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BBC Inside Science

300 EpisodesProduced by BBC Radio 4Website

Dr Adam Rutherford and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

28:05

Pluto's surface, Increased Arctic ice in 2013, Linking brains together, Signals of fertility

The New Horizons probe is now millions of miles past Pluto, journeying throgh the Kuiper Belt, but still sending back gigabytes of data coming in via the Deep Space Network. Its latest image of Pluto's surface was released by NASA on Wednesday, of huge mountains emerging from an otherwise flat plain, Dr John Spencer one of the lead scientists on New Horizons, a planetary geologist, discusses what's to be read into the surface images captured over the last week

A new paper just published in Nature Geoscience shows that in 2013, which was a slightly cooler summer than average, arctic ice had grown, by 41% on the previous year. The study, uses data from ESA's Cryosat 2, which incorporates not just the surface area of ice, but the all-important number - the volume Adam examines the results with Rachel Tilling from University College London.

Computing has taken a Sci fI step forward this month. Professor Miguel Nicollelis of Duke University, a specialist in brain machine interface experiments, has linked together the brains of four individual rats in order to use the computational power of their brains to carry out tasks including image processing, data retrieval, and even weather predictions. But could this have a therapeutic use in brain damage? Professor Andrew Jackson from Newcastle University, an expert in called 'neural prosthetics' examines the potential.

Across the animal kingdom, signals advertising when females are at their most fertile can be pretty striking. Humans are more subtle, though plenty of studies have shown that female behaviour and physiology does change during the menstrual cycle. A new study by Dr Robert Burriss from Northumbria University suggests that faces may be advertising a woman's most fertile time of the month. But are the traits too subtle for most people to notice?

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

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