Programme 5: 25th November 2007
Adam Walton examines the science behind the headlines and reveals the latest scientific research in Wales
Sunday 25th November at 5.03pm
(Repeated Wednesday 28th November at 9.30pm)
Bags of Trouble
The Prime Minister has thrown himself into the great plastic bag debate. British shoppers currently use more than 13 billion bags every year, most of which end up as landfill. Last week, in his first major speech on climate change and the environment Gordon Brown announced that he wants to see an end to single-use plastic bags. Bags, of course, are only a part of the whole plastics issue - plastic packaging, drinks bottles, cartons and wrapping are also a major disposal and recycling headache. In this week's programme Adam discusses the science of recycling plastics with environmental chemist Dr. Vera Thoss of the University of Bangor.
Off the Launchpad
Some Science Cafe listeners might remember when 'interactivity' in a science museum didn't go beyond pressing a button on a big glass case to make a model work - if it wasn't out of order. But times have changed: modern museums are full of exhibits you can play with as you learn. The Launchpad gallery at the Science Museum in London has just reopened after a £4 million refit and it's bigger, better and more interactive than ever. Our reporter Stuart Robinson went along to discover how they're making science fun.
Small is beautiful, particularly in the world of nanotechnology, science and engineering which works at the scale of atoms and molecules. Dr. Chris Wright of the Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre at Swansea University joins Adam at the Science Cafe to talk about bionanotechnology and the lessons we can learn from nature's own nanotech. He discusses the role of the lotus flower in the invention of self-cleaning glass and considers the science fiction image of fleets of tiny 'nanobots' circulating round our bodies, keeping us healthy.
Happy Birthday Little Green Men
Forty years ago this week a young graduate student at the University of Cambridge was examining the printout from a large radio telescope when she came across an extraordinary signal - a regular pulse which seemed to be coming from far away across the galaxy. She called the signal 'LGM-1', short for 'little green man' but she soon realised that the signal was coming from a type of star which was completely new to astronomy. She had discovered the first pulsar, a dying star which, as it rotates, sends out a beam of radiation like a cosmic lighthouse. On the 40th anniversary of the discovery that student, now Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, is Adam's special guest at the Science Cafe.
Every week at the Science Cafe there's a shot of Espresso Science, a quick, fun experiment from the Techniquest @ NEWI Science Discovery Centre in Wrexham. This week, Adam arrives to find John Griffith of the Centre in an 'expansive' mood, clutching a helium-filled balloon and a flask of liquid nitrogen!
Espresso Science - listen online now
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