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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 10 November 2011

This week Quentin investigates fracking for oil and gas - could it cause earthquakes or contaminate water supplies? Listening to the ground with an optical fibre to hear what's going on down a borehole. A visit to the new Hidden Heroes exhibition at the Science Museum and a last chance for amateur scientists to enter 'So You Want To Be A Scientist.

Producer: Martin Redfern.

  • Fracking – Dangerous or Desirous?

    The process of drilling for shale gas known as Hydraulic Fracturing – or fracking for short - currently being trialled off the cost of Lancashire has proved controversial. Last week, the company behind the drilling issued a report saying that there was a link between the process and recent small tremors felt on the mainland. However, with such tremors reaching a maximum of 3 on the Richter scale according to the report, is there real cause for concern, or are they a necessary side-effect to resolving Britain’s energy shortages? Quentin discusses the issue with Professor Ernie Rutter, a structural geologist at the University of Manchester who took part in the report, and Professor Stuart Haszeldine, a geologist at the University of Edinburgh.

  • Fibre-Optic Fra

    Crucial to Fracking’s success will be the reduction of any risk. One way to do this is to keep a close ear on exactly how the hydraulic fluid is affecting the rock: remotely eavesdropping on what’s happening right at the bottom of boreholes using fibre optic cables that can be tens of kilometres long. A recently-developed system that promises to do just this is Opta-Sense, managed by Qinetiq. Quentin talks to the Managing Director Magnus McEwan King down the line from Calgary about why rocks have a lot to say to those who take the trouble to listen.

  • Everyday Inventions – Hidden Heroes at the Science Museum

    Often in science, it’s the big developments that make the headlines – the recent furore over the neutrino allegedly breaking the speed of light at CERN being just one example. But what about the everyday difference that science makes to our lives – the smaller inventions that don’t exactly put a man on the moon, but do make life considerable easier?

    That’s the focus of a new exhibition at London’s Science Museum, called ‘Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things’. Having just opened to the public, Quentin visited the gallery in its final construction stages earlier in the week to see how the teabag, dummy and paper clip all came to be.

  • So You Want To Be A Scientist?

    The competition is nearly reaching boiling point for So You Want To Be A Scientist. Quentin talks to one of the judges, Mark Henderson, Science Editor of The Times, and Andrea Sella, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London about what ideas will go far in the competition. The deadline for entries is Tuesday November 15th – you can find out more through the link below.

  • Periodic knitting

    Periodic knitting

    To celebrate the 2011 International year of chemistry, the Knit the Periodic Table project has created it's very own woolen table of the elements. It took place in New Zealand, and was headed by mother and daughter team Sarah and Rachel Wilcox. Gold (Au) was knitted with wool coloured with gold nanoparticles in a process being developed in New Zealand. One knitter chose to knit carbon because she worked in a radiocarbon dating laboratory in the 1960s. Another chose calcium after being impressed by the many beautiful and amazing forms of calcium he found in bird bones while researching his PhD.

    Facebook: Periodic Knitting
  • Periodic Knitting - more images

    Periodic Knitting - more images

  • Periodic Knitting

    Periodic Knitting


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