The Best of the Naked Scientists

19 August 2007



This week, we look back at some of the juiciest bits of Naked Science from the last series. We look at how an iPod became an iRod to conduct lightning, discover an electrifying bikini and find out why teenagers feel so misunderstood, not that they're 'bovvered' about the answer. We discuss wine as an essential part of an healthy diet, find out about the people who feel no pain and explore why you can immediately tell an Aussie from an American or a Londoner from a Liverpudlian, by learning about the way accents are formed. Plus, in Kitchen Science we find out how to turn an oven shelf into a beautiful musical instrument.

In this episode

How are seedless grapes grown?

The correct answer is that the plants that grow them are actually clones. So instead of growing them from seeds, they're grown from cuttings from existing plants. So, obviously, the first seedless grapes were a plant that arose through mutation, that means that they don't have seeds, which some growers must have noticed and propagated. To do this you take a little shoot or a stem off the plant, dip it in rooting powder, put it in the ground and a new tree will grow. This is how a lot of plants are cultivated now, and also a lot of seedless varieties. That said, it's causing problems with bananas now: because they're all clones, they're getting struck down by fungi. If a population is genetically identical, it can very easily be wiped out because all the plants have the same genetic vulnerabilities. If a pathogen evolves to exploit this molecular loophole it's curtains for the crop because every plant is susceptible and the absence of sex means a lack of genetic variation.


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