06/05/2010

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Quentin Cooper meets the scientists making news. He hears the science behind clearing up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and how engineers trying to stop the leak are at the cutting edge of technology.

We find out about strange undersea domes that have been spotted off the California coast. They are extinct asphalt volcanoes made from a mixture of hardened crude oil and marine fossils.

Also on the programme, how one of our "So You Want to be a Scientist?" finalists will be contributing to the growing amount of research into crowd dynamics. Could his idea lead to changes in crowd management at major events?

And Quentin investigates the science of Plasmonics, the ultimate ability to control light and use it to process information and manipulate materials at the smallest scale imaginable.

Controlling the interaction between light and matter is fundamental to science and to technology - from probing entanglement in quantum physics to harnessing the spectacular information carrying capacity of optical fibres. Nanoscale fabrication allows the manufacture of new materials with increasing sophistication and freedom of design, but controlling light at the nanoscale remains a challenge. Traditionally light can only be controlled on length scales down to a little below the wavelength of light, a few hundred nanometres, hence the usual resolution limit of optical microscopes and telescopes. However, a new paradigm called plasmonics is emerging, to control light below its wavelength limit, down to nanometre length scales.

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30 minutes

Last on

Thu 6 May 2010 16:30

Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

Adam Rutherford explores the research that is transforming our world.