Science in ActionAuthor: BBC World Service
25 May 2019

Science in Action

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

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    The birth of a new volcano

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

  • Posted on 23 May 2019

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    The World Wood Web

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

  • Posted on 16 May 2019

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    Biodiversity in crisis

    This week’s UN biodiversity assessment paints a grim picture for species loss worldwide. However scientists are looking at ways to ensure conservation can be done in a way that works with economic development. We focus on examples from Africa. Africa is well known for its conservation work with large animals – but what about peat bogs? Recently discovered in the Congo region is a bog containing 3 times the amount of carbon emitted by the entire world in a year. And from Australia how some farmers are turning to ‘weeds’ to help conserve their land. In areas hit by drought deliberately planting and encouraging wild plants has been shown to retain moisture in the land. (Picture: Gorilla in the jungle in Congo. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • Posted on 09 May 2019

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    What is behind the Indian Ocean Cyclones?

    First there was cyclone Idai, then cyclone Kenneth and now cyclone Fani. As we go to air Fani is still developing, but the earlier two were unprecedented, occurring in a manner rarely if ever seen before. What is behind these extreme events? We look at the current state of weather patterns in the region and the influence of climate change. And from Tibet a jawbone from an ancient giant provides new insight into the development of humanity. Astronomers join forces to search for evidence of a black hole swallowing a neutron star, and why atmospheric pollution might have reduced the severity of past droughts. (Image: A man ferries a residents through a flooded road in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth in Pemba. Credit: Reuters) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • Posted on 02 May 2019

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    Turning brain waves into speech

    Neuroscientists have recorded the brain activity of patients while talking and used this to develop computer programmes that can simulate speech. The neural activity they monitored is associated with the muscle movements needed to talk and form words rather than the meaning of the words themselves. They say a refined version of the system should be able to generate speech for people who cannot talk. Data collected from a long running study of plankton is proving useful for research into historic ocean plastic pollution. Records of plastic accidentally entangled in the ocean going plankton samplers now provides a snapshot of contamination dating back to the 1950s. Rewilding, letting nature take its course has romantic appeal. Perhaps counter intuitively a review of methods from around the world shows the key to successful projects is often how well they interact with local people. And over 600 scientists have called for the European Union to put indigenous rights and deforestation to the fore of its trade negotiations with Brazil. We look at why they made this political call. (Picture: Researchers implanted electrodes similar to these in participants’ skulls to record their brain signals. Credit: UCSF) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • Posted on 25 Apr 2019

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