Bird Atlas; Flywheels; Energy capture; Science lessons for MPs


science / science 724 Views comments

Every twenty years there's a detailed survey of the birds of the UK and Ireland and today, the 2007-2011 Bird Atlas is published. Adam Rutherford hears from Dawn Balmer from the British Trust for Ornithology about the citizen scientists, the forty thousand volunteers who collected data on a staggering 19 million birds - 502 different species - and meets their record breaking volunteer, Chris Reynolds. A 73 year old retired maths teacher, Chris took part in the previous three atlases and walked thousands of miles in all seasons across his patch in the Outer Hebrides. Dawn describes the avifaunal picture revealed in this latest Atlas.

In 2009, Williams developed a flywheel - which temporarily stores energy - for their formula 1 car. After the Research and Development was done, the F1 governing body changed the rules, and there was no longer space for a flywheel on their car. No matter, these things have other uses. Mark Smout from Smout Allen has proposed a design for the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, which uses banks of these flywheels to regulate the energy from the nearby wind farm. It also uses spare electricity to grow a sea defence for the island. Marnie Chesterton reports on this flywheel technology and Tim Fox, energy expert at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers describes to Adam other potential solutions for storing energy on the National Grid.

Professor Bill Sutherland from the University of Cambridge is a co-author on a new "cheat sheet", published in this week's Nature, to help politicians and policy makers sort the good scientific research from the bad. He talks to Adam about why it's more important and faster, to teach a scientific approach than simply to teach facts.

Producer: Fiona Hill.