UK nuclear fusion lab faces uncertain future

Jet, Culham Image copyright CCFE
Image caption JET holds the record for the longest sustained nuclear fusion reaction

A question mark hangs over a world-leading laboratory that has pioneered research into fusion for nearly 40 years.

The Culham Centre for Fusion Energy near Oxford is largely funded by the EU and dozens of its scientists come from outside the UK.

Since the vote for Brexit, many at the centre have become "extremely nervous" amid uncertainty about future financing and freedom of movement.

Five researchers have already returned to continental Europe with others said to be considering their positions.

Fusion is the process that powers the Sun and a decades-long quest has attempted to replicate it here on Earth to provide a clean source of energy.

Read full article UK nuclear fusion lab faces uncertain future

Will Paris deal tackle climate change?

Open-cast mining Garzweiler in front of a smoking power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany. Image copyright AP

Only seven years ago, the very idea that an international climate agreement would come into force today looked hopeless.

In 2009, world leaders met in Copenhagen but got nowhere.

Read full article Will Paris deal tackle climate change?

Flights probe jet stream role in floods

FAAM
Image caption One of the instruments clusters hangs beneath a wing on the FAAM plane

A major international effort is under way to research one of the greatest unknowns in weather forecasting - the influence of the jet stream.

For the first time, a fleet of drones and planes is being deployed from the United States, Iceland and Britain to investigate the flow of air crossing the Atlantic.

Read full article Flights probe jet stream role in floods

Cheetah is now 'running for its very survival'

Media captionEndangered species like the cheetah are being used as pets, as David Shukman reports

Pitiful scenes of cheetah cubs lying emaciated and bewildered highlight one of the cruellest but least-publicised examples of illegal wildlife trafficking.

Baby cheetahs are so prized as exotic pets that entire litters are seized from their mothers when they may only be four to six weeks old.

Read full article Cheetah is now 'running for its very survival'

Pollution particles 'get into brain'

Brain Image copyright ZEPHYR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Tiny particles of pollution have been discovered inside samples of brain tissue, according to new research.

Suspected of toxicity, the particles of iron oxide could conceivably contribute to diseases like Alzheimer's - though evidence for this is lacking.

Read full article Pollution particles 'get into brain'

Global warming and the race for the White House

A power station on Ohio River

Two starkly different visions of global warming are offered by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in their race for the White House.

The Democratic Party contender says she believes in the science of climate change and plans to see America become a "clean energy superpower" - installing half-a-billion solar panels by the end of her first term.

Read full article Global warming and the race for the White House

Watching Tim Peake return to Earth

Tim Peake Image copyright Stephane Corvaja
Image caption A cheerful Tim Peake was transferred by battered helicopter, after landing in a remote area

Witnessing Tim Peake's descent through the clouds towards the arid emptiness of the Kazakh steppe must rank as one of the highlights of any reporter's career.

At first, we had no idea if we were in the right place but then the parachute appeared as a miniature white blob in the sky as our helicopter circled the landing zone - one of a fleet involved in recovering the spacecraft.

Read full article Watching Tim Peake return to Earth

Tim Peake: What has Britain's astronaut achieved?

Tim Peake Image copyright PA

Tim Peake grabbed the headlines for blazing a trail as Britain's first government-funded astronaut but it's fair to ask what his six months in space have actually achieved.

Addressing the Brit Awards in a fake tuxedo, running a virtual London Marathon, playing with spheres of water live on television - all these are eye-catching moments but what did his mission add up to?

Read full article Tim Peake: What has Britain's astronaut achieved?

EU referendum: Farmers split on the future

Media captionThe BBC's David Shukman examines how farmers feel about the EU referendum

Behind the quiet tapestry of farmland stretching across the UK is a turbulent debate over Britain's membership of the European Union.

At first sight, with billions in subsidies, you might think that every farmer would automatically want to keep the cash flowing and therefore choose to stay in.

Read full article EU referendum: Farmers split on the future

Hinkley Point: Design difficulties loom

Hinkley Point - artist's impression Image copyright EDF Energy
Image caption An artist's impression for EDF of how the new power station would look

Six years ago a French government inquiry issued a warning that makes for chilling and highly relevant reading even today.

The report said that the complexity of the kind of nuclear reactor destined for Hinkley Point was itself a "handicap" to its construction and its cost.

Read full article Hinkley Point: Design difficulties loom