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Elements for Life in a Faraway Solar System

18 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 10 October 2013

A novel method has been developed to analyse the asteroids being sucked into a white dwarf or dying star. Scientists have found an asteroid that is 26% water, which they think is comparable to the asteroids that likely formed the Earth's oceans. This means the ingredients for life are present in a dying solar system 150 light years away.

The Effects of US Government Shutdown
The effects of the US government shutdown are being felt all over the world as funding is pulled from projects and employees are furloughed. Scientific research projects are no exception. We hear from some of those in the scientific community that have been affected.

Nobel Prize 2013 Winners
Roland Pease, our resident Nobel commentator, reports on the scientists that won Nobel prizes this year - François Englert and Peter W Higgs for physics, Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel for chemistry, and James E Rothman, Randy W Schekman and Thomas C Südhof for medicine - and discusses the science that got them the recognition. We rediscover the importance of the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, find out about the new understanding into transport between neurons and the novel use of computing to understand chemical processes.

(Picture credit: Artist's impression of a rocky and water-rich asteroid being torn apart by the strong gravity of the white dwarf star GD 61. Similar objects in the solar system likely delivered the bulk of water on Earth and represent the building blocks of the terrestrial planets © Mark A. Garlick, University of Warwick and University of Cambridge)


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