As French citizens protest against the raising of the state pension age, we look at the figures – are we really living longer? And if so, why? We take notes from the naked mole rat - it’s born looking wrinkled but this rodent is apparently ageless. And moving on from mere creatures, we’re asking if every state, society or civilisation has a lifespan, and if we can prevent it ending on our watch.
Also, as South Africans battle to live their best lives against almost daily power cuts, we look...
Human migration is in the headlines again – India and Australia have announced a new migration deal, in the US a Covid-inspired policy that allowed migrants to be quickly expelled has come to an end, and in the UK new measures were announced to stop foreign students bringing families with them, in a bid to reduce migration figures.
But what does science tell us about migration? With a team across three continents, we’re looking at the origins of human migration and exploring some of the...
On the anniversary of the first telegraph being sent, the team discover how the telegraph was used as a colonial tool in Ghana, and how an eccentric Brazilian emperor helped spark a communications revolution.
They also reveal how tiny worms have helped scientists work out how our hearing works, and how bioelectricity might help focus your mind and heal your wounds.
There’s a tale of evil seaweed causing havoc for coastal communities, a scientist studying misophonia makes a pitch for The...
After the elections in Thailand and Turkey, we explore the forces that shape how you decide to vote. Clue: a lot of it comes down to us being social animals. We getting stuck into various sticky subjects – the glue that holds together animal societies, the cells in our bodies and even the International Space Station.
We also looking at how the blueprint of the human genome just got a whole load better. Also, join our mission to find the coolest science in the world, with the scientist who...
Unexpected Elements is all about finding surprising stories and nuggets of science in everyday news. Each week we start by taking a news story that’s floating around and use that as a launchpad for three other science stories that become increasingly unexpected.
This week, the team squints at the recent lavish ceremony and ritual of the British King’s coronation and asks: What does it all mean? Why is ritual so important to us humans, and why does it always seem to involve precious...
34 days after it first formed at the far end of the Indian Ocean, record-breaking Cyclone Freddy made a repeat landfall on Mozambique as well as passing over Malawi, causing extensive damage and loss of life. Climate scientists Liz Stephens and Izidine Pinto join Roland to give an update on the destruction and explain how Cyclone Freddy kept going for an exceptionally long time.
At the Third International Human Genome Summit in London last week, Professor Katsuhiko Hayashi announced he had...
We meet experts at the Human Genome Editing Summit in London, seeking to cure genetic disease and ensure that it is safe and available to all.
Roland Pease hears from Victoria Gray, the first person to be cured of the debilitating and life-shortening disease sickle cell anaemia by gene editing, and from the scientists making it possible.
Also, the prospect of work to attempt gene rescue in fetuses before they are born. But the technology is expensive and complex. The question troubling the...
The long rains of East Africa are forecast to fail again, for the third year running, precipitating a food crisis affecting millions. Science In Action explores the science of the drought, hears about new methods improving forecasts, and what is unusual about the region that makes it so vulnerable.
When we think of helium, for many of us balloons and squeaky voices come to mind. But the noble gas is critical for many aspects of modern life – and we’re facing a global shortage. Dr Annie Cheng...
Cyclone Freddy has made landfall on Madagascar, leaving destruction in its wake. At the time this edition of Science In Action is going to air, Freddy is on course to reach Mozambique and South Africa.
Freddy, which has been gaining strength since it originally formed on the 30th of January, is the most powerful southern hemisphere cyclone on record. Professor Francois Engelbrecht provides the science behind the storm system. In the centre of our galaxy, an enormous cloud is heading towards...
DNA has revealed potential animal COVID carriers at the Wuhan market, but what does that tell us about the start of the pandemic? Roland talks to two of the experts behind the new analysis: Dr Florence Débarre and Professor Eddie Holmes.
Also, we look into Europe’s grand new space ambitions. ESA director general Josef Aschbacher gives Roland the details of the space agency’s out-of-this-world plans.
And Beethoven's last DNA: a hairy story of his family and genetic afflictions. Dr Tristan...
In the decade since the genome editing capabilities of CRISPR-Cas9 emerged, research into novel medicines has boomed – but alongside progress comes new ethical considerations. Controversy erupted in 2018, when Chinese scientist He Jiankui created the first babies with edited genomes. After leaving prison last year, he’s now back in the lab trying to raise support for new research but refuses to discuss the ethical implications of his work. Dr Joy Zhang recently arranged a bioethics seminar...
In the early hours of Monday, a powerful earthquake hit Kahramanmaras in Turkey. Nine hours later another struck. When this edition of Science in Action first aired, 19,000 people were reported to have died, but that number was expected to rise.
Back in 2016, Professor Asli Garagon and her colleagues accurately predicted that an earthquake of this size was coming. Using GPS, they were monitoring the East Anatolian fault to calculate energy building between the plates. With such accurate...
Pull on an extra layer and stay toasty whilst Science in Action braces for a deep freeze. Whilst we know plenty about the ice on the Earth’s poles, Roland is on a chilling journey to see what can be found in deep space.
Professor Christoph Salzmann and Professor Andrea Sella at University College London have produced a new phase of ice. Roland heads to the laboratory to see how the usual crystalline ice, found in ice cubes and icebergs, can be broken down and arranged into a new structure....
An outbreak of pathogenic bird flu, H5N1, in a Spanish mink farm could be a cause for concern. Some experts fear the virus may now spill over to other mammals without strict surveillance. Marion Koopmans, professor of virology at Erasmus Medical Centre, talks Roland through the potential risks.
India’s caste system affects all aspects of society, but how does the hierarchy influence representation of marginalised groups in academia? Science journalist Ankur Paliwal believes that, despite...
Climate researcher, Rose Abramoff took to the stage at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meetings, not as a guest speaker but in protest. Whilst her demonstration only lasted 15 seconds, she found her employment terminated from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and research stripped from the AGU programme. She was attempting to persuade other climate scientists to ‘get out of the lab and into the street’. Whilst Rose’s protest hit the headlines in the media, potentially less attention was...
Flood warnings in parts of California have seen some of the state’s best known celebrities flee their homes. The current weather conditions are in part the result of ‘Atmospheric rivers’ – literally fast flowing rivers of water vapor in the atmosphere. Marty Ralph from the Scripps Institute has been studying this phenomenon for years, he explains what atmospheric rivers are, and tells us how a greater understanding of the phenomenon is now informing weather forecasting and evacuation...
We’re taking a look back at the January 2022 eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, which literally sent shockwaves around the world. One year on, and we’re still uncovering what made the volcano so powerful, as well as unpacking its long lasting impacts.
Roland is joined by Professor Shane Cronin from the University of Auckland and Dr Marta Ribó from the Auckland University of Technology to share their findings from their latest trip to survey the volcano.
The impacts of the eruption...
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has produced amazing images in its first 5 months, but amazing science as well. Roland hears from one of the leading astronomers on the JWST programme, Dr Heidi Hammel, as well as other experts on what they are already learning about the first galaxies in the Universe, the birth places of stars, the strange behaviour of some other stars, and the first view of Neptune's rings in over 30 years.
Over the past 12 months, CrowdScience has travelled the world,...
Mosquito pesticide failing - prevention of dengue fever and other diseases at risk.
Dangerous bird flu evolving fast - researchers are learning why bird flu is persisting and spreading fast round the world, and assess the threat to humans.
Drilling for ancient ice in the Antarctic - Roland talks to one of the team drilling kilometres into an ancient, frozen record of past climate.
Martian rock store opens - NASA's Mars Perseverance rover is stashing rock samples future missions could...
Fusion milestone - the science behind the headlines.
Laser fusion expert Kate Lancaster walks us through the technology that produced energy gain at the US's National Ignition Facility NIF
Whirlwinds on Mars
What the sounds of a dust devil passing over NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover tells us about the Martian atmosphere
75 years of the transistor electronics revolution - where next for Moore's Law?
December 16th 1947 was the day the first ever transistor device passed an electrical current....
Two-million-year-old molecular fossils reveal flourishing woodlands and widespread animals in Greenland's pre-Ice-Age past, and give hints to the Arctic’s future under global warming. We hear from a molecular palaeontologist and a climate modeller.
DNA also reveals the enduring genetic influence of our extinct Denisovan cousins on disease immunity in modern Island Southeast Asians.
And the art and science of 3D-printing violins
If your home is drafty, filling in holes and cracks can help...
Hong Kong health expert Professor Malik Peiris relates the lessons from the devastation there earlier this year.
UK virologist Dr Tom Peacock reveals the unusual origins and evolution of omicron, and explains the risks of dangerous new variants.
New studies from China are revealing further SARS-like viruses in the wild; Professor Eddie Holmes says they underline the risk of further pandemics.
What are the clouds like where you are? When you look upwards can you see great tufts of cotton...
A distant planet's atmosphere - NASA's JWST space telescope has unpicked the chemical contents and state of the atmosphere of planet WASP-39b 700 light years away. Astronomer Hannah Wakeford explains.
Earth's atmospheric haze and global warming - meteorologist Laura Wilcox warns that atmospheric haze over China and South Asia is masking some of the effects of global warming.
Pregnancy brain fog explained - loss of memory and other mental changes during pregnancy have been traced to...
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, scientists studying the virus have become targets of online harassment, and more recently, death threats. Roland speaks to Dr Angela Rasmussen, virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, about her experiences.
Spyros Lytras, PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow, talks Roland through the evolutionary history of the virus that causes Covid-19 and how there isn’t just one ancestor, but several....