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31/03/2011

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 31 March 2011

Adam Rutherford presents the weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. He talks to Dr. Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth about the latest developments at the Fukashima Plant and Professor Gerry Thomas from Imperial College, London tells him about the current risk to human health. Also on the programme; is sonar damaging beaked whales and could placing decoy artificial birds on the ground near pylons, prevent real birds from flying into them? Finally, the RSC is about to stage a play about Sergei Korolyov the father of the Russian space programme. Adam meets the play's writer Rona Munro.

The producer is Ania Lichtarowicz.

  • Japan Nuclear Reactor

    Japan Nuclear Reactor

    Picture credit: National Land Image Information (Color Aerial Photographs), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan (taken 1975)

    Japan is to decommission four stricken reactors at the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant. The plant’s operator- Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) made the announcement three weeks after failing to bring reactors 1 - 4 under control. Locals would be consulted on reactors 5 and 6, which were shut down safely. Harmful levels of radioactivity have been detected in the area. Adam Rutherford talks to Dr. Jim Smith, an expert in radioactive contamination, from Portsmouth University and Professor Gerry Thomas from Imperial College, London.

  • Beaked Whales

    Beaked Whales

    Scientists from the University of St Andrews have found that beaked whales are particularly sensitive to unusual sounds. Measuring their reactions to both simulated sonar calls and during actual naval exercises, researchers found the whales fell silent and moved away from the loud noises. The use of sonar for naval communication has been linked to beaked whales stranding in the past. Adam talks to Professor Ian Boyd from St Andrews University.

  • Birds collide with man made objects

    Birds collide with man made objects

    Picture credit: Manfred Heyde

    A new study has shown that birds are not so eagle-eyed after all. The report (IBIS) International Journal of Avian Science- has found that large birds of prey and sea birds crash into wind turbines and power lines because they do not look where they are going. Adam talks to Professor Graham Martin from University of Birmingham about how birds see in a very different way to humans.

  • Little Eagles

    The play Little Eagles tells the extraordinary story of Sergei Korolyov, chief designer and unsung hero of the Soviet space programme. Under his leadership, the USSR trounced the Americans in the space race throughout the fifties and for much of the sixties, achieving a series of firsts including the first human in space and Earth orbit. The 50th anniversary of this first flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, one of Korolyov’s beloved ‘little eagles’, is celebrated this year. Little Eagles is at Hampstead Theatre from 16 April to 7 May 2011. Writer Rona Munro joins Adam to explain more.

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