Science Cafe, Adam Walton

Series 5: Prog 04: 19/04/09

Adam Walton presents your weekly guide to science.

This week Adam Walton hears about the robot scienctist called Adam that has made some discoveries of its own. There's news of the forthcoming world land speed record. Plus we hear about "concrete canvas".

Robot discovery

Making headlines recently was a robot scientist designed at Aberystwyth University which achieved a first by making a scientific discovery. The robot, known as Adam, can devise and carry out experiments and interpret the results, all without the help of a human. Adam's recent work involved filling in some of the gaps in the genetic make-up of baker's yeast, which is useful to scientists because of its similarity to human cells. Adam is soon to be joined by another robot called, appropriately, "Eve" which will also be working to answer more questions to help scientists. Discussing this landmark for robotics is Professor Ross King from Aberystwyth University, who led the project, and Noel Sharkey, Professor of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence from Sheffield University

Bloodhound sniffs out a record

A collaboration between several teams of scientists - including a team at Swansea University - is hoping to smash the world land speed record in 2011, as a vehicle breaks the 1000mph barrier for the first time. Bloodhound follows in the blistering wake of past holders of the record like Blue Bird, Blue Flame and, most recently, Richard Noble's Thrust SSC. It looks like a bullet, but will travel much faster than a bullet. Dr. Ben Evans from Swansea University's School of Engineering - and a key member of the Bloodhound team - joins Adam Walton to explain the progress of the Bloodhound SSC project

Concrete shelters

A company based in Treforest has developed a new material technology that's called "Concrete Canvas" and enables hard shelters to be created quickly in almost any location. This "building in a bag" is an inflatable shelter made of a specially developed cloth which the company has devised. The shelters can be used in extreme climates and battlezones, and it's claimed to have a lifespan of up to ten years. Our reporter Paul Morris visits Concrete Canvas.

Sniffing our food

A recent survey revealed that our memories of food from childhood can stay with us into adulthood and influence our choces of what we eat. Professor Tim Jacob from the Cardiff University School of Biosciences, who specialises in smell research, and the closely linked sense of taste, discusses our food preferences and our senses of smell and taste.

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