The Science Show's Blog The Science Show

Biodiversity, Islands and Anolis Lizards - Adam Algar

posted 26.11.12 at 7:10pm

Today we're joined by Adam Algar who is talking about biodiversity, islands and Adams favourite anolis lizards!

Adam with Carl and George in the studio!Adam with Carl and George in the studio!


Our first topic is islands, you may think you know about these since most of us live on one, but islands have proved to be pretty important when it comes to determining things such as biodiversity and evolution.Darwins FinchesDarwins Finches

Adam actually researches islands, and more specifically lizards, leading him to work in the Caribbean and the canary islands. Lizards to tend to live in warm areas so he's got pretty lucky! Islands by definition are a singular block of land with no easy in/out for a lizard, this means the research is easier out there.

Adam used a process adaptive radiation, this is the evolution of ecological and phenotypic diversity within a rapidly multiplying lineage - thanks Wikipedia! A good example of this is Darwins Finches shown on the right.

Anolis Lizards

Shining a Light on Dark Matter - Anne Green

posted 04.11.12 at 4:39pm

Today on The Science Show, whist most people will be looking to the heavens to see fireworks light up the sky, we are going all gothic and looking to the darkest corners of the universe.

It turns out that in the visible universe, everything which we can observe makes up a paltry 5% of the mass. So either our laws of physics need rewriting, or there are mysterious forces at play. Cosmologists across the planet fall into either camp, and we Have Dr. Anne Green from the School of Physics and Astronomy to talk about one candidate, the mysterious dark matter.

Dark matter is different to the stuff we see around us as light doesn't reflect of absorb it. This makes it a darn sight more difficult to detect. However, it turns out gravity still behaves as anticipated, so dark matter can bend light and be detected that way.

A map of Dark MatterA map of Dark Matter

But what on earth could dark matter actually be made of? Some mysterious exotic particle we have no knowledge about? Or possibly the fondant center of a chocolate Krispy Kreme? Find out the answer to this and more from 6pm on The Science Show.


Also on tonights show some of the team investigate what happens when you put metal in a microwave... Do not try this one at home!

Dark Matter:

The Science of Music

posted 22.10.12 at 5:44pm

On today's show we will be talking about music and how science can actually enhance the listening experience! We also have arranged for a very special guest - Science Show elf Ben! Ben will be playing his guitar to help demonstrate what we will be talking about.

Sheet musicSheet music

If anyone can work out what piece of music that is above, you get the love and admiration of Carl. Not that it's worth much ;)

Part One - A Journey Into Sound

We'll be talking about how sound is produced and how the ear works. Tune in to find out more!

Sound, as you probably know, is a wave! However it needs something, or a medium to travel through. This is why there's no sound in space. Sound travels at 340.29 meters per second in air.

So how does the ear work?
The EarThe Ear

Sounds from the outside world are picked up by the outer ear, the sound wave is directed down the ear canal towards the ear drum. The sound vibrations continue their journey into the middle ear, which contains three tiny bones which bridge from the outer ear to the inner ear. The inner ear is shaped like a snails shell which contains fluid. The vibrations are then converted into electrical signals which are sent to the brain.


Low-Cost Astronomy with the Planetary Nebula Spectrograph - Mike Merrifield

posted 15.10.12 at 9:22pm

Stars and Galaxies

We're not just talking about UCAS though, oh no! We're talking stars and galaxies as well. Well we were getting withdrawal symptoms...

So, what happens when a star dies? It depends on the size of the star, but our own Sun is likely to blow its outer layers off and form a planetary nebula. You say you don't know what one is? You've probably seen a picture of one before, a famous one is the crab nebula shown below.

Crab NebulaCrab Nebula

Mike doesn't study such pretty nebulas though, the ones he looks at are much further away and appear as green blobs. This is because when a star reaches the end of its life it only really emits green light in its spectrum. Our own Sun actually peaks in the green, but it appears more yellow than anything due to the way our eyes work.

The spectrum of light can be easily seen by yourself with just a CD. You've probably done it by accident before! Just reflect the light onto a handy near by wall and you'll see something like this:CD SpectrumCD Spectrum


Square GalaxySquare Galaxy

Applying to Uni; The UCAS Process - Prof. Mike Merrifield

posted 13.10.12 at 2:35pm

You can listen to the show on our URN Podcast Page now! Check out the astronomy section blog too!

After college or sixth form, the majority of students choose to make the decision to spend the next 3 or 4 years of their life at university. The number of students choosing this path has increased rapidly over the last decade and there are now over 2.5 million students attending University in the UK today - that's 4% of the population!

Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) makes applying to University a simple and easy process. You choose the universities you want to apply to, submit an application and cross your fingers for results day. And work hard, of course.