Science in Action

BBC World Service

News & Politics

The BBC brings you all the week's science news.


Worst SE Asian haze for 20 years

November 5th, 2015

Episode 62 of 158 episodes

The annual devastating and deadly haze across South-East Asia is been caused by smoke from forest and peatland fires and is the strongest in the last 20 years. These fires were started deliberately to clear land for plantations. At its height, the haze spread to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and The Philippines, causing an environmental and health disaster. Susan Minnemayer from the World Resources Institute explains why the haze is so much worse than other years. Brain cells that tell time The 2014 Nobel Prize was awarded to the discoverers of brain cells that encode our position in space. Scientists from Boston University have now shown that the same cells also encode time. Professor Howard Eichenbaum, senior author of the study, talks about how rats running on treadmills helped tease apart time and space, and how this new insight improves our understanding of episodic memories. What’s it like living on the ISS? NASA is to open up an astronaut recruitment drive from December. New sound traps are a simple and effective tool to keep track of mosquitoes that cause dengue fever. Human waste to energy Human waste could create enough electricity for millions of homes worldwide, as well as improving health and protecting the environment. Scientists at the UN Institute for Water, Environment and Health in Canada have calculated that biogas made from human waste worldwide could provide up to $9.5 billion worth of natural gas a year as well as producing electricity for as many as 138 million homes. In addition, the charred residue can be used as a coal/charcoal equivalent and it would also provide huge health and environmental benefits – currently 2.4 billion people lack access to toilets, and about 1 billion so will defecate in the open (60% of these are in India). Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace tells us more about the report. (Photo: People eating breakfast at a roadside stall shrouded in thick haze in downtown Palangkaraya, Indonesia BAY ISMOYO / Stringer/Getty Images ) Presenter: Jack Stewart Producer: Ania Lichtarowitz and Alex Mansfield Assistant: Andrea Szöllössi

Featured Podcast