Main content

When Britain First Ripped Away from Europe

When Britain first ripped away from Europe. Also, why counting the world’s tree species can help us save them, and why we should not worry about lightning strikes on aeroplanes.

Britain was in the grip of an ice age 450,000 years ago. It has long been thought that Britain’s separation from Europe resulted from spill over from a lake formed in front of the ice sheet but until now it has not been proved. New research shows that this is correct - 450,000 years ago Britain geologically separated from Europe in two stages – a spill-over from a giant lake, followed by catastrophic flooding.

Tallying up the Number of Tree Species
Until recently, no one knew how many tree species there are in the world. But this week the Botanic Gardens Conservation International, have published a comprehensive global list of all our tree species. Out of the 60,065 different species world-wide, an astonishing 58% exist in just one country.

Why Aeroplanes Survive a Bolt of Lightning?
An aeroplane struck by lightning, might sound like the stuff of horror films. But thanks to the Faraday cage effect, planes are completely safe from damage when flying through a electrical storm. Caroline Steel wanted to test this for herself when she visited Manchester University’s High Voltage Lab. She even got to press the big red button!

Viruses that Protect Koalas
Koala populations in the north of Australia have been hit hard by a number of bacterial and viral diseases. But the koalas in the south, even though they’re exposed, they aren’t developing the symptoms. It turns out that a retrovirus which has embedded itself in the koala’s genome and then mutated, is granting them some immunity.

(Photo: Artist’s illustration of ancient ice age land bridge connecting Britain with France. Credit: Imperial College London/Chase Stone)

Presenter: Adam Hart
Producer: Fiona Roberts

Available now

27 minutes

Broadcasts

Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves

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

Podcast