Programme 8: 16th December 2007

Adam Walton examines the science behind the headlines and reveals the latest scientific research in Wales.

Sunday 16th December at 5.03pm

(Repeated Wednesday 19th December at 9.30pm)

Wind Power

The UK Government has just unveiled plans to power all homes in the UK with offshore wind energy by the year 2020. Currently only 2% of the UK's power comes from renewable sources but these plans, which would mean the installation of 7000 turbines around the coasts of Britain, would boost that figure to 20%. Wind turbines are already a familiar sight across the Welsh landscape and, increasingly, offshore too. In this week's Science Cafe Adam talks to Dr. Arthur Butler, a physicist and engineer at the Centre for Alternative Technology, about the design and efficiency of the latest turbines.

Dying Reefs

The world's coral reefs are one of the most important biological indicators of climate change and global warming. In the last two decades around 30% of reefs have disappeared as tropical seas have got warmer, causing coral to lose the algae which live within them and to bleach and die. Dr. John Turner of the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University is one of the scientists at the forefront of research into coral bleaching and he talks to Adam on this week's programme about the tropical seas which are getting too tropical.

Dating the Red Lady

Not quite as racy as it sounds! The Red Lady of Paviland is a prehistoric skeleton which was discovered in a cave on the Gower in 1823. It later transpired that 'she' was, in fact, a male skeleton and the dating in question is carbon dating - the archaeological tool which is used to estimate the age of ancient relics. A team at Oxford University have used the technique to revise the age of the Red Lady to 29000 years old making the skeleton 4000 years older than was originally thought. The skeleton has just gone on show at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and Science Cafe reporter Paul Morris has been along to the Museum to meet Dr. Thomas Higham who led the team at Oxford and, of course, the Red Lady herself - sorry... himself.

The Maths of Queuing

Next time you're standing in a long queue at the supermarket or post office, take heart that there's actually a mathematical principle devoted to your predicament. Jeff Griffiths, Professor of Mathematics at Cardiff University joins Adam at the Science Cafe to explain how Queuing Theory can be applied to anything from traffic lights and toll bridges to hospitals and supermarkets. Perhaps even Santa could learn a thing or two from Jeff and his Queuing Theory!

Espresso Science

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 John Griffith demonstrates a larger and noisier version of the old 'singing wine glass' trick.

Listen onlineListen to Espresso Science - 7


Centre for Alternative Technology

National Museum of Wales


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