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BBC World Service

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Wildfires – What Can Science Tell Us About Them?

July 14th, 2016

Episode 101 of 158 episodes

Wildfires have been hitting the headlines this year. But is the frequency and intensity of wildfires on the increase? Can science and mapping be used more globally to mitigate the devastation and understand the causes and effects? And will a warming climate mean bigger risk? Coral Microscope The invention of an underwater microscope is allowing scientists to see how corals behave in their natural environment in great detail. Primate Archaeology Researchers from Oxford University, working in Brazil, found ancient "nut-cracking tools" - 700-year-old stone hammers that capuchin monkeys used to open cashew nuts. Faecal Transplants Faecal transplants are becoming more and more popular to treat gut syndromes and auto-immune diseases. Bacteria are suspected to be the main actors behind the beneficial effects. However, stool actually contains an extremely diverse ecosystem and studying each species separately might be misleading. Neutrinos Results from an experiment that fires neutrinos across the width of Japan could explain the tiny differences in matter and anti-matter that allow the Universe to exist. According to our current understanding at the Big Bang equal amount of matter and antimatter were created. But this provides a problem, because when a matter particle meets its antimatter counterpart they disappear leaving behind just a flash of energy. Professor Hirohisa Tanaka explains that a tiny difference between neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts could be showing the difference that allowed 1 ten billionth of the matter at the Big Bang to survive and create everything we see around us today Past and Future of Zika Virus The Zika virus outbreak in Latin America and the Caribbean has been raging for over a year, and some scientists are thinking that the outbreak might have hit its peak. But what will happen in the future, will this be an end to the outbreak or will Zika continue to cause problems in the area for decades to come. Understanding where the virus came from and knowledge of how related viruses, like dengue and Yellow Fever, behaved when they were introduced into the Americas may provide some important insights. Picture: US Fires, credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Image Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts

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