BBC Science Focus Magazine November 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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from the editor

I touched a human brain once. At university, while I was studying psychology, a professor invited us to sign up for an extracurricular course on brain dissection: to study and understand the structures and geography of the thing we had been learning about. I signed up. It didn’t seem like the kind of opportunity that came around often. Before the first lesson, I was nervous and excited. To take part in any dissection is an honour. Bodies donated to science are a special gift, and so students are reminded that it’s a privilege to be able to learn in this way. My brain was going to touch another brain with its hands and I was prepared for whatever revelation that might bring. “Well, that’s weirdly beige,” was my first thought. Not very…

on the bbc this month…

The Lakes With Simon Reeve Simon Reeve explores England’s largest National Park: the Lake District. We meet the people (and wildlife) of Cumbria, traverse the expansive landscape, and learn about some of the threats to its inhabitants. BBC Two Check Radio Times for details Our Family and Autism With three young children diagnosed with autism, Paddy and Christine McGuinness set out to better understand the condition, speaking to leading paediatricians and child-development experts. BBC One Check Radio Times for details This Thing Of Darkness Fictional psychiatrist Dr Alex Bridges, played by Lolita Chakrabarti, is called in to take a forensic look at arson, stalking and the impact of trauma in the new series of this award-winning podcast. BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds From 11 Nov COVER: CODY MUIR THIS PAGE: BBC, GETTY IMAGES, THE MASONS, DANIEL BRIGHT…


PROF AHMED ELGAMMAL Ahmed and his team of computer scientists have been training an artificial intelligence to complete Beethoven’s unfinished symphony. →p24 PROF BART VAN DER SLOOT Are Facebook’s new glasses a nightmare when it comes to personal privacy? Bart, a privacy expert at Tilburg University, weighs up the concerns. →p31 DR HELEN SCALES Marine biologist Helen takes us on a deep dive into the world of octopuses and reveals some incredible facts about these alien creatures. →p42 COLIN STUART What would happen if you got hit by a black hole? That’s a very real consideration for Colin, who’s been talking to the people hunting for black holes in our Solar System. →p70 CONTACT US → Advertising 0117 300 8140 → Letters for publication → Editorial enquiries 0117 300 8755 → Subscriptions 03330 162 113* → Other contacts…

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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 MINIGUIDE 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.…

eye opener

ISS gets a power up THERMOSPHERE, EARTH NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough waves as he and his fellow crew member, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, install new solar arrays on the International Space Station (ISS). The arrays, made up of photovoltaic panels, generate electricity for installed during three spacewalks in June 2021, the power available to astronauts on the ISS is now 215kW a day. That’s enough to power the average home for nearly the ISS. Unlike the fold-out solar arrays that you might have seen on images of the ISS, the new ones, called roll-out solar arrays (ROSAs), unfurl like sails. For the last 20 years, the scientific investigations conducted on the ISS have been powered by solar arrays that were deployed in 2000 and only designed for 15 years of service. Though showing…

letter of the month

Fetch the engines This summer has seen yet another plethora of forest fires destroying trees, people’s homes and doing untold damage to the environment. But the main fire-fighting technique is still to throw water on them, just as we did in the Great Fire of London. Surely science can come up with a better solution? Dr Barry Culpin Wildland firefighting nowadays differs very much from the techniques used to fight urban fires. Indeed, many countries have separate teams, training and equipment for wildfires. Water is still used and is what’s often seen on TV. But in bigger, more intense fires, there’s no way you can extinguish all the flames; you can only stop them from spreading by removing the fuel available and letting the wildfire burn itself out – a technique known as…