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100 Years Of Plastic - Model Species

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 24 May 2007

100 Years Of Plastic
Bakelite, the original plastic, is a hundred years old this year. The invention of Belgian-born Leo Hendrik Baekeland, it spawned an industry that now churns out 100 million tonnes annually around the world.

As the Science Museum unveils its exhibition Plasticity, curator Susan Mossman and professor of polymer science Dame Julia Higgins join Quentin Cooper to celebrate a class of materials that have transformed our lives.

Model Species
In little more than 100 years our understanding of inheritance and genetic disease has advanced dramatically. One of the remarkable aspects to all that study is that it has involved surprisingly few species. But what have a fruit fly or a zebrafish got to do with diabetes or muscular dystrophy?

Jim Endersby’s new book, A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology, traces some of the few special animals and plants that have taught us the facts of life. He and Charlotte Sleigh, senior lecturer in the history of science at the University of Kent, discuss the decisions researchers have made and will make in choosing which species to study.

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