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Play now 18 mins

31/03/2011

Duration:
18 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 31 March 2011

Radiation risk in Japan
Radioactive leaks from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan is causing a great deal of health scares. But just how do radioactive particles and rays affect our health and contaminate our food and water? Scientists suggest that the Japanese government took the correct precautions with evacuating people from near the reactors and issuing iodine tablets.

Why birds fly into pylons and wind turbines
Some of the larger species of birds, such as cranes, bustard, birds of prey, swans and geese are seriously threatened by colliding into man-made structures that reach into their airspace. Specialists in avian vision have shown that birds fly into pylons, wind turbines, electrical wires because they’re not looking where they’re going and have not evolved to be able to deal with such obstacles. Most large birds are looking at the ground or to the sides when they fly. They’ve had millions of years with clear airspace to themselves and so haven’t adapted to these man-made obstacles.

GOCE
Europe’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite has been measuring the Earth’s gravity field since 2008. This week they have produced the highest resolution model of gravitational perturbations that surround our planet. The movement of water in the oceans create peaks and troughs in the strength of gravity and means that they can be tracked from space and used to refine climate models.

Phobias and hormones
The standard treatment for the irrational and sometimes debilitating fears or phobias that 5-10% of people suffer, is exposure therapy. It involves making phobics face the source of their fears in a safe environment. New work has found that this therapy, coupled with the hormone - cortisone, gives significantly better results for people with the fear of heights. It’s thought that the hormone plays a role in retraining the brain away from scary memories and negative thoughts.

Space Tourism
Flights to space for tourists are getting closer and closer. Virgin Galactic has been showing off its spaceship, which it hopes will take paying customers into space in a couple of years. More than 400 people have already booked tickets, at 200 thousand dollars each.

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