A species of hominin has been causing excitement this week. Homo naledi was thought to be up to three million years old but new evidence suggests it’s much younger at 200,000 to 300,000 years old, which means it could have been walking the Earth at the same time as us. The other news that has sparked controversy is the data that advocates America was populated 100,000 years earlier than previously thought.
To unpick the evolution of the Universe, a giant detector is being built called Lux-Zeppelin. Scientists hope it will reveal what dark matter is – the stuff that makes up the vast majority of the cosmos but we’ve been unable to detect. Graihagh Jackson sneaks a peek at the ‘eyes’ of this experiment before they’re installed in South Dakota.
In Pakistan, doctors are trailing a life-saving drug which could slash maternal deaths. A very hungry caterpillar has been shown to eat plastic and could be used to hoover up the ubiquitous pollutant. Sand is being used as a molecular straitjacket in vaccines to protect the ingredients from breaking down when left unrefrigerated. Plus, the new space-based monitoring system, which could help scientists predict volcanic eruptions.
The Science Hour was presented by Roland Pease with comments from Adam Hart, BBC World Service Science in Action.
Producer: Graihagh Jackson
(Picture caption: The skeleton of Homo Naledi © Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty Images)