BBC World Service

Science & Medicine

Technological and digital news from around the world.


Pluto, Meet Ralph

July 14th, 2015

Episode 44 of 152 episodes

How do you build a camera that can withstand a nine-year journey across five billion kilometres, in temperatures down to -50 Celsius? The pictures of Pluto that have come in this week are in remarkable detail, shedding new light and posing new questions about the furthest dwarf planet in our solar system. These images are relayed by the New Horizons space probe, and are captured by a camera called Ralph. Dr Lisa Hardaway built it, and talks to Gareth. SolaRoad SolaRoad in Holland is no ordinary stretch of cycle path. Embedded in it are solar panels that generates electricity. The electricity could power street lighting and supply energy to the grid. Click reporter Richard Walker has been to Krommenie on the outskirts of Amsterdam to try it out and ask whether it is worth the four million euro price tag. Wiretapper Theatre On the streets of London, every evening over the next month, an audience will head to a theatre show. Not in a theatre - the performance takes place amid the London cityscapes. The key ingredient is a smartphone. An app will guide the audience members, who hear the soundtrack of the piece via their own headphones. Director David Rosenberg and composer Max Ringham, both from Wiretapper, explain what this offers that a traditional theatre cannot. Acoustic Zoom How are humans able to focus in on one voice only in a crowded noisy environment and yet microphones lack this talent. Professor Mike Brookes from Imperial College London shows how his research does something similar using multiple microphones. This allows you to listen to selective conversations in a crowded room; useful for hearing aids wearers and spies. (Photo caption: Aboard the New Horizons spacecraft, Ralph is a powerful visible imager and infrared spectrometer paired with ultraviolet spectrometer Alice - a nod to the 1950s sitcom, "The Honeymooners.” Ball Aerospace) Click was presented by Gareth Mitchell with comments from Jamillah Knowles Producer: Marnie Chesterton

Featured Podcast