BBC HomeExplore the BBC


Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

PROGRAMME FINDER:
Programmes
Podcasts
Schedule
Presenters
PROGRAMME GENRES:
News
Drama
Comedy
Science
Religion|Ethics
History
Factual
Messageboards
Radio 4 Tickets
Radio 4 Help

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

Science
LEADING EDGE
MISSED A PROGRAMME?
Go to the Listen Again page
PROGRAMME INFO
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.
Contact Leading Edge
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 24 March
PRESENTER
GEOFF WATTS
Geoff Watts
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 24 March 2005
African elephant

This week on Leading Edge - the Rory Bremners of the elephant world, light from alien planets and why all mathematicians should learn to draw. 

Light from an Alien Planet

Geoff Watts talks to the scientists from NASA who have been the first to detect light from a planet outside our own solar system.

They had previously only been able to detect such planets by watching the star wobble as the planet orbits around it.

But now Drake Deming and his colleagues at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have been able to measure the infrared light coming directly from just such a planet.
The planet is larger than Jupiter and has a temperature of around 850 degrees Celsius.

Geoff discovers how the scientists were able to detect infrared light from the planet, and what implications this has for learning about other planets outside our solar system, and the possible discovery of life elsewhere in the universe.
 
Pictures in Maths

Geoff Watts is joined by mathematicians Anthony Edwards and Marcus Du-Sautoy to discuss the importance of pictures in maths.

From Venn diagrams, to more artistic representations of complicated mathematical problems, a good drawing or diagram can simplify even the most difficult concepts.

Quantum Whistles

Molly Bentley reports from California on the weird whistling properties of Helium.

Scientists working in a lab at the University of California at Berkeley were playing around with a version of Helium, known as Helium 4.

What they discovered was that when super-cooled to temperatures 300 times below room temperature, Helium 4 becomes a super-fluid, and when it does, and under certain conditions it produces a whistling sound.

It sounds like a super-cool trick, but in fact may have useful applications in designing better global positioning systems and even earthquake detectors.

Imitating Elephants

Dr Joyce Poole has been working with the elephants of Kenya for nearly 30 years, studying their vocalizations and communication, and thought she knew every elephant sound there was.

Then a colleague from Tsavo National Park asked her to listen to an orphaned elephant they were looking after, which was making a very unusual sound. It turned out the elephant was mimicking trucks that passed on a road nearby his enclosure.

Dr Poole has since discovered other examples of elephants mimicking unusual sounds.

Geoff talks to Dr Poole about her extraordinary discovery and finds out what purpose these imitating skills might have in the wild.

Listen Live
Audio Help
DON'T MISS
Leading Edge
LEADING EDGE
Current Programmes
Previous Programmes
Science, Nature & Environment Programmes
Current Programmes
Archived Programmes

News & Current Affairs | Arts & Drama | Comedy & Quizzes | Science | Religion & Ethics | History | Factual

Back to top


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy