BBC Science Focus Magazine January 2021

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.

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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13 Issues

in this issue

1 min
from the editor

It’s our January issue and we wanted to kick off the year with a big bang, so we asked one of our favourite writers, Marcus Chown, to give us a concise guide to nothing less than the biggest mysteries in the Universe. No one writes quite like Marcus, so grab yourself a hot drink, curl up in a corner away from wintry chills and turn to p46. Speaking of the weather, researchers at Stanford University have discovered that the human body has its own set of seasons. At particular times, molecules and microbes inside us fluctuate to meet to the changing environment around us. It’s a fascinating piece of work that demonstrates the kinds of discoveries we might make with a multiomics approach to medicine: that is, being able to study…

1 min
on the bbc this month…

Cheetah Family And Me Gordon Buchanan meets a family of wild cheetahs in the Kalahari wilderness, South Africa, and witnesses their fraught world. BBC iPlayer CrowdScience The CrowdScience team will be investigating whether there are any downsides to deep cleaning, the effect of alcohol on fertility, and more. BBC World Service, Fridays, 8:30pm I Am Greta From her first school strike outside Swedish Parliament to her wind-powered journey across the Atlantic Ocean, the life of climate activist Greta Thunberg is revealed in this documentary. On BBC iPlayer…

1 min

AMY FLEMING We’re all feeling pretty rubbish at the moment, thanks to pandemic burnout. Science and health journalist Amy offers some ways to help you feel better. →p54 SUSAN D’AGOSTINO Susan is a maths professor turned writer. She investigates the patterns that scientists uncover when they study the personal data modern medical tech can provide. →p66 ABIGAIL BEALL Astronomy needn’t require a telescope and a stack of star charts. Abigail, a science writer and urban astronomy expert, reveals how to spot the night sky’s wonders. →p72 MARCUS CHOWN Marcus, a cosmology author and former radio astronomer, takes a tour of the black holes in our knowledge of the cosmos. You’ll need a coffee for this one. →p46 CONTACT US → Advertising 0117 300 8145 → Letters for publication → Editorial enquiries 0117 300 8755 → Subscriptions 03330 162…

1 min
want more?

Don’t forget that BBC Science Focus is also available on all major digital platforms. We have versions for Android, Kindle Fire and Kindle e-reader, as well as an iOS app for the iPad and iPhone. Can’t wait until next month to get your fix of science and tech? Our website is packed with news, articles and Q&As to keep your brain satisfied. SPECIAL ISSUE OCEANS: THE INCREDIBLE SECRETS OF OUR BLUE PLANET In this special edition, the experts from BBC Science Focus don their diving kit and take the plunge into the depths of the oceans, to reveal more about the incredible world beneath the waves.…

2 min
eye opener

Buzz off! WASHINGTON STATE, US In October, the US’s first confirmed nest of Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) was destroyed by scientists in Washington state. The invasive insects are also known as ‘murder hornets’ as they are voracious predators of honeybees, which are important pollinators of crops. The team attached tiny tracker devices to some worker hornets, which led them back to the nest in a tree cavity. The vacuum device seen here was used to extract the insects, before carbon dioxide was pumped into the tree to anaesthetise any stragglers. The scientists had to wear protective suits, as the hornets can sting multiple times and are able to spray venom. While US bees cannot defend themselves against the hornets, Japanese honeybees, having evolved alongside the predators, have a trick to ward off attacks:…

1 min
letter of the month

Plastic-henge After reading your article about Prof Trevor Cox’s work at Stonehenge (October, p22) I found myself asking, “what’s missing from this experiment?” Many years ago, I qualified as a stonemason. We learned how to tell if a stone had any flaws: you take your chisel and bang it against the stone: the sound resonance will either ring true and clear, like flicking a crystal glass, or give a dull thud if the stone is flawed. So, how can any sound reflected from a piece of printed plastic give a true indication of the actual sound, especially from the harder bluestones from the Preseli Hills? I’m sure Cox thought of this, but it wasn’t mentioned in the article. I’d be very interested to know what he thinks. Gary Sansom Our experiments were not concerned…