Science in Action

BBC World Service


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Technology 75

The latest science research and news stories from all over the world.


Robotic Ray

July 7th, 2016

Episode 100 of 118 episodes

The latest soft-bodied robot mimics marine life. A ray, built from a gold skeleton with a layer of heart cells. The cardiac cells, originating from a mouse, have their DNA engineered to be responsive to light. Specific wavelengths are able to trigger heart cells to contract, leading to forward thrust and spin. The robot is able to be guided through a small obstacle course. It is the result of a multi-disciplinary project involving optogenetics, robotics, biomaterials and art. This robot aims to better understand the ability of cardiac cells to act on fluids like blood. Juno There was great excitement this week, as NASA’s Juno Probe arrives at Jupiter. The daring mission to get close to the giant planet, has taken more than 5 years to reach the point of orbit. Juno is constructed like an armoured tank, to protect it from Jupiter’s intense radiation, which could disrupt most spacecraft electronics. Dolly the Sheep 20 years ago this week, Dolly the first cloned sheep was born, this was heralded as a huge breakthrough in biomedical science. The Science in Action team discuss where we are we now with animal cloning. the Universe In order to understand our Universe, and try to work out what things like dark energy and dark matter are, we have to build simulation models. The universe is just too big to observe everything directly. The problem with the current models though, is they are prone to inaccuracies because of the chaotic nature of the Universe and they have to be run on huge super-computers, many hundreds of times, to get any accurate results. But researchers at UCL have come up with a clever way to model the universe where you only have to run two models – so long as one is the mirror opposite of the other. Freeing up time and computer power to test ideas more fully. Picture credit: Tissue-engineered soft-robotic ray/[Karaghen Hudson and Michael Rosnach Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts