Taking stock

Things roll on at the Science Hub since my last post. Officially, I have reached the end of my time with BBC Science Radio and have now joined the website folk at Science Online. In fact I am just a few desks further down the same office and can still pester the radio guys and gals on my way to and from the tea/coffee area.

News online seems a little more urgent and pressing, delivery of content daily rather than centred around one weekly show. Keeping up with news embargoes and abreast of what others are doing.

My first official story is one that I really think is a piece of brilliant science … observations of seismicity associated with volcanic eruptions at Redoubt, a magnificent volcano in Alaska. But I spent the first part of the morning reading the latest news from Mars’ Curiosity Rover to help assess how newsworthy it really is. Next I need to learn the mechanics of how to put a web page together for news online. Then I should be rather more independent come tomorrow. We’ll see what news that brings.

Anyway, I thought it was about time I recorded my output so far, since I am likely to lose track soon.


Volcanic ‘scream’ precedes eruption

Worm poo’s window into past climate

New idea tackles Earth core puzzle

Rust promises hydrogen power boost

Russian meteor shockwave circled globe twice


Science in Action (World Service) 12/07/2103 – Knitting perovskite molecules

The Science Hour (World Service) 07/07/2013 – Dark Matter

Science in Action (World Service) 05/07/2103 – Plank: Looking back to the dawn of time

The Science Hour (World Service) 30/06/2013 – Russian meteors make waves

Researcher for Material World (Radio 4) 27/06/2103 – Uncertainty in scientific research

Also, separately, on:


Mont Blanc’s glacier protects, rather than erodes -15/07/2013

Ageing rover finds evidence for an early ocean on Mars – 11/06/2013

Mystery solved: meteorite caused Tunguska devastation – 27/06/2013


and to my “famous five” I can add a few more BBC celebs spotted around the place .. Alan Yentob, Will Gompertz, and Jonathan Dimbelby.


Perovskite pleasures

I travelled down to the University of Surrey on Monday to check out the Perovskite Project at the Department of Chemistry. Having checked my Marantz recorder and all related equipment, and convinced myself that I knew how to use it , I turned up to interview Dr Julia Percival, project leader for this lovely piece of citizen science.


Now, I am biased, I love perovskites. Not only are they the commonest silicates in the planet, forming most of Earth’s deeper reaches, before you get to the metal core, they are also deeply deeply useful. Mobile phones, computer chips, audio recorders, gas lighters, battery materials, fuel cell components, magnetometers, and, latest, dye-sensitised solar cells, all rely on perovskite materials.


Last year was the International Year of Chemistry. Next year is the International Year of Crystallography. This year is the centenary of the Braggs’ first crystallographic work. So, what better way to celebrate than to knit a perovskite crystal?!!!

Julia has been receiving knitted perovskite polyhedra and atoms from across the globe. We had a great chat about all things perovskite, about whether it is better to knit them or to synthesise them in a furnace, how to cast on, and the reasons scientists build models. It linked in well to a discussion I had at the Science Museum last week when discussing the exhibit there, also celebrating a century of crystallography.

The interview went on for around 40 minutes, on Monday afternoon. I spent most of Tuesday editing that down to 5 minutes or so, a painful process. And the result should be available for all to hear tomorrow evening on this week’s “Science in Action”, on the BBC world service radio, where all the best programmes are found!

Meteorite fallout and other matters

Chelyabinsk_NewsLast week’s meteorite story seems to have spread far and wide. The two articles it was based on were in respected journals, but ones that are probably not in line of sight of the average news desk. So having helped put it out there, others seem to have liked what they saw and re-used it across the globe.

What’s more, the story ran on World Service’s “Science Hour” over the weekend … I ended up rambling on about meteorites for longer than the average listener can manage, I guess!

This-morning I visited the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. Julian Siddle and I recorded interviews with three of the exhibitor teams. My homework for this-evening is to create a five-minute story from 40 minutes or so of recorded interviews at Carlton House Terrace. If all goes well it should appear later in the week on Science in Action, a BBC World Service programme. The photos show Julian attempting to record the sound of a demonstration model of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. It will make audio sense, trust me!

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