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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 1 June
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GEOFF WATTS
Geoff Watts
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Thursday 1 June 2006
Artist's impression of Hayabusa (Courtesy of JAXA © JAXA)
An artist's impression of the Hayabusa explorer (Courtesy of JAXA © JAXA)

Asteroid Shock

Back in November a Japanese space probe went into orbit around a small asteroid and landed on its surface. Despite a catalogue of technical mishaps, the spacecraft Hayabusa has revealed an extraordinary picture of the make-up of these minor bodies on our solar system.

Rather than being a single solid chunk, the asteroid Itakawa is a shifting pile of loosely held together boulders, pebbles and gravel, glued together by weak gravity and static electricity. 

Yacht Design Technology


What's the secret behind the success of the fastest 70 feet class racing yacht in the world, the ABN AMRO ONE? After its most recent victory in the Volvo Ocean Race, Leading Edge went aboard to hear how supercomputer design techniques, a new design of keel and a weather navigation computer is transforming Formula 1 style yacht racing.

The Battle of the Hobbits

Arguments continue over the tiny extinct humans found in Liang Bua cave in Indonesia three years ago. Many argue these represent a dwarf species of small brained human which lived as recently as 12,000 years ago on the island of Flores. But recently published research by British and US researchers, including Professor Ann MacLarnon of Roehampton University, argues that the bones belonged instead to prehistoric individuals of our own species suffering from a rare brain malformation.

They also argue that stone tools found with the Hobbits' remains were too sophisticated to have been made by the small brained people, and had to be artefacts fashioned by members of our own species.

However the latest twist in the arguments comes with the discovery of very similar style of tools elsewhere on Flores. Professor Mike Morwood at the University of New England in Australia says this new cache of tools is as old as 850,000 years, suggesting early humans had been making 'Hobbit-style' tools for eons before the little people and our own species appeared on the island.

A Bigger Evolutionary Battle

Geoff Watts chairs a discussion between geneticist Steve Jones and science historian Jim Moore about the continuing conflict between Darwinism and Creationism.
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