Is 2018 the warmest year on record? We look at the evidence behind that claim. What part do the global oceans play in regulating the planets temperatures and what are the prospects for future extreme weather.
We look at how climate change is ocean systems affecting storms and ocean waves, and the implications this could have for those of us living in coastal regions.
And wild coffee species are facing extinction. This could affect commercial production of the coffee we drink. However rediscovering the coffee of the past might offer a solution.
When CrowdScience listener, Grady, crashed violently on his motorbike in the desert, he thought he was going to die. Years later he still can’t remember the dramatic seconds just before the impact. Where did the memory disappear to? Did the hard hit to the head knock his memories out or are they still in his brain somewhere? CrowdScience turns to brain science to find out if those last few seconds are lost for good or if the brain tells a different story.
Trump’s Hubble Trouble
As federal employees many US scientists have been affected by the US government shutdown. They are not being paid, can’t talk about their work or go to scientific conferences. We look at how this US political stand-off is affecting scientific research. One of the casualties is the Hubble space telescope, in need of repairs, which cannot start until its federal employed engineers can get back to work.
Meanwhile, in Antarctica a US led team have extracted microbes, water and rock samples from a subglacial lake covered with kilometre thick ice. Their live samples may have evolved in the depths and dark of the lake, hidden from view for thousands of years.
And just how are we to feed the world in the future? One team of scientists have successfully increased the yield of their experimental plants by 40 percent. They are hoping to repeat the technique with food crops.
This comes at the same time as an investigation into China’s future food needs. While demand is high, more efficient farming methods might mean China could be self-sufficient in food in years to come.
Magma is the hot, molten rock found beneath the Earth’s crust. It’s so plentiful that it got Greek listener Dimitrios wondering whether we could harness this heat. Could we drill directly into the magma and use it to power our homes? And from Ghana, Madock also got in touch with CrowdScience to ask why there are lots of volcanoes in some areas of the world, but then none in others?
We visit Kenya - a country that is one of the biggest providers of geothermal energy in the world and home to East African Rift system. At 4,000 miles long, a string of volcanoes sits along this fault line. CrowdScience travels to a geothermal power plant to get to grips with how conventional geothermal energy works. But can our equipment stand such temperatures?
(Image: Hubble space telescope. Credit to NASA)
Beyond the Planets
It’s been years in the planning and involved a tiny window of opportunity. NASA’s New Horizons mission launched in 2006 has reached its far flung destination, a couple of outer space snowballs known as Ultima Thule. The mission aims to shed light on the formation of our solar system.
And just days later an unmanned Chinese mission has landed on the moon, on the far side, they’ll be examining rocks and also seeing if simple plants and animals survive in a biosphere there.
We also look at the Indonesian Anak Krakatau volcano, which has erupted recently. Just why did it collapse into the sea creating a tsunami, and why is it so difficult to predict the impact of volcanic eruptions?
And we celebrate the periodic table,150 years old this year, this chart of chemical elements found on the walls of classrooms around the world still has much to reveal.
Birds are dinosaurs, but did their extinct relatives move, look, or even sing like their avian relatives? From revealing the hidden information within fossilised dinosaur footprints, to reading the messages left by muscle attachments on fossil bones and seeing how modern palaeo-artists have started to draw fluffy feathered Tyranosaurs, CrowdScience starts to reimagine dinosaurs as living animals.
Listener Malcolm asks about hopping dinosaurs while on a fossil finding mission with world expert Dr Peter Falkingham, we explore the vaults of the Natural History Museum with Dr Susie Maidment and meets palaeoartist Dr Mark Witton’s pet dinosaurs in his living room studio.
(Picture: The first high-definition picture of Ultima Thule, Credit: NASA)
A Year of Space Firsts
The Parker Solar Probe has flown nearer to the sun than any other mission. The probe is now sending back data on the behaviour of electromagnetic waves emitted from the coronal mass. Fluctuations in these waves can lead to solar flares ,which in turn can have a huge impact on earth, including the potential to knock out global communications.
The Japanese space agency’s Hayabusa mission successfully landed two robots on an asteroid 4 years away from earth. Next year the mission will return to mine rock samples from beneath the asteroids surface by shooting a ‘space cannon’ to blast samples from within the asteroid.
NASA has a similar mission planned again to collect rocks from an asteroid, their method is to use kind of ‘space hoover’ to suck up samples.
The engineering challenges of creating a spacecraft that could eventually take us all the way to Mars. Then there are the challenges of engineering the humans for that momentous journey. In space, no-one can hear you scream, which is probably a good thing if you’re going to be trapped in a metal box for two years with the same people, as you cruise through the void on your way to the red planet. So how do astronauts prepare for the physical and psychological impacts of long-term space travel? We also discover how space travel can be made greener and cleaner and test a space harpoon designed to tackle the millions of pieces of space debris floating around our planet that potentially, could impact a mission before it even leaves Earth orbit.
Picture: The surface of the sun, Credit: NASA