Badger culls; Douglas Mawson; Plastics; Uptalk


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Badger culls in England have ended and Professor Roland Kao from the University of Glasgow discusses with Dr Adam Rutherford the scientific options remaining to tackle the spread of bovine tuberculosis. Field trials of the TB cattle vaccine are due to start next year and Professor Kao hopes that their success in sequencing the genome of Mycobactrium bovis will also provide a greater understanding about how this devastating disease spreads. The name of Douglas Mawson isn't discussed along with the famous triumvirate, Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton, but one hundred years ago, he led the first science-only Australasian Antarctic Expedition. A century later, Professor Chris Turney is co-leading a repeat expedition, where scientists will repeat many of the measurements of the Mawson trip. Rising inflexion at the end of your sentences is known as "uptalk" or "valleygirl speak" and it's usually associated with young Californian females. But now a new study shows that uptalk is expanding to men. Professor Amalia Arvaniti explains that uptalk has negative connotations which makes men less likely to admit to using it, but it was clear was that this pattern of speech is like totally spreading. Waste plastic makes its way into many areas of the environment which can threaten wildlife. Small particles of plastic can also be ingested by organisms and as they act almost like sponges the plastics attract other chemicals onto their surface. Despite this their hazard ranking is the same as scraps of food or grass clippings. Dr Mark Browne from the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, USA, describes his new research in the journal, Current Biology, which shows that these microplastics have toxic concentrations of pollutants in which can harm biodiversity. He also explains how these microplastics transfer toxic pollutants and chemicals into the guts of lugworms. These worms have been nicknamed "eco-engineers" because they eat organic matter from the sediment and prevent the build-up of silt. Producer: Fiona Hill.