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OU on the BBC: BBC Inside Science - Gravitational dust and the anatomical Venus

Updated Tuesday 23rd September 2014

This week's focus includes a discussion of why one of the biggest scientific claims of 2014 has received another set-back. The use of wax models for anatomical learning is also explored.

When and where

Thursday, 25th September 2014 16:30 - BBC Radio 4

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In BBC Inside Science, Adam Rutherford and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

Tune in to BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 25 September at 16:30 to listen to this week's programme. More information and a link to listen again is available from the BBC's Inside Science pages.

On this week's programme:

Gravitational waves and dust – One of the biggest scientific claims of 2014 has received another set-back. In March this year, the US BICEP team said it had found a pattern in the sky left by the rapid expansion of space just fractions of a second after the Big Bang. This announcement was quickly criticised by others who thought the group had underestimated the confounding effects of dust in our own galaxy. And now, new analysis from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite makes dust a more likely culprit. It turns out BICEP are looking at a good patch of sky but not the best. A collaboration is hoped to follow. BBC science correspondent Jonathan Amos has followed the story from the start, and gives us the low down.

Language of science – Professor Steven Pinker talks to Adam about the language of scientists and the science of language. He has a new book out, The Sense of Style – The thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st Century.
 
GUAGE – The UK has an emissions database for the amount of greenhouse gases it emits each year, usually expressed in Gigatonnes of carbon. It’s compiled by adding up emissions from individual sources, be it a coal-fired power station or a wetland bog. This amount is used worldwide but it’s an estimate. During the London Olympics, for example, the estimates were out by a factor of two. However, a project in the UK called Greenhouse Gas UK and Global Emissions (GUAGE) is – for the first time – verifying these greenhouse gas estimates by measuring what’s in the atmosphere on a much larger scale.
 
The Anatomical Venus – Adam visits the Wellcome Collection to see an 18th-century Florentine Wax Venus, complete with removable abdominal organs. He discusses our pre-occupation with death with Joanna Ebenstein. And finds out if these beautiful, if slightly unnerving, statues were the cutting edge of anatomical learning, or a gory sideshow.
 
 

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