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Nature vs Nurture
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Nature vs Nurture

Apr 17, 2014

  We know that genes contribute, but we don’t know how much That’s a really good question. So we know that genes contribute, but we don’t know how much, that’s exactly the point: we don’t know the extent to which genes control, for example, intelligence, and to my mind I don’t see how we can ever possibly know that. How can we ever do...

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The Brian Cox & Robin Ince Sort of Chat Show – Episode 3
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The Brian Cox and Robin Ince Sort of Chat Show continues… When we last left them, Brian had decided consciousness was just an emergent property… Robin – So, this year in physics one of the great things was Peter Higgs’ Nobel Prize and not even winning the Nobel Prize but not knowing about it until a neighbour shouted, well done, and he said, what...

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Science Moments of 2013 – Prof Jim Al-Khalili
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I asked him about whether he really was surprised to win the Nobel Prize. For me, the most incredible moment in science in 2013 involves Peter Higgs.  Now I know a lot of other scientists will say it’s the Higgs boson but for me it was meeting Peter Higgs and interviewing him for my radio programme ‘The Life Scientific’, ah, he was on his...

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Life on Mars
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Life on Mars

Feb 12, 2014

  If we find Martian life, what do we do about it? On organic life Say that Curiosity does manage to find Martian organic molecules, the building blocks of life, that means that the kind of raw materials, the stuff you need to build cells out of, were on Mars but it doesn’t definitely mean there were Martian bugs there, it’s not a sign...

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Science Moments of 2013 – Matt Parker
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70 million is a lot bigger than two, I’m prepared to admit that. The most amazing discovery of 2013 anywhere – by which I mean in mathematics – was an almost proof: it’s a proof, or a step in the right direction, for the twin prime conjecture. Because for a long time mathematicians have said, ‘OK, there’s infinitely many primes, we’ve got that down,...

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Dwarf Elephant Evolution
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At one stage there was a situation where you had a one metre tall elephant and a swan that was probably bigger than it When you want to understand dwarf elephant evolution, you have to kind of think about the environment they were living in and what else was going on.  And the first thing you notice is that all of these dwarf species...

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Science Moments of 2013 – Prof Aoife McLysaght
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  During December we asked a group of people who’ve appeared in the App in the past year what their favourite moment or discovery was in science during 2013.  Over the next couple of updates we’ll be sharing their answers. Some of my colleagues are very excited about it So something from this year so um, well there’s this system that’s called CRISPR which...

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The Future at the LHC
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The Future at the LHC

Dec 16, 2013

In essence, we didn’t know if the Standard Model was valid. As the island of knowledge expands the shores of ignorance grows faster. The Higgs Boson and whether our understanding of mass made any sense is kind of a road block on many questions that there are on our standard model of physics.  In essence we didn’t know whether the standard model was valid...

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Feynman Diagrams 101
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Feynman Diagrams 101

Nov 24, 2013

Even the best physicists can get misled by Feynman diagrams occasionally. A Feynman diagram is a physicist’s best friend and worst enemy.  They’re representations of a particle collision, so you draw lines coming in, you draw them meeting, and annihilating and then you draw a little wiggly line in the middle which could be a photon and then it goes off to something else,...

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Dark Energy
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Dark Energy

Nov 24, 2013

  We know even less about dark energy than we do about dark matter. Dark energy is much trickier [than dark matter].  Now, we know even less about dark energy than we do about dark matter, and what’s frustrating is there’s more dark energy than there is dark matter.  The latest count is something like two thirds, or just over two thirds, of all...

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Dark Matter
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Dark Matter

Nov 24, 2013

We know it’s there, we just don’t know what it’s made of Dark matter is out there.  It’s invisible.  It’s called dark because it doesn’t interact with light.  So the way we see things is, basically, you shine light on them, or hit them with a particle, and expect to see something bounce back that you can measure.  Dark matter doesn’t interact through the...

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The Nature of Vocalisation
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It’s an absolute linguistic universe. What I’m working on right now? I’m very interested in vocal behaviour and one of the things I’m…what I’m doing literally right now is I’m speaking to you, it’s a voluntary vocalisation and actually, it’s an interesting thing, only humans out of the mammals are really good at voluntary, voluntarily vocalising, controlling our voice deliberately. There’s actually two ways...

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Mission to Mars
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Mission to Mars

Nov 24, 2013

The moon is only a couple of days travel away, so it makes sense to do that. So NASA is talking about – or there are plans being discussed – to send people to Mars, not to land on the surface of the planet but to do a fly by, which is of course how the lunar explorations started.  Before we landed humans on...

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The Hunt for Habitable Planets
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  The question is whether we can find different biosignatures in other planets What we can do right now is to probe planets which are not necessarily very similar to the Earth, usually most of the time are hotter or also slightly bigger.  But this, in any case, is extremely interesting information because we need to understand the big picture of how the plant...

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The Story of the Bunsen Burner
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This was one step in that story in understanding how quickly the Universe is expanding. I have brought along with me something that people at home will be very, very familiar with I’m sure.  Most people will have seen it in the classroom, everyone should have it seen it in their senior school classroom.  This is a Bunsen burner and everybody’s familiar with it...

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The Selfish Gene
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The Selfish Gene

Nov 24, 2013

Natural selection works at the level of the gene. On the ‘selfish gene’ view of evolution It partly depends on whether you’re reading the book or reading the title only, which an awful lot of people, I’m sorry to say, have done.  So a lot of people have read it as, ‘Oh, this is all about selfishness’.  It’s saying that people are selfish or,...

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Discovering Epigenetics
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This is not a peer reviewed description of epigenetics. I think the most interesting bit of science that I’ve learnt about recently – and it’s not really a discovery because it’s a whole field that’s opened up – is the field of epigenetics which my sister has done quite a bit of work on, she’s a, um, a molecular scientist, biologist, a…she does stuff...

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