Science in Action - Extra-terrestrial Neutrinos
New era for astronomy; Satellite maps marks forest loss; Giant particle accelerators help improve fuel efficiency; The demise of men?
Exciting new results from an experiment buried in the Antarctic ice could help explain some of the biggest mysteries in the Universe – such as where do cosmic rays come from and black holes. The “IceCube” South Pole Neutrino Observatory consists of a vast array of sensors buried up to 2 kilometres deep to capture small particles called neutrinos. Scientists say the detector has so far captured 28 intergalactic events which have possibly originated from the same place as cosmic rays. Satellite Maps Forest Loss University of Maryland scientists have used data from NASA’s Landsat Satellite Program to produce a global map that shows exactly how much of the earth’s surface is covered by forest. The interactive map also charts how much forest has been lost or gained so far this millennium. But scientists in the UK and in Borneo have uncovered an interesting but perhaps worrying result – the map classifies the expansion of oil-palm plantations in Southeast Asia as forest gain. Science in Action explores the implications of this. Particle Accelerator X-rays Engines At the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, a giant particle accelerator is being used to take x-rays of engines. It is hoped that this research will help find cleaner, more efficient ways of burning petrol and diesel. The Demise of Men? The X and Y chromosomes are what make us genetically male or female – male humans have an X and a Y, whilst females have two X chromosomes. Researchers have found that male mice, whose Y chromosome has been replaced with just two genes, are still able to produce new, viable, offspring. Though the research is not directly translatable to humans, we discuss whether this spells the demise of the Y chromosome. Presenter: Jon Stewart Producer: Datshiane Navanayagam (Photo credit: The South Pole © Getty Images)