Science in Action-logo

Science in Action


The BBC World Service's weekly look at new developments in science from around the world.

The BBC World Service's weekly look at new developments in science from around the world.
More Information


London, United Kingdom




The BBC World Service's weekly look at new developments in science from around the world.




Dickinsonia – The Earliest Known Animal

The earliest known animal – Ancient fat molecules shed light on what is the earliest known animal on Earth. Dickinsonia were strange creatures, ranging from a few millimetres to over a metre in diameter. These oval ‘quilted’ mattress like animals swam in ancient seas over 571 million years ago. When an extremely well-preserved fossil turned up in North Western Russia with steroidal fat molecules attached, the scientists could conclude that this fat cannot come from bacteria and is a marker...


The Path of Hurricane Florence

Despite the threat of Hurricane Florence to the US Eastern Seaboard, and the recent succession of tropical cyclones around the world, this current Atlantic hurricane season looks like it’ll just be an average storm season, after a slow start. Dr. Jill Trepanier, a climate scientist at Louisiana State University, studies the processes that create and sustain hurricanes, and explains why Florence is taking its unusual track to the North and South Carolina coast. Earliest Drawing A 73,000-year...


The True Cost of the Brazil Museum Fire

A fire has destroyed the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Most of the natural history and anthropological artefacts have been wrecked. What is the impact on on-going scientific research and what is the loss to science in the future? Silurian Signature The Silurian hypothesis speculates on the possibility of a prior, advanced, industrialized civilization on Earth. But if there were such a civilization millions of years ago, what evidence would they leave behind and how would we...


Devastating Floods in Kerala

Why is the monsoon experienced in Kerala in South West India so wet? The monsoon is a combined meteorological event, where several factors - altered low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal, altered winds and a warmer ocean - interacted to deliver devastating rainfall. Is this extreme weather event a symptom of our changing climate? Human Triggers for Landslides Analysis of a global dataset on landslides has shown that the occurrence of landslides triggered by human activity is increasing....


Fungal Threat to World’s Favourite Banana

The Cavendish banana is the favourite variety for much of the world – it’s big and seedless, accounts for 47% of the global production market and nearly all global trade in bananas are Cavendish. But it’s under attack. It’s a vegetative clone (i.e. all genetically identical) and a fungus which kills it and a variety of other bananas is spreading across the world. Can genetics save it? Hominim Hybrids Denisovans are an extinct group of hominins that separated from Neanderthals more than...


Weed-killer – ‘Roundup’, Science and the Law

A jury in San Francisco has ruled that, agricultural chemical giant, Monsanto, should pay a groundskeeper over $280 million in compensation after the individual developed a form of cancer after using the weed-killer - Roundup. It’s a complex case that involves allegations of undermining efforts to evaluate a potential link between the active ingredient glyphosate. Accusations of punitive fines and unproven links between the herbicide and the disease. We explore how science goes about proving...


Water on Mars

Scientists say they have discovered evidence of a 12 mile long body of water on Mars. Estimated to be at least a metre deep, the “lake” was found beneath the red planet’s southern polar ice cap by the agency’s radar probe, known as Marsis. While orbiting the planet on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft, Marsis used ground-penetrating radar to send signals deep into the surface - and there was only one possible conclusion from the data that was bounced back to it. The...


The Biggest Explosions in the Universe

An international team of scientists have captured the biggest explosions in the Universe in unprecedented detail for the first time. These Gamma Ray Bursts sometimes last for just a few milliseconds, but for that time are trillions of times brighter than our Sun. The chance of capturing one of these rare bursts, which occur just as a dying star collapses into a black hole, is just an incredible one-in-10,000. Sight and Sound Despite the intuitive feeling that we can listen to something...