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Science
THE MATERIAL WORLD
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Thursday 16:30-17:00
Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the sciences. Each week scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.
material.world@bbc.co.uk
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Listen to 27 May
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What is the highest mountain that has ever existed?
Aiden McGivern

Answered by Stuart Monro, geologist and Scientific Director of Dynamic Earth

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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 27 May  2004
Millenium Bridge
The Millenium Bridge, London

Synchronization

Why do crickets harmonize together in choruses on a summer night? What makes the moon spin precisely in sync with its orbit? Why do audiences clap simultaneously? What made the Millennium Bridge wobble? The answer is synchronization.

The tendency to synchronize is very common in the universe, extending from people to planets and from animals to atoms. Scientists have been exploring the deep connection that links these phenomena by using the mathematical theory of self-organization, where millions of simultaneous interactions result in order emerging from chaos.

Quentin Cooper is joined by Dr. Alastair Rucklidge, a lecturer at the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Leeds, and Professor Steven Strogatz of Cornell University in New York, author of a book on synchronization called 'Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order'.

Consumer Society

In our "throwaway society" consumer products are becoming ever cheaper as advances in technology and manufacturing cut down production costs. This increasingly means the cost of mending a fridge, toaster or computer can outweigh the cost of buying a replacement when it breaks down.

The UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has given £65,000 funding to a 3-year initiative to bring together engineers, social scientists and designers to try and increase the longetivity of housegold goods.

Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Tim Cooper from Sheffield Hallam University who will head the initiative and to Miles Park, product designer for sustainable futures at the Surrey Institute of Art & Design, to find out how we can change the way we buy, use and dispose of household goods.
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