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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.
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Listen to 02 August
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 02 August 2007
Telford's unrealised design for a single span London Bridge.
Never built: Telford's unrealised design for a single span across the Thames. ©ICE

Seaside bouquet

If the return of summer weather inclines you to head for the seaside, you may soon be struck by the distinctive, coastal smell as you arrive.

It’s caused by the gas dimethyl sulphide, DMS, emitted by invisible marine microorganisms.

Peter Liss, professor of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia suggests we should be grateful for it – sulphur washed out to sea gets returned to the fields by it; if it wasn’t we should go hungry.

And Michael Steinke, lecturer in biology at Essex University, believes the gas may be a way the microorganisms protect themselves from predation.

Both join Quentin in the studio to talk about the many facets of DMS.

Thomas Telford turns 250

August the 9th this year marks the 250th birthday of Thomas Telford – perhaps the greatest civil engineer the UK has ever produced.

Known for his 1000 or so bridges and miles and miles of roads, his achievements with canals are sometimes obscured in history by the success of the railways that came so soon after him.

But prodigious as his output was, perhaps his greatest achievement was the professionalisation of civil engineering through his work as founding president of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Mike Chrimes, in charge of the Institution’s archive, talks Quentin through Telford’s story and legacy. And Ian Hunt, director in the UK of Gifford Ltd, a leading bridge building consultancy, talks of the continuing influence of the “Colossus of Roads”.

NEXT WEEK:  Robots : the first of our Open University Summer Specials
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