More science and music on Radio 4

Three Radio 4 Today Show stories caught my ear on the drive to work this morning, one about music and two about science:

  • Markings on a carving from Stirling Castle could be surviving pieces of 16th-century written Scottish instrumental music. While detailed music was still being passed down audibly at the time, written music was sort of a guideline around which musicians would improvise.
  • The British Institution of Mechanical Engineers has suggested three ways to reduce global warming and buy ourselves some time to get to a lower-carbon civilisation. Their three practical and short-term geo-engineering ideas are:
    1. Artificial trees that capture carbon dioxide from the air via a filter. This sounds like a great idea.
    2. Transparent containers on the outside of buildings containing algae which would remove carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis. This, to me, also sounds like a great idea.
    3. Reducing the amount of incoming solar radiation by reflecting sunlight back into space via buildings with reflective roofs. This, to me, sounds like it wouldn’t accomplish much. How much of the earth’s surface is actually covered by building roofs?
  • Researchers have found a potential way to avoid inherited mitochondrial disorders. Women with genetic faults in their mitochondria run the risk of having babies with disorders if an egg with those faulty mitochondria is the one that gets fertilised. Previous attempts to inject healthy mitochondria have failed.  But a group at Oregon Health and Science University have now removed the DNA from monkey eggs (leaving behind the potentially diseased genes in the mitochondria), and transplanted it into eggs emptied of DNA but containing healthy mitochondria. The result: three apparently healthy monkeys.