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The Science Hour

The Science Hour

The Science Hour

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In Ireland, the hunt is on for a group of women who might have a natural resistance to a virus which can destroy the liver. In the 1970s, some pregnant women were given a medication called Anti-D which was contaminated with hepatitis C. Now researchers have launched a public campaign looking for women who did not become infected to see if they can provide clues to help protect others from the infection. Shaun O’Boyle went to Trinity College Dublin, to find out more. Space Junk The Earth is surrounded by junk - space junk. Many thousands of pieces of debris orbit our planet, left over from the history of everything we've ever sent into space. A new project has given a voice to these objects. Gareth Mitchell speaks to sound artist Nick Ryan and Hugh Lewis, Head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton about the sonification of these astro-objects. Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering has been awarded to the inventors of digital imaging sensors. First invented in the 1970's, they are now ubiquitous and found in everything from digital cameras and the devices used on space probes to collect distant images from the far reaches of the universe to the cameras in our smartphones. Rhys Phillips meets the inventors. Blinking On average, we blink 28,800 times a day and every time we blink, our eyeballs roll back into their sockets. Until now, scientists were unsure why blinking did not plunge us into intermittent darkness or how our vision is kept stable. The research from UC Berkeley shows that the brain repositions the eye to ensure it stays focused on the object of interest. WeChat China’s WeChat mobile phone platform has recently launched mini programs, as rivals to apps. Gareth Mitchell talks to Matthew Brennan from China Channel about WeChat’s prominence. Understanding Phobias New work monitoring fear in the brains of volunteers using MRI scanners is helping us understand phobias. People who are scared of spiders – arachnophobes – have been shown flash pictures of spiders to encourage the subliminal, subconscious part of the brain deal with the fear. Misophonia Why some people become enraged by sounds such as eating or breathing has been explained by brain scan studies. The condition, misophonia, is far more than simply disliking noises such as nails being scraped down a blackboard. UK scientists have shown some people's brains become hardwired to produce an "excessive" emotional response. Terraforming Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry respond to a listener who asks "I'm wondering what's the feasibility of terraforming another planet, ie Mars, and if it is possible to do the same thing with something like the moon? Or, why isn't there already a moon-base? Surely that is easier." Clueless About Martian Atmosphere NASA’s Curiosity rover reached 1600 Sols on Mars last week. Since it landed in 2012, we have been bombarded by discovery after discovery on the Red Planet. But are we any closer to solving the conundrum of a warm planet with a faint young Sun? Three to four billion years ago, our Sun was only 70% as bright and warm as it is today, yet there is evidence of liquid water on the surface of Mars around this time. Ideas about the sort of Martian atmosphere needed for this to occur never seem to fit the geological observations. And the latest analysis of the sediment in Gale Crater is not helping to solve the problem either. (Image caption: Illustration of destruction of hepatitis C virus © Dr Microbe) The Science Hour was presented by Roland Pease with comments by James Gallagher, Science Reporter, BBC News online Producer: Graihagh Jackson


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