Series 2: Prog 6: 11/05/08

This week: the giant squid's even bigger cousin, the threat to our native bluebells, the facts behind brain training and how to curve the universe into an infinite loop.

Sunday 11th May at 5.03pm

(Repeated Wednesday 14th May at 9.30pm)

Colossal Squid

It's the giant squid's bigger and spikier cousin. It's called the colossal squid and until last year only five specimens had ever been caught. Then, in February 2007 a fishing boat working in Antarctic waters hauled an 8 metre long colossal squid to the surface. The specimen has been in the deep freeze at the Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, for the last fifteen months but it has now been defrosted and a team of scientists have set to work examining it. They've already established that it's a female and they're particularly interested in the squid's eyes which are the largest in the entire animal kingdom.

In this week's programme reporter Anjana Gadgil meet squid expert Dr. Jon Ablett of the Natural History Museum in London to discover the differences between the giant squid and its colossal cousin. Adam also puts in a call to Dr. Carol Dielbel of the Te Papa Museum and finds out the latest news from the team examining the new specimen.

Brain Training

From brain-training games on handheld consoles to crosswords and sudoku puzzles, there's an upsurge of interest in activities which claim to keep your brain 'young'. But is there any truth to these claims? Can you improve your IQ, memory and reaction time or is your brain simply not that flexible? Dr. John Parkinson of the School of Psychology at Bangor University joins Adam on this week's programme to discuss the idea that the brain is like a muscle - the more you exercise, the fitter it gets!

Disappearing Bluebells

It's the time of year when one of the great pleasures of a woodland walk is the sight of a carpet of bluebells stretching out in front of you. The bluebell was voted the nation's favourite flower in a project run by the conservation charity Plantlife but there are concerns that the native species will become an increasingly rare sight as it breeds with the introduced Spanish bluebell, an escapee from the nation's gardens. The result is a hybrid which is more vigorous than its parents and which is usurping the native species. Dr. Trevor Dines from Plantlife Wales gives us the background to a potential genetic catastrophe for the native British bluebell.

Espresso Science

In this week's Espresso Science, John Griffith of the Techniquest @ NEWI Science Discovery Centre in Wrexham uses a strip of paper, sticky tape and a pen to create a one-dimensional object and demonstrate how the universe might fold back on itself to create a never-ending loop.

Listen onlineListen to this week's Espresso Science


Te Papa Colossal Squid Blog

Plantlife Wales

Natural History Museum Bluebell Survey


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

New website

iPlayer Radio logo

Listen online

A new look for BBC Radio online: listen live on your computer - and now on your smartphone.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.