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Seasonal Variation in Immunity, Chemosynthesis, Role of the ISS, Storing Digital Data in DNA

Adam Rutherford investigates new research uncovering seasonal variation in people's immune systems, which could determine how to best treat some challenging inflammatory diseases.

Many diseases strike harder and more often in the winter, including major inflammatory conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. New research out this week has uncovered the reasons why: it turns out that our immune responses are heavily influenced by the seasons. Professor John Todd who led this new global study discusses the results and how this could influence the way we administer medicines in future.

Organisms generate energy in all sorts of ways and it can happen in all sorts of weird places, such as deep sea hydrothermal vents, where bacteria takes nasty stuff such as Hydrogen Sulphide, and turn it into useful stuff such as amino acids. This is called chemosynthesis. But it turns out that it doesn't just happen in dark corners of the ocean. As tubeworm expert Nick Higgs explains we are learning that chemosynthesis is everywhere.

Major Tim Peake begins his six-month mission to the International Space Station in November,. Ever since its inception, the question of 'what the ISS is for?' has been asked.. So, what sort of science does it deliver? Richard Hollingham reports from Alabama, in a secret NASA research bunker.

Two years ago, a team led by Nick Goldman at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge successfully took a collection of important cultural artefacts, encoded them digitally, and then wrote them in DNA. These included Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, and all the Shakespearean sonnets. He's now collaborated with artist Charlotte Jarvis to encode a new musical composition which will also form a new art installation Music of the Spheres. DNA's ability to store complex digital data appears close to a reality. Could it hold the key to permanent long term storage for anything?

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

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30 minutes

Chemosymbiotic Clam

Chemosymbiotic Clam
Chemosymbiotic Clam living in a seagrass bed


  • Thu 14 May 2015 16:30
  • Thu 14 May 2015 21:00

Take the Synthetic Voices and Personality Test

Take the Synthetic Voices and Personality Test

Prof Trevor Cox wants help in researching how we respond to artificially generated voices