Tracking planes; Peer review; Mega-virus; Astronaut


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Are black boxes outdated technology? With GPS widely available in everyday gadgets like mobile phones, how could Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 just disappear? Adam Rutherford speaks to Dr Matt Greaves, a Lecturer in Accident Investigation at Cranfield University, about how we track aircraft.

Earlier this year, a new study from Japan announced a curiously easy way to make stem cells, by placing them in a mild acid bath. It seemed too good to be true, and according to recent critics, it is. One of the authors has declared that the paper should be withdrawn, that he has 'lost faith in it'.

Ivan Oransky runs the site RetractionWatch, dedicated to scrutinizing irregular research. He talks to Adam about the value of post-publication peer review, and public scrutiny of science on the internet.

A 30,000 year old killer, buried 100 feet under the Siberian permafrost, has risen from the dead. It's a mega virus, with the largest genome of any known virus, and, happily, only infects amoebae. Virologist Professor Jonathan Ball, of the University of Nottingham, explains the implications of reanimating dead viruses.

And actual spaceman, retired NASA pilot Captain Jon McBride, came into the studio to share his out-of-this-world memories and prediction that the next generation of astronauts will be chosen on brains not brawn.

Producer: Fiona Roberts.