Is the badger cull helping control the spread of TB?

  • 7 September 2016
  • From the section England
Badger
Image caption Up to 3,800 badgers could be culled this year in the Midlands

At the end of August, the badger cull was expanded to two new areas in the Midlands.

When we covered this story at the time, I mentioned we were still waiting on more data about the impact of the cull and now that data been released.

So what does it say?

Well let's briefly look at how we got here.

The argument for culling badgers is that in the long term it will control the spread of tuberculosis in cattle and indeed in the badger population as well.

Read full article Is the badger cull helping control the spread of TB?

Recycling innovation makes gadgets a little bit greener

Earth magnet
Image caption A rare earth magnet turns to powder as it is exposed to hydrogen

Scientists in Birmingham have found a new way to recycle the very important metals found in almost every type of modern technology.

A breakthrough that could have a huge implications for the tech industry.

Read full article Recycling innovation makes gadgets a little bit greener

A breakthrough blood test for serious brain injuries

Scientist at laptop
Image caption The aim is to reduce the size of the prototype detector by half so it could be carried by an ambulance and used at the scene of an accident

Injuries to the brain are impossible to detect at the scene of an accident.

The end result is either a waste of resources, as patients are sent for expensive and unnecessary scans.

Read full article A breakthrough blood test for serious brain injuries

Aspen tree beaver attacks replicated in seed growing bid

Media captionA Shropshire tree company hopes an experiment will produce more aspen seeds

For Springwatch I'm looking at the work of Shropshire company Forestart, who gather the seeds of native trees from all over the country to sell on to nurseries for them to grow into new plants.

You might assume trees tend to produce their seeds in the autumn, season of mellow fruitfulness and all that.

Read full article Aspen tree beaver attacks replicated in seed growing bid

Polecats numbers grow but many don't recognise them

  • 2 June 2016
  • From the section England
Polecat Image copyright Vincent Wildlife Trust
Image caption Up close you can see the white fur around the muzzle which is a useful way to spot a polecat

The polecat isn't just surviving it's doing really well with numbers increasing according to surveys by the Herefordshire based Vincent Wildlife Trust. But would you recognise one if you saw one? Here's a simple spotters' guide.

The trust is that most of us are going to catch a glimpse of a polecat either dead beside the road or perhaps as a flash of something furry as it dashes out of the way of your car.

Furry sausage

Read full article Polecats numbers grow but many don't recognise them

Building a bat language database for a new bat detector

Media captionUniversity researchers hope a sound library can help to protect bats

Bats are some of my favourite mammals, but they are so hard to film.

They tend to fly fast and in unpredictable patterns; and of course, they are active at night. This behaviour doesn't just cause problems for us TV reporters, it also makes life difficult for scientists studying bat numbers.

Read full article Building a bat language database for a new bat detector

Can you solve an insect mystery that scientists can't?

  • 31 May 2016
  • From the section England
Media captionUniversity researchers have spent 15 years trying to answer aphid queries

One of the great things about my job is you discover just how little we actually know about the natural world. And because as humans we tend to focus on the furry and (to a lesser extent) feathered bits of that world, most of the really big gaps in our knowledge are to do with insects.

Take the giant willow aphid or Tuberolachnus salignus. As you can see, it's a pretty large aphid with a shark-style fin on its back.

Read full article Can you solve an insect mystery that scientists can't?

Ripples spread from discovery of gravitational waves

An aerial view of the LIGO experiment in Louisiana. You can see both of the laser beam pipes heading off from the main building.
Image caption This aerial view of the LIGO experiment in Louisiana shows both of the laser beam pipes heading off from the main building

Three months ago scientists announced they had discovered evidence for the existence of gravitational waves. Ripples in the very fabric of our reality that nicely proved something Einstein suggested a century ago and also gave us an entirely new way to study the universe.

These big physics discoveries always involve huge teams of researchers from right across the planet, but the University of Birmingham has a key role, both in building the detector itself and in analysing the data it produces.

Read full article Ripples spread from discovery of gravitational waves

Birmingham researchers build a new test for prostate cancer

  • 15 April 2016
  • From the section England
Prostate-specific antigen or PSA Image copyright Birmingham University
Image caption Higher levels of PSA in your blood are a sign of cancer. Traditional tests detect the green protein, but the new one detects a sugar, shown as dark red

If you have any doubts or worries about your prostate, then it's important to go to your doctor and get tested.

The good news is that there's a simple blood test that can be carried out before anything more invasive is done. The bad news is the test is, as one cancer survivor told me, a bit "rubbish".

Read full article Birmingham researchers build a new test for prostate cancer

Fitting slugs with tracking devices for the first time

  • 24 February 2016
  • From the section England
Slugs and tracking device
Image caption Two slugs keep a close eye on a tracking device

At Harper Adams University they are fitting tracking devices to slugs.

The aim is to learn more about the behaviour of a species that experts say could cause millions of pounds of damage to crops if left untreated.

Read full article Fitting slugs with tracking devices for the first time