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Life in Tornado Alley and Alligator Teeth

How can the residents of Tornado Alley better protect themselves? What is special about Alligator teeth? And how have cockroaches evolved to outsmart the traps we lay?

The tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday 20th May is reported to have left at least two dozen dead and the damage caused is expected to exceed $2 billion. But this is nothing new to Oklahoma City, which finds itself at the southern end of ‘tornado alley’ - an area which stretches from South Dakota to Central Texas and is particularly vulnerable to storms. We ask Professor John Snow from the University of Oklahoma what life is like in Tornado Alley and what precautions are put in place to protect its residents.

Alligators are able to grow up to 50 entirely new sets of teeth throughout their life. This week, researchers at the University of Southern California revealed a study that uncovered exactly how alligators achieve this incredible feat; via highly regulated mechanisms of stem cell growth and renewal. We spoke to one of the paper’s authors, Professor Cheng-Ming Choung, to ask whether these findings can now be applied to humans.

Historically, cockroaches have always been considered the most resilient of all pests and this week, a study in the Journal Science seems to back this up. A team from North Carolina State University found that cockroaches had evolved a clever mechanism to avoid the sugar-coated poison traps that are often used to eradicate them. By “reorganising” their sense of taste, the “mutant” roaches are now thought to perceive sugary glucose as bitter. Lead author Dr. Coby Schal talks about this, the latest chapter in the evolutionary arms race between humans and cockroaches.

55 minutes


  • Living in Tornado Alley

    What can the residents of Tornado Valley do to protect their homes and their lives?

    Duration: 08:50

  • Alligator Teeth

    The regenerative power of alligator teeth may hold promise for us humans

    Duration: 05:20

  • Natural Selection in Cockroaches

    By reprogramming their taste buds, cockroaches are evolving news ways to avoid our traps

    Duration: 04:10

  • Google Glass Navigation

    How Google’s newest innovation may lead to the death of ‘getting lost’

    Duration: 05:15

  • Solar Impulse Plane

    Can planes of the future run on nothing more than the sun’s energy?

    Duration: 02:05

  • Physical Effects of Chemical Weapons

    How symptoms shed light on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government

    Duration: 06:30

  • Deep Sea Vents

    Humans are now mining deep sea beds for copper, nickel and gold

    Duration: 12:15

  • The Chelsea Flower Show

    Urban rooftop gardens may promote wildlife, cool buildings and purify water

    Duration: 05:45


  • Sun 26 May 2013 14:06GMT

Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves

Gravity and ripples in the fabric of space time - what do these mean for us?