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The Science Hour


Science, health and technology news and highlights of the week.

Science, health and technology news and highlights of the week.
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Science, health and technology news and highlights of the week.




Ireland’s CervicalCheck Crisis

A few days ago saw the death of Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the most prominent campaigners affected by the CervicalCheck cancer smear test scandal in Ireland. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016 after receiving two incorrect smear test results. This crisis in the national screening programme has delayed treatment for at least 221 patients with cervical cancer and the number of women implicated will undoubtedly increase. Fergal Bowers, RTE’s Health Correspondent, explains the...


Feeding People in a Warming World

With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announcing that we need to keep global warming under 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, we explore the impact of food production on the environment. A new study calculates the current and predicted impact of land and fresh water use, fertiliser pollution and the change to more Western meat and dairy-based diets by 2050. It has concluded that our current mitigation measures are not going to be enough. Roland Pease speaks to lead author Marco...


Indonesia Earthquake

The Indonesian island of Sulawesi has been battered by natural forces. First an earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami and now a volcanic eruption. Roland Pease talks to Geologist Phil Cummins from the Australian National University in Canberra about the multiple geological factors that put the people of Sulawesi in such danger. Could Tech Warn of Future Tsunami? Could a complex prototype system of sensors and cables on the sea floor in Indonesia warn scientists of future tsunamis?...



India has launched an ambitious new health funding scheme, Modicare. Taxes on the middle and upper classes will fund the world’s biggest government-funded health care project – paying for hospital treatment for the country’s 100 million poorest families Claudia Hammond hears from the BBC’s reporter in Delhi, Devina Gupta. Hayabusa-2 The audacious Japanese space mission has successfully landed two rovers (Minerva II 1a + b) on the surface of asteroid Ryugu. The asteroid is currently 4 years...


Daily Aspirin Use

Some older people who have had a heart attack or stroke take a daily low-dose aspirin to reduce their risk of having another one. But a new study this week shows that the drug increases the risk of internal bleeding. Claudia Hammond speaks to Peter Rothwell, Professor of Neurology at the University of Oxford. Earth’s Earliest Animals 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...


The Health of Europeans

Europe has a health check this week – and the citizens of its 53 countries are living longer. But unhealthy lifestyles fuelled by smoking, drinking and too little exercise are causing a rise in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes more targets will further improve the health of Europeans. Claudia Hammond talks to Dr Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation for the European region. Hurricane...


Brazil National 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? Roland Pease asks Mark Carnall, Life Collections Manager at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Zika in Babies in US Territories The Zika epidemic which spread across Latin America in 2015/16 prompted the Brazilian government to advise women...


Monsoon Floods

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? Roland Pease talks to Dr Roxy Mathew Koll who is a climate scientist of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, and a visiting researcher at the USA’s...


Early Humans

Early Humans Archaeologists in China have ‘peeled back’ 17 layers of sediment and fossil soils formed during a period spanning almost a million years. They’ve revealed stone tool fragments and animal bones at the site in Shangchen in the southern Chinese Loess Plateau. Prof John Kappelman tells Roland Pease about a Chinese team that has dated the discoveries and finds that the timing of when early humans left Africa and arrived in Asia is earlier than previously thought – now over two...


Bringing Back the Northern White Rhino

Rhinos The northern white rhinoceros is the world’s most endangered mammal. The death earlier this year of the last male of this rhino subspecies leaves just two females as its only living members. Research out this week has adopted new techniques in reproductive medicine as a last ditch attempt to preserve these animals. Thomas Hildebrandt from Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research discusses the ambition with Roland Pease. 3D Bones Broken bones often fix themselves without any...


Hazard Mapping the Guatemalan Volcano

Hazard Mapping the Guatemalan Volcano Volcanologist Eliza Calder explains why the eruption of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala on 3rd June was so devastating. It left at least 110 people dead and over 200 people missing. It’s thought that the local populations were so acclimatised to the rumblings and explosions of the ‘persistently active’ volcano, that they were slow to take action when it violently erupted. Voltaglue Medical surgeons routinely stitch or pin organs and blood vessels with...