Thursday, 26 February 8:00pm
Disease Spreading Bats
Most of us know how devastating viruses like Ebola can be – with its potential to spread from animals to humans with fatal consequences. For 15 years there’s been a sleeping viral killer in Queensland and it originates from fruit bats. It’s called Hendra and it’s claimed the lives of 3 people. At present, the likelihood of human infection from this virus appears to be slim, but if you caught it you’d have a 50% chance of survival. Dr Maryanne Demasi asks how much science knows about how Hendra spreads from fruit bats, to horses, to humans; and how prepared we are for an outbreak.
Ancient DNA – unlocking doors to our past
We’re about to gain a much deeper understanding of our past thanks to the new study of ancient DNA. Instead of digging up skeletons and artefacts, Dr Alan Cooper and his team unravel strands of ancient DNA to investigate the nature of long lost peoples, how they were related to other groups and how healthy they were when they were around. The techniques they’ve developed can also be used to help in ‘cold cases’ where standard forensic DNA techniques are simply not sensitive enough to provide meaningful results. From Tasmanian tigers, to the ‘hobbit’, to HMAS Sydney’s unknown sailor, Dr. Paul Willis unlocks the doors to our past when he visits the University of Adelaide in the hunt for ancient DNA.
Ocean Robots – The Argo Floats
When it comes to understanding the role that oceans play on global weather, the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research division in Hobart is leading the way. Through an international collaboration, a global array of robotic submersibles known as Argo floats are collecting sub-surface temperature and salinity observations all year-round. There are 3,000 of these floats deployed across the world’s oceans, collecting a real time profile of evolving ocean conditions. Surfing Scientist, Ruben Meerman, takes a look at the data streaming in that has allowed scientists to better understand the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.
Catalyst will be repeated on ABC2 – Friday, February 27 at 5:30pm