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BBC Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

Podcast BBC Inside Science
Podcast BBC Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

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  • Predicting Long Covid, and the Global Toll of Antimicrobial Resistance
    Prof Onur Boyman, Director of department of Immunology at University Hospital, Zurich, this week published a paper in the journal Nature Communications that presents a way of quantifying the risk of a Covid patient going on to develop Long Covid (or PACS as some call it) based on certain symptoms, but crucially also two key biomarkers in the blood. As he explains to Gaia, combining the levels in the blood of two key immunoglobulins (IgM and IgG3) with other pointers, first identified last year, allowed him and his team to make successful predictions as to the relative likelihood his sample group of patients might go on to still be exhibiting symptoms beyond four weeks after infection. Asthma is of particular interest to these researchers, partly because it can share this blood signal of Ig markers. Might it even also shed any light on things such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Dr Claire Steves, of Kings College London, whose previous work on symptom gathering Onur's team have built upon, agrees this is a promising bit of work, and also discusses some other potential clues to the Long Covid mystery. But Covid of course is not the the only major cause of death in the world today. A major paper in the Lancet recently is one of the first deep estimates of the global health burden of Antibiotic Microbial Resistance. And it suggests that 1.25 million people died in the world in 2019 because many bacteria are evolving a resistance to our favourite antibiotics. As Prof Chris Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington who led the massive collaboration explains. The surprisingly huge number points to a massive and growing problem that political and health leaders around the world must address. And finally, the genetics of fingerprints might be a bit better understood thanks to work published in Cell recently. Dr Denis Headon of the Roslyn Institute at the University of Edinburgh talks to Gaia about a huge survey he and colleagues have done looking at the hints certain genes can give as to the types of fingerprints you grow. The genes that seem to govern the general form of your prints are the ones that shape your limb development, rather than skin patterns as perhaps might be expected. And a pro-tip if you want to search the literature for more info on this: use the word "dermatoglyph" rather than the overused and progressively meaningless word "fingerprint". Presented by Gaia Vince Producer Alex Mansfield Assistant Producer Emily Bird Made in Association with The Open University.
    1/27/2022
    36:17
  • The 'perfect' depth for a destructive eruption
    Why was the blast from the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano so explosive? Where are we on the global climatic thermostat? And how you can get involved in the Big Repair Project. Gaia Vince speaks with Auckland University volcanologist Prof Shane Cronin, one of the few human beings to have visited the now-disappeared volcanic land bridge that stretched until last week between the islands of Hunga-Tonga and Hunga-Ha'apai. It was destroyed in the disastrous eruption of the volcano beneath it last week that has wrought such devastation to the nation of Tonga, and whose effects were felt in the Americas and detectable all around the world. Why was this submarine eruption quite so explosive, given that the eruption itself was not one of the biggest or longest in living memory? Previous eruptions - notably Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 - released huge amounts of particles and sulphates into the stratosphere such that they had a cooling effect on the atmosphere globally, lasting 2-3 years. Prof Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the UKs Met Office tells Gaia how current estimates of the recent eruption's emissions suggest it will not have such an affect, their being around ten times less than the 1991 event. Richard was one of the contributors to the UK Government’s Climate Risk Assessment 2022 which was published this week. He describes to Gaia some of the modelling that went into it, and the urgency of cutting CO2 and similar emissions it describes. Last year Prof Mark Miodownik, head of the Institute of Making at UCL made a series for Radio 4 called Dare to Repair, looking at the vanishing art and practice of repairing our old and malfunctioning consumer devices, rather than binning them and buying new ones as most of us do these days. At the end of 2021 Mark, together with representatives from manufacturers, consumers, and other groups, took part in a round-table meeting to discuss possible challenges and measures to increase the so-called Right to Repair, towards building a circular economy in the UK for recycling plastic and metals. In this week's show he launches a new citizen science project aimed at gathering granular data on UK citizens views and practices when it comes to "disposable" electronic devices. To take part in The Big Repair Project, to record successes and failures, even to share how impossible it can be sometimes to change a battery, follow the link on the BBC Inside Science homepage. Presenter Gaia Vince Producer Alex Mansfield Assistant Producer Emily Bird Made in Association with The Open University
    1/20/2022
    37:17
  • The Rutland ‘Sea Dragon’, An Astronomer's Christmas and some Animal Magic
    After 20 years of planning, preparation and a nail-biting build up fraught by delays The James Webb Space telescope finally launched on Christmas day 2021. Anxious astronomers across the globe looked on as the JWST then completed even riskier manoeuvres to unfurl the 18 hexagonal components that make up its 6.5 meter diameter primary mirror. Cosmologist Dr Sheona Urquhart from the Open University tells us about the astronomical community’s tense Christmas day. Fresh from a TV spot on BBC Two’s Digging for Britain this week, Dr Dean Lomax and PhD candidate Emily Swaby share their excitement unearthing Rutland’s ‘Sea Dragon’ and explore what this find could tell us about Ichthyosaurs. At over 10 meters long this ancient ocean predator is the largest complete fossil of its kind to be discovered in the UK. Ichthyosaurs are commonly associated with Dorset and Yorkshire coastlines where fossils are often revealed as surrounding rock is eroded by the elements. Finding an ichthyosaur fossil inland is unusual but not unexpected as the higher sea levels 200 million years ago would put the east midlands underwater. And whilst the palaeontologists have been struggling through the Jurassic mud, cognition researchers at the University of Cambridge have been wowing their birds with magic tricks. Professor Nicky Clayton FRS, Professor of Comparative Cognition, explains what we can learn about the way jays think by assessing their reaction to different sleight-of-hand tricks. Corvids, the family to which these feathered friends belong, have long interested researchers due to their impressive cognitive abilities and Nicky’s team has shown that their Jays are not fooled by all of the same mis-directions as we are, but are fooled by some. And it could be down to not being able to tell the difference between a finger and a feather. Presented by Marnie Chesterton Produced by Alex Mansfield Assistant Producer Emily Bird Made in association with The Open University
    1/13/2022
    28:02
  • Deep ocean exploration
    UCL oceanographer Helen Czerski explores life in the ocean depths with a panel of deep sea biologists. They take us to deep ocean coral gardens on sea mounts, to extraordinary hydrothermal vent ecosystems teeming with weird lifeforms fed by chemosynthetic microbes, to the remarkable biodiversity in the muds of the vast abyssal plains. Helen's guests are Adrian Glover of the Natural History Museum in London, Kerry Howell of Plymouth University and Alex Rogers, scientific director of REV Ocean. They discuss the dramatic revelations made by deep ocean explorers in just the last forty years, and the profound connections that the deep sea floor has with life at the Earth's surface. They also consider the threats to the ecosystems down there from seabed mining and climate change. Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker BBC Inside Science is made in association with the Open University.
    1/6/2022
    37:16
  • A new space age?
    Dr Kevin Fong convenes a panel of astronautical minds to discuss the next decade or two of space exploration. 2021 was an eventful year in space. Captain James Kirk a.k.a William Shatner popped into space for real for a couple of minutes, transported by space company Blue Origin's tourist rocket New Shepard. Elon Musk's Space X ferried more astronauts and supplies between Earth and the International Space Station, using its revolutionary resuable launchers and Dragon spacecraft. On Mars, the latest NASA robot rover landed and released an autonomous helicopter - the first aircraft to fly on another planet. 2022 promises even more. Most significantly NASA plans to launch the first mission of its Artemis programme. This will be an uncrewed flight of its new deep space vehicle Orion to the Moon, propelled off the Earth by its new giant rocket, the Space Launch System. Artemis is the American space agency's project to return astronauts to the lunar surface and later establish moon bases. China has a similar ambition. Are we at the beginning of a new space age and if so, how have we got here? When will we see boots on the Moon again? Could we even see the first people on Mars by the end of this decade? Even in cautious NASA, some are optimistic about this. Kevin's three guests are: Dr Mike Barratt, one of NASA's most senior astronauts and a medical doctor, based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas Dr Anita Sengupta, Research Associate Professor in Astronautical Engineering at the University of Southern California Oliver Morton, Briefings editor at The Economist and the author of 'Mapping Mars' and 'The Moon' Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker BBC Inside Science is made in association with the Open University
    12/30/2021
    41:56

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