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BepiColombo Goes to Mercury

Fish evolution; Archaeopteryx; Why Free Movement is crucial for science; Cooling the City; Digital forensics

The space probe BepiColombo has begun its seven year voyage to the planet Mercury. Suzie Imber of the University of Leicester and David Rothery of the Open University tells Adam Rutherford why the journey will take so long and why Mercury is such an intriguing planet, worthy of exploration by this new probe.

Fish Evolution
The first vertebrates on Earth originated and diversified in the shallow water lagoons lining the mid-Paleozoic coastline. By understanding the habitat these creatures lived in 480-360 million years ago, we get a better idea of the evolutionary pressures which led some creatures to head back out of the water and evolve into land-dwelling animals. Lauren Sallan of the University of Pennsylvania talks to Roland Pease.

Why Free Movement is Crucial for Science
Two reports out this week are looking at internationalism and movement of scientists. The first is close to home in the form of a letter signed by a number of leading UK-based scientists (including 27 Nobel Laureates) to the UK Prime Minister and Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, citing grave concerns over Brexit becoming a barrier to scientific research, movement of scientists and collaboration. The second report is on the publication of results of a survey for the, Together Science Can campaign, looking more widely at the global movement of scientists. Roland Pease talks to Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society and one of the signatories and Susan Guthrie.

There is no greater insult you can hurl at a museum than to suggest its prize fossil is a fake. But that is what the esteemed astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle did in 1985 when he doubted the authenticity of arguably the most priceless possession in the collections of what is now London's Natural History Museum (NHM). All hell broke loose as the claim made headlines around the world. The fossil was Archaeopteryx - the seminal discovery made in a German quarry just a couple of years after Darwin published his theory of evolution.

Cooling the City
By 2040 climate models predict the extreme summer temperatures experienced this year will be normal. Can we engineer our cities differently to cope? How about office and apartment blocks that sweat a bit like we do?! It’s an alternative to cranking up the air conditioning for sure. And that’s focused the mind of reporter Gaia Vince who’s been investigating new materials and techniques for keeping our buildings cool.

Digital Forensics
British politicians have just been hearing about the role of digital forensics, as part of a wider parliamentary investigation into the state of forensic science. One of those reporting on the computing side was Sarah Morris, Head of the Digital Forensics Unit at Cranfield University just outside London. Gareth Mitchell hears more about the kind of investigations in which she gets involved.

(Image caption: An enhanced colour image of Mercury taken by Nasa’s Messenger’s primary mission, 2011 - 2015 – credit: European Photopress Agency)

The Science Hour was presented by Gareth Mitchell with comments from BBC Science Correspondents Victoria Gill and Jonathan Amos.

Editor: Deborah Cohen

53 minutes

Last on

Sat 27 Oct 2018 11:06GMT