iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Pebbles on Mars, Avatar Therapy and Culture Driven Evolution

Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Pebbles on Mars, Avatar Therapy and Culture Driven Evolution

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 02 June 2013

This week, the journal Science included a paper reporting findings by NASA’s Curiosity Rover of pebbles on the Red Planet’s surface. Whilst this may seem arbitrary, the scientists from the University of California, Davis, conclude that pebbles of this size could have only come about when transported through water over long distances. This evidence of sustained water flow on Mars gives new hope to the prospect that the surface of the planet may have once supported life.

Avatar Therapy
Illusionary voices are a common symptom of schizophrenia and its patients often feel helpless against them. But what if these voices were given faces that patients could interact with and eventually challenge? This is what lies at the heart of Avatar Therapy, a new treatment option developed by Julian Leff, Emeritus Professor at UCL’s Mental Health Sciences, which has showed promising results in an early pilot study.

Culture Driven Evolution
Could culture, rather than random genetic mutations, have driven the evolution of humans? Matt Ridley and Simon Fisher, one of the researchers who found that disruptions in the FOXP2 gene affected development of speech and language, put the case against the prevailing view in the field in the journal Science this week. Whereas many scientists believe that humans first evolved when a small number of mutations caused a cultural explosion, Matt argues that it may not be so straightforward.

(Image: Aerial view of a planet. Credit: J. Gabás Esteban)


7 items
  • Pebbles and Radiation on Mars

    Pebbles suggest ancient Martian streams and radiation levels pose manned mission dilemma

  • Avatar Therapy

    A new therapy is helping schizophrenic patients challenge their auditory hallucinations

  • Culture Driven Genetics

    Did culture or random genetic mutations drive the evolution of humans?

  • Ancient Bryophytes

    400-year-old plants that were frozen in the ‘Little Ice Age’ are revived

  • American Honey Bees

    An insight into the extraordinary world of migratory beekeeping

  • Black Hole bonanza

    A hidden field of small black holes could be revealed as a giant gas cloud passes by

  • The Crash app

    Meet the app that prevents unwanted pedestrian crashes whilst texting and tweeting


Free downloads

  1. Image for Click


    How computers and digital technology affect our lives around the world. Presented by Gareth…

  2. Image for Discovery


    The science documentary series that looks in depth at the most significant ideas, discoveries and…

  3. Image for Health Check

    Health Check

    The BBC World Service's weekly round up of global health stories and topical issues in medicine.

  4. Image for Science Hour

    Science Hour

    Science news and highlights of the week from BBC World Service. The Science Hour is a weekly…

  5. Image for Science in Action

    Science in Action

    New developments in science and science news from around the world, weekly from BBC World Service.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.