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tv   Review 2018  BBC News  December 30, 2018 10:30am-11:01am GMT

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gitit: ‘ur ”nut ‘u15 ”f5 ”nut ‘u5 t5 i555 the colder air is sitting for the start of the year. a mild day tomorrow but tomorrow but getting much colder as we start 2019. it feels really strange to say but yes, a big change on the way. and you hello, this is bbc news. the headlines. the home secretary, sajid javid, cuts short his holiday and returns to the uk to deal with the rising number of migrants crossing the channel in small boats. the trade secretary liam fox says the chances of britain leaving the eu will only be 50—50 if mps reject the prime minister's brexit deal. stars from the entertainment world remember comedy actress dame june whitfield —
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best known for her roles in terry and june and absolutely fabulous. she died at the age of 93. scientists and politicians call on the government to do more about the health risk from nitrites in processed meats — saying that when cooked, the chemicals can cause cancer. now on bbc news, it's been a year in which climate scientists warned it's now or never to save the planet and a paralysed man took his first steps. pallab ghosh presents review 2018 — the year in science. two, one, zero. liftoff. this is a year that nasa sent a probe to touch the sun, and a japanese spacecraft landed on an asteroid. on earth, climate scientists
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warned it was now or never to save the planet. in 2018, a crisis of plastic waste. in indonesia, the army was called in to deal with the problem. machines became better than doctors at diagnosing diseases. and a paralysed man took his first steps. what a year in science it's been. it was yet another incredible year for space exploration. astronomers here at the royal observatory in greenwich have been gazing at stars for centuries. but, in april, nasa launched a probe to listen to what they sound like.
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these are the vibrations of a nearby star — similarto oursun — converted into sound. and this is another, much bigger and older star. and this is another much bigger and older star. each one we see has its own unique sound. this will be the first mission to scan nearly the entire sky, sector by sector. the sound a star makes will tell scientists how big and how hot it is. many of them will have planets in orbit around them. some will be too close. those that are the right distance away will be the ones most capable of supporting life, in what scientists call the goldilocks zone, where the temperature is just right. and there was one star that nasa was particularly interested in. two, one, zero. liftoff! into the night and on a mission
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to touch the sun. a daring mission to shed light on the mysteries of our closest star, the sun. nasa's parker solar probe is now in orbit and has come closer than any other spacecraft. it will touch the sun, dipping into its scorching atmosphere. it will be heated to 1300 celsius — enough to turn the probe into liquid, were it not for its heat shield. the probe will spend the next few years studying the sun's atmosphere, which can be seen from earth during a total eclipse. shimmering and beautiful from so far away, violent and raging close up. touchdown confirmed! now, a landing on mars. as well as the cheers, there was an extra celebration. i am over the moon. it's, like, incredible! this is my first mission. imean, ifeel like...
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i still feel nervous. like, i don't know. the adrenaline is still going through me. but we're on mars. marco worked. insight worked. it was a soft landing. everything was perfect, which is so rare. and now, ijust want more data. i want to see what's happening on mars! just a few moments earlier, nasa's insight lander plunged through the thin martian atmosphere and landed safely. its job is to investigate mars‘s interior and attempt to detect tremors — or marsquakes. liftoff at 7:51am, eastern. 50 years ago, america sent astronauts to the moon on its mighty saturn v rocket. since those heady days, there hasn't been a us rocket capable of leaving the earth's orbit. the earth's orbit. five, four, three, two, one! until now.
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those glory days may soon be back, with the successful testing of elon musk‘s falcon heavy rocket, blasting all 27 of its engines, soaring high above the atlantic ocean. and then, in a carefully choreographed dance, its boosters return back to earth. this year saw the publication of the most worrying report we've ever had on the impact of climate change. scientists warned that it was now or never to save the planet, and they called for drastic action to keep global temperature rises to within 1.5 celsius. any more, and we risk irreversible environmental damage to our world. the ipcc has warned of two possible futures for our planet. in the 2 degree world, there's severe drought. in the northern hemisphere, there's more flooding. people are poorer and have less food. and all the coral
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in our seas has gone. as things stand, that's the world we're headed towards. if action is not taken, it will take the planet into an unprecedented climate future, if we compare it to what has happened during all of human evolutionary history. to avoid damaging global warming, the scientists call for much more renewable energy, the development of planes that use less fuel and new ways to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. all that is happening, but according to sir david attenborough at a recent un meeting, not at the speed it needs to. if we don't take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon. scientists have not been able to link specific weather events — such as this summer's heatwave — to climate change. this year, that began to change.
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it's becoming much clearer that we can, with quite a lot of confidence, say that something like an extreme weather event is linked to climate change or, at least, it would be very unlikely to happen without climate change. the heatwave this year brought back memories of the long, hot summer of 1976. there were droughts, thousands had their water cut off, and people had to collect it in buckets from stand pipes. this was the temperature map at the time, the heatwave in red localised to the uk. now look at it this year. it's all across the northern hemisphere. this is how averagejune afternoon temperatures have been rising in britain since 1900. and that trend is likely to continue. so we'll have to make fundamental changes to our own lives. for example, scientists say we can't continue eating as much beef and lamb as we do currently. and the burning of fuel by passenger
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jets contributes a great deal to global warming. but electric planes such as this one can't carry enough passengers far enough. schemes to capture carbon emissions from factories and bury them are still in their infancy. and at a time when we're losing the world's forests, scientists say we urgently need to find new and better ways of sucking out the excess carbon dioxide that's already in the atmosphere. but scientists are going full steam ahead in other areas. currently, trains give off emissions that are not good for our health or the environment. but this train in germany runs on hydrogen. and as my colleague roger harrabin shows, it's an ultraclean fuel. this is the emission from the exhaust. you can't smell it.
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i'm told you can't taste it. that's because it's water. pure water. battery—powered trains have been trialled in britain, but they don't go very far on a single charge — around 30 miles. but one 15—minute fill—up with hydrogen drives this train for 600 miles. hydrogen trains made in germany are likely to be used in the uk by the early 2020s. single—use plastics came to the forefront as a new environmental menace. the problem is, when we throw away our bottles and bags, they last for hundreds of years. it's thought that last year, 8 million tonnes found its way into the sea, killing tens of thousands of birds, fish and other marine life. a crisis of plastic waste in indonesia. it's become so acute that the army has been called in to help. my colleague david shukman was there.
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this river has a reputation for being the most polluted anywhere in the world. and you can see why. there's plastic everywhere. and add to that a very high level of industrial chemicals as well. so clearing up is a huge challenge, but the president of indonesia wants this water to be drinkable in seven years‘ time. rivers and canals are clogged with dense masses of bottles, bags and other plastic packaging. officials say they're engaged in a constant battle against waste. it accumulates just as quickly as they clear it. the commander of a military unit in the city of bandung described it as our biggest enemy. but there was some good news on plastic. this is a 600m—long tube that's been made for a project in san francisco called 0cean cleanup. it floats across the sea and scoops up millions of pieces of plastic that would otherwise have harmed sea life.
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and there was another type of pollution that's also affecting undersea creatures. a new study suggests that the long—term viability of more than half the different killer whales around the globe is now in question because of the dumping of chemicals called pcbs. some populations, such as those around the uk, the strait of gibraltar, off brazil, japan and california, are almost certainly doomed. there were some remarkable developments in medicine. we saw ai systems that can diagnose scans for heart disease and lung cancer much better than the best doctors. scientists in london have grown a bioengineered oesophagus. now look closely, and you can see it contracting like a real muscle. the research could eventually be used to treat children born with damaged digestive systems.
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a british company has unveiled a new robotic surgery system that is expected to operate on patients for the first time next year. but this man's story was the most dramatic development of the year. david mzee‘s doctor said he'd never walk again. now he's able to travel more than half a mile. it's because of an implant that amplifies electrical signals from his brain to his legs. this is david training with his implant a year ago. "stim on" means it's turned on. when it's turned off, he can't move. back on, and he continues to walk. to me, it means a lot. i think you've got to try to do the impossible, to make the possible possible. i'm surprised over and over again when we really get there. it's a lot of fun, and it feels very good. david had his implant surgically inserted by one of switzerland's leading neurosurgeons.
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he was paralysed for seven years, a chronic case. i've been working in neuroscience now for a long time, and i know that when you have a spinal cord injury, after a while, if there is no progress, it will remain like this. so what i noticed for the first time is a change, even in a chronic state. and that's, for me, something completely new. 2018 was also a great year for discoveries in the pure sciences. and one of the most intriguing stories was the abolition of the kilogram — at least as we know it. this is a copy of a platinum iridium alloy stored in paris. it's the standard by which all other kilograms in the world are measured. but there's a problem. over the years, its weight has changed. the vote was unanimous. yes. there were cheers to greet the demise of the block of metal that has been the kilogram. currently, it's described by the weight of a platinum—based ingot
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locked away in a safe in paris. from may, it'll be defined by a system that involves measuring an electric current. it'll be more accurate and never need changing again. but some will miss that little piece of precious metal that's defined our system of measurement for 130 years. i'm a little bit sad that the kilogram is being redefined, but it's important, and it's going to work a lot better after. but changing it to the new system, it's a really, really exciting time. it was another great year for the science nobel prizes. for medicine, the award was for a new way to fight cancer. the chemistry prize was for the development of better drugs that mimic the body's own immune system to combat diseases. one of the winners was britain's professor gregory winter. the physics award was for advancements in laser physics which has benefited eye surgery. the winners were donna strickland from canada and arthur ashkin from the us.
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dr strickland is only the third woman to win the nobel prize for physics. well, that is surprising, isn't it? i think that's the story that people want to talk about that, why should it take 60 years? there's so many women out there doing fantastic research, so why does it take so long to get recognised? at cern, the difficulties women face in reaching senior positions was highlighted just a day before she received the award. professor alessandro strumia was suspended from the research centre after bbc news reported that he told young women there that they weren't as good at the subject as men. drjessica wade was among those at the meeting who were angry and upset by his comments. i think it's damaging because it tells a whole generation of young scientists who are working in string theory, high energy physics and physics more broadly, that senior people in authority think that women are inferior and shouldn't be trying out for these positions and shouldn't be
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doing it, and have been there due to tokenism. in march, we said farewell to the world's best—known and most—loved scientist. we shall give thanks for stephen hawking's remarkable gifts. we have entrusted our brother, stephen, to god's mercy. professor hawking was laid to rest in westminster abbey alongside another giant of science, sir isaac newton. a message from stephen hawking — with a specially written composition by vangelis — was beamed, fittingly, across the universe — towards the nearest black hole. i am very aware of the preciousness of time. seize the moment. act now. i have spent my life travelling across the universe inside my mind. we are all time travellers, journeying together into the future.
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but let's work together to make that future a place we want to visit. be brave, be determined, overcome the odds. it can be done. in 2018, there was a big shift in ideas about the emergence of our species. this human jawbone has rewritten the story of how we spread across the globe. it was found alongside stone tools in northern israel and was part of a community. scientists were shocked when they discovered it was more than 100,000 years older than when they thought humans left africa in large numbers. theories about how modern humans first evolved and spread may now have to be changed.
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the previous view was that our species began to leave africa 100,000 years ago. but the new discovery in israel suggests it was actually much earlier, possibly 250,000 years ago. that means our species may have lived alongside other kinds of more primitive humans, who lived outside of africa at the time. and that contact may have helped to shape our culture and the way we look. and there was a new way of conserving trees. species of plants are preserved in seed banks like this one. but it hasn't been possible to do that with trees until now. here, they've found a way to isolate, then freeze, an embryonic part of it. my colleague helen briggs discovered that when it's thawed out, it can grow into a new tree. this baby oak tree has come out of the deep freeze and is starting to grow. trees in a test tube could be the answer to protecting our forests in the long—term.
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there was good news for many animals this year, including penguins. such as the ones here at london zoo. 0ne species, the adelie, was thought to be in decline, until scientists discovered one and a half million of them crammed on a rock at the northernmost point of the antarctic peninsula. researchers first noticed the penguins when large patches of their poo showed up in satellite images. the animals are crammed onto a rocky archipelago called the danger islands. as the name implies, the islands are notoriously difficult to reach. even in antarctica's summer, the ocean surrounding the archipelago is filled with a kind of thick sea ice that ships try to avoid. and another animal took my colleague victoria gill by surprise when she was on the isle of mull. this is a special protected site for golden eagles, and there are four nesting pairs, which is why david's brought us here.
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we have the scope, the binoculars. we have the long lens. so, we'll just keep our fingers crossed, because it is a big country. there's a golden eagle up here now! oh, my word! going along the ridge. oh, wow! the majestic king of birds is under threat in some areas, but there's hope that this species can be protected now that their genetic code has been unlocked. by knowing their dna, conservationists can learn more about their health, ecology and how to select the best birds to move around. and here's another animal that scientists gave a helping hand to. five southern koalas have been flown halfway around the world as part of plans to create a back—up population of the species away from their native australia. although not an endangered species, they're considered to be vulnerable. scientists in the uk will be looking for ways to help them thrive, away from the threats of disease such as chlamydia. they're now settling in to their new home at
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longleat safari park in wiltshire. here, at another wildlife reserve in merseyside, researchers are testing a new conservation system that films the animals from the air. although they could see the animals from their heat signatures, they couldn't always tell what they were. the drone could spot far more animals from the air, but the problem was that the researchers couldn't tell what they were, especially if they are far away. what they needed was a system that could identify them from the heat they gave off. astronomers use software that automatically searches for galaxies that are millions of billions of miles away, and identify their age and size from their colour. by adapting the technology to sift through the data gathered from the drone, it can be used to identify different kinds of animals. compare this elephant‘s hotspots with that of a rhino's. conservationists will, for the first time, have an accurate way of counting animals under the tree tops.
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this will help them assess how various conservation efforts are working. so, a great year for science in 2018. but also dire warnings about the future of our planet. there were, however, encouraging signs that science can help us beat such overwhelming odds. next year looks as if it'll be just as exciting for science. it'll see the climax of a bold japanese mission to an asteroid. it's less than a kilometre across and relatively close to earth. the spacecraft has been circling it since the summer and has recently dropped a lander and two box—shaped rovers onto it.
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in january, it will touch the surface, fire a pellet to dislodge rocks and then hoover them up. and later in the year, it'll fire a missile at it, which will make a large crater and reveal what lies underneath. ..two, one! launch! the research vessel named after sir david attenborough will begin work in the arctic next spring. its hull has been specially designed to break through the thick sea ice, enabling it to explore parts of the polar environment that are hard to reach. the spacecraft that discovered pluto has a heart—shaped mark on its surface will make a return visit later in january. we'll see the first ever picture of a giant black hole at the centre of a galaxy far, far away. spacex and boeing will both send spacecrafts to dock
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with the international space station and test to see if they can be used to send astronauts to the orbiting laboratory. and the highlight could be the celebration of arguably humanity's greatest achievement. that's one small step for man. 0ne giant leap for mankind. that looks beautiful from here, neil. it'll be 50 years since neil armstrong and buzz aldrin set foot on the moon. because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. and as you talk to us from the sea of tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to earth. what a year in science it's going to be. hello.
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after a rather grey and misty start, in fact for some, a foggy start, the westerly wind means it is laden with moisture coming in off the atlantic. in western areas, quite dismal in places. not a great day for heading out to the hills and mountains for a walk but further east, it might allow sunshine through. a mild day at least. and it will remain mostly mild overnight because the cloud acts like a blanket, stopping temperatures falling. it is more likely under the
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sky where it is clear, we will get mist and fog and low cloud returning for the monday morning rush which is an issue tomorrow morning but again high pressure is with us. the westerly wind bringing more moisture. the weather front approaching scotland and bringing gale force winds and fairly heavy rain which could dampen spirits for the new year celebrations but very limited. for most, another try, reasonably bright day with more breeze tending to turn the cloud over. mostly mild and drying, rather cloudy for the stroke of midnight exceptin cloudy for the stroke of midnight except in the far north of scotland. by except in the far north of scotland. by the time the front of south very little rain on it but it is significant, changing the wind to the much colder arctic breeze which worked have so much moisture in it.
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the sunshine will return but so too will the cold, clear night. new year's day, colder weather already in across northern and eastern parts but we hang on to mild weather further south. by wednesday, but we hang on to mild weather furthersouth. by wednesday, it but we hang on to mild weather further south. by wednesday, it will be felt across the uk. despite the night—time frost the payoff is daytime sunshine. this is bbc news. i'm ben brown. the headlines at 11am: the home secretary, sajid javid, cuts short his holiday and returns to the uk to deal with the rising number of migrants crossing the channel in small boats. the trade secretary, liam fox, says the chances of britain leaving the eu will only be 50—50, if mps reject the prime minister's brexit deal. also this hour, the health secretary, matt hancock, sets out plans to provide better support for mothers and babies in england. the proposals would include more specialist neonatal staff, and targets to halve the number of stillbirths, and maternal and infant deaths, by 2025. stars from the entertainment world remember comedy actress,
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dame june whitfield, best—known for her roles in terry and june and absolutely fabulous, who's died at the age of 93. and coming up: foreign correspondents panel give their views on the next 12 months around the globe, that's
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