British Festival of Science
It used to be called the British Association for the Advancement of Science, but the annual festival of science has had a makeover and focuses largely on enthusing the public and especially children about science and technology. Martin Redfern went along to Aston University in Birmingham in the English midlands to see what British science was capturing the headlines.
Natural Gas-eating bacteria in the Gulf on Mexico oil plumes
There are many scientists studying the underwater plumes of gas and oil which resulted from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There have been some contradictions on reports of how microbes are degrading the hydrocarbons deep underwater. This week, scientists report in the journal Science that they think microbes start off their meal on a diet of natural gas molecules – methane, ethane, propane and butane, then move on to the oil molecules.
Street lighting and songbirds
Street lights being left on all night are thought to have an effect on forest nesting songbirds, like blackbirds, robins, great tits and blue tits. The lights act like an artificial dawn, leading to males starting their dawn chorus earlier. The researchers have found that these males have longer time singing and seem to attract more females. This means that male birds which have street lights in their territory claim paternity to far more chicks…but is there a cost to getting up so early?
NASA in the Arizona Desert
NASA is testing the next generation of human spaceflight technology in the desert of Arizona in the US, and they invited Jon Stewart along to have a look at what that future holds. The rocky, dusty, desert, not far from the lip of the Grand Canyon, is apparently an ideal place to do a dry run for living on another planet.