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Science in Action

Podcast Science in Action
Podcast Science in Action

Science in Action


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  • Animals at the Wuhan Market
    DNA has revealed potential animal COVID carriers at the Wuhan market, but what does that tell us about the start of the pandemic? Roland talks to two of the experts behind the new analysis: Dr Florence Débarre and Professor Eddie Holmes. Also, we look into Europe’s grand new space ambitions. ESA director general Josef Aschbacher gives Roland the details of the space agency’s out-of-this-world plans. And Beethoven's last DNA: a hairy story of his family and genetic afflictions. Dr Tristan Begg shares how the composer’s tresses unlocked new information about his life and death. Image credit: Eddie Holmes Producer: Roland Pease Assistant producer: Sophie Ormiston
  • Return of Cyclone Freddy
    34 days after it first formed at the far end of the Indian Ocean, record-breaking Cyclone Freddy made a repeat landfall on Mozambique as well as passing over Malawi, causing extensive damage and loss of life. Climate scientists Liz Stephens and Izidine Pinto join Roland to give an update on the destruction and explain how Cyclone Freddy kept going for an exceptionally long time. At the Third International Human Genome Summit in London last week, Professor Katsuhiko Hayashi announced he had created baby mice from eggs formed by male mouse cells. Dr Nitzan Gonen explains the underlying science, whilst Professor Hank Greely discusses the ethics and future prospects. And from one rodent story to another, SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in brown rats scurrying around New York sewers. Dr Thomas DeLiberto from the US Department of Agriculture gives Roland the details. Image credit: Jack McBrams/Getty Images Producer: Roland Pease Assistant Producer: Sophie Ormiston
  • Human Genome Editing - Promise and Peril
    Human Genome Editing: The team meet experts at the Human Genome Editing Summit in London, seeking to cure genetic disease and ensure that it's safe and available to all. Roland Pease hears from Victoria Gray, the first person to be cured of the debilitating and life-shortening disease sickle cell anaemia by gene editing, and from the scientists making it possible. Also, the prospect of work to attempt gene rescue in fetuses before they are born. But the technology is expensive and complex – the question troubling the participants is to ensure people across the world can benefit from it, not just the rich and privileged. And what are the limitations of gene editing? Can it be made more effective, safer? And what of gene edits that will be inherited by future generations?
  • Drought worsens in East Africa
    The long rains of East Africa are forecast to fail again, for the third year running, precipitating a food crisis affecting millions. Science In Action explores the science of the drought, hears about new methods improving forecasts, and what is unusual about the region that makes it so vulnerable. When we think of helium, for many of us balloons and squeaky voices come to mind. But the noble gas is critical for many aspects of modern life – and we’re facing a global shortage. Dr Annie Cheng and her colleagues at the University of Oxford are attempting to solve this by creating a model that has the potential to locate previously untapped reservoirs. Image by Gerald Anderson/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Producer: Roland Pease Assistant Producer: Sophie Ormiston
  • Cyclone Freddy batters Madagascar
    Cyclone Freddy has made landfall on Madagascar, leaving destruction in its wake. At the time this edition of Science In Action is going to air, Freddy is on course to reach Mozambique and South Africa. Freddy, which has been gaining strength since it originally formed on the 30th of January, is the most powerful southern hemisphere cyclone on record. Professor Francois Engelbrecht provides the science behind the storm system. In the centre of our galaxy, an enormous cloud is heading towards the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole. Dr Anna Ciurlo tells us that this is a unique opportunity to study the influence of the black hole on the cloud’s shape and properties. We’ve heard a lot about balloons floating above Earth recently… but what about sending balloons to Venus? That’s exactly what Dr Siddharth Krishnamoorthy is proposing in order to study Venus’s seismic activity. Recorders on a “floatilla” above the planet’s surface could listen into Venus-quakes and reveal Venus’s mysterious past. And closer to home, scientists have discovered a new layer in the Earth’s core. We journey into the very centre of the Earth with Professor Hrvoje Tkalčić, who tells Roland what the innermost inner core can teach us about our planet’s past. Image: NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE, GIBS/Worldview, and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). Producer: Roland Pease Assistant Producer: Sophie Ormiston

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