BBC Science Focus Magazine July 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

Why is there something, rather than nothing? Why does anything exist at all? Every culture has its own creation stories, but until recently, it’s not something physicists had a satisfying answer for. Our best answer to that question, in scientific terms, is that ‘something’ is more stable than ‘nothing’. Our best theories of the world of the infinitesimally small – the realm of quantum physics – have observed that the smallest particles can pop in and out of existence. That same theory predicts that at the smallest possible scale, bubbles of space-time – the fabric upon which everything exists – would blink in and out of nothingness. In the world of quantum theory, if something can happen, it does. So, it’s possible our Universe was born out of a bubble…

1 min
on the bbc this month…

Song Of The Reed: Summer This new four-part series blends fiction with fact to offer listeners an insight into the work and science of conservation across the seasons. Recorded in the Strumpshaw Fen nature reserve in Norfolk, the story is voiced by Mark Rylance and Sophie Okonedo (pictured). BBC Radio 4 21 June, 2pm A Pandemic Poem: Where Did The World Go? In a touching and poignant response to the past 18 months, A Pandemic Poem documents the resilience and the strength of communities, through the words of Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (pictured) and the people of Britain themselves. Available on BBC iPlayer now Bees In A Pod In conjunction with BBC Radio 2’s Big Bee Challenge, this new podcast showcases our favourite pollinators in the very best light. Featuring trusted experts and celebrity guests, episodes will help…

1 min

DR CLAIRE ASHER Wild honeybees are rare, so when scientists found a colony they started studying them. Evolutionary biologist Claire reveals what they learned. → p44 PROF PAUL BYRNE In the last month, three new missions to Venus have been announced. Planetary scientist Paul reveals what awaits these missions on the planet’s hell surface. → p64 JENNIFER PATTISON TUOHY Are our homes getting any smarter? Tech journalist Jennifer peers into the future to see when our homes might start making life easier. → p68 DR JEREMY ROSSMAN As most of the country has now received their first dose of a COVID vaccine, we asked virologist Jeremy to explain whether we’ll need booster jabs down the line. → p28 CONTACT US → Advertising 0117 300 8287 → Letters for publication → Editorial enquiries 0117 300 8755 → Subscriptions 03330 162 113* → Other contacts COVER: ANDY POTTS THIS…

1 min
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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. LUNCHTIME GENIUS A DAILY DOSE OF MENTAL REFRESHMENT DELIVERED STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX Sign up to discover the latest news, views and breakthroughs from the BBC Science Focus team PLUS, A FREE MINI-GUIDE EVERY WEEK A collection of the most important ideas in science and technology today. Discover the fundamentals of science, alongside some of the most exciting research in the world.…

2 min
eye opener

Family sticks together JAPAN This tiny creature could fit on the tip of your finger, though it would leave a sticky residue. On this blade of eelgrass, though, the adhesive organ on the back of this northern pygmy squid helps keep her from being swept away while she lays her eggs. These animals only live for a few months, but once mature they reproduce through multiple matings. “Females mate with males and store their sperm in small invaginations around the mouth, known as ‘seminal receptacles’,” explains Prof Louise Allcock, director of the Ryan Institute’s Centre for Ocean Research & Exploration at NUI Galway. “As the female lays her eggs, she draws the sperm out of the seminal receptacles and fertilises her deposit.” This pygmy squid won’t stay with her offspring, says Allcock. “In fact, she…

1 min
letter of the month

Early beginnings Humans, along with all the primates, carnivores and rodents, have come a long way through natural selection and evolution. The placenta would have played an important role in giving an edge over other animal forms, in the embryonic and neonatal life of the offspring’s early life. Yet after being a medical consultant for four decades with a background knowledge of embryology, I remain completely ignorant of the origin of the placenta (perhaps an unexpected change of a microsomal protein?), and its evolution to the totally indispensable organ it has become today. I would be grateful if you could enlighten us on this topic. Dr Gamini Katugampola Great question! Around 15 years ago, US scientists discovered two human ‘syncytin’ genes which are only active in the human placenta. Both genes look a lot…