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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 02 September 2010

Quentin Cooper presents this week's digest of science in and behind the headlines. In this edition; The Cluster mission is ten years old this week. Quentin discusses how its findings help us understand the protective properties of the magnetosphere against solar winds. The problem of cracking concrete and its potential bacterial solution is discussed as Quentin looks at bio-concrete which uses a strain of mineral-eating bacteria to do the job. As the humble fruit fly stars in its own conference Quentin takes a closer look at how important Drosophilia are in genetic experiments and interviews with all four So You Want To Be A Scientist finalists at the crucial results phase of their experiments.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

  • Cluster Mission

    Cluster Mission

    Quentin is joined by Professor Andrew Fazakerley from UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory to discuss the findings of the Cluster mission which is ten years old this week. Its unique constellation of four spacecraft flying in formation around the Earth studies the interaction between solar winds and the magnetosphere – the Earth's 'magnetic shield'. Quentin explores how well the magnetosphere protects Earth from deadly energetic particles produced by storms on the Sun.

    Image: Illustration of solar wind impact on Earth's magnetosphere
    Copyright: NASA

    ESA: Cluster Mission
  • So You Want to be a Scientist?

    So You Want to be a Scientist?

    With just two weeks to go before the final, the amateur scientists have reached a crucial stage in their experiments. In between analysing results and charting data, the four finalists share their thoughts on how being a scientist has differed from their expectations, and how their newly found skills and experiences have changed their perceptions of the scientific community.

    Book free tickets to the BBC's Amateur Scientist of the Year final
  • Bio Concrete

    Bio Concrete

    Quentin speaks to an engineer who has invented a biological concrete that can repair its own cracks. Dr Henk Jonkers of the Delft University of Technology produced the self-healing concrete using a special strain of mineral-eating bacteria. Millions of dormant bacteria are incorporated in the concrete and when the concrete cracks they go to work, secreting calcite, which forms a seal. Dr Jonkers will be speaking at next week’s EU-US Frontiers of Engineering symposium in Cambridge and will talk to Quentin about the safety of the concrete and the implications of his invention.

    Image: Shibboleth by Doris Salcedo, 2007

    Delft University: Bio Concrete
  • Drosophila Conference

    Drosophila Conference

    The humble fruit fly is the topic for this week’s Neurofly conference in Manchester. Quentin talks to Professor Andreas Prokop about Drosophila and its contribution to research as a model for human genetic disorders. Our understanding of human sleep patterns, aggression, autism and now Alzheimer’s disease has been shaped by the results of experiments on fruit flies, and Quentin will be discovering why they continue to be so useful in genetic research.

    Image copyright: Max Westby

    Neurofly 2010


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