Its been called the worst natural disaster on record by the UN. However Cyclone Idai was predicted, we look at the factors which contributed to the intensity of this extreme weather event.
Fossils from China – a river bed has revealed a number of ancient animals previously unknown to science.
And we travel to Antarctica to look at the Thwaites glacier, the state of this mass of ice is seen as a good indicator of our planets’ future climate.
Cute isn't exactly a scientific term but we all know what we mean by it, don't we? Endearing, adorable, lovable and sweet. So what makes us fawn over a puppy, but run away from rats? Why do we spend millions on trying to keep Giant Pandas alive but spend even more on pushing endangered species like blue-fin Tuna to the brink of extinction by eating them? And if we changed what we classified as cute or ugly, how might that change the battle to protect the Earth's fragile biodiversity?
(Image: The aftermath of the Cyclone Idai is pictured in Beira, Mozambique, March 17, 2019. Credit: Josh Estey/Care International via Reuters)
Volcanic activity in the Comoros Islands
Since last May the Comoros islands in the Indian Ocean have been experiencing earthquake tremors and the island of Mayotte has sunk by more than 10cm. French geologists have set up monitoring equipment on land and the seabed to try to assess the extent of the continuing seismic activity.
Our diet influences our language according to a new study on the evolution of the way we bite. Softer foods, eaten more commonly as we developed cooking and agriculture meant our teeth wore in different ways and over time this has led to our ability to pronounce f and v sounds which rely on how we bring our jaws together.
Climate change is having a major impact on the ability of forests to recover after forest fires. If temperatures remain high and rainfall low trees have difficulty re-establishing. Over long time periods this could change landscapes, reducing forest cover.
We head to Africa's biggest science festival for a panel debate in front of a live audience that takes us into space then back down to earth to solve listeners' questions. Marnie Chesterton and Anand Jagatia are joined by aspiring extra-terrestrial, Dr Adriana Marais, who hopes to travel to Mars, along with cosmologist Palesa Nombula and sustainable energy expert Dr Sampson Mamphweli. They all explain how solving challenges on the ground will eventually help us set up home in space.
(Image: A white sand island in a lagoon, Mayotte Island. Credit: Getty Images)
By the year 2000, methane levels in the atmosphere were thought to have stabilised. But just a few years later in 2007 these levels suddenly started to rise. Research suggests that the spread of intense farming in Africa may be involved, in particular in tropical regions where conditions are becoming warmer and wetter because of climate change.
The awe-inspiring Japanese Hayabusa 2 space mission achieved another milestone on the other side of the Sun. This remarkable craft touched down on the asteroid Ryugu, firing a bullet into the surface, and collecting samples of rock for eventual delivery to Earth.
What can singing mice from the depths of the Costa Rican cloud forests tell us about vocal interaction? Through these tiny mammals, with their operatic song, we are being taught about how we humans coordinate speech and how the brain accomplishes this. The goal is to design new therapeutic methods for those suffering from conditions which limit vocal interaction.
We turn our gaze skywards to tackle three questions about what’s going on above us. Three year old Zac from the UK wants to know what clouds feel like – if they’re supposedly like steam, then how are they cold?
Listener Agnese is looking beyond the cloud base and up to our nearest neighbour. She’d like to know why it is that we can see the Moon during the day. And we head out to one of the longest-running and largest steerable telescopes in the world: The 76-metre Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK. Here, she finds out the answer to Sandeep from India’s extra-terrestrial question: Could aliens find us?
(Photo: Thai swamp buffalo in peat swamp around lagoon with sunset background. Credit: Getty Images)
Race and Racism in Science Teaching
This week’s programme comes from the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference, in Washington DC. With over 9,000 attendees it’s the largest gathering of scientists in the world.
We look at the issue of race and racism in science. The mapping of the human genome showed there was no significant genetic difference between people around the world. However cultural ideas with a racial dimension continue to influence the way science is taught and hence, many argue, the outcomes of scientific research.
We also look at how satellite data is helping botanists map deforestation and afforestation. Using a laser device mounted on the international space station they plan to identity the species and size of individual trees from space.
The size of brains in the animal kingdom is wildly different, from melon-sized in blue whales to pea-sized in shrews. But does a bigger brain mean a more powerful one?
CrowdScience listener Bob wondered just this as he watched various sized dogs running amok in his local park: the Great Dane has a much larger brain than a Chihuahua’s, yet the job of ‘being a dog’ surely requires the same brain power. So why have a big brain if a small one would do?
A search for the answer takes Geoff Marsh to dog agility trials, behind the scenes at London’s Natural History Museum and a laboratory that studies bumble bees. It turns out that size does matter, but not in the way you might think.
(Photo: Biology books. Credit: Getty images)