Moving Mountains; Endangered World Cup Football Mascot; Taming the Sun

Moving Mountains
Removing the tops off mountains was common practice in the eastern United States to strip mine for coal. Critics have previously called for it to be banned because of the health risks. But in China, the same thing is now happening but on a much larger scale, all to create new land for people to live on. In a comment piece in this week's Nature journal, Chinese scientists call this unprecedented geo-engineering "folly", and liken the practice to "performing major surgery on Earth's crust". Dr Adam Rutherford talks to Dr Emily Bernhardt from Duke University in the US about the potential risks of the Chinese mountain moving.

Endangered World Cup Football Mascot
The mascot for the upcoming World Cup football tournament in Brazil is a fun-looking yellow creature, based on the three-banded armadillo, which rolls into an almost perfect, armoured ball when it is threatened. This iconic creature is listed as a vulnerable species as its habitat is threatened, and now conservationists like Professor Enrico Bernard from the Federal University of Pernambuco are challenging football’s governing body, FIFA, and the Brazilian government, to do more to protect it – particularly as the mascot will feature on millions of dollars’ worth of merchandise and souvenirs. Professor Claudio Sillero, a conservation biologist at the University of Oxford and a self-confessed armadillo enthusiast tells us more about some of the other armadillo species in South America and if they too face similar threats as the World Cup mascot.

Privacy or Freedom of Speech?
The case of Mario Costeja Gonzalez, a Spaniard whose home was put up for auction 16 years ago because he was suffering financial difficulties, has just led to a ruling in the Court of Justice of the European Union forcing search engines to remove certain links from search results. Mr Gonzalez's request to have the details of his past deleted has led to a debate about the balance between the right to privacy and freedom of speech. Google has set up an expert committee to discuss how to deal with this thorny issue. Luciano Floridi, professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the Oxford Internet Institute in England discusses how the committee should find a solution.

Dengue Fever Brazil
If you are lucky enough to be heading to Brazil for this year's World Cup, you are recommended to have a Yellow Fever vaccination, and for some venues, consider taking malaria pills. But there is another disease carried by mosquitoes in many parts of Brazil for which there is currently no vaccine - dengue fever. Fortunately for visiting fans, most of Brazil's cities will be low-risk for this disease during the World Cup, but some experts say host cities in the north-east of Brazil could present a genuine risk of infection. One of the likeliest to be high-risk is Natal, from where the BBC’s Ben Tavener reports.

Tree-hugging Koalas
Hugging trees helps koalas to keep cool, a study has revealed. In a study published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, scientists used thermal cameras to reveal that, in hotter weather, the animals moved to the lower, cooler parts of the trees. They also pressed their bodies even closer to the trunks.

Taming the Sun
ITER is the most complex experiment ever attempted on this planet. Its aim, to demonstrate that nuclear fusion, the power of the Sun, can give us pollution free energy that we can use for millions of years. But at the moment, it's still largely a vast building site in the Haut Provence of southern France, with little prospect of any nuclear reactions there for another decade. A recent management report made damning criticisms of the way ITER is run, of the relations between the central organisations, and the seven partners (USA, Russia, Japan, China, South Korea, India and Europe) contributing to the project. Roland Pease has been to Cadarache to see how work is progressing, and to hear of the hopes of the scientists who have dedicated their working lives to the dream.

Computer power for cancer diagnosis
She is only 19 but has already experimented with neural networks, built prototype software to help doctors diagnose breast cancer, won a $50,000 college scholarship from Google and been invited to the White House to showcase her research. And her ambition doesn't stop there. Brittany Wenger wants a dual career as a paediatric oncologist and research scientist. The teenager from Sarasota, Florida, became interested in neural networks - a form of artificial intelligence that continuously learns and mimics the human brain - in high school.
When her cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was inspired to put her talents to medical use and came up with the idea of creating an artificial intelligence software program to analyse data from a breast tissue biopsy.

Photo: Digital Gobe: Satellite images of western Shiyan between 2010 (L) and 2012 (R) show that several peaks have been flattened

Release date:

55 minutes

Last on

Sun 8 Jun 2014 13:06 GMT