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2018 • People
Alice Roberts explores the latest discoveries in the study of human origins, revealing the transformation that has been brought about in this field by genetics. Traditional paleo-anthropology, based on fossils, is being transformed by advanced genome sequencing techniques. We now know that there were at least four other distinct species of human on the planet at the same time as us - some of them identified from astonishingly well-preserved DNA extracted from 50,000-year-old bones, others hinted at by archaic sections of DNA hidden in our modern genome. What's more, we now know that our ancestors met and interacted with these other humans, in ways that still have ramifications today. Alice uses these revelations to update our picture of the human family tree.
A fight on Everest? It seemed incredible. But in 2013 news channels around the world reported an ugly brawl at 6400 m (21,000 ft) as European climbers fled a mob of angry Sherpas. In 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had reached the summit in a spirit of co-operation and brave optimism. Now climbers and Sherpas were trading insults - even blows. What had happened to the happy, smiling Sherpas and their dedication in getting foreigners to the top of the mountain they hold so sacred?
2015 • People
Professor Andre Geim is a condensed matter physicist at the University of Manchester. His life's work has been to gain a better understanding of the materials that make up the world around us. While just one subject can be a scientist's life's work, Andre has made switching fields a feature of his career. But while straying from the conventional path can be risky for a scientist, Andre has repeatedly turned it to his advantage. His "let's try it and see" approach means he's the only individual winner of the both the Nobel and the more light hearted Ig Nobel Prizes. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 for uncovering the extraordinary properties of a material called graphene, but Geim can also lay claim to seeding two other new areas of physics research--levitation and gecko tape.