BBC Science Focus Magazine

BBC Science Focus Magazine September 2020

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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from the editor

Why are there so many different COVID-19 symptoms? Why do some people seem to get it without experiencing sickness at all? How are some people already immune to the disease? There are still so many questions surrounding COVID-19 and how it affects our bodies. We’re witnessing what happens to our immune systems when it’s introduced to a completely new, and aggressively infectious, disease. The truth is our immune systems aren’t as straightforward as we like to think. Over millions of years, our bodies have collectively learned to shield themselves from many of the microorganisms we share our lives with, with modern medicine bolstering our defences in the last century. But, faced with something totally novel, we can see exactly how delicately complex our immune system is. The good news is that…

on the bbc this month…

The Life Scientific Jim Al-Khalili speaks to Prof Sarah Gilbert (pictured), who i leading the team at Oxford University that’s searching for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. BBC Radio 4, 15 September, 9am and 9:30pm The Diagnosis Detectives In this four-part series, Dr Michael Mosley and a team of leading experts investigate the medical mysteries that have previously baffled other doctors. Episode one available on BBC iPlayer Inside Science – COVID Special What will be the long-term health impacts of COVID-19? Dr Adam Rutherford will explore what we think, what we don’t yet know, and how we’ll find out more. BBC Radio 4 17 September, 9pm…


PROF SEEMA SHAH Medical ethicist Seema talks us through the potential risks and benefits of deliberately infecting volunteers with COVID-19 to speed up vaccine development. →p30 BEN HOARE Nature has created a menagerie of see-through animals. Ben explains why transparency works for these crystalline critters. →p40 TOM IRELAND Editor of the The Biologist, Tom wrote our guide to the big questions surrounding COVID-19 and what we’ve discovered so far. →p48 JAMES ROMERO To set up a permanent residence on Mars, we’ll need a sustainable food source. James investigates the researchers planning to turn the Red Planet green. →p60 CONTACT US → Advertising 0117 300 8145 → Letters for publication → Editorial enquiries 0117 300 8755 → Subscriptions 03330 162 113* → Other contacts…

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 THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF MIND-BLOWING ANSWERS In this special edition, the experts from BBC Science Focus reveal the mind-blowing answers to the perplexing questions that baffle the brightest of brains.…

eye opener

This matters NEW YORK, USA Weighing 1,200 tonnes and as large as a house, this is the Solenoidal Tracker (STAR). One of four experiments at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), it tracks the thousands of particles produced by ion collisions at the RHIC, which is capable of colliding ions as atomically heavy as gold. These collisions have resulted in the creation of quark-gluon plasma (QGP), which has been hailed as the ‘perfect liquid’. Reaching temperatures of four trillion degrees Celsius - many thousands of times hotter than the centre of the Sun - this perfect liquid provides a rare glimpse of the hot, dense states of matter that existed microseconds after the Big Bang. As the Universe cooled, the quarks and their gluon bonds coalesced into subatomic protons and neutrons, which constitute…

letter of the month

Cold shoulders I thought the ‘Cold comfort’ article (July, p74) was very interesting! A cold shower - about 7˚C, as cold as the tap allows - is now part of my daily routine, which I believe has had a profound effect on my health. One of the benefits is a greater mental toughness: once I’ve convinced myself that the cold blast will be worth it and endured the freezing, breathless few minutes that follow, I’ve overcome two psychological obstacles, which makes for a great start to the day! Do you think that regular cold showers could be as beneficial as a dip in the sea, as adapting to the shock of cold water is key to both scenarios? Nick Griffiths, Cardiff I talked to environmental physiologist Mike Tipton about this exact topic. He said,…