Science in ActionAuthor: BBC World Service
16 Jan 2019

Science in Action

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

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    Trump’s Hubble Trouble

    As federal employees many US scientists have been affected by the US government shutdown. They are not being paid, can’t talk about their work or go to scientific conferences. We look at how this US political stand-off is affecting scientific research. One of the casualties is the Hubble space telescope, in need of repairs, which cannot start until its federal employed engineers can get back to work. Meanwhile, in Antarctica a US led team have extracted microbes, water and rock samples from a subglacial lake covered with kilometre thick ice. Their live samples may have evolved in the depths and dark of the lake, hidden from view for thousands of years. And just how are we to feed the world in the future? One team of scientists have successfully increased the yield of their experimental plants by 40 percent. They are hoping to repeat the technique with food crops. This comes at the same time as an investigation into China’s future food needs. While demand is going to increase, researchers offer an optimistic view, more efficient farming methods might mean China could be self-sufficient in food in years to come - and even use less land to grow it on than they do currently. (Photo: Hubble Space Telescope, Credit: NASA) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • Posted on 15 Jan 2019

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    Beyond the Planets

    It has been years in the planning and involved a tiny window of opportunity. Nasa’s New Horizons mission launched in 2006 has reached its far flung destination, a couple of outer space snowballs known as Ultima Thule. The mission aims to shed light on the formation of our solar system. And just days later an unmanned Chinese mission has landed on the moon, on the far side, they’ll be examining rocks and also seeing if simple plants and animals survive in a biosphere there. We also look at the Indonesian Anak Krakatau volcano, which has erupted recently. Just why did it collapse into the sea creating a tsunami, and why is it so difficult to predict the impact of volcanic eruptions? And we celebrate the periodic table,150 years old this year, this chart of chemical elements found on the walls of classrooms around the world still has much to reveal. (Photo: The first high-definition picture of Ultima Thule, Credit: Nasa) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • Posted on 03 Jan 2019

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    A Year of Space Firsts

    The Parker Solar Probe has flown nearer to the sun than any other mission. The probe is now sending back data on the behaviour of electromagnetic waves emitted from the coronal mass. Fluctuations in these waves can lead to solar flares ,which in turn can have a huge impact on earth, including the potential to knock out global communications. The Japanese space agency’s Hayabusa mission successfully landed two robots on an asteroid 4 years away from earth. Next year the mission will return to mine rock samples from beneath the asteroids surface by shooting a ‘space cannon’ to blast samples from within the asteroid. NASA has a similar mission planned again to collect rocks from an asteroid, their method is to use kind of ‘space hoover’ to suck up samples. Picture: The surface of the sun, Credit: NASA Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • Posted on 27 Dec 2018

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    Is This Fungus the World’s Biggest Organism?

    The ‘Humungous Fungus’ is older and bigger than previously thought. This enormous honey fungus has been revisited and reanalysed using scientific techniques that had yet to be invented when it was first discovered in the 1980s. Genomic analysis and GPS show how far the fungus has spread, and surprisingly how little genetic variance it has developed in its long lifespan. The fungus is now thought to be at least 2,500 years old. Researchers say understanding why it lacks genetic mutation might be useful in understanding cancer. And we visit a really ‘Far out’ object. Thought to be a remnant of planet formation and now in the far reaches of our solar system, this object has been appropriately named ‘Far out’. Looking further back we have the latest from the ALMA space telescope and its images of the birth of planets. And not quite as far back, we hear recently discovered 50 year old tapes which detail the key moment when the US overtook the Soviet Union in the space race. Picture: Armillaria Gallica Credit: Getty Images Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle

  • Posted on 20 Dec 2018

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