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PROFESSOR MARTIN REES
One of the world's leading astronomers and cosmologists. Martin Rees has written more than 500 scientific papers, as well as 7 books. He travels extensively, and spends much of his time encouraging a greater interest and understanding of science amongst the general public. He is also this year's BBC Reith Lecturer, where he'll explore the limits of our scientific understanding, and how science might transform our lives in the rest of the 21st century.
This week a group of 6 'cosmonauts' are starting an 18-month long experiment, locked away in a container, with very limited contact with the outside world. The idea is to see if they can cope with the physical and mental stresses of a trip to Mars.
MOMENTS OF GENIUS
Author Eoin Colfer not only wrote the sixth instalment of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but in 2008, he wrote the story of a young boy's race for flight at the end of the 19th century. He became fascinated by the many and varied attempts to defy gravity, especially by the Wright brothers, who were bike shop mechanics in North Carolina in the US. Their moment of genius, Eoin argues, was to carefully test, not flamboyantly guess which flying machine might work best.
The nocturnal solenodon is only found in the Dominican Republic and in one of the last forested patches of Haiti. It is often described as a "living fossil", thanks to the fact that it has been around, virtually unchanged, for the past 76 million years. It is the size of a rabbit, with a ginger-brown coat. It has disproportionately large, clawed feet, beady little eyes and a very long, thin nose. But perhaps it's most bizarre - and prehistoric - feature is that it is the only mammal that can inject venom through its teeth, the same way a snake does. Scientists are only just finding out about this intriguing species and now it's threatened by habitat destruction and introduced predators. So the race is on to locate these beasts and help to prevent their disappearance.