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30
JUN

Extreme heat death risk in Latin America

A new analysis of deaths in cities across Latin America suggests rising global temperatures could lead to large numbers of deaths in the region and elsewhere in the world. Even a 1-degree rise in extreme heat can add 6% to the risk of dying. Lead researcher Josiah Kephart at Drexel University tells Roland Pease the lessons from Latin America should apply to cities across the global south.

Brazilian ecologist Andreas Meyer talks about the troubling prospects for the health of ecosystems, particularly in tropical regions, if the world does not cut its fossil fuel emissions hard and fast in the next few years.

In the USA, a team of engineers and neurosurgeons are developing a radical new approach for targeted pain relief – in the first instance, for patients recovering from surgery. It’s a flexible implant that wraps around a nerve and cools it to prevent it from transmitting pain signals. What’s more, says bioengineer John Rogers, the implant is made of a material designed to have dissolved safely into the body by the time its pain-killing work is done.

Geologist Bob Hazen has spent more than a decade producing a new classification system for the 5,700 minerals known to exist on the Earth. It improves on the pre-existing scheme by taking into account the myriad ways that many minerals have come into being. He tells Roland that this new way of categorising minerals lays bare a 4.5 billion-year history of remarkable chemical and biological creativity.

(Image: Rio de Janeiro City. Credit: Pintai Suchachaisri/Getty Images)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker
23
JUN

Monster microbe

Researchers have discovered a species of bacteria which dwarfs all others by thousands of times. Normally you need a microscope to see single-celled bacteria, but Thiomargarita magnifica is the length and width of an eyelash. It's been found growing in mangrove swamps in the Caribbean. Roland Pease talks to Jean Marie Volland about what makes this Godzilla of the microbial world extra-special.

Also in the programme, a new study published in the journal Nature has discovered that women scientists are less likely than their male peers to be credited for their contributions to research projects. Roland discusses the findings with the study leader Julia Lane of New York University and nanoscientist Shobhana Narasimhan in Bangalore. We also find out about the oldest evidence for wildfires on the planet which raged across the land 430 million years ago, with palaeobotanist Ian Grasspool. And Edinburgh University vertebrate palaeontologist Steve Brusatte talks about some of the evolutionary wonders in his new book The Rise and Reign of the Mammals.

(Image: Thiomargarita magnifica. © The Regents of the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

2 episodes