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Deer, Herschel, facial contrast, potatoes

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 07 March 2013

The first ever census on deer numbers in the country shows that current management of these wild animals isn't controlling numbers. Estimates suggest there are 1.5 million deer now roaming the countryside, the biggest number since the ice age. But to just keep this number stable more than 50% would have to be culled every year. Is this the only option to controlling these animals which are having a significant and detrimental effect on our woodlands and are the cause of thousands of road traffic accidents? Dr. Paul Dolman, from the University of East Anglia and the lead author of the new research, puts forward his case.

Dr. David Clements, from Imperial College London, returns to the programme to highlight the success of Herschel - the European Space Agency's flagship Space Observatory. He was there at the telescope's launch - back in 2009 - and now will see its end as the onboard supply of helium, which cools the instruments, slowly runs out and the telescope loses its sight.

Also this week, why is the potato such a successful vegetable that can grow in many different climates? Dr. Christian Bachem from the Laboratory of Plant Breeding at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and his team have found a single gene that could be responsible. Knowing that could make it possible to breed even more extreme varieties to meet our ever increasing reliance on the humble spud.

Finally Dr Richard Russell, from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, may have discovered an underlying method by which we all guess a person's age. Writing in the Journal PLOS One, it seems a higher contrast between lips, eyes and the skin makes people look younger - something with which lipstick and eye shadow wearers can agree.

  • Roe deer

    Is culling the only option for controlling deer?
  • Potatoes

    Photo copyright: Christian Bachem
    What makes the potato such a successful vegetable that it can grow in many different climates?
  • Facial Contrast

    Why facial contrast can make us look younger.
  • Herschel space telescope

    Herschel space telescope loses it's sight.


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