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11
OCT

Will Earth Run Out Of Food?

With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announcing that we need to keep global warming under 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, Science in Action explores the impact of food production on the environment. A new study calculates the current and predicted impact of land and fresh water use, fertiliser pollution and the change to more Western meat and dairy-based diets by 2050 and concluded that our current mitigation measures are not going to be enough. And that our planet will not be able to sustain this level of environmental cost.

Windfarms and Warming
A study of wind power generation across the continental United States calculates that the warming effect of wind turbines, due to possible circulatory changes in the atmosphere at night, could be enough to cause a 0.24 °C rise if the US switched to wind power for all their energy demands. It’s a small change, but coupled with other environmental impacts of sustainable energy production, it has to be factored in.

Science Publishing and Copyright
Two scientific publishers are suing the academic networking site ResearchGate for breaking copyright laws. ResearchGate asks scientists to publish papers and articles on their site. The claim is that they are not putting enough checks in place to stop work that is copyrighted to pay-walled science journals being uploaded. Is social media, and greater connectivity on the internet, changing the way science publishing works and how profits are made?

Drugs from Fingerprints
Illegal drug-use often has a contributing factor in cause of death. Testing for drug-use in both living and dead people relies on detecting the breakdown products (metabolites) for drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, opiates or amphetamines in bodily fluids (blood, urine, saliva) or tissue samples. These are invasive and take time. Now a University of East Anglia spin out company “Intelligent Fingerprinting” have developed a device called the fingerprint drug screening cartridge that can detect metabolites of illicit drugs in the sweat found in fingerprints. And furthermore they can do this on dead bodies as well as living people.

Picture: Vegetables and fruits, Credit: Bojsha65/Getty Images

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts
04
OCT

Sulawesi – Earthquake, Tsunami, Volcanic Eruption

The Indonesian Island of Sulawesi has been battered by natural forces. First an earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami and now a volcanic eruption. Science in Action looks at the multiple geological factors that put the people of Sulawesi in such danger.

Hayabusa 2’s MASCOT Lander
The Japanese spacecraft has successfully dropped the German-French observation and landed it on an asteroid, 300 million kilometres away, as part of a research effort that could find clues to the origin of the solar system. The Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, or MASCOT, was released from the unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa 2 and headed to the asteroid Ryugu.

2018 Nobel Prizes for Science
The research that has earned the highest accolades in science this year include immunotherapy for cancer, directed evolution in the lab and optical tweezers.

Picture: A aerial view of the destruction caused by an earthquake and tsunami in Wani, Donggala, north of Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Credit: Reuters/Darren Whiteside

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts
27
SEP

Hayabusa 2’s Rovers Land on Asteroid

The audacious Japanese space mission has successfully landed two rovers (Minerva II 1a + b) on the surface of asteroid Ryugu. The asteroid is currently 4 years travel away from Earth, so much of the mission has been carried out autonomously.

Ionosphere and World War 2 Bombs
The bombs used by Allied forces during the Second World War were big enough to weaken the Earth's upper atmosphere. By calculating the energies of the Allied bombing raids over Europe between 1943 and 45 and referring back to ionospheric measurements made at the time over Slough in the South of England. The team at Reading University can calibrate the ionospheric wobbles and use this to work out how much energy is in natural events such as earthquakes and thunder storms which also perturb this atmospheric layer at the edge of space.

Picture: The tiny shadow of Hayabusa 2 on asteroid Ryugu, Credit: JAXA

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts

3 episodes