Russian scientists say they have been successful in their attempt to reach Lake Vostock, a huge liquid lake, sealed under the ice of Antarctica.

Because the underwater environment has been isolated for millions of years it is possible that life there has evolved separately from the rest of the Earth.

The drilling project itself has been a gargantuan feat of engineering, in one of the most inhospitable places on our planet and it's not the only one going on.

The BBC's Jonathan Amos tells us more.


The headlines in Europe have been dominated by what is being called The Big Freeze. Most of the continent, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, is currently gripped by extreme cold weather.

Italy has imposed emergency measures to conserve gas supplies, there is an emergency situation in place in Serbia where 70,000 people are stranded by snow, and there have been deaths reported in Poland and Ukraine – other casualties are likely.

The cause is a Siberian high pressure system which is preventing milder temperatures from moving from the Atlantic Ocean.

Yet on the other side of the Northern hemisphere we are seeing much higher temperatures than normal.

To help us figure out why, we turned to Dr Blair Trewin, from the World Metrological Organisation.


Scientists have recreated the sound of giant prehistoric bush cricket, which lived about 153 million years ago.

This animal was considerably bigger than most modern day crickets – at about 12cm in length.

A remarkably complete fossil of the early insect, discovered by Chinese scientists, enabled an international team to see the structures in its wings that rubbed together to make the sound, and therefore to recreate it.

The research is published in the journal PNAS. We spoke to one of the lead researchers Dr Fernando Montealegre from the University of Bristol in the UK.


It is almost a year since fears were raised about the safety of nearly half the world’s population the most threatened species of penguin, after a cargo vessel was wrecked on Nightingale Island.

That is part of the Tristan da Cunha UK overseas territory in the South Atlantic, and home to the northern rockhopper penguin.

There were twin concerns about environmental pollution from oil, and also rats reaching land and killing birds or stealing eggs.

Now, a year on, the first assessment of the penguin population shows they have not suffered as much as was feared, but that there could still be long term effects.

Dr Juliet Vickery from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK explained more.

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18 minutes

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Sun 12 Feb 2012 00:32 GMT

Gravitational Waves

'Ripples' from black holes detected

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