Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sun, 25th Nov 2007

Highlights from South Africa

The face of the Taung Child (c) Ben Valsler

This week, we bring you the highlights of the Naked Scientists trip to South Africa.  We explore what life is like in the poor regions of Johannesburg, and how the frightening reality of HIV and AIDS offers a silver lining in prevention research.  Plus, In a journey through our evolutionary history, we come face to face with the two-and-a-half million year old Taung child, one of the most important human ancestor fossils ever found.  Also, we find out why a moon like ours is rare in the universe, how opals get their colours and how mice choose a mate by smelling their wee.  And in kitchen science, we learn how to throw your voice huge distances with the aid of a satellite dish.

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 13:45 - Why do we huse helium an not hydrogen balloons?

    Why is it helium in balloons and not hydrogen?

  • 16:05 - Where are the bacteria on our bodies?

    I recently read that the body consists of ten times more bacteria than human cells, in number. The explanation was that our cells are much larger than the bacteria. Is this true? Where else in the body, other than the digestive system do you actually get these bacteria?

  • 18:58 - Life in Soweto

    We explored the township of Soweto, to discover what life is like for the poor in Johannesburg.

  • 26:14 - How do electric toothbrush chargers work?

    Iíve recently bought an electric toothbrush and the charger base has a plastic protrusion. The bottom of the toothbrush has a hole in it and you sit one on top of the other and it charges. But thereís no metal contacts. Itís plastic-to-plastic. How can that work?

  • 28:13 - HIV and AIDS in South Africa

    South Africa is officially the country with the worldís highest prevalence of HIV, with up to 50% of the population estimated to become infected. Chris met up with some of the researchers on the front line against the disease.

  • 37:13 - Our Story: Human Ancestor Fossils

    One of the fantastic opportunities we had in South Africa was to visit the collection of fossils at Witwatersrand University. They have a collection of about 30% of the fossils found in South Africa that tell us about how we evolved from ape-like creatures into modern humans. Pr...



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