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Science in Action

Science in Action

The BBC brings you all the week's science news.


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The moon landing and another big space anniversary

It?s 50 years since the moon landing and 25 years since Shoemaker - Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter. The Apollo missions returned to earth with cargos of moon rocks and the comet crash showed us what happens when celestial bodies collide. We look at the significance of both this week, and also contemplate a return to the moon. What will the next generation of moonwalking astronauts do there? One thing?s for sure, they?ll be examining moon rocks once more ? though this time with a range of scientific tools which hadn?t been invented when the Apollo missions ceased. Picture: Shoemaker ? Levy 9 Comet Impact Marks on Jupiter Credit: Getty Images Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle
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'Free' water and electricity for the world?

Researchers in Saudi Arabia have developed a prototype solar panel which generates electricity and purifies water at the same time. The device uses waste heat from the electricity generating process to distil water. An individual panel for home use could produce around 4 litres and hour. The researchers suggest use of such panels would help alleviate water shortages. A long running study of gorilla behaviour in the DRC has found they exhibit social traits previously thought to only be present in humans. This suggests such traits could have developed in the prehistory of both species. More than 500 fish species can change sex. Analysis of the underlying mechanism shows how sex determination is heavily influenced by environmental and in the case of one species social factors. (Picture: Future PV farm: not just generating electricity, but also producing fresh water. Credit: Wenbin Wang) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle
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Analysing the European heatwave

The recent European heatwave broke records, but how severe was it really and what were the underlying causes? Having run the numbers, climate scientists say global warming played a large part, and makes heatwaves in general more likely. And we look at what seems an incredibly simple idea to counter the effects of global warming ? plant more trees, but where and how many? (Photo: People cool themselves down in the fountain of the Trocadero esplanade in Paris. Credit: AFP/Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle
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Is climate change driving Europe?s current heatwave?

As Europe experiences another record breaking heatwave, we look at the science of attribution. Usually it?s a long time after extreme weather events that scientists gather enough data to make a judgement on the influence of anthropogenic forces, such as man-made climate change. However climate experts at a meeting Toulouse France, experiencing the worst of the heatwave, are crunching the data right now, to see if they can quantify the influence of climate change on this heatwave as it happens. Also we find lakes of fresh water hidden ? under the sea, find that Neanderthals went west and discover how spiralling laser light may be used to control a new generation of microelectronics. (Photo: Heatwave in Paris. Credit: European Photopress Agency) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle
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Iran?s nuclear plans

Iran?s nuclear programme is at the centre of a political row, with the country suggesting it could increase uranium production to above the levels permitted under an international agreement. We look beyond the rhetoric, discuss Iran?s covert history of nuclear development and ask scientifically what this latest move involves. Fish are no respecter of international borders and when it comes to spawning, research reveals up to $10bn worth of potential fish stocks move between different political territories. Ancient trees in the Eastern US are yielding clues to the climate going back more than 2000 years, they reveal there has been more rain recently. And we look at how to quantify that rain as it falls now, over much shorter timescales. (Photo:President Hassan Rouhani and the head of Iran nuclear technology organization Ali Akbar Salehi inspecting nuclear technology. Copyright: Office of Islamic Republic President via EPA) Presenter:Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle
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South Asia heatwave and climate change

South Asia has experienced a heatwave where the monsoon has been delayed and temperatures have reached over 50 degrees. Despite this the extreme heat has led to far fewer fatalities than previous heatwaves; we look at why that is. Research into the origins of almonds shows they were domesticated in Asia before spreading worldwide. It?s a bitter sweet story, with sweet varieties being selected over bitter ones. In fact the bitter ones contain poisons which can kill.. As with almonds cannabis as a drug seems to have spread via silk routes. The discovery of ancient burnt wooded bowls suggests it was smoked millennia ago in China ? as part of funeral rituals. And we investigate California?s cannabis farming industry, there are concerns over the environmental impact of this now legal cash crop. (Photo: Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary. Credit: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle
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US foetal tissue research ban

The US has withdrawn funding for scientific research involving foetal tissue. Scientists point to the lack of feasible alternatives to using foetal tissue ? which comes from embryos donated to scientific research via abortion clinics. They say the move to halt this kind of research will have a negative impact on the ability of US medical institutions to develop new treatments for a range of diseases from diabetes to cancer. More controversy from the ?Crispr babies ? scandal ? with a new analysis showing the modified gene may have a wide impact on the health of the children it was claimed to have been implanted into. A reassessment on North Korea?s Nuclear tests using cold war methodology suggest the last explosion was more powerful than previously thought. And we investigate a small British Earthquake south of London. (Picture: Donald Trump, Credit:SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Julian Siddle
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