Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 17th Jul 2010

Going Nuclear

Nuclear weapon test Romeo (c) United States Department of Energy

We go nuclear this week to investigate the future of atomic energy, the issues surrounding nuclear waste management and how a proposed new breed of hybrid fission-fusion reactors might help to boost nuclear fuel efficiency and minimise radioactive waste. Also, following the 65th anniversary of the first nuclear bomb test, we hear how the accidental wilderness created where "the Gadget" was detonated is now a flourishing example of biodiversity. In Kitchen Science we build a home-made radiation-detector and we get to the bottom of why humans kiss. Plus, news of malaria-proof mosquitoes, turning hostile bacteria into safe vaccines and scientific scrutiny of high-heel-induced foot discomfort!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:49 - Making Malaria-proof Mosquitoes

    This week, scientists at the University of Arizona have announced that they have managed to engineer malaria-proof mosquitoes in the lab, offering hope of a future method of malaria control.

  • 04:43 - Killer bugs tamed with a dose of the Arctic

    Scientists have found a way to tame hostile bacteria and turn them into docile vaccines, by replacing key genes with those from the bugs Arctic counterparts!

  • 08:09 - Gobies fight against the 'Rise of Slime'

    This week, researchers from the University of Bern in Norway have shown that there is a marine species that is unexpectedly thriving in what was considered to be a 'dead end' ecosystem.

  • 10:01 - Why high-heels are habit-forming

    High-heel tottering fashion slaves often complain that stepping down to normal footwear is extremely uncomfortable following the elevating effects of a six-inch height boost. Now scientists know why...

  • 11:48 - The problems with Nuclear Waste

    Why is nuclear waste such a problem? To find out more about how nuclear fission works, the waste it creates and the problems with burying it in underground geological repositories, Meera Senthilingam met Cambridge University’s Ian Farnan...

  • 19:16 - Hybrid Nuclear Reactors

    About 12,000 tonnes of radioactive waste is produced around the world every year and at the moment they need to be stored somewhere, which is a big problem. But Bill Stacey thinks it might be possible to take this waste and use it as a fuel instead, by building a nuclear fusion...

  • 26:51 - The Super X Divertor

    What limits the power of fusion reactors at the moment is how to make an exhaust system that can cope with the extreme super-heated gases that need to be vented from the reaction process. Now researchers at the Institute for Fusion Studies at the University of Texas in Austin h...

  • 33:34 - Trinity - The site of the first Atomic Bomb Test

    On the 16th of July 1945, the project code name Trinity was put into action. Trinity was the first test of an atomic bomb, the first nuclear weapon. Sixty five years on, the test site is hard to access and rarely visited, but journalist and author David Wolman risked the radi...

  • Cloud chamber teaser (c) Dave Ansell

    39:52 - Cloud Chamber

    A really classic physics experiment that helped to understand some of the most fundamental particles in the universe.

  • 47:31 - How much does nuclear waste storage cost?

    How much does nuclear waste storage actually cost and with that factored in, is nuclear energy still cheap?

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Google for Oklo reactor for a fascinating look at reactor waste storage and natural nuclear reactor creation. SeanB, Tue, 13th Jul 2010

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