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Preview: Dr Karl's Great Moments in Science

Great Moments In Science - with Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

From the ground breaking and life saving to the wacky and implausible, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki reveals some of the best moments in science.

Copyright: Copyright 2016, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Loud sounds can kill hard drives

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:00:00 +1100

In our complex world, the cure can sometimes be as bad as the original problem. For example, you would think that if you had a fire in a data centre, it would make sense to deprive the fire of oxygen by flooding the room with an inert gas. But what if the noise of the escaping gas is loud enough to kill the spinning hard drives—potentially causing more damage than the fire?Loud noises can stop hard drives operating and even cause permanent failure. (Getty Images)

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The Ig Nobel Prizes

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Most of us have heard of the Nobel Prizes, awarded for work that is unexpected, important—and deep. But not everybody has heard of the comedy version, the Ig Nobel Prizes. In 2016, they were given for research involving rats in tiny trousers, pseudoscientific gibberish, rocks with personalities—and seven other topics.The 2016 Ig Nobel for chemistry was awarded to Volkswagen for solving the problem of car pollution emissions. (Getty Images)

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Wi-fi is watching us

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Many of us access the internet, and the world wide web, via wi-fi. Wi-fi lets us into a fabulous world of shared knowledge and social interaction. On the flip side, it seems that wi-fi can look at us, and perhaps even spy on us. It can even recognize moving humans on the other side of a wall. And this happens by examining not the content of the wi-fi signal, but its strength and timing.City dwellers bath in wifi (Linghe Zhao/ Getty Images)

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Why do mozzies love some people but not others?

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:00:00 +1000

Why are some people mosquito magnets, while others seem to be blissfully bite-free?A mosquito gorged with human blood (Michael Pavlic/EyeEm/Getty)

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Latin's most misused word: vomitorium

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:00:00 +1000

Even without having ever learnt the language, there is probably one Latin word we all know—'vomitorium'. Dredging through our memory banks, we all 'know' that the vomitorium was the special room where, back in rather debauched Roman times, gluttonous eaters would go to vomit.You might find a vomitorium at a Roman theatre, but you wouldn't want to spew in it (Getty Images)

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Time travel is already possible

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 09:30:00 +1000

There are two types of time travel—into the future, and into the past. Past time travel might be impossible—but on the other hand, we already travel into the future all the time, as Dr Karl explains.The Hafele–Keating experiment showed that time slowed down with increased speed (Getty Images)

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How a chemical in sunscreen attacks coral

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 10:00:00 +1000

From the cradle to the grave, Australians are taught to use sunscreen to avoid sunburn and skin cancers. But the universe is complicated, with unexpected links—and so, everything has a cost. In this case, the cost appears to be that one popular sunscreen chemical seems to attack coral.A diver swims over damaged coral. (Getty Images)

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Electric motors in bacteria (part 2)

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 10:00:00 +1000

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is fascinated by how bacteria rotate their flagellum counter-clockwise, much like a manmade electric motor. But unlike the motors that humans make, this dynamic microscopic molecular machine is constantly being rebuilt and reconfigured on the run.Escherichia coli cells use long, thin structures called flagella to propel themselves. (Media for Medical/UIG via Getty Images)

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The microscopic high-tech wizardry of bacteria

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 10:00:00 +1000

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki explains the microscopic but super-high-tech gee-wizardry of some bacteria that use propellers powered by self tiny assembling electric motors to swim in their environment.Salmonella bacteria are gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria that have flagella (hair-like structures) that they use for locomotion. (Getty Images)

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How dangerous is it to refuel with the engine running?

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 09:00:00 +1000

We're instructed to stop our cars before refuelling, but how dangerous is it really? Dr Karl Kruszelnicki dispels some myths while staying on the safe side.Is it better to be safe than sorry when it comes to refuelling your car? (Getty Images/Scott Barbour)

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Movie releases of a chemical kind

Tue, 09 Aug 2016 03:00:00 +1000

There are two pretty tense moments in Hunger Games: Mockinjay, and scientists know this just from the chemicals given off by the audience who watched the film. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki explains how a shared scary cinema experience led to a fundamental discovery about human biology.Humans watching scary films share a flight or fight chemical reaction (Getty Images)

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Immortal jellyfish

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 03:30:00 +1000

Down through the ages, there have always been myths about immortality—that god-like ability to live forever. Marine biologists found a creature that comes closest to immortality—a tiny transparent jellyfish. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki explains.Turritopsis dohrnii is also known as the 'immortal jellyfish'. (Yiming Chen/ Getty Images)

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Double yolk eggs

Tue, 26 Jul 2016 11:00:00 +1000

If you buy a lottery ticket every time you get a double-yolk egg because you're having a lucky streak you'll be disappointed to learn it's not as uncommon as we'd made to believe, as Dr Karl Kruszelnicki explains.Don't buy a lottery ticket just yet. (Getty Images)

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Coffee can be good for us (part two)

Tue, 19 Jul 2016 12:00:00 +1000

There is a growing body of evidence that coffee can have good effects our health but it's not a magic potion. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki looks at the evidence.Despite some health benefits, Dr Karl isn't recommending adding caffine to the water supply just yet. (JGI Jamie Grill/ Getty Images)

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Coffee, it's good for you

Tue, 12 Jul 2016 12:00:00 +1000

There is a body of evidence that some of the side effects of coffee may actually be good for you, and they appear to have nothing to do with caffeine. But Dr Karl Kruszelnicki's grind is the observational studies that make up the 'statistics' behind the health benefits.Coffee might be OK for us, but the old adage still holds: 'GIGO', or 'garbage in, garbage out'. (Getty Images)

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Bitcoin and security

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 12:00:00 +1000

The way we spend money is changing with electronic transactions and new 'strange' currency like Bitcoin, but security is important and mathematics central to that, as Dr Karl explains.Bitcoin grew out of disillusionment with 'conventional' finance. (Source: Science Picture Co/Getty Images)

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Bitcoin and mathematics

Tue, 28 Jun 2016 12:00:00 +1000

The strange new virtual currency called Bitcoin relies on something more trustworthy than people or institutions. It relies on mathematics—in fact, 'trusty' one-way mathematics.A Israeli man buys Bitcoins at the first dedicated ATM machine installed in the Middle East in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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Value of money is based on trust

Tue, 21 Jun 2016 12:00:00 +1000

The worth of all currencies from stone coins to Bitcoins is based on people trusting the transaction system. Just ask the people of Yap, writes Dr Karl.Stone money on Yap (Getty Images)

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Bitcoin: from the beginning

Tue, 14 Jun 2016 12:00:00 +1000

How did the Bitcoin virtual money system get started? Dr Karl takes a bite out of history.Bitcoin grew out of disillusionment with 'conventional' finance. (Source: Science Picture Co/Getty Images)

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Can water burn leaves?

Tue, 07 Jun 2016 12:00:00 +1000

There may be a whole range of reasons why it's not good to water plants in the middle of the day, but is burning the plant's leaves one of them? Dr Karl investigates the physics of plants and water.Sam Mugraby ( Commons)

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How clean and green is our digital world?

Tue, 31 May 2016 12:00:00 +1000

Today's technology looks so slick and clean as it brings magic to your screen. But behind the scenes, our data comes at a cost, says Dr Karl.Behind the cloud is a bank of computers (Erik Isakson/Getty images)

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Zombies, pi and shotguns

Tue, 24 May 2016 12:00:00 +1000

Need to calculate pi while fending off zombies? Dr Karl has found a way to solve both your problems.Zombies, pi and shotguns: have you worked out the connection? (Getty Images)

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Raw milk: separating facts from fads

Tue, 17 May 2016 12:00:00 +1000

Not all raw foods are good for you. Dr Karl explains why raw milk is one of the world's most risky food products.Raw milk is one of the best culture mediums for growing bacteria (Getty Images)

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How long would it take a vampire to drain you of blood?

Tue, 10 May 2016 12:00:00 +1000

If you're a sucker for a good vampire movie, be warned ... Dr Karl takes two big bites out of the legend.That sucks: Keep this up and there'll be no-one left - human or vampire! (Getty Images)

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The time-travelling brain

Tue, 03 May 2016 12:00:00 +1000

What would it be like to only live in the moment? Or to relive the past over and over again? Dr Karl explores the extreme range of memory.Memories define us ((Source: Getty Images))

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Why do people talk louder when they drink alcohol?

Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:00:00 +1000

Alcohol may get the conversation going at a party, but as the drinks flow you'll find it harder to tune in. Dr Karl explains how alcohol affects your hearing.Alcohol effects on hearing are different for men and for women. (JW Ltd/Getty Images)

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Why did the US lose the height advantage?

Tue, 19 Apr 2016 12:00:00 +1000

People in the US used to be among the tallest in the world, but now that honour goes to the Dutch. Dr Karl gets to the bottom of the slide in height.How tall? That depends upon 80 per cent genes and 20 per cent environment (Getty Images)

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How many places of pi do we need?

Tue, 12 Apr 2016 12:00:00 +1000

Pi is a very long and a very important number, but how many decimal places of it do we really need to know?How much pi do we need? (Getty Images)

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Can you make our heart stronger?

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:00:00 +1000

Dr Karl puts his finger on the pulse of research that suggests your heart can become stronger if it runs out of sync for a short while before its rhythm is restored.A short period of running out of sync may strengthen the heart (Alfred Pasieka/Science Photo Library/Getty images)

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How does the heart work?

Tue, 29 Mar 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Your life depends on the regular beat of your heart. Dr Karl explains how this mighty four-stage pump works.Your heart will pump around about 200,000 tonnes of blood around your body in your lifetime.  (Getty Images)

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Anti-gravity dream may take off

Tue, 22 Mar 2016 12:00:00 +1100

The genius of Albert Einstein led us to gravitational waves — maybe someday another genius will work out how to make them!Could someone alive today be the one to work out how to control gravity. (Source: Getty images)

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The physics of gravitational waves

Tue, 08 Mar 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Gravitational waves distort the fabric of space-time. How? Gravity is geometry, explains Dr Karl.(NASA)

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The awesome origins of gravitational waves

Tue, 01 Mar 2016 12:00:00 +1100

The recently discovered gravitational waves were created under mind-boggling circumstances. Dr Karl goes into the beautiful and awe-inspiring story of their creation.When two black holes collide, the resulting gravitational ripples can be felt across the cosmos (Henze/Nasa)

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Dragonfly telescope shines a light on dark matter

Tue, 23 Feb 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Sometimes a major discovery - like finding evidence to support the theory of dark matter - just requires a bit of creative thinking over a curry, as Dr Karl explains.Three previously undiscovered very faint dwarf galaxies were found orbiting the pinwheel galaxy M101 using the Dragonfly Telescope. (Source: X ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Detlef Hartmann; Infrared: NASA/JPL Caltech)

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Two big physics problems

Tue, 16 Feb 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Why are the Higgs field and dark energy so weak? Find the answer and you could earn yourself a Nobel Prize, says Dr Karl.This track is an example of simulated data modelled for the CMS detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN  (CERN)

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Traffic button pushes beautiful design

Tue, 09 Feb 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Next time you're at the lights, stop to appreciate the humble pedestrian button. The design is so beautiful that even Oscar Wilde would approve, says Dr Karl.(Genelle Weule/ABC)

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The dark side of credit card theft

Tue, 02 Feb 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Cybercriminals have set up highly developed businesses in the shady world of the 'dark net'. Dr Karl explains how they make money from stolen credit cards.(David Gould/Getty Images)

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Credit card theft: why is pays to be careful

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:00:00 +1100

Criminals don't need to steal your credit card to get your information. There are many other sneaky ways they can nab your details, says Dr Karl.Criminals can steal your information in many ways (Getty Images)

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Ants use brains and brawn to share the load

Tue, 15 Dec 2015 12:00:00 +1100

Ever wondered how tiny little ants coordinate a raid on the cat's bowl? Humans could learn a lot from the answer, says Dr Karl.Ant lifting a piece of cereal. (Asaf Gal and Ofer Feinerman)

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How are planets born?

Tue, 08 Dec 2015 12:00:00 +1100

Scientists recently witnessed the birth a planet the size of Jupiter. Dr Karl explains how planets are born from the apparent emptiness of space.Birth of a planet (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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Fly eyes inspire solar panels

Tue, 01 Dec 2015 12:00:00 +1100

The eye of a 45-million-year-old fly can increase the power output of a solar panel by 10 per cent. Dr Karl is inspired by how an ancient insect helped solve a modern problem.Fly eyes: insects may not take over the world but may help save it with clean energy (mikroman6/Getty Images)

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Emoji lords to release 67 new symbols

Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:00:00 +1100

If you love smiley faces you'll weep with joy about the news we're about to get more emojis! Dr Karl reveals who holds the ultimate emoji power.Does the news we're getting 67 new emoji make you laugh - or cry? (Wikimedia Commons)

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How do planes fly?

Tue, 17 Nov 2015 12:00:00 +1100

Seeing a plane get off the ground is an amazing sight! Dr Karl investigates the science of flying planes.One common, but slightly incorrect explanation for flight involves Bernoulli's Law. (Getty)

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How many cells in a person?

Tue, 10 Nov 2015 12:00:00 +1100

It's a surprisingly hard question to answer, but Dr Karl has tracked down a reasonable estimate of the number of cells in the human body.Scientists have worked out how many cells there are in a average adult male. (Getty images)

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The beautiful act of vomiting

Tue, 03 Nov 2015 12:00:00 +1100

Vomiting may be one of most disgusting experiences you can have, but the physical processes behind it are actually beautifully choreographed.Driving the porcelain bus (Getty Images)

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