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David Shukman

David Shukman Science editor

Welcome to my perspective on science stories in the headlines and behind them

Healthy dose of hope for one-use syringes


The people of the farming community of Roka in Cambodia are living through exactly the nightmare scenario that the World Health Organisation wants to stamp out with a new policy on syringes.

In wooden huts and farmhouses dotted among paddy fields, families are struggling to cope with the bombshell of a sudden and frightening mass infection of HIV.

To the astonishment and shock of this rural backwater, babies, schoolchildren and even the 82-year-old abbot of the local Buddhist temple, who is celibate, have all tested HIV-positive.

And there is one common factor that links them, directly or indirectly: nearly all of them received injections from an unlicensed doctor suspected of re-using his syringes.

The virus would have been spread from one patient to another, resulting in an escalating tally of infections that now stands at 272, with further rises expected as more tests are carried out.

Read full article Healthy dose of hope for one-use syringes

Cannabis: Promise, risk and controversy

Medicinal cannabis sold in Los Angeles before a 2012 ban

Cannabis is bad for you, cannabis is good for you - confused?

That's not surprising. Complicated and controversial, cannabis is revealed by recent science to have a dual personality, with a dark side and a more positive one. Radio 4's PM programme is this week running a whole series on cannabis, and the debate surrounding it.

Read full article Cannabis: Promise, risk and controversy

Will the falling oil price undermine green energy?

solar panels in Minneapolis
Supporters of renewable energy say it is a more stable option than the volatile fossil fuel market

Common sense would surely tell you that if you slash the cost of one source of energy, then alternatives look less appealing.

You might think, therefore, that the crash in the price of oil must be dealing a potentially fatal blow to renewable power.

Read full article Will the falling oil price undermine green energy?

Should we try to halt extinction?

In an age when mankind can send robots to look for life on Mars, why can't science stop so many forms of life from being wiped out here on Earth?

The question comes amid the loss of species on such a relentless scale that conservationists call it the Sixth Mass Extinction - the fifth being the asteroid that killed the large dinosaurs. This one is driven by human activity.

Read full article Should we try to halt extinction?

What does Beagle2 say about how to handle failure?

Colin Pillinger
Images show the daring mission, masterminded by the late Colin Pillinger, came tantalisingly close to glory

The discovery of Beagle2 on the surface of Mars confirms the mission as one of most glorious near-misses in the history of British exploration.

Bold, imaginative, and brilliantly-engineered, the spacecraft came very close to upstaging Nasa but ultimately failed.

Read full article What does Beagle2 say about how to handle failure?

The largest vessel the world has ever seen

Climbing onto the largest vessel the world has ever seen brings you into a realm where everything is on a bewilderingly vast scale and ambition knows no bounds.

Prelude is a staggering 488m long and the best way to grasp what this means is by comparison with something more familiar.

Read full article The largest vessel the world has ever seen

World on course for warmest year

This year is in the running to be the hottest globally and for the UK since records began, early estimates show.

In the first 10 months of 2014, global average air temperature was about 0.57 Celsius above the long-term average.

Read full article World on course for warmest year

How could we intervene to change the climate?

  • 28 November 2014
  • From the section Africa
Namib desert
Could action by one country cause rains to stop in another?

Imagine the trouble that would ensue if China resorted to desperate measures to cool its climate but the result was that the Indian Monsoon suddenly failed.

Or that India tried to head off a rise in temperatures only to find that Pakistan suffered from massive flooding.

Read full article How could we intervene to change the climate?

Ebola outbreak: How Nigeria is beating the killer virus

  • 16 October 2014
  • From the section Africa

A nightmare scenario of Ebola raging unchecked among millions of slum-dwellers in Africa's largest city has given way to a rare example of a victory over the virus.

Amid the gloom surrounding the escalating crisis in West Africa, developments in Lagos show how the right techniques at the right speed can bring about a welcome result.

Read full article Ebola outbreak: How Nigeria is beating the killer virus

Five critical steps involved in putting a lander on a comet

How do you land on a comet? This isn't some fantasy from science fiction but the reality facing the people running Esa's Rosetta mission after the successful rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Tuesday 11 November has already been pencilled in as the day that the Philae lander will touch down on the mysterious icy body.

Read full article Five critical steps involved in putting a lander on a comet

More Correspondents

  • Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent Jonathan Amos Science correspondent

    UK and European space and the latest major science stories

  • Matt McGrath Matt McGrath Environment correspondent

    Updates on emerging environmental news

  • Fergus Walsh, Medical correspondent Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

    A focus on the medical and health issues of the day

  • Tom Feilden, Science correspondent, Today programme Tom Feilden Science correspondent, Today

    Analysis of the scientific issues making headlines

About David

Twenty years ago David visited the secret lab at Los Alamos that created the nuclear bomb and he's been fascinated by science and scientists ever since. His reports on research have taken him as far afield as the Antarctic ice-sheet, the Amazon rainforest and the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.

Since joining the BBC back in 1983, David has covered Northern Ireland, defence, Europe and world affairs. He is the author of three books.

His favourite memories include reporting from East Berlin during the fall of the Wall and exploring the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider on a bike.

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