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THEME MUSIC 'Tonight, on Catalyst -

Mark Horstman in Antarctica.' the mysteries of the atmosphere New light is shed on to the edge of space. from here stem cell ethics.' 'Maryanne looks into scientists playing God. Re-igniting old debates about what we can learn from groupies.' 'And Ruben finds out

Smart fish would go this way.

G'day. Welcome to Catalyst. To study climate change, on the lower atmosphere. researchers mostly focus that's where the weather occurs. After all, from the upper atmosphere as well. But there's much to be learnt there as we know it, Now, there may be no weather and beautiful clouds but there are mysterious only clear summer nights. that can only be seen Mark Horstman visits a small hut to find out more. on the edge of Antarctica QUIETLY MAJESTIC VIOLINS PLAY

'From their window, ghostly tendrils astronauts see these at the very edge of space. to find clouds. The last place you'd expect the high latitudes during summer, And from the ground, only in to see them too - you might be lucky enough the highest clouds on our planet,

on an atmospheric lake. like luminous ripples meaning, they glow in the dark. They're called noctilucent clouds - Because they're nearly 100km high,

it has slipped below the horizon.' they reflect the sun even after

are a special phenomena MAN: Noctilucent clouds during the summertime. in the polar atmosphere in the late 1800s. The clouds were only discovered

they were completely unknown.' Before that, clean air and big sky views 'If there's one place with enough clouds of ice crystals, to investigate mysterious it's here.' I'm at Davis Station in Antarctica.

is changing our understanding And this yellow hut behind me affect the atmosphere. of how greenhouse gases shipping container, 'From this high-tech of the Southern Lights, amid the shimmer beams into the night sky. a powerful laser It's called a LIDAR. Light Detection And Ranging. LIDAR stands for very similar to radar. It's a technique light pulses from a laser, Except, we're using

to probe the atmosphere. rather than radio waves, Sending out these pulses that are coming back. and listening for the echoes 'With mirrors and filters, through telescopes on the roof. the LIDAR directs the laser part of the atmosphere, They can pinpoint an unexplored its temperature.' and use light to take We make a direct measurement with a laser beam. of the density of the atmosphere

is directly proportional to density. The amount that's scattered back And we can use that information that gases behave in the atmosphere with a knowledge of the way about the temperature. to tell us something It's quite a remarkable measurement. What are you testing there, Andrew? of the beam to make sure I'm looking at the shape inside the laser. everything's aligned It's ready to go! up in the sky, there, Mark. Well, you can see the laser beam

to about 6km in the cloud. Oh, yeah. That's going up coming back from 100km away. But we can measure light the earth's surface. 'That may not be far along But after 100km straight up, and space begins. the atmosphere runs out of our planet's air mass, More than three quarters is in the lowest 10km - and most of it's weather,

the troposphere. It gets colder with altitude until it hits the second layer, where the opposite happens. the stratosphere, the warmer it gets The higher you go, absorbs UV radiation.' as the ozone layer here By about 50km, what we have near the surface. the temperatures are similar to But the pressures are extremely low.

the atmosphere is about The density of at sea level. one ten-thousandth of that 'After 50km, the next layer is the mesosphere. starts dropping again. And the temperature the top of the mesosphere By 85km, is the coldest place on Earth. upper atmosphere is so low The density of the radiates heat away into space, that carbon dioxide actually

rather than trapping it.' atmosphere that's cooling Paradoxically, it's the upper in response to greenhouse warming. and even aircraft, 'Too high for balloons, but too low for satellites, the least-known layer. the mesosphere is of noctilucent clouds.' This is the birthplace QUIETLY THRILLING MUSIC

That's right. This is what you've been seeking. for a period of about four hours. This one's actually appeared there during the summertime. It's incredibly cold up about -150 degrees. The temperatures are to freeze into tiny ice crystals. And that enables water vapour

are probably around about 89-90km. The highest ones we've ever seen because there's Not much beyond that, hardly any water vapour up there. increase as you go above about 90km. And the temperatures start to So it's really in the narrow band for these clouds to exist. that temperatures are low enough scientifically valuable, 'That makes noctilucent clouds natural thermometers.' as highly sensitive

at Davis for the last few years We've been studying these clouds a picture of whether to try and build up

atmosphere are changing. the conditions in the upper than they thought. 'And there's more change happening While the lower atmosphere one degree over recent decades, has warmed by less than by at least 10. the upper atmosphere has cooled clouds are growing brighter At the same time, noctilucent

and seem further from the poles.' My main aim is to contribute information answer the questions that's going to definitively in the atmosphere. about climate change and brightness of these clouds We expect the extent to be increasing with time.

There is some evidence now from satellite measurements and from the Northern Hemisphere that this is happening.

We're here in the Antarctic to see if we can see the same trends. 'From the edge of our thin spacesuit around the Earth, these clouds remind us that understanding climate change needs knowledge of the atmosphere from the top down, as well as the bottom up.'

Using human embryos for stem cell research has long been a deeply controversial issue. In Australia, it is legal to use left-over embryos for research purposes. But is this treating human life like a commodity? Well, Dr Maryanne Demasi investigates whether new developments in stem cells could end the debate for good. Do not reduce human life to laboratory rats.

It crosses a moral boundary. People have been guilty of over-peddling hope. I reject that criticism. This is medical research at its best. 'Destroying embryos for research has always sparked heated ethical debates. This story is no exception.

It will polarise opinions and challenge your view on when life begins. Here, we explore whether new discoveries in stem cell research will finally see the opponents and the supporters peacefully unite. 'In what's been dubbed the stem cell breakthrough of the decade, Japanese scientists have discovered a new type of stem cell

that could eliminate the need for using human embryos. They're called induced pluripotent stem cells, or IPS cells.' I was delighted when I heard about IPS cells being achieved. And that's a great step forward for us, cos it means we can obtain cells that can do all the things embryonic stem cells can do,

but without having to destroy embryos. 'For over 30 years, IVF clinics have been creating embryos to help infertile couples have children. This has resulted in thousands of surplus embryos sitting in storage across Australia.' What can happen with those embryos is that they can be donated to research,

they can be simply discarded. Or, in very rare cases, donate them to another couple. 'It's these surplus embryos that scientists have been using to extract embryonic stem cells. Five days after fertilisation, the stem cells have accumulated in a pocket called the inner cell mass.

An embryo can develop into a foetus,

but only if it's implanted into a woman's womb. Until then, it remains a microscopic mass of cells with no brain, no conscience, no bones and no organs.' Up until the point of implantation, then,

it's hard to see an embryo as a human life. 'But pro-lifers disagree.' If you take the view as the Church does, that an embryo is a human life, then, destroying an embryo is on a par with destroying you for research purposes or destroying me for research purposes. CHOIR SINGS ANGELICALLY IN LATIN

'So this is the sticking point. It's really a question of "When does life begin?" Is it at conception? Or is it when the foetus forms?

Well, no-one can agree. CHOIR SINGS ANGELICALLY IN LATIN When do Catholics believe that life begins? Life begins with the formation of the first cell. That is, normally, in fertilisation, when the sperm and the egg unite.

'Other faiths have a more pragmatic view. Many Muslim scholars believe that life begins when the soul enters the foetus, at around 40 days into pregnancy.' While destroying an embryo might be seen as something that's was not desirable, by itself, if it is in the interest of scientific research, and if it is at that very early stage, then, it's acceptable.

'The Jewish Community take a similar view. Many believe life begins after implantation, when the organs develop.' MAN: Although, you deliberately destroy life, the cells which are in the laboratory

are not going to develop into lives anyway. And I don't think that the same concern has to be directed to them

than is directed towards a foetus. They're different things. MAN: I think, it's a gradual development. When it becomes a foetus, when it becomes capable of living its own life, at that point, it deserves the full respect of a human being. (LOW-LEVEL CONVERSATION)

'Eminent scientist Professor Bob Williamson says fundamentalists have always argued that it's an embryo's potential for life that's important. But we, now, know that even skin cells have this potential for life.' So if every cell in your body has the potential to make an embryo then, obviously, potential itself

cannot be used as the main ethical argument. If that were true, every time we washed our hands, we'd be killing 20, 40, 60,000 potential individuals. You can't actually argue that way. There are some scientists around who try to use the science to make moral points. And Bob Williamson does that. Claiming a skin cell has the same capacity as an embryo is just deceitful.

'So it comes down to this.

Do you believe that a microscopic five-day old embryo has the moral equivalence of a fully formed human life? Carrie Beetham doesn't.' 'I believe that we're not meant to suffer like this, and people are meant to help wherever they can.'

Carrie suffers from a degenerative nerve disease called Friedreich's ataxia, or FA.' It's like a grieving process. But instead of moving away from the tragedy, it's moving towards it. So my grief only gets stronger as I watch my body dying. That day that the specialist told us that Carrie had FA,

that was the day... (THUMPS TABLE LIGHTLY).. (EMOTIONAL) ..everything changed. I think, if I had my time back... 'At 33, there's still no treatment or cure. But Carrie believes science can offer her only glimmer of hope.' Lottery... (FADES) There is definitely hope. And most of it is coming from

the science that's going on with stem cell research. CHURCH BELL DONGS 'Raised a Catholic, Carrie feels divided from the Church on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. She's a strong advocate.' People that have the best intentions - they try and do the best, but they often make it worse for you.

And I think, that's what the Catholic Church is doing. I mean, I understand their intentions may be great. But...um... They just... To deny helping us, it's just immoral. BISHOP FISHER: The only way of getting embryonic stem cells is to kill embryos. And so, at any stage, to kill that

in order to take parts that you want for some other... ..very good use, possibly, is not ethical. WILLIAMSON: People who are fundamentalists will never agree to using those embryos for research. And from what I understand - and some of them have said this -

see them thrown out, they would rather see them just dumped down the sink, than used for research in order to help people with genetic and other diseases.

What would the Church like to see happen to spare embryos? The Church's view is that the embryos be taken out of storage and allowed to succumb. Some would say, it's unethical NOT to use the embryos if they're just going to be thrown away. Whatever the long-term consequence, the fact that you might be able to produce SOME good by doing the wrong thing doesn't make the wrong thing right.

'But for the Beetham family, who may benefit from those spare embryos, well, that's a hard pill to swallow - even for these Catholics. It's up to the mother on what's going to happen to the embryo. You know, if she chooses to give it to science, I think... That's what I'm on about. 'So the question remains -

should embryonic stem cell research continue?' I think we should be defunding that.

And interestingly, now, a lot of the big funders in the US are moving away from funding the embryonic stem cell research and into the IPS labs.

'But scientists warn, we're still learning about IPS cells -

embryo research has revolutionised our understanding of stem cells, and defunding it would be premature.' 'If we discard the ability to look at embryonic stem cells,

we will deprive ourself of the ability to look at the one kind of cell that we know, for sure, can give us every kind of cell in the human body. If scientists are successful in developing new forms of treatment that really will help the Carrie Beethams,

people with cystic fibrosis, how could one possibly argue against using this for the benefit of patients? 'At least, for Carrie, continuing research with all types of stem cells gives her the greatest chance for a cure.' When I die, when I get to heaven or wherever,

I'll be asking, "Why didn't you send us a cure?" And maybe their reply will be, "Well, we did." Ever wonder why precious metals are precious? Well, the answer lies in the periodic table. Here's Bernie Hobbs to explain.

How impressed would you be if your special someone surprised you with a bit of bling made out of tin? Or iron? Or aluminium? When it comes to jewellery, we're a shallow people. We like shiny pretty things - gold, silver, platinum at a pinch. So, how come most other metals get dull or rusty while these guys stay shiny forever?

'It's all because of where they sit on the Periodic Table. The Periodic Table lists every element in the universe - metals, gases, the lot. Everything left of here is a metal. And most metals love nothing more than reacting with oxygen.' Wet iron reacts with oxygen to form rust. Magnesium burns in oxygen to give your birthdays an extra zing. a dull coat of aluminium oxide. And shiny aluminium forms reactions are about one thing - While they look different, all these

metals getting their electrons off. 'Metals have always got whizzing around them. a spare electron or two are about off-loading them. And all their chemical reactions Oxygen's always short of electrons, at ripping them off metals.' and it's really great and metals together So putting oxygen usually. is a match made in heaven, just won't react with oxygen. Gold, silver and platinum

so they've got spare electrons. 'They're metals, But they hold on to them so tightly can't rip them free.' that oxygen just Not even a dull oxide coat. So no rust. They'll shine on forever. It's that bit of chemistry that makes them precious, and expensive. So when you're going for romance, stick with the shiny precious stuff. Nothing says "I love you" like an oxygen-proof low-reactivity transition metal.

Is it best to follow the group or be an individual and act on your own? It's a question for all social animals, from sheep to horses, even humans. Well, Ruben Meerman finds out what fish can teach us about good decision-making.

world's species run with the pack? 'Why is it that so many of the can offer many advantages - Following the flock safety in numbers,

on food resources and shelter, the sharing of information

co-operation on catching prey. how large numbers of animals But have you ever considered make a collective snap-decision?' decision-making One reason that collective as researchers is so fascinating to us do have this ability is that the animals in the first place. to make the decisions at all they can't discuss these decisions, After all, they can't vote,

and yet they still manage to make incredibly efficient decisions. 'Dr Ashley Ward is finding out just how effective following the crowd can be. He's been testing the decision-making powers of these tiny little mosquito fish. To keep track of who's who, Ashley marks the fish with a non-toxic dye after giving them a light anaesthetic.

Each one now has an individual colour-marking. This Y-shaped maze has been designed to sort out the idiots from the experts. So, what we've got here, Ruben, is a really simple experiment

where we look at the way that fish in different group-sizes but important, decision. make a really simple,

plastic predator fish. In this channel is a nasty-looking

And this channel is clear.

So a smart fish would go this way. although, this single fish We predict that, of making the right decision, has a decent chance

as good as a group. he won't be quite Right. OK. Let's see how we go. at the end of the channel, 'When the fish reaches the fork to decide which way to go.' it literally takes a moment

Not that smart. Hah! (LAUGHS) You're gonna die, buddy.

'It's surprising how many of them get it wrong.' We find that individuals are pretty poor at making these decisions. In fact, about six out of ten make the correct decision. Some of the fish will consistently make random or poor choices. Whereas some of the individuals, which we term 'experts',

are consistently good at decision-making. 'But watch what happens when you let the masses decide. Once, there's eight or more fish together, over 80% get it right. Not only are the fish more accurate, they also make a quicker decision. So, why does the crowd seem smarter than its members?' What we think is that a certain in a group proportion of these experts

group to make excellent decisions. is sufficient to guide the entire the experts to make good decisions. Effectively, the idiots can rely on 'Researchers are now tracking sit in the group. exactly where those experts the crowd. And how they might be influencing What we've ultimately found is that,

very difficult to lead a group, although, one leader found it

into doing almost anything. two leaders could lead groups is what we call the quorum rule. And part of the reason for that Which is where animals in groups individual doing something, won't respond and copy a single threshold number of individuals - but will respond if they see a a quorum of individuals - doing something. It filters out bad decisions. 'It's all about safety in numbers. If you're a fish, one of the most dangerous areas to live is a coral reef. It's a highly predated environment, so making good decisions is crucial.' These tropical damselfish like their hidey-holes. And they won't make risky decisions without the backing of their mates. 'These five fish have been given Skid Row Reef as a home. There's nowhere to hide, and it's not a safe place to hang out.' The next step is to add a larger piece of coral of course, as it comes in. and they see that, attractive piece of habitat. And that represents a far more

of crossing a bit of open space. So they've got to run the gauntlet to take that risk on its own. No one individual wants

attempt the crossing. 'Watch how the fish try to make a move, A couple of individuals of their group, but without the support decide to turn back. But one little fella's left behind.' Finally, the group crosses. every time that's happened so far, The very strange thing is that a small or subordinate individual, even though it's usually been

that have already crossed a couple of individuals will go back collect it and then take it back across. It's really an inexplicable, but fascinating, piece of behaviour. 'But what can it teach us?' We're using fish as our model organisms. But realistically, the results that we find should apply equally to smaller animals like insects and larger group animals including mammals/birds. And even including humans, as well.

There are some people, now, in Germany, who are working on collective behaviour models which look at how people escape from buildings that are on fire, for instance. That is another example of collective behaviour. their models And they use to parameterise we gather on fish, for example. some information that to our surprise, What research has shown, fast and accurate decisions. is that groups are capable of making So they win on all counts.

BIRDS SQUAWK instead of thinking for myself, Maybe, next time, I'll just follow the crowd. 'Next week, on Catalyst - of repeated concussions.' Jonica, and the dangers can destroy lives. Even mild concussions Thanks for watching. Well, that's it for now. Don't forget you can download

both of Maryanne's stories at the Catalyst website - the latest in stem cell research, and the ethics of their use. I'll see you next time.

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This Program is Good evening - Virginia with an ABC news update. Good evening - Virginia Haussegger with an ABC news update. Kevin Rudd' plan to take health from the states has hit a major plan to take health funding control The Victorian Premier John Brumby from the states has hit a major snag unveiled an alternative plan that's The Victorian Premier John Brumby ha which claims the Brumby scheme would infuriated the federal government, cost taxpayers an extra 38-billion dollars in the next four years alone. Labor has held onto dollars in the next four years alone Labor has held onto power in Tasmani at least until it's tested on the floor of parliament. The tasmanian

governor today told the Premier, David Bartlett the had an governor today told the caretaker obligation to form a government rather than hand over the obligation to form a minority reins to the liberals. Earlier today the Greens announced their support for a labor minority government. ABC has obtained video of for a labor minority government. The moments leading up to the bombing ABC has obtained video of the final

the Marriott Hotel moments leading up to the bombing of

the Marriott Hotel last year. It reveals the bomber was streaming

video back to

the moment he detonated his explosives. A Canberra World War video back to his handler right up t

veteran will again be able to explosives. A Canberra World War II his service medals this veteran will again be able to wear John Prout's medals were his service medals this Anzac Day. month but police John Prout's medals were stolen last today returned them to their place. To Canberra's weather - Fine month but police recovered them and

today returned them to their rightfu and mostly sunny seven overnight. a top of 23, Sydney 24, and mostly sunny seven overnight. An

Adelaide 23. More news in an hour. a top of 23, Sydney 24, Melbourne 24

come to so dominate our planet? Seven billion of us. How did we greatest mysteries. It's one of science's began with a single tiny group of Amazing new evidence suggests it on an incredible journey. people who left Africa

descendants left across the world genes, we uncover the trails their With the help of bones, stones and transformed our species and find out how their journeys into the people we are today. This time, the final frontier,

to go down there. Oh! I assume we don't want This is a story of ingenuity and danger. Just how did we reach the Americas?

to almost a billion people, The Americas, today, are home over 700 different languages. countries and speaking living in nearly 50 different always like this. But, of course, it wasn't