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Series 3: Prog 09: 23/11/08

This week - we delve into the mysterious and very tiny world of nanotechnology. We preview a talk and discussion about nuclear power in Swansea. We also mark twenty years of research in Cardiff into the common cold.

Sunday 23rd November at 5.03pm

Repeated Wednesday 26th November at 9:30pm

Nano tech

Nanotechnology is one of the biggest scientific buzzwords of the 21st Century. It involves manipulating matter down to the scale of just a few atoms and it offers ways to engineer smaller, cheaper and faster devices in medicine, industry and consumer technology which can achieve more using less materials and energy. It's an exciting and rapidly expanding area of science but last week the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution issued a warning about the potential hazards of the new materials which nanotechnology is creating. The Commission's report highlighted a major gap in research about the environmental risks posed by nanomaterials. One group at the forefront of nanotechnology research is Swansea University's Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre. Professor Huw Summers, the Director of the Centre joins Adam Walton in the Science Cafe.

Nuclear tech

For the first time in years, nuclear energy is back on the agenda. With dwindling fossil fuel reserves, fluctuating oil and gas prices and the threat of global warming, the nuclear option is beginning to become quite attractive. However, events like the Chernobyl accident still remind us of the possible dangers of harnessing nuclear energy and there's also the problem of disposing of waste which stays radioactive for thousands of years. Dr John B. Lewis who worked for many years in the nuclear industry including the Atomic Energy Authority, will be putting the case for nuclear energy as a supplement to renewable resources, at this month's Science Café in Swansea's Dylan Thomas Centre on 26th November at 7.30pm.

Super microscope

The world's newest 'super-microscope' has recently been powered up and is ready to reveal everything from the microscopic stresses on an airliner's wing to the way spiders spin silk stronger than steel. It's called the ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Source and it's based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. Martyn Bull from ISIS explains its workings, and Dr Peter Griffiths from Cardiff University explains how useful ISIS has been to his research team over the years.

Aaachoooo!

Cardiff's Common Cold Research Centre has just marked its 20th anniversary. We sent along reporter Paul Morris with a box of tissues to discover its inner workings, and to see if there is any likelihood of a cure.

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