Of the more than 180 invasive species found in the Great Lakes, two in particular stand out for their indiscriminate devastation: the fast-breeding Asian carp and the deadly sea lamprey. Join the front lines of an urgent battle to limit the impact of their ecological damage.
Sophie looks at one skill in particular that seems to give humans an advantage over all other animals - our superior talent for language. She explores what language really is, and how close other animals come to having it. She considers the world of primates and the theory that some apes may communicate through sign language, and reveals how, even in the womb, humans start to practise making the mouth movements needed for speech. But language isn't just a power to combine words. Professor Scott explores how we convey information through the tone of voice, our accents and the pace and pitch of our speech. But in a world when we regularly talk to computers, she also shows why scientists need to develop machines that can understand the subtleties of our speech. Finally, she looks at language in this digital age and explores the role that emojis play.
3/3 • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: The Language of Life • 2017 • Nature
Liz meets the animal rebels who will stop at nothing to survive. From cockatoos vandalising houses in Sydney, to crabs who hold nemones hostage to protect themselves, it seems there are no lengths these animals won't go to. Liz sets out to see these animals in action, revealing the science behind their extreme behaviours. She meets the sloth whose disgusting hygiene habits may help hide it from predators, the stone martens who cause millions of pounds' worth of damage to cars to protect their territories and the chimpanzees who use bullying tactics to get to the top. As Liz discovers, when life in the wild gets tough, this outrageous behaviour could just be the key to survival.
Adam Rutherford meets a new creature created by American scientists - the spider-goat. It is part goat, part spider, and its milk can be used to create artificial spider's web. It is part of a new field of research, synthetic biology, with a radical aim: to break down nature into spare parts so that we can rebuild it however we please.