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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
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 2 September
PRESENTER
GEOFF WATTS
Geoff Watts
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Thursday 2 September 2004
Genesis - practice recovery of sample return capsule
Genesis - practice recovery of sample return

This week on Leading Edge - Genesis brings back solar dust from space, communicating with extraterrestrials, Darwin's finches and hurricanes. 

Talking to ET

Despite excitement in the search for Extra Terrestrial Life that a radio signal could be a message from another world, physical objects and not radio messsages may be the best way to communicate with ET.

The problem with sending "things" is that you have to know where to send them. But new research suggests we could post objects to a billion possible destinations and still save energy, compared to radio messages.

Genesis mission returns with a piece of the sun


On the 8th September, the Genesis spacecraft will eject a capsule to Earth carrying with it a delicate sample of solar wind - particles from our very own sun. 

When the capsule parachutes down to the Utah desert, it will take extraordinary daredevil tactics to prevent it from crashing into the dirt. 

Weighing no more than a few grains of sand, the dust will be shared between scientists around the world. Studying these particles could answer fundamental questions about how the solar system formed and evolved. 

Building for a hurricane

In Florida, it's still hurricane season. Less than a month ago, Hurricane Charley blasted through its streets leaving chaos in its wake and a hefty bill for the tax payer. 

In America, early warning systems make it possible to evacuate most of the population in areas at greatest risk to minimize casualties. But with growing urbanization, damage to buildings during a hurricane is becoming increasingly costly.

Out in the field at Florida University International Hurricane Research Centre, Hugh Willoughby recreates hurricane conditions to show how his designs are leading to sturdier more hurricane-resistant homes. 

Darwin 's finches

There's renewed interest in the finches on the Galapagos that helped to prove Darwin 's theory of the Origin of Species.

Geoff Watts finds out what makes one finch have a tweezer-like beak suitable for picking insects while another's is better adapted to cracking nuts.

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