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Science
LEADING EDGE
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Leading Edge brings you the latest news from the world of science. Geoff Watts celebrates discoveries as soon as they're being talked about - on the internet, in coffee rooms and bars; often before they're published in journals. And he gets to grips with not just the science, but with the controversies and conversation that surround it.
radioscience@bbc.co.uk
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Listen to 6 June
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GEOFF WATTS
Geoff Watts
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Thursday 6 June 2002
Trumpets in a band

Brass Instruments

Tiny bumps in the mouthpiece of a trumpet or cornet can make a significant difference to the player, yet be very hard to detect physically. Now a a team of scientists has been applying a technique developed to measure earthquakes and tremors to the diagnosis of errors in brass instruments. Geoff Watts reports on how the latest technology is refining the manufacturing of brass instruments.

Dragonfly Suit

A new Anti-G suit for fighter pilots - inspired by the dragonfly - will be on display for the first time in the UK at the Science Museum from 24 May 2002. The revolutionarysuit isa completely new system to cope with the far greater G-force which modern, faster jets now produce - mimicking the way dragonflies cope with similar pressures. Geoff Watts spoke Lisa Jamieson, from the Science Museum who explained that Anti-G suits haven't changed much since the Second World War. They rely on compressed air being pumped from the aircraft into bladders at the bottom of the suit to swell and stretch the fabric, preventing pooling of the blood in the body. Keeping pilots' brains supplied with blood avoids life-threatening tunnel vision and blackouts. Pilots using the old anti-G suits, frequently complain of arm discomfort as they offer no protection in this area but with fluid channels also running along the arms, the Libelle suit helps to reduce this pain.

Martian Environment

Scientists at the University of Leicester's Space Research Centre are recreating the hostile environment found on Mars in their laboratory, with a device known as the Martian Environment Simulator (MES). The machine reproduces the temperature, air pressure and unbreathable atmosphere known to exist on Mars. The MES is currently being used to test equipment on the Beagle 2 lander, part of the European Space Agency's Mars Express Spacecraft and due to arrive on Mars during Christmas 2003. The chance of Beagle 2 finding life, either current or past, on the red planet has increased recently due to the discovery of ice beneath the planet's surface. The MES will be used to test all future instruments for planetary science being developed at the Space Research Centre.
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