On a good day, you just can't beat living here on earth. And what looms larger in our lives than the sun? It's the basis of our calendar, the centre of our solar system and makes it what it is - a place where the third planet can support life complicated enough to ask how it is that the third planet can support life! In this first episode we start right at the beginning - the beginning of the universe, and we'll understand how our sun came to be, how it works, how it's put together and how it warms, sustains - and threatens - the planet earth.
We take a deep breath and freefall through the different layers of our atmosphere, to find out what they're made of, how they were formed, and how they work together to keep us comfortable, cozy and alive - at least for now...
What could be more essential to us than water? It quenches our thirst, supports our agriculture, transports our products and as ice, it cools our gin and tonics. And as much as humans are stardust, we are also very much water babies, with up to a third of our bodies made up of water alone. Water is a mighty agent for physical change. Water can dissolve mountains, carve out canyons and wash away cities. And the absence of water means death for all creatures. In this episode, we'll follow a water molecule (called Tinkle) as it travels through the freshwater cycle. We'll discuss droughts and floods, life on other planets, and we'll journey across frozen lakes and up huge glaciers. But most of all, we'll find out why water is simple, crucial - and beautiful.
This week, we get a little deep. Around 40% of the world's population lives within 100km of the sea. Humankind's history is profoundly connected to the world's oceans. We fished, traveled, sailed and explored them, pretty much as soon as we could. And we've never really stopped. Our planet's oceans are perhaps the greatest potential natural resource we have, and yet we literally know more about the far side of the moon or the surface of Mars than we do our own ocean floor. In this episode we're going to go down, deep, deep down, all the way through the most alien place on Earth, full of strange creatures, extreme conditions and remarkable facts - the ocean!.
Lake Taupo lies in the heart of the Taupo Volcanic zone, a large and highly active area extending from Mount Ruapehu, south of the lake to beyond White Island, off the eastern coast of New Zealand. Lake Taupo itself is giant flooded volcanic bowl called a caldera, more than 150 kilometres around. Every year hundreds of thousands of visitors flock here to enjoy the clean water, and the terrific fishing. But what some of them don't realise is that the lake actually sits in a huge supervolcano with the potential to change the shape of half the country, and the weather all around the world! In this episode, we'll tread carefully across one of the most dangerous places on earth, to talk about the forces that made and continue to shape the planet, how they threaten us, and how they CAN also provide us with extraordinary riches.
As the old joke goes, if it moves, its biology, if it smells, its chemistry, and if it doesn''t work, its physics. But it's fair to say that science has changed greatly in recent times, and the traditional disciplines seem to be giving way to a more interdisciplinary, problem-based approach to specific questions. For example, is climate science physics, chemistry, biology or geology? The answer is yes. And it's just as well that our approaches are changing, because the questions are sure getting more complex. Climate change, GMO's, space exploration, stem cell research...What does the future hold for life on this planet? Are we in a mess? Did science land us here? And if it did, is science the only way out?