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Science Special

Andrew Marr talks to Dr Peter Wothers about modern day alchemy, plus Helen Bynum charts the history of tuberculosis from the medieval period to the present day.

On Start the Week Andrew Marr talks to Peter Wothers about modern day alchemy, as we enter a new era of chemistry. In the past some scientists dismissed the vast majority of the human genome as 'junk DNA', Ewan Birney argues for renaming it 'enigmatic DNA'. And curiosity gets the better of Sanjeev Gupta as he explores the terrain on Mars. But science doesn't have all the answers as Helen Bynum charts the history of tuberculosis, from the medieval period to the present day, and looks at how this killer disease continues to spread and evolve. Producer: Katy Hickman.

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43 minutes

Peter Wothers

Peter Wothers is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge and a Fellow and Director of Studies in Chemistry at St Catharine’s College.


Peter is giving The Royal Institution’s 2012 Christmas Lectures, entitled ‘The Modern Alchemist’, which will be broadcast on BBC 4 on 26, 27 and 28 December.


The Modern Alchemist

Helen Bynum

Helen Bynum is a freelance historian and author.


Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis is published by Oxford University Press.

Ewan Birney

Ewan Birney is a computational biologist and joint associate director at the European Bioinformatics Institute.


Ewan will be giving a lecture, ‘What can we learn from our genes?’ at The Royal Society in London on Monday 28 January.


Ewan Birney

Sanjeev Gupta

Sanjeev Gupta is a geologist in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London.  He is also a Participating Scientist in NASA’s new Mars Rover mission, Mars Science Laboratory.


Sanjeev Gupta