BBC Science Focus Magazine April 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

Earlier this year, while most of us were scraping the bottom of the TV-streaming barrel to keep ourselves entertained during the third lockdown, Mars came to life. A fleet of spacecraft descended upon the Red Planet to learn its secrets, past and present. The missions arrived in convoy since Mars and Earth had practically rubbed shoulders the summer before, giving space agencies around the world the opportunity to make the shortest trip possible between the two planets. Of all the missions, Perseverance and its daredevil descent to Martian soil garnered the most attention. It felt like the whole world was watching. The same was true a few years ago, as everyone waited for the New Horizons probe to switch back on as it approached its ultimate destination, Pluto. After all, who…

1 min
on the bbc this month...

Greta Thunberg: A Year To Change The World Follow the Swedish environmental activist as she explores the science of global warming and challenges world leaders to take action. BBC One, starts mid-April, check Radio Times for details CrowdScience: Why Does Grief Leave Me Feeling This Way? Why have we evolved to be so affected by loss? Be it the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or the loss of a job. Does grief serve any purpose? Or perhaps it’s just the price we pay for being a social species with such strong connections. BBC World Service, Friday 16 April, 8:30 pm Planet Defenders Join a team of six dedicated young conservationists and filmmakers as they set out around the world to protect our planet and its amazing wildlife. Catch it on BBC iPlayer *Calls from…

1 min

If Earth’s core is as hot as the Sun, why doesn’t Earth melt? →p79 NISHA BEERJERAZ-HOYLE The James Webb Space Telescope launches in just a few months. Space writer Nisha looks at how it’ll reveal more of the Universe. →p32 DR HELEN SCALES Earth is covered in dizzyingly tall mountains that few people have seen. Marine biologist Helen introduces us to the seamounts hidden in the depths of the ocean. →p40 JHENI OSMAN Join science writer Jheni for an expedition to a cave system deep within a mountain. Here, scientists are uncovering clues to the planet’s climate past... and future. → p54 DR EZZY PEARSON Humans are returning to the Moon, but this time we intend to do more than just collect soil. Space expert Ezzy takes us though our ambitious plans for the lunar landscape. →p60 CONTACT US Advertising…

2 min
eye opener

Etna awakens CATANIA, SICILY ITALY Mount Etna has done it again. In February, Europe’s most active volcano erupted, releasing an estimated 40 million cubic metres of volcanic material and a 1,500- metre-high ash cloud. “It’s Etna’s largest eruption since 2000 – and is very, very spectacular,” says Boris Behncke, a volcanologist at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics. But while apocalyptic in appearance, the 3,300m-high volcano poses little danger to the local population and buildings (including the Mother Church of Belpasso, pictured). Etna’s magma stream cools and solidifies well before reaching any towns. And unless crushed into dust by vehicles, any ash is too large to inhale. “The volcano’s regular eruptions are relatively safe and normal,” says Becker. “In fact, the ash can be a valuable resource, used as a fertiliser or even building material. Everyone…

1 min
letter of the month

Where you left it The February issue’s Explainer (p86) on memory pointed out how it’s all too easy to forget where you left things like your car keys if you don’t pay sufficient attention when you put them down. But there’s a way to solve this problem: decide on specific places to leave these items, then discipline yourself to only leave them in their designated spots. If you live with other people, pick places that your housemates won’t disturb. If you keep putting your ‘loseables’ in these locations, it’ll eventually become a habit and you’ll always know where to find them! Paul Jeffels, Derby PS: I’ve subscribed to BBC Science Focus for years and the ‘How your brain creates reality’ feature (p54, February) is one of the most interesting – and probably controversial…

3 min
conversation BBC Science Focus, Eagle House, Colston Avenue, Bristol, BS1 4ST @sciencefocus @bbcsciencefocus Tunnel vision I read Dr Susan Blackmore’s answer to the question ‘Do people in a coma dream?’ on your website recently. I thought you might like to hear my experience. Many years ago, I was in a coma for a month and a half, but right before I woke up, I remember finding myself in a tunnel. There was a bright light at the end, which I walked towards and when I emerged, I found a big golden gate. The gate opened and I walked through into a playground filled with children my age, who were laughing and happy. It all felt too good to be true though, so I turned to leave. Then two huge men approached me, took hold of my…