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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 18 November 2010

Quentin Cooper presents this week's digest of science in and behind the headlines. In this edition: the development of disease resistant crops the better to feed our swelling population; trapping anti-hydrogen atoms to unravel one of the great mysteries in physics; and exhuming the body of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe to find out whether he really died of a bladder infection.

The producer is Roland Pease.

  • Disease resistant crops

    Disease resistant crops

    A detailed knowledge of genes is coming to the aid of plant breeders hoping to develop crops that can resist the wide range of diseases that reduce yields. In its Crop Science Initiative, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is bringing together top academic plant biologists with those in agribusiness, to match genetic progress to commercial needs. Joining Quentin to discuss their work is Paul Birch, Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Dundee and Dr John Walsh, Research Leader in Plant-Virus Interactions at the University of Warwick.

  • To catch an anti-atom

    To catch an anti-atom

    CERN scientists have trapped for the first time atoms of anti-hydrogen – atoms made of antiprotons combined with the antimatter form of electrons, positrons. Their long term hope is to study this antimatter in detail, to see whether matter and antimatter are in fact mirror forms of each other, or whether there are subtle differences that will reveal deep secrets of the Universe. Dr Niels Madsen of the CERN ALPHA team explains how.

  • Exhuming Tycho Brahe

    Exhuming Tycho Brahe

    Tycho Brahe, the 16th Century Danish astronomer nobleman enjoyed a colourful life, but died a gruesome death – from a burst bladder. But the exact circumstances of that death – was mercury involved, was it poisoning – may be clarified by a team given just one week to exhume and examine his remains in Prague. Quentin hears from the team what they’re doing, and from historian Allan Chapman about Brahe’s seminal role in modern astronomy.

    The opening of Tycho Brahe's tomb


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