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BBC Science Focus Magazine

BBC Science Focus Magazine Christmas 2019

With accessible features illustrated with the world’s best photography, BBC Focus Magazine explains the theory behind scientific phenomena and really brings science to life. In every issue you’ll find news of the latest major scientific developments, a lively Q&A section plus exclusive and astonishing photographic reports that range from the breathtaking to the downright odd.

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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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13 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
from the editor

The first science book I ever read blew my mind. I can’t remember the name of the book, but I know who it was written by: Marcus Chown. In it he explained, in his effortless way, how the Universe began and how it might all end. To this day, the sense of wonder that Marcus’s writing inspired epitomises what makes science, and writing and reading about it, so special. So as the year comes to an end and we all start traversing the country to visit friends and relatives during the holidays, I wanted to share a little scientific wonder with you all. This special issue celebrates some of the most mind-expanding ideas in science right now. From the search for dark matter to the quest to end ageing, there’s…

1 min.
on the bbc this month...

Island Medics This new series follows doctors, nurses, paramedics and lifeboat crews at Gilbert Bain Hospital on the Shetland Islands, the UK’s most remote hospital. BBC iPlayer Baby Chimp Rescue Two biologists become surrogate parents to orphaned baby chimps. Together with primatologist Ben Garrod, they must build a permanent home for the chimpanzees. Begins in the New Year, BBC Two Science Stories The series profiling lesser known stories in science. In the first episode, Naomi Alderson tells the story of how the self-taught Mary Somerville became a pioneer of popular science writing. 11, 18 and 25 December, BBC Sounds…

1 min.

ALLA KATSNELSON Alla is a science writer, with a PhD in mammalian development. This issue, she investigates artificial wombs, and babies without pregnancy. p52 DEAN BURNETT Do antidepressants actually work? Neuroscientist and author Dean explains why these drugs get such a bad press, and why we shouldn’t dismiss them. p33 AMY FLEMING A significant number of people in vegetative states may have hidden consciousness. Freelance science writer Amy finds out about the scientists who are treating these patients. p72 HANNAH FRY This year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures will delve into the maths behind everyday life. Mathematician Hannah, who is this year’s host, tells us how maths is hiding in plain sight. p66…

1 min.
eye opener

Flaming forest CALIFORNIA, USA Firefighters battle to control forest fire Maria, which raged in California’s Ventura County for six days in October and early November. Strong winds meant Maria grew quickly to consume over 7,500 hectares (16km2 ) of land before being extinguished with water dropped by three DC-10 aeroplanes. Sadly, local firefighters have had a lot of problems with fires this year: at the time of writing the 2019 season has seen 6,402 fires destroy over 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of land and over 500 buildings. While wildfires are not uncommon in California, the intensity of Maria’s blaze is cause for concern. In 2018, a team of scientists from the University of California discovered that increasing droughts in the area, thought to be caused by global climate change, had led to high tree…

1 min.
letter of the month

Brain upgrade? No, thanks Lucy Maddox’s article ‘Should you upgrade your brain?’ (October, p72) got me thinking. As a millennial, technology is the prominent feature of my day-to-day life, from work to social media to hobbies. But I would answer ‘no’ to upgrading my brain. The benefits seem appealing, with the possibility of remembering things I may not beforehand, or even using it to heighten my own IQ. But where would that lead mankind in the – already feared – future with artificial intelligence? If we can do this to our own brain, how long before the ways of our mind can be used for more harm than good? Would the enhanced you, really be ‘you’? Rebecca Roskilly, via email WRITE IN AND WIN! The writer of next issue’s Letter Of The Month wins a pair…

3 min.

“THE PROBLEM WITH MATHS IS THAT YOU CAN’T SEE IT. YOU CAN’T HOLD IT. YOU CAN’T POINT TO IT AND SAY THAT’S WHAT IT IS. IT’S INVISIBLE.”DR HANNAH FRY, p66 It’s all in the scent Although I enjoyed reading ‘Hygiene: is there such a thing as too clean?’ (October, p33) and its coverage of the ‘speck of dirt’ theory to explain the allergic march, I’d like to correct an assertion made: ‘sweat doesn’t smell’. In fact, sweating is an efficient aspect of excretory function, and volatile compounds dissolved in sweat certainly do have distinct odours that can be used to provide diagnostic clues during clinical examination. David Propert, London, via email It’s true that smell is useful for diagnosis when you’re unwell, as there can be extra compounds in your sweat that have a…