Science Cafe, Adam Walton

30th August 2009

Last updated: 28 August 2009

This week, we discuss online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and its plans to tighten up controls on its pages. There's an update on plans to bring a Japanese insect to the UK to tackle the knotweed problem. We hear research from Cardiff that claims early comets could have brought life to Earth. There's also a report on the record breaking run by the British Steam Car.

Wikipedia reaches three million articles

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia, that allows users to add and edit entires, has recently notched up 3 million articles in English (alongside millions more in over 200 languages). It has also announced a trial of tighter regulation on the content of articles - specifically those on large companies and living people. Gareth Mitchell from BBC World Service's Digital Planet joins Adam to discuss the Wikipedia phenomenon.

Tackling the knotweed problem

Plans to introduce a "sap sucking" insect from Japan to control the spread of Japanese knotweed in the UK are moving closer. Six years of scientific research has been done, and now the plans are are moving into the final stage, with reaction from the public being sought from DEFRA (see link below). Dr Richard Shaw joins the programme to explain why introducing this species (seen as controversial by some) is the best scientific method for controlling the invasive Knotweed.

Steaming to a record

Members of the British Steam Car team have been celebrating success after breaking a land speed record that has stood for 103 years. Their steam car "Inspiration" broke the record on two occasions last week. Alan Daulby reports on their progress.

Life from comets

The precise origins of life on Earth have long baffled scientists. Now, a new study by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of Cardiff Centre For Astrobiology, claims that early comets contained large quanitities of liquid water, providing conditions for primitive bacteria to form. These comets impacting Earth, according to Professor Wickramasinghe, a long-time exponent of life from space, could have triggered life.


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