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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 28 October 2010

Indonesian disasters: Quentin hears from the experts about the causes of this week's Sumatran earthquake and tsunami, and the latest eruption of Mount Merapi on Java, and how science can help.

Also, after the last in the series A History of the World in a Hundred Objects celebrates the latest in electrical gadgetry, Quentin sees the humble glass electrical valve that kick started the whole electronic revolution. The first electronics.

And pollution from space travel. As the world's richest line up for the first private flights into space, experts warn that rocket exhausts could exacerbate the problem of global warming.

  • Indonesian Tsunami

    Indonesian Tsunami

    Picture credit: European Press Photo Agency

    The Mentawai Islands in Indonesia have been devastated by Monday's tsunami, triggered by a 7.7-magnitude undersea earthquake. Professor Kerry Sieh, Director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, tells Quentin that this earthquake is the latest in a series which have occured in the Indian Ocean since 2000, and says he fears there will be stronger quakes to follow.

    Earth Observatory of Singapore
  • Mount Merapi volcano eruption

    Mount Merapi volcano eruption

    Picture credit: European Press Photo Agency

    As well as a deadly tsunami, Indonesia is also dealing with the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano in central Java. Quentin talks to Dr Ralf Gertisser, Lecturer in Mineralogy and Petrology at Keele University, about the cause of the latest eruption.

    Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program
  • The environmental cost of Space Tourism

    The environmental cost of Space Tourism

    The American Geophysical Union is warning that the environmental cost of space tourism will be greater than the $200,000 price tag passengers will be paying to travel on the Virgin Galactic spaceship when voyages begin in 2012. Marty Ross of non-profit research organisation The Aerospace Corporation in California and key author of the AGU's paper, explains why.

    The Aerospace Corporation
  • The first electronic valve

    The first electronic valve

    Picture credit: UCL

    John Mitchell from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University College London tells Quentin about the first electrical valve, the device which kick-started an electronic revolution.

    UCL: Sir John Ambrose Fleming


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