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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 to 30 March
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GEOFF WATTS
Geoff Watts
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Thursday 30 March 2006
A brown mouse
Is he a source of renewable cells?

Stem Cells in Adult Mouse Testes

Scientists in Germany, publishing in the journal Nature, have found a potential source of renewable cells in adult mouse testes. Removing young cells from the testis and cloning them to grow tissue for other parts of the body could prove a breakthrough in stem cell research. It would mean we don't have to rely on cells from embryos.

Dr Stephen Minger, from Kings College London, discusses this work with Geoff Watts and puts it into context. Will it be transferable to humans? Will there be a female equivalent? Will these cells be as reliable as embryonic stem cells or are they a poor substitute? 

Lake Vostok

Gabrielle Walker has been talking to the team of Russian drillers and French scientists who've been working on Lake Vostok in Antarctica. The team have recently started up the drills again after 8 years to see if they can find any evidence of life in the lake and below it.

They've drilled a further 27 metres down and have some surprising news. Some scientists think that Lake Vostok could give them clues as to how life in other extreme environments exists.

Gestures help learning

Susan Goldin Meadow from the University of Chicago has been working with children and adults to find out just how important hand gestures are in learning science subjects. It might seem quite obvious, as we all use hand gestures in our everyday conversations, but Susan has found that if you prevent the use of hand gestures, then you stifle the ability to learn.

There seems to be an evolutionary reason for waving our hands about. It also could help you learn a foreign language - gesturing like a French or Italian person, could help you convince them you're really a native speaker! 
 
Air-Traffic Control

It seems that the airwaves are getting clogged up with too many messages to pilots flying our friendly skies. So researchers at Nottingham University, lead by Alex Stedmon, have tried to come up with a solution.

What if some of the messages were sent as text, and appeared on a computer screen within the cock-pit? It would then leave the airwaves open for more urgent calls. Well, in trying this out, they discovered a few problems. Pilots do get a lot of information about what's going on around them from the radio messages they can hear going to other planes.

In receiving information via text, they did miss out on a lot of this. However they were able to complete more tasks by having the messages in front of them and were able to re-read the messages should they need to. But is that such a good idea? 
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