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Visualising a black hole, Homo luzonensis, Two ways to overcome antimicrobial resistance

Marnie Chesterton looks deep into a black hole, revels a new Hominin species found in the Philippines and discusses two clever ways to try and overcome microbial resistance.

"We have now seen the unseeable" according to scientists who are part of the Event Horizon Telescope group. The international team has released a picture of the first black hole. Data gathered from an array of over 8 radio telescopes has been crunched to create a picture of the super-hot plasma surrounding the black hole M87. It shows extremely excited photons on the brink of being swallowed up by the supermassive black hole, 500 million trillion km away. Marnie Chesterton, asks UCL cosmologist Andrew Pontzen what the glowing doughnut-shaped image can tell us about the laws of gravity and relativity.

A new species of hominin has been discovered in caves at the northernmost tip of the Philippines, on the island of Luzon. The discoverers have called this creature Homo luzonensis, and it's thought to be 50,000 years or older. The teeth, hand and foot bones suggest it could have been a mixture of early modern humans - Homo sapiens- and older ancestors like the Australopithecines. Cambridge University's Leverhulme Professor of Human Evolution, Robert Foley suggests some caution with calling this a new species, and explains how populations of hominins isolated on islands could evolve to be different by a mechanism called genetic drift.

The world is facing an antimicrobial crisis. The global fight against infections is looking worrying as more and more strains of bacteria emerge which are resistant to our stocks of antibiotics. Marnie visits to Tblisi, in Georgia to meet scientists who are looking at a different way to fight infections, collecting and using the microscopic phage viruses which infect the bacteria which infect us.

Another way to try and beat antibiotic resistance was the focus for Susan Rosenberg at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas, when she thought it might be clever to try and stop microbes evolving resistance to antibiotics . She discovered that when microbial cells are stressed, a number of them actually start to mutate at a greater rate. This means they stand a greater chance of mutating into a form that has some resistance to our drugs. But by learning about the finer details of this mechanism, and finding a drug that can halt it. She and her team hope to skew the evolutionary arms race between microbes and antibiotics and our immune systems in our favour.

Producer: Fiona Roberts

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39 minutes