brunel's original design.

To celebrate Brunel's bicentenary, the Clifton Crossing Competition 2006 has posed the question: 'Can the 21st-Century engineering mind better Brunel's 19th-Century achievement?' The panel assess the merits of the shortlist of finalists.

Car Safety20030724

has come a long way since the first fatal car crash over 100 years ago.

But behind every crumple zone, side impact bar and air bag is an ever willing volunteer, ready to test the latest advances in car safety: the crash test dummy.

Quentin Cooper looks at the technology behind this silent hero and examines the advances made possible by every car drivers mute friend.

Cctv20030828

The UK has four million CCTV cameras and between them they capture the average citizen 300 times each day.

But while the all seeing eyes are busy recording are there any real pairs of eyes watching? Quentin Cooper finds out how new surveillance cameras may cut out the middle man and automatically identify potential trouble makers, or discern the difference between lost luggage and a suspect package.

With so many cameras around the country it is impossible for someone to watch them all.

Instead of acting as an early-warning system their role is often as a deterrent or to occasionally identify suspects from their grainy images after a crime has been committed.

The Holy Grail of surveillance is a system that can automatically spot the difference between harmful and humdrum.

Quentin talks to Dr Sergio Velastin of Kingston University who has designed a computer system that can do just that.

His system is being trialled on the London Underground to alert operators to overcrowding, suspect packages or even people considering committing suicide.

In the future other systems might monitor the faces and walking styles of people passing and compare them to a database of police suspects.

But at the moment these tools struggle when faced with busy shopping centres or a humble hooded jumper.

Quentin puts these systems under the spotlight and finds out whether they will ever be better than a pair of human eyes.

If so, what are the implications for a surveillance society?

Cheltenham Festival Of Science20030605

Material World will be giving you a taste of the events on offer at the Cheltenham Festival of Science.

The Theme of the festival is time and space in all its forms, from exploring the cosmos, to the science of ageing, from looking at our planets past to its possible future.

From the 4th to the 8th of June, Cheltenham hosts its second ever science festival.

The programme includes a look at life at the extremes, the future of space travel and the possibilities of cryogenics.

In this weeks Material World Quentin Cooper will be speaking to a handful of the scientists who exploring space and time.

Clay On Mars, Neanderthals, Cholera,tapeworms2013031420130318

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Clouds And Spam20030522

Quentin Cooper speaks to the researchers who have managed to create a cirrus cloud in the lab.

Fake ice crystals and levitation is all you need to create your own cloud in a lab! Thin and wispy cirrus clouds have a profound influence on our climate.

Even though they are made of ice crystals, they can have a sizeable overall warming effect on our climate.

So far, researchers don't know enough about how these clouds scatter light; however scientists at the University of Hertfordshire, collaborating with the Met office, have found a way of studying these clouds in the laboratory, and the results are already being used by the Met Office to update current climate models.

Cold Water Corals20050505

Few realise that Britain has its own coral reefs off the coast of Scotland.

Dr Jason Hall-Spencer joins Quentin Cooper to discuss the mysterious Darwin Mounds.

Coordination20040304

Do you have two left feet or are you a bit of a Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers? If you're all fingers and thumbs when it comes to co-coordinating your hands and feet, then this week's Material World could provide a helpful hint.

Quentin Cooper takes a turn from the experts as he investigates how neuroscientists are using ballet dancers to understand the how our brain perceives and processes movement.

Cosmic Dust20040812

All the matter around us was once born in the nuclear furnace of an ancient star.

How do chemicals that were once part of this stellar factory disperse into space and, eventually, turn into the complex molecules of life after a star's violent death? The answer may lie in the new science of Astrochemistry.

This week, Sue Nelson talks to Helen Fraser from Leiden University in the Netherlands who is part of a team using new techniques to recreate icy cosmic dust and look into the void of space to find the birth of stars, planets and life itself.

Deer, Herschel, Facial Contrast, Potatoes2013030720130311

The first ever census on deer numbers in the country shows that current management of these wild animals isn't controlling numbers. Estimates suggest there are 1.5 million deer now roaming the countryside, the biggest number since the ice age. But to just keep this number stable more than 50% would have to be culled every year. Is this the only option to controlling these animals which are having a significant and detrimental effect on our woodlands and are the cause of thousands of road traffic accidents? Dr. Paul Dolman, from the University of East Anglia and the lead author of the new research, puts forward his case.

Dr. David Clements, from Imperial College London, returns to the programme to highlight the success of Herschel - the European Space Agency's flagship Space Observatory. He was there at the telescope's launch - back in 2009 - and now will see its end as the onboard supply of helium, which cools the instruments, slowly runs out and the telescope loses its sight.

Also this week, why is the potato such a successful vegetable that can grow in many different climates? Dr. Christian Bachem from the Laboratory of Plant Breeding at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and his team have found a single gene that could be responsible. Knowing that could make it possible to breed even more extreme varieties to meet our ever increasing reliance on the humble spud.

Finally Dr Richard Russell, from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, may have discovered an underlying method by which we all guess a person's age. Writing in the Journal PLOS One, it seems a higher contrast between lips, eyes and the skin makes people look younger - something with which lipstick and eye shadow wearers can agree.

Is a deer cull the solution to controlling ever-increasing numbers? With Quentin Cooper

The first ever census on deer numbers in the country shows that current management of these wild animals isn't controlling numbers. Estimates suggest there are 1.5 million deer now roaming the countryside, the biggest number since the ice age. But to just keep this number stable more than 50% would have to be culled every year. Is this the only option to controlling these animals which are having a significant and detrimental effect on our woodlands and the cause of thousands of road traffic accidents? Dr. Paul Dolman, from the University of East Anglia and the lead author of the new research puts forward his case.

Dr. David Clements, from Imperial College London, returns to the programme to highlight the success of Herschel - the European Space Agency's flagship Space Observatory. He was there from the telescope's launch - back in 2009 - and now will see its end as the onboard supply of helium, which cools the instruments, slowly runs out and the telescope loses its sight.

Also this week, why is the potato is such a successful vegetable and can grow in many different climates? Dr. Christian Bachem from the Laboratory of Plant Breeding at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and his team have found a single gene that could be responsible. Knowing that could make it possible to breed even more extreme varieties to meet our ever increasing reliance on the humble spud.

Finally Dr Richard Russell, from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, may have discovered an underlying method by which we all guess a person's age. Writing in the Journal PLOS One, it seems a higher contrast between lips, eyes and the skin makes people look younger - something with which centuries of lipstick and eye shadow wearers can agree.

Diamonds And Champagne20041223

Quentin Cooper explores the science behind two of life's luxuries, diamonds and champagne, talking to Frederick Panaiotis, a wine maker from Veuve Clicquot to reveal the secrets of champagne's creation.

He also meets Dr Paul May from Bristol University, who explains how diamond chips under the skin could act as biosensors to monitor blood glucose for diabetics.

As science perfects the art of making artificial diamonds, will they lose their exclusive cachet?

Eurovision Song Contest20060518

'Norway - Zero points' may be a phrase of the past which is no longer true, but might there have been some collaboration between member states of the Eurovision Song contest to keep Norway at the bottom of the pile?

Since the late 1980s, media observers have noticed that some pairs of countries routinely give high scores to each other.

And there are suspicions that voting partnerships might now be turning into voting blocs.

Are such phenomena statistically significant, or can they be explained by chance?

Derek Gatherer, who has made a comparison of Eurovision Contest simulation and actual results, has some unusual answers.

He joins Quentin Cooper to discuss collusive voting alliances.

Could this herald the end of the Eurovision Song Contest as we know it?

Forecasting Evolving Coastlines20060601

England's 130 million square metres of shoreline, much of it wildlife habitat, is under constant threat.

Environmental agencies like English Nature say much of the vital terrain will have disappeared by 2025.

How that ghostly coastline impacts on people and wildlife species will depend on our ability to forecast the way sands, mud and sediments move around our coasts.

In order to make predictions about the way they move around, scientists need mathematical models, allowing for the complicated effects of tides and changing waves.

That's just what a team of researchers have embarked on at the Deltaflume of Delft Hydraulics, at the Voorst Laboratory in Holland - the home of one of the world's largest wave channels.

Researchers join Quentin Cooper to discuss what the lessons they've learnt can tell us about whether we should invest in property by the sea.

Frances Galton20040729

(1822 - 1911) was cousin of Charles Darwin and the founder of eugenics, the science of controlled breeding in order to increase desirable inherited characteristics.

Quentin Cooper finds out about the man who produced the first accurate weather reports, coined the term anti-cyclone, invented the statistical concepts of regression and correlation but whose dark motives and naive vision about humanity and nature versus nurture would leave their own stain on the history of science.

Future Tv Displays20060126

On 26 January 1926, John Logie Baird assembled 50 scientists from the Royal Society and treated them to the world's first demonstration of true television in his attic workshop.

The first discernible picture on a television screen was a 30-line red and black image.

Eighty years on, Baird's mechanical televisor has of course been superceded and displays have continued to evolve - with plasma screens and LCD flat panels the latest things on the market.

But what of tomorrow's technologies? It's hard to predict the winners and losers, but one option is using Organic Light Emitting Diodes to make screens that are lighter, super-thin and more bendable than the TVs we're used to.

Quentin Cooper talks to the scientists and experts who are building these prototype displays and investigates the way they might change how and where we watch TV.

Genographic Project20060309

Where do we actually come from? That is the ultimate question that the Genographic Project has been trying to answer.

Since its launch last year, using the genetic marker from DNA samples, it has tried to unlock the secrets to humankind's ancestral past.

The head of the project, Dr Spencer Wells, joins Quentin Cooper to discuss the lessons drawn so far, from the more than 100,000 volunteers who have agreed to participate.

Geoconservation20030327

Quentin Cooper finds out how Geoconservation - preserving areas of land with geological significance and international importance - is going global, and how Britain is leading the way.

Ghost Ship20060202

A crewless, self-navigating vessel has been successful in negotiating hazardous waters around the coast of the British Isles.

A team of engineers from the University of Southampton and the artist Chris Burden have come together for this unique project, called Ghost Ship.

A traditional 28ft Shetland sailing boat, a Sixareen, has been fitted with ground-breaking technology that allows for the automatic lowering and raising of sails when necessary and to steer both in the desired direction and away from hazards.

Quentin Cooper is joined by the team's inspirational leader, Professor Grant Hearn, to discuss what engineering insights have been gleaned from Ghost Ship, and the possibility practical benefits that may be on the horizon.

Glass20040325

One of our most ancient materials, yet our scientific knowledge of it is far from clear.

Quentin Cooper finds out why the silica substance is still surprising scientists.

Gravitational Waves20030807

Imagine being stretched from head to toe, before snapping back to your original size.

Not a medieval torture or even the latest celebrity slimming fad, but the effect of a gravitational wave as it passes through your body.

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper gets to grips with these remarkable ripples and discovers why they could hold the clue to the birth of the universe.

Green Mega-cities20060720

The migration of people from the countryside to the city has led to a huge increase in the size and number of mega-cities.

From next year, the UN predicts that for the first time in history, more people will be found residing in cities than rural areas - requiring a new form of city.

The Chinese city of Shanghai seems to be at the cutting edge of the debate.

It is subsidising, for instance, the installation of 100,000 rooftop solar panels.

The development of urban farming is also being expanded - creating green spaces, recycling waste, cutting down on transporting products and limiting soil erosion.

Planners and researchers join Quentin Cooper to discuss how Shanghai could become the model for the green city of the future.

Interdependence20060727

Energy consumption around the world looks set to continually rise for the foreseeable future.

But how will we be able to meet the increasing demand?

Solar power was once touted as the answer to the planet's power supply, but low efficiency and high costs prevented it from making the impact that scientists and industry hoped for.

All this is may be about to change.

Researchers at Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science predict that solar power will be 'mainstream by 2025'.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Dr Darren Bagnall from Southampton and other researchers to discuss the future of solar power.

Interdependence Day20060706

The Interdependence Day project has been set up by the Open University and the Economic and Social Research Council.

It is an initiative encouraging interdependence between science and the arts to refresh debate on the big issues facing today's planet.

Sustainable development, globalisation, environmental change - these are all phrases we're used to hearing but not doing much about.

Now Interdependence Day project aims to inject some life into these fundamental issues, hopefully provoking new dialogue between scientists, artists, the media, big companies and most importantly, the public.

Through a series of events, starting this summer with July 1st designated Interdependence Day, the project hopes to kickstart a grand rethink and knock down some of the jargon that litters the debate.

Interdependence Day

Iranian Earthquake; Zebrafish; Curiosity Rover2013041820130422

The most powerful earthquake in Iran for half a century happened this week. More than 60 times the energy was released compared to the one nearby ten years ago which destroyed much of the city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. Yet so far the death toll from Tuesday's earthquake is far far lower. To explain this and more Dr Roger Musson from the British Geological Survey joins Quentin Cooper this week.

The genome of the tiny zebrafish has been sequenced in great detail, but why is this animal of such biological significance to researchers? Two new studies, published in the journal Nature, outline just why the zebrafish has proved so useful, and how studying and modifying its genome may not only lead to new ways of combating human diseases, but whole new concepts in biology. Discussing why the zebrafish has become the vertebrate model of choice for many scientists are Dr Jason Rihel from University College London, who uses zebrafish to study autism, schizophrenia and sleeping disorders, and Dr Derek Stemple, Head of Mouse and Zebrafish genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge, whose team has completed this latest work.

Earth and Mars are currently in solar conjunction which means that the sun is between the two. This makes contacting NASA's Curiosity Rover on the Red Planet very tricky. It also means Paolo Bellutta, Curiosity's driver, gets a few days off work. He's used the free time to come to the UK and talk about what he does at the Royal Society of Chemistry in London. En route, he dropped into the Material World studio to say hello.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

Isis20030515

Quentin Cooper finds out how a UK based research tool is helping scientists worldwide.

Isis is the most powerful pulsed neutron source in the world.

It is used by scientists to investigate the molecular and atomic structure of all types of materials, giving us a better understanding of the world around us.

Islands20031002

A man-made island in the sun with sandy beaches and blue lagoons - it's paradise for certain footballers and tycoons.

But have they considered the impact on tidal streams, coast erosion and marine ecology in their quest for Utopia? This week Quentin Cooper investigates how man-made islands are designed and the often surprising impact they have on the marine environment.

Property development in the Middle East isn't driven by lack of space.

It's driven by coastline.

More and more consumers want a property with a sea view and there's little suitable room to develop on the mainland coast.

So developers are creating man-made islands to entice the rich and famous.

The Palm is said to be the largest man-made island in the world.

Luxury villas are in construction and the palm-shaped island will allegedly become another home for the Beckhams.

And a palm-shaped island isn't just pretty.

The 'fronds' provide a much longer coastline to give those all important sea views and berthing for yachts.

This provides a tricky design problem as water flow can become stagnant in the lagoons created by the fronds.

On a larger scale, the very presence of man-made islands disrupts the tidal flow of water along the mainland coast.

But are the developers doing enough to protect the environment? A man-made island development at Danaat al-Howar, appears to have been scuppered by the authorities because of environmental constraints.

However in other countries, the key players are sometimes less scrupulous.

Joseph Priestly2004020520040212

One of the founding fathers of chemistry stumbled across photosynthesis, is credited with the discovery of oxygen and accidentally brought us soda water.

But even with this list of achievements, Joseph Priestly isn't a household name.

On the eve of the bicentenary of his death, Quentin Cooper investigates the impact of this remarkable chemist on our everyday lives and asks why he has been forgotten.

Junk Dna, Mine Fires, Homer2013022820130304

Is junk DNA really rubbish? Scientists dispute recent findings about our genetic code. Dr. Ewan Birney from the European Bioinformatics Institute defends his work, while Professor Chris Ponting from Oxford University discusses the latest research on the functionality of our DNA. Professor Mark Pagel from Reading University has analysed Homer's writing by using the language within his poems to date the work. And why did a fire start at the the last remaining pit in Warwickshire? Dr. Dr Guillermo Rein, from Imperial College, London and Tony Milodowski from the British Geological Survey explain how spontaneous heating events, like this fire, occur.

Quentin Cooper investigates the science in the news and the news in science.

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public. The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science like nanotechnology and stem cell research.

La Surveillante20030814

Scuttled during an attempted invasion of Ireland in 1797, the French frigate 'La Surveillante' lay undisturbed in Bantry Bay off the coast of Cork for almost two hundred years until its discovery in 1981.

The science of maritime archaeology has been uncovering its secrets ever since.

Quentin Cooper talks to maritime archaeologists Colin Breen from Ulster University and Ian Oxley from English Heritage; both have studied 'La Surveillante', as well as much more beneath the deep blue sea.

Labs On A Chip20030626

Imagine taking a lab full of test tubes, beakers and stirrers and shrinking it down on to a silicon chip no bigger than a postage stamp.

These 'labs on a chip', as they are known, have the potential to make chemical processes faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper finds out how scientists have shrunk the lab and whether the chips will ever replace the test tube.

Landfill20040311

It's the most common and cheapest method for getting rid of most of the UK's domestic and industrial waste and is where much of the UK's contaminated land ends up.

With nearly ten thousand current or closed sites across the country eighty percent of the population lives within 2 kilometres of one of these sites.

Quentin Cooper talks to the scientists who are taking the science out of the laboratory bench and into the rubbish dump.

Le Grand K20040916

The kilogram is the only unit of measure still defined by a physical object.

"Le Grand K" spends most of its life in a heavily-guarded, subterranean vault on the outskirts of Paris.

But what happens if it gets heavier from dirt or lighter through cleaning? What happens to all other kilogram standards across the world? Sue Nelson talks to Ian Robinson from the UK's National Physical Laboratory who is trying to redefine the kilogram and tie its measurement to the fundamental constants of nature.

London Science Festival Special2011102720111031

Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines.

He talks to the scientists who are publishing their research in peer reviewed journals, and he discusses how that research is scrutinised and used by the scientific community, the media and the public.

The programme also reflects how science affects our daily lives; from predicting natural disasters to the latest advances in cutting edge science.

Producer: Julian Siddle.

Material World this week comes from the London Science Festival.

Quentin Cooper presents an outside broadcast recorded in front of an audience at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

The programme celebrates citizen science and do-it-yourself discovery, as part of 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?', Radio 4's search for the next BBC Amateur Scientist of the Year.

Producer: Michelle Martin

A special recording from the National Maritime Museum as part of London Science Festival.

Maggots20041216

were used routinely in hospitals to help heal wounds until the mid 1940s, when they were sidelined by new antibiotics and techniques.

As hospitals fall prey to multi-resistant strains of bacteria many antibiotics have become ineffective and the search for cheaper and more 'natural' ways of helping wounds heal has caused a resurgence of interest in larval therapy.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Dr Steve Thomas, director of the Biosurgical Research Unit, who supply 15 million sterile maggots a year to hospitals across the UK and Europe.

He also talks to Dr Yamni Nigam from the University of Swansea who is trying to find out why the world's smallest surgeons help wounds heal and which anti bacterial compound means maggots are now available on prescription from your GP.

Mars2004012220040129

has been in the news a lot recently because of robot probes.

But space scientist Robert Zubrin thinks people could be visiting the red planet very soon.

He believes they could get there more quickly and for a lot less money than NASA claims.

Quentin Cooper finds out about his plans and how he's already formed the first Mars colony, here on Earth.

May Day20030501

is a time associated with flowers, maypoles and folklore - but is there any science in folklore? It turns out that researchers world wide are getting into the science behind these rural traditions, so what better time for us to explore it than the first of May? Quentin Cooper looks at some of the science behind the folklore in fields such as archaeoastronomy, the study of the astronomical practices, celestial lore, mythologies, religions and world views of ancient cultures.

Milk2004022620040304

When did milk become part of human diet and how did its arrival influence the emergence of cities and civilization? Archaeologists and chemists are examining ceramics and pottery shards from the Ashmolean museum in Oxford and finding milk residues which are thousands of years old.

In this week's Material World Quentin Cooper finds out how analysing these remains can tell us when humans first became dairy farmers and what it might tell us about the evolution of lactose tolerance and modern civilisation.

Multiverses - Culture-driven Evolution - Lee Smolin On Time2013053020130603

Laura Mersini-Houghton is appearing at this weekend's How The Light Gets In festival of philosophy and music in Hay-on-Wye.Born in Albania, she is a cosmologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill whose theory of the origin of the visible universe has attracted a lot of attention for its strong observational predictions.

As she and Marcus Chown explain to Quentin Cooper, the recently released data from the Planck telescope lend particular support.

Could the big blue blotch on the Cosmic Microwave Background be a kind of shadow cast just after the big bang by a neighbouring universe beyond our own?

"Are evolutionary changes in our genome a cause or a consequence of cultural innovation?"

In last week's journal Science, a piece by Simon Fisher and Matt Ridley suggested that contrary to much received wisdom, we must consider whether sometimes in the evolution of the human genome, it is cultural changes which have led to genetic ones.

According to Ridley, mistaking cause for effect is common in the science, and this realisation could have profound consequencies for our understanding of who - and why - we are.

Is time real after all?

Many physicists and thinkers over the last century or so have treated our experience of the passage of time as an illusional human adaptation, and is actually unreal.

Some powerful physics relies on time being reversible, and a lot of particle physics works equally well backwards as forwards.

But in Lee Smolin's new book, Time Reborn, he outlines his conclusions from 20 years thinking, that time is real after all.

As he explains to Quentin, more importantly for him this implies the laws of physics are not constant, but have likely changed over the course of the history of the universe.

Music And The Mind20031016

Music has always been a powerful tool for reaching parts of the human mind that speech or sight may leave untouched.

Quentin Cooper hears how a musician (Paul Robertson) and a physician (John Zeisel) have teamed up to explore the role of music in the ageing brain and especially in Alzheimer's patients, who can often appreciate music when other mental functions have failed.

Nanoscale Molecular Traps20040902

Quentin Cooper finds out about nanoscale molecular traps.

These 3-D honeycomb structures, a bit like self assembly molecular Lego kits, are paving the way for hydrogen fuel cells, clearing up polluted waste streams and even creating molecular memory devices which could store the information on 100 DVDs in the space of just one square centimetre.

Quentin is joined by Neil Champness, professor in chemical nanoscience at the University of Nottingham to find out about a new generation of nano sized test tubes.

Nanotechnology20051201

Quentin Cooper is at the Cambridge Science Park to discuss nanotechnology - a bewildering range of science, theory and applications at the molecular level.

Part of a roadshow series in association with the Open University's Science in Context course.

National Potato Day20050127

On Sunday the 30th January the Henry Doubleday Research Association celebrate their 12th National Potato day.

Quentin Cooper is joined by botanist and potato expert, Sandy Knapp from London's Natural History Museum to find out about the science and history of the humble spud.

National Science Week - Energy20060316

The average American uses more electricity in one day than the average Ethiopian uses in a year.

The British Association National Science Week is running a campaign to get people to make pledges to reduce their energy usage.

But what's the best way to cut back? Is it best achieved by small measures like turning off the TV or by better design of our homes and cars?

Quentin Cooper and guests discuss energy and the environment, and whether British people can reduce their intake of energy.

Nuclear Fusion2004021920040226

Quentin Cooper asks why nuclear fusion, a potential source of clean, safe and cheap energy, has always remained so elusive and whether it can ever live up to its promises.

Orkney Island Wind Farms And Tidal Barriers20030904

The Orkney Islands are a place steeped in folklore and tradition.

The spectacular scenery, complete with standing stones, ancient ruins and burial mounds, pay testament to the islands long and colourful history.

But the landscape is now competing with more modern structures: wind farms and tidal barriers.

But rather than opposition to the sometimes unsightly structures, the Orcadians welcome the opportunity to be self sufficient.

In this week's Material World Quentin Cooper travels to the islands, during the annual Science Festival, to find out how the islanders are making use of their natural energy resources.

Could the islands attitudes towards renewable energy be a model for the whole of the UK? The Orkney Islands lie off the northern tip of Scotland where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

The seventy or so Islands are home to approximately 19,450 people and have some of the greatest resources of wind, wave and tidal energy available within Europe.

Their unique location and attitude of the islanders has made the Isles a testing ground for new technology.

For example, one of the UK's first generating machines was built at Costa Head in the 1950's.

The sea, always a major part of life for Orcadians is also playing its role in the new economy.

As well as being on the doorstep of the Pentland Firth, one of the most energetic tidal current environments in the world, Orkney has numerous inter-island channels with rapid tidal currents that can be exploited to provide power for the isles.

Quentin travels to the Islands to find out how this new economy is standing side by side with hundreds of years of heritage and how the islanders are developing a sustainable society.

Palladium20050630

200 years ago, palladium's discovery caused a furore.

Instead of being announced in a learned journal, the new element was advertised for sale from a shop in Soho.Palladium today has disparate uses in pollution control and jewellery design and made its 19th Century discoverer, chemist William Wollaston, a rich man.

Wollaston was a brilliant polymath, discovering the first amino acid, inventing navigational instruments and suggesting new theories in fields as diverse as astronomy and physiology.

Joining Quentin Cooper to get the mettle of the metal man is Professor Bill Griffith from Imperial College.

Parasite Adaptation - Fire Safety Engineering20080626

Quentin Cooper explores the latest research into the unusual sexual habits of the malaria parasite, which could reveal new ways of tackling the disease.

Particle Cancer Therapy20070308

The idea that anti-matter beams could treat cancer might seem ridiculous.

But researchers have reported some success into the biological effects of anti-proton radiation on living cells.

Quentin Cooper talks to scientists about how so-called 'charged particle therapy' works by accelerating protons, carbon ions or even anti-matter particles to just the right energy to destroy a tumour, with potentially far fewer side effects than conventional radiotherapy.

Philosophy, Physics And Psychology Of Time20040318

To celebrate National Science week Quentin Cooper travels to Cambridge to join a public debate about the philosophy, physics and psychology of time.

He finds out why some philosophers say science can't predict the future and how psychologists are finding out how birds that steal have some human like memory skills.

Public Participation Science Projects20040708

Documentary examining public participation science projects.

Quentin Cooper and Dr Helen Walker look at whether they are scientifically valid, or more about publicity.

Quantum Computer; Ancient Water; Stem Cells; Dambusters2013051620130520

One of the world's most powerful, commercially available, "quantum" computers is to be installed at NASA's Ames research centre. It will be shared between Google, NASA, and researchers via the Universities Space Research Agency, providing access to a machine which is up to 3600 times faster than a conventional computer. Dr Geordie Rose, Chief Technical officer at D-Wave Systems, the comparny who developed this computer, and Professor Alan Woodward, from the Department of Computing at Surrey University are on the show.

Scientists have discovered the oldest fluid water system in the world, buried deep beneath Ontario, Canada. The waters have been isolated for at least 1.5 billion years and if microbial life is found, it could suggest that buried biomes might exist deep beneath the surface of Mars. Professor Chris Ballentine from the University of Manchester, head of the research project, tells us more.

Embryonic Stem Cells are cells with the unique capability of being able to develop into any kind of cell in the human body. Now a technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, which involves transferring the nucleus of a donor cell into that of a female egg cell, has been successfully applied to humans cells. Dr Paul De Sousa, a stem cell researcher from the University of Edinburgh, explains why these findings are important both to the scientific world and the world of healthcare.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters mission, Material World is taking a look at some of the spectacular, yet largely unknown engineering achievements of World War II. Beyond bouncing bombs were the lesser known military operations like PLUTO, Mulberry Harbour and Tern Island. Dr Colin Brown, Engineering Director at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers tells us more.

Rheology20040624

Quentin Cooper explores the science of spreading, stretching, springing, bouncing, flowing, bubbling and wobbling!

Anyone who has cooked, baked, played in a sand pit or bubble bath has experimented with rheology.

Quentin Cooper talks to Tom McLeish and Dr Fred Mackintosh about how understanding the flow of materials help us to understand processes such as volcanism and the dynamics of convection in the Earth's mantle, as well as how the recent technique called microrheology is being used as a probe to see how various complex substances behave.

Rnai20030717

Nature has equipped humans with a powerful immune system working at the genetic level.

RNA interference or RNAi, as it's called, has only been discovered in the last few years, but already scientists are learning how to adapt it for use in medicine.

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper finds out about this recent discovery, and discovers how drugs based on RNAi promise to revolutionise treatment of a range of diseases, including AIDS and cancer.

Savage Girls And Wild Boys20030227

Quentin Cooper talks to Michael Newton, author of Savage Girls and Wild Boys, about discoveries of children who have been looked after by animals and deprived of human contact.

Snow20021226

Quentin Cooper is in Davos, Switzerland, taking a scientific look at snow.

So You Want To Be A Scientist - The Final2010091620100920

Four amateur scientists have turned their ideas into real experiments this year, with help from the Material World team.

They were selected from 1,300 ideas sent in from around the UK, and this week they present their results in front of a live audience at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.

But who will be selected as the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year? The finalists are:

Ruth Brooks, aged 69, retired special needs tutor from Devon

"What is the homing distance of the Garden Snail (Helix aspersa) that decimates my plants? How far away do I have to dump them before they find their way back to my garden?"

Sam O'kell, aged 35, croupier from Manchester

"I believe the greatest crowd density at a music gig is not at the front, next to the barriers, but three rows back between 6-10 feet from the front.

I would test this by wearing a pressure sensing vest beneath normal clothes, and take readings at different locations in the crowd."

Nina Jones, aged 17, A-level student from Milton Keynes

"What makes up a typical Facebook profile picture? Adults seem to choose pictures showing an event in their lives - their wedding, or a photo with their children - whereas teenagers seem to show themselves having a good time, often with friends at a party.

Through investigation, I will test these predictions, and also look into why this occurs."

John Rowlands, aged 41, aerial photographer from Anglesey

"To investigate the frequency and brightness of noctilucent clouds (polar mesospheric clouds).

They are believed to be linked to climate change, as there are no records of sighting pre-1850's.

I will look at planetary waves, huge oscillations in the earth's upper atmosphere, and find out if they influence when noctilucent clouds occur."

On the judging panel:

- Prof Lord Robert May, former Chief Science Adviser for UK Government

- Prof Tanya Byron, Clinical Psychologist, author and broadcaster

- Mark Henderson, Science Editor of The Times

- Prof Trevor Cox, Acoustic Engineer, EPSRC Media Fellow

Presenter: Quentin Cooper

Producer: Michelle Martin.

The BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year is revealed at the 2010 British Science Festival.

Four amateur scientists have turned their ideas into experiments this year.

Ruth Brooks, 69, retired tutor from Devon

"What is the homing distance of the Garden Snail that decimates my plants? How far away do I have to dump them before they find their way back to my garden?"

Sam O'kell, 35, croupier from Manchester

"I believe the greatest crowd density at a music gig is not at the front, next to the barriers, but three rows back from the front.

Nina Jones, 17, A-level student from Milton Keynes

"What makes up a typical Facebook profile picture? Adults seem to choose pictures showing an event in their lives - their wedding, or their children - whereas teenagers seem to show themselves having a good time.

Through investigation, I will test these predictions."

John Rowlands, 41, aerial photographer from Anglesey

"To investigate the frequency and brightness of noctilucent clouds.

- Prof Tanya Byron, Clinical Psychologist and broadcaster

So You Want To Be A Scientist - The Final20100920

Four amateur scientists have turned their ideas into experiments this year.

They were selected from 1,300 ideas sent in from around the UK, and this week they present their results in front of a live audience at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.

But who will be selected as the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year? The finalists are:

Ruth Brooks, 69, retired tutor from Devon

"What is the homing distance of the Garden Snail that decimates my plants? How far away do I have to dump them before they find their way back to my garden?"

Sam O'kell, 35, croupier from Manchester

"I believe the greatest crowd density at a music gig is not at the front, next to the barriers, but three rows back from the front.

I would test this by wearing a pressure sensing vest beneath normal clothes, and take readings at different locations in the crowd."

Nina Jones, 17, A-level student from Milton Keynes

"What makes up a typical Facebook profile picture? Adults seem to choose pictures showing an event in their lives - their wedding, or their children - whereas teenagers seem to show themselves having a good time.

Through investigation, I will test these predictions."

John Rowlands, 41, aerial photographer from Anglesey

"To investigate the frequency and brightness of noctilucent clouds.

They are believed to be linked to climate change, as there are no records of sighting pre-1850s.

I will look at planetary waves, huge oscillations in the earth's upper atmosphere, and find out if they influence when noctilucent clouds occur."

On the judging panel:

- Prof Tanya Byron, Clinical Psychologist and broadcaster

- Mark Henderson, Science Editor of The Times

- Prof Trevor Cox, Acoustic Engineer, EPSRC Media Fellow

Presenter: Quentin Cooper

Producer: Michelle Martin.

The BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year is revealed at the 2010 British Science Festival.

So You Want To Be A Scientist - The Finals2012062120120625

The culmination of the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year. Adam Rutherford presents the finals of 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?' recorded in front of an audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

This year's finalists are:

- Izzy Thomlinson, an 18 year old student from Shropshire, is trying to find out why sounds like nails scratching a blackboard make some people squirm

- Dara Djavan Khoshdel, a 25 year old mature student from Bournemouth, has been measuring whether our emotional reaction to art is correlated to its financial value

- Val Watham, a 53 year old management consultant from Berkshire, has designed a study to investigate whether horizontal or vertical stripes are more flattering to wear

- William Rudling, a 69 year old caricaturist from Leeds, wants to know whether people who look the same also sound the same

The four finalists present their results to a panel of judges - solar scientist Dr Lucie Green from UCL, evolutionary biologist Dr Yan Wong from Bang Goes the Theory and science journalist Mark Henderson.

After deliberating the merits of each experiment in terms of design, methodology and conclusion, the judges will choose the person they think deserves to become the next BBC Amateur Scientist of the Year.

Producer: Michelle Martin.

So You Want To Be A Scientist Launch2011092920111003

Material World announces the return of 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?' - the search for the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year.

Last year 69 year old gardener Ruth Brooks from Devon was crowned the winner for her research into the homing distance of snails.

With the help of ecologist Dr Dave Hodgson from the University of Exeter, she created an experiment in her back garden to measure how far she should move her snails away to stop them coming back to eat her petunias.

"The whole year was filled with fun," said Ms Brooks.

"For a non-scientist like me, it was great to have my research idea taken seriously.

If I can do it, anyone can - just have a go!"

Now you can put your ideas, hunches and theories to the test.

If you're chosen as one of Material World's four finalists, your entry will be turned into a real experiment which you'll carry out with the help of a professional scientist.

A panel of judges, chaired by Nobel prize winning scientist Sir Paul Nurse, will select four finalists in December.

The amateur scientists start their research in January and will present their results at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2012, where the judges will choose a winner.

Entries are open online from 26 Sept until 31 Oct: www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/scientist.

The return of 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?' - Radio 4's amateur science award.

Social Physics2004021220040219

Quentin Cooper delves into the world of social physics and asks whether the complexities of society could really be reduced to a few universal laws.

Space Flight - One Way Or Return?20040701

One of the defining moments of the 20th Century was when Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon - 'One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind'.

Yet since then, sending humans into space has been blighted by disasters and fraught with problems and expense.

With the technology now available to send unmanned craft further and further into the uncharted depths of space, should we be sending human beings to explore other planets and moons in our solar system? Or could we reach further in remote controlled craft?

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper is doing a bit of travel himself and heading up to Leicester and the British National Space Centre to head the debate on the future of space travel and seeing whether or not we should be concentrating on one-way tickets or risking it on return flights.

String20031009

Quentin Cooper untangles the science of string and discovers that the stringy nature of molecules in our bodies and our plastics is also found in the sun.

Subglacial Lakes20080807

Quentin Cooper talks to Martin Seigert from the University of Edinburgh.

He is leading a consortium of 15 UK universities who aim to drill through and explore Lake Ellsworth, one of a number of lakes beneath the Antarctic ice sheet identified by radar surveys in the 1970s.

They are joined by Andy Smith from the British Antarctic Survey.

Can subglacial lakes, which contain ecosystems isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years, tell us anything about life in extreme conditions on other planets?

Superbugs20071122

Quentin Cooper talks to Clive Beggs and Kevin Kerr from the University of Bradford about their new research exploring how superbugs spread in hospitals and why airborne bacteria might be a key part of the problem.

He finds out how air ionisers can be used to kill bacteria before they settle on hospital equipment and how clever use of humidity control could make superbugs explode.

Swift20040930

Discussion about NASA's soon-to-be-launched SWIFT satellite, which hopes to find out about one of the great mysteries of the universe, gamma-ray bursts.

Talking To Bacteria20040506

Bacteria are one of the simplest forms of life on the planet but scientists have recently found they have the curious ability to talk to one another.

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper talks to Professor Paul Williams from Nottingham University to eavesdrop on some of this microbial banter.

He finds out how this strange form of chemical communication could help the fight against antibiotic resistant killers, protect crops from blight and even keep ships' hulls free from barnacles.

Teleportation20041209

Can Star Trek style teleportation ever move from the realms of science fiction to science fact? Until recently it had only been possible to teleport photons of laser light but earlier this year scientists broke new ground when they successfully teleported atoms for the first time.

Quentin Cooper talks to consultant editor of Nature Philip Ball to find out why this could pave the way for a generation of hugely powerful computers.

The Black Death And Other Plagues20031023

that ravaged medieval Europe were all thought to be bubonic plague, spread by rats.

But, according to modern epidemiologists, the evidence just doesn't add up and no trace of the disease can be found in the bones of victims.

So what was the Black Death and could it happen again? Quentin Cooper investigates.

The British Association For The Advancement Of Science20030911

has become a bastion of good science.

It's annual Science Festival is it's popular shop window.

But, at this year's festival, taking place at Salford University, they're letting the parapsychologists, complimentary medicine researchers and other non-reductionists have their say.

The session is organised by the Scientific and Medical Network, which questions the materialistic assumptions of conventional science and encourages a holistic, intuitive approach to research.

Eminent scientists from different fields will give Quentin Cooper a series of examples of where careful research is pushing the limits of conventional science and will then discuss the broader issues their work raises.

Quentin Cooper then chairs a public discussion in which he asks the speakers, skeptics and members of the audience: Should science should explore beyond bounds of conventional measurement? And if so, how must it adapt to make this possible?

The Cutty Sark20040923

The landmark of maritime Greenwich, the Cutty Sark is in urgent need of repair.

Its timbers are rotting and its hull is badly rusting.

Sue Nelson talks to Professor Chris Bailey from Greenwich University who is building a computer model, a kind of 3D virtual jigsaw puzzle, to decide the order timbers should be removed and replaced to prevent the ship from collapsing under its own restoration.

She is also joined by Dr Sheelagh Campbell from the University of Portsmouth to find out how washing the hull under an electric current will coax damaging salts out the rapidly corroding metal hull and preserve the ship for future generations.

The Future Of Flight20031218

100 years after the Wright Brothers made their famous first flight, Quentin Cooper ponders the future of flight.

And how do people behave in a fire, be it in an aircraft, a tower block or their own home.

Quentin discovers how simulating human behaviour can save lives.

The Musical Mind20030703

For some people it may be a concerto by Bach that sends shivers down the spine.

For others it maybe a tune by the Beatles.

But no matter what our taste, most of us can say whether a series of sounds is a piece of music or not.

But how does our brain make sense of the information; why do we like some music and not others and what does our musical ability tell us about ourselves? In this week's programme Quentin Cooper unlocks the secrets of the musical mind and finds out why music makes us so special.

The Mysteries Of The Deep20031106

In 1872, when the world's first oceanographic research ship, HMS Challenger, set sail, the ocean floor was a completely unknown world.

Even today, we know little more about it than we do about the Moon.

As international scientists begin their new 'Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme', Quentin Cooper explores some of the outstanding mysteries of the deep.

The National Pollen Research Unit20040715

coordinates the national pollen network, a series of 33 monitoring sites across the country.

It provides forecasts for the television radio and newspapers by monitoring pollen levels all over the country.

It also holds the UK's pollen databank.

Quentin Cooper is joined by the Centre's director, Professor Jean Emberlin to find out how pollen is counted and collected.

She also explains why pollen is a vital tool for the forensic scientist in tracing trafficked drugs and for art historians who can find out where a painting was painted just by examining the pollen that landed on it as the paint dried.

Quentin is also joined by Dr Bill Frankland, the man responsible for introducing the national pollen count to the country's media over 50 years ago.

A colleague of Alexander Fleming, could his lab have been responsible for growing the penicillium mould that would prompt one of the most important discoveries in medical history?

The Responsibility Of Being A Scientist20040909

The University of Exeter will host this year's British Association Festival of Science.

The theme of this year's festival is the

responsibility of being a scientist in the 21st century.

What are scientist's responsibilities? Is a scientist responsible for considering what the ultimate application of his or her research might be used for? Do your responsibilities differ if you are a doctor, a physicist, archaeologist or a commercial scientist working for profit?

Quentin Cooper and guests will be discussing these questions and some of the highlights of the latest developments live from the festival.

The Semantic Web20040429

Quentin Cooper surfs the "semantic web" - an "intelligent internet" which can read and understand everything that it contains and filter superfluous information.

The Skin Off A Worm's Back20060511

How much to give a child can be a delicate issue.

We like happy children but no one likes a spoilt brat! Similarly in the animal kingdom there's a delicate balance in the provision for the young.

Too much generosity may mean that the parent will pay the ultimate sacrifice and not survive, whereas if too little help is offered the new offspring will never make it to adulthood.

Human parents are used to making sacrifices for the good of their children and providing them with the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults.

However, it seems that worms have taken the boundaries of parental care one step further.

The offspring of the caecilian, a legless amphibian resembling an earth worm, from the Taita Mountains in Kenya, literally eat the skin off their mother's back.

The offspring even have specially developed dentures to enable them to eat the nutrient rich skin of their mother with ease.

Quentin Cooper is joined by scientists to discuss this seemingly unthinkable sacrifice and the further habits of this curious caecilian.

Throwaway Society20040527

In our "throwaway society" household products are becoming increasingly less durable and the cost of mending outweighs the cost of buying a replacement.

Quentin cooper talks to Dr Tim Cooper from Sheffield Hallam university who is bringing together a network of engineers, social scientists and designers to try and change the way we buy, use and dispose of household goods and how we might, eventually dispose of our "throwaway society".

Tone Deaf/amusia20060112

Nearly one in seven of us claims to be tone deaf.

Is this just an excuse for being shy about singing in public, or do some people genuinely find listening to music a painful experience?

Quentin Cooper talks to neuroscientist Lauren Stewart, who is untangling the different ways in which amusics can't follow the tune.

Transgenic Art20050331

Since Dali drew DNA strands in the desert, the new science of genetics has captured the fascination of many artists.

Now a rising art movement is taking this abstract fascination firmly into reality.

A cactus with human hair and a glow-in-the-dark rabbit are two examples of `transgenic art? ? manipulating the genes of living organisms to create entirely new forms of life.

This week Quentin Cooper talks to Martin Kemp, Professor of the History of Art at Oxford University, about genetic art.

From dogs to flowers, for centuries we have been engineering living hybrids for our aesthetic pleasure.

But is this artistic manipulation a step too far?

Tyrannosaurus Rex20030731

In the film Jurassic Park, the Tyrannosaurus Rex is depicted as a ferocious hunter.

The gigantic predator is shown picking off puny Velociraptors at will.

But is this the real story of T Rex, or have we got our stereotype completely wrong? In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper examines this palaeontological poser and discovers the truth about T Rex.

Everything about the bones of a T Rex, from the four foot jaw and the six inch teeth to the huge thigh bones suggests that it was built to hunt.

But new evidence collected by palaeontologists suggests that the Tyrannosaurus - or Tyrant Lizard - may not have been as much of a tyrant as was once thought.

Quentin is joined by the palaeontologist Jack Horner, the inspiration for Dr Alan Grant in Jurassic Park, and Dr Angela Milner of the Natural History Museum.

Horner's research suggests that rather than the fierce predator depicted in films, T Rex was unable to hunt.

Instead, he suggests, it relied on scavenging from other dinosaurs for food.

Its small eyes would have been unable to see its prey, while its huge legs would have made it to cumbersome to chase its quarry.

These findings have made some dinosaur experts rethink their views of T Rex.

Others remain unconvinced.

Quentin delves into both sides of the debate and asks what this research could mean for our current understanding of the largest creatures that ever roamed the earth.

Unsung Heroes Of Science2012122720121231

Quentin Cooper and guests discuss unsung heroes of science.

Recorded in front of an audience Quentin Cooper and guests, Kevin Fong, Adam Rutherford, Mark Miodownik, Vivienne Parry and Dallas Campbell, discuss the unsung heroes of science

What Is A Fireball?20030619

Its an extremely bright meteor falling through the earth's atmosphere which is traveling so fast that it's on fire.

The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight.

Those that occur at night also stand little chance of being detected due to the relatively low numbers of persons out to notice them.

Quentin Cooper will be finding out how you can spot a fireball and how sightings could help us predict the place that the meteorite will fall.

What Is Hypnosis?20041028

How does it work and what happens to the brains of people who are hypnotized? Professor John Gruzelier from Imperial College London explains what's happening in the brains of the hypnotized.

What about stage hypnosis? Is it all about acting? Dr Peter Naish from the Open university has shown that hypnotised people behave as if an inner clock is running slow unlike actors.

Quentin finds out why this happens and how recent results from brain scans show the answers touch on theories of consciousness.

White Noise And Weather Predictions20040513

Weather has always been the British obsession.

Topic of conversation and scourge of the sporting world, the daily forecast is equally praised for its warnings and condemned for its occasional inaccuracies.

The key to improving certainty in the predictions lies in the careful - and counterintuitive - application of uncertainty itself.

In this week's Material World, Quentin Cooper takes shelter from the elements to discover how white noise - a mathematical representation of uncertainty - is helping rein in the wayward predictions.

Wildlife Forensics20060420

How do law enforcement agencies find out whether endangered species are being illegally imported?

Quentin Cooper is joined by Rob Ogden, project manager at Wildlife DNA Services, to discuss how profiling the genetics of different species - from birds of prey, badgers, bears and different species of wood and plants traded illegally around the world - can help detect and tackle wildlife crimes.

World Wetlands Day2004012920040205

In the run up to this year's World Wetlands Day, Quentin Cooper examines the importance of these unique habitats and looks at efforts to conserve them.