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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.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 16 February
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GEOFF WATTS
Geoff Watts
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Thursday 16 February 2006
Geoff and a vulture

The Brain's Pacemaker

Professor Julian Paton and colleagues at the University of Bristol have identified a group of cells in the brain that play an important role in maintaining our breathing. They suggest that these cells, when starved of oxygen, fire off a nerve impulse to make us gasp - a gasping reflex. They cautiously suggest that the failure of these cells to work could play a part in failing to prevent Sudden Infant Death or cot death cases. This is very much a work in progress but Leading Edge reports on the current research in this area. 
 
The Decline of the Gyps Vulture in India

Steve Carver reports from India on the decline of the Gyps Vulture. It's the fastest species decline in any bird seen in the last 100 years. The vultures' natural behaviour is to eat the bodies of dead cattle. Unfortunately, over the last few years a pain killer called Diclofenac has been used in the cattle and has found to be toxic to the vultures, causing kidney failure in the birds. An alternative is on the market but is proving too expensive. The request is that Diclofenac be banned and then the alternative would become a more viable option. Geoff Watts visits London Zoo to examine the vultures and find out from vet Andrew Routh what can be done to increase the population of these birds in India. 
  
Tissue Engineering

Geoff also visits some scientists who've been doing something very clever with pink jelly. This jelly isn't the stuff you'd serve at parties though; it could potentially be used to replace human body tissue should you be in need of a skin graft or such like. Researchers at University College London have managed to make living tissue that could be sewn into the body within minutes. Not only is it quick, it can also be specific to the site where it's needed and to the person who needs it, thus reducing the risk of rejection. 
 
How Bees See

Dr Beau Lotto talks us through his installation at the Hayward Gallery that is part of the Dan Flavin Exhibition. He's been discovering how bees make sense of the world around them, and how they adapt to find the flowers they want under different light conditions. His research could lead to helping us understand how humans perceive light.
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