Genetics and education; Golden Rice inventor; Chimp Chatter and Lightning Lab


science / science 681 Views comments

The link between genetics and a child's academic performance hit the headlines this week when Education Secretary, Michael Gove's outgoing special advisor, Dominic Cummings, called for education policy to incorporate the science behind genes and cognitive development. Mr Cummings cited the Professor of Behavioural Genetics, Robert Plomin, as a major source, and Professor Plomin tells Dr Adam Rutherford what he thinks about the way his research has been interpreted. Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Genetics from University College London says why he believes genetics and education is such a controversial subject.

Fifty years ago, researchers tried, and failed, to teach chimpanzees English. They concluded that chimp noises were merely basic expressions of fear or pleasure. Dr Katie Slocombe from York University has shown that chimp language is far more tactical, machiavellian even, than that.

The inventor of Golden Rice, the genetically modified crop, tells Adam Rutherford that he agrees with Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, that those who attack GM crops are "wicked". Professor Ingo Potrykus from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich developed Golden Rice enriched with Vitamin A in 1999 and believes that opposition to GM foods has prevented the crop being grown and widely planted. But, nearly 80 years old, Professor Potrykus tells Inside Science that he still believes Golden Rice will be grown and eaten throughout the world during his lifetime.

Rhys Phillips makes lightning at a Cardiff laboratory for this week's Show Us Your Instrument. It's used to test aeroplane parts. Less metal in an aircraft makes it lighter but too little and the lightning may damage the plane. The safest way to test is to make your own lightning, at ground level.

Producer: Fiona Hill.