Science Cafe, Adam Walton

Series 5: Prog 12: 28/06/09

This week, we find out about the results of a year long survey into our meadows. There's news of the mysterious "ghost slug" that's spreading across South Wales. We hear about a new test for Alzheimer's which has been developed. Also there's a preview of some science events for families coming to Cardiff.

Buttercups and meadows

Just over a year ago, Adam Walton spent a fascinating few hours in the company of scientists in Aberystwyth at IBERS, the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences - the UK's largest group of scientists and support staff working in this discipline. During that recording of Science Café, he met up with Dr John Warren in a field full of buttercups. John was launching an appeal about buttercups in their local meadows. The reproductive habits of the buttercup mean that in well-established meadows some plants can trace their 'lineage' back several hundred years. But as they get older mutations begin to appear and the number of petals on each flower varies from the usual five. The Great British Buttercup Survey involved counting the number of petals on buttercups. John joins the programme to explain the results of the survey

Ghost slug

First discovered in a garden in Cardiff in 2007, the so-called "ghost slug" has become a minor celebrity on the world stage, having been named recently as one of the Top Ten new species by the International Institute for Species Exploration. Its official name is "Selenochlamys ysbryda" - ysbryd being the Welsh word for ghost - and it's thought the first time a Welsh word has been used in an animal's scientific name.The slug is carnivorous, and has been the subject of a survey conducted by the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. Museum is research assistant and zoologist Ben Rowson talks to Adam about this mysterious creature.

Alzheimer's test

A new test has been developed which could help early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. Called "test your memory" it has been devised by a team at Addenbrooke's Hospital, which is linked to Cambridge University. It's hoped that it could help sufferers get more help and support in the earlier stages of the condition, which affects hundreds of thousands of people in Britain. Dr Jerry Brown from Addenbrooke's Hospital describes the new test.

Junior science

This Summer sees the first Science Cafés for children in Wales - they're being held in Techniquest in Cardiff and the first one is about invertebrates, and a chance for families to get up close with giant snails and tarantulas. Joining us from Techniquest in Cardiff is Brian Hatton. Junior Science Café takes place at The Gate Arts Centre, Keppoch Street, Cardiff at 6:30pm on Tuesday 7th July

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