15/01/2010

HAITI CRIPPLED BY DEVASTATING EARTHQUAKE
Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake this week that released as much energy as half a megaton of TNT. It was the worst earthquake to hit the Caribbean nation in over a century and flattened entire neighbourhoods in some places. Science in Action speaks to Mike Kendall, Professor of Seismology at the Department of Earth Sciences at Bristol University in the UK to look into the reasons why this earthquake caused as much damage as it did.

GENE MAP OF PLANT MAY PROVIDE CHEAPER MALARIA DRUGS
Artemisia annua is a plant used to create highly effective drugs to fight Malaria. These drugs are expensive, and despite an increase in demand, production and planting areas are reducing. However, the publication of the genetic map of the plant has given new hope scientists looking to make cheaper drugs in larger quantities. The genetic map will help scientists determine which of the plants will give high yields and will help develop variants suitable for growing in diverse conditions. Professor Ian Graham of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York tells Jon Stewart all about these breakthroughs.

PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS OVER INTRODUCTION OF GM CROPS IN INDIA
Proposals to introduce GM crops in India have faced many protests in the past. Now, a government-appointed committee has given the go-ahead for the introduction of
Bt brinjal, a genetically modified variety with the ability to produce its own pesticide. Many organic activists and farmers are worried by this step and the government plans to hold a series of public consultations until mid-February before taking a final decision. Science in Action's Tinku Ray visits the state of Karnataka to find out more.

SOLAR-POWERED IRRIGATION BENEFICIAL IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Irrigation has been said to be a good way to help people out of poverty, by allowing them to grow crops all year long, instead of just when it rains. It can also help in adapting to potential changes in the climate. A recent study that analysed the effectiveness of solar-powered irrigation in Benin has concluded that it improves both the diet of the people as well as their household income. Dr Jennifer Burney from Stanford University studied the solar-powered systems installed by an organisation called the Solar Electric Light Fund in two villages in Benin and tells Science in Action what she found.

SHAPES OF GALAXIES
Galaxies are clusters of billions and trillions of stars, each unique in some way – colour, shape or orientation. But why did each galaxy not end up identical to all others? Jon Stewart visited Dr Andrew Benson at the California Institute of Technology, hoping to find an answer.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Sun 17 Jan 2010 04:32 GMT

Gravitational Waves

'Ripples' from black holes detected

Gravity and ripples in the fabric of space time - what do these mean for us?