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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 6 July
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GEOFF WATTS
Geoff Watts
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Thursday 6 July 2006
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THE BODY CLOCK GENES

Stunning images of the body's internal clock ticking away in brain tissue are providing further insights into the molecular genetic basis of our biological or circadian rhythms.

The images are the work of the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology and are throwing light on those daily cycles of physiology and behaviour that persist even when we are isolated from the external world.

'The most obvious function controlled by our internal body clock is sleep', says Michael Hastings, who lead the research. 'But we are beginning to discover a whole host of functions controlled in this way, including control of the cycle of cell division, the starting point for cancer'.

MIND READING MACHINES

Can you read minds? The answer is most likely yes. You may not consider it mind reading but our ability to understand what people are thinking and feeling from their facial expressions and gestures is just that.

People express their mental states all the time through facial expressions, vocal nuances and gestures', says Peter Robinson of the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. We have built this ability into computers to make them emotionally-aware'.

MARINE BIODIVERSITY

These days most of us are used to the idea that we're covered in micro-organisms: from cell munching bacteria on our skin to microbes that help us digest our food. We might prefer not to think about it but without these organisms we wouldn't survive.

As Richard Hollingham reports, scientists have begun to realise that microbes in the sea are equally important - for the food chain and even the global climate.

Work is underway on an international Census of Marine Microbes - no mean feat when you consider that there are tens of thousands of organisms in just a single drop of seawater.
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