Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 1st May 2010

GPS - Where in the World Are We?

GPS receivers from Trimble, Garmin und Leica (c) photo taken by german wikipedian Stefan Kühn

Where in the world am I?  We're looking at the science of the Global Positioning System, or GPS, this week.  We find out how satellites can tell you your location, as well as communicate with the bossy little box that tells you which way to drive.  We discover the potential for "spoofing" GPS with a false location, and how this might be the future of cyber-terrorism as well as explore the cosmic reference frame that the satellites themselves rely on.  In Kitchen Science, we get back to basics and locate ourselves using a map and compass!  Plus, the first amphibian genome helps to fill the vertebrate family tree, we meet the colourful fish that shine a light on evolution and find out how a technique developed to study eye disease can help find art forgeries.

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 08:06 - Helping you to see Fake Art

    A technique developed to take three dimensional, real time images of the retina is also useful for detecting evidence of fraud in paintings, according to research published in the journal Accounts of Chemical Research this month...

  • 11:33 - Losing the war on biodiversity loss

    The world is still losing biodiversity at an alarming rate despite world leaders promising in 2002 to cut the rate of loss by 2010. That’s the stark warning from a paper published in the journal Science this week by a large team of international researchers.

  • 24:28 - The Basics - GPS and Satellite Navigation

    How does the GPS in your car actually work? And what does the future hold for GPS? Meera went to meet Dr Chaz Dixon and Colin Lee to find out more.

  • 32:08 - GPS Spoofing

    Professor Todd Humphreys explains how it may be possible to intentionally fool your GPS into thinking you're somewhere else...

  • 49:52 - Does music radio get doppler shifted?

    I thought of this while listening to Naked Scientists in my car. We’ve all heard the way in which sounds change frequency as an ambulance passes us with its siren going. What I wonder is whether a conventional radio broadcast experiences Doppler shift when we’re driving toward ...



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Alternatives being LORAN and DECCA, still used in places around the world. Has advantages and disadvantages over GPS, but requires training to use. There is no " Idiot proof, just turn on and it works even for those who can't walk and chew gum at the same time" way to operate it, plus it needs you to have maps to show position ( most commonly on paper and for the area you are in) and plot your location.

Blocking GPS is easy, all you need is 30cm of concrete and the signal is buried so far beneath the noise that you cannot recover it, but spoofing needs a lot of sophisticated equipment to give the false information so that the receiver believes it. SeanB, Sat, 1st May 2010

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