Science Cafe, Adam Walton

Series 5: Prog 18: 16/08/09

This week, how bacteria from North Sea might cope in Arctic conditions, plus how studying sea ice helps to understand the global climate. We meet the student who tried to build an electirc toaster from scratch. Also, a psychologist has tips on how to get more out of our Summer holidays.

Sea ice study

At the end of this month a team of scientists, including marine biologists from Bangor, will begin a series of tests on frozen sea water, which is being shipped from the North Sea to a special freezing facility in Hamburg. They will be studying the sea ice in a bid to find calcium carbonate, which has implications for CO2 in the atmosphere, and also hope to learn how bacteria from warmer climes behave when living in freezing conditions. Professor David Thomas from Bangor University's School Of Ocean Sciences discusses the project with Adam Walton.

Make more of your Summer hols

Scientists have been studying the effects of taking holidays, and how we often waste days getting into the "holiday frame of mind". Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman discusses why modern life makes us slow to get out of our regular routine, and why simple things like turning up to the airport earlier can help us get more out of our holiday time.

Making a toaster

Thomas Thwaites decided to try and make an electric toaster from scratch as a project for the Royal College Of Art, employing various scientific ideas. His search for raw materials to make the toaster took him on a 2000 mile trip around the UK. It included a visit to a disused copper mine at Parys Mountain on Anglesey to extract some copper from water to make wires and pins for the plug.

Backwards orbit

Most planets orbit their star in the same direction that the star is spinning. Planets that go in the opposite direction are described as being in a "retrograde orbit" and are thought to be quite rare. Adam talks to Professor Coel Hellier of Keele University about the first planet outside the solar system that has been found to have a retrograde orbit, and speculates on the cause of its unusual behaviour.

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