New Decade for Ocean Drilling
Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu
At a meeting in Amsterdam this week, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme announces its science plan for the next ten years. Chair of the committee that wrote the plan is Professor Mike Bickle of Cambridge University. At the centre of the plan is the Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu (meaning Planet Earth). There are 4 main aspects to the plan ahead. One is to use sediment cores from the ocean floor to explore climate change in the past with the hope of understanding it better in the future. The second is to study the hidden biosphere – vast communities of micro-organisms now known to live within the rocks under the ocean. How do they live and evolve where it’s almost impossible to move around and interact? Thirdly - and particularly urgent in the light of the recent Japanese Tsunami – is the need to drill and instrument the ocean floor faults where submarine earthquakes occur in hope of understanding and warning of future disasters. Finally, there’s deep geology – understanding how new ocean floor forms, how circulating fluids cool the Earth’s mantle and ultimately drilling right through the crust for the first time, into the unexplored mantle.
Smart Materials and Future Planes
The view from the window of an airplane
Business consultants PwC have just published a new report on the future technology for airplanes, civil and defence. One of the report’s authors, Anna Sargeant and Dr Colin Brown of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers join Quentin Cooper to discuss future planes and in particular, the new materials they may be made of. The list includes advanced new coatings and composites, self-repairing materials and ‘smart dust’ – minute sensors embedded in the fabric of a plane that can radio in with updates.
Dreams: What When and Why?
Almost everyone dreams, at least occasionally, while asleep. But is there any meaning to the content of dreams or any purpose in our having them? Next week, leading psychologists and other dreamers meet in The Netherlands at the International Association for the Study of Dreams to discuss their research. Quentin Cooper hears the latest from Professor Mark Blagrove who is researching why we dream more of things that happened last week than those of yesterday.
More Science in the Oxford English Dictionary
Today the Oxford English Dictionary is being updated, with the addition of over 1,840 new and revised words. In total there have been 98,000 updated and new entries published since the OED went online in March 2000. A high proportion of added words in the new release come from the world of science. Dr Robert Hughes tells Quentin what some of them are and discuses this increasing trend.
Weekly science conversation, on everything from archaeology to zoology, from abacus to the...