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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 26 August
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 26 August 2004
Mary Somerville
Mary Somerville as a young woman
by John Jackson
(Courtesy of the Principal and Fellows of Somerville College, Oxford).

Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville was one of the great scientists of the 19th century. With no formal education she flourished in maths, astronomy and geophysics - some of the most demanding sciences of the day.

Her genius was realised because early 19th century science was dominated not by salaried professionals but by "Grand Amateurs", a society of scientists who welcomed Mary's originality and genius.

Quentin is joined by scientific historian Dr Allan Chapman of Oxford University, who has recently written Mary Somerville and the World of Science, and by astronomer Dr Jacqueline Mitton from the Royal Astronomical Society to explore the life of this extraordinary scientist and why she was to science what Jane Austen was to literature.

Mary Somerville and the World of Science   is published by Canopus Books ISBN 0 95378684 6  Insect Altruism

Blood really can be thicker than water in the insect world, according to a team of biologists at the University of Nottingham.

They have been studying the unusual life cycle of the parasitic wasp Copidosoma floridanum and found that its larvae refused to attack close relatives even under extreme starvation conditions. Is this a case of true altruism in the cut throat world of insects? Why do animals sometimes cooperate with their competition?

Quentin is joined by Dr. Ian Hardy, Animal Population Biologist at the University of Nottingham, and Professor Francis Ratnieks, Professor of Apiculture at the University of Sheffield, to find out why insects and humans help some, but not others.
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