BBC Science Focus Magazine September 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

The deep sea is an alien place. It seems that almost every trip to the ocean floor returns with the discovery of a new creature, structure or process that baffles scientists. That’s because, until now, it’s been too challenging to catalogue everything that’s down there. The extreme pressure means we’re limited to brief visits, and with 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface covered in salt water, there’s a lot of area to cover. It seems that might all be about to change. A cocktail of new missions and state-of-the-art technology will enable us to explore the ocean like never before. Robotic explorers will chart the ocean floors and its inhabitants, while research tools like environmental DNA will let us monitor biodiversity in totally unprecedented ways. But it’s a race against…

1 min
on the bbc this month...

Fallout A moving four-part documentary from Lights Out that lifts the mushroom-cloud of mystery surrounding the UK’s history of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. BBC Radio 4 11pm, 6 September The Mating Game Find out more about the birds, the bees, and animals from all over the world in this new documentary series on mating and reproduction, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Check Radio Times for details The Life Scientific Reality is an illusion. Neuroscientist Prof David Eagleman (pictured) tells Prof Jim Al-Khalili how our brains create their own truths. BBC Radio 4 9am, 14 September COVER: MAGIC TORCH THIS PAGE: BBC, STEPHANIE BERGER, DUTCH NATIONAL ARCHIVES/WIKIPEDIA, DANIEL BRIGHT…

1 min

DR ANDREW MAY Nasa is Building a plane that can travel faster than sound, without making a sonic boom. Science writer and former Ministry of Defence employee Andrew investigates. →p44 DR CHRISTIAN JARRETT Scientists have found a way to talk to people while they dream. Psychology writer and author Christian finds out how this might help us understand why we dream at all. →p64 PROF PENNY HOLLIDAY There is evidence that the ocean currents that bring warm weather to the UK could soon collapse. Oceanographer Penny explains what’s going on. →p26 JOCELYN TIMPERLEY Space tourism has finally opened its doors (to the mega rich), but what will this mean for the planet’s ailing climate? Environmental reporter Jocelyn asks the experts. →p32 CONTACT US →Advertising 0117 300 8287 →Letters for publication →Editorial enquiries 0117 300 8755 → Subscriptions 03330…

1 min
eye opener

Ancient calendar ANCASH REGION, PERU The Peruvian desert is home to the Chankillo astronomical site; an ancient, fortified ceremonial complex, complete with a temple, administration block and what is believed to be the earliest known solar observatory in the Americas. The vertebrae-like structures on the right have been called the Thirteen Towers, and these are what the astronomers used as an artificial horizon. Built sometime in 250-200 BC, ancient stargazers could use the horizon as a year-round calendar as it spans the entire setting and rising arc of the Sun. By determining the Sun’s position they could accurately predict upcoming solstices and equinoxes, as well as being able to determine the date with a precision of one to two days. It’s thought that this knowledge would help them plan seasonal harvests, as well…

1 min
crypto cash

I read with interest Aleks Krotoski’s column about the marginalisation of some groups in society due to the diminishing role of cash (August, p64). A large group mentioned in the article were the underserved and unbanked. We have a solution available, in the form of cryptocurrencies. Literally designed to be digital cash, with no complicated application forms to fill in and no credit history needed, you don’t even need a physical or fixed abode. The tech offers more than just cash, it can also give you a digital identity, which for some people will be a major step up in their ability to interact. Steve There have been several approaches to using blockchain services for the underserved and unbanked, from providing a stable ID to access government and health services (like in…

3 min
conversation BBC Science Focus, Eagle House, Bristol, BS1 4ST @sciencefocus @bbcsciencefocus “WHAT WE REALLY NEED, AS STEWARDS OF THIS PLANET, IS TO PROTECT OUR NEIGHBOURS”PROF RANDI ROTJAN, P55 Should we extend our lives? Your August issue has a piece on the CRISPR gene-editing tool and its potential to eliminate congenital diseases (p52). We all want to live longer and to have our loved ones with us for as long as possible, but what is the cost to the planet of our burgeoning population? The Earth supports close to eight billion people. The US has the highest per capita carbon footprint, while China, due to its huge population, is the biggest polluter overall. Should China ever reach the USA’s per capita carbon footprint, humanity would probably be doomed. Exponential population growth since the end of WWII is not…