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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 16 August
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 16 August 2007
Ammonite. © Inkognitoh (Leonie)
An ammonite, a fossil from the Jurassic era 
© Inkognitoh

During August Material World is broadcasting four programmes made in association with the Open University. For more information about science courses at the Open University, click here

This week, in the second Material World-Open University co-production, Quentin Cooper joins a group of Open University geology students on a field trip to Staithes in North Yorkshire.

The field trip is one of the activities in a week-long residential course run by the Open University. The course is called The geological history of the British Isles.

The students will be analysing the cliff face, and a wave-cut platform. They’ll be looking for clues about climate and wildlife during the Jurassic period, more than 150 million years ago.

Quentin talks to the students as they interpret and analyse the coastal landscape. Guided by course tutor, palaeontologist Peter Skelton, the students log the rock layers. They then interpret their observations, and try to understand the geological and climatic conditions that caused the rock formations to develop.

Quentin is also joined by Glynda Easterbrook, a geologist at the Open University who supervises the residential course, and Professor Richard Davies from the University of Durham. Richard is Director of the Centre for Research into Earth Energy Systems.

Much of Richard’s research work is lab-based. He relies heavily on hi-tec equipment, especially 3D seismic reflection data. When he joins the students on the rocks at Staithes, Richard is reminded of the pleasure and importance of first-hand observation.

NEXT WEEK: Environment: the third of our Open University Summer Specials
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