iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for 100 Years Of Plastic - Model Species

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

100 Years Of Plastic - Model Species

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.


Inside Science

Image for Inside Science

Adam Rutherford explores the research that is transforming our world.

Free download

  1. Image for Material World

    Material World

    Weekly science conversation, on everything from archaeology to zoology, from abacus to the…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.