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More evidence of supermassive black hole (in our galaxy)

18 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 04 October 2012

Black hole
The only way to detect a black hole is by observing its gravitational effect on objects close to it. Seventeen years ago, a star was found orbiting close to what was suspected to be a supermassive black hole, at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. But a second star was needed to provide more evidence of this black hole. Now astronomer and physicist Andrea Ghez and her team at UCLA have found this second star which has an even shorter orbit – so do we now have conclusive proof of a supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy?

Emergence of viruses
A new respiratory illness similar to the SARS virus has been identified in a man who is being treated in Britain. SARS spread globally in 2003, killing hundreds of people. The man, from Qatar is the second person confirmed with this new coronavirus. Officials are still figuring out what threat this new virus may pose. At the moment, it seems it doesn’t spread easily from person to person. But the big fear is always that viruses mutate, and could develop the ability to spread. Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at University of Nottingham, in the UK, investigates how viruses pass between people and from other animals to humans.

Face recognition
Do our brains have a specific area dedicated to the recognition of faces, or are we merely experts in recognizing our fellow humans? This question has been keeping psychologists busy for many years. Jon speaks to Professor Isabel Gauthier who has been studying car experts to find out if their brain responds to those in the same way most people respond to faces.



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