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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.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 21 December
Quentin Cooper
Thursday 21 December 2006
Image of a Sooty Shearwater by Santa Cruz, California photographer Jeff Poklen
Image of a Sooty Shearwater by Santa Cruz, California photographer Jeff Poklen

Data Logging Animals

Tagging and tracking animals is not a new science. Nor is attaching devices - data loggers - which record animal movement and the environment.

But a new type of data logger, the 'Daily Diary' is looking to revolutionise our ability to study animals remotely.

Professor Rory Wilson from the University of Wales in Swansea who has been working on data loggers for most of his career has just won a Rolex Award for Enterprise, a biennial programme that supports individuals who endeavour to advance human knowledge and well-being, for his new device.

The 'Daily Diary' is rather like a black box flight recorder which is attached to an animal, such as a badger in the UK, albatrosses or penguins. It records, not only the location of the animal, but the environmental conditions such as temperature, altitude or depth for aquatic animals.
Using accelerometers, it can also record the animal's behaviour, such as walking, sleeping, scratching, feeding etc and it measures the energy expenditure and intake to give an idea of how well the animal is surviving.

Dr. Scott Shaffer, research biologist at the University of California Santa Cruz is also using data loggers, this time to tag and study the top predators in the North Atlantic. As part of the Census for Marine Life, the TOPP (Tagging Of Pacific Pelagics) Scott and his colleagues are discovering about how and why these animals move around the Ocean, what routes they take on migration, how they follow their prey and where they go to feed.

Light Pollution

All light in existence causes light pollution, from the local church lit spire, floodlit sports grounds, Christmas lights, to lights beaming around the sky for film premieres. This scattered, poorly directed light spills into the sky and causes the orange smog-like glow which hangs over towns and cities at night time.

As the Earth becomes swaddled in a fog of scattered light, star gazing becomes more and more difficult. Now the sight of the Milky Way is denied to over 90% of the UK population. Quentin Cooper talks to Dr Derek McNally, from University of Hertfordshire's Astronomy Department, about the difficulties faced by astronomers and to Mike Simpson, UK Technical Director at Philips about a new generation of lights which he hopes will help reduce light pollution. 

The British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies is asking people to count stars in a small part of the night sky in the run up to Christmas. They're doing this to raise awareness of fast-spreading light pollution which is destroying our views of star-filled night skies. The challenge starts on Wednesday 20 December.

To find out more and take part, visit the Campaign for Dark Skies web page.

Q&A Special

Quentin will be presenting a special edition of Material World on Thursday 11th January where he'll be attempting to find answers to your burning scientific questions. If there is something you've always wanted to know about the world of science, please send us your question by following this link.
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