Science Interviews

Interview

Fri, 25th May 2012

Private Space Missions, Atlantic Swims and Jubilee Diamonds

Charles Bolden, NASA
Ben Fogle
Peter Furness, Royal College of Pathologists, Graeme Jones, University of Keele

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Space X Launch

The first cargo delivery to the International Space Station by a private company was successfully launched this week by California-based Company The International Space StationSpace-X.

The Falcon 9 rocket took off from NASA’s Cape Canaveral air force station in Florida on Tuesday 22nd May carrying the Dragon capsule containing non-essential supplies of meal packets, a laptop, clothes and some student experiments, which rendezvoused with the space station on Friday.

The successful return of Dragon back to Earth once it undocks at the end of the month will lead to an official contract for the company to fly 12 cargo missions to the space station.

NASA’s Charles Bolden comments.

Charles -   The significance of this day cannot be overstated.  A private company has launched a spacecraft to the international space station.  We’re now back on the brink of a new future.  A future that embraces the innovation  the private sector brings to the table, and a future that opens up the skies to endless possibilities.  Congratulations to the SpaceX and NASA teams, and Godspeed Dragon.

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Using the Human Body to Monitor Ocean Pollution

British adventurer Ben Fogle announced plans this week to take to the Atlantic to swim over 3000 miles from North America to Cornwall in summer 2013.

As part of the expedition, Fogle will become a human research vessel carrying micro-sensors on his body to monitor marine temperatures, dissolved gases and algae in the thin surface layer of the ocean as he swims providing researchers at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton with a greater insight into the air/sea interface and the general state of the ocean...

Ben Fogle. -   There's all sorts of exciting possibilities to use technology, to use me.  I'm going to be out there doing this ridiculous challenge that's going to be hard enough anyway and the more useful it can be to people, the more of a drive it will be for me to keep on going.  To date, everyone has felt that our oceans are unpollutable.  Well, that's not true.  The net results of all that pollution and the overfishing, it’s a cyclical effect that will have catastrophic effects in the long term.  I think the more people that can just raise awareness of what we’re doing, the better it will be for all of us.

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Using Plants to Relieve Allergies

Royal college of Pathologists chelsea showUrban gardens designed to prevent allergy flare-ups in hay fever sufferers have been displayed at the Chelsea flower Show in London this week.

The exhibit, hosted by the Royal College of Pathologists, displayed two rooftop gardens similar in appearance but with one containing pollinating plants such as lavender and ferns that trigger hay fever and the other sterilised or insect-pollinating plants such as hydrangeas or Japanese Maple.

The exhibit raised awareness of the allergies such as hay fever, which affects 20 to 30% of the UK population, as gardens in densely populated, urban environments become more popular.

Peter Furness is former is the college’s former president…

Peter -   Greening the urban environment is fantastic, but if you're going to do that, it’s probably a good idea to be aware of the consequences you could have on the health of all the people living nearby and respiratory allergies are a growing problem.  You can have a beautiful garden with, or without, respiratory allergies depending on whether that's a problem for you.  There's quite a few people producing vertical green walls, it seems to be quite fashionable, and we’ve had them coming around saying, we need to think about this.  We’re putting these green walls of plants really in your face in an urban environment, and they need to realise it might be a problem.

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The Jubilee Diamond

And finally, the largest model of Diamond in the world is being built by scientists at the University of Keele, in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee.

Standing at 2m in height and 1.8 metres in width, the octahedral structure uses 35,990 transparent balls representing the carbon atoms that make up diamond held together by over 70,000 sticks acting as the covalent bonds between them.

The model will be unveiled just in time for the Jubilee in the central marketplace of the town of Uttoxeter in the UK.

Graeme Jones is leading the project.

Graeme -   So we’re going to build the largest model of diamond in the world and we wanted to get a Guinness World Record, and that's forced us to go to this humongous size.  So we’ve been working with lots of schools around the local area and local people in the town centre, putting the model together.  It should hopefully be unveiled on the 2nd of June.

So look out for the Diamond if you pass through the town of Uttoxeter during the jubilee weekend.

 

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